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We’ve all had those moments, right? You know, when you take your children out in public only to realize later, you wished you had just stayed home.   I normally don’t fret about taking the children out to eat as long as the following conditions are met:

1.  It must be kid friendly. 

2. If I am taking both kids out, John must be present. (tag team)

3.  It must not be during the lunch or dinner rush hours. (less people)

Today we agreed to take the kids to a restaurant of Matt’s choosing. He has been sick and we thought it would cheer him up.  He chose a fast food mexican restaurant, “Taco Time”. Once we arrived, Matt went straight up to the counter and gave his detailed order of “a taco with hamburgers (ground beef)  and cheese and no salad on it and no sauce and tater tots and a root beer.”   Alec placed his order of a taco and rice. So far so good. 

Matt filled his cup with root beer and quickly sat down.  He was not satisfied however because once he sat down, the suds of his root beer had disappeared leaving his cup 5/7th of the way full :roll:. With my permission, I let him fill it up to a more justifiable amount (sigh). 

Lunch was served. The boys were excited.  Matt pointed to me asking me if I liked” Taco Time”.  No big deal except that he pointed using his middle finger because he had a cut on his pointer finger. Since he doesn’t understand that the middle finger is an offensive finger to use, I ignored it. Alec didn’t ignore it. 

“Matthew!  That’s the middle finger!!!!” Alec pointed at Matt.  “Wow! I can’t believe you used your middle finger, Matt!”, Alec said. “Mom would NEVER let me use my middle finger!”

I leaned over towards Alec and whispered.  “Alec, Matt didn’t use that in the way you are thinking.  He doesn’t even know what that means, so lets not make a big deal out of it.” 

Too late. Matt learned something new. “MIDDLE FINGER!!!”, shouts Matt. Then he giggles, “Middle finger, middle finger!!!” He didn’t actually hold up his middle finger.  He just kept saying “middle finger” and giggling non stop. In my book, he may as well have been flipping the bird at everyone within eyeshot. 

“Matt, if you can’t use good manners in the restaurant, we will go home”, said John. “I’M SORRY!” said Matt.  Whew, got through that. 

I immediately changed the subject.  We know many kids on the autism spectrum like to stick to one category for a while, especially if its fun.  I decided it was time to move away from sign language profanity and talk about our food.

“Is Taco Time healthy?”  asked Matt.  “Not all the time.”, answered John.  “But apples, are healthy”. 

“Not too many apples.” said Alec. Then he added  “Too many apples give you diarrhea.”  I was glad Alec chose a quiet voice when he said that, but Matt chose a louder voice. “Apples can make you have diarrhea?!”  He said loudly.  Then Alec chimed in using a less-than-quiet voice “Yes, they make you have diarrhea!”

“Boys!”  I said. I went over the rules of restaurant etiquette with them. I also regretted that we didn’t practice this at home.  Taking them out one at a time was never like this!  Thank goodness the restaurant wasn’t full but I did notice one of the diners there was somebody I went to school with. She also works at the same doctor’s office where Matt goes.   She was with her husband. 

After giving the boys the “How to Not Gross People Out” lecture, they began eating again.  Then Alec started giggling, clearly reminiscing about diarrhea and the middle finger.  Time to redirect.

 “Alec, I see that you are done. Please put all the garbage on the tray in the garbage can over there.”  I said.  As I saw him get up and walk over to the garbage, I noticed his shoes weren’t on.  I saw other people looking at his feet as he trotted over to the trash in his white socks.  He took his shoes off?!?!  As I was about to give him the “How to Not Contract an Unpleasant Staph Infection” lecture, I was interrupted by Matthew who just let out an incredibly loud, obnoxious burp. 

“Matthew Kenneth!!”  I said sternly.  At the same, John said, “I see that it’s probably time that we got out of here.” 

“I’M SORRY!!!!”  Matt shouted.  John and I began clearing off the table and the boys grabbed their pop’s and headed towards the door. At that time, I noticed Matt’s shoes were off!.  What the……..!!  “Matt, go get your shoes on!”

“I’M SORRY!!!!”  Matt shouted as he ran over to get his shoes. 

On the way out the door, I made eye contact with the highschool friend and she was smiling……more than just smiling.  Smiling big.  Almost like she was struggling to keep from laughing her head off.  That caused me to laugh and I walked over to her shaking my head saying, “I am so glad I don’t have to explain him to you.” She laughed some more and so did her husband as they shared a similar story about their kids.  That made John and I feel better.   So after our short conversation, I said good-bye and ran off to get my shoeless, gassy child. 

If you have an embarrassing story to share regarding your children, please share!  It makes the rest of us feel a little more normal 😉

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Matthew has a pretty high threshold for pain.  So 6 days ago when he came up to me with with his hands over his belly and a look of pain in his eyes, I knew something was not right.  “My tummy is broken”, he said sadly.  Then he burped.  I figured it was just indigestion.  Regardless of his sour stomach, he still continued to have a big appetite.  It couldn’t have been anything too serious.  But later that night, the complaining increased and it turned into screaming.  Then suddenly he got up from the couch, ran over to the kitchen sink, and hurled.  After he finished, he ran over to the dish towel drawer, pulled it opened………. and hurled some more.  “Matthew, go use the sink.”  I said as I tried to guide him back over to sink.  Apparently, the toilet isn’t good enough for him.  “No, the sink is icky now”, he said. 

After he was done I gave him a glass of water and put him in the bathtub.  As he was taking his bath, I walked back into the kitchen and looked at the vomit filled sink and the vomit filled drawer.  Great, now I have to clean all of this up and I have no dish towels to clean it up with. Matt puked on them. 

So that was a week ago and he still feels like this today.  On a good note, he’s upgraded from puking in the dish towel drawer to puking in a bowl. Much easier to clean.

 I finally took him to the doctor’s office yesterday.  “I think it’s just a nasty stomach bug”, she said.  “You just need to let it run its course.”  Run its course? It’s been running for almost 6 days now.  I used to overreact when it came to illnesses and I promised myself not to do that anymore.  It’s just very difficult when it’s your own child.  Shouldn’t he be getting better by now?  Being out of school for 5 days straight has made Matt and I both stir crazy.

Today I decided it would be fine to take him to the store.  “Do you want to choose some popsicles?”  I asked.  Popsicles are all he can tolerate right now.  “Ok.” he said.  I picked him up to put him in the grocery cart. Wow, he’s lost weight.  As I was pushing his cart he started to look queezy. I heard him softly say, “I need a bowl”.  Uh-oh.  I didn’t bring a bowl.  The ceramic aisle is almost 100 yards away (hehe).  “Ok Matt, hang on.”  I said.  I began running while pushing the cart to make its way to the restrooms.  This must have been a hilarious sight because I was wearing running clothes and running shoes. I quickly scooped him out of the cart and ran him into one of the bathroom stalls.  Made it!  Just barely though. Poor kid.  He seemed to feel a little better after throwing up. As we walked out of the restrooms, he said,  “Mommy, can I tell store workers, I puked?”, “No”, I said, ” They will worry too much.”  He nodded in agreement. A few minutes later Matt spotted another shopper in the frozen food section. “I’m sick and I just frode up”, he said to the shopper.

Oh well. I guess I didn’t tell him he couldn’t share it with fellow shoppers, did I?

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It’s been over a month since my last post.  I still had the Christmas theme template activated.  It’s nice to finally change that. 

 The last month has been pretty much a blur.  Christmas has come and gone.  We survived 2 weeks of the kids being out of school. But just barely.  Just because Christmas break is over and school is back in session, doesn’t mean that Matthew is ready to immediately fall back into the original routine. His volatile behavior has hit a new peak. Over the past few weeks, it has become crystal clear to me that Matt’s first priority over everything else is to seek control.  Not necessarily in a dogmatic sort of way.  It’s more like he realises our world makes no sense to him so he wants to create his own world and we all better adapt to it….or esle!  Ok, I guess that’s a little dogmatic.  The screaming, throwing, hitting, kicking, and breaking was becoming a daily event.  Some days, it was an hourly event.  Anything and everything would trigger an outburst.  In these past few weeks I have felt anger, fear, desperation, and despair.   “What is going on with  him?”  “Why can’t we help him?”  “What are we doing wrong?” 

John and I have learned very quickly that most of our problem solving with Matthew is aquired through trial and error.  If one thing doesn’t work, try another.  If what worked before isn’t working now, try something new. Seek the advice on what is working for other parents of autistic children. But lately, things had become so intense and difficult with Matt over the past month that we ran out of ideas of what to try. Keep in mind, we were mentally and emotionally drained.  So I finally called his doctor. “How is Matt’s sleeping?”, she asked.  “Poor as usual”, I answered.  “He still wakes up in the middle of the night and he  still can’t sleep past 4am.” 

So, she agreed that the current medicine he has been taking for the past 3 years has lost its effectiveness.   As of 10 days ago, Matt began a new medicine that is an antidepressant. The primary reason for Matt taking it is so that he can sleep better.  It works, Praise God!  Sleeping in untill 6am is just blissful!  He has been less volatile as well. Could this be the answer?  Maybe for now.  But as we all know, life is a rollercoaster. To me it’s like being on a sailboat in the middle of an ocean.  The waters are calm and it’s peaceful.  But I know there will be a storm coming eventually.  I don’t fret about the storm.  It’s going to come whether I freak out or not.  I use that peaceful time to rest up, enjoy my family, and enjoy my life.  I thank God for giving me the calm days and I pray for more of them.  But when the storm hits, I brace myself and know that we are not  going to go through it alone.  Praise God for that!

 

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I am often asked how is it that I am able to cope with all the stress that goes on in my life. People often say “I don’t know how you do it!  I’d go crazy!”  I do take these comments as complimentary.  But I also think people tend to underestimate themselves. My response to them is usually,  “You’d be surprised at what you can handle when you don’t have any other options.”  That’s also where God comes in.  When things seem impossible, I know it’s God who is giving me strength to not drive  voluntarily into a brick wall. 

*ok here’s my little disclaimer:  I would never drive into a brick wall…….. on purpose.  If you really know me, statements like that are all part of my sick sense of humor.*

Nobody is immune to stress.  Everybody has different ways of coping with stress.  Some coping methods are good. Some are bad.  And some are just kind of odd. My husband’s way of coping with stress is by doing Tai Chi. A very good method. He does this every morning.  He is very interested in martial arts and has been doing it for the past 13 years.  He also runs 4 times a week.  He has been trying to get me to do the Tai Chi for the past 12 years.  I’m still not interested. But that’s ok, because like I said, everybody has a different way of coping with what life throws at them.

I prefer running. I never run immediately after a stressful moment has hit its peak. Like right after Matt throws a full glass of juice at the wall, I’m not in the mood to do a 5 miler. I think of the running as maintenance.  It gives me energy to face the day.   When I go too long without running, I find myself becoming moody.  Lately, I’ve been getting bored with the running which could possibly explain my irritable mood these past few days.  Time for me to get out the old bike trainer.

Another way I am able to cope with the stress is by doing this blog. If nobody ever  read my blogs, I would still write them.  It’s good therapy.  I know that someday in the future I will take a look at the blogs and say “Wow, I forgot how hard life was then.  We made it!” 

As I mentioned earlier, people may sometimes have odd coping methods.  My odd coping method begins after the kids are in bed. I pop in an “Everybody Loves Raymond” dvd and watch it till I fall asleep.  That will take anywhere from 10 min to 2 hours. I have seen each episode countless times.  John still can’t figure out what the appeal is.  Especially with that show.  He hates that show. Not me.  I explained to John how our lives are full of surprises, noise, and chaos. I just want to sit down and watch a program where I know exactly what is going to happen.  I can always count on Ray being helpless, Robert being jealous, and Debra being irritable.  I can always count on the father-in-law being repulsive.  Best of all, I can always count of the mother-in-law being intrusive, critical, and loud. I find all of this hysterical.  John finds the show stressful and annoying.  I would like to note that the characters in this show don’t reflect our family.  I happen to have the best in-laws anybody could ever ask for! I just enjoy the predictability that comes with watching those dvd’s.  It’s my escape and it makes me laugh.

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I have such creative children.  A few days ago, Alec (9yrs old) surprised me with his wonderful Christmas story that he wrote https://greatvillage.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/i-must-be-doing-something-right/. And today, Matthew invented a simple sleigh using a bath towel! These ideas do not come from me.  The best part of their projects is the fact that they think of them all on their own. 

Matthew also came up with the idea to use snowflake stickers as festive tape to attach the reins to the towel.  Just a little note that these snowflake stickers are actually postage stamps that I carelessly left within his reach.  I wasn’t about to take them away though.  The sleigh he made is priceless.  Notice behind him in the picture are stacked gift boxes. These, of course are Santa’s toys that he will deliver.  Also his idea. 

The only idea I suggested to him was to put pants on since he was wearing only underwear while he built the sleigh. I told him, “Santa doesn’t deliver presents in his Spongebob underwear so neither should you.” 

Merry Christmas!

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Yesterday my 9-year-old son Alec asked me if he could write a Christmas story on the computer.  I was a little apprehensive about the idea because I know how this kid’s mind thinks.  But how could I say no to my son who wants to express his creativity through writing?!  So, I said, “Ok, but there are two rules to follow:  1.  Do not email the story.  2.  Be appropriate.”

I was sure after rule number 2, he would change his mind.  But he was still excited so I went downstairs and let him do his thing.  After about 25 minutes, he came downstairs and handed me a sheet of paper with his story on it.  I was certain the title would be something like “Santa’s Elves Declare War and Take Over the World”, or “All girls belong on Santa’s naughty list”. 

To my surprise, his story was nothing like that.  So here, I give you Alec’s Christmas story:

The Christmas carol   by Alec

 Ones a pond a time there were two brothers name alec and matthew  they were rich people. Alec and Matthew always fighting and they were selfish and rude. There were pour (poor) people. One day Alec and Matthew were visetid by two goest. One goest was name papa phil and the other goest was grandma Linda they both told Alec and Matthew what will happen if they didn’t straiten up. Then they woke up then they remember what the goest told them. They disided (decided) to go to church. After church they wrap up presents for the pour (poor). They walk up to a tent that some people were living in. They saw Alec and Matthew . Then they open the tent. Alec and Matthew gave the presents to the people they were very happy.  The End                                                                                                                            

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Weekends are always our most difficult times with Matthew.  One minute he can be the sweetest boy and then the next….BOOM!  In our house, there are a lot of “BOOM” moments.  John and I spend most of our weekends tag-teaming.  It’s hard and anything but ideal.

 For the past several years we have come to dread the weekends. No matter how much planning was involved or how rigid of a routine we created, the weekends have always been incredibly difficult. So every Sunday night, I say a special prayer thanking God for getting us through yet another weekend. Good or bad, I thank God.  I will admit that I don’t give God as gracious of a thank-you on a bad weekend.  A time  or two, I’ve given God a sarcastic, “Thanks a lot!”  But I know He has a sense of humor.  I also know that God can handle me being angry with Him.  He knows deep down, I really am appreciative.

So now it’s Sunday evening and the weekend is over.  Matthew has thrown a grand total of 5 major tantrums.  When I mean major, I don’t mean throwing himself on the floor kicking and screaming and flopping around. If that were all Matthew did when he’s upset, my life would be a breeze.  Many kids with autism don’t have  a great amount of impulse control.  Matt is one of those kids. I don’t count the minor and moderate meltdowns that he has. Those meltdowns dont’ take nearly as much out of me as the major ones do. 

So the weekend is over. I am tired. I also make a mental note that the 5 major meltdowns are a huge decrease from the regular 10-12 he has per weekend. So does that mean it’s a good weekend?  I think so.  It helped that Matt was kept busy. It helped that Alec was kept busy.  Like usual, Matthew is spending Sunday night with his Grandma tonight. This is so I can catch up on sleep and have quality time with Alec. So why am I sitting here typing?  See ya! I’m off to play Mario Kart with my son 🙂

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