The Care and Feeding of a Baby Bear

19237803_10155419571546100_7244161556487186176_oPeople hear me talk about my Baby Bear and one of the first questions they ask is, How old is Baby Bear?  I say with a smile, he’s 24.  He’s my youngest, and he just reminds me of a cuddly bear most of the time. He can also have the strength of a grizzly at times. Thankfully those times are rare.

Right now my young man is resting on my bed. He was just in the kitchen when a seizure hit.  Those are happening two or three times a month these days, even with the medication he’s on.  He sees his neurologist next month and we will go through the twice yearly routine.

I’ve been watching my young man for a little while now, especially after he made it quite clear  he didn’t like the loud box fan in one of the rooms. We have room unit air conditioners in a few rooms, but one is in need of a little work. Baby Bear had the habit of turning down the fan, and then finally kept turning it off completely. When he was finally left alone for five minutes he ripped the cord out of the box and threw the whole contraption outside. For a nonverbal adult with autism, he got his point across clearly. So now we get the AC in that part of the house fixed and/or find a quieter fan that he can deal with.

It took me a few weeks of mulling that over (I’m a little slow to catch on sometimes) but I finally realized WHY he was so adamantly against that box fan. It’s the same reason he (barely) tolerates trips to Walmart or other busy stores. It’s too noisy!  Although I can’t really prove it, he has a hypersensitivity to sound. He can hear the hum of fluorescent lighting, and the buzz of other people shopping. It bothers him!  For some, there are headphones that block out a lot of the noise but that won’t work with him. He won’t tolerate anything on his ears.

Most any time at home he can be found in his room or on the couch, depending on his need for interaction. The last few days though, he’s chosen to stay very close to his Dad and me. He wants that physical connection of his head leaning against one of us. He’s quieter than usual. It makes me wonder what is coming up next.

As for his doctors, I’ve come up with a new plan of attack. I’m setting up a calendar right along with the writing down of behaviors and seizures. On the calendar i will place a sticker each time he seizes. The calendar will be the first thing I show his doctors. When it is right in front of them, perhaps then someone will pay attention. I know that neurologists really don’t know a lot about seizures or why he keeps having them. The medicine is pretty much a guessing game. Hopefully it will work, but maybe it won’t. I will keep searching for answers.

On a typical day, he knows his usual routine.  He knows when the bus comes and he’s ready to head out the door to be with his friends. That can be explained. Other than different outings, his days are pretty much the same five days a week, much like the rest of us. But mention that something is going to happen at a specific time, and he takes notice. For example, years ago when he was 9 he was in the hospital taking treatment for lead poisoning. That very first day of it the doctor said that it would stop at 4 o’clock and he could go back to his room and eat and rest. Right on the dot of four my son was taking the tubes out–or at least trying to. No one mentioned the time. He’d never been taught to tell time but he knew.

That’s my boy though. Always full of surprises.  I feel so blessed that he is mine.  He’s taught me so much in these 24 years, and I am pretty sure he will continue to do so as time goes on.  Given half a chance he has much to teach others as well.  He’s a happy, healthy young man who happens to have autism and seizures. He has his moments when he is angry or upset and can be hard to manage at times. Sadly, some choose to focus on the “can be” and all but ignore just how quiet and peaceful he actually is.  Yes, he may have a seizure. Yes, he may have a melt down.  In both cases, unless you can help, stay calm and stay out of the way.

He is not a monster, not an animal locked up in a cage at a zoo. He’s a human being, capable of loving and being loved. He has a harder time maneuvering around this modern world than most. He doesn’t care who the latest celebs are or what the newest techno gadget is on the market, but he will sit and listen to music with you for hours.  You name it and he will probably listen to it, although his favorites are Oldies from the 60’s,  disco,  Michael Jackson, and Latin hip hop. Go figure.

While safety can be an issue with both seizures and meltdowns,  I honestly don’t think that those aspects of his life should be the only things seen and known about  him.  I don’t care much at all about awareness. I don’t. The focus should be on education and plain and simple compassion.  This next statement will be a bit controversial but I’m going to put it out there anyway:  Focusing only on the “possible”  is just as bad as seeing only the sin in someone’s life, and not the person.  He is my son; he is a human being; he is a child of God. He is NOT  Autism and he is NOT Seizure disorder. Those do not describe him, they only name his diagnoses.  How sad this world is when people are seen only by labels instead of  the whole person they really are. Autistic. Disabled. Conceited. Prideful.   Education is the key. Ask questions. Read up on what you don’t know. Take a class.  Speak to him.  Show him that you truly care.

And that’s how you care for a Baby Bear named Jesse.

Attitude Adjustments: Before Small Matters Become Huge Stumbling Blocks

Way back in the day Hank Williams Jr had a hit song on the country stations called “Attitude Adjustments.”  It was a lighthearted view on people who needed just that, an adjustment.  It comes to mind now and then, when I see something that needs to change. This time, the one who needs changing is me. Or, at least, it’s my attitude that needs adjustment.

Some may call it mere coincidence, but I prefer to call it providence. I don’t see another word for it. I have a list of scripture verses that I collected as I began my war journal journey, most  gleaned from Youtube videos of women sharing their own prayer journals / war binders. Today the verse was Psalm 61:2

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,  When my heart is overwhelmed;  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Bam. Right between the eyes!. Those are king David’s words, but it’s exactly how I feel today.  I read the whole psalm and it resonated with me.  My heart is indeed overwhelmed today. A young son whose behavior (not the right word for it) is still a mystery to me –and the doctors;  dishes and debt piling up (hospital bills, anyone?);  the Go-Go’s taunting me with a “Vacation” that isn’t going to happen. C’est la vie, dahling. C’est la guerre.  Life happens.  But it still hurts.  And the biggest hurt? A conflict with a sister in Christ.

Have I talked with her about it? Not yet. Will I discuss it here? Nope.  This one involves only God, her, and myself. So why am I not discussing this with her?  Because I’m not ready for that conversation yet. I need to sort this out with the Lord first. And I need to adjust my attitude.

Hear my cry, O God;

Attend to my prayer,

From the end of the earth I will cry to  You,

When my heart is overwhelmed;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter to me,

A strong tower from the enemy.

I will abide in Your tabernacle forever,

I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4

That’s where I am right now, crying to the Lord. I also discussed it a bit with my husband last night because what happened stung a bit.  I admit, anger did seep in a little.  My feelings do get a little hurt now and then.  In the past I’ve found it easier to be angry and say or do something about it rather than just to acknowledge the “Ouch! That hurt” that I’m really feeling.  Hence the need for the attitude adjustment on my own part.

My husband suggested trying to see things from her perspective.  Take into account her life, her age, her spiritual age, her experiences in life.  Some of this I know, some I can only guess at. Did she realize that she hurt me?  Was it intentional? Probably not. Does that make the hurt any less? Not really.

But if I had gone to her in anger, the problem would have escalated. I had a retort I could have used (it came to me a few hours after the incident.  I have a hair trigger tongue at times but my brain isn’t always as fast as my mouth is).  If I’d done that, she would have gotten angry.  Others may have gotten involved. All over something small.

I do need to have a conversation with her because I don’t want strife with anyone, especially not a sister. It was still on my mind this morning so I did a little search on attitudes.  Some of what I found:

  • 1 Corinthians 16:14   “Let all that you do be done with love.
  • Romans 14:19   “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
  • and Ephesians 4:31, 32:  “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God forgave you.

Be kind to one another. Tenderhearted.  Forgiving. Those aren’t always easy. But it is what Christ expects.  And I don’t want to lose my soul, especially over something small.

Faith, Patience, & Journaling

I’m going to tell you a secret that very few people know: I’m not a very patient person.  I know, right? Shocked me, too. No, not really.  I knew that about me. Although I can hold my tongue in some cases, and I can breathe through certain things,  I have a few hot button issues that set me off like fireworks on Independence Day.

Because I realized it’s (past. WAY past) time I reigned in my impatience, anger, and fear, among a few other things, I began to think of  ways to help me relax and be the person I want to be again. The person more like what God wants me to be: kinder, gentler, more patient (there’s that word again!).

I do not consider myself an artist by any means but I do love to play with stamps, inks, paints, you name it. And I love to write. I’ve been writing off and on since at least the fifth grade. But for a long while now, I stopped both. Baby Bear needs me. The house desperately needs to be cleaned. We have to…. Well, you get the picture.  So when  my niece ended up in the hospital, I spent a lot of time with her. Hospitals are lonely places, y’all! Not fun to be there by yourself with only medical staff for company.  Hospitals are also boring, so I brought along a craft item or two. (Hubby said it looked like I was moving in.) And we played. We made bookmarks out of  inks, stamps, and washi tape on tags. It was fun!  And we watched videos of other people creating art.

My beautiful girl got better and was sent home. I continued watching videos of people creating. I was also looking high and low for my brayer because I wanted to play some more, this time with a gelli plate. I’m beginning to think Baby Bear did away with my brayer so that little project will have to wait.  And then… where there are suggestions of what to watch next, planners came up.

I have a messy, creative mind (and house ) but I crave order and organizations. Plus planners mean creativity and writing! Yay! And off I went, chasing another bunny.  I already have a planner, which I try to gussy up at times (it came with boring, office like paper. I’m not boring, office like kind of people. I’m sorry, but I need color!). Sad part is, not a lot of paper to do my planning on. I grabbed a notebook and kept the dates up in the planner and planned my days and dreams in the notebook, all the while drooling over planner set ups on Pinterest and Youtube. Then I saw the link for War planners.

War planners, Bible journals, Faith journals, all are basically the same thing. Can you see where this is going?  Off I went, hopping down the bunny trail! And that same poor notebook got another use. I wrote down scriptures that I wanted to look up, began keeping sermon notes in it, prayer lists, the whole bit. I’m loving it.

All of that rambling just to get to this one point. Today  I glanced at some War journaling notes and I had for some reason written down Psalm 46:5.  I wanted to look that up straight away. I’m not big on signs or stuff y’all, but I opened my Bible exactly to that page! There were no bookmarks there at all. It just happened. I had marked that whole Psalm in my bible before and I read it. All 11 verses. Three times.  I wrote down key verses in one section of my notebook and copied down the entire Psalm in another section.

God is our refuge and our strength, A very present help in trouble.  –Psalm 46:1

The Lord of hosts is with us, The God of Jacob is our refuge. — Psalm 46:7  and 46:11    Did you catch that?  That statement is so significant, it’s in that psalm twice.

Be still and know that I am God.– Psalm 46:10A.

Y’all, I needed this.  We have something going on at home and I am battling hard to trust and find wisdom and understanding so we can figure this thing out. I’d been having a good day for the most part up until this piece of news was presented to me. And like the patient person I am, I threw a fit. A good old fashioned hissy.  It wasn’t pretty. But I’m willing to learn from it.

I still don’t have an answer to our problem. I am calmer about it now though.  I know that the Lord is in control. That’s all I need to know right now. This is one of those learning times. I have a lesson or two being taught to me (can you guess what one of them is? LOL. I think that one is ongoing.) and with God we will get this.

How about you? Are you a patient person?  Or are you a hurricane Annie like I am, blowing all your energy out and then calming down for the solution? I’d love to hear from you.

 

B

 

 

Karate Class

Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Life at Home household are extremely busy, just as it is in your homes. Ever since my brother moved in those have been karate days. We had gotten into a habit of either driving him to class or letting him walk in good weather (the distance is less than two miles). While he was at class, hubby and I would get dinner ready or run errands. Then I started getting interested in losing weight and getting in better shape. Last September I joined that class. It is so much fun! But it’s also a lot of hard work.

Since I’ve joined I’ve already progressed to yellow belt (Yay me! lol). My brother has just recently achieved green belt (Woohoo! Go Bob!) And I’ve already taken nearly two months off due to a needed surgery in April. I will be returning to class sometime within the next two weeks after I get the go ahead from my doctor. I am all at once excited and apprehensive because I haven’t used these tummy muscles in about 8 weeks or so, and I know I have a lot of work ahead to to catch up to where I was.

Also, I need to retrain my brain to get meals on the table, hopefully before 9 pm on karate nights.  Can you say slow cooker? Can you say freezer meals?  I am so not organized when it comes to meal planning! But I’ll get there. I am determined to get organized again.

The first three are Robert during his recent promotion test. The last one of course,

is me after earning my yellow belt. In our class, the uniform is not required for white belt.

 

So what keeps you busy durin the week?  Tae Kwan Do classes like Robert and I take?  Little League?  Maybe you take a pottery class.  What keeps you busy and how do you keep everything running smoothly? I’d love to hear from you.

Why Don’t You Get a Real Job?

Why don’t you get a real job?

Wait. What? Did you really just say that? I’ve heard that line from various people since Baby Bear was actually, well, a baby. He’s now 23, by the way, and taller than I am (a fact that he still loves to point out in his own wordless way). It’s hard for me to realize just how much he’s grown over the years. But in so many ways he’s still very much my cub. I have real job, thanks. I don’t get paid for it, but it’s a career that I enjoy and never want to give up.

My  day begins usually somewhere between 4:30 AM and 5:15 AM. Not by choice, mind you. I’m an early bird from way back but I’d prefer to sleep in until 6:30 or 7. Nope, these days I’m up before the alarm goes off because either the bathroom is calling my name or my young man is up and foraging through the fridge or happily throwing something out his window. Or both. Mostly he’s fine on his own for a little while, but sitting still for more than five minutes usually isn’t going to happen. I don’t believe in using the TV as a babysitter, and neither does he. It doesn’t hold his interest long. He’d rather rock out to the oldies. He loves music of almost all genres, especially Michael Jackson, seventies disco, and latino hip hop. Go figure. He also likes classical music.

Once I’ve got him occupied if he’s awake, I’ve got breakfast and laundry going, and sometime soon afterward I remember that I’ve gotta make lunches too, for the cub and the hubs. The Hubs is not a morning person. He  wakes up in time to shower, eat, and have a little conversation before he goes off to work.  Why can’t he make his own breakfast and lunch? He works hard at his job plus he does quite a bit around the house with and for me. Taking care of him in those ways  is something I like to do.

Next, my job is to help get Baby Bear ready for his day. He’s good at handling most of that, but his idea of getting dressed means finding the shorts he wore the day before and throwing on the first shirt he can find–spaghetti stained and inside out as well as backwards. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen on a school day. After making sure his clothes are clean and at least facing the right direction (sometimes the seams on his shirts aggravate him so I’m not going to complain much if his shirt still ends up inside out). His shoes–hey, at least they are on his feet. Yes, I know they are on the wrong feet (another sensory issue as far as we can tell) and yes I know those shoes look like they need to be thrown out. Trust me on this, the boy has foot issues. The longest I’ve seen a new pair of shoes keep laces or the “tongue” is about two weeks. After that, all bets are off and he’s working on getting those shoes just the way he likes them.

Once Baby Bear is out the door its my time. That’s the time for working on  my business,

my writing, and getting some housework done. And yes, I use that time to relax a bit as well. But I’m also cooking, giving word definitions and word pronunciations to the only person in the house who reads more than I do, my brother. I keep him going during the day and I probably do more than my share of nagging, because I realize that I am now mom as well as Sis. It’s been two years since I assumed this other responsibility, and I struggle with the balance of when to be Sis and when to be , well, bossy.

Two -forty PM or thereabouts brings the bus and the cub is home -needing a snack and a little down time.  Do I love this life? Yes! Do I complain sometimes? Yes. Do I want to give up and run away? At times, yes. But would I give all this up? No way. As a mom and caretaker to two who will always need care and supervision to some degree (one with autism, one with mild cp, both with some developmental delays) I have concerns about the future and what could happen. But I’ll discuss that at another time. For now, this is my real job. This is what fills my days. Thanks for listening.

 

My family. The (not so) Baby Bear, The Brother, The Hubs.

 

 

 

Teaching Our Children Violence is Okay

So I’m scanning my Facebook news feed this past weekend and I happen to notice a post that my young cousin shared. The blogger posted an advisory statement for parents of boys who apparently are at the bra snapping stage. She told her little princess that if a boy does that to her, punch him in the throat. Just as calmly as she was stating that the sky is blue. And then she would take her daughter out for a hot fudge sundae to celebrate little princess being violent.

You know what? If my son is the one who is punched in the throat, you and princess will deal with more than the school’s policy on violence. You and Princess will both be charged with a crime and get to do some jail time. Had your daughter simply slapped him silly, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Had she taken care of the situation in almost any other way,  I probably wouldn’t have said a word except he had it coming.

Let me be perfectly clear: I do not condone bra snapping, skirt pulling, or any other disrespectful behavior. Ever. I do not consider it to be “something that boys just do”. I do not think that “boys only do that to girls they like.” That’s bull. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s just plain wrong.  But. It does not warrant a potentially life threatening response. Violent behavior like that only escalates to more violent behavior. Blog Mommy, perhaps you should rethink your answer to Princess and tell her that “throat punching” is best reserved for when her life or that of her own child, is in danger. If someone is attempting rape, she’s being kidnapped, that sort of thing. In those cases, all bets are off and she can do whatever she wants.

I know my answer won’t be the popular one and I’m okay with that. I don’t have daughters but do remember how (some) boys are. My husband and I have always taught our son how to behave around girls and women in general. If I had a daughter you can bet I would be teaching her that it is okay to defend herself when she is attacked but that violence of that nature is just as wrong as a twelve year old boy who snaps a bra.

I get what Blog Mommy is saying there. I totally understand that she wants her daughter’s message to be perfectly clear. But I think instead of empowering  her daughter, she’s teaching her daughter that violence is the answer.

Indeed, I think that the idea of “throat punching” someone is one that comes too easily to mind. I hear that phrase constantly, even from a few Southern Christian Women, one of whom is a preacher’s wife! And  before you open your mouth to glare and point at me and proclaim “Judgemental!”, yes, I’ve said it too, in the heat of the moment. And it shocked me. I don’t want to be that person.

I know that women and girls should never have to be a victim. Neither should a 12 year old boy be the victim of a girl with an overzealous mommy. Is this what we want to teach our children, that it’s okay to react with violence to every situation?  No, she shouldn’t just put up with that type of behavior. No, she shouldn’t just let it slide. But resorting to that much violence is not the answer.

Just take a look at the news in this country. Too many don’t like the answer they’ve been given so they lash out in anger and cause destruction and death. And it just continues. And others justify those actions. Why not? Violence gets attention. Violence gets approval. Violence gets ratings. Violence brings death.

But yeah. Teach your children, male or female,  that violence is always the answer. After all,  might makes right.Intelligence and use of language mean nothing.

Movie Review: Mr. Church

mr-church  Note: I have not been commissioned in any way or form to write this review, nor have I received any compensation of any sort. This is my honest review of my own free will.

 

The Hubs and I have interesting date nights. Usually they consist of asking my brother to watch Baby Bear for a bit while we run and do errands or get groceries for the week. Occasionally we will manage to sneak off for a rare dinner for just the two of us. Sometimes there will be a movie at the discount theater that we are interested in. Mr.Church happened to be one of those movies.

I am a sometimes fan of Eddie Murphy, who plays the leading role: Mr.Henry Joseph Church, a man of many talents but chose to cook. Mr.Church is hired by a now deceased man to come and cook each day for a dying white woman and her young daughter in 1971. The man  who paid assumed the doctors were right and Mr. Church was paid to be the cook for six months. The job actually lasted 6 years.

Eddie Murphy is known for his comedic roles and although he’s done family friendly films, he is also  known for his coarse language, so I was a little wary of what I would find in this movie. But although there is some strong language (the Lord’s name is taken in vain several times, at a point in the story where you see a glimpse of Mr.Church’s private life) and there are a few other words but the majority of the movie is free of that. I was able to see Mr. Church the person, not Eddie Murphy the comic actor. I love when I can do that.

The movie focuses mainly on the relationship between Mr. Church and  Charlie, played by Natalie Coughlin as a young girl and then Brit Robertson as an adult. Mr. Church spent his days with the mother and daughter but his nights were his own. He was very big on people respecting his privacy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this life drama. There were lighthearted moments as well as more serious moments, and it is fairly easy to become involved in the family’s lives. It was well written and well performed by the entire cast.  I would say that the movie is appropriate for 12 and up but honestly I think adults would prefer it more.   As a rating I would give it an A-,  with a ding only for the small but heartbreaking language moments. But to be fair, the writer chose the few scenes with the objectionable language to show a crucial point. Had there been cursing simply for the sake of cursing I would have been completely turned off. I really wish there was a way of making a point in movies but Hollywood hasn’t figured it out yet. Movies that don’t have at least a few curse words thrown in are panned as “not realistic.” More’s the pity. Bottom line though? If you want a movie with likable characters and a storyline that pulls you in and even gives you just a little bit to chew on, and possibly revisit more than once, go see this movie or get the DVD. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll enjoy.