Vanity

Apparently a war was waged recently – chillingly close to my bedside. It must have been quite a sight. Unseen by me, even though it was fought in my own bathroom. Yes, I can see from the newly darkened hair of my husbands he attempted, again, to color his own locks.

Mind you, it suits him, that deep brown hair color. Looks good with his Sicilian year round skin tone. And honestly, I appreciate him taking care of himself. As we age (we as in all of us) its only natural to fight nature with the products and protocols manufactured just for this purpose. But really, my toilet seat was meant to be white, dear.

Oh, and the drips on the counter, in the drawers, and all around the sink? Didn’t you USE the gloves provided in the box, dear? And my towels, or should I say your towels now, they didn’t do anything to solicit such abuse. Yes, there is a waiting period for the dye to adhere to the hair folicle….I get that. But getting sucked into your favorite NFL channel – post season no less – is not a good enough excuse for destroying the nice bed linens that I JUST washed and replaced. Again, where was the plastic head liner that was also provided IN THE BOX, dear?

Thanks for leaving the conditioning treatment in the shower for me to use too. But leaving the comb, q-tips, and oh! so thats where the plastic gloves went….they too are in the shower, dear. And I’m curious, just how did you manage to spray that forsaken dye on the ceiling? Do you just shake like one of the dogs when they come in from the rain, dear? The mirror, did what you saw need to be swiped by your hand while wrangling the applicator, dear?

Yes, it was a thrifty thought, buying a nice hair dye kit on sale, with a coupon to use in the privacy (you thought) of your own home. It really was……but I think next time you need to be supervised. Of course, I’ll grab the stain remover, paint supplies, industrial cleansers and hydrogen peroxide when I’m at the store, dear. No problem. But honey – I’m also going to make you an appointment for 3 weeks from now with my stylist. I have a feeling it will save us more in the end, dear.

(Insert eye roll, right about HERE, dear.)

~ Wendy Frye

“A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

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This article ran on wwww.ageofautism.com – complete with video!

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/01/take-time-to-dream-and-live.html

We were well into our parenting years the first time we took a real break from our “unique” routine. Our way of life, with autism in the home….well, lets just say it was a rarity to move in a group LET alone consider just WHAT it would take to achieve one of America’s finest family pastimes – taking a vacation.

Our eldest son, diagnosed on the autism spectrum at the age of 3 1/2 years old, was making measurable progress. He found his voice in his 8th year – and was being released from physical and occupational therapies at school. Now, I don’t think I need to detail the herculean efforts poured into this young man to get to this place – or feel bad about the $90,000 outlay. We took personal debt (aka credit cards) to a whole different level. But Man! Oh! Man! we had finally made it to a positive, measurable milestone. What a perfect time to pause, take a honeymoon from all the therapies per se, and quickly celebrate a little bit of progress.

It was our last purchase made on the last line of credit we had available – a trip for four to Disneyland. And was it ever worth every single penny PLUS interest, fees and the stamps to mail in payments! Well before Mickey Mouse got pissed and quit handing out VIP passes to families who could use the extra time and assistance, we were able to secure that very golden ticket to fast-tracking the park attractions. While I had to physically force my eldest son to stay with me on the first ride (yep, that was me manhandling my son – don’t judge unless you live the life, friend) soon after that, he was hooked. We finished 16 attractions that first day, going on to have a delightful dinner in the French Quarter of the park and ultimately enjoying the best vacation of our lives.

James, who turned 20 this January, went on to complete his education. And now, as with all things Autism, we’ve had to change up our family plans to assist him in his chosen career, as an artist. We are now knee deep in Special Needs Trusts, Business Plans, Vocational Rehab, Employment Support, Job Studies, and on and on…..

(Heavy sign here)

If there was one thing I regret out loud, it’s not remembering to look back and reflect more often. In the relentless pursuit of recovery, the sheer angst of being a parent helpless to ever understand what “normal” family life is, thats when and where we missed it. We simply missed stopping to turn back to GAZE at the amazing accomplishments of a young man who was working harder than anyone to plant his flag. So, take pictures, lots and LOTS of pictures! Stop, pause and reflect every once in awhile, and go ahead, do it! Take a jump off the listing carousel we know as life, and give the sword a pull from the stone ~ you’ll never pry it loose unless you try.

“The soul never thinks without a picture.”
~Aristotle

Mother Nature

Spring is officially here. For some families, you know the ones, it’s time to get out the camper, RV, tent or trailer and gear up for weekend getaways. To the lake, to the mountains, to the river, or even the RV park….every weekend a new adventure!

Camping is the All American Brand of Affordable Family Fun. Throw a few chips, hot dogs, and marshmallows in a bag – chill the beer down in a cooler. For breakfast? Eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese – its all in the pan to cook up a camp omelet. Yummy! Everybody’s in ~ we can leave right after work Friday afternoon. Don’t forget your swim trunks, fishing poles, boots, water bottle and backpack for the family hike tomorrow. Let’s Go!!!

Exit scene. Enter our family.

One disabled and highly allergic son. The other son, uncontrollably wild and just as allergic. No eggs, no feathers, no dogs, no cats, no chemicals, no peanuts, no tree nuts, no petrol products, no trout, no shellfish, no wheat, no milk, no soy, no hay, no pollen, no mold. No fun.

But wait! We can “try” to do this, right Honey? My husband’s family has a gorgeous bit of land north of where we live. My husband possesses a mental box full of wonderful memories spending time with his immediate family camping and fishing. They would spend time with his grandparents who lived close by the property when he was young. He and his brother tore up the back 10 with ATV’s as teenagers. His uncle, my Father in Law’s best friend, has adjacent property with a wood fired stove to bake the family’s Thanksgiving turkey. We had many good times there before we had the boys, didn’t we Sweetheart?

Hiking up my big girl pants to wedgie heights, I know we have to try. Urban survival is one thing with an Autistic son, but in the woods, without all our usual routine and necessities? Repeat this mantra: “Must be brave, must be brave, must be brave…..”

To the general store! We needed all the “stuff”! Tent, sleeping bags, night light, flashlights, folding tables, Coleman stove, two kiddie fishing poles with matching tackle boxes, air mattress, camping chairs, and every other thing my husband thought was “critical” to have on hand. We are going to use all this equipment for years to come, right Honey?

To the grocery store! Soda (the perfect stimming liquid), frozen pizza (I think we can bake this on the camp stove..), chicken nuggets (would these work okay on the end of the marshmallow stick?), frozen french fries (maybe baked in foil packets?) and one steak for us. Comfortable foods, served in a uncomfortable place just might work, right Dear? Adapt or die time.

Nebulizer with AC adaptor, Benedryl, Zyrtec, Cortisone cream, alka-seltzer, band aids, Epi-pens for the car, tent, backpack and pockets of all. Can’t be too prepared, right?

The van with no paint was full with our family and new “stuff” – we were finally on our way to the great wildness known to our boys as “Chewelah”. This was where my husbands favorite family stories are set. His mother, whom I never had the chance to meet, passed away before me and the boys came along. These stories always honor her and the bonds their immediate family shared. The boy’s Uncle was going to be camping too, just like when they were younger sons themselves. Uncle was bringing Oakley, his Siberian Husky given to him by his Father for his birthday. Oakley, he was a really good dog.

My children were ethered with excitement. Arriving later in the afternoon, nervously we set up “camp”….taking all the new “stuff” out of boxes. We struggled with tent poles, held the boys back from branding themselves on the Coleman stove and started handing out snacks, I did not have a clue what to do while “camping”. The stress-o-meter started listing just a touch……

Activity #1. Fishing!…..jump back in the van, drive to the historical fishing hole of my husbands youth. Get out of the van. Hike over to the spot. See a dried up trench. Get back in the van, drive another 15 minutes, reassure the boys we will fish, check out the next dried up hole. Scratching his head in confusion, where the hell did all the fishing spots go? Well, I suppose after 15 years they could have changed addresses, Sweetie.

Activity #2. There is no activity number 2 today. Back to camp. Get off the dog! No shoes in the tent, repeat shoes off and on five thousand times to throughly annoy parents and the other campers. Take a Benedryl. Boys! Again, the dog is not a horse, get off him! Give a nebulizer treatment. Yes, you are bleeding. Find the band-aids. Make dinner. Drink an adult beverage. Roast marshmallows, pretend your kids really like them melted, It becomes clear they don’t but it is pretty fun to play with fire. Youngest son showing every gang sign that he’s a budding pyromaniac.

Blow up the air mattress, get out the sleeping bags, its time for bed you little bastards. Forgot the plug for the air mattress, sleep on the ground. All four family members sardined in the tent, the new camp light doesn’t work. The youngest son is just as fascinated with flashlights as fire. My husband, having indulged in more than one adult beverage, needs to relieve himself.

He makes it to the tree line, I think. He’s singing a song. Happy husband rounding the curve but misses the entrance. Flattens my side of the tent. Other campers are very aware of my husbands relief and subsequent battle to re-enter his castle. We have lost the popularity contest already. Beautiful.

The next morning dawns another perfect day. The boys emerge, without shoes, to jump on the dog. My sister in law woke up with acne – feeling the stress perhaps? Pizza and chicken nuggets again for breakfast. More nebulizer treatments. “Get away from the FIRE!”. My brother in law gets stung by a hornet. Ouch! Give him the first aid kit. He takes a Benedryl. Discover the hornets nest 10 feet away. Sweet Jesus, really? Dead sons walking……

We decide that our family has enjoyed (endured) enough of this “camping” thing and start packing up. Giving in early was not a punishment. But it did look like a crime scene. Taking less care, we start shoving what was our savings account, back in the van. ” FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, GET OFF THAT DOG SWEETHEART!” Where’s my epi-pen?

Look up – it’s Black Grandma & Grandpa! Are the boys super thrilled to see their friendly faces, or maybe… its the Happy Meals they’ve managed to smuggle into the wild? What a heartening moment for Black Grandpa. To see the next generation of his family enjoying the land that was his families legacy…..motivated enough to come and visit. That’s family for you.

We happy campers flamed out within 24 hours, never to try again. Total cost? $576.42. Seeing my husband look up at his father and over to his brother with his son on his hip? Priceless.

As a more mature family of four now, we enjoy vacations as regularly as we can. Airplanes, hotels, it’s the city life for us. Museums, art galleries, arcades, plays and performances for this group. While my little family couldn’t fool Mother Nature that weekend, we survived, and all the while I was being choked to death by my big girl pants. ~ Wendy Frye

“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.”
Herb Caen