Breaking Bad Ass

We like to have a beer or other adult beverage while watching the Seattle Seahawks play football. With our son on the autism spectrum since he was three, an adult now, there stands a hard line between beer and wine – and hard alcohol.

“Vodka!” He screams at the top of his lungs….”Yes, Vodka.” We, his dutiful but worn out parents confess. “It makes a delicious alternative when mixed with lemonade vs. a heavy beer.” We TRY to explain.

“It will lead to DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!” He vehemently proclaims. Daring to hope he understands and will choose to be rational like he usually is……we headed down to watch the game. With the vodka drinks.

Ever the comedian, and dramatic as all get out, our “not so sold” adult son hears us from his room yelling at the television, cheering on Russell Wilson the the team after a very solid play. The stadium in Seattle is rocking and everyone is knocking. Except our son.

“Thats IT!” “You are fighting and it’s because of the VODKA!”

We yell upstairs to him that we really are not fighting….we are cheering on our team. No go. “I’M CALLING 911 NOW!” Oh shit. He does have his cell phone fully charged, in his room, on the night stand at all times.

We rush up the stairs. In full boxer short glory he’s taken the “God Forsaken Poison!” from the fridge (sitting next to the apple beer) and threw it out the back door almost to the neighbors yard.

“I’m DIALING!”

“NOW!”

Mind you, we suburban dwellers, affected by the virtual tragedy of autism, i.e. underemployed, lifetime caretakers, double duty chefs, and on and on. Deserve. A. Drink. Especially at this very moment. So, in his room, hand poised to press send on his cell he smirks…..

Yes, I called him a rat bastard. Yes, I meant it. No, I’m a horrible mother sometimes. Yes, he had us. Yes, he knew it.

Yes, we dumped the bottle.

Yes, we had an apple beer instead.

This morning I approached my adult son on the spectrum. “Wanna go to the casino?”

Oh boy…..the new frontier.

“WHERE’S MY CELL PHONE!!!!!!”

(snicker) ~ Wendy Frye

“Spend some time this weekend on home improvement; improve your attitude toward your family.” ~ Bo Bennett

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Slip

Having a young child with special needs tends to slow a family down. It takes time and bravery to pick and choose appropriate activities that can actually be accomplished, as well as enjoyable. Between therapies, school, doctor appointments, processes and procedures – there just comes a time when it is almost critical to recreate as a family.

Recreational activities, you know – the real ones most families enjoy at their leisure, usually after breakfast lasting ’til before dinner. Likely culprits include sledding, skiing, biking, or simply taking a walk. For families like mine, recreation used to fall under “Too Complicated To Conceive”, especially when our eldest, the one diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, was very young.

Our family sled has seen only 5 minutes of use. The Cross Country skis? Mothballed under the porch. Camping equipment, utilized for less than 24 hours. Multiple bikes have been sold at garage sales, never knowing the pavement after Christmas morning. The horse, tack and saddle were sold after an anaphylaxis reaction at the barn. Considering our track record, it is justifiably deflating.

Well, when our disability services caseworker suggested joining the local, new and nearby YMCA, let’s just say I tried not to laugh out loud for very long. It was a sincere appeal, passes provided with the hope of a little family fun. Okay, I surrendered, again.

For this, in the middle of winter, we tried to prepare. Anticipating every item necessary, for we were going to be swimming inside when it’s 20 below outside. Lugging in a preposterous amount of gear, we waddled ourselves to the pool area. THANKFULLY, a family dressing room provided an adequate battle ground to prepare for poolside war.

WOW! Not just one pool, but two, complete with a spiral SLIDE! Maybe this won’t be too bad. I thought about getting comfortable ( actually – as comfortable as possible in a bathing suit, out in public, wearing the palest version of pale!). Husband took one child, I took the other and we split up. We figured we needed even odds if we were going to kill, blind or maim one or both of the children. I know, I know ~ but you’d be pessimistic too!

Hauling my eldest son to the top of the ladder, the plan was to jump in and go big. To the top! The top of the spiral water slide! My son on the spectrum was, well, suffice to say he was a little bit apprehensive. Me, I have a “dare-the-devil” gene in me, somewhere. Taking him down, like a wrestler, to sit on my lap was my only choice. There was no turning back to try going back down the stairs like a wussy.

Masking his terrorized screams with my screaming laughter at the sheer delight of going SOOOOO fast – we made it to the bottom! Awesome, we did it! I pulled him out of the water and was greeted with a big, watery smile! My son, he too loved it! “Let’s do it again!” we would say in unison!

After two many more trips down, even taking my youngest with us once (Dad at the bottom of the slide for potential damage control) we seemingly (and suddenly) hit our limit. While having more fun than is legal, we may have pushed the eldest a little too long. Exiting the pool, turning to the left, he lost his dinner in the lap pool.

There was no disguising it, he had done the unthinkable. “Will everyone please exit the lap pool immediately for maintenance.” was heard THREE TIMES over the intercom. The signs were placed by the walkway stating the two hour closure to shock the pool. Sullenly, we made our way back to the dressing room and ultimately home.

Poor kid, he was young, overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and unable to control his reaction. Worst parents in the world over here. Considering the trauma, we thought for sure it was going to be another wasted investment for an activity we couldn’t manage. But we were wrong. Excitedly, and not too late after, came the request to return to the pool. Well then, knowing our limits now, calculating the amount of time for proper digestion prior to arrival, we headed back to the scene of the crime. And executed several more trips down the slide, laughing like hyenas and cackling like fools. We, as a family of four, finally found recreation.

“Let’s GO!” ~ Wendy Frye

Wiz

One absolutely spectacular benefit working within the banking industry is a certain pretend holiday, Columbus Day. Oh yeah, falling on a Monday in October while the kids are back in school, husbands at work….Columbus Day HAS to be the best, employer paid holiday EVER known in the United Sates of America.

A couple of years ago, while employed with a local credit union, another Columbus Day came along. The time was ripe. My son on the Spectrum had shown me twice the venue he wanted to visit. His younger brother, an absolute super-hero, was good with the idea. So, we sprang it on him. Booked an overnight flight to Vegas (Baby!) to visit the unknown-to-most Pinball Hall of Fame!

You know the song, Pinball Wizard. Well, the guy with late onset autism, he relates. The self proclaimed “gamer” regressed, technologically speaking, into loving pinball. So hey, just try finding an operating machine thats not in a dive bar or other establishment that discourages a 16 year old young man from living his passion. Not easy, any day of the week. But try we did. So with his research and discovery of the “Hall” lie the path that will lead us to pinball Nirvana.

Om. (Clang Clang!)

Within fifteen minutes of our arrival to Vegas, we were surrounded by two hundred plus pinball machines. All workable and playable, spanning from the oldest to the latest, WOW! Can you say sensory overload? “MOM!” “I need a quarter!” was the last I heard from him for the eight hour shift.

It really was my idea of idyllic, a wonderful way to spend a weekend with my son. Besides the “Hall” we went to the art showing at the Bellagio, ate crappy pizza, had dinner for breakfast and pillaged the arcade at our hotel resort.

Returning home exhausted at 2:00 in the morning, I drug it to work the next day and managed to play off that I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. Arriving home, ready to collapse, my eldest son yells for my attention from the basement. He’d found it, a new Nirvana – the Coin Operated Museum in San Francisco!

“When can we go!” ~ James Frye

“If some people didn’t tell you, you’d never know they’d been away on a vacation.” ~ Kin Hubbard

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Stereotyped

Per Wikipedia: “Stimming” – A repetitive body movement, such as hand flapping. The term is shorthand for self-stimulation. Repetitive movement, or stereotypy, is often referred to as stimming under the hypothesis that it has a function related to sensory input.

Just simply try to imagine an even more uninformed and ignorant world. A world wherein society is made up of all walks of peoples who are even less accustomed to an ever-emerging population. The population of individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Our son was only one in ten thousand. In a city of only 200,000 it was a rare day to see another family out and about with their child on the Spectrum.

Our beautiful son, diagnosed so many years ago, yes, he too “stims’. When he was a toddler, he usually did visual stimulation. Looking at light/dark contrasts over and over to beef up his visual pathway. Later, he would hop, skip and yodel. And yes, it is very distracting for the unaccustomed.

Newer to Facebook, I can boost a new family who too are impacted by Autism. I have other moms, dads, groups, interested parties, and adult friends with Autism. These people are priceless when it comes to understanding this new world, populated by one in eighty eight persons on the Spectrum.

One particular friend rallied around a sincerely provocative idea. Parents and therapists utilizing ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapies and behavior interventions should conduct those sessions in public, say Target or Costco. Consider it an Autism field trip. Let societies ears ring with the deafening screaming and witness the erratic behaviors Autism Families share behind their front doors.

Personally speaking, we get out as often as possible. Quick trips here and there. Classes, adventures, and the like – usually its me and my son alone. He’s typically on point, not exactly engaging, but aware of his surroundings. Not exactly polite, but not as rude as he can be. It’s been very fulfilling for me to spend quality, caring time with him. The people we meet along the way, pretty understanding – maybe with more people affected the mainstream is getting it. Oops, I need to slow down here. There was one day not long ago…..a real game changer for our family.

I simply took my then 18 year old adult son on the Spectrum to Walmart (I know, never again) and left him to test video games while I picked up a few groceries. Massive visual stimulation! Sensing the expiration of time out he will tolerate, I backtracked to the video department. Oh, there he is, I thought – he’s walking my way. Good mom senses here! Wait a minute. Whoa. Why are there 6 employees, keeping their distance, following my son like the Presidents secret agents? I was instantly made aware why – he was stimmin while skipping/walking/yodeling over his path back to me. I had to laugh. No more are we embarrassed. Why? He’s doing what he naturally does – just being himself.

Just be you, James Frye, just be you…. ~ Mom

” You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.” ~ John Lennon

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YOU ARE

My son, the one on the spectrum, isn’t feeling himself today. I’m home with him, sorting through old papers and such, and happened upon a couple of age worn poems written by my youngest. WOW, I honor my youngest. Please enjoy his works with me, all sloppy and teary as I am now….

YOU ARE

I think you are friendly.
I wonder if you are a super hero.
I hear you laugh.
I see you smile.
I want you to be happy.
You are great.

I pretend you fly.
I feel you give a mamas little baby.
You touch me.
I worry that you cry.
You cry water.
You are smart.

You understand James.
You say nice things (some times).
I dream that you play football.
You try to make us happy.
You hope we grow up.
You are wonders.

YOU ARE great, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!
love, Jon 🙂

by Jon ~ aged 8 years old

WENDY

Daughter of Kent and Sandra
Sister of Melissa and Paula
MOTHER of Jon and James
Lover of my family
Maker of crafts
Dreamer of James and Jon to gragat (graduate)
Fear of Heights
Player of big Kahuna Reef
Giver of kisses and smiles
Watcher of unwrapped and survivor
Listener of rock and roll

Love, Jon

by Jon ~ aged 9 years old

You are becoming a fine young man, Jon ~ Love Mom

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” ~ Charles Swindoll

Sliced

“Relax.” My youngest son tells me. I wasn’t aware that I was uptight – I just asked a rhetorical question. I must have looked confused to him. “Mom, really” he says – “Relax.”

There must have been a point in time when I passed through the portal of being “all knowing and all-seeing Mom” to “Mind it old lady, I suspect everything you even think about being up to.”

He’s is our mental alchemist child. The child, who probes, studies, suspects, and projects probable outcomes in relation to any situation at hand. It’s not often I get the opportunity to outwit the witty one of the family.

Until one day. The day fate handed me a cherry pie and a fork to eat it with.

Coming in from work, I noted the shears in the living room were hanging not exactly upside down, but re-threaded by the bottom hem of the drapery. The tag was now at the top and the pole was askew. In addition there was drywall dust on the floor and the couch was sagging.

Raising my eyebrow, I asked, who broke the couch? “Your other son” the mental magician tells me.

It was possible. His older brother, on the autism spectrum, has the gumption to pull the couch up to the front window to keep watch for the school bus. He’s not a little guy, but 6’ 4” and around 250 pounds. It wasn’t a luxurious couch by any means. Functional and modern looking, yet cheap, made with pressed wood bones and faux suede skin.

I didn’t ask his brother, not wanting to embarrass him or make him feel awkward if it was his height and weight at the core of the question regarding the couch. It really wasn’t that big of a deal.

A few days go by, and it’s the weekend. I sit in the front room – looking closer at the drapery and the discombobulating effect on the decor. I pulled off the sheer, flipped it over, re-threaded the pole and sat back down.

Interesting……very, interesting.

The Bichons of the family sit on the couch when it’s not occupied by the oldest son waiting for the bus. It’s their perch for viewing the evil joggers and passer-by people who must be barked at. It’s their job to watch and bark – and they take their career seriously.

My kids love those dogs. We all have floor time with toys to tug on and finger guns to shoot them with – it’s big fun in our home. Maybe too big of fun sometimes?

I changed seats to the dining room table, turned and looked my youngest son straight in the eye. My husband, his father was in the kitchen making dinner (he’s a keeper!). I went ahead and laid out my hypothesis in plain, simple language – complete with a “walk-thru” visual aid for the young Einstein.

“Hi Sweetheart.” “What, Mom?” I swept my eyes up and over to the front room bay window. “I bet you were playing with the girls in the den. It got a little wild and Annie chased Lilly back to the couch in the front window for safety sake. You followed, jumping on the couch in the front room with them. You lost your balance and grabbed the shears by instinct. You, by virtue of simple physics, pulled them right off the rod. You then lost your balance and tipped off the couch. In the process the bones of the girls perch cracked and broke in half. You, sensing your life ending for being so careless, re-strung the curtain and blamed your brother for the infraction. Am I right?”

My son, for once in his teenaged life, slipped up. Eyes HUGE, “How did you know that?” “I’m psychic and you’re busted.” He laughed in amazement – and congratulated me on my psychic prowess – turned away and then back to me saying “Seriously, HOW did you know that was what happened?”

“Care for a slice of pie Sweetheart?” ~ Wendy Frye

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ~ Albert Einstein

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Admissions

I am one of “THOSE Moms”. The mom who was pushed (slammed) into a corner with a diagnosis of Autism for my child. The diagnosis period for our son was dragged out over his second year and into the third – needlessly, on a step system (Global Developmental Disorder, PDD-NOS, etc.) to finally land on ASD, moderately affected. Since he was meeting major milestones, it wasn’t necessary to address his regressive language development – so we were told. This was 1998, putting this into perspective, the book Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis, PhD, came out ONE month before our son’s diagnosis.

“Mrs. Frye, there’s no known cause for your sons developmental disabilities, and no known cure for him….just get him through special education and get him ready for an institution. He will have a “qualified” future living in a group home. P.S. Mrs. Frye, can we take some blood for genetic research before you leave?”

Driving 300 miles home, in our mini-van, I wondered what does this “Autism” thing really mean and why am I so scared? Arriving late in the evening, we instantly (instinctively?) ran downstairs and searched “Autism Cure” on Google. (I’m sure anyone reading this article can imagine how heart wrenching that evening was.) We actively mourned for about 24 hours and then got extremely pissed, and formed our anger into action. What action during what I so lovingly call “the lost decade”? The good stuff, biomedical interventions as well as sensory therapies – old school style! We were shooting from the hip – and not taking it from anyone wearing a white coat. Does any of this sound familiar?

First, my husband and I will never be convinced that our previously healthy, happy boy was born this way. He was well and over a period of time started slipping deeper and deeper into poor health. We started asking questions during the last two years before “the final diagnosis”. Those questions were answered with shrugs and denials for treatments. We appealed our insurance company’s decision – complete with a dog and pony show….it was miserable, looking back. Absolutely and certifiably 100% miserable.

Ultimately, WE made THE executive decision as his parents DECIDING that WE would do to get him back to healthy BEFORE concluding any lifelong, abrupt diagnostic ending for our boy, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! To this day, that was the BEST decision WE ever made. Our family has coined the phrase – “Juggling the Astronaut”. That’s what we did, juggled our son who was attached at the end of a cord, a lifeline if you will, through space and time to arrive here, back with us.

I would like to share here some of our home-grown (but not so random) therapies, supplements, processes and procedures that I researched and implemented with my young ASD son. By trial and error, directly or indirectly these things WORKED and helped him REGAIN some of his health and to ultimately grow into the HEALTHIER and HAPPIER young man he is today.

***DISCLAIMER***

This is not health advice (blah, blah, blah). I am not a licensed health professional, so just like everything we do for our kids, please research and determine if any of this has value to your family and children. And remember this was the 1990’s, there just wasn’t the support available with only 1 in 10,000 families with Autism in common. So take all this with a grain of salt or a glass of wine, and thank all that is good and holy that we have a better understanding of how to heal our children.

Where did we start?

First item on the agenda was to tackle was our son’s severe allergies that presented as nasal congestion, plugged ears, and horrible eczema. Our baby boys’ immune system was out to lunch. We did not relish giving him prescription and/or over the counter anti-histamines while his nervous system was struggling to develop. So we looked for viable alternatives. The best thing EVER for scaling back inflammation and slowing down the inflammatory response was MSM. I read the book, The Miracle of MSM by Stanley W. Jacob, MD, and never went back to conventional allergy meds. Over time his skin condition improved, sinuses dried up, asthma abated and he felt better than he had in a long time. The BIG plus? – We were also supplementing bio available sulfur to aid his liver function around his phenolic sulfatase deficiency.

Best bath soak in the world: Queen Helene’s Natural Mineral Bath Salts in Lavender. This gem of a product has been around for decades and contains not only magnesium sulfate but real sulfur, lithium and natural lavender oil. Whoo-hoo! My son was not swallowing pills at the time so everything became a topical application or ground up and swallowed in a beverage. When I smelt the real “brimstone and fire” smell of sulfur in the bathroom I was thrilled! It is one more arrow in my quiver to treat his phenol sulfotransferase deficiency AND eczema. The lavender oil has antiseptic properties and the lithium? Naturally occurring lithium is an excellent mood stabilizer. After his bath my son was somewhat relaxed and ready for bed! Thankfully this product is still in production, stocked in nearly every drug store across America.

My son wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) swallow pills for the longest time. As a work-around we resorted to “cereal bottles”. We cut the nipple off midway, filled the bottle with warm rice cereal plus apple juice to conceal whatever powdered vitamins and supplements we could include in his snack. I used a dedicated coffee grinder for pulverizing – and still do while compounding his vitamins to this day. Who really cared about weaning a 3 ½ year old off a bottle when it was the only bridge to health available? Not us.

We spent our tax return on what had to be the last vial of Secretin on the market – had it compounded by a pharmacy with DMSO as a carrier. It really did help our son. As a replacement I was able to locate and supplement freeze-dried porcine duodenum to aid his digestive health. There are several products still readily available as alternative medicine.

Best “quick “education:

The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, Brain Injured Child Course. I learned enough in that one week parent program to move forward and choose sensory therapies that made a serious and positive impact on my son’s discombobulated nervous system.

Sensory therapies:

Berard Auditory Integration Training. We found Marcie, a therapist, who was travelling through different cities administrating the training. It was thrilling to see the documented improvement in the quality of sound my son was able to hear.

Sensory Learning Program: Mary Bolles method. We spent 12 days in a town about an hour from where we live to take the program. While I learned at the Institutes about brain injury and the amount of effort that it takes to reprogram a previously healthy brain, I had to work full-time and couldn’t implement the full days of therapy necessary to help my son. But with the Sensory Learning Program all modalities of sensory input is implemented within each session. My son simply lay on a table that rotated to stimulate his vestibular system. At the same time there are flashing colored lights on a random cycle to stimulate his visual pathway, all while listening with headphones to chopped up music as in AIT. This was the best therapy EVER. Surprisingly, he was a willing participant. I worried about over stimulating him – but he actually enjoyed the process.

Binaural Beat Brainwave CDs from Hemi-Sync, a Monroe Product: These are outstanding works of art for deep brain stimulation via the auditory pathway – a different take on AIT. I catch my son using these products to this day.

Good Reads:

I found many helpful books at a local used book store. Treasures included a pediatric gastrointestinal medical book from the UK dating from the ‘60’s. Also, another favorite of mine is Let’s Get Well by Adelle Davis – plain and sensible information.

The Singin’ Pole is a good read by Doris Wilson Adams – I met Mrs. Adams in person doing a signing of her book. Her story is our story too – just decades older. The measles/mumps correlation made by the author and her son was very interesting……

Favorite whole food supplements:

I want to offer my favorite nutritional trick for the picky eaters out there. Chia seeds aka salvia seeds. Those seeds have some of the most magnificent nutritional elements I have ever run across. Rich in good fats, high fiber and protein, excellent for gluten free cooking – it is a powerhouse of goodness! In our case, my son really likes pizza. So, to clean up his diet, I make homemade tomato sauce. For a healthy addendum; I grind up and toss in carrots, broccoli and cauliflower as well as a ton of garlic as well as chia “gel”. When soaked in water, chia seeds form a dense gelatin like substance that is slightly sweet – which is perfect to put into the pizza sauce. He doesn’t even know – and there is no telltale evidence he can find.

And lastly, I’m growing Sea-buckthorn plants in my garden. The oil is superior for sensitive skin. The nutritional properties are renowned and all health benefits cross over to the health needs of our son. There are too many benefits to list – so please, research it, apply it, eat it, juice it and maybe even grow it!

I haven’t attended an AutismOne conference, yet – but certainly plan on it next year. I still have so much to learn – and to this day lament what we could have tried to further assist our son with his health. What a feeling it has to be with so many people in one place, with the same passion to heal our children.

This fall my son and I will be on our way to college. He graduated high school this year, all the while he was in special education – he was even awarded the Superintendents medal of achievement. The astronaut in him is still there, he flies high in his mind to places we can only imagine. Looking back we know his success is this: he truly lives with passion, perusing an art certificate, to ultimately create his own mark on this world.

~ Wendy Frye

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work; we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” ~ Pablo Picasso 1881 – 1973

White Rabbit

Having your child diagnosed on the autism spectrum subsequently changes a mother. Words simply cannot explain the changes to the body, mind and soul of a woman who’s handed something akin to a death knell about their child. The baby they prayed for, dreamt about and waited for over 5 long years. Then, two years of life with the little guy, only to be told he will never actually interact WITH you, won’t speak, we can’t explain what happened, but get ready to put him away – away to an institution and please, try to get on with your life lady.

Stunned stupid? Yes, with a death ray that could feasibly destroy any planet of your choosing.

Not taking this laying down, in those early days before we knew what really happened to our son, my time was filled with research, frustration, panic, and according to some, a manic pursuit of wellness for my son. These things strain relationships, family, friendships, and marriages – nothing is immune from the fallout surrounding an Autism diagnosis.

The summer of 2000, my husband was invited to tour China as a Fulbright Scholar. What an amazing compliment and honor for someone who deserved so much more from life than he was so urgently experiencing. Besides, we needed a break. We needed to know we could make it to the finish line, together. Not pleasant, but please remember, 99% of all parents with a disabled child divorce over the details of the disability. Were we going to jump over the 99% to stay in the light, the 1% who trudge through, together?

He packed his bag, jumped on a plane, and was only able to call one time while he was away in the exotic far east.

The boys and I were really alone now. My oldest son, the one with Autism, had had his tonsils out the week before. It wasn’t going well for him. I needed to call into work the next week to stay home. My boss was ticked, I was sorry – but my son, he was still bleeding from surgery.

The lawn? My brother-in-law mowed once, I paid the neighbor kid the next time and even managed it myself another time. I was exhausted. Exhausted to a point I had never known before. Clinically exhausted……

But who really cared? My mother – the toughest woman in my world, was sick. She had learned just a couple of weeks before China that she had a very rare blood/immune system disease. Of course, she won the other shitty lottery for our family. Four people in the US have this disease – and just where did she find this ticket? Seriously, where in the world does this kind of thing come from?

My mother is a brand of her own. She was suffering herself. She loves my kids – and me too. It had to have been a personal brand of hell to know your daughter needed you more than ever this time….but she literally couldn’t darken the door of my house…because she could die from the exposure. Six weeks of her own house arrest to sort out her cancer. God, the irony….it really is endless.

My Father, a light in my life, brought the food to me. Oh ya, Mom is an excellent cook. Dad delivered delicious meals, seasoned with my Mothers love, spiced with the words she couldn’t bring herself to say – compete with salt, pepper and a napkin. I dined like royalty – from the hand of my unwell Mother…doing what she could to help her own daughter, in the depths of her own personal hell, fighting for her own life.

Upon entering the living room, after his tour of China, was my husband. We knew were the only two people on this planet capable of taking on our family’s needs. That was the best decision ever made by both of us.

Two weeks after my husbands return, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and a raging case of Pleurisy. This explained my clinical exhaustion. I had found my bottom and was ready to leave it all behind, heaving upwards and out of the rabbit hole we’d all fallen into.

Bless my Mother. The White Grandma. She prepared me for this moment. I regained my health, to surge forward. And my Mom? She continued supporting my boys with whatever it takes to get back to “normal”. Now, She’s trudging along, changing history with her stubborn need to dictate to my Dad and the rest of her family. Give ’em hell, Mom. Give them all Hell.

~ Wendy Frye

Necessity… the mother of invention.
Plato

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

No Bull

Bullies abound. EVERYWHERE. Take a quick inventory, or deeply reflect upon the people who populate your life. Are all your relationships well and good? Are you working on any damaged links to get back to fine? Excellent! Let’s move on to the rest…..the people in our lives, with or without our choosing, that are known as “Bullies”.

Wikipedia: “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.”

Substitute passive aggressive and you’ve got typical human nature folks. Your day is probably studded with interrelations with this type of bully – necessitating an evening of Tums, Advil or a shot of vodka.

Bullies run rampant, many times moving in clusters or groups, and they have a common cause – to keep others from stripping them of their own imagined power over the rest of us.

Locker rooms, water coolers, hallways, parking lots, meeting rooms, playgrounds, cafeterias, family gatherings, churches, schools or any other place people interact – its always the same….someone (or “someones”) emerges as “The Bully”.

And bullies need their allies. The little piss-ant minions who are just the tool the bulls need to rock the equilibrium of their victims. Spy, negate, report, leverage, gossip, lie, bargain, or basically sell their soul to be accepted by the one who rejects the rest.

Is there anything meaner than a pack of middle school girls? Well, those girls grow up to become middle aged women. The elementary school kid who picks fights, suckers lunch money, threatens retaliation on the weak – they too grow up to be middle aged men. These people, the ones who think they have the power, Riggggghhhhttttt (wink, wink)…

These are the individuals who heckle our President and get away with it. The SOB who insults his laborers with with a grinding work schedule, no benefits, and “no hope for you” management style in an economy where any job is a good job. The person you work with that won’t let you finish a sentence because you might be right, and in their mind, that makes them wrong. The evil person who shot an innocent young man down while he walking home from the convenience store, talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone, and enjoying some Skittles. Tragic.

Bullies can be transparent, or obvious – and there is one universal reason why. Abject insecurity.

Consider this, the person who actively tries to destroy, hold back, ruin a reputation, play judge and jury, gossip, lie, injure, damage, pretend to care, or any other nasty thing they can think of to another human being, does not have the self confidence to do a true good deed. Any act of kindness is instantly negated by their historical behavior against their current or past victims. Period.

My son, diagnosed Autistic, does not have the type of ego that lends to being a bully. He is the one who has been bullied most of his life. Entering adulthood, he is a strong and capable young man. I am very proud to say, he is NOT a bully. Our family is learning every day, and we are grateful to be here, together – blessed knowing our purpose in this life.

Let go of “ego”. Live a day without saying (or thinking) “I”. Smile in the face of someone who is being horrible to you. Love your enemy. Sit with the unpopular person at lunch and listen to what they have to say. Dare not to care what people think. Walk away from gossip. Don’t be selfish. Go to church and listen. Stay home and heal. Get out of your own way. Learn to say what you mean and not what they want to hear. Take a chance. Be nice, it really does matter. Push someone else up the ladder instead of knocking them off “your” rung. Choose your words more wisely. Don’t gossip. Don’t react. Dance with the short man who had the nerve to ask. And above all else, remember this, perception creates reality.

Perceive a world without bullies. ~ Wendy Frye

“A lot of people are afraid to tell the truth, to say no. That’s where toughness comes into play. Toughness is not being a bully. It’s having backbone.” Robert Kiyosaki