wisdomfromthesisterhood

The Sisterhood is a place to bring your cup of coffee to. Heck, bring the whole pot :). Sit down, relax, and fall in for a while. No divas or meanies allowed. It's about boy brain, kiddos, food, one crazy labrador, autism and a cat in recovery from a back tire incident. Oh the places you'll go :)

Sparkles In The Mud Puddle

In the fourth grade I was a mostly good speller and I will admit I was more than a little surprised when my spelling test came back with the word, “ugly” marked wrong.  Simple word,right?  Seriously hard to misspell.  How did I let this happen?  How?  I looked at the test, tried to figure out the problem and, even more so, tried to come to terms with how I, the good speller, missed such a simple word.

Except that I didn’t.  I didn’t spell it wrong.

Yeah, it was marked big and red and wrong like bad spellings get marked with a check in red and NOT a star… but it wasn’t wrong at all.  It was spelled right.  U-G-L-Y.  Pretty straight forward.  Being the rule follower and the righter of wrongs that I was, I walked up to the teacher’s desk and told her as much.  She stood firm.  She didn’t blink.  She looked right back at me with her straight and unsmiling mouth and she said out loud that I was wrong.  Ugly, she said, was spelled A-U-G-L-Y.

What?

I was naturally floored.  To me this was a life fail because not only had I believed it was a no-brainer word but now I had failed the no-brainer.  I was a no-brainer-failure which is the worst kind of fail there is.  NO-BRAINER-FAILURE.  Ugghhh.  I can still remember how flabbergasted I felt.  I was so shocked I even ran across the classroom to the encyclopedia and the dictionary to see how I could have gone so wrong.  How had I missed that?  How had I missed that -a- all my life?  The truth is, as the good old dictionary’s pages gleamed back at me in black and white, I hadn’t missed it.  What was simple was still simple.  Ugly was still spelled like I always thought it was and without an -a- anywhere in the word.  None, nada, zip, zilcho.

Nonetheless, the teacher balked.

She clearly insisted the -a- was part of the proper English spelling.  Huh?  Yep, she insisted, she was not wrong, she was just better than American English and she spelled with proper English.  Whatever, I thought, because she wasn’t even English at all so any out of date English spelling did not apply at our American school.  I let her know, according to American standards, I spelled the word right.  And, as it turned out, I was not a child in denial and incapable of taking responsibility,  I was a student in a classroom with a teacher whose ego was bigger than all of Buckingham Palace.  In that class , her ego was in fact often bigger than her ability to support, teach or nurture.

What does this have to do with mud puddles you ask?  Stay with me.  It’s right here.

Egos can get too big for their britches.  That is what happens with experts sometimes and the world of autism is filled with experts like my  teacher who, for whatever reason, believe they own the answers and know how deep and thick the mud will be on this autism journey… when, beyond diagnosis, they have not yet dirtied their shoes.  They make confident predictions about who and what children on the spectrum will be and do when, the truth is, no one knows where the road will lead.  Unfortunately, people believe the dire predictions and they give up because…why try when the experts say it’s no use?  The worst thing you can do is let them shake your faith.

Don’t get me wrong…the experts are important and have their place.  Just realize the experts are merely guides on this journey because autism is gray like that and guides are necessary because autism is fluid, it changes and it doesn’t much like being nailed down.  These experts with their degrees are helpful in nailing down the diagnosis but they often  lose sight of the reality that autism is more than the diagnosis.  The most important thing is to have a battle plan and you can’t formulate a good battle plan unless you have been to battle.  What the experts don’t and can’t predict is how bright the sparkle will be and how remarkably high these children and their families will rise up and fight to bridge the gaps they face.  The sparkle factor matters.  It matters BIG.

And, yes, there will be puddles.  There just will.  Autism is not always sweetness and light.  Yeah, I said it.  Autism is going to have dark moments and knock you down on occasion.  There will be mud, blackness, deep pits, and there will be unexpected levels of murkiness in some moments.  There will be uncertainty, doubt and grayness too.  But…wait for it…, the real truth is that there will also be sparkles that are sparklier than you could have ever imagined.

And, you’re right, we would not willingly order a side dish of autism for our children if given the box to check at their birth.  But the crazy thing is that if I could go back and change it…I wouldn’t.  Yep, she said the crazy thing.  I would not give autism away.  I love what it has brought into my life.  I’m not crazy about the mud and the murkiness in some choice moments but they sure have imparted some sparkly brilliance into my life that would not have existed otherwise.  That murky puddle I call autism is a really good thing that has this way of bringing the happy out and spreading laughter into my life and others.

Yeah, it can also spread out some chaos and crazy but the sparkle is worth it.  The boy rocks.

The God’s honest truth is that the autism mud puddle is going to look like a murky, mired down mess some days.  I won’t lie…it will.  But, just like with everything else, autism all depends on your perspective.   There’s magic in that muddy puddle if you open yourself up to it.  The sparkle is right inside the muddy mess.  Yeah, it’s mucky and messy and you can for darn sure get mired down inside of the complaint of how down right awful it is if you let yourself.  You can scream like a banshee at the rain and the clouds and the cold weather that came paired with it.  And, honest to goodness, you can get absolutely lost inside the pity party if you aren’t careful.

But where does that get you?  Eh?

I have watched my boy throw the wooden puzzle through the window, I have received the call from school when his class was evacuated because he had the melt down to end all melt downs.  I have had the unkind parents who don’t want us in their child’s class.  So, truly, I get it.  Nonetheless, I choose to embrace the sparkle and keep hope warmed up and ready to go.  I take the experts for the guides that they are and realize autism is not in stone.  It grows, it breathes, it moves.  And, when it sparkles, let yourself soak in those soft moments.  The heavy ones are going to come, no doubt, but if you have to hang out near the puddle, in the puddle or around the puddle, jump up high and land hard with a splash.  And smile.  At least look for the sparkle in your mud puddle because I guarantee you…it’s in there.  Honestly, it’s a whole lot brighter to look for the sparkle than it is to settle in and lose yourself in the muck for good.

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Embracing The Nasty Booger

I honestly don’t remember anyone saying life would be easy.

Nope, no one did.  Not once.

Then again, as I recall, no one ever threw up a yellow flag that cautioned we would each find moments in our lives that would be entirely black  either.  No one said it would be so dark that sometimes you won’t even be able to see the road.  Or that, for some,  life would give you twice as much as your hands can physically hold.  Or that sometimes, after life has dealt you some hard blows, it will chuckle as it throws you a few more.  Life has a sense of humor like that.

Some chapters of life, as my son would say, are just nasty boogers.  A title he gave to his fourth grade teacher during one of his own dark moments and a term that has remained in our family ever since.

The undeniable truth is that there will be darkness and though life dishes the nasty-booger-moments out, life doesn’t offer up simple answers or give us the light we want when we want it.  There are those darker days when the answers sit under the shadows and only time and struggle will unveil them.  The kind of time and struggle that is never easy, fun, filled with giggles or even warm.

Time can be slow. Time isn’t always kind or comfortable.

In the darker places, the best you can really do is keep trying to move forward based solely on instinct, hope and love.  Some days you will hold on by a thread.  Some days you will simply hope the inner voice you sometimes hear will show you a bit of grace and keep guiding you forward, one baby step at a time, through the blackness.

Thankfully, and a thought that’s worth holding onto during those dark-nasty-booger-moments, the moments are worth it.  It may not seem like it at the time but, later, they absolutely are.  The blackness is where the strength grows and where character is born.  The blackest moment holds the deepest strength.  That barely-holding-on-nasty-booger-black-moment is the very moment when you get to see who you are because this is the moment when the ‘who’ you are evolving into begins appearing, growing, building.  Growth, for darn sure, ain’t easy and it’s not something everyone does well or with grace but, eventually, it’s a good thing.  It’s scary and lonely and full of uncertainty and, it’s good too.

It truly is during these frightening, hunkered down moments when all the clarity is muddied and you think you are breaking, when you step away from the crowds, the comfort and even the well traveled path and you touch upon the bare bones of who you truly are.

Dark moments are when we stretch.

In that uncharted territory, in the pain and the unknown and the hurt, is when we get that glimpse of who we really are.  This is when emotional muscle and back bone are layered into the “who” that we are.   And though there will be times when you want to give up, give in and wave your white flag in defeat…don’t.  Hang on longer, hunker down a little lower because who you are becoming matters.  Meandering away from shiny, sweet and perfect and evolving into seasoned, useful and wise is not easy but, the honest truth is, shiny, sweet and perfect is also shallow and useless.  It takes the nasty-booger-moments to grow the strength and wisdom this life needs us to have.

I see the friends in my circle who have been roughed up by life and these are the ones I love most.  Though they have weathered their share of darkness, they carry the kind of light and grace that shines brightness on the darkest of days.    These friends who have weathered the darkness and have made it through the nasty-booger-moments are the ones I pull myself nearer to.  Their wisdom and warmth is sincere like no other and their light soothes the darker days.  We may not like the nasty-booger-moments but they sure make the world, and our circle of friends, a better place.

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An American Child: Prisoner of War

For My Grandfather On Veterans Day

There is mostly light

Filling his life,

Young, strong, he is American.

A peaceful man, rousted from his quiet life of sales in 1944

And asked to defend his country.

Life changes, plans fall,

He is from a generation who does not run.

He stands up and is poised to fight for Her.

 

He lands on the ground, in Europe, fighting…

For his own life.

It is January, 1944

He has been taken

He is a prisoner of war.

 

An American boy

German kept month and then months.

Starved until he may not walk again.  Starved until he may not live.

He is an American boy

He will not fall so easily,

He rises from the starvation

He stands again.

Not as straight and not as tall

But he stands because he will not let men of hatred crush him or Her.

 

An American boy

He stands proud.

He sees Europe

By foot

He is marched and marched and marched,

Month to month to month,

Until he cannot move.

He learns to cut hair to remain sane.

He marches until the starvation makes him fall…again.

They say he will not stand again.

But it is 1945

The war is over

He is free.

 

An American Boy

The prisoner of war returns to Her.

He is skin and bones,

Others stare at him, his protruding bones,

They cannot understand.

He will not leave the dinner table.

He will not waste what he once longed for.

He will not leave until each plate is bare.

Long after all have pushed out their chairs and walked,

George will still be sitting, eating, appreciating.

Thankful for the food and careful not to let

One single precious crumb be tossed away.

Wasted like he was in those sixteen months.

Those who have never left the bounties of America cannot understand.

 

He is free

but never free of his memories

Never free from his starvation.

Five decades will pass and he will still fear

being hungry.

 

An American boy

The calendar says he is 89 and now another war has come.

This time men and women fight.

The new war stirs old wounds

George fights the old battle in his memory

It is hard to tell the difference between what is now and what is memory.

His body is fading

He is fighting the war still

He is starving again

There is mostly darkness.

 

An American boy

Decades have changed him

War has not changed.

He cannot see war again

His mind cannot relive the ache that still breathes

Inside the darkness inside of him

New prisoners of a desert war are taken

The same and yet different,

There are women this time

 

With grace and forgiveness, George’s body gives way before he can see

The faces of the new POWs

The faces of women who have replaced him.

He goes before he has to see

Them living the nightmare of his war life over again.

 

Or, perhaps, he has to go and be with them.

Lend his strength,

His knowing,

His awareness

To them

Because only he can know

The depths of what they will need

What they will see

And how, in their mind, they will never stop being that

American Child

Prisoner of War.

 

POW George Anderson, held by the Germans for 16 months during WWII, passed on March 24, 2003, before he could see the new POWs.  An amazing man and my grandfather.

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Best Laugh Ever

Funny only because it is SOOOO true :).  Happy day, my friends !

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Creative Parenting 101: The Monopoly Picnic

For me, it’s easier to parent in the summer.  Warm weather, the pool and sunshine are good friends to have and they come together to make parenting pretty darn easy.  Fall and winter, on the other hand, are a tad bit more challenging.  There just isn’t as much to do and my boys especially are quite content to give all their time to the Nintendo and the television…which Mom is NOT going for.  So, on the weekends, we try to get creative.

This weekend, in an attempt to get the boys outside and the electronics disengaged, we merged what each of us enjoys most.  The boys got their “Nintendo” and Mom got them outside.  Sunday, for us, was our first round of Nintendo Monopoly Picnic and everyone joined us…as you can see from the pics below.  I will say that I did not include the pic of the black widow that we surprisingly discovered crawling up to our quilt!  Ewww…it was not pretty.

The clean board and quilt…before everyone showed up 🙂

Although I am quite partial to the Disney version, I will say that I do very much enjoy the Nintendo Monopoly…and this version is much more popular with my boys.  Though…I do miss being Sully.

I am not nearly as good at keeping my money organized as I used to be.  These days, the rules just don’t matter to me.

Before The Red Girl joined the game and whacked the board with her head.

Scrat Cat LOVED us coming outside and had to check out the game.

Maisy was all about some together time..with Bear of course.

Mom went directly to jail on my first turn.  The boys got a great kick out of that because I did not get to pass go and I did not get to collect $200.00!It’s surprising what you notice in the backyard when you hang out a while…like all the things that never got put away.

Scrat really enjoyed the company.  Proof that the Scrat recovery is progressing quite well :).

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Beware The Happy Parent Moments

That happy-parent-moment…after you have tucked your children into bed and their rooms are dark…and you have this overwhelming emotional need to rush back into their room for one last hug and to tell them just one more time how much you love them and how lucky you feel to be their mother and you push open the first door… only to suddenly be a little confused by the sight of his face, all lit up by the unmistakable glow of the Nintendo he is PLAYING that he had hidden under his pillow while you said goodnight the first time… and the happy-parent-moment…it’s GONE…and replaced by something entirely different.

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Seriously…No truer words.

 

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Friendship: The Well Loved Pieces

 

I had the pleasure of taking a beautiful walk with a dear friend that I had lost touch with for decades.  She was actually one of my first best friends and I was thrilled, decades later, when we reconnected.  There is something profound about those friends we grow up with.  No matter how much time passes, they are so thoroughly and forever intertwined into who we are that it’s like not a day really passes when we are apart.  We pick up as though no time has passed.  On that day when we had the good fortune of taking a walk together and admiring the very pretty neighborhood we were in, I found this beautiful star on one of the gates we passed.  It reminded me of our friendship and of how sometimes the tried and true, hard worn and well loved pieces of your life are best.

 

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You just have to laugh….HAVE TO :)

Because I remember Chico State and the tubes and the Sac River and I remember all the things THEY did that started with those words.  Good memories 🙂 and certainly worth a L-O-L!

 

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A Wee Little Wednesday Giggle :)

 

Sharing this and giving credit to “pattisprimitives” on etsy for this one because it is priceless :).

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