Friday Haha – ‘Funny’ and Other ‘F’ Words

I admit it right now.

This is a bit of a bait and switch post.

In order to soften the blow, I tried to make the title smile-worthy and I threw in a phrase perfect for Michael Scott.

jim
This is a picture of Jim Halpert. If I ever make it big, please remind me to turn this into a plate of nachos or a cat tap dancing so that lawyers from nbc dont come after me for posting this without permission.

 

Annnnnyway.

You guys, I’ve hit a wall of un-funny. When I first got the idea to end the week on a funny note, I didn’t think about the idea long term. Coming up with something that’s going to make people that aren’t my sister laugh every seven days is harder than I thought!

No fear, I have come up with an alternative plan.

#FridayHaha is going out to pasture. The ole boy needs a good rest, a pretty view, and a handful of carrots.

#FridayFWords is the hip, new kid if by “hip new kid” you mean, “dorky neverold mom”. She shouts different F words every Friday like, #FOOD, and #FRIENDS, and #FAMILY and #FROADTRIPS (that’s road trips with an F. I just really want it to be a goal of mine to eventually travel enough that it becomes write-worthy). Friday posts will cover all of your favorite F-words occasionally still including #Funny stuff because I’m not a monster, geez.

Do you have some favorite F-words you’d like to see featured? Can you share them without your mother washing your mouth out with soap? Then let’s hear your ideas! Comment below or check out another F-word.

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Tuesday’s with Autism – Glow Like Rudolph

“Why am I such a misfit?”
“I am not just a nit wit”
“Just because my nose glows”
“Why don’t I fit in”

– Ruldolph (the Metaphor) Reindeer

It’s almost December and you can bet that I am sitting here with the kids watching CBS’ annual stop-motion classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. You can also bet that I immediately thought of how the underlying message directly applies to those of us living with autism. (and oh, how I love me a good autism metaphor!)

Rudolph’s parents recognize that his red nose is different, but that he is still the bundle of reindeer they had always dreamed about. Rudolph’s mom gets to acceptance much fast than his father. Still, they want to protect him from a community that knows jack frost squat about red noses. Donner and….Mrs. Donner (that’s a whole other post *eye roll*) shy away from talking about his nose, and go as far as concealing his glow.

As plot lines go, Rudolph is found out, and a bunch of jerk reindeer peers tease him. This was made in 1964, so the adult reindeer  have absolutely no problem with calling him names and ostracizing Rudy. Finally, the ultimate, soul crushing moment for any young one – Santa tells Donner (Dad) that Rudolph isn’t good enough for his team.

Rudolph runs away with Hermie ( a misfit toy that also thinks differently than his fellow elves). As they are leaving their community, the narrator said something that struck me:

“The world looked a lot more complicated…than when they were snug and warm by the fire”

Isn’t that the damn truth?!

I mean, there’s always the running gag about not having a manual to parenthood, but when you’re initially thrown into autism you don’t even have the words for the missing manual! It can feel like you,  much like Hermie and Rudolph, are disconnected from your community, facing a cold unknown – but you have to forge on. Why? Because, what else are you going to do??

Hermie and Rudolph aren’t alone for very long. They meet Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snowman, and the misfit toys – they find people who each have gone off the beaten path. This new community helps the duo: they don’t judge, they offer support, and they offer their own perspective. They teach Rudolph and Hermie to embrace their abilities and to be proud of their differences.

By the end of the show, Rudolph and Hermie bring both communities together (inclusion), and Christmas is saved thanks to extra helping hands, Christmas  cheer, an elf with a penchant for dentistry, and a glowing red nose.

As we head into the holiday season, remember that there will be people who may think it’s better to hide your “shiny nose”.  To this I say, GLOW.

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Friday Haha – The Football Game

I recently went to my first college football game as part of a writing assignment. We don’t watch a lot of sports in our house, so the first thing I had to do was convince my little guys that this was going to be super fun. When I enthusiastically told them about our plans, they both looked at me with blank faces. Lief simply said, “Nah, that’s okay. I will stay with Dad.” August just wore the same face I would wear sitting through a quantum physics class: pure confusion at the most basic level. Footwhat? It was obvious I was going to need help when I proudly declared that the seats were by “the front of the goal line or something” so I invited my mother-in-law as a “cultural translator” so to speak.

I can’t give away spoilers for the other piece I’m writing, but I can tell you about Lief’s take on the evening. First, we convinced him to go with the promise that it’s the one place that encourages you to be LOUD. For a child who needs a constant reminder about using his inside voice, he was sold. What we failed to point out to our brilliant and quite literal thinker was that it didn’t mean that you walked into the stadium and basically battle-cry nonstop until you leave.

The moment we sat down, the shouting started “OH YEAH BAY-BEH! OH YEAH BASKETBALL!!!! I MEAN FOOTBALL!!!!! GOOOOOOOOO! WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!” We had 40 minutes before the game started. The team was stretching and a few people were meandering around the field.

I tried explaining the art of the shout, but it was too late. “You said this was a place I can be loud and I am being loud” he protested. Fair point. My mother in law pointed out that if he screamed the entire time, he would lose his voice. Logic is the way of the Lief and it helped for about 10 rock solid minutes.

By the time the game actually started, Lief had cheered for stretching, a mascot, a man in a banana suit, a few commercials on the big screen, the national anthem (during and after), the flags, a baton twirler, both bands, a picture of the Ghostbusters logo,  the cameras, both teams, and a handful of other things I’m sure I am missing. My mother-in-law showed him when to put his pointer finger in the air and yell, “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” (or something like that?) and quickly put his arm down when it absolutely *wasn’t* the time to do that. Through it all, Lief cheered and shouted and rallied. Our team was up? HORRAY TEAM! Our team was down? HORRAY OTHER TEAM! I was truly shocked he kept his voice and didn’t sound a bit raspy the following day. His vocal chords are impressive, for better and worse.

Besides walking away from the game and realizing I would absolutely do that again in a heartbeat, I also reflected on my loud-mouthed love. He is *everyone’s* greatest supporter and cheerleader, in and out of the stadium. He cheers on his brothers, his friends, and really anyone that crosses his path. When we went trick-or-treating, he complemented passerby’s costumes. He told some big boys in terrifying killer-clown masks that they did a good job scaring him. The boys just said, “uhhhhh thanks”, and Lief walked on, a kick in his step.

We constantly are reminding him to turn down his voice. Sometimes, he is so loud that I’m sure my ears will start bleeding. If I think about it though, 9 times out of 10, he is simply being happy, enthusiastic, and excited about whatever adventure he’s come up for the day.

The next time you have some tedious task to take of, channel your inner Lief. He will rally you through it all. “GO PAYING BILLS!!!’ “WHOOOO HOOOOO ROOT CANAL!!!!” “OH YEAAAAHHHHHHH BAY-BEH, CLEAN THE TOILETS”!!

You’ve got this.

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Tuesday’s with Autism – Community, Advocacy, and Advice, Oh My!!

It’s been a super duper busy month and posts have fallen a bit to the wayside, apologies. While there were not many blog posts, there was some good stuff over on the Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages (hint, hint). Now that we’ve gotten past that shameless self-promotion, let’s play ketchup!

Community

A few weeks back, I told you about Ty, the amazing community ally that we met at our local 7-Eleven. Word spread and Oklahoma’s 7-Eleven team reached out to thank us for the good news story (because let’s be honest, we NEED good news!) About a week later, Aiden received a package in the mail full of really neat 7-Eleven swag! There’s a general consensus that the Slurpee cup with the shark bite mold is the absolute coolest. So once again, thank you 7-Eleven! I cannot rave enough about your commitment to community!

 

Advocacy

A much longer post will be coming soon on this subject. For now, you have a chance to see some of the things we have been up to by searching #AidenattheCapitol on social media (again, links up there at the top, guys). Aiden is cutting his teeth at being his very own self-advocate, and we spent last week at the state Capitol talking to representatives and senators about the importance of fully funding and protecting programs that are essential for Aiden to thrive in this state. I have been accepted in a program called Partners in Policymaking, and I am learning so much about policy and advocating for people with disabilities. It is an international program available in many states across the US and a handful of other countries as well. I would HIGHLY suggest looking to see if your state offers a program and applying asap. It’s like taking the red pill and finding out about the Matrix. Minnesota offers a self-paced e-learning version that gives you *some* info, but not nearly what you would get by being fully immersed in the program. Still, check that out if nothing else. If you are a self-advocate or advocate for others, I’d love to hear what you are fighting for in your part of the world!

Advice

Oh my gosssssssssssssssssssh (<–key stuck, but I’m keeping it as I feel that exasperated about how long it’s taken me to circle back to this). A while back, a parent emailed and asked about eating challenges and whether they get better over time. I posted the question on Facebook and got some feedback from other parents. Lacey, a mama, a blogger, and my besty best friend is following along. Her little guy does not like runny textures. Instead, he gravitates to crispy or crunchy items. Rayne chimed in and said that her 10-year-old son has had the same aversions since he was two years old. She calls his diet, “the beige diet” (and I’m sure a lot of you are nodding in agreement, knowing exactly what that looks like). Tina also commented and said that her son “gets better, then reverts”. It’s like the old Paula Abdul song, “two steps forward, two steps back”.

As a parent, I watched Aiden gag and vomit at anything runny, mushy, or shaped in a circle for a few years (between 2 and 4 years old). This made things TOUGH when he had his tonsils and adenoids out. There was no rhyme or reason to it for us, but to him, these were absolutes in his life. It wasn’t just food either, I’m talking *anything*: play-doh, shampoo, glue….anything with that tactile sensation. One summer, he went to a speech camp (MDO with SLPs). I walked in to get him, and he was sitting there with some play-doh. I was gobsmacked, and no one acted like they had ever seen him be defensive of this texture. After that, it was just….better. Don’t get be wrong, he still doesn’t like yogurt and some other foods with a runny consistency, but he does eat some of them now. When he doesn’t want them, he can usually say, “no thank you”, but the occasional dry heave and/or vomit does happen. It’s hit or miss.

In short, the general consensus is “it varies by person”.

One thing you may try is picking one food to focus on. Start with just exposing it to your person. Maybe it’s on the table to the side of them, or right in front of them – do what you think they can tolerate. After a while (while = a week, a month….it varies) play a copy game and take turns touching it with your fingers. Reward this big time. After that is successful, try touching the food to your lips and have your child copy you. Next, have the food touch the tongue. After that, work on taking a bite and eventually swallowing the food. Again, it could take a week, it could take a year, but that’s one possible way to at least lessen the aversion. Sure, maybe they never eat mashed potatoes, but I know there was a time, I wished upon wishes, that we could sit at a Thanksgiving table without Aiden throwing up everywhere. So, you know, figure out your goal and go from there.

It’s Halloween and we are heading out to trick or treat here shortly. I have a ninja, Spiderman, and washing machine looking for candy this year. Can you guess which one is Aiden? Of course you can. What about you? What costumes are you and yours sporting this year? let me know!

Infant Loss and Awareness Month

October is Infant Loss and Awareness Month. I wrote a very personal piece for Oklahoma City Mom’s Blog that I have decided to share here. This may be an ICYMI piece for those that follow the Facebook page or it may be the first time you’ve read this. I’ll get back to your regularly scheduled program this week, pinkies.

I Didn’t Lose the Baby, but I Lost Alongside You

I screamed with shocked excitement when you came to town and announced you were pregnant. You secretly recorded us under the guise of a group photo to save our reactions for years to come. In the clip, I said, “No you’re not!” Words that would haunt me.I spent your first trimester commiserating with you over morning (and afternoon and night) sickness, and in your second trimester, you announced you were going to have a girl. The first in our family for over 20 years! I was stunned! You called a few weeks later after a second sonogram. “Gotcha, he’s a boy!” Once again, I was surprised at your news.

We realized that your boys would have the same age gap as my younger two. You asked me how hard it was and I said READ MORE HERE

Tuesday’s With Autism – A Good Surprise: Community Good Guy

EDIT: His name is TY, not JAY as originally posted.

I have been thinking today is Tuesday. It makes no sense because I thought yesterday was Wednesday. Maybe tomorrow I will think it’s Christmas, or better yet, Purple. Who knows. This week has been a heavy one. It’s easy to watch the horrors unfolding and worry about what kind of world our kids are growing up in. It’s scary. I had an active shooter dream a few nights ago and woke up, panicked. It’s the stuff of nightmares whether you’re awake or asleep.

There’s a wonderful Mr. Rogers quote that floats around when this all-too-often event takes place:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It’s a good reminder for all of us, as parents, as humans. We have to hold on to the good when so much bad is out there. BE the good by calling your legislators, by advocating for change, by being a voice, by educating yourself and others, by voting with knowledge regarding your politicians and their stances, not just with a pencil and a shrug.

I had a surprise Good Moment last week in 7-Eleven that I wanted to share with you guys. Aiden and I had pulled in for gas and a drink.  It’s the station around the corner from our house, so we all frequent it often. That said, I’m usually there sans kids. I gas up and dash or I run in while everyone hangs in the car (don’t crucify me, doors are locked and I can see them at all times).

We walked in and I heard, “Hey there Mister Aiden, how are you today?” I turned around and didn’t see anyone but the cashier. “Do you know someone in here?” I asked A. He shrugged and got himself a drink. We approached to pay and Ty**, the cashier, looked at Aiden, “are you having a good day?” Aiden smiled and nodded.

This isn’t the first time that people have come up to strike a conversation with Aiden. Sometimes, I don’t think people realize that he will not give me context so I *really* appreciate disclaimers. I find out they have subbed in his class or helped him at an event, etc etc. Just adults being warm and friendly, which I appreciate and love. That said, I’ve done it a dozen or so times as well in my previous teacher life so I get it.

“How do you know Aiden?” I asked. Ty grinned and said, “He comes in here with Mr. Steffen quite a bit. We make it a point to know all of our extra awesome customers in case friends wander or they come in alone, distressed, things like that.” Then he looked at Aiden, “and Aiden, YOU are extra awesome, man!” Aiden smiled.

You guys, I stood there dumbfounded. I’m a cryer. I cry at EVERYTHING. There’s still a commercial I saw when Phoenix was a baby in 1999 that makes me tear up if I think about it. I cry when I’m sad, frustrated, mad. I cry when I’m laughing hysterically. I cry a LOT. So being this moved by a random act of selfless thoughtfulness….well, it’s a miracle that I didn’t breakdown at the counter and held it together until I got to the car.

And let me rewind the message and break it down a bit more. Not only is he saying such a reassuring, kind, statement, what he’s NOT saying is extra important, too.

He isn’t talking to me like Aiden isn’t there. (It happens)
He isn’t talking down to Aiden. (It happens A LOT)
He has worded this to respect Aiden (“extra awesome customers”).

I don’t know this man from Adam. He isn’t in special ed, and he isn’t a cop/firefighter who has been trained to “be on the lookout”. He’s a cashier at 7-Eleven being one of the good guys. Being one of the helpers.


I’m not going to lie, I haven’t thought much about 7-11 as a corporation, but I started looking into them and saw that they are very big proponents of social responsibility. I encourage you to take a look.  

 

Friday Haha – Treasure Hunt

I’m going to do something a little different today for Friday Haha.

We are going on a treasure hunt!

My silly story will be on the facebook page, today. You can get there by following this link.

So why am I doing this? Wellllll, I got a very good question in the super-duper-confidential email yesterday. I will be posting the question on the facebook page sometime this weekend, and I would like as much feedback as possible before writing up a post for #TuesdaysWithAutism. This question, in my opinion, will need a lot of experiences, feedback, and tips and tricks from both parents, professionals, and self-advocates. I would love to hear from you so that we, as a village, can answer this question.

As for the story, it’s short, quick, and should at least bring a smile to your face.

Enjoy!