St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Sunday, April 29, 2012


We did it!  (insert exhale here:)  or rather…HE did it.

Congratulations on a great First Communion…..praising God for many reasons.


Mark shadowing dancing after his big day.

First Communion April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

One pill makes you small…

One pill makes you larger
and one pill makes you small
and the ones that mother gives you
don’t do anything at all…
      Go ask Alice….when she’s ten feet tall….
“White Rabbit”, 1967 by Jefferson Airplane
One of the things I really wanted to avoid with both my special needs children was/is medication.  When there is something neurologically wrong, many times it is just cause to use medication to correct the difficulty. And rightly so. There are some disorders that just have to be medicated to be controlled (i.e. seizures)  Serious Anxiety disorders (such as OCD and panic attacks) also seem to be at the top of the list for medication control needs.
I ended up saying yes to medication for one of my sons due to his OCD; we just couldn’t see him go on another month without progress, being a prisoner of his own ruminating thoughts, and after four months+ of “therapy only”  and alternative formulas (another 6 mos+), we decided to begin prescription medication.  It’s all hindsight now and I do not regret for a moment the medication.  In three years the med has only been adjusted 3 times, and changed back to liquid once, from a tablet form (liquid seems to work best for him, as we have recently proved).  So…why am I pondering this?  Well, recently I have talked with so many parents trying to decide about medication for their children with varying degrees of disorders. And I’ve come across so many parents that have medicated their children beyond recognition it seems. 
I have a referral point I seem to always go back to:  an excellent book I read BEFORE I ever knew we’d ever need to be taking our OCD/anxiety son for evaluation on an emergency basis, twice in one week.  And what a week it was.  Not my fondest memories whatsoever, but absolutely an essential move that has since led to recovery of his faculties/senses, improved his quality of life and helped him progress academically and socially beyond his anxiety disorder. Now granted, he still has trouble areas, but he has improved a lot.  He hadn’t just been missing some of life, he had been missing ALL of life due to the disorder’s control over his mind.  In his case I thank God for a medication that was able to help him gain control back of his mind again and make substantial progress and even enjoy life again, and feel good in the morning when he arose.   I am also thankful that we have been conservative in our approach and have a doctor that is likewise, and have worked harder through therapy than anything.  Yes, it costs money and time.  In the end, my son has to learn how to cope above and beyond and, regardless of medication and without his parents.  He will be a better person for it by being given the tools (coping techniques) to strengthen and support his abilities to ward off and protect himself from the tricks of OCD.
This book helped formulate my thoughts on what we could or should do with medication, pitfalls to avoid, and if there were other alternatives:
Against Medical Advice, by James Patterson (with Hal Friedman and Cory Friedman).
A true story of a young boy (Cory) who awoke one morning plunged into Tourette’s Syndrome as well as OCD/anxiety.  A small excerpt reads:
Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to twitch his neck. From that day forward his life became a hell of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances, and Cory embarked on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist to discover the cause of his disease. Soon it became unclear what tics were symptoms of his disease and what were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life was a living hell. <snip>
This young boy went through hell and back using literally 100s and 100s of medications over the course of grade school into high school; having been misdiagnosed from the get-go with ADHD and put promptly onto a medication for ADHD which made his Tourette’s Syndrome all the worse……thus began the cycle of: when one thing didn’t seem to work, the next was introduced, and piled on top of another, and so forth. He gained weight, he lost weight, he felt like a prisoner in his own body,  was miserable and his disorder was still not under control.
It’s a painful, difficult story to read, but the family puts it out there for others to be leery of firstly, getting the RIGHT diagnosis, and of going down the medication path without exploring other ways, and trying HARD to implement other means to help children with disorders.  Diets, therapies, more patience and working with them at home.  Yes, it’s all a sacrifice, all of it.  You may even opt to home school so they don’t have to be so heavily medicated, or medicated at all to control symptoms because they won’t have the ridicule of school peer mates all day, or the threat of being neglected or abused away from you. 
Let me say I feel we have a VERY good child psychiatrist.  He is conservative in his approach, and very sensible.  He monitors the medication at regular intervals and he’s certainly doing all the right things.  Having a reputable doctor of this kind is key.  We began with below the lowest dose and have increased ever so minutely (just for growth-weight gain) to arrest the most prominent OCD features. So far, one 2 ml dropper of SSRI medication a day, is very conservative, and doable.  Accompanied by A LOT of cognitive behavioral therapy and home work at home (and every where for that matter), we have made and known progress. We also have a very good cognitive behavioral therapist working directly with our OCD son for all these years.  Our autistic son definitely has his quirks, and I wouldn’t dream of medicating those quirks out of him.  I and his therapist work with him to give him other better habits in place of the quirks; we’ve seen improvement and seen where he CAN control himself….and how would we know if he was medicated…?  It takes months of work, it’s not just a week or few weeks kind of thing …..the best results we’ve seen have taken up to 6 months.  You have to stick with it.   We can’t expect immediate results in a child whose neurology is off.
But, there is hope.  I know I’ve lived it and seen it.  It isn’t always pretty hope, some days can be very difficult and ugly down the path we journey to better quality and wellness of life for those with disorders.  But all the same, it can be done.
If you think about it, read Cory’s story.  You will find in it a wealth of information that will either be useful for you as a parent of a child with special needs, educate you to understand more about disorders and what families must endure, or direct someone else who is looking for answers. 

First Communion Practice.....phew! exhaling...

With God and several friends as my witness...Mark did very well at his First Communion photos and practice today.  I'm hoping that will help him do as well during the actual event, when the church will be crowded, noisy, and the liturgy will be slightly interrupted by a few little special the song the class does at the beginning, the lit baptismal candle and profession of faith, and the special prayer the class stands and recite prior to the final blessing.  At any rate, no matter how you dice it, it's ALOT for a child on the autism spectrum.  It just is.  I can not tell you how much we have prepared him behind the scenes, literally for months.  Using social stories, and role playing, modeling behaviors.....repetition.  

So the superintendent of our school district was present today for practice, and I've known him well before he graduated from college and into an education career.  He knows we home school of course, and I was telling him about Mark and all it took to at least get him to do as well as he did.  It was a little bit of a glitchy start-off when the photographer called for the group photo and Mark wouldn't get out of his pew, and said, no, there is no group photo.....*sigh.   I had to go and coax him, and he came out of it okay.  It's those stubborn moments, that sometimes can escalate into total catastrophe and "scenes".  But, thank God, that did not happen and I pray it will not happen tomorrow.  Mark is really excited.  But sometimes excitement brings extra stimulation and strange feelings for autistic children and they don't know how to cope with it.  We keep reassuring him and letting him know "what comes next". 

I'm rather sentimental about this special event tomorrow as it is my last child to make the sacrament.  I have now taught all my children both at home and within the religious education program at our parish, through the l5 years of my life.  I have taught this class for 17 years.  I really don't know WHERE the time has gone, and I had NO IDEA of the challenges that awaited me the last decade, especially the last five years with my children.  I am very humbled; I mean VERY humbled.  I realize how God worked a plan that I can see after all this time unfolding.  

Please pray for both Mark and myself as we both navigate some difficult areas of our life.  I am considering stepping down from the 2nd grade sacraments' class and considering teaching a higher grade, likely the 8th grade this next year, especially if it is going to be a confirmation class.  I don't know any of this for sure, and I would help on the sidelines with the 2nd grade class all the way to the sacrament day, and of course, remain the coordinator of the program.  Many decisions await me this new season ahead.  I pray for God's guidance and clear signs that I am doing His Will.  As always, I trust in Him and know He leads me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cajun Cottage Under the Oaks: Medicine for Discouraged Mothers

Wonderful little piece of advice from my friend Cay....

Cajun Cottage Under the Oaks: Medicine for Discouraged Mothers: Can I pierce this otherwise laid-back, low-key, amible blog with a frustrated ranting and raving? If you're so kind to listen, thank you. ...

Curriculum for upcoming year 2012-13

Looking forward to our year ahead:
Curriculum for upcoming year 2012-13

8th grade:

Religion: Our Life in the Church (Faith & Life); Baltimore Catechism #2
Wordly Wise Book 5 (Vocabulary/spelling)
Basic Language Principles with Latin Background (English & Latin grammar)
Our Roman Roots (Latin program)
Old World & America w/Historical Atlas of the World
Ultimate Geography & Timeline
Art Through Faith 8
Concepts & Challenges in Physical Science *tweaking...might opt for Concepts & Challenges Environmental Science (2003 ed.)
Top 100 Masterpieces of Classical Music

Eighth Grade Mother of Divine Grace Teacher Planner (day by day, week-by-week breakdown of the curriculum used above)* I use Abeka Math instead: the planner breaks down Saxon Algebra 1/2 & Concepts & Challenges in Science Book 3 (or C); it also does not use Basic Language Principles with Latin Background (that is in the Modg 7th grade syllabus and planner).

3rd grade:

The Child's Bible History
St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 1
Arithmetic 3
Primary Language Lessons (workbook format)
Writing Road to Reading (spelling notebook)
Exploring God's World
Our American Heritage, and accompanying Map Skills
English from the Roots Up Root cards (Latin & Greek study)
Child-size art pieces: Mommy, It's a Renoir (steps 4 & 5)
Let's Learn Music #2

Third Grade Mother of Divine Grace Teacher Planner (day by day, week-by-week break down of curriculum above)

A productive day in the life......of home school

Some days are definitely keepers...some, ah not so much...Today, well, it was very productive.  It was our last day of home school co-op, so that made it "special" in many regards.  I finished up my Beatrix Potter literature class with the K -3rd grade students, and I hope they learned a lot.  I know they enjoyed the stories for sure - the books are so irresistible, and the little critters in human clothes are always a hit :)   Learning to sketch more, (nature journaling), tracing, and water color painting were all good exercises for them.  Hopefully they've walked away a little more enriched in literature and art procedures.  

I also had our state assessments' process done today; which means our school work for the year was reviewed by a certified teacher of our state and a document was signed per child reviewed, to indicate the children shown progress educationally.  That is always a good thing.  It usually makes me feel very accomplished!  We are nearly finished altogether with school -- Mark is completely done, having finished his entire math book (the last 3 pages yesterday morning).  Michael still has two chapters left in his math - so two tests, and also two tests in science left to do.  That should run him about another two weeks for sure, if not three.  Now that co-op is over, and we don't have as many appointments and obligations to attend during the week, we will be able to push along pretty quickly and take a much needed break.

My college children are in finals week.  Oh the stress of it all!  Not my stress, mind you...and I'm grateful for that, but definitely stress filled for them.  They have knocked out a few finals, and have a few more to tackle, then they will say good bye to the campus, and hello to their home town for a long summer.  They get May, June, July and most of August off (returning to campus the last two weeks in August).  They are looking forward to the break as you can imagine!  

So....just took a breather here, off to finish up dinner and collapse for the rest of the evening, sharing the days events with hubby.

God bless!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(Rare!) Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan (1930 Newsreel Footage)

It really is amazing how Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller - wow! The first therapist for special needs! Incredible.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Basking in the afterglow…

A wonderful aromatic fragrance still lingers in the air of my living room today from a beautiful spa experience yesterday evening, that myself and several other of my friends got to participate in.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I could really pull off being ready for a get together in my home, or if I was even up to it.  Let’s face it, I’ve become a stick in the mud.  Not by choice, mind you. But,  I will admit I have been down right …..down…..for at least the last year of my life….just trudging through the best I can with daily responsibilities and duties.  I have had little enjoyment, nonetheless joy in anything.  I have been pretty much homebound due to circumstances mostly surrounding my schedule and one son who saw a difficult year with anxiety disorder.  But then, when a friend’s daughter asked if maybe she could come and pamper me and some guests with some lovely products, as she was attempting to get her business going, and it was a great excuse to see us after many years…..I thought, why not?  Even if no one came, I could use the in-home spa experience just for the relief and I have so exhausted any good products and haven’t bought anything of any pure or truly good quality in many years.   Thus came to be, our Arbonne spa evening.

I can not tell you HOW MUCH I ENJOYED IT!!!  I mean really, really enjoyed it.  With it at home and every one coming to me, it took the pressure off of my leaving to only be phoned constantly by my anxiety ridden son and trying to talk him down from panic, separation anxiety.  That just doesn’t make ANYTHING enjoyable or relaxing to me….in fact, it doesn’t make going away a good thing at all, it makes my blood pressure go up and I feel anxious the rest of the time.  It was easier to just stay home.  And honestly, God in his providence even made it an evening that my husband didn’t have to go to his evening job – so he was here to see to the boys and go about his way, walking with them to the park and enjoying some male bonding :)  ….while we ladies enjoyed a woman’s evening together.

I love that my friends helped make it possible, such an added perk, because I love to have my friends around, doing something with them that makes us take time for ourselves was even more than I could have asked for……and their purchases and bookings of other shows made it possible for me to get a ridiculously good deal on many products for peanuts…..I am amazed…and still can’t believe it.  Wow.

Extra nice was to include young ladies in the grouping, an older mom, and very young mom, a newborn, pregnant moms….and the Arbonne consultant herself currently pregnant expecting her third.  Really a lovely group of inter-generational women :)

So….all I can smell in my mind’s sensors is that awesome Spa Renewing Gelee in a jar…..which I am getting for free, because I could chose up to a $50 free product…..beautiful clean chemical-free product.


I also received this product as a gift last night because friends’ booked shows:

Arbonne Aromassentials Awaken Sea Salt Scrub

Today, I’m just taking a flop day….I need days like this.  My house is already super clean from preparing for company, and things are ready for Sunday.  My children are just chillin’, one is working and husband is working all day.  It’s a good Saturday to just relax.  Next Saturday that will all change with First Communion Photos and Practice, followed by First Communion the next day. 

May God restore and refresh you in some special way…..

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A lot of work for a big day ahead

April 19 Update: friends, thank you for all your kind and encouraging responses to my email box and on the Catholic Aspergers loop as well as my blog comments. It has SO lifted me, truly. I feel more courage to accept things as they are and strength to basically be humiliated and live through it :) The most important thing in our faith is receiving the sacraments openly and freely and God calls ALL, certainly not the perfect in mind, body and soul,  but those with infirmities of all kinds inside and out, and those blemished with sinfulness....He calls them to himself no matter what. God created my son the way he is for purpose and reason, his little life has meaning and he is now calling him into the community of the church through the Eucharistic supper. I know in my heart this is true, and this is our focus. I am grateful for all those who stand by me holding me up. God bless you all!

Mark and Mommy, Feb 2012, First Reconciliation
It’s hard for me to believe that Mark Thomas is going to be making his First Communion on April 29th.  I can not tell you how nervous I really am, how he isn’t even concerned, because being autistic he doesn’t seem to sense those kinds of things….and how I am praying my heart out he does “fine” throughout the entire ceremony.  I say this with all honesty and experience; I have taught the first sacrament class for 17 years now, and this is my own fourth child coming through my class.  I’ve seen my other neuro-typical children, and hosts of others’ children all these years, and I can count on one hand the children who have been more challenging, special needs kind of children.  My Mark is one of them. 
For Mark to stand and sing or stand and read or stand and listen during the mass is a huge chore that stresses him. It exhausts him.  He can do one or the other, but he lacks core strength and so standing and then having him participate by singing is difficult.  Our music leader has the children standing, singing AND doing hand motions!  Have mercy please! lol!  Really, it’s VERY hard for Mark, but he is trying.  He tries so hard to just do the hand motions, he can’t sing, he can’t even try.  We just let him be.  I just hope he doesn’t fall out of his pew, stop dead in his tracks while doing something like offertory gifts with the group, or stumble while walking in procession..or do something odd like freeze up while receiving communion, or countless other things I know he has difficulty with, but we work to conceal in our worship.  (Whispering LOUDLY, …that’s another one….)
I’m also concerned right now because Mark is sick, again.  He has caught one virus after another it seems since he began occupational therapy in the last month.  I’m beginning to think he is picking up germs on the equipment.  Maybe it’s coincidental, but he is generally a very healthy child and rarely gets ill. 
  Lord I just pray he can stay well enough through the next 2 weeks once this illness has passed….that he will do well for his big day. 
Every little thing, especially an illness, even hayfever, throws Mark off.  He can only function so much, only process so much at a time.  One body sensation seems to block out another.  These are the invisible things that I know and fear that inhibit his capabilities of performing at his best.
My mother is SO excited to see her last grandchild make this special sacrament.  She will be seated in the family pew with us, and Mark will be on the end of the pew near the aisle, with me right beside him.  The children will process in together and I will likely be seated in my pew when that happens.  I hope he can manage to do it without a glitch.
So much at stake, so much anticipation and so much anxiety building within me.  Thank goodness our pastor is understanding of these kinds of things…but I know not everyone (hardly anyone) at all in our congregation realizes Mark has autism.  It might surprise some that don’t really pay attention, it might solve a puzzle piece for others that really do.
All I know is, I am praying, and preparing him with the best of what we have to offer to follow through appropriately that day….the rest is truly in God’s hands……
* * *     * * *     * * *
May God who grants peace and assurance, grant this day the prayer I pray.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Things.

I was reflecting on the past few months coming out of the Christmas and New Year’s whirlwind season.  My son with OCD generally does poorly after that time for several months, but by God’s blessing, and changing his medication in the fall, he did the best he has done in 3 years!  Liquid SSRI is perfect for him and at the right dosing, a near miracle.  Yes, he still has a few rough spots to get through, we are working on it, but for the most part he is considered in the maintenance phase of his disorder.  Yesterday he spent the whole day playing and adventuring mostly outdoors with a friend and going beyond his comfort zone in the neighborhood without fretting or turning back, so that is truly an excellent sign for him and hopeful sign to us that he can and will boss back OCD and not let it run his life.

We are nearly finished with school at home.  My 8 yr old should be finished as soon as next week, and my son mentioned above at least the first couple weeks in May.  My college students need prayers this week and next as they start into finals.  Many essays and projects and tests going on….my son this morning, that commutes, said in a forlorn voice:  pray for me this week, I’m going to need it. 

I am feeling a bit  better having tweaked my dietary supplements over the last month and added 2 Black Cohosh, morning and night,  Evening Primrose Caps, 2x a day, and Vit E caps 2x a day.  It seems to have soothed over my irritability and calmed my nerves.  It’s amazing what Estrogen can do for you, or not do for you when it is missing from your system….I just have a little more problem adjusting to its decline because of my hypothyroidism but it should be a natural event.  All in all, most the horrible misery has passed.

The end of the week I’m looking forward to the daughter of an old friend who will come and do a home show of the Arbonne product line.  I reluctantly agreed to help her with her business, knowing most of my friends wouldn’t be too interested (I already had someone tell me they “might” come, but “I’m not buying anything” ….sigh), but am more excited now as I realize how I rarely get out to enjoy myself anywhere, and this is a special perk to have someone come into my home like this for a spa evening.  My husband said consider it an early Mother’s Day gift, because he knows how lacking our social and get away life has been for the last couple years.  Yes, it’s been hard, I will admit, and sometimes I feel very neglected and needy. Recently the OCD book I’ve been reading, has helped me understand that we have done all the right things in putting the disorder first, and saying NO to outside activities to just focus on getting our son well and not pushing him too fast or hard (relapses that hang on forever).  Sometimes I’m sure my friends and other families have given up on us and moved on because we can’t go here or there, and do this and that.  I do know a few friends who have really done just that, stopped all contact with us,  and it’s hurt me to think about it, but in many ways I don’t blame them, they want happy healthy consistent friends for their children.  We are a promising family and have a lot to offer but because of disorders’ unpredictability, we fall short many times and others just see us as unreliable. 

So, today, this beautiful Monday, I hope to have a good school day, tidy up the house more as I hope to have some guests at my party, and I guess if I don’t, it’s just me and the Arbonne lady :)… least I will be a gracious hostess and interested in her products and it will be a nice change from my usually stressed out existence here!

Have a great day….



Mark showing off some coffee shop magnets a sweet friend had made for me

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Can we talk...?...about dry eyes and thyroid disorder...

....does that remind you of Joan Rivers?..."can we talk"?...her famous lead-in to humorous or intimate critique of something or someone....usually good for a little laugh.  

Well, my dry eyes due in part to my thyroid disorder really aren't a laughing matter, but I can and still do laugh at myself.  I'm aging...that's the truth of it, and one doesn't age as gracefully with thyroid problems.  A good working thyroid makes menopause more of a breeze.....which mine has definitely not been....its been more like a tidal wave ...with all it's ups and downs and twists and turns pouring over me, my mind and body for three years now....the side effects of which I can't begin to describe.   One such difficulty is recurrent and persistent dry uncomfortable ....

I have a friend who has suffered with Grave's Disease for many years now and recently had eye surgery to correct a problem that sometimes arises with the eyes due to the disease.  This friend just recommended two products for me to try, one of which I am already getting relief from.  GenTeal Lubricant Eye drops, (I picked mild to moderate), and Refresh P.M. Eye Gel lubricant for nighttime.  

Thank God for little favors.....and great friends :)

Planning ahead...

I use to think it was the 18th century educator Charlotte Mason that was known to say have three books going at the same time...a lighter one, a more challenging one and something edifying, spiritual, like your bible.  However, it was a Charlotte Mason enthusiast and teacher who apparently published this thought in some of her writings. (Karen Andreola).  And indeed, I do have several book reads going on at seems endless, as I'm reading the book I posted in an earlier post on OCD, and I'm also reading a mother's telling of her autistic daughter's life, Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter's Life with Autism, by Clara Claiborne Park.  What's so nice is I can download books to my NOOK as well as purchase them used to be sent to the house.  Variety, right? :)

I love home education and as we are finishing up this school season, I have pulled a few books off the shelf to read and review as I think of the next grades ahead.  One such book I turn too occasionally is: *The Well Trained Mind, a Guide to Classical Education in the Home, by Susan Wise Bauer.  It's not the philosophy of classical education I follow, (I mainly follow Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, by Laura Berquist, mostly), but *TWTM is absolutely a top-notch high standard educational track of studies up through graduation of high school.  I needed the refresher and encouragement it provides as well as review some of the different grade level recommendations.

Another book I have been referring to and recently began to look at again is Homeschooling the Child with Autism, by Patricia Schetter, Kandis Lighthall and Jeanette McAfee.  It has given me hope and information to carry on with my autistic son.

These books have helped me do my home work and prepare to impart a well rounded strong Christian education to my children.  Just because I have graduated two children out of our homeschool and into college where they are doing really well, doesn't make continuing easy.  Oh no... in fact, the next two children are more challenge than I could ever imagine I would face after 16 years of homeschooling.  I feel like the previous years prepared me academic to meet the challenges and I am grateful for that.

With special needs children you have to attempt to stay several yards ahead of them, so my planning for the next school season, as this was winds down is occurring now while I still have school fresh in my mind and can dovetail off of this year and into the next with our courses.

The untold story of the Titanic’s Catholic priest who went down hearing confessions |

The untold story of the Titanic’s Catholic priest who went down hearing confessions |

Friday, April 13, 2012

Books sharing....

I generally have several books I try to keep up with reading for any down time I have.  Lately, the one I have been most intrigued with is Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by Dr. Tamar Chansky.  I don't think I've read a clearer or better book on the subject.  Dr. Chansky also describes all the other disorders that can co-exist with OCD, or to better help you understand what your child may be facing.  I am really gaining a lot of insight from this book.
More books to follow.....

Home is where your Mom is….

I have not always been a stay-at-home, home schooling mother.  I was still working part time up through my third child’s birth, then scaled back to only a few times a month and eventually into total retirement from the work force.  That was thirteen years ago now. My husband took on a second part time job to help replace the gap of income and to this day, it’s still difficult to make ends meet.  We haven’t gone on any official vacations, we rarely go out and eat and we watch every dime. Most of our savings goes towards education, both college and grade school, and upkeep of cars and home. More recently another chunk of our income goes toward therapy sessions for our special needs’ sons – co-pay after co-pay. 

During the last decade and certainly in more recent years there were plenty of times I longed to leave the home and go out to work somewhere. Why?  Not really because of fulfillment, but because of stress issues – feeling overwhelmed and over burdened with difficult choices. It made several of my old office jobs look like a piece of cake!   In hindsight, the most fulfilling job I had was working for the governor of Utah back in the ‘80s in the state capitol building.  I did not long for anything as I recall; I use to walk up to the marble floor offices that were the governor’s and get signatures and process grant money.  I had my own apartment, paid my own bills and had many friends and the run of Salt Lake City at my call.  I don’t look back in regret for how I was eventually led to a new location and met the man that would become my husband and the father of our four children.  But I do know that when I made those wedding vows, my life would change forever.  Children would add a whole new dimension to my “fulfillment”.  

Ed & Boots(Vilma) Reynolds with Denise as baby

Me as a baby with my mom & dad, 1960

When a woman democrat in the news recently attacked Mitt Romney’s wife for having not “worked a day in her life” basically saying she had no understanding of working class mothers outside the home, I was glad that others defended motherhood across the board.   The President’s wife,  Michelle Obama responded with a Tweet: “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected,".....Indeed.  Thank you for saying it out loud for the American public, and possibly the world, to hear.

Some women choose to stay home, like Mrs. Romney, some mothers have no choice due to health issues (Mrs. Romney is also stricken with MS)…no matter how you dice it a mother is a mother…like no other. 

Being a stay at home mother, a home schooling one at that, has been the hardest position I have held on this planet so far.  Being the sole responsible party for the primary care, upbringing and education of my children is no light job description.  While other women are out pursuing and furthering their careers and getting their masters and building their pyramid businesses to achieve the level of Mercedes and pink Cadillacs, I am primarily home day in and day out, attempting to make a comfortable and rich family life, baking and cooking from scratch, rearranging furniture and decorating tables and adorning walls with beautiful artwork to create a pleasant and heartwarming atmosphere, and praying morning, noon and night……sometimes with joy, sometimes in desperation; sorting through books and lesson plans to tailor a strong and worthwhile education to each child, each passing year. When not at home you can generally find me only in three locations, the grocery store, the facility for therapy  for my sons, or the church.  On weekends, I give my all to my church and the children that attend there, because quite frankly, I can, and somebody has to do it, because so many don’t. 

When I have a chance to help another mom become a stay-at-home mom, because she wants to, and sees the value in it, I try to help smooth the way.  Some mothers like to have a home business to help with income, and recently I put one such young mother on my schedule to come to my home and show her products, not only to help her, but to help myself take a much needed break and indulge in something I would never otherwise indulge in. I am looking forward to her visit with a few friends and a relaxing evening (for a change!)

Because of motherhood being attacked recently,  I am introspective as I take inventory of where I am in my life and how my life has morphed…taken on a life of it’s own in the last decade. Many times I have felt totally out of control, but  I am amazed at the graces I’ve been given to pursue a tough road, with some difficult issues including autism and mental health disorders…I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for this, except a mother’s heart.

Adelaide wDan standing and Ned on lap

My dad on his mother’s lap, with brother, 1933

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Autism Traits common among healthy people ~ article

My college daughter sent me this article and while it's very enlightening, I'm kind of disappointed with some of the findings :(  Namely, this one section that states:

     In the new study, the researchers showed that this pattern is consistent throughout much of childhood, indicating    that children aren't learning to overcome these difficulties with time.
    In fact, the researchers found the same result regardless of how they sliced up the data: each group had the same average level of social and communication problems at age 13 as they did at age 7.
You can read the entire article here:

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Easter Octave

“The risen Christ is our companion”

The Master passes very close to us, again and again. He looks at us... And if you look at him, if you listen to him, if you don’t reject him, He will teach you how to give a supernatural meaning to everything you do... Then you too, wherever you may be, will sow consolation and peace and joy. (The Way of the Cross, Eighth Station, 4)

In the middle of his daily work, when he has to overcome his selfishness, when he enjoys the cheerful friendship of other people, a Christian should rediscover God. Through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, a Christian has access to the intimacy of God the Father, and he spends his life looking for the Kingdom which is not of this world, but which is initiated and prepared in this world.

We must seek Christ in the word and in the bread, in the Eucharist and in prayer. And we must treat him as a friend, as the real, living person he is — for he is risen. Christ, we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Christ, the risen Christ, is our companion and friend. He is a companion whom we can see only in the shadows — but the fact that he is really there fills our whole life and makes us yearn to be with him forever. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price... He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Christ is passing by, 116)

Message of the Day, Opus Dei

Friday, April 06, 2012

Thirteenth & Fourteenth Stations w/Meditations: "We do Not Belong to Ourselves..." Gal 2:20

Thirteenth Station:

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Mary stands by the Cross, engulfed in grief. And John is beside her. But it is getting late, and the Jews press for Our Lord to be removed from there.

Having obtained from Pilate the permission required by Roman law for the burial of condemned prisoners, there comes to Calvary a councillor named Joseph, a good and upright man, a native of Arimathea. He has not consented to their counsel and their doings, but is himself one of those waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:50-51). With him too comes Nicodemus, the same who earlier visited Jesus by night; he brings with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight (John 19:39).

These men were not known publicly as disciples of the Master. They had not been present at the great miracles, nor did they accompany him on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But now, when things have turned bad, when the others have fled, they are not afraid to stand up for their Lord.

Between the two of them they take down the body of Jesus and place it in the arms of his most holy Mother. Mary 's grief is renewed.

Where has thy Beloved gone, o fairest of women? Where has he whom thou lovest gone, and we will seek him with thee? (Cant 5:17).

The Blessed Virgin is our Mother, and we do not wish to, we cannot, leave her alone.

Points for meditation

1. He came to save the world, and his own denied him before Pilate.

He showed us the path to goodness, and they drag him along the way to Calvary.

He gave example in everything he did, and they prefer a thief convicted of murder.

He was born to forgive, and —without cause — they condemn him to the gallows.

He came along the paths of peace, and they declare war on him.

He was the Light, and they hand him over to the powers of darkness.

He brought Love, and they repay him with hatred.

He came to be King, and they crown him with thorns.

He became a slave to free us from sin, and they nail him to the Cross.

He took flesh to give us Life, and we reward him with death.

2. I can 't understand your idea of being a Christian.

Do you think it right that Our Lord should have died crucified and that you can be content with just 'getting by '?

Is your 'getting by ' the strait, narrow path that Jesus spoke of?

3. Don 't let discouragement enter into your apostolate. You haven 't failed, just as Christ didn 't fail on the Cross. Take courage!... Keep going, against the tide, protected by Mary 's Immaculate and Motherly Heart: Sancta Maria, refugium nostrum et virtus!, you are my refuge and my strength.

Hold your peace. Be calm... God has very few friends on earth. Don 't yearn to leave this world. Don 't shy away from the burden of the days, even though at times we find them very long.

4. If you want to be faithful, be very Marian.

Our Mother, from the time of the Angel 's message, until her agony at the foot of the Cross, had no other heart, no other life, but that of Jesus.

Go to Mary with the tender devotion of a son, and She will obtain for you the loyalty and self-denial that you desire.

5. 'I am worth nothing, I can do nothing, I have nothing, I am nothing... '

But You have ascended the Cross so that I may make your infinite merits my own. There I also take on —they are mine, because I am their child — the merits of the Mother of God, and those of St Joseph. And I make my own the virtues of the saints and of so many dedicated souls...

Then, I steal a glance at my own life, and I say: Alas, my God, it is all night and full of darkness! Only now and then can one see a few points of light sparkling, due to your great mercy and to my inadequate response... All this I offer to you, Lord; I have nothing else.

Fourteenth Station:

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Very near Calvary, in an orchard, Joseph of Arimathea had had a new tomb made, cut out of the rock. Since it is the eve of the solemn Pasch of the Jews, Jesus is laid there. Then Joseph, rolling a great stone, closes the grave door and goes away (Matt 27:60).

Jesus came into the world with nothing; so too, with nothing —not even the place where he rests — he has left us.

The Mother of Our Lord —my Mother — and the women who have followed the Master from Galilee, after taking careful note of every thing, also take their leave. Night falls.

Now it is all over. The work of our Redemption has been accomplished. We are now children of God, because Jesus has died for us and his death has ransomed us.

Empti enim estis pretio magno! (1 Cor 6:20), you and I have been bought at a great price.

We must bring into our life, to make them our own, the life and death of Christ. We must die through mortification and penance, so that Christ may live in us through Love. And then follow in the footsteps of Christ, with a zeal to co-redeem all mankind.

We must give our life for others. That is the only way to live the life of Jesus Christ and to become one and the same thing with Him.

Points for meditation

1. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who are hidden disciples of Christ, intercede for Him making use of the high positions they hold. In the hour of loneliness, of total abandonment and of scorn..., it is then that they stand up for him audacter, boldly (Mark 15:43)...: heroic courage!

With them I too will go up to the foot of the Cross; I will press my arms tightly round the cold Body, the corpse of Christ, with the fire of my love...; I will unnail it, with my reparation and mortifications. . . I will wrap it in the new winding-sheet of my clean life, and I will bury it in the living rock of my breast, where no one can tear it away from me, and there, Lord, take your rest!

Were the whole world to abandon you and to scorn you... serviam!, I will serve you, Lord.

2. You know that you were ransomed from your vain observances..., not with silver or gold, which are perishable things, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:18-19).

We do not belong to ourselves. Jesus Christ has bought us with his Passion and with his Death. We are his life. From now on there is only one way of living on earth: to die with Christ so as to rise again with Him, to the point that we can say with the Apostle: It is not I that live, it is Christ that lives in me (Gal 2:20).

3. An inexhaustible source of life is the Passion of Jesus.

Sometimes we renew the joyous impulse that took Our Lord to Jerusalem. Other times, the pain of the agony which ended on Calvary... Or the glory of his triumph over death and sin. But always!, the love —joyful, sorrowful, glorious — of the Heart of Jesus Christ.

4. Think first about others. That way you will pass your life on this earth, making mistakes certainly, for they are inevitable, but leaving behind you a trail of good.

And when the hour of death comes, as it must inexorably, you will welcome it gladly, like Christ, because like Him we too will rise again to receive the reward of his Love.

5. When I feel capable of all the horrors and all the errors committed by the most wretched people, I understand well that I myself can be unfaithful... But this uncertainty is one of the bounties of God 's Love, which leads me to hold tightly, like a child, to the arms of my Father, fighting every day a little so as not to separate myself from Him.

Then I am sure that God will not let me out of his hand. Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, not have compassion on the child of her womb? Yet even if she were to forget, I will not forget thee (Isai 49:15).

Taken from The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva

Where Charity and Love Prevail

Where charity and love prevail,
there God is ever found;
Brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love are we thus bound.

With grateful joy and holy fear
God’s charity we learn;
Let us with heart and mind and soul
now love God in return.

Forgive we now each other’s faults
as we our faults confess;
And let us love each other well
in Christian holiness.

Let strife among us be unknown,
let all contention cease;
Be God’s the glory that we seek,
be ours God’s holy peace.

Let us recall that in our midst
dwells God’s begotten Son;
As members of his body joined,
we are in Christ made one.

No race or creed can love exclude,
if honored be God’s name;
Our family embraces all
whose Father is the same.

Text: Ubi Caritas, tr. Omer Westendorf (1961)
Tune: CHRISTIAN LOVE, CM, by Paul Benoit (1961)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Nerves on edge today.....

So, I have this strange giant lima bean+ size skin patch with uneven borders and a little darkened that appeared on the back of one of my shoulders a couple months ago.  I thought it was a hive at first...maybe some reaction to bath gels or something I ate....but it has stayed and it doesn't particularly itch.  I'm having it looked at today, and although it could be my imagination (and nerves) I swear my shoulder aches deeply...I also thought of shingles...maybe it's a shingle.  I'm just hoping it's not anything serious.  I've been going to the same dermatologist for 25 years now and he has removed SO MANY things from my skin I can't even count how many...all suspicious or pre-cancer moles and skin spots.  Praying and nervous today to say the least. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Palm Sunday: a Mother at the foot of the cross

Some days.(in a negative tone)  And beautiful Palm Sunday all it's glorious beauty (in a sighing uplifting tone). heart is hurt today, hurt for my son with autism although he isn't affected at all.  Only his mother who sees through mother's eyes at how the other children laugh at him, exchange whispers and sneers over his sometimes odd behavior.  Such was the case this morning at Sunday school classes during music time.  Mark was the only one out of his 2nd grade class to stand up alongside me during music leading to do hand motions for a special song the class is learning.  The other grades were present, up through 5th grade, and many of the kids that weren't fully participating were spending their time sneering and laughing over Mark's hand motions.  It broke my heart and there was little I could do playing guitar and leading at the same time.  In between songs I mentioned that ____such and such class needed to be a good example to the other younger students...but in the end, I spoke with a teacher of a certain class about their behavior during music.  She was not aware of her class as she was doing something else at the time -- not her fault, the children should be acting in a Christian manner all the time.  That seems to be a message that could use being Shouted from the rooftops often...over and over.


It just reminds me how much Mark needs help, protection, respect.  Some days his autism seems unnoticeable, other days it is highly detectable and blatantly obvious.  This was one such day.

There's always tomorrow.....

Anxious Dreams

Wow. Nightmares.  I hate when that happens.  It's a sure sign for me of stress, stress. stress.  Lost somewhere and trying to follow a path that is blocked at every turn...answering a phone and realizing it's going to be one of my children crying on the other end, mommy come home!..where are you!?   *sigh*

One of my fears at this point in my life is that something will happen to me that will separate me from my children, especially my two younger special needs ones.  It weighs heavy on my heart at times and when I am feeling, not so great, overwhelmed or fatigued or having some health issue - as the case is now -- my anxiety appears in my dreams...and near sleepless nights.  Tossing and turning, waking up in between each bad dream.

My year in review has been one of mixed emotions, many doubts and fears, and a struggle to balance my daily life and learning environment with my special needs sons, carting them to therapies; financial stresses and trying to keep a normal comfortable functioning life for the whole family of other neuro-typical young adults and adults.....

Today, as I attend church I hope to lay this burden of anxiety, doubt and helplessness before the Lord and ask for some relief, healing, comfort.  I need some quiet moments of meditation and as we approach Holy Week, I need the spiritual connections to soothe me over.