All Hallows’ Eve

All Hallows’ Eve falls on the 31st of October each year, and is the day before All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day in the Christian calendar. The name derives from the Old English ‘hallowed’ meaning holy or sanctified and is now usually contracted to the more familiar word Halloween.

Jacob is not into ‘dressing up’ for any occasion. I don’t know what he is supposed to ‘be’ below. He is either a hobo with rosy checks or a cute clown? For some reason, I rarely put a costume on him.

He didn’t ‘get’ trick or treating. He didn’t understand the fun of Fall Festivals, either.

Basically, the only part of Halloween that he has ever gotten excited about is the candy.

I began to wonder about the reason for the holiday. I won’t go into the history, you can do that research on your own. I’ll briefly cover my take-away. It started as a holiday to honor the dead. Hallowed means ’saint’. I can get behind remembering those that have gone before me. Grandparents, friends, parents.

Not too many years ago, I dropped Jacob off at his day program on a rainy, October 31st. We’d been told that the staff would be dressed up, there would be candy for everyone, and to wear a costume, if desired. We were met by various creatures and characters as he entered.

Later that day, I was to meet a friend for lunch. On the way, I got a call, “Jacob is having a really rough day. We have not been able to calm him down. Do you think you could come get him?”

I phoned my friend to cancel our plans and went straight away. He was okay by the time I got there, but was definitely ready to go home.

I started analyzing what had upset him. Was it the barometric pressure? Maybe it bothered him that people, who he ordinarily knew, were dressed as witches, ghosts, and scarecrows making them hard to recognize. Or, possibly he was frustrated that he couldn’t take all the candy, in sight, for his own. I believe that it was all of the above that caused him stress.

Since then, I’ve made a point to keep him home on the day of a Halloween party. I wish it was something that he could enjoy like so many others, young and old. He doesn’t. And, that is perfectly okay.

Because of the confusion and undue stress, we don’t light our home to welcome trick or treating. Between Jacob wanting all the candy or curious every time the door bell rings and two dogs that go nuts, we pretend nothing is happening on the outside.

But it doesn’t mean he doesn’t get his share of candy. He does. Every day of his life. And some years even a brownie jack-o’-lantern.

Here’s what you need to make a Brownie Jack-O’-Lantern for your family:

1 brownie mix (9×13-inch pan size)
1 (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
Orange food coloring
Assorted candies

Prepare mix according to package directions. Spread batter in a 12-inch, greased pizza pan. Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 18-20 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Put frosting into a bowl and tint with food coloring to desired shade of orange. Use a spatula to frost brownie and smooth to look like a pumpkin.

Here are some ideas for decorating: M&Ms, Candy Corn, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and nuts.

Enjoy!!!!! Note – I put lots of candy corn and M&Ms on this one because he loves those candies. He picked them out and didn’t want them! Keeps me guessing. All of the time!

In the photo, above, of Jacob wearing a scout uniform (that belonged to his daddy), we had taken him Trick or Treating to his grandparent’s homes. This was at his Mamaw and Papaw’s house. (He was most interested in finding the keyboard!)

Next week, I’ll remember Mamaw and the smiles, that were hers, seeing Jacob dressed in something she had saved for years.

Take a moment to remember a friend or family member that isn’t here this year. And as you approach All Hallows Eve, take it a step further and express thanks for them being a part of your life.

If Not for Jacob

Since mid-March, I’ve connected weekly with a small group of friends. Sometimes we talk 30 minutes and sometimes we talk 2 hours. We’ve only been together in person 2-3 times. We have mainly met via Zoom or a FaceTime group call. It’s been amazing to have a group to talk openly and honestly with on a consistent basis. It is one of the biggest blessing from this 2020 ‘lost’ year. I may have lost some experiences but I have gained so much in opening my heart and headspace to weekly conversations. Pre-Covid-19, I’d tell myself I was too ‘busy’.

Here’s the deal—each one of them are friends that I would not have, if not for Jacob.

Our friendship formed from attending the same church. The church we moved to, in 1983, because of their Special Ministries program. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the way our Good, Good Father works. Follow me? If we hadn’t left where we were comfortable to find the best place for Jacob, I dare say, I wouldn’t know any of them. Of the group, they didn’t get to know Jacob at church. Different paths and different hours meant they didn’t see him. But, we did get to know each other.

None of them have been around him a lot. And yet, they have gotten to know Jacob, indirectly. From this blog. From our weekly conversations. From me asking them to pray. Because they are willing to hear the hard stuff. That’s a friend I want to hold close.

They understand our family who can sometimes be misunderstood. They offer support when discouragement strikes. They offer a helping hand when ours feel tied. They listen and remember. They agree in prayer. They are real—no pressure to be something we are not around each other. They are loyal and trustworthy.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you

For Good, written by Stephen Schwartz, Wicked the Musical

We all have other friends, some super close. Some we’ve know much longer than any connection here. But, I do believe we were led to each other for a reason.

On an April day that we were to zoom, Jacob had an especially rough morning. He was mad at the world. Me, being his world. By noon I was spent. Exhausted. Just wanted to curl up and have a good cry. I texted my group: “I’ll try to get on. Jacob has been yanking my chain all morning and has gotten the best of me. Hoping Mike can take over shortly.”

To which I got various sweet responses that summed up to, ‘we can another day’.

A little while later, I sent this text: “I’m going to today. Jacob’s time-out gave him a temporary attitude adjustment and allowed me to relax a little. Mike says he is where he can take over and for me to lock myself in our room! I need y’all and would love to connect today.” THAT. I knew I needed friends that would lift me up and cheer me on. And they did.

While we all need a friend or friends probably more than we realize, I’m suggesting to make being a friend, a priority. You never know when someone needs just that. Friendship is a two-way street. Being there for someone goes a long way toward moving in the right direction.

A year ago, we had a few couples over for dinner. One of the men walked in with this picture of Jacob and Pooh. He had recently read the blog post about friends – The Dreaded Question: https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2019/08/29/hard-question/

The creator is many things including a preacher, an artist, an author, and a teacher to name a few. This sketch by http://joemckeever.com/wp/ is in Jacob’s bedroom and is a sweet reminder that a true friend will be there for you.

In the ’80s, Contemporary Christian artist, Michael W. Smith, co-wrote a song that became popular and crosses all musical genre lines, called, Friends.

And friends are friends forever, if the Lord’s the Lord of them.

In the Father’s hands we know, that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

There may be a move or a death or other event that separates us for a season. But this I know, as friends who share in our faith, we are promised we will be together forever. Maybe longer.

Yes, forever with our Good, Good Father.

Thank you Jacob, for bringing such faithful friends into my life.

Adiós Casio

Jacob loves a keyboard. LOVES. Before we got a nice sized one, he always had a variety of small musical keyboards in the toy box. I blogged about our Keyboard Inventory here: https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2020/02/06/keyboard-inventory/

It’s been said that, “all good things must come to an end”, and it seems our relationship with Casio has done just that.

Jacob got in the habit of breaking keys off a while back. Funny thing was, missing keys didn’t bother him as much as it bothered me. At first I saved them thinking somehow we could reattach. No. I was wrong. What he mainly used, for the music, was a couple of buttons to play programmed songs. As long as those buttons worked, life was good.

I was almost embarrassed that his keyboard was down to 5 keys. “Get him a new keyboard!” Ya know, the creature of habit wouldn’t accept just ANY keyboard. And, as long as he could push a button and hear a certain song, he did not care. Plus, THAT model was hard to find.

But then, daily I was picking up pieces of pointed plastic that broke off, from him shoving it against the wall. Hard pieces, with sharp edges. Notice how the left side, doesn’t really have a front corner anymore? Yes, that was slowly broken away along with parts on the back and other side. I became worried he was going to get hurt. The day came, I knew it had to be taken out.

The next morning his ‘stand-by’ became his only. He was NOT happy. I heard commotion to find him trying to hide the replacement keyboard in his closet. Did not want it in his room but while it was attached to the stand, it was too hard for him to move out completely. So, he got it off the stand as you can see below.

Held our ground that it was this one or nothing. Within a day or two, we’d hear him playing it. At first, it was like he didn’t want us to know he was ‘okay’ with the new one.

Little by little he was. It’s sounds silly, but I am almost giddy when he finally accepts and enjoys something new to him. It is pretty awesome.

Acceptance doesn’t come easy for him. But, goodness it feels great when he gets to that point.

Adiós Casio. It was nice knowing you. Thanks for serving us well for many years. Maybe we will meet again one day.

Waiter! Waiter!

I hope you aren’t one of those people who always gives the waiter or waitress a hard time. Sure, there might be something that needs addressing with them. But, often, they are doing the best they can.

I run a little diner. It’s really great having my own kitchen. Long hours and open every day. But cooking brings me joy. And, serving others, something that makes them smile, doubles the pleasure. Okay, okay, I know that you know. It is my home and I’m the cook, sous chef, porter, dishwasher, and waitress.

Here’s the problem—I have a customer who frequents my diner that can be hard to please.

He will finish a sandwich and order another. Waiter, I’ll have another sandwich. While I am preparing it, he is handing me his cup, I need a refill. Immediately! As nicely as I can, I say, “I’ll get right to you, let me get your sandwich made.” “I can only do one thing at a time.” More, cheese! Demanding. More chips! That’s him.

Often he will order something, to only change his mind. And do it again. Frustrating.

He’s been known to literally turn his nose up and walk away at the House Special. https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2020/09/10/surely-not/

He waits until I am on my break to come in. I think he has a radar that tells him when I need to get off my feet. He’s making sure I don’t leave the kitchen unattended. Long.

Oh, and get this – he’s one of those that expects a discount. Something for nothing. Good thing for him, I’m nice that way and give in.

I’ve tried getting him to help with the kitchen crew, thinking maybe he’d be more inclined to show some patience. Some respect. Nah.

I’ve seen these signs:

Doesn’t work around here.

Good thing is, I’ve run this kitchen for so long, I do know his favorites. So, I try to make a point to serve those often. And this is one makes him a satisfied customer and me a pleased cook.

Recently he ate four. I couldn’t get them made fast enough. Similar to Sloppy Joes, give ‘em a try.

SKILLET BURGERS

1 lb. Ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard
1 teaspoon salt

Brown beef with onion and bell pepper. Drain. Add other ingredients and cook over low heat about 10 minutes. Serve warm over toasted buns. Yield: 4-6 burgers

Note: Double or triple the recipe as the meat mixture freezes well.

It seems I am his favorite waitress. I should be flattered. I have a waiter who helps out, but this customer will often stand by until I’m on duty to place an order. However, he never leaves a tip. No tips. Can you believe it? Seems his parents should have taught him better.

Oh. I am his parent. And, he is my favorite customer.

Because when he is content, sitting and eating while he browses a catalog (or uses his favorite as a placemat), sways while he listens to music, maybe catches up on his mail, it makes any frustration disappear. They are all the tips I need.

Then that handing me his plate, a slight smile, or sweet hug, make me hope this diner stays open for a long, long time. Waiter! Waiter!

#familycookbook #makitplate #jacobsproblemfreephilosophyonfb

Completely Unaware

I’ve never been one who prided myself on always being ‘in the know’. Sometimes being ‘in the dark’ has it’s benefits.

Often I wonder what Jacob thinks about. A conversation he overheard? What our dogs are barking at? When will he go back to his day program? Who? What? When? Where?

He lives a fairly sheltered life. He can choose what channel he wants to watch on TV (within what is available in his room). He mainly chooses children’s shows. Sometimes the weather holds his attention. But he rarely watches the news. Not interested. Who can blame him?

Catching the news wasn’t a priority for me until about 4 years ago, leading up to the U.S. Presidential election. Also didn’t read the newspaper much either (only the Food section). I actually felt ignorant when it came to world news.

It seemed, on a daily basis, I was taking in and processing all I could. Figured I’d hear something when I needed to. I’m sure some of you have gasped at my lack of interest. No haters, please. While I’m being all transparent, there is not a single sport that warrants my time sitting in front of the TV. I heard that! I am the completely unaware one when it comes to sports.

I realize there are an incredible number of happenings, worthy of being reported. Stories that need to be told. Events that deserve close examination to learn more. Catastrophic pain. People close to home and far away that need our support in various ways. To share with and pray for. I’m not saying my choice was right to ignore, but I am saying that was my choice.

When our boys were little, we sheltered them from violence, abuse, foul language, etc. as much as we possibly could. While realizing they would and were exposed to those things as they got older and were out from under our wings. The good and the bad help you learn your place. How to stand up for who and what you believe in. To see right from wrong.

When our first granddaughter came along, I became highly sensitive to what was on the news. All of a sudden my awareness was magnified, wanting to shield her innocence. And not wanting her to hear about a school shooting or other things that nightmares are made of. It’s our job to protect eyes and ears, as much as possible.

Then this year we started hearing about Covid-19 and became glued to the news. Jacob’s life would certainly be affected by this pandemic. All of ours would. Even though he didn’t have a clue about the seriousness. What all the graphs meant. And certainly, wearing a mask and keeping 6 feet from anyone wouldn’t make sense in his mind. The only thing he realized, was it meant more time playing at home.

And as we watched/listened, stories didn’t match up, and it became hard to know what and who to believe. Seemed so much of it wasn’t factual news but stories to sway us one way or the other. To pit us against each other. I found myself back in the ‘rarely watches the news’ category. And, it was okay. It brought a sense of ease, even peace. Ignorance is not bliss. But I would go so far to say unawareness is. Especially when you put your trust in the God of all the universe.

If you aren’t on social media or tuned in to nightly news, you may not know about local, national, and world news. I would argue that at times, it might be just the prescription for mental health. Worry and anxiety come from all of the ‘what ifs’.

It’s pretty nice that Jacob is completely unaware. Social injustice doesn’t mean anything to him. He doesn’t fear being hurt because he heard that someone, like him, was. He doesn’t worry about getting sick or us running out of toilet paper. I don’t know if he’s ever thought ‘what if?’ about anything. Living in the moment matters to him. Not the future.

He is never going to play Trivial Pursuit or be a contestant on Jeopardy. He’ll never vote in an election. He needs peace rather than confusion. There are enough other things that stress him without hearing nightly news.

And that is fine with me.

Unaware: oblivious, out-of-it, ignorant, innocent, uninformed, unknowing, blind, inattentive, out-to-lunch, unmindful and negligent.

Those descriptions are hard to embrace. I have turned a blind eye to what is hard to watch. Been oblivious to ‘what doesn’t touch my family’. The truth is, maybe I’ve accepted – Ignorance is Bliss – because I can’t worry about what I don’t know about!

I choose to focus on what I do know, and that is, God is in control. Only God can heal our land. Only God can change hearts. And while you may feel completely unaware or have a firm hold on reality, I’d encourage you to listen closely to the words of this 3 year old. Yes, out of the mouth of babes, God speaks and we would be mindful to listen.

“We don’t know, we don’t know, but if you read this Bible…..”

Don’t be unaware of the truth of the good news. Shared by the precious one that made us grandparents.

“It will talk to you about, Jesus.” “That You love us.” “All the time.”

How Sweet It Is

If you don’t know Jacob, words really aren’t enough. If you do, words aren’t necessary. And yet, here I am trying to paint a picture with enough words to make our story real and give a clearer understanding, if that’s possible.

Reading this blog week after week, you are getting to know him and that is huge for me. Thank you for being interested in our life. Curious about autism. How he ticks. How we parent. (Disclaimer, we don’t know what we are doing.) What makes us laugh. What makes us cry, or at least feel like it. What we’ve survived!

The other night at bedtime our routine was different. Usually Mike is the last one in his room. Jacob listens to ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on the kindle, then night time prayers, he’s covered up, and lights go out. I was the last one in his room that night. I covered him (in his bearded man sheets that I say are pictures of his brother), knelt on the floor by his bed, and started singing to him. I actually sang a lullaby. “Lullaby and good night, go to sleee-eeep, my Jacob.” Over and over and over again. Part long-time lyrics and part made up as I went.

He was calm and his eyes twinkled and he didn’t want me to stop. It was a sweet, tender moment that was a God wink for me. I wish you could have been a fly on the wall to witness the stillness. The contentment. The bond.

How sweet it is to be loved by him.
How sweet it is, the love is not a whim.
You better believe, I close my eyes at night,
Thanking God for this precious gift in my life.
Everything I do, seems to be with him in mind.
Everywhere I go, to return from leaving him behind.
He makes me crazy, furious, and happy all in a day.
I can’t even begin to name all the countless ways.
For every emotion he brings me to, now and then.
Jesus, I just want to stop and say Thank You, again.

I don’t believe Jacob has a malice bone in his body. He is in no way perfect. I just don’t think he has the desire to do evil. Even though he has a sin nature, like I do, his thought process probably doesn’t work like mine, to get what he wants. Does he lash out? Yes. Lose control? Indeed. Show love? In his own way, absolutely!

The tune made popular by James Taylor in the 70’s started playing in my head that night. ‘How sweet it is to be loved by you.’ I started thinking about my privilege to be Jacob’s mom. To love him like I do because I can sing, “how sweet it is to be loved by You”. Knowing every good and perfect gift comes from God above.

And, I can look in his eyes and sing a lullaby to my 41 year old son. “Close your eyes, sound asleep, sweee-eeet dreams my boy.”

How sweet it is.

Surely Not!

My Instagram profile: Baker, Craft Maker, Autism Caretaker. That does not, by any means, sum up who I am as a person. But, it does describe a large portion of my days.

Baking is one of my favorite things to do. My mom loves to bake and her mom did, too. Being in the kitchen is usually good therapy for me. Jacob is one of my two resident taste-testers.

Rainbow Cinnamon Rolls had been on my list of things to try for several weeks. Thinking Jacob loves cinnamon rolls and fun colors. So, combining those two, surely I would have a hit on my hands.

I got a late start on the day I planned to bake so it was after 9 o’clock that night before they were ready to sample. Went back to his room, “Jacob, come in the kitchen, I’ve got cinnamon rolls made!” He jumped up and came straight away.

I had made two small pans. One of mini rolls and one regular size. I cut a couple of the minis into bite-size pieces on his plate. He studied (as in, ‘what is this odd thing you’ve set before me?’), leaned in close to smell, and then …

WALKED AWAY!! What? I was shocked. How could he walk away from a still warm cinnamon roll. And to top it off, multi-colored with sprinkles! Who can resist that?

I surmised that he wasn’t hungry. He just thought he was. That evening, he’d eaten more homemade macaroni and cheese than most could hold in a sitting. So, his dad, begrudgingly, agreed to be the taste tester and gave them a thumbs up.

Okay, that’s alright. He could have them for breakfast the next day.

Being as how, these days, we rarely have to be anywhere first thing in the morning, I let Jacob sleep in. He woke on his own about 9:45. Once he was stirring, I reminded him of the cinnamon rolls. Wasn’t interested. You may remember, there are some days that he rarely eats anything until over in the afternoon. That’s fine, I can deal.

When he did, finally, wander in the kitchen, I said, “here’s you some juice, and warmed cinnamon rolls”. He looked at me like, ‘not again’. I.Am.Serious. What in the world? Surely he wasn’t turning his nose up at homemade rainbow cinnamon rolls? With sprinkles?

He went to the refrigerator and started to open it. “No, take a bite. I made these and you like cinnamon rolls.” Walked away, again.

At some point he came back in to my same remark. This time, he covered the plate with his Sunday School lesson and a card he’d recently gotten in the mail. And, nicely, handed it to me. Surely not!

Mike and I were laughing as we ate lunch. What parent says, “you eat all that sugar before you can have anything else to eat!”? Me. That’s who. That is literally what I was doing. Figured I better let it go and let him choose what he wanted to eat (within reason).

Sweet fella, went back to the refrigerator and touched the red beans and sausage. I heated it over rice and he sat down and went to town.

Two more bowls and he finally had his fill. While the sad cinnamon rolls sat pushed aside feeling all rejected (or maybe that was me), as he chose Three Musketeers for dessert. He was a happy camper. And I, a bewildered baker.

Red Beans and Sausage (as recommended by Jacob)

2 lbs. Smoked sausage
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cans kidney beans, drained
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme

Cut sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Brown sausage, bell pepper, onion, and celery until vegetables are tender. Add one can of kidney beans to crock pot and mash. Add browned sausage, vegetables and remaining ingredients and stir. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over hot rice.

I am seriously thrilled when Jacob enjoys anything I prepare. Always striving to keep my #1 customer and taste-tester satisfied! I even baked another batch thinking maybe the colors were so dark they weren’t appetizing. I was determined to win him over.

Rainbow Cinnamon Roll recipe: @thepurplecupcake_

Follow me on IG: @tereldaisterripig and @tereldasthreads

It didn’t happen.

One Hundred

Problem Free Philosophy marks its 100th post today! Pull out the streamers and cut the cake!!! YAY!

I got a WordPress renewal notice last week to continue for two more years. Hmmmmmmm…. decisions, decisions.

For quite some time, I used Facebook as a platform to share our lives. Funny things. Hard things. Happy and sad things. Not for accolades but as a way of explanation, of transparency, of truth.

As a way to peek into our lives. Into one family’s autism journey. Good or bad, we have really sheltered Jacob. Outside of our special needs community, few people know him, have ever seen him, and weren’t aware of his existence. One of my big regrets is not exposing Jacob to more experiences and more people. Instead, I let the awkwardness and the unknown steal memory-making moments from our family. We’ll never know how things would be different if I’d been braver.

We find ourselves at an odd place in our lives right now. In many ways, every day is the same as the day before. Jacob has been home for six months. In the past, a lot of my stories were current to what happened at his day program. Now, we don’t know what day of the week it is! Or, when he’ll return to that daily schedule.

In October 2018 I began to tell our story. Reflection is good, so I’ll do that. These are just some of the blog reactions that stand out, some repeated by multiple people:

“I had no idea.”

“I have a reminder set, every Thursday, to read the blog. It is really good and has given me a lot of insight.”

“Your blog touches my heart strings.”

“You need to write a book.”

“Your blog about insecurities is exactly what every new (and experienced) mom and dad needs to read!”

“I love today’s story and can relate!”

“Your blog entries are always inspirational, heart warming, as well as educational for me.”

“Snack. Eat. Snack. Jacob and I have been doing the same thing.”

“Jacob’s got a friend that loves him.”

“I’m sure every special needs child’s mom has gone through something like that one way or the other.”

“Jacob has a way of getting someone’s attention!”

“You have opened my eyes to living with autism.”

“You speak to my heart through all your blog entries! Today you spoke through a MEGAPHONE!” “So powerful.”

“That was just what I needed to hear.”

“If you’d consider putting these in a book form, we’d like to help fund.”

“Even though life is a different journey for me, I’m always encouraged by your story.”

“I think there is an insecure button in us that only we can push and it is up to us to take charge of our insecurities and put a cover on that button.”

“You and Mike are so blessed with a full on Prayer Army!”

“Jacob is GREAT!”

“There are moms and dads that need to hear your joys, as well as your struggles.”

“I’ve gotten to know so much about Jacob. Things I had no idea about!”

“I love reading about the funny things that Jacob does.”

“Thank you for being real. People need to understand it isn’t always easy.”

“I look forward to these every week.”

“You are right where God wants you to be.”

“My heart melted and my eyes are leaking.”

“I love hearing about Jacob.”

“Well, I cried thru that post. Thank you for being so transparent.”

“You were chosen. Much respect.”

“I love that God has given you the ability to laugh in the midst of tremendous frustration.”

Every week, someone comments on the blog, sends me a text, or comments on Jacob’s Problem Free Philosophy Facebook page some encouraging word that fuels me to keep going. Those above are just a few.

This blog does many things and one is that it makes me look for the positive. It makes me evaluate the negatives. It makes me more vulnerable to criticism. And, creates a self-imposed pressure to churn out a new post every week. It also makes Jacob more visible even though he’s been home for six months.

When Jacob’s Mamaw passed away in July, a long-time friend called me, “Jacob hasn’t been around me much, but I would be happy to come stay with him to help you out.” Would that selfless offer have been made if she hadn’t read approximately ninety Problem Free Philosophy posts? Probably so. She’s that kind of friend. Did having learned little bits and pieces about Jacob make her more confident that she could manage? I like to think so.

This blog became my sharing platform and without knowing it, you help write the posts. Thank you.

Making Sense of Sunday

For as long as I can remember Sunday was unlike any other day of the week. Mike and I were brought up by Christian parents who were intentional about taking our families to church. Typically we were there Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and back on Wednesday evening. And that is how we raised our family as well.

Then slowly things began to change. Jacob could cause a rukus in a worship service so we’ve always had someone stay with him in another area of the church or our home. In the last couple of years, we might have made it to church two Sundays a month because it became more difficult to find a consistent person to give us those few hours weekly.

Worshipping shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters in Christ is one of the most beautiful experiences on earth. When that is not possible you become resourceful. The capability to livestream a service into our home is a blessing not to be taken for granted. Something generations before us didn’t have and probably couldn’t have even imagined.

Search the web and you can find sermons and Bible studies by every pastor imaginable and every subject. We have so much at our fingertips! Don’t miss out on what God has to say to you through His word delivered in hundreds of different ways.

Mike and I tuned in to our pastor delivering a sermon via livestream recently while Jacob played happily in his room. Listening to music, bouncing on his bed, and having a grand time. The only problem was as our pastor started speaking, “I want to ask you to turn in your Bible to John, Chapter 21”, Jacob’s music got louder and louder:

Uh, huh, She loves the monkey’s uncle,
Yeah, yeah, She loves the monkey’s uncle,
Whoa, whoa, She loves the monkey’s uncle,
And the monkey’s uncle’s ape for me!

I had a lot of trouble that day concentrating as my thoughts were competing with the monkey’s uncle. But isn’t that life? Things distract us. Find a way to focus! Which often means putting in earbuds. Sometimes it means watching a replay later.

Sunday’s aren’t the same as they were but we are making the best of them. Last February, ‘Zoom’ meant to increase the font size of a document or what an airplane does! By mid-March, we were accessing Bible Study by Zoom or sharing life with friends via a weekly Zoom meeting.

Last Sunday one of Jacob’s Sunday School teachers called, “Hey Terri, I’ve got M on the phone and we want to sing Jacob’s favorite song to him”. Only problem was that Jacob was still sound asleep. We set up for them to try again later and at 11:30 Jacob got a phone call. Mrs. J played the piano and M led a group of special friends, who live in a group home setting, in singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot to Jacob.

In all his years attending the Special Ministries class, when they’d sing that song, he would twirl and smile. Hum and sing in his own way. They all knew it was his favorite. That morning he sat still on his bed and listened. He reached for the phone. There was no twirling and I didn’t catch a smile but you better believe, he loved it. He clapped as he was transported back to Sunday like it used to be.

We are in a new normal and don’t know what the future holds. We do know who holds the future and even if we aren’t able to worship in the same ways as before, we are making sense of Sunday by taking advantage of all the many wonderful ways to connect.

The Rest of the Story

The Through the Woods post last week, https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2020/08/13/through-the-woods/, ended with Jacob not wanting to leave. He was so glad to be at Granny and Granddaddy’s. The day went by too fast. He hadn’t been there long enough. He likes it best when their home isn’t filled with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I resorted to a bribe to get him off the couch, “if you get up, we’ll get hamburgers on the way home”. I grabbed his cup of orange juice and diluted it with water to give him something to drink in the van. It’s his preferred cup with a spout top. Not spill proof, but a good solution. The bribe worked and we were soon on our way.

When we are travelling, I’m often checking him in the backseat mirror. As I watched, he took a drink and then sat the cup across from him on the ledge. What was I thinking? Mistake #1 was giving him juice instead of water in a moving vehicle. Several times I told him to put the cup in the cup holder. I could just imagine the cup sliding and sticky juice going everywhere. I switched from asking him to put it in the cup holder to asking him to hand me the cup. He looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language and refused.

I decided to crawl over the console and take the cup. That was Mistake #2! Don’t report me but I unbuckled to get the cup that was teetering on the edge.

As I reached for the cup, Jacob reached for my arm and pulled me toward him. Alrighty, Mistake #3 in progress—I sat by him. Didn’t have much choice so I buckled up. One of our hard realities is that no one can ride near or beside Jacob in a vehicle. Oh that we could go back to the days of us riding like a ‘normal’ family. His place is alone on the third row of our van. It works except for when it doesn’t.

Okay, fine, I could ride the rest of the way home sitting by him. Obviously he wanted me there as he wouldn’t let go. Obviously he wanted me to go back where I came from because he was intent on causing trouble.

I am not exaggerating when I say it felt like I was sharing the seat with an octopus!! How can Jacob’s two arms appear to be 6 or 8? He was bent on pulling my arms, clothing, and hair. It sounds crazy but it is impossible to escape him with his arm down the back of my shirt. Mike asked if I wanted him to pull over. He was watching arms flying and helpless to intercede. We were on the interstate and I was determined to manage until we got home.

Because I knew what could happen, I quickly undid my necklace and set it aside. Lesson from the past with broken necklaces! Mistake #4, I didn’t remove my bracelet. He grabbed, it snapped, and I was mad! I reached to take off my earrings realizing I was already missing one.

It was 25 minutes of misery. And as angry as I was at him, I was more overwhelmed with sadness. How did we get here? What makes him react to me, or anyone, being in his space?

I’ve promised fast food burgers before because it’s something he enjoys. I had every intention of keeping that promise. Until, I couldn’t reward him for the behavior he exhibited before we arrived home.

We were frazzled but lived to tell about it! I learned from Mistake #1. There is no reason for him to have anything but water when on the road. I think I’ll remember that. The broken bracelet was repaired quite easily with my handy needle-nose pliers. Mike found the missing earring in the stow-away floorboard.

A few days later we went on a long ride and he was perfect. And, we got him hamburgers while we were out.

That brings me to, Mistake #5 – I accidentally published this post on the ninth of August. As I created this story I went to save and set a August 20th publish date, and I clicked the wrong button!! I try to work ahead and have a couple of posts ready to go. That doesn’t always happen but it helps me to compose and then mull it over. I usually edit quite a bit between the creation and going live.

I was so aggravated with yours truly. In almost a hundred posts, it is the second time I posted before I was ready. But this one needed to follow last week’s. Unfortunately, this one had a sad undertone, a true example of living with autism.

But know this, I’m not in the habit of pointing out all the mistakes I’ve made. You know how on Facebook and Instagram, we show our ‘best side’? Right. While the mistakes listed here weren’t catastrophic, they added up to a frustrating total. Thank the Lord I am not the sum of my mistakes. His grace covers me and reminds me tomorrow is a new day. Learn from mistakes and move on. I learned a lot that day. It’d be nice if sharing my mistakes helps someone, too.

Please understand that as crummy as part of that ride was, it didn’t ruin the trip. The visit was fantastic.

And, the ending became it’s own post.