Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer 2012 - Sounds a lot like Summer 2013

An old post that actual made me laugh...some things never change!!  LOL

When I drive home after appointments with the kids, I listen to music to soothe the pain.  I am not happy with seeing psychologists and having to answer "no" to questions about my children that I KNOW I should be saying yes to.  I am sick of the paperwork and red-tape involved in regional centers, school districts, medical grievance departments and therapy agencies.  I don't get heard when I talk to my children...and they certainly don't answer back.  My agonies could go on and on and I try and "hold my chin up" as many of my friends and family have encouraged me to do.  My question is, how do you do that when you keep getting "kicked in the chin"!?

Last month was supposed to be the season of all seasons.  Our 3 kids that live in Maryland would be visiting and Kyle would be getting time off that #1 he needed very badly but also...#2 he had to save all year so there was never another break along the way.  In the short time the kids were here: the vacuum cleaner broke, the new trundle we bought for the toddlers broke, our garbage disposal broke, all 3 babies got hand foot and mouth disease, Kyle's grandmother passed away, my mother started her chemo treatments for colon cancer and our daughter Kaelynn was diagnosed with Autism.  This WASNT going to be the season we were longing for.  It WASNT our turn to get a break or to have a time of rest.  We are a one income family, we don't get vacations, we don't own a house or enough cars.  When we planned for the kids to come, we prayed that those things would change so we would have enough room for everyone, to maybe ease some of the stress.  That didn't happen.  Instead, it was harder.  We joke that when our ship does come will be the Titanic.

I am tired of dragging out of bed to put out fires first thing in the morning.  Changing up to 18 diapers a day.  My children are in therapy each day with various people coming and going and almost always leaving a mess behind or setting my children free when I'm not ready, only so I can chase them through the kitchen and out the back door.  Today, Kaelynn was upset and pulled every stitch of clothing out of her and Aidans dresser.  Kylie is teething so she cries all day.  Aidan has been constipated and when it ends he poops about 6x that day...resulting in a severe rash and sore bottom.  Aidan and Kaelynn whine or scream to communicate and then hit me or throw things at me if I don't reply.  Kaelynn throws everything off any surface, strips her bed, clothes and won't let me brush her teeth or hair.  I hear some of you saying, "that sounds like any 2 year old"!  Can I just's NOT THE SAME!  Discipline doesn't work.  They have no empathy and high pain thresholds.  They don't understand what social graces are.  They don't feel sad when I'm angry with them.  They are like strong-willed children on crack that don't care about danger.  Can they be good?  Yes, of course they have their moments.  It's the day in and day out that just kills my mother skills, wife skills, cooking skills, cleaning get it.

Today, I'm twitching....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Engloria (The short version of a Scottish childrens book) - by Chella Rivers

Hello readers,

This is a short version of a Scottish adventure chapter book I've been working on for a few years.  I tried to publish the "long" version and then shortened it for a competition in a magazine.  I thought it would be fun to post the short version as a blog since it's not terribly long to read.  If I get a good response, I will post the long version, chapter by chapter.  I hope you enjoy it.

by Chella Rivers

Nicola lived in a cold, smoky cottage near the gate of Sorn Castle.  The fog was always thickest there and seemed to purposely hide the villagers’ view of the castle courtyard.  Her stonewalled cottage made the bitter chill of winter a painful enemy.  The floors stuck to her cold, bare feet early in the morning when she stepped out of bed, which was only made of straw covered with dirty sheets with holes.  Having food in the cupboard was rare and there was barely enough coal to build a fire.  The butt and ben had one big room that consisted of the living room, a wash area for cooking, a water closet and a curtained area for Nicola’s bed. 

With auburn curls, bright green eyes and fair skin, Nicola was a perfect picture of Scottish blood. She had one living relative, Duncan McIntosh, and even though he provided for her, he was evil to the core.  Duncan was the grounds keeper for Sorn Castle, yet he forced Nicola to maintain most of the chores.  The loft was where dreadful Duncan slept off his whiskey and of course Nicola was subjected to the stench of his filthiness each time she had to clean up after him. 

Late one spring evening, after Duncan had fallen into a drunken stupor, Nicola decided to spend some time at the River Ayr.  At the river there was a stone crossing that was supposedly bewitched.  The legend was told that if you go under the bridge, you will end up in a land called Engloria and you may never return.  Even so, she continued to walk toward the legendary stone bridge.  The sky above her was covered in its common grey canopy yet was clothed in lush green landscape.  The water passed by her as she walked and it didn't look back at her.  Everything around her stood still, and the grass lay flat across the hillside as if it were waiting for the arrival of someone very important.  The canopy above her appeared to get closer and darker and the air seemed to be getting thicker the closer she got to the stone archway.  Her vision blurred as she tried to focus on the mystifying bridge ahead.  All the thoughts that went through her head felt useless and the eerie feeling that took over the glen suddenly gripped her with terror.  There were sounds in her head that she knew for certain weren’t echoing in her ears.  Black thoughts consumed her emotions and if it continued much longer she would surely go mad.  The fear of it all made her take off into a full sprint back to where her home was in Sorn.  She jumped over rocks and puddles, dodged thistle bushes and leapt over fallen fir trees.  Nothing could make her feet move fast enough.  She could feel the baby hair on her neck stand up as she darted in and out of gullies and divots in the road.  She could feel the force of something evil tugging at her clothing and hair.  Underneath the ground was a lurking darkness that didn’t want Nicola claiming the joy that was just beyond the bridge.  Somehow, it knew Nicola and sensed her abilities.  Nicola couldn’t have known the seriousness of her travels.  She felt as if the ground had started to swallow her feet as she pulled her legs like taffy from the dirt road.  As the forest passed by her in a swift blurry mess, she could hear the whistle of the air as it stung her ears.  She made an attempt to go under the bridge and was too scared now to continue so she returned home flustered and scared.  By then, the fog had swept in quickly from the coast and swallowed the night.  As she continued, she looked in the distance to see the outline of her cottage and feared that Duncan was awake.  Being as quiet as possible, she crept through the dense fir trees near her bedroom window.  She took a deep breath and held it in while she pushed it open.  She could feel her heart beat in her chest.  One leg at a time, she managed to get back in her room without making a sound.  Still afraid to breathe, she slipped off her shoes and scrambled in bed fully clothed. 

The lamp from the front room glowed under her door.  She could smell the tobacco burning in Duncan's pipe.  He was up, but most likely heaped over his whiskey and not aware that she was even gone, which was just as well.  He was a tall thick brute with a scraggly red beard and moustache.  His nose and cheeks were puffy and splotched with redness since he drank heavily and carried his anger around with him wherever he went.  After a wee bit she undressed and put on her nightgown and opened her bedroom door to glance out to see Duncan.  With one eye peeking through the cracked door, she looked side to side and suddenly her stare was met with a pair of bloodshot eyes.

            "Where have you been all night?" he bellowed as he pulled the door open forcefully and dragged her into the room and on to the floor.

            "I haven't had my supper you worthless little rat!  How many times have I told you that you aren't allowed to leave this house until I have had my supper?"

            As Duncan screamed, a boiling pot flew across the room aimed directly at her head and she ducked out of its path.  Inside she wanted to scream, but she sat silently and gazed at the ground as his rampage continued.  Lucky for her, he was also drunk and was in and out of consciousness and he began to wobble back and forth on his feet.  Her ears became numb during his ranting and her eyes became heavy.  Her mind wandered off to the day's events.  She still wasn't sure what spooked her at the burn.  She wondered if it was her imagination.  Either way, she needed to try again but this time she wouldn’t go alone.  The one person that came to mind was Liam McPherson, a lad she had known her whole life but also kept at a distance.  She was afraid to get close to anyone but maybe he could help her face the bridge.  In fact, as she lay there, she recalled that he told her that he had been to Engloria, yet she never believed him.  Tomorrow she would find out if it were true.

Finally Duncan fell back in his chair and passed out.  She got up off the floor, climbed into bed and closed her eyes.  Nicola knew that tomorrow would be here soon and she needed to rest for another day at the burn.

The next morning, after eating a stale bit of toast she found hidden in the storeroom, she dressed herself with whatever was clean in her bureau.  Then she brushed her tangled hair, wrapped a hair-bob around her locks and left the cottage.  She quickly made her way through the busy town to find Liam.  Maybe with him as her escort, she could brave the bridge once again.  As she came to the edge of a grassy knoll, she could see Mr. McCombs’s horse and cart in front of the church.  Taking a better look, she noticed that there was a lad seated in the back.  She couldn’t mistake that it was indeed Liam.  His hair and face were messy and unkempt and he wore a red and black kilt with tall black boots that laced and buckled all the way up his calves.  Across his chest was a sash, the same print as the kilt and underneath that she could see a long-sleeved white tunic.  On his left shoulder, he wore a pin that had something written across it and a picture that she couldn't quite make out.  

“Good day sir,” Nicola said as she curtsied, “Would you like to join me on a grand adventure today?  I understand you are familiar with Engloria?” she added.

Excited at the prospect, Liam exclaimed with a bow, “Of course, my dear lady!  I would be honored.” Nicola let her fantasy and imagination take over and they set off, giggling as they walked. They paced themselves shoulder-to-shoulder as they approached the auld brig.  Nicola was curious why the evil presence that followed her the previous day was no longer there, and she wondered if having Liam with her was possibly the answer.  It was lovely to have him there and it was even better that she wasn’t frightened.  The morning sun reflected off the water on the other side of the bridge and it sparkled like a sea of jewels in liquid gold.  Their feet sunk into the ice-cold water and they struggled to balance on the rocky bottom.  Each step resulted in sliding and grasping onto something sturdy.  Every time Nicola’s feet submerged she could feel the water swish between her toes and it made a gooey feeling run all over her body.  The wet marshy water really was quite gross.  As they reached the last few feet of the covering, Nicola could see a new world unfolding in front of her.  To her amazement, the landscape looked just like Sorn although there were no houses or people.  The Munroe rose up to the top of the world and the peaks were covered in fluffy white snow.  The meadow they stood in was covered in blue bells and thick, white flowers called snowdrops that resembled tiny tear drops.  On the outside edge of the eastern glen there were groves of tall, white fir trees standing neck to neck.  The grass was cheerfully calming and each time the wind blew the teardrops burst into song.  The peaceful scenery seemed to be composed by a master artist and Nicola knew that there was something special about this place.  Liam pointed out various areas of land and explained the names of the territories.

"Right there, where the mountains start to climb is the Lankin Forest, where days and nights slow down and small mysteries take flight.  And to the right, just south of the burn is, Glen Lomond.  To the North is the White Forest and the base of Whisper Falls,” Liam proclaimed whimsically, while he starred off into the distance.

Unbeknownst to them, when they entered Engloria, they cracked the seal and now the darkness and its leader were already transcending into the meadow that led into the Lankin Forest.  Slowly, dark clouds formed above the forest as the wind picked up speed.  They fearfully watched as the darkness started to close in on them suddenly.  Clouds hovered overhead and the air grew thick and so cold that the puddles that had formed that day became tiny ice rinks and droplets of water froze in mid air. The White Forest stood still as the black engulfed the trees and attempted to strangle the leaves of the branches.  Black and grey images, like wolves that could fly, jumped from tree limb to tree limb, taking out every thing in their path.

Liam grabbed Nicolas and hand and said, “Quick, I know a place where we can take cover as the storm passes by!”

They ran as fast as possible toward a large rock formation.  They felt cold against their backs and when Nicola glanced over her shoulder she became very frightened by the storm as it appeared to be chasing them. Hand-in-hand they went into the cracked mountainside.  The black cloud that followed them had frozen everything in its path, including the bridge and the Lankin Forest.  They were now engulfed in a marble and stone walkway that towered over the great valley. The clouds had darkened the path, which offered no comfort, and in the distance they could hear loud shrieks of a howling animal that seemed to be in a battle.  The sides of the crevice were vast and the sky was filled with black smoke.  However, when they had gone through the passageway and approached the top of the brae they peered over the glen below to a brilliant scene.  The ghostly clouds hadn’t made it to this side of Engloria.  The peace was astounding as eagles soared across the heavens gracefully.  Nicola could see a family of ducks playing in a nearby puddle, and they watched her closely in case they needed to escape.  She wondered why they weren't in the giant magnificent lake just steps away from them.  Nicola got chills all over her and tiny goose bumps on her arms rose up making her cold suddenly.

Liam and Nicola looked down into the glen near a grove of trees and then they heard what sounded like a rush of wind and water coming from somewhere in the meadow below.  Clouds were combining together to form some sort of an object that Nicola had a hard time distinguishing.  In between the clouds were speckles of shimmery water that were transparent and suspended in the sky.  The water droplets started to line up in the form of something.  They slowly came closer together in such a way it seemed they could communicate.  As she focused and the formation started to become clearer she could see that the water droplets had created an enormous hand in the sky.  Nicola was startled and started to run for shelter as she watched the water spectacle.  The last three fingers on the hand were now tucked into the palm, as was the thumb, which left the index finger pointing outward. As Nicola hid under a willow tree, she watched in amazement as the extended finger, which she could barely see amidst the backdrop of the same color sky, showered a spout of clear, fresh water onto the valley below.  It moved with precision and functioned as a regular water spigot.  It was terrifying yet astonishing all at the same time.  The hand had no body attached to it as it drifted from shrub to tree and from grassy field to rose bush.  It was obviously watering the meadow.

Liam and Nicola stood and faced the valley.  She reached for his hand as they each took a deep breath of excitement and they walked deeper into the world of Engloria.

Legends are mysteries that are passed down from generation to generation.  The people in the legends are those that carry details of the truth.  They are ingrained in the minds of those who live the story and then live to tell it to others.   Nobody who walks the earth wants to become part of a legend, for then they will step into the unknown depths of a strange and eerie existence.  And yet here they were, in a world that would turn her belief system upside down.  This was the moment they were born for and they somehow knew this adventure would lead them to the greatest fulfillment in the history of Engloria.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Why I'm able to Mother with love instead of merely surviving my Autistic children!

Do you ever wonder about your neighbor and their rowdy children?  Or look crooked at a family eating at the table next you and wonder why they can't control their child?  Stop for a moment and think about the fact that you know nothing about that family unless you have spoken to them.  Even then, they may not reveal the truth to a stranger or a person who doesn't need to know their business.  When I'm in public and my child is climbing the walls, I don't make a proclamation of "my daughter is Autistic and that's why she's out of control", because honestly I don't need to make excuses (nor do I have the time), I just need to focus on teaching her the right way to behave and to ignore the negative behaviors that draw her too much attention.  Does this sound foreign?  It did to me also about 2 years ago when we were first learning this new technique of training our children how to interact in a social world when they have no social compass whatsoever.

My life doesn't revolve around Autism, or does it?  I find my thoughts gravitate to what ASD is teaching me, or rather, what my children who suffer from ASD are teaching me.  I have been compelled to look deeper inside myself than I ever thought I needed to.  I've had to remove scales from my eyes about my own heart and how over the years I have naively judged other parents.  I escape in my mind to places I've never traveled (for those who know me intimately, it's usually England :), in order to survive those days that make ZERO sense and when my calendar is so full I actually need to be in 3 places at once and they are all equally important.  I find I am a person who needs peace and quiet to concentrate on important detailed matters and because I no longer have that quiet time, I'm learning how to create a situation that motivates me enough to finish tasks that ordinary leave me baffled.

I use the word baffled now.  Amazing...haha.

When I was in middle school I loved Punk music and I wore ghastly black clothes with chains and spikes.  Due to childhood trauma, I also had emotional baggage that today would cost thousands in airport fees!  Life was dark, mysterious and hurtful and hence I became those things too.  I still find myself wanting to wear heavy black eye-liner and converse!  Its comical really when you see who I am now and how I go days on end wearing whatever fits (even my husbands clothes), one would think I have no style of my own or any sense of fashion.  But, in the midst of this irony, I have found a profound sense of freedom, after all aren't punk rockers rebellious in nature?  Aren't they trend setters and haters of the common fashion world?

Why is she talking about punk-rockers and Autism?  Where is all this going?

Please let me explain.

I am the mother of 7 children.  I gave birth to 4 of them and 3 of them were entrusted to me by God.  I also have what I call spiritual "adopted" children that call me mom :) They all face challenges in different ways.  They have hurts and questions like I did.  That is why my life was hard growing up.  I'm sorry if this sounds "cliché"  but lets be real, I could never understand and have compassion on my future children if I had the perfect upbringing.  "There is no "perfect" upbringing" you may say...and I hear ya...but, there are "white picket fence" lives out there.  Parents who stay married.  Good family and friends encouraging good character.  Money doesn't buy happiness but it does provide more opportunities to thrive in sports, education, travel and experiences.  Everyone has trouble, yes.  But, not everyone has childhood trauma.

Recently, I have uncovered some truths about me that are bringing the last 40 years into perspective.  Have you ever wondered why you have encountered various things in life and why others haven't?  Why your parents divorced, why you were abused, why there was never security, why you rebelled and tried drugs or allowed people to take advantage of you?  I usually don't think about it and maybe I should?  I have just moseyed through life and took things as they came, one day at a time.  I expected bad things.  It was comfortable for me.  I made decisions along the way that formed who I am.  Some bad. Some good.  But clearly there was a reason for all the hurt and I could've crawled into a ball and cried...and there were days that I did.  I could've given up. I think often about what Jesus might say if He were physically standing by me in those moments.  Probably something like, "what are you doing with what I have given you?"  It's a hard question to face.  It picks us up and dusts us off as we realize that it is because of His purpose that we pour ourselves out into whomever He places in our lives.  Our family, children, friends, those in need and people who have nobody.  Who am I to wallow and give up. Who am I to NOT do my best with those He has placed in my life?

Finally it becomes clear if you accept that you aren't in control.  All those memories and life experiences have formed you and me into the person who can handle what is going on today.  If I'm being more specific about MY life, then I'd have to say that I am able to adjust to change, be flexible, accept craziness, be different, look different, improvise and stand out.  That is where the punk-rocker in my  And yes, I believe that God allowed ALL of this so that when I had to face the challenge of Autism I would embrace it and fight through the trials with love and tenderness.  If I had a great upbringing, I could not handle this, it would be terrifying and I would crumble into a big mess of emotion. I am not perfect and have my moments when I don't think I can take it but God always shows me the way and gives me His strength.  I hope I'm not coming across as knowing it all because that is not my intent in any way, shape or form.  I am just doing what I do, speaking for myself and from the heart and sharing my own personal experience.  Hopefully shedding some light for a mom, dad or care taker who is feeling the same hopelessness with their special situation.

Time Surge 1986 - "The Emerald Lights"

                Octavia didn’t say a word, but Tempest noticed she wasn’t flying upward toward the platform but rather back to the eleva...