Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Season of Thankfulness

With the aroma of a turkey cooking, pies being made and the promise of a parade with big giant balloons, we gather together with friends and family to give thanks. It is a time that we all look back and reflect on the good things we had happen to us and the people that helped us along the way.

For a lot of us out there, we have so many people who have helped us out on our journey. The people who have been there through the toughest of times. Or the ones who go out of their way to make sure you are ok. These are the people who take the time to remember the littlest of things, knowing that those things will make your life run a little smoother. They are the ones that should us that the human race isn't full of mean spirited people. That acts of kindness still happen. I am thankful for those people.

Most of us have people that have a profound impact on our lives. The people who have made a difference with either your live or the lives of the people you love and hold dear. They are the teachers that have gone out of their way to make sure your child has confidence in themselves or the ones who will fight to get you something your child desperately needs in order to grow. They are the aides and therapists who love doing their job and are there to keep either you or your loved ones on track.  They are the Doctors that don't see you or your child as just another number. Who will do their professional job to make sure you and your loved ones remain healthy and taken care of. I am thankful those people.

Family and Friends will always have my gratitude, not just on Thanksgiving, but all year round. These are the people, who, when you are having a tough go at things, will be there to lend an ear and a should to cry on. They are the people that will travel across a country or even half across a country just to make sure you have family during the holidays when your spouse is deployed or not there. They are the people who will be there to help you pick up the pieces when it seems the world is crumbling down around you. Your friends will be there with a good bottle of wine and laughter just to see a smile. Friends are like your extended family. And good friends are the ones who know you best as they are the ones you trust when you need someone to cheer you on. They are the people who don't give up on you when you are at your worst. They are also the people who will support you. Whether it be your online community or you close inner circle, they will be there to share a laugh and tears. I am thankful for those people.

Finally, its the people who challenge us. The ones who test our strength and resolve. I know what you are thinking. Why would you be thankful for those people. Well, its those people who show us everyday just how good we do have it. That we are happy and not miserable. That we are not ignorant, but open minded. That we are good people. They are the reminder that life can still keep us on our toes, but despite their insecurities, you are grounded  in the type of person you are. You believe in what you want to believe in. You fight for what you want to fight for. But you can walk away from these challenging people, with your head held high being thankful that you are a good person.

This Thanksgiving be thankful for yourself. Look back on the year, reflect on all the good things you have done. Whether it be getting through difficult IEP meetings where you fought hard for your children or advocating for them when things weren't what you though. or getting through a difficult time in your life. Be thankful that you are person worthy to be here.

I wish everyone a safe Holiday. May it be filled with Love, Laughter and Warmth. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Birthday Ballons

A couple of days ago my youngest celebrated his 5th Birthday.  It was a simple affair. There wasn't a party at the local bounce house place or at the high priced amusement palace for kids. It was celebrated with people who matter the most to this child and in a way that helped him celebrate on his terms.

As a non verbal child, that has a host of interesting quirks, the mainstream idea of birthday parties for children doesn't work for him. He is happy to celebrate his birthday in a way that makes him feel happy and loved, not overloaded and over stimulated. For him, a small cake and balloons were what made that child's day.

Now, I don't expect the outside world to understand that. I just don't. And some might view my approach to birthday parties with autism a bit lax. A day where he can get balloons, cake and presents to unwrap. Its a day he knows that people who love him, come together, and make him feel special. And just because We don't do what the norm does on birthdays, doesn't mean that thought wasn't put into this child's special day.  

My son loves balloons. Balloons with his favorite things on them. Trains, school buses, Sesame Street, colourful ones and ones that sing. And if that was all he got for his birthday, that kid would be golden. Its a very simple thing.But he loves them. But he knows that something special is going to happen to him, when he sees balloons. So on his birthday, I take him to the grocery store for him to get his birthday balloons. This kid knows as soon as we get to where the helium tanks are that special things are coming to him. The shopping cart is practically vibrating. For me as a parent, there is nothing more special than to see your child in absolute sheer joy over something as simple as mylar balloons. And the balloon lady knows who we are. She takes the time to make sure that there is lots of ribbon and makes lots of curls as she knows that he is fascinated with them. Once he has his treasure, we continue  on our way. And yes I am the parent that is doing the rest of her shopping with a child that very loudly expressing his total joy over his balloons. To be honest, I don't care how everyone else sees that. But its the comments that get to me.

"Does he even realize it's his birthday?"

" Oh it must be so hard not to be able to throw him a party like the other kids."

Here's the thing. People celebrate things differently. Autistic persons, are no different. Some people are low key and some people aren't. But to sit there and ask me if my child even recognizes his own birthday, well he does. Just in his own way. No he doesn't understand age, but honestly, what child does at this stage in life? And its not hard to throw him a party, where he feels special. So what if it is a party of the four most important people in his life, surrounded by the things he loves in a place that he feels comfortable in.

Celebrating a person's life on this planet, should be about them. And if that means you buy them an ungodly amount of balloons, as that is what gives them the most joy on their special day, then so be it.

My son celebrated his 5th birthday in a way that was easy for him. He knew he was loved. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yup, its a Glamourous Life, but someone's got to live it...

Its three o'clock in the afternoon, I am still in my pjs. There is no ounce of care to even put clothes on today. My hair is going sixty directions from Thursday, making the 80's British Punk Culture relevant at my kitchen table . There is a mountain of laundry that needs to be sorted, done and folded. Mt.Washmore as I like to call it. The dishes have yet to be done from two days ago. If anyone were to visit my house right now, they would think they were stepping into an episode of hoarders. With every toy that Toys R US, could possible sell me, littered in every single room in this house. Lunch today was popcorn and Hot dogs. Yeah, you heard that right,  popcorn and hotdogs. And supper? Well that is going to be cereal. They might get their fruit intake from the fruit flavored Disney inspired gummy treats that they got on Hallowe'en. Thank god for Flintstone chewables.

With my children running around maybe half dressed or in various degrees of some sort of a superhero costume depending on the hour and who needs to be saved. The verbal stimming screeching as loud as it can be, Thomas the tank engine blasting on it's 1,232 viewing of the day. An argument about who is the other's side of the couch is occurring every 5 minutes. Honestly, I  really don't know why they haven't made a meditation CD of children, arguing is beyond me.

Today, I just want to go back to that trashy romance novel, with the beefcake dude on the cover, who looks slightly dimwitted, but it doesn't matter because his pectoral muscles make up for the lack of a brain. You know the story, its always the same... Just want to get lost in this dude's flowing mane of stallion hair for an hour, maybe two. But alas.. reality is not a friend of mine.

 Its not that I don't give a fuck, I do. I am just having a down day. A day where no one is going to care if stuff doesn't get done or that the kids aren't eating a meal that has all the elements of the food pyramid in it.  Or when I just don't have the energy to throw everyone in the car to go to the park. As it is never as simple as it sounds.

I don't get that much time, to loose myself in a good novel or a movie. When the kids are at school, that is when I need to get stuff done. Like shopping for food, without " Mom, Momma, Mommy... Can we get this?" every second. Its when I get to clean toilets without the help of a child who loves playing in water. 

So when I have days like this, where all of that gets put on the second burner, and I am surrounded by chaos, looking around at the decoration of fruit loops and legos, I think

"Gee.. Ain't this the glamorous life.." I say that as I have just discovered that at some point one of my children have used me as a kleenex.

I am not one for spas or pampering. Shit, I can't even sit through a manicure without thinking, "Yup that is going to look like shit in an hour"I am lucky if I make it out of the house without a stain on my clothes. When I do have 3 seconds without interruption to actually put make up on, its normally hurried, and the depressed clown theme I am going for has been mastered, then I think I am doing ok.

Down days happen. Its ok. The world is not going to stop rotating around the sun. SO what if today pj's rule supreme or that cookies are what's on the menu. The important thing is that everyone is fine. The house, may be a mess, is still standing. The kids, who might be half dressed and covered in cookie crumbs, are fine.

And myself? Well I have that five minutes in the bathroom to get lost in Mr.Kilt wearing beefcake's Fabio-esque locks and pecs,  while the little fingers under the door jam make their appearance.

"Mom, just making sure you are doing ok.."

" Yes, son, I am ok."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One Little Poppy... #RememberThem

With the blood red petals and it's stamen black as night, the poppy has always had it's own unique beauty about it. In some cultures it is considered the gateway to the dreamworld or even to the land of the dead.The Victorians saw as a producer of a powerful drug that could either be a hinder or help to a person depending on the want or the need.The generations of the 20th centuries see it as a symbol of Remembrance.

A small little flower that was immortalized thanks to a poem written by a Canadian soldier during the height of the First World War. In his poem, he describes these blood red flowers that grew in the fields where the resting places of thousands young men found themselves. In his thoughts, he remarked about the beauty and sadness these flowers possessed. They were a calm and moment of peace during a time of chaos, death and madness.

Lt.Colonel McCrae's poem at the time became more than just the words and thoughts of a soldier on the battlefield, who was trying to honor his fallen brothers at arms, it was the beginning of a symbol that would carry on from generation to generation to respect and remember those who had died during times of war.

The wearing of poppies was introduced back in 1921 by the National American Legion, thanks to an American YWCA worker by the name of Molina Michael. She had campaigned that the poppy should be worn as a symbol of Remembrance. With the help of a Frenchwoman named, Anna E. Guerin, the artificial poppy was born. Field Marshal Douglas Haig, founder of the Royal British Legion, adopted the idea of getting these poppies out to the general public. Thus the British Poppy appeal was born.  From there, the countries of the commonwealth in time adapted their own poppy to remember their own war dead.

These days most people have forgotten the reason as to why the poppy is prevalent. The wars of old are forgotten, as the history of the stories of those men and women are dying off. The younger generation don't often think about those who fought and died for the life they live today.

I am often asked why, I so proudly wear my poppy over my heart. It was a tradition for me. It was something that was always done. From the time I can remember, from my father pinning one on my jacket lapel, not really understand why. It was hearing the stories of my Grandfather, who did fight in WWII, that brought the meaning behind the poppy full circle. I wanted him to know that his efforts and the efforts of his fallen comrades where not forgotten. Now that my Grandfather is no longer with me in the physical sense, I feel that his stories and his courage, bravery and strength should always be remembered. My poppies are with me all year round. As a reminder. To always remember, that there are people out there who are deserving of being remembered for their sacrifices.

Every November I have always had a poppy. Whether I have had to have my parents smuggle them from Canada or sent from England. I have always had one. And every year I get asked where did I get mine. The Legions out here, who do their own poppy campaign, need more than just our support. They need our time. I will always buy my buddy poppy and support my local legions out here. At the end of their run, I normally have a lovely little bouquet of poppies. Wearing one and buying one shows that you care. That the good fight they fought in their perspective wars, was not done unnoticed. That the friends they lost didn't die in vain for a generation to forget.

One little poppy... shows that you care. It shows you remember them.

If you can't get a hold of a poppy, then do something nice for a Veteran. Help them to their cars or with their groceries. Buy them a cup of Joe. Or just taking a moment to thank them. Something. Anything to let them know that they are appreciated and that they served their country with honor and dignity.

 Lest we all forget. Remember Them.

For more information on poppy appeals and campaigns, please check out these following websites

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dear Tricare, Here's the deal.....

Dear Tricare,

Here's the deal. I am angry at you. I, like many other military families, rely on you to help us with the on going medical expenses for our special needs children.Now, I know in the past we have had our differences over what should be covered and what isn't. But I am getting to the point now, that I don't think you are really out to help us out.

You may not know, but a couple of months ago, after you messed around with our ABA coverage, my youngest son, who is autistic, was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Fragile X. I get that most of the general population have no clue as to what that is, or how that effects the people who have it. It became quite clear, that the person I talked to, who handles all the calls from pissed off service members, who's benefits you have been messing around with, had no clue what it was I was talking about, when I stated you  had refused to cover the most important part of my son's medical, Genetic Counselling.

Here's my beef. If you have a patient that clearly has a confirmed diagnosis that has to do with genetics or any other field, why on earth would you refuse to cover something that is part of this person's medical life? That is like saying to person with thyroid issues, "Hey, Guess what? That appointment with the endocrinologist you have, yeah we aren't going to cover that, even though, we know you have to have visits with that person"

Now I know what you are thinking.

"Well, Mrs. Thomason, there are somethings we need to save money on"

 The fact of the matter is this, You have messed around with the service member's medical services, that we are all beginning to wonder just why you still continue to provide us with medical necessities.  I am not going to call them benefits. As these are things that our military members have essentially and literally fought for and that a lot of these services are a necessity.

My son is just a speck among the thousands of people you don't cover services for. I get that. But when I look at the grand scheme of things, I know he is not the only one out there that needs services from the Genetic area of medicine. And trick of it is, these are the services that this person will need for the rest of his life.Why? Because he has a genetic disorder that isn't going to go away. Its a genetic disorder that his siblings will have to worry about when they start having their own children.

Its not ok for you to say to me,

"Mrs. Thomason, its just a couple of hundred dollars, why are you so angry about this?"

Its simple. Not everyone can afford just a couple of hundred dollars. And in time that adds up. Depending on how long we have to meet with this particular Doctor. A math equation that a third grade common core student could figure out.

This is just one of the many reasons why you are failing your clients. I get that you are an insurance company. And that we are nothing but dollar signs in your eyes. But if you are going to have the audacity to sit there on your earnings and then turn around and tell us you can't cover something that is crucial to person's well being whether it be ABA therapy or a consult to a Doctor, then be prepared for a lot more letters like this one.

I am but one out of thousands of military members and their families, that have spoken out concerning the lack of coverage for those who have proudly served their country. So while our service members out fighting foreign wars, we the family members are fighting our own fight. The fight for decent medical coverage for both the military member and their families.

Very Respectfully,

A Speck among thousands of annoyed Military Families.