The Price of a Dollar

Where I live, we have grocery stores called Kroger. I like going to Kroger much more than a superstore.
If you are like our family, money is tight. You stand in the checkout line and cringe as the items are rung up.
Our Kroger has barcode cards at the registers for Food Bank donations. Just grab it and have it scanned at checkout – can’t get any easier or more convenient to give the gift of food.
But I rarely did it until Tyler asked me about them one day. I explained them and he wanted one. He was like, duh?!
My husband would fight the urge to think it a scam, I would fight the urge to consider it a penalty shot on my total cost goal. There are a thousand reasons to check out without picking up one of those barcodes. It is only good for a dollar anyway, right?
The thing is, as much as it is more inspiring to hear about a millionaire funding a soup kitchen or you being able to pull up to a food pantry with a car full of name brand goodness, that only goes so far, only happens sporadically. A movement of an entire community committing to giving a dollar once a month is a real long-term change.
$12. That’s all. Some days it will be nothing and others like Mt. Everest. Change the world, change yourself.

From,
Rachel

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To Real Parents (Super Moms Not Welcome)

I just want to send out some encouragement. All parents find themselves in this weird vortex of waking up, getting kids ready, going to work/taking care of kids, putting kids to bed, and then crashing. You find many decisions are no longer yours because you cant put a pause button on your responsibilities. Even if you are sick or hurt, you have to push through.

But in the midst of this vortex, you learn the value of new decisions. To yell or not to yell. To sit on the couch or to play on the floor. To decide your needs for a girls night out are justified. To focus on the kids being alive instead of letting their boo-boos put bars around your life.

You will wake up one day and realize you are doing this. Not just surviving or hating it, but doing it. The fatigue and aches won’t hold as much power over you. Instead of panic at the thought of screwing it all up you will realize your energy is better used towards more valuable endeavors than panic.

I have always loved my kids, but sometimes the realization that I couldn’t just take a step back from it all would make me want to run screaming.

Sometimes I will see a “mom” on a commercial just so happy to crawl around on the floor all day while their toddler plays with some fancy toy or I will hear other moms talking about how happy they are all the time raising their kids or how they never want a break and I just want to wrap my hands around their necks, shake them, and scream, “Liar! You dirty little liar! Before kids you gave me false expectations. After kids you gave me massive insecurity and self-worth issues. But I have your number now, little liar. Now you just annoy the &@$) out of me!”

Before I had kids, I would have judged. I would have thought there was something broken in a parent if they struggled or didn’t treat their children perfectly fairly and equally or went to work when their kid was sick. I was a idiot. And I am so sorry!

So back around to the beginning. Screw the super moms. Screw the expectations.

You are doing awesome. One day your new awesome will exceed your current awesome. Until then, just get up every morning and look for the small decisions that have big impact. Sometimes just get up in the morning. Sometimes you yell and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you sit on the couch and sometimes you play on the floor. You are doing awesome.

From my heart,
Rachel

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Getting my Bearings

This year we are hosting the Thanksgiving dinner at our house for family and friends.
To set the stage, I am NOT the hostess type. Or the cook a big dinner type.
It seems strange to me that this is where I am. Cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
To be perfectly honest, the past couple of months I have not even been capable of anything but surviving the current day. Sometimes it has felt like the days stretched endlessly before me – all consisting of getting through the day.
But now I am writing my second blog in less than a week. I had a day to myself yesterday and painted. I laughed at Ash’s misbehavior last night instead of crying over it. My husband and I are hosting people at our house for Thanksgiving.
New chapter in my life?
Maybe.
I hope so.

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From my heart,
Rachel

Rachel Flinchum 11/24/2013

Back in the Saddle

So life has been crazy lately. Turns out I am allergic to almost everything I was tested for. I will never again hug a tree…unless it is an evergreen. So I am doing allergy injections.
Tyler is in Pre-K and gets sick all the time.
So….I have been a lousy blogger. I go to work and then take care of the boys and then go to bed.
But I have missed this.
So today I want to give some nods to some good things I am thankful for.
1) Tyler was also tested for allergies and food allergies. He is allergic to absolutely nothing.
2) Tyler loves school and is doing great with all of the rules and routines. All of his teachers are great.
3) Ash is really growing up and saying the cutest things. My favorite is after he is done being mad, he will look at you, smile, and say, “I am happy now!”
4) Benny (the hubs) is now working part-time and doing all the doctor appointments and giving the in-laws a break from full-time childcare.
5) We just got back from our annual trip to Big Cedar Lodge, which had many ups and downs but the ups were amazing.
6) I don’t get to go Black Friday shopping this year but I do get to babysit a cute puppy over Thanksgiving.
7) The Walk Now for Autism Speaks Walk went great and my team was awesome!
8) It is Friday!
9) On Fridays, my work provides lunch.

Here are some pics from Tyler at school, the family trip, etc!

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From my heart,
Rachel

(C) Rachel Flinchum 11/22/2013

Desert Dry but Still Beating

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My first ever Walk Now for Autism Speaks is in less than three weeks!  And someone in Europe bought my book.

I kinda feel like a rock star.  A little one.

I also just got off the phone with Tyler’s school.  They scheduled a conference to change Tyler’s diagnosis for therapy from uncategorized to autistic.

I work in a clinical laboratory that provides a prognostic test for multiple myeloma.  Before that I worked in cancer research.  I am very familiar with fundraising for a cause, even if I never hopped right on with the advocacy thing before.  So I had a little bit of a high expectation when I started advocating for autism.  This is WAY different.  Much, much harder.

So the fact that I am going to a Walk with a bunch of other families living with autism and that I sold a copy of my book is awesome.  I have been to a couple of other events leading up to the Walk that had a few people from this community there.  They are amazing people.  People who really want to connect instead of just measure and weigh you.  People who know what you have been through and who know what it is like to go alone.  I am thrilled I am getting to spend the day with these people and the amazing friends and family who are on our Walk Team: Team Ty-Ty.

And…I sold a copy of my book.  To a non-family member.  Someone who I don’t even know.

I also have a t-shirt campaign going right now.  Just started today.  www.trycustomink.com set me up with a Booster campaign.  If I sell at least 20 shirts, they will go to print.  If I sell more than 30, money starts being donated directly to Autism Speaks.  Very cool, but I am nervous about the qty I have to sell.  Gotta try though, right?   The link is http://www.booster.com/tylerstrain.  I love the shirts and I think anyone who gets one will love it too.

Still tired all the time.  Still having trouble with the boys at bedtime.  Still have very little time to do anything and almost no time to myself.  But my autism advocacy just registered a bleep on its heart monitor.

Feels good.

I feel like a cactus that goes all year with no rain.  But then the spring rains never come.  That’s okay.  I am not giving up, no matter how long the dry spell lasts.  And when I do feel a sprinkle, I am going to really feel it.

For more info on the walk, go to http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 9/17/2013

My life. My choice.

Lately I have been total blah.  I have been sad and low energy.  It has been difficult for me to do anything.  There are things I want to do, but by the time I go to work and then come home and take care of the boys until I get them into bed, I am too tired.  That is not a new routine, but lately it has taken everything out of me.

On top of that, Ash has been impossible to get to go to sleep.  I lay with him forever and then as soon as I leave the room, I hear him getting up.  If I let him stay out of his bed long enough there will be a “Roar!” coming from the room.  I go in and his is sitting on top of a sleeping Tyler and roaring at him like a dinosaur.  Funny and not funny at the same time.

Tyler has always been a rule follower.  He is very compulsive about a lot of his behaviors, but once he accepts a rule he will stick with it.  Ash is an impulse-following, chaos-bomb ready to go off at any time.  Any time.

I realized last night that I needed to give Ash and Tyler more time.  Different time.  They are getting older and so things/routines/interactions needed to change even more.

The Walk Now for Autism Speaks event is in three weeks and it feels further away than it did three months ago.  It has just gotten so hard to do anything.

I worry that I finally have chronic fatigue syndrome or something else that is going undiagnosed.

But I have also come to an important conclusion.  I am not choosing to let my autism advocacy motivate me right now.  It got hard.  I got tired.  The walk fund stopped growing.  I should say that it got harder.  It has always been hard.  But then it got harder and harder.  And I let myself stop being thrilled by it.  I stopped being fed by it.  I stopped remembering that by giving myself to it, I allowed myself to get something back.

So now I am going home to work on my stuff for the vendor fair I am in on Saturday.  All proceeds go to Autism Speaks.  I am choosing to be motivated by this tonight.  My life.  My choice.

Three more weeks until the Walk, but the Walk is one chapter of my journey with autism and autism awareness.  Do you want to do something?  Check out my Walk Fund at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum to see what this amazing event is all about.  Even just navigating the website will help with awareness and would mean a great deal to me.

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum