autism, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Location, Location, Location

“Home is where the heart is.” – Edward Coke

When Rudy and I first married, we lived in a 874 square foot shotgun house in south Alabama.  We spent most weekends sprucing up, and patching up, things.  We were so proud of that little place.  Only a few months after we were married, we learned we were expecting our first baby.  Thirteen weeks later, on the day the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, I miscarried.  As I laid on the couch, watching the news, I remember thinking how quickly life can change for any one of us.  We hurt.  We cried.  And slowly we went back to rebuilding our lives.

The following year would bring news that we were expecting again.  We spent a great amount of time and love, getting the nursery just right.  I stapled a flannel sheet, with brightly colored ABC’s, over one of the paneled walls.   I thought it was genius.  Rudy wasn’t so sure, but it grew on him.  Speaking of growing… When I was eight months along,  I was getting tired of hauling our clothes, and me, to the laundromat.  I talked Rudy into investing in our first washer and dryer.  That same day, I had a craving for Popeye’s fried chicken.  He told me we really needed to think about our budget.  I cried.  We had Popeye’s chicken for dinner that night.  Poor Rudy.  Looking back now, I realize he was just feeling the weight of his responsibility for our growing family.  He was, and will always be, a keeper. ❤  Allison was born in September, one week after our second anniversary.  She filled up that little old house, and our hearts.

Pictured below; Allison with Mamaw on our front porch, and Allison trying to get back to the front porch.

Soon, we were busting at the seams.  My mom and dad deeded us a couple of acres in the country.  We started out there in a new double wide mobile home.  We were really moving up in the world. 😉  Rudy and I were both working hard.  Allison was enjoying her school, and doing well.  Just as I thought we had this parenting thing down, along came Morgan, and life got interesting.  Dad was now truly outnumbered.

Pictured below; Life inside the double wide

In 1995, we were excited to finally be building our dream house on the property.  We moved in with Mamaw and Papaw; Rudy, myself, one opinionated princess, one busy toddler, and a sweet dog named Barney, who had issues.  Thank you mom and dad!  It was a beautiful house, worth all the wait and preparation;  Four bedrooms, two baths, walk-in closets, a fire place, bricked in flower beds, and SPACE, Glorious SPACE.  Did I mention walk-in closets?  All of our boxes were checked.

The thing is, a house is just sticks, bricks, and mortar.  A home is where a family lives and loves.  Every member matters.  After a short time in the new house, Morgan was diagnosed with autism.  We learned there was a strong parent support network in another state, Autism Tennessee.  Also, Vanderbilt University was doing research there, which was promising.  We said a prayer, and put our house up for sale.  In 1999, we found ourselves back in a little old house in Tennessee.  Although I still dream about walk in closets sometimes, I know we’re right where we belong.

Pictured below; Home Sweet Home

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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autism, dance, faith, family, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Tap Dancing on Egg Shells

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns

Our family has been anticipating a trip to Disneyworld for a few years now, as a graduation gift to Morgan.  The actual planning began in February, with the help of Kingdom Concierge.  They created a time line for each stage.  There were some “must dos” on Morgan’s list, including breakfast with Cinderella, which had to be reserved six months ahead.  Fast passes to popular rides and events were chosen two months before going.  This was done to cut down on waiting times, so we could enjoy more of what the four parks have to offer.  From maps to apps, there is a lot to navigate.  Add autism to that mix, and we are talking NINJA – PLANNING.  As Morgan would say, “Too many choices!”.  But I knew the lack of stress, and extra smiles, on the vacation end would be worth it.  Mom mission accomplished. Or so I thought.

One week beforehand, Hurricane Irma entered the picture.  Flights, hotel reservations, Fast-Passes,… needed to be shifted a day, and re-booked, to be safe.  DONE.  Two days before traveling, while Disneyworld was shut down for the storm, all of our plans suddenly disappeared from the app.  I spoke to our travel agent on Monday, one day prior to departure.  We thought it was a computer glitch, but it turned out some human there had made an error, and canceled our whole vacation.   Since Disney was still closed, running on a skeleton crew, our agent would have to call, and hopefully be able to rebook our hotel package, with Morgan’s expected Nemo suite, in time for us to check in.

Meanwhile, our daughter was totally unaware of all the chaos.  All she knew was “Number 12” on her calendar said airplane to Disney.  The morning of our flight, my husband and I woke up, poured some coffee, and pulled out our morning devotional to get our breath.  We sighed, and even laughed, as we read the words pictured below.  We said our prayers, and boarded the plane, now trusting the outcome to “His hands”.  We landed, and received a text to get in touch with our agent ASAP.  She had been on the phone, holding for six hours, because they needed our approval for booking.  All that mattered to Morgan was back in place, including her requested Fantasmic Fast Pass for that evening. 🙂

Jesus Always Sept 12

We realize all of this was just a thread of inconvenience, compared to what people were going through in the storm.  Life can be an eggshell walk for all of us at times.  I plan to keep trusting and tap dancing on those egg shells, because life is about so much more than just getting by.

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Until Next time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Letter to Morgan’s Maker

Dear Lord,

I say this with the deepest respect.  Well, you did it!  You put someone in my life who can absolutely bring out the worst in me and, when I choose it, the best in me.

Morgan is my joy, and she makes me nuts!  At HER worst, she reminds me of me without You, the me before I knew Your perfect love.  Her worries, anxieties, and “all about me” moments, brought on by her version of autism and OCD, break my heart for her.  In my brokenness, I now find myself more merciful to people, more forgiving of the things I don’t understand.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         quilt heart

Oh, and when Morgan is At Her Best;  When she knows she’s done a good job and says “I’m so proud of me!”, when her joy is bubbling over the top at the simplest things,…When she pauses to speak to You about a need, no matter where she is or what she’s doing.  THIS brings me back to that child like faith that KNOWS, no matter what life throws at me, You’ve got it.

morning-prayer

I’m just not sure I know how to say thank you for that,… for her.

Love,

Her Mom

P.S.  I appreciate Your sense of humor.  On that note, I have a few things I want to discuss with You, and her, when we finally all get to sit down together.

 

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan

Puzzle Peace

“Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
Don’t consider yourself to be wise; …” Proverbs 3:6,7

Although the puzzle piece is often used as a symbol for autism awareness, I wear it as a reminder to me that we are all different for a reason.  Just like the pieces of a puzzle, each one of us is uniquely created on purpose, for a purpose.  Regardless of a person’s disability, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  We all have needs.  We all have something to offer.  A community is best served when everyone is a part of the picture.

For me, the battle happens when I start looking too hard at what others are doing, and begin longing to fit into the same places they do.  Contentment only comes when we stop competing and comparing ourselves with others,  when we are operating in the gifts we were given, filling the space that only we were meant to fill.

For now, I believe my main purpose is helping Morgan find hers.  I am currently her part time job coach and full time personal assistant.  I admit I feel very unqualified at times.  The truth is, I don’t even feel qualified to figure out my own life without looking up constantly to the One who is. 😉

Morgan First Paycheck

Above is a picture of Morgan with Mr. Steve and Mrs Leslie, picking up her first paycheck!  We are very thankful to have this piece in place for her.

Each day, before my feet hit the floor, I ask  God for guidance to help me make decisions that will lead Morgan & Mom to the places He has appointed specifically for each of us.  There lies my trust and my peace.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Come Passion!

I was searching for a word, or phrase, for what happens to us when we can’t face a trauma that has occurred.  Whether it’s an injury, or an event, like the tragic situations we’ve seen in the news recently, or a chronic life circumstance.   In my search, I found the words “numb” and “disconnected”.  They hit home.  Healthguide.org

It’s been a particularly tough week in the world, shouldered on a summer of some major personal changes.  Morgan and I are facing more than a few “last times” as she grows older.  We are prayerfully continuing our search for “what’s next” in this new season.

Yesterday, after the storms, Morgan said “I want to see more rainbows.”  I smiled and said, “Me too, Morgan.  Me too!”  She had put into words what I’d been feeling lately, or rather, NOT feeling.  When we are in the middle of that gray numbness, there may be a disconnection from pain, but there is also a disconnect from passion and joy.  A good reminder to mom that it’s time to plug in again, and do a little rainbow hunting.

Mailbox Flowers

I pointed to our mailbox, where we had planted a spring mix on another gray day.  A couple of weeks ago, they still looked like weeds.  Now they are showing off a few sweet hues of promise.   Sometimes it is so hard to find rainbows on dreary days.  But if we don’t give in to the gray, if we keep searching, rainbows are waiting in new places, to be seen and enjoyed.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

Foot note: Click on the link to Healthguide.org for some tips to chase away the gray.

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autism, family

The Ultimate Goal

Recently, our older daughter reached a big goal of hers.  She is now a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst).  We’re very proud of Allison for hanging in there and doing all that was required to get there.  She’s always been one to set goals for herself and reach them without any major detours.

Morgan’s path has been a very different one.  We’ve partnered with her, setting and resetting goals, taking two steps forward and one step back, often doing a few pirouettes.  We are equally proud of all she has accomplished along the way.

We made a sister visit to give Allison a medal for passing her exam.  Morgan gave herself a medal for being Morgan.  Both were very well deserved. 😉

Medal Medal1

Medal2

Ultimately our prayer is for both of our girls to know their purpose in this life, and experience the lasting joy that comes from being who they are individually called to be.  We feel pretty blessed that we were called to be their parents. 😉

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Rudy and Tammy Vice

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autism

“When You’ve Seen One,…”

Morgan is 21 years old.  She is a young adult on the autism spectrum.  It took years for us to build relationships with our pediatric providers.  Now, as we transition to this new world of adult care, we are finding that there is a severe lack of access to physicians/specialists who are trained to treat patients on the autism spectrum.  We think we have finally found a provider who is ready to build a relationship with us, helping us build new bridges to meet her adult needs.  I am sharing one very unexpected experience we had, as we began our search last year, in hopes of seeing positive change and additional training for more adult providers.

After preparing, and filling out intake forms months ahead at a specialist’s office to have Morgan’s records forwarded, I returned with her for her first appointment.  We walked into his office.  I tried to introduce Morgan.  The doctor spoke all around her, never addressed her.  He had not seen her past records.  He said they didn’t really matter. (Later, I found out the request I filled out for records had never been sent out from his office).  When I attempted to give him a brief history of her diagnoses, and tell him a little about her, he said, and I quote, “It’s just autism.  They all rock like that.”  I was floored!  He glanced over at Morgan, not seeing her at all.  With no knowledge of her, and a very apparent lack of knowledge of autism, he had made a singular summation of her.

In the book, Fully Alive, Timothy Shriver referred to this as “singularity”.  I’m paraphrasing here; When the identity of a person, or group of people, is narrowed down to one label, it diminishes them to an object.  It separates us.  We no longer see the things we have in common and we loose our empathy.  Simon Baron-Cohen defines empathy as “Our ability to identify what someone else is thinking and feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.”  Now I understand that this doctor saw Morgan as an object, not a person.

Morgan n Dad lazyboy Howdown Mamaw. Papaw, and Morgan Allison and Morgan momentMom Morgan Frank Brown Owl Painting feb 2013

Yes, Morgan has autism.  Someone once said, “When you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen ONE person with autism.”  And THAT is just ONE part of her identity.  She is a young woman.  She’s a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, an opinionated, remarkable, creative person.  A person, who needs to have access to competent medical care.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy and Morgan Vice

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