Never TOO Late

Sorry for not writing in like FOREVER!!  Life has been crazy, redid our kitchen and found that it was not enough.  Had to paint every room and of course re-carpet.  And carpet, let’s not even go there….that segment is already  written, just have to hit send, but for now I have something else to share.

Before I begin, I have to admit something.  I have a great friend that will put in all the correct punctuation, grammar and of course spelling when I write my segments. But because I am currently in Germany retracing the footsteps of Martin Luther, it is 0400am, and I want to get these thoughts to all of you.  So I am asking for forgiveness and give warning for any/all grammatical errors.

Many of you may, or may not know, that I have been a guest with Neil Stavem, Connecting Faith, on KTIS, Faith Radio AM900, many times over the last 3-4 years.  When I am on varies, but  always in April, Autism Awareness Month.  The format is an open mic, his show is for 60 minutes and the listeners are encouraged to call in.  I talk openly and candidly.  Neal continually reminds the listeners that I have my degree in Momology, and the calls come in anyway.  This last Thursday, there was only one caller at the end of the show ( Judy, I will call you when I get back home).  Now, if anyone knows me, I LOVE to talk, especially on the subject of INVISIBLES and I value the gift of feedback.  Feedback in the form of questions, comments and a few tears.  When departed the station, and after having the one call (thank you Judy), I worried that I was boring, there weren’t any listeners, people had heard me one to many times, and a number of other things. It was an empty feeling, one which gave me (I thought) the right to question about me talking about INVISIBLES.

As the weekend and packing loomed, my thoughts shifted to getting away with Charles, the tour and heading off to Germany.  We left Monday and arrived Tuesday morning.  Off the plane and onto a wonderful German bus. Heading toward the quaint town of Eisenach, home of Wartburg Castle, Bach’s birthplace, Lutherhaus and Georgenkirche (Luther preached here).  Then I discover, to my thrill, the bus has WiFi! So.. let’s update Facebook, let the kids know we were safe and it was then a name appeared in messaging that I did not recognize.  I quickly read the message and my heart melted while my eyes filled with tears.  I placed my hand on Charlie’s’ leg and whispered “you are NOT going to believe what I just received” and I proceeded to read to him the following.

Mary, I heard you on faith radio today. I just wanted to say your story really moved me. I went to school with George at Hidden Oaks. I’m sorry to say I was one of the kids that made fun of him. I got in school suspension for some of the things I said.

Long story short, I’ve since gotten saved. I have seen George a couple times since high school at cub and couldn’t shake the pit in my stomach, or bring myself to apologize. I just wanted to reach out to you to say I’m sorry for causing your family trouble, and thank you for being such a great voice in our community, especially for those that can’t defend themselves.

God bless you.

To which I replied:

Hi XXX, thank you for the note. Blessings to you. You should reach out to George. He is very understanding and forgiving. Thank you again.
OK God!  I get it, thank you!  Here we are, about to embark on an amazing journey to learn about the man that began the reformation 500 years ago, and while riding a bus on the autobahn, God smacks me between the eyes to tell me:  All it takes is just one voice, one ear and the tears begin rolling down my cheek.
Thank you to all who read my stories, I promise to post more often, and stop doubting what my intention is when I share with you.
Thank you to the young man for recognizing it is never to late to understand others.
Blessings from Eisenach and off to Erfurt!  Talk to you soon!

Scouting is a Special Place

This past weekend a friend suggested (requested) I share with you a special reading I use during my training sessions on Invisibles. 

Life can be cruel, and growing up in the real world isn’t easy.  Kids pick on other kids for any reason they can find.  The list is long, but anything that makes someone different is fair game: height, weight, gender, age, religion, bad hair day, clothing, where you live, kind of car, curfew, athletic ability, parent’s jobs, their marital status, siblings, bad teeth, bad breath, glasses, braces, and any number of things regarding sexual matters, intelligence, learning disabilities, opinions, or following rules.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a safe place to go where everyone was treated fairly, honestly, equally, and respectfully?  A place where everybody lived by the same rules?  A place where mistakes could be made without fear of ridicule?  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people could just learn to get along with each other?!  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do something about it?  What would you do if you had that privilege … that responsibility … that obligation?  What if you could change the world?! 

Scouting is a special place

The rules are the ones we know well …the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

We create a safe haven in Scouting; a place where everyone should feel physically and emotionally secure.

We do this in several ways:

  • We set the example for ourselves and others by always behaving as Scouts should. We live the Scout Oath and Law each moment of each day to the best of our abilities.
  • We refuse to tolerate any kind of put-down, name-calling, physical aggression, or inappropriate behavior.
  • We communicate our acceptance of each other through expressions of concern, and by showing our appreciation whenever possible.
  • We create an environment based on learning and fun. We seek the best from ourselves and each other, and we do our best to help achieve it.

Mornings with Meds

Medications in our family are a way of life.  When the kitchen cupboard is
opened, the number of pill bottles makes it look like a pharmacy.  Yours, mine and ours (and even the dogs).

Invisible 411: If mornings are difficult, I found it a lot easier to
start to the day is bring the meds to my kids.  It’s great ‘kick
start’ for a possible hectic morning.

I learned this valuable lesson when George had mornings that started early.
I recall a morning when George was traveling with his Jr. High Speech Team and we had to be at the school before the sun rose.  (Yes we. I was asked to assist with the judging, which meant I was helping chaperone the bus rides. ~Oh yeah!)

This particular morning I was feeling really great.  House was in order,
coffee made, and I was ready to go up to George and give him his meds.  I would
head into the shower and do my thing while he would carry out his morning
rituals.  So I grabbed his meds in my left hand, and my coffee cup in my
right.  I headed up the stairs, and without thinking I threw the meds into my mouth, took a sip, and swallow the wonderful tasting fresh coffee, and STOP!!!  I took his drugs!  I just slammed down 40 mg of Aderal XR and 100 mg of Zoloft.  I stopped on the stairs to think…oh my God, what do I do? Should I throw up? Call 911?  My mind was racing, and as I reached the top, I rushed to George’s room.  I pushed his legs over so
I could sit down on the edge of his bed, and I told him what had happened.  I was in a panic, and he knew it.  I will never forget the look on his face after I told him. I sat there
waiting to hear what great wisdom this 13-year-old had to share with me.  “Mom, If I can take them on a daily bases, and I am ok, nothing will happen, don’t worry.”  As nervous as I was, I knew he had to be right, so we got up to get ready.

 I was anxious, but everything appeared to go ok for the morning.  We headed to the school, rode the bus, and arrived at the competition.   I headed to my room and was ready to start judging ‘Great Speeches’.  Then it hit.  I felt like I was on speed (I think!).  I couldn’t write, my emotions began jumping all over the place, and the floodgates in my eyes opened as I listened to the competitors.  Then I became a blubbering idiot, and after the round was over I followed the kids telling them how great they were.  Everyone looked at me like I was NUTZ.  I knew what I was doing, but I couldn’t help it.  I started feeling better around lunchtime, and not much later, exhaustion set in hard and fast.  I gained an appreciation for why George seems to be so tired after school, and I learned by taking these medications, that they have an effect on focusing and on emotions.  In hindsight, I’m glad it happened, but it sure made for a frantic morning, plus a once-in-a-lifetime emotional rollercoaster ride.


When a child is born, the first things a parent checks is gender and if there are 10 fingers and 10 toes.  Everything looks perfect on the outsides, but it is not until this child reaches the age where social interaction and skills are learned that a parent realizes that their child is different.

Having a child with a neurobiological diagnosis, noticing the differences between our child and others is easy to do.  How to handle it is the difficult part.

I remember when G was 3 or 4 years old at Sunday school.  He could never come down from his highs.  The kids would march around singing a song and then settle in for story time, but G could not stop.  As everyone sat quietly preparing themselves for the story of Baby Jesus, G continued marching around with all eyes upon him.  I still see the faces of the adults, questioning what he was doing, aggravated by his actions, beckoning me to ‘do something.’  I wish I would have known then what I know now. Instead of holding him tight while he became more frustrated and loud, I would have smiled and given him something to play with.

Invisible411:  Those with diagnoses listen differently.  Don’t expect them to focus and sit still while listening .  Try a pencil and paper, and let them doodle.  Ask them to repeat what was said, and they will SURPRISE YOU!!!  They heard it all, and can often repeat it back word-for-word.

My degree in ‘Momology’

Hi, my name is Mary Wangerin.  I am a wife, a mother, an employee, and a scout leader.  I have a degree in biology from St. Olaf College, and I utilize my degree by being a transportation broker.  I don’t have any initials behind my name (masters or PhD).  What I do have is a degree in Momology. Yes, Momology, a degree in being a Mom whose child has “a diagnosis” that you live, study, speak and breathe with every day.

I live with the idiosyncrasies of his diagnosis, each and everyday, even when I would like to shut it off like a radio or TV.  What I want to share with you is not studies supported with facts and statistics, but what it is like to live with a child with a diagnosis.  The good, the bad, the funny, and the sad, the love and hate of what it is to be a parent of a child/children with a neurobiological diagnoses.