Friday, May 30, 2008

Summer Has Officially Begun

Summer has begun! And it wouldn't be summer for this family without going to Nana and Papa's for the summer fair.

I grew up in a tiny little town that hosted a tiny little carnival every year. Sadly (now that I look back), it was always a huge deal. And it still is . . . to my kids.

You can hear the action from my parents' front porch, which beckons all children who dwell within, "Come, come, if you spend $25 on the games, you might go home with a stuffed animal worth $1.58 ..."

I almost always see a few people I went to school with, which can or cannot be a good thing - it's always just a crapshoot. Will it be a girlfriend who I haven't seen in ages or the creepy guy who left "love" notes in my locker? Shudder. You just never know.

So that's where we're going today . . . and probably tomorrow. Wish me luck. Photos forthcoming.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Time For You To Fly

Seth (5), my dude with autism, has attended his Early Childhood preschool for the past two years. He has come an incredibly long way in that time and today is a completely different child largely due to his two teachers along with his speech, occupational and physical therapists.

Today was his last day. And it made me wonder if mama birds who know it's time for their babies to learn to fly out from their safe nests feel the same mix of emotions that I am right now. I'm sure it's all basic instinct for animals, and many times I wish it were for us humans, as well.

I'm so proud that he will be entering the regular kindergarten classroom (with a few concessions) and know that's where he needs to be. But my mama heart is worried about him leaving the safe haven of the world he has known for nearly half of his life to move into a bigger one, one that has many more expectations, more room for misinterpretation and emotional upset, more kids that won't understand why he acts the way he does much of the time. I'm worried about shoving him out of the nest.

I know there will be a few bumps, that he won't soar at first. But watching him find his wings, well - I've been doing that for awhile now, so I know just how amazingly awesome that is.

In the words of singer Mark Harris, "I'll have tears as you take off, but I'll cheer as you fly ..."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pea Brain

You know I love to cook and give it away. I'm the freaky mom who's always making things for my kids' teachers instead of giving them a perfectly nice and useful gift card. Or picture frame. Or whatever. Nope - I'm always shoving my food onto others.

I had planned on making my homemade bread braids for bus drivers, teachers, and therapists for my boys for the end of school. Well. Did you know that every 24 hours, it turns into a new day?? Who knew?

So time crept up on me and it hit me last night that today is Seth's (5) last day and not Thursday, so I had to scrap the bread. It takes too long to rise. Well, it does when you don't think about it until 8:00 at night. (Lesa, I know you're cringing right now because you know if I'd made it, you would've gotten some . . . soon, I promise.)

Muffins are easy to make, so I went to Meijer to get the ingredients, got everything home and started making them at about 10:00 (yes, I know) until I realized I only had two eggs. Two eggs for 30 jumbo muffins.

Sometimes I think I have one of those walnut-sized dinosaur brains and the rest of my skull is filled with all of the coffee I drink.

So I took all of my neighbor's eggs. But that's okay, because two days ago, she took all of my cocktail sauce. It's a strange relationship, but it works for us.

I'm Not Sure What You Mean

I'm sorry - I just couldn't help it.

This was posted on one of those motorized scooters today at Walmart. I don't know, it seems like I learned what the word "broken" meant pretty early in life. Maybe I was special? Advanced?

At any rate, I'm sure this was helpful for someone. Good work, greeter person.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

While The Cat's Away ...

While the big boys were away at the race today, Mama and the little boys did something much more our speed.

We taught our dog to catch treats in the air!

Good boy, Niko!

Not the best shot - you can barely see the treat flying.

Now he'll probably puke because we fed him so many treats to teach him, and then watching him do it over and over. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Youngest of Three Boys, Ya Say?

Alexx got an audio card for this birthday in January that is Michael from "The Office" talking about reverse psychology. Seth became obsessed with listening to that card, and had it memorized by the next morning.

(You'll have to go down to the bottom left of the web page to pause the music before watching the video.)

We're so proud he's finally verbal. Sigh.

So You're A Race Fan, Huh?

Sean and Alexx (17) are at the Indy 500 today. Sean called a little while ago to say he'd forgotten to set the DVR to record the Coca-Cola 600 (Nascar race) and asked me to set it for him.

Obsess much over the racing? Take a breather, dude.

This would probably be my husband if he had a hairy back.

Thank God he doesn't . . . on so many levels.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five Years Is Not Enough

I didn't feel well yesterday, and last night before falling asleep, I felt like I'd spent the evening in the blender. It was ugly.

But I was so happy the instant I woke up this morning feeling so much better - and the sun is shining after a day of rain yesterday. Woohoo!

That feeling lasted for about one minute as I was lying there, until I felt a weight sink into my chest that is still there. The Chapmans are waking up this morning to the first thought that today is the day they will bury their 5-year-old daughter.

I spent the next while in such deep prayer for them, it felt almost desperate. I haven't felt that deeply about something I was talking to God about since I was praying for my own 8-year-old son's life at Riley Children's Hospital in 1999.

I prayed so intensely for each member of that family; for Steven Curtis and Mary Beth who must now not only somehow deal with the loss of Maria, but figure out how in the world to get their children through it, as well; for the children who witnessed the senseless accident; for the son who was to be celebrating his high school graduation this weekend; for the daughter whose engagement announcement will forever be connected to the timing of her sister's tragic death; and mostly for the son whose role in the tragedy will forever haunt him.

I don't think I prayed hard enough. Can you ever?

This is Maria.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Love When God Speaks To Me

I'm not feeling well today, so I'm posting something I sent to some friends not too long ago that I feel bears repeating.

I love when God speaks to me. But must He speak in messes?

And boy do we ever have some epic messes in our house. Just this past weekend alone we dealt with the boys' bathroom toilet overflowing, filling the bathroom, flooding through the floor and spilling into the kitchen below (the 3rd time this has happened in two years); blood on the floor and wall of the same bathroom (which, incidentally, happened just minutes after the toilet overflowing and resulted in stitches in my 10-year-old's hand); a fabric softener-soaked laundry room rug courtesy of the 5-year-old's climbing quest for a box of macaroni & cheese; and the dog tracking his own - ahem - mess throughout the hallway, the boys' rooms, and then jumping on our bed. On. Our. Bed.

It sounds like I'm making this up. Unfortunately, as some of you are painfully aware, this is all quite typical for our household. I either spend an inordinate amount of time and energy cleaning up after my people or giving up and living in frustration. That has been the cycle for a long time now, and right now I'm in the living-in-frustration part of the cycle (translation: My house is a mess, and I'm grumpy about it). When people walk into our house, my standard greeting is, "Please excuse our house, but we live here."

I don't know for sure if God actually gets frustrated with us; but in hindsight, I'd be willing to bet He's had a few clenched fists over me and this battle I've had going regarding the tidiness (or lack thereof) of my house and the standard to which I've been trying (emphasize trying) to hold my sons to for awhile now. By the way, I'm not only losing this battle, but the war is costing more than what I was trying to accomplish in the first place. Hmmm, sound familiar?

It's funny how, as a parent, I try to rationalize with, beg, plead, use all kinds of in-depth tactics to get through to my boys when they just aren't getting something that I've told them over and over -- and then it's the simplist of things that finally makes a connection.

I believe I have finally realized that all these messes must be how God has been trying to get through to me all these years that I've been the mother of three boys. I just wasn't listening. Probably because it's difficult to hear anyone trying to communicate with me -- what with all the yelling about all the messes.

So this morning He had to dumb it down for me. You know - use the simplist of things to make a connection. In an interesting yet remarkably simple twist of fate, He knocked me over the head.

As Joel (my 10-year-old) was supposed to be eating breakfast to be able to get on the bus in 10 minutes, he was instead sharpening all of his new pencils at once in the new battery-operated pencil sharpener (only the best for us lazy people); because we all know that 4th graders need at least 15 pencils to get through each day, and school classrooms don't have their own pencil sharpeners. So frustration was already thick in the air when he knocked the sharpener off of the kitchen island onto the floor busting it open and spilling its contents all over the floor.

I reacted with the impatience that had been building since I woke up, of course, because those who know me well know that me and mornings go together like Tom & Jerry (remember - the cat and mouse cartoon?). Mornings taunt me and tease me and laugh at me and make me want to chew them up, spit them out and crawl back into my nice, warm bed until a more civilized hour. Like noon. So I stomped off to get the Dustbuster and cleaned up all the shavings and lead from those 900 pencils that were making him late for the bus.

Next I went to make coffee (yes, this before coffee!), taking the old filter filled with yesterday's coffee grounds to throw away and promptly bumped the side of the trash can spilling them all over the floor where I had just swept up the pencil shavings. We all know how hard it is to clean up wet coffee grounds. Joel, being highly intelligent, said nothing. The look in my eyes - he has seen that before. He watches the Discovery Channel. He knows that look comes just before the lion pounces on the baby elephant innocently approaching the water hole. He just ate his breakfast. Quickly.

Then the revelation hit me, and I turned around to Joel and said, "Look at how God just whacked me across the head. I'm sorry that I reacted that way when you accidentally spilled the pencil shavings; will you forgive me?" He could have really rubbed it in good (not uncommon for his personality). He could have taken many typically-smug 10-year-old routes to answer me at that moment. Instead, he just looked up, smiled and said, "I love it when God speaks to us."

I have lost so much time being resentful over the perpetual mess that my three sons keep this house in and the constant energy and time it takes to fix it -- when I should be infinitely grateful for these precious beings God entrusted Sean and me with.

1 Peter 5:2-3 says, "Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly -- not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example."

I've had that highlighted in all of my Bibles for awhile now, but I think it may be time to have it tatooed to my forearm where I can see it every day. Right next to the one that says, "mornings stink."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Another Day On The Spectrum

We're going through something right now, which often happens with a child with autism. Moods flipping on a dime, chaos where there wasn't any just moments before, meltdowns for no apparent reason; and you're left not only dealing with the aftermath, but trying to ascertain what triggered the behavior in the first place. What did we do differently? How could this have been avoided?

I never know who is going to come down the stairs when Seth wakes up each morning. And even if he wakes up completely happy, it could all turn sour in an instant over the most seemingly benign things. This is the life and we deal with it.

But when a pattern of behavior emerges and sticks around for awhile, it turns into a real mystery to solve - at least for me it does, with my obsessive "figure it out" personality. I just really feel the need to get to the bottom of what's causing his distress so I can eliminate it, decrease it, or at the very least help him find ways to cope with it as best he can. Having a child with autism is like being a detective 24/7.

A few weeks ago, he began completely coming undone when I took him to his classroom at church. Usually when that happens, we can take a short walk and "even" him out enough to then go to class. That hasn't worked the last two Sundays.

Then Tuesday, he was happy to be going to his afternoon therapeutic preschool and in an instant was clinging to me and screaming that he didn't want to go. I was rattled because I haven't dealt with this for awhile, but knew he would be fine in their care.

Just moments ago, after a perfectly fine morning getting him ready for his Early Childhood preschool, I had to physically put him on the bus bawling. I have only had to do that one other time in two years. Normally he is so excited to run out and get on the bus "all by myself, just like Joel does." I have no idea why we're back to this.

It is unbelievably hard to see your child hurting so much, and you can't figure out why. It could be something as simple as his sock is rumpled in his shoe, or it could be that a friend at school hurt his feelings 5 days ago. Who knows. He cannot yet process things well enough to be able to tell me specifically what's going on. I wonder if he ever will.

It just means that I need to step up his therapy activities; he's obviously disorganized somewhere in his brain, and we need to work harder to get through it. I may not be able to figure out the reason behind it all, but I can work twice as hard as normal to help him get through it. And I can pray for a clue.

In the mean time, if you see us at Walmart, and my littlest dude is coming unglued in the canned soup aisle, just remember that his sock may be rumpled in his shoe and we're getting through it the best we can.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Force To Be Reckoned With (in my own mind)

Did I ever tell you what a powerful influence I am on society? Well. Sit back and be impressed. Like Al Gore invented the Internet, I am responsible for bringing Starbucks bottled frappuccino to the Midwest.

(All me.)

It was the mid-90's and I was travelling all over for a client (I was an account executive for an ad agency). When I was in Seattle, I had the best drink I'd ever had (to date), which is pictured above.

When I returned home, I couldn't find them anywhere, so I called Starbucks customer service and found out that they were only available in a select few markets. I expressed my profound sadness over this, so she told me to give her my zip code and she would input a request for the product from my area.

Say no more. Every day I would call the Starbucks customer service line to request the product in my area. Only every time I called, I would give them a different zip code for somewhere around the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Voila.

I was buying bottled fraps at my local grocery within a few months. And I really believe it was all me.

I am telling you this because I have done it again. Well, me along with my neighbor, Susan. There is a very difficult intersection near our homes that is quite dangerous to get across when there is a lot of traffic. A little over a year ago, a traffic light was installed. And then they took it back down about a month later. What a great use of our tax dollars.

So Susan and I began to call about this. I don't know how many times she called, but I called quite a few times - and even got a little heated with them the last time I called after there was another accident at the intersection.

Sean called this morning on his way to work to let me know they are working on installing a traffic light there today.

All me.

I Do What I Do and That's That

I am not at all ashamed to admit that I'll use almost any means to keep myself within the boundaries of human sanity on any given day. I have to. I have three boys in three very different stages of life (17, 10, 5), two diagnosed with two different types of ADD, and one with autism. Non-traditional circumstances call for non-traditional coping measures. At least that's what I tell myself.

I'm here to tell you that no toy on the shelves at Walmart can compare to a $2.87 roll of bubblewrap. We keep one in the van. When my younger people get snarly, I tear off a sheet and throw it at them. And they pop. Not argue, not kick the back of my seat, not beg incessantly to go to "Old McDonald's" - they pop.

I am convinced that, had my mother-in-law provided bubblewrap for my husband when he was little, he would not have set a box on fire in the garage that day just to see what would happen.

But more interesting than the fact that I use this means of entertainment is how I arrived at the idea. I cannot take credit for it - that would go to Joel (10).

Along with how frustrating he is on a daily basis is how unbelievably nurturing he is. He has an enormous heart, and he uses that heart daily to deal with his younger brother with autism. Often when I'm having a hard morning getting Seth calm, even, and ready for his Early Childhood school, Joel jumps in to engage him in any of the number of ways he's figured out that works. He told me earlier this spring that when he's upset and having a hard time, it really helps him to be able to help Seth - that it makes him feel better.

Oh my - that just makes my heart feel two sizes too big for my chest.

Anyway, Joel came home from school one day and said he'd read an article about autistic kids that day, and that it said sometimes bubblewrap helps them to calm down. Which stands to reason. All that sensory input - the pushing, the touching, the sound - of course. So that's when we adopted the use of bubblewrap.

I love how we work together as a family for the good of one of us. I love seeing the definition of family play out right before my eyes in my own home. These are the moments I hold on to when I see one son send the other one off crying after shooting him in the forehead with spud chunk from his potato gun in the back yard.

Serenity now!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now? Can You Hear Me Now?

It's so annoying when I'm talking to someone on my cell phone and they keep cutting out. Or I keep cutting out. Or we both keep cutting out. And it's all, "#*&*&# time I *#&$* and he just looked at me and, can you believe he *&#^ all over the floor."


In this day and age, why can't we just find a 100% reliable form of communication where no one is left in the dark, the message is clear and the action desired is obvious? I'll tell you why - because once that happens, we'd all become responsible for those actions - and we can't have that, can we? Sometimes not following through and feigning ignorance is so much easier. The path of least resistance.

I truly believe God puts people in our paths, make situations pop up around us, knocks us over the head with things, if He needs to. But the tricky part is the interpretation. Once I have a feeling that several incidents are too similar in nature to be coincidence, I start to really feel in the midst of God. But what does he want?! I feel like I'm on a cell phone with Him, and He's going through a tunnel. I want to scream, "What? What? I can't hear you! WHY DO YOU TAKE THE TUNNEL WHEN YOU KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO CALL ME?!?"

Where is this going? Bear with me.

My middle son, Joel (10) is so unbelievably frustrating a lot of the time. It's because he's too smart and possesses an old soul. I believe he will finally be at peace when his knowledge of the world around him catches up to the way his mind works and the way his heart feels things. But right now, it's like he's a 40-year-old man stuck in this 10-year-old's mind and body! And he's going to drive me to the brink of insanity trying to get out.

One of the biggest issues we have with him is his obeying because he should. He always feels that what he's thinking is so much better of an idea than the ramshackle way we are running things around here. His racing mind is just too much to ignore when it comes right up against something we are telling him to do or not to do. Much of what he does is not out of malice, but because this would be so much better of a thing to do/way to do that/way to go, etc. He has been like this non-stop since he was two.

So just straight obedience/disobedience is a hot topic in our home.

Last evening, he and I were driving to Target and had settled on a local radio station that was actually a minister preaching about discipline in the context of children needing to be disciplined because they aren't born knowing what's right and have to be taught. It's only a 10-minute drive, so we heard very little.

But later, I asked if he'd learned anything from what he'd heard, thinking perhaps he'd picked up on the whole you-need-to-do-what-you're-told aspect. He looked at me and said, "Yeah. I learned that discipline is not only about your choice to discipline me - there are spiritual reasons behind what you do."

That, my friends, is my 40-year-old son. And I'm here to admit to you that I didn't even pick up on that aspect of the sermon in the time we were listening. His ability to pick up on ideas that really should be beyond him is amazing. Now if he'd just remember to take his glasses off when he gets into the shower, it'd be all good.

Back to me trying to interpret what God's trying to say to me.

So we heard that last night. Then this morning, the van radio was still on the same station when I left, and there was someone else on there talking about teaching obedience being the very basis of parenting; that if there was one thing that is most important in teaching your kids, it's obedience because everything else in the rest of their life will be based on that one way or another.

Yes, I agree with that. I mean, this is exactly what we're trying to get into Joel's head right now. I already know this.

Then as I approached the car in front of me at a stop light, I am not even kidding, the guy's license plate said, "93OBEY" (I changed the numbers, but you get the gist). Now I'm feeling like God's trying to say something to me - but what is it?

Am I focusing so much on trying to pound into Joel's head that he needs to obey that I'm overlooking an area where I should be obeying? The best way to teach someone something is through you're own actions, so I'm left wondering if there is an area of my life where I'm not being obedient and God's knocking me in the head, "Hello?"

So if you know me and have any ideas, I'll be glad to hear them. Otherwise I'll just keep praying for discernment . . . and begin reading all the bumper stickers on the cars around me.

Make Mine A Double

I once sent the following to my friend, Michelle, in an e-mail when she discovered that her 2nd child, a boy, had obviously decided not to follow in the same path as his calmer, more complacent sister. I often pull it back up and read my own words to get through the day.

After 17 years of parenting "spirited" boys, I can shed a little light on this subject for you. It may not be pretty, but it will be truthful.

Terrible twos are non-existent. It's the threes that will kill you. It is just one, long war - battle after battle strung together by beads of chaos, frustration, love, laughter, rage, angst, tears, self-pity, prayer, and immeasurable amounts of joy.

Kiss any type of peace goodbye for a long time. Just do it now and come to terms with it or you will find yourself in a futile cycle of seeking something that cannot be sought and then the disappointment that will always follow. Your life will be in chaos. Welcome it, invite it in for tea. It will be there whether you do or not. You might as well become friends.

Do not have unrealistic expectations for a certain outcome when embarking on any type of outing. For this will only set you up for the inevitable fall when exactly what you didn't expect to happen happens. If you have low expectations, the fall is much shorter; and, therefore, less painful. Low expectations can almost always be met. And then you can celebrate your small victory and all will be happy! Always celebrate the small victories, sometimes they must carry you for weeks.

Do not take your spirited child's behavior personally because it is not a reflection of you or your parenting. It is a reflection of a whole different set of ideas that your child was born with and will spend his life in pursuit of. You will not be privy to this list, you will only have the privilege of dealing with the aftermath. Your role in this is to try to drive this wild, runaway train to an acceptable destination and keep it from wrecking along the way. You must also realize that you do not get the final decision on that destination, you may only guide it in a direction that is not harmful to it or anyone else. This is where daily prayer and complete faith in God come in.

Understand that in every mess, every seemingly bad decision, every obscure action, this child has a purpose in mind. Most of the time (if not all) this purpose will not be parallel to your own. This will frustrate you to the point of absurdity. You will have thoughts you never knew your mind could conceive. You will talk out loud to yourself to keep from snapping from reality.

And finally, also know this: you will love this child to within an inch of his life. He will test the absolute boundaries of your soul, but your love for him will stretch even further. I promise you will survive this.

Monday, May 19, 2008

And This Is Why We Don't Eat Flowers.

Viewer Warning: photo not suitable those with a strong gag reflex.


Dumb dog. And after I just posted that cute picture of him right in front of those flowers this morning. And said he was cute. And poofy. And sweet.

We should have named him Ralf.

My Environmentally Conscious Boys.

Aunt Aimee is so cool; she totally gets the boy thing. Perhaps because she has three of her own, as well?

Anyway, she's the hero today because not only did she get Joel (10) and Seth (5) shirts for their birthdays (both were in April) that are right up their alley, but she sent them in the mail.

Do you remember how nothing in the world was more awesome when you were little than getting mail? And a box at that!

So she's apparently trying to turn my kids into little tree-hugging junior Al Gores, but she missed the mark a little bit.

Save Energy - wear a dirty shirt
Save Gas - toot in a jar
Thanks, Aunt Aimee! You so totally rock!

Speaking Sethese

Mr. Seth rolled out of bed with a serious case of the giggles this morning.

He had "giggle germs" alllll over him.

And just a few moments ago, I leaned down to smooch him on his forehead, after which he smacks his hand to his head and says, "Oh you kissed my fivehead!"


"It's what you have after you turn five." Duh. Moms are so stupid.

Top O' the Mornin' To Ya!

This is what I have for breakfast every morning.


on top of this:

Along with this:

And this morning, I opened a new canola butter only to find this:

Why is my butter mad at me? Was it something I said?

And just because he's cute and poofy and yummy and soft and squishy and I get to love on him whenever I want:

My sweet boy, Niko.

Have a great day!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just Go Walk It Off

So we were grocery shopping at Walmart today when Joel (10) began not feeling so well. Not a big deal, just a trip to the bathroom along with "My stomach just hurts a little." Upon returning home, he went upstairs to change his clothes and take it easy.

About 25 minutes later, he came downstairs announcing he'd made a list of what could be wrong with him and what he was feeling. "You need to look at this and decide what you think is wrong with me."

Now, you just have to know Joel to know that this isn't at all out of character for him. His mind is buzzing 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We will often go past his room hours past his bedtime only to find his light on, and him sitting at his desk planning something out, building something, working on something.

When he was two years old, he said to me, "Mommy, I have a lot of ideas in my head." Oh, if we had only known then how prophetic that statement was. I thought it was cute. Oh silly, silly woman.

The. child. never. stops. thinking. And secondly, he never stops taking action to fulfill all those ideas.

Back to the issue at hand. He's made a list to help me with the diagnosis. Here is the list.

In case you can't read it, it says:


2. constapation
3. cold
4. flu

1. constapation
2. headache
3. stomachache
4. hiccups
5. breathing problems
6. chestache
7. internal bleeding

When he reads the list to me, he chuckles and says, "Ha - that last one's a joke." Really?? Oh - and I think you left out PARANOIA.

Being the compassionate and nurturing mother that I am, I looked at him and said, "Good golly, Joel. Sometimes people just don't feel good because they don't feel good. Go lay down and watch some SpongeBob."

After he walked away, Sean said, "What'd he do, go get on WebMD?!"

Later with the Zipps (neighbors), we went over the possibilities of typhoid fever, malaria, and bird flu as well. You have to cover all of your bases in this litigation-happy world, you know. And you can never be too thorough.

So I guess my discharge orders were helpful, because half an hour later he was out playing Indiana Jones with the neighborhood kids.

I think Grey's Anatomy may be missing a character - Dr. McHypochondriac.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Brotherhood

My oldest and youngest sons are very much alike in many ways. Though they are 12 years apart in age (now 17 and 5), their personalities often mirror one another like twins.

When Seth was born, I worried that they wouldn't bond - that Alexx would simply ignore Seth.

Well, God has a way of taking care of these things, doesn't he? You know - these things that we think we're in control of?

It was clear from the beginning that these two had a special bond - even before Seth's personality began to develop, making it evident how much alike they actually are.

With Alexx inching ever closer to adulthood and flying from the nest, my worries resurfaced that once he leaves home, Seth will be too young to remember having Alexx around as a brother and that bond will be shattered - or at least diminished.

Since I began homeschooling Alexx last fall, with all of the ups and downs he and I have had hitting our groove this school year, one nice aspect of the arrangement bubbled to the surface that hadn't occurred to me beforehand. Now that he was home all day, he spent a great deal more time with Seth. And Seth has loved having his biggest brother all to himself.

The first thing Seth often says when he walks in the door at 11:30 from his Early Childhood preschool bus is, "Where's Alexx?" Oftentimes, Alexx will have lunch ready for Seth when he is making something for himself that he knows Seth likes.

I feel like this past school year with Alexx being homeschooled has helped solidify their relationship for when Alexx goes on his merry adult way.

The rest I leave up to prayer.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Scalpel, please.

Ooooooh, I'm so proud of my littlest dude! With his autism, Seth (5) does not usually deal well at all with being "messed" with in terms of his body - cleaning scrapes, taking any kind of medicine, etc. His tolerance has increased immensely along with his progress, but it's still an issue.

So this evening when he found a rather large splinter in his toe (okay, more like a small log), I dreaded dealing with it - it was big and deep. And I'm pretty sure that when I looked at it closely, it was mocking me. I have a way of getting at splinters that involves several small household instruments, none of which Seth wanted near him.

I told him the splinter had to come out, but that it would be no where near as big of a deal as when he broke his arm clean through and had to have surgery on it last December. Though as I psyched myself up to start digging in his toe, I was thinking that morphine being pumped into him through an IV would be helpful during this crisis, as well. Or for me.

Well, what a great time for him to adopt the defiant "How wrong ye are, oh mother of mine" attitude so prevalent in his genes! He tolerated my digging, poking, pulling, and cutting better than I imagined he would, giggled at me a few times while I was working; and now he has a nice hole in his toe to show for his bravery.

Thank you, God, for something that shouldn't be a big deal actually not being a big deal for my sweet little dude who works so hard to overcome such benign things. Thank you.

It's the Little Things ...

Sean took the day off today to go to the track. (For you non-locals, that's Indianapolis Motor Speedway - it's the month of May, ya know.) Anyway, our friend works for the IRL, so when Sean walked into his office to meet up with him, the receptionist turned out to be someone we went to high school with.


Something similar happened last fall when we bought a dishwasher off of someone on Craig's List (the coolest place ever, better than Walmart). When we went to pick it up - we found out we were buying it off of a guy that we went to high school with.

Another time I was walking around with my friend, Lisa, going to garage sales in her neighborhood and walked right into the garage of a guy I had worked with at the ad agency years before.

I love it when stuff like that happens. I think it's fun! (I know - you're thinking that I need to get out more often.) I just love off-the-wall incidents and happenings. Yeah - because I don't have enough of that within the confines of my own home, huh?

I know I've said this before, but I love making connections with people over unexpected things. I don't so much love the big deals in life - it's the little things that just rock.

Just like people and their personalities - I love those little idiosyncrasies that make a person who they are and urge them to act in a certain way. And I love that each of my friends brings something neat and special to my life - whether they even know it or not.

Like - my friend, Mary always makes me feel like I'm just the neatest person. She always greets me or leaves messages that start out with, "Hey, beautiful girl!" and I'm telling you, she couldn't be any sweeter if someone poured her out of a honey jar.

My neighbor (and rock), Susan, is always telling me that I'm a good mom, that I'm doing a good job - even when I'm clearly barely keeping my head above water. It's not just that she says it, she makes me feel it. And believe me, she sees me (and hears me!) at my parenting worst.

Lesa doesn't let me go long at all without pulling me out for "friend" time, which is such a blessing. If she didn't call or e-mail me to get me out every week, I would be (more of) a blubbering idiot.

My other Lisa, whom I've known since toddlerhood, often calls me on her way home from work because she just has to get this out before she comes undone ("Oh my gosh, I just have to tell you about this ...") - knowing that I will somehow, from some experience, be able to relate to how she's feeling and get down in it with her.

Another childhood friend, April, is always encouraging me to write for a living and work on getting published. Always. (Someday, my dear, you will be so proud of me.)

My Texan pal (and former neighbor in Houston), Kay, makes me feel every day like I'm worth the effort. :-) Through our move back here and her move back to Dallas, she's been so diligent in not only keeping in touch with me, but coming to visit me, supporting me in what I'm going through, and just taking the time to know what's going on in my life all the time.

Then there are Nicky and Christie, who are both also raising special-needs boys around the same age as Seth and just get it. The fears, the victories, the exhaustion, the battles, the intense joy, all of it. I don't have to explain anything to them, they just know.

I have new friends entering my life all the time, and I'm loving discovering the corners of my being that they are revealing that I'd never noticed on my own about myself. God has such an awesome way of highlighting who we are in the most interesting ways, even when we can't see it ourselves, especially when we can't see it within ourselves.

So to all of my awesome friends (including the ones who were not mentioned by name) - I love who you are, what you see in me, and how you make me feel about myself.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils?

Just a little while ago, Sean took Joel (10) to, I think, Barnes & Noble for some Star Wars thing - people were apparently going to be dressed up as characters, an author is there to sign books, etc. Whatever. Knock yer boy selves out.

He just called from there - and I'm imagining him hunched over, hand cupped over his mouth and around the phone (because his voice is all muffled) when he says, "I'm in Star-Wars-geek-dress-up-nerd h**l," and he proceeds to describe the scene. Bwaaaaaahhhhhha! As a stay-at-home mom, I eat it up when he is the one in the middle of some ridiculous scene in the name of parenthood, since it's usually me (that being my job and all).

However. Hold on just a darn minute before you go all feeling sorry for him. Right now, I am at home where Alexx (17) and his band are practicing for a gig they have this weekend at the Geist Half Marathon. Five teenagers in my basement who have been playing heavy metal music nearly non-stop for over two hours now. And this is the fourth straight day in a row they have had practice. Of course, they always have to practice at our house because Alexx plays the drums. My spleen is starting to vibrate. And I hope that's okay; I mean - I've never heard of anyone needing a spleen transplant, so I'm guessing it's sort of expendable.

So which one of us has the bigger headache right now is totally up in the air at this point. But I'll tell you one thing - if Seth decides to play an instrument, I will generously let him choose between a shiny, new flute or a stately, handsome oboe.

Rock on!


Seth's two best friends are conveniently located 30 feet to the west of us - and happen to be two little girls, ages 5 and 7. The three of them can't seem to live without being together for long at all -- just visit one of our houses when the other family is gone on vacation. Oh holy whining, Batman.

So we trust these people, the Zipps (that's what we call them, and you'll just have to wonder about that one), our good, bestest friends next door, right? No harm will come to our kids when they are at their house, right?

Well. We may need to rethink this bond we have.

Yeah. That's my son at their house. In some sort of princess dress. And liking it.

I hope they know his future psychotherapy bills will be sent directly to them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It feels soooo good.

So last night my friend, Cyndi, and I sat outside a local coffee shop after a meeting to make sure we didn't get home until after all of our little boys were securely tucked in bed by their fathers. (She has three boys, as well.) Is that wrong?

Anyway, we laughed and laughed until we cried. And then we laughed some more . . . and it felt so good. It's not that I haven't laughed that hard for awhile; on the contrary, it's just that it never gets old.

I. Love. To. Laugh. It's one of my favorite things to do. In fact, ask Sean what I've always said I want written on my gravestone. "She loved to laugh."

Then tonight I was at my friend, Lesa's, house and her daughter (my sweet, sweet Julia!) is almost 5 months old and just discovering her chuckle. I could've nibbled at her belly all night long just to keep hearing each fresh giggle roll out of her mouth, and I had to peel myself away from her and those delicious, schmushy cheeks to come home. (Though I suspect if I'd even hinted at it, Julia's bag would've been packed and in my van in record time to spend her first night away from home.)

I got the giggle gene from my grandma. When she gets going, she can't stop -- and I'm the same way. When I get started about something and can't stop laughing, the boys and Sean say, "There she goes!" And guess what -- I passed this on to Joel.

Have you ever thought about how close to one another on the emotional spectrum unbridled laughter and crying are? Think about it – how many times has your hysterical laughter given way to all-out tears pouring down your face? And sometimes (with more deeply troubled personalities, perhaps?) hysterical crying can slip into maniacal laughter.

That happens to you, too . . . right?


To sum up:

baby laughing=better
hysterical laughing=best
laughing until you pee your pants=maybe rein it back in a notch

Introduction into Chaos

Well, here ya go. People have been telling me and telling me to start a blog. Honestly, I think y'all are just getting tired of my ranting and raving through e-mail. Be that as it may, now we all win. You'll only have to hear about all the chaos in my life if you choose to, and I get my daily dose of writing to clear my head.

So I thought I'd start with a little introduction for those who don't know me well. The things I write may be off-the-wall and at times a little like you’re taking a rollercoaster ride through my mind; but I can promise you this: I’m always 100% real. In fact, I’m frighteningly forthcoming about myself – just ask anyone who has innocently asked me, “How are you?”

I’ve got a lot going on in my life and love it when I am able to take any of my experiences and the sometimes hair-brained ways I get through them and connect with someone else. Actually, I’d say that’s about my favorite thing in the world to do – make connections with people in unexpected ways.

My husband, Sean, and I were high-school sweethearts and have been married for 132 years (133 next November). We have three sons, Alexx (17), Joel (10), and Seth (5).

Our older two sons have two different types of Attention-Deficit Disorder, and our youngest has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I homeschool Alexx (the oldest), am somewhat of a full-time therapist to Seth (the youngest), and trying to keep up with Joel (middle dude) is similar to attempting to run alongside a rabid cheetah and comb its hair. So to say that I am busy, or scatterbrained, or sometimes just plain incoherent are understatements. But this is our life, so . . . that’s that!

In my former life, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Ball State University, worked in advertising just out of college, and then freelanced for a few years. The career I had before was a piece of cake with whipped cream and a cherry on top compared to what I do now.

But here's the real nitty-gritty:

I love to cook. And love even more to cook and give it away.

I hate hanging up laundry.

I would rather gouge my own eyes out than be within 20 feet of a cockroach (in Texas, they fly at you).

My favorite color is green.

I love, love, love music, and you will find me often quoting lyrics in my writing. My favorite band is Third Day followed closely by Keith Urban (this one borders on obsession).

Hair in shower drains totally skeeves. me. out.

I have seen every episode of ER about 12 times each and have no idea why I keep watching the reruns.

I love my cafĂ© mocha (to be specific – nonfat, 1 ½ pump mocha with light whipped cream).

I like to run – but only if I’m being chased by something that will hurt me.

I hope that by passing on my thoughts and sharing my times with you, together we can have a laugh, connect, and make a little sense of what’s going on around us . . . and within us. Either that, or I'll at least make you really, really glad that you have your life and not mine.

Thanks for giving me a chance!