Thursday, July 31, 2008

Providence. Here. Today.

Providence: noun - a manifestation of divine care or direction.

A little background. I homeschooled Alexx this past year (11th grade) after he continued to struggle at the high school because of his ADD and lack of support from every person I came in contact with there.

The short story is that I don't feel like I made a difference in his learning this past year. He was happy being homeschooled, but not much changed with regard to his outlook toward taking school seriously or his grades in general. I just didn't seem to make a dent. So I put him on the waiting list for an area charter school.

I hadn't heard from them on whether or not he had a spot and was needing to get cracking on planning his curriculum and daily schedule if we were going to homeschool this last year. In actuality, I was freaking out that I had so little time left to get it all together if he didn't get a spot.

This is where the providence that I so heartily believe in came in to play so obviously today. I was talking to my sister on the phone when it hit me like a bolt of lightning out of the blue: our phone number changed a few weeks ago. If they called to let us know he had a spot in the senior class, the number we gave them has been disconnected! I about came undone thinking that they may have given his spot away thinking we had moved or something. I called the school immediately and left our new number with the secretary.

A few minutes later, someone from the school called and laughed, saying he had just called the disconnected number 10 minutes before to tell us they had a spot for Alexx. He was trying to call us around the exact moment that it hit me that they had the wrong number!

I love when I can see so clearly God working in our life. I know He's there every minute, but when He throws me a bone every once in a while to say, "See? I AM here!" it just excites me like nothing else.

Also - tomorrow morning is the senior orientation, so the divine timing was impeccable.

I wasn't worried at all this summer over whether or not I would be homeschooling Alexx again this year. And that, in and of itself, is huge. I'm a major worrier - a super, overreacting, work-myself-into-a-frenzy worrier. But this, I wasn't stressing about at all. I had taken the stance that whatever is meant to be will happen. For once, I wasn't trying to drive the outcome. I was not weighing all of the what-ifs hour after hour. I have just been sitting back and letting whatever happens happen.

So I already felt God working in this situation, and today's events just cemented in my mind the fact that I'm not in control of any of this (or Alexx's ultimate outcome) at all. I just wish I'd gotten this through my head much earlier.

So this school year will be much, much different for all of us! Alexx will be in a new school. Joel will be in a new school (the Intermediate School), Seth will be in kindergarten instead of Early Childhood and will be attending afternoon instead of morning. Wow!

They say change is good. I'm hoping so!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Almost Done!

Sean has almost completed the floor in the living and dining rooms today while I had a full mama day of dr. appointments, school errands, bank and pharmacy running.


And not to forget one of my most important errands today - picking up my pre-ordered copy of Revelation - Third Day's new CD. Yay! Check them out talking about it by clicking their picture at the bottom of the page.

You can also watch them performing "Call My Name" last night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

http://www.nbc.com/The_Tonight_Show_with_Jay_Leno/video/episodes.shtml .
Select the July 29th episode and click forward to chapter 6.
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I just love Mac Powell's voice.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why I'm Not Blogging Today

We are ripping out carpet in the living room and dining room to replace the floor. Since Sean's on vacation this week, I thought it would be wise to keep him working, so he wouldn't forget how to do it.



Of course all of the furniture had to be moved to other rooms ...

So we now have a couch in our foyer. It's very convenient. You barely have to get up to go to the bathroom (door on the right)! Though I'm not going to give any of my boys any ideas, or the two younger ones will be practicing their aim from that spot. And I'm not even kidding about that.

Since we repainted the baseboards while the floor was bare, the boys got excited and had fun painting the subfloor.



Probably not many words, but more photos tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Are We Up? Are We Down? How About Now?

Having a child with autism is not unlike a rollercoaster ride - one where you are seated in the very last seat and cannot see in which direction you are headed until you feel it happening. There's no peering ahead to prepare yourself, you can only brace yourself for all the possibilities and hope you come out the other side without losing everything, including your ability to know which way is up.

There was a period of time, not so long ago, that I was finding it incredibly difficult to figure out which way was, in fact, up on a regular basis. But prayer and tons of support have lifted me to a much better place in all of this.

Today we had a very up, down, up, down, up, down kind of day and it was one of the more exhausting days that I've had with Seth recently. Sean had taken Joel (10) to the Allstate 400, so Seth was out of sorts because of that, as well. The DOWNs included not understanding why he couldn't go to the race with them; having to leave the neighborhood pool just 15 minutes after we arrived when the pool was closed due to a child POOPing in it, thus producing a scene of epic proportions that I don't wish to go into here; and getting violently angry with his two little best friends from next door when he wasn't winning their air hockey game.

But the UPs included going happily into his classroom at church this morning, having a very good lunch out with big brother Alexx after church, straightening up fairly quickly after the pool incident, and apologizing to his friends all on his own after treating them badly.

We've really become quite skilled in handling the ups and downs, the twists and turns of autism and all it throws at Seth (and in turn, us) on a daily basis. Basically, you prepare by reminding yourself that you are never going to be quite prepared enough. And as soon as you come to grips with that, you've got half the battle won. The other half? Well, you just keep fighting the good fight and hope that at the end of the day, everyone survived and Seth progressed a tiny bit more toward independent thinking, more evolved processing, and better handling of himself.

Oh - and it doesn't hurt to see a little faith in action. Seth ran up and handed me a note he had written all by himself. It said, "Geesus [heart shape] me" -- "Jesus loves me, Mommy!"

There is a lot of reality that he just doesn't grasp yet, but he gets the most important reality of all.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Just Have One Thing To Say Right Now.

This parenting thing doesn't look a thing like it did in the brochures. I wonder if I could still get a refund.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guess what?! Guess what?! Guess what?! GUESS WHAT?!

Heidi's "birth mom" (can it, Susan) sent me pictures today of what Heidi looks like with her long hair, and when she was a puppy, and of her with the one baby that she had!!

I know y'all are sick of hearing about Heidi, but I don't care. Look.




Heidi at 12 weeks.
I promise I will never put a bow or barrette in her hair.




Canine Binge

I am full of all kinds of crazy, and I've just realized that I think I passed this quality on to my kids - every single last one of them. "Just now?" you're thinking, "Just this day you've realized this absolutely obvious thing?"

And I'm thinking that my new dog, Heidi, is picking up some of it by association. I never noticed this until the last few days, but she doesn't seem to be complete in the morning until she's eaten a wad of grass and immediately puked it back up. It's lovely to watch.

Can dogs have eating disorders? Is she emotionally distraught? Did Oscar (the golden retriever next door), make some typically misguided male comment about her thighs? (They say they're just friends, but I'm not buying it.) Could it be that we sometimes call her "Piglet"?

If she starts locking herself in the bathroom after dinner, I'm calling the dog whisperer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Small Town Fun

Growing up in a tiny town (Farmland, IN), there wasn't much to do, so we often made our own fun. Nana and Papa (my parents) only live an hour from us, so we spend a lot of time there. Since they still live in the same house that I grew up in, my kids are growing up discovering the fun of many of the same activities that I engaged in as a child.

Now there are quite a few things that I will never tell my boys about, some of which I'm sure they'll figure out on their own (but I'm not going to lead them to it). But some are just innocent fun, like what we showed Seth yesterday - putting coins on the railroad track for the trains to flatten, and then the subsequent quest to find where they were thrown afterwards.
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Like I said, we made our own fun.
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Aunt Mona, Seth, and Nana putting pennies on the track.



Since trains go through there every 15 minutes or so, it didn't take long to find the fruits of our labor:




Ahhh, we should all be such great parents and take our kids to play near the railroad tracks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Can One OVER Blog?

A few months ago, I was asked by our church to write a blog for the Women's Ministry. Well, okay! So this is just a quick post to let you know that my other blog has launched on their website. Oh boy.

I have promised to be good. But that's a relative term, yes?

Anyway, on some days the posts will be duplicate on both blogs, and some days not. OOOO the excitement! Will it be the same? Will it not? (I know - I have no life.)

So check it out here.

Flashbacks Of A Nightmare

E. coli linked to beef now reported in 5 states
Outbreak traced to ground beef sold in Kroger supermarkets

When I read this headline on my home page (MSNBC), my heart stopped for a second and adrenaline poured into my body for two reasons: one, I buy ground beef at Kroger; and two, my oldest son (now 17) fought for his life for 11 days at Riley Children's Hospital when he was 8 years old after contracting E. coli, which then led to Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

Helplessly watching my son's body shut down, all the while knowing the only thing I could do was pray harder than I've ever prayed before is not a scene I wish to ever re-live for the rest of my life. But it did teach me three important things.

1. God will bring you through anything, as long as you trust that He knows where your life is going better than you do.

2. Building a circle of support and having it in place before something like this happens is of utmost importance.

3. Children are amazingly resilient.

I have been through a couple of broken bones, stitches, losing them in a crowded place, and countless close calls of this sort and that with these three boys of mine. But when a situation with one of your children is life-threatening, your whole world suddenly feels very small. It's just you, your child, and God in the room. It is during these moments that you feel as if you are looking the Lord right square in the eye. And then you begin to bargain for this little one's life.

I do not remember much of what I said or did during that time, but certain things stand out in my memory better than others. I remember the moment Alexx's pediatrician called me at home and told me to remain calm, but to get him to Riley Hospital as quickly as possible because his bloodwork from that morning showed his kidneys were failing. I remember leaving his room when we were first at the hospital and crying in my mom's arms, "I cannot live without this child ..." I remember putting up pictures Alexx had drawn on his hospital room window so we knew which room was his from the outside. I remember sitting in his room in the middle of the night while he slept, researching HUS on the internet and coming undone at what I was reading. I remember Sean and I clinging to one another to keep from falling apart when there was nothing we could do. And I remember the day that all of his levels began going in the right direction.

We've always told Alexx that God must have something special planned for him to save his life twice in eight years. The first time was the day he was born and, knowing he was in trouble, a neo-natal team was waiting in our room for him to be born. Delivered with the cord wrapped tightly around his neck, Alexx was completely purple and unresponsive and had to be worked on for awhile to be revived.

The difference then was that I didn't realize the gravity of that situation until he was doing fine. I had just delivered a baby very quickly at the age of 19. It was scary, but Sean and I didn't realize just how scary until it was all over. Looking back, I wonder if that was God's way of making me realize what a little miracle I had on my hands. Instead of doubting my ability to be a mother so young and wondering why my life had taken this turn, I was just so incredibly thankful that God hadn't taken him from me that morning of January 12, 1991.

I love how God works in our lives to make us see our own strength, as well as understand our weakness without Him. We may not like how we learn the lessons sometimes, but we don't get to choose the curriculum.

I don't know if I've been through the worst in my life yet; but I like to believe that no matter what the situation, I'll be able to make it through to the other side with God's help.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Man Show

If you haven't already figured it out, it's male central at our house every day - gross noises, questionable odors, less-than-desirable housekeeping practices. Though after adopting Heidi last month, I felt a slight hormonal shift in my favor. (I know, Susan, she's a dog. But a girl dog. A girl!)

This weekend's male-bonding activity included lots of wood, power tools, re-wiring, blah, blah, blah ...

The best part was that Joel was so very happy to be doing a project with Dad that when they had to stop for the night, he begged Sean to keep going because he didn't want to have to wait until tomorrow night to work with him more.

I wish he was that enthusiastic about cleaning his room.



It sounds like a big deal, but all that was happening was wiring for a ceiling fan on the screen porch, which led to tearing a panel of the ceiling down, which led to tearing the entire ceiling down to replace it with pine.

And those of you who know Joel will not be surprised to know that he did all the measuring and marking of the boards to be cut - and will be justifiably frightened to know that Sean allowed him to operate both the table saw and the nail gun - yes, a nail gun hooked up to a gigantic air compressor.

I'm just thankful no one ended up with a nail through the temple.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Call To Action!

There's got to be something wrong with this, I'm just not sure what. Who do I call? The ACLU? PBS? Bill O'Reilly?

Dear God, give me the answer as to who to fight for the rights of this American icon.

There had to be something else in this person's garage they could have used for a flag here. Clearly, they are making a statement against children's educational television. They must have been raised by heathens with few values. Or foreigners.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Last Day, Part Two

This morning, I told Seth we needed to go pick out special gifts for his teacher and the director of his therapeutic school. Both have been incredibly instrumental in his recovery to this point. His eyes lit up and he said, "Ohhh, I know - jewelry!"


So we went to the Christian book store near our home and he picked out two bracelets and said, "These are perfect!"





And when I was looking at the cards, and told him I was looking for a nice "Thank You" card or one that says something nice, he replied, "Or how about one that says 'I like you,' or 'You're awesome,' or 'You're fun!" How sweet. I'm actually surprised they don't have cards that say those things, since you can buy a card that says, "I'm sorry you're hairdresser messed up the color on your hair and then Burger King got your order wrong today. I'll be thinking of you."


We then went to the Hallmark store for gift bags, where I came across these plaques that are just perfect and say exactly how I feel about the love they have given my son for a couple of years now.


"Because you believed in me, I believed in me."

Seth and Ms. Kari


Seth and Miss Christine

I am so very grateful for the love and work they have put into my son to help bring him where he is today. They are but another gear in the machine that has skillfully and prayerfully brought my son as far out of autism as he has come so far.


Thank you so much, Talking Time Learning Center!!! Click here for more information on this awesome place.

One Small Step for Seth, Another Giant Leap for Seth's Life

Today is a big, big day for Seth, though he doesn't realize it. It's his very last day at his therapeutic school.

He's made huge leaps during his time there, and we are all so incredibly proud of him! You just can't even believe how far he's come in the last couple of years since his autism diagnosis.

I cannot even say enough about that short window of opportunity before the age of five, while the little mind is still forming. Had we not worked as intensely as we have with him from the start, I cannot imagine who he would be today. When I look back at the screaming, non-verbal son I had three years ago, and then turn to talk to Seth today - the transformation is unbelievable. All who have been involved in his therapy are just as amazed. Early intervention is the key.

It breaks my heart (and makes me quite angry) when I hear about parents with a child who don't want to believe it when they are told their child is on the autism spectrum. They don't want to label them; they don't want to deal with it. MY LORD, they are losing valuable, precious time where every moment they could be gaining ground and pulling their child out! To me, it is no different than denying a child medical treatment for a broken bone.

But that is a whole other, very long post.

So today, Seth takes another great step in the right direction; and I will walk proudly beside him, even slightly behind him - letting him lead the way toward the more normal, five-year-old life that we strive for each day.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Was Sure I Was A Dork No More.

Do you ever avoid saying something out loud, as if verbalizing it will make it more true? I do that. I have this freaky weird notion that I jinx myself by saying things that I'm thinking out loud. But I'm just gonna have to say it.

I'm pretty sure that I injured my foot a few months back - my foot that I had surgery on last November (and was healing very nicely). I'm pretty sure that the problem is not going to resolve itself. I'm pretty sure that I think I know the first thing my foot doctor is going to tell me to do. And this is the portion of the whole situation that I don't want to even think about. I'm pretty sure I will be back in my dork boot again.

Noooooooooo!

To recap - I was in the dork boot from the second week of October until my surgery November 29th, on crutches for four weeks, and then back in the dork boot until the first of February. The healing was going slowly, but well.

During the third week of March, our dog at the time (a husky) got loose and I ran to get him (just in the neighbor's driveway), but did something bad to my foot, because I was limping again for several weeks and in pain. It got somewhat better over time, but it just felt like I'd been put back a few months in recovery.

Well, it's been four months since that happened, and it's not getting better. And I am so mad.

If I have to wear that dork boot again, I am going to bawl my eyes out. And no matter where you are located, I'm thinking that you may hear me wailing.

So if you hear something mentioned on the news about a woman in Noblesville, Indiana, attacking her doctor and then having a mental breakdown in his office, please come with bail money.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are!

I can "see" how many visitors come to my site, but have no idea who you all are. I would love to hear from you - who you are, where you're logging on from, how you found me.

You can leave comments without signing up.

C'mon! Let's hear it! I love feedback ...

The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright, Deep In The Heart Of Texas!

It was exactly four years ago today that we left our empty house on Fawn Creek Drive, drove north on the Eastex Freeway (Hwy. 59) out of Houston, out of Texas, no longer Longhorns.

We lived a lot of life there, in that house, on that street, with those friends, who became like family. Just two when we moved there, it was the only life Joel remembered. Alexx made awesome friends there very quickly; and Seth was born there, our only actual native.

There really is something to be said for the phrase, "It's like a whole other country," because it is. Texans are the proudest bunch of folks you'll ever meet in your life - and it doesn't matter if you're born there. Even transplants are quite smitten with being Texan. We loved being Texans! There's another phrase that says, "I wasn't born a Texan, but I got here as soon as I could!" Texan pride is deep and it is strong.

But it was time to move back near our roots. That move set off a chain of events within me that I still can't explain to this day - and it's one of the first things I'll ask God about when we meet. That along with why in the world do Ding Dongs have to be so bad for you?

So I just wanted to tip my hat to the place we called home for four years, fell in love with, and had a very, very difficult time leaving.

We still miss you!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

And Because I'm Just This Obnoxious

My baby girl: (pause the website music on the left to view video)



video

Am I Sure My Three Boys Are Enough?

I had the wonderful pleasure of spending the afternoon with my girlfriend's sweet baby daughter, Julia, today. I could eat her up with a spoon, she is so sweet!


She is the giggliest little precious gift, this third child of my pal, Lesa.


Seth has been completely in love with her since the day she was born. The first time he saw her and held her he was so completely enamored with her that he began calling her my Julia.

In this one, Julia seems to be thinking, "Oh brother, more pictures?!"

Seth also thought that Julia's Bumbo seat was very comfortable.


How awesome it was not only to get my baby fix, but with a girl!

They came to pick her up way too soon, and I wasn't done oogling over her yet. So they need to go on a date again very soon so I can have my Julia back again. That's right my Julia, not Seth's.

Here's the little giggle box entertaining us: (don't forget to pause my website music to the left)

video

I'm so blessed to have friends who trust me to love their children in their absence.

Now, when can I have her back???

Friday, July 11, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Our new dog, Heidi, is just getting cuter and cuter and better and better. We're so glad we got her! She's a 3-year-old maltese/poodle mix, and she had to be shaved a few months before we adopted her. So we're having fun watching her get poofier as time goes on. We have no idea how long her hair will get!

Here are a few shots from this morning:




She has the cutest personality - we love her! She's so awesome. She doesn't run away from you, she doesn't bark much, she doesn't shed one single bit, and she doesn't smell like a dog at all - even when she's wet!

Sean loves to make fun of how I talk to her all the time. SO WHAT. She's my only girl. It's my prerogative.

And Now I'd Like A Pedicure

After Seth's shower last night, he kept telling me he wanted to "put that thing on my head like you do." I finally figured out he meant my hair towel.

Silly boy!



And his father's keen sense of style obviously lives on with the next generation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm So Sad.

My big ash tree is gone, and so is a chunk of our money. Let's recap.

In March, about 1/4th of the tree came down after an ice storm. In May, another large portion came down during high winds. Then on Father's Day, the portion you will see pictured came down during a storm. The only portion left was ready to fall on Joel's room during the next significant weather event.

So today was the day. sniff. I love that big tree in my front yard.

Our neighbors were also getting a new roof today, so it was a major cluster of trucks, equipment, and hot, sweaty men on our street today.

Of course I got my camera out.


Here was the tree this morning.

All kinds of trucks and equipment around today.

It didn't take long for them to dismantle my baby.
This shredder thing was cool. I'm glad Sean didn't see it, or he'd think we need one. We don't have any more room for any more tools.


Okay - apparently the technical way to guide a limb being cut down from falling on a house or, in fact, anywhere wrong is to stand, poised underneath it with another guy, each holding a much smaller limb than the one falling . . . who knew?!
going ...

down!
Uh oh, where are the two guys with the flimsy limbs?

We briefly discussed the idea of having them leave this portion of the tree so Sean could carve an eagle, or a likeness of me in my younger, more desirable years out of it with his chainsaw.

Then we thought better of it. I don't know that the homeowner's association would have been too keen on that idea. But it would have been fun to see how long it took for a letter to land in our mailbox condemning us.

So here's our pitiful looking front yard with nothing but a pretty fire hydrant and a pile of mulch where they ground the stump.
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The back yard is way better:

My brother-in-law with the degree in horticulture says we should wait until fall to plant a new tree, so it'll look like this for the rest of summer. Bleh. Then whatever we put there will pale in comparison..
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Oh well, it's just a tree, right?