Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You'd Think I Have Too Much Time On My Hands

Sometimes I just look around me. My house, my environment, my life, the challenges we deal with, the blessings we are showered with, everything - it all makes me who I am every day. 

Those who know me closely know exactly how those dots are all connected to make me, well - ME. And ME is one oddly put-together personality. Meet me for the first time and spend 30 minutes with me, and you'll either walk away very uncomfortable not sure how to take most of what I said (was she really serious or just joking?), wonder if I'm really that much of an open book (I will usually tell anyone anything about myself or something that I've been through) or just vow "that's just not for me" as if you just ate Indian food for the first time and decided, right then and right there, that you're really just a burger and fries kinda person.

See? Right there. Am I joking? Am I trying to be funny?

I walked down the stairs on my day off earlier this week, apparently, with someone else's eyes on. Because everything I saw around me hit me like I was walking through a museum of some really odd person's life on display. It hit me that it is all so normal to all of us that we think nothing of it, but most who walk in our house for the first time probably see all these subtly odd things and wonder if we're a bit off our rockers. 

It really is subtle. Upon first glance, we all seem like a perfectly normal suburban family. I think. Maybe I'm even more delusional than I thought. We just make life work for us in a mostly humorous way, and we do what we can to embrace the fact that we have some family-crippling issues to deal with at times.

In a nutshell, we are two best friends raising three boys, two dogs, and one snake who just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We met at 13 and became friends though we were complete opposites in every way, began dating at 16, had a baby in college just before we turned 20, married later that year and the rest is blissful, odd, fun, challenging history. And our life shows it. 

So that morning, I had the entire day off, and it was amusing me to take photos of the things that we live with every day, but were suddenly standing out to me. It was cracking me up and I was having fun. Forget laundry. Laundry doesn't make me chuckle. 

I thought I'd share with y'all. Because remember? I really am such an open book. And if something amuses me - I immediately want to tell someone. My close friends know this well - as they get odd texts at odds times - usually with photos.

This is a photo-heavy post. You may want to stop now. 

No? Okay - here we go.

This was my coffee - notice the hidden Kahlua in the pattern on the cup? Yep. Notice that I am so very adept at the process of making my coffee that I know exactly how much creamer and whipped cream to put in the cup before I brew my Keurig K-cup into that cup that there is not a millimeter to spare at the top? Yep. I'm that good. Yes - I put the creamer and whipped cream in first. It's what I do. Yes. I said whipped cream.

This is Jesus. In a piece of pottery on our kitchen window sill. Christ is the head of our family and always will be. Our faith is deep and it is wide. Don't test it. It will win every time.

But why is Jesus in that?

That piece of pottery has a great story behind it involving my brother and sister-in-law, a great trip to Asheville, NC, an awesome restaurant, and a woman who has a business in her home with a golden doodle dog who acted weird after having surgery.

Don't you wish you knew it?

Back to Jesus. I can prove it's Jesus. And here's how. No one else would have another person's name tattooed on their foot. Tattoos hurt to get. I know. I got one. In Asheville.

It just gets weirder and weirder, doesn't it??

This is our garage fridge.

And That's a Nike shoe box in it. Odd enough. Guess what's in the shoe box? Beer. Story behind that, too. 

When I got the shoes that were in that box when my son's girlfriend and I were shopping on Black Friday, we cracked up and decided that the symbol on the box means that no babies from zero to three months are allowed to be in the box, play with the box, touch the box, or otherwise look at the box. 

After that - you're free and clear. Do you notice how sad this makes the baby?

Moving on to my workroom, which we call "Richard" by the way. Another funny story.

I love pigs - have since I was little. If you really want to know the story, I'll tell it sometime - just ask. But I won't boar everyone else with it right now. See how I did that?

This is a pig that someone sketched, not sure if it was Alexx (my oldest son) or Kat (his lovely, lovely girlfriend), who are both amazing artists. But it's an awesome pig - with wings and a light sabor. It may be the greatest pig of all time. What other pig could top that? Certainly not the "Largest Pig in the World" you can visit at the State Fair. That thing can't even walk, I'm sure. Hold a light sabor? PLEASE.

It happens to be sketched on the inside of a Lipton Onion Soup box.  

I don't even know the background on that one.

But I put it where I can see it every second that I'm working because it makes me happy.

Speaking of what else makes me happy in Richard - the desktop on my computer - a picture of me with Mac Powell, my favorite singer of all time - from Third Day. If you aren't listening to their music, you are not living.

And that Dr. Pepper? I stole that from my boss at work (Club Canine). Now she's going to know it. So I have to buy some Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper to put in her fridge at work so I don't get fired.
My desk coaster, I think, says it all.
This is the crate that we bought for Joshua when he came home a year ago at 11 weeks old. We no longer put him in the crate (though he likes to nap in it), but I made a work surface of it a long time ago with a clearance piece of something-or-other from Ikea that I got for $1, so I'm not willing to take it down.

I love this piece of art. It reminds me daily that I am precious and loved and a child of God, no matter what stupid things I do or say.
When I brought it home, I knew I wanted it in Richard somewhere since I spend so much time in there, but I couldn't decide where to hang it. Fast forward to us having to get a new heating/cooling system, which came with a new thermostat, which was smaller than the old one.

I'm too lazy (or too busy) to sand the area and fix it with the new paint on the walls, so I found the perfect place to hang my picture:

This is Pedro - see him peeking his head up in the back? We love Pedro. We adopted him from our Jr. High Pastor at church (WRCC - check us out!) We previously kept Seth's (8-year-old) class snake for the summer and had a ball with him, so this is our 2nd snake to love. (Hey - all boys, remember?) And you know what? They have totally different personalities! Who knew?

Pedro just shed, and so I need to hang a housekeeping tag outside his door for service. Totally cool when they shed.

Pedro eats live mice - and I have a funny story about when one of the mice we bought for his meal chewed its way out of its box before we got it out to feed him ... good times.

This sleeping bag was dragged out of storage for the fall Scout campout that Sean, Seth (the Scout) and Joel (13-year-old) went on in October. It has become a favorite cover-up around the house. Should we put it back in storage or just leave it out? You know what the laziness devil on my right shoulder is whispering in my ear.

These are tile coasters I made a few Christmases ago for fun. They were never packed away - so we have Christmas spirit all year long. In theory.

I brought this basket home from one of my trips to Asheville, NC. It was handmade in India (if I recall correctly). I just fell in love with the colors and the shape - just all of it! I haven't yet decided what will be perfect to store in it.

Joel and Seth tell me that they put Victor (the previous class snake we were caring for) in it once last summer to see if they could get him to come out the top by playing music.

I kind of really am a crazy dog chick, as they call me. And I'm cool with that. I have always been the crazy dog girl. Just ask my parents. Big, long stories there, too.

So this is reflected in every part of my life:

This one offended Seth when I hung it up. Seriously. He was mad.

I have my live Christmas wreath up! It smells so good. Nothing odd about that.

But I left the magnet on the door that is there all the time above the "Pets welcome" bone sign:

Here's the back of the door. 

Just a reminder for the boys that we aren't takin' any of their crap, 

that they need to clean up their own crap, and more dog stuff, of course.

 In our downstairs half-bath, I got so tired of cleaning pee off of every surface *around* the toilet, that I took an oil paint pen and drew a smiley face inside the toilet bowl and told the boys to "AIM TO HIT THE GUY IN THE TOILET, for crying out loud."

When that one faded, I had to draw another one. Seth asked if he could help me. Sure! Why not?

That is a stupid question, by the way, that will be answered in 1,000 different, bad ways if you ask it as the mother of all boys. It was answered in this way this particular time:

That's the faded remnant of Seth's rendition of the guy with the smiley face 
with "hair that's on fire." 


But, by the way, the smiley face worked. To a degree.
I now clean up considerably less pee in places that it does not belong.

I am known for writing notes to my people on the mirrors in our house with either dry-erase markers or lip stick that I've gotten for free and will never-in-this-lifetime wear (have you met met?). 

So Seth, following my actions (great parenting), didn't write the rest of us a note,

but drew a dinosaur in bad need of orthodontic work. 

And just a glimpse of our reading material in said bathroom. 

A nice variety, yes? 

That says it all. I live the boys' life, try to do it simply, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I'M STILL A GIRL, someone please talk to me about make-up, clothes, 
and famous people that none of us know.

That morning, my wonderful, awesome, superdupergoodsmellin' husband let me 
sleep in until just before he left for work. When I came downstairs, this is what I found that the 8-year-old had eaten for breakfast.

Hey - nobody's died yet. Don't judge.

Just to show you that we aren't all odd and different, a few vastly normal qualities about us:

When you walk in our door, in the foyer is what we affectionately call "The Grandma Chest." My great-grandad made this chest as part of his and his wife's "setting up house" furniture when they were married.

When I was little, I was completely enamored with this piece of furniture, which was by then in my grandma's house. I *loved* it for some reason.
When Sean and I were married and we moved into our first apartment, Grandma gave it to us. It means the world to me, because it represents Grandma's love for me and my family and our history.

On the Grandma Chest are two photos that also mean the world to us. The one on the left is Sean's grandfather, whom he was very close with until his death when we were 21.

The one on the right is my great-grandad (who made the chest), my great-grandma, my grandad, and two great aunts. Grandad died when I was just two, but I grew up with my Aunt Sarah (until I was 8 or so) and my Aunt "Ita" (Juanita - who died in my early 20's).  Also nothing odd about these things - I just wanted to share - along with a few other things:

We love to take photos - not staged photos, but "I gotta get my camera!" photos. Or sneaky, no-one-knew-I-had-my-camera photos. Or just we-have-GOT-to-capture-this-fun photos.

This wall is from the foyer to our kitchen,

and some of my favorites are:

These are photos I took of Seth sleeping one day at around 6 months old. He still looks just like that when he's asleep.

This is Alexx (12) and Joel (almost 5) meeting Seth the day he was born.

Papa (my dad) loves these boys enough to do everything from engage in water gun wars . . . 


to quiet walks to settle down little Seth during a particularly difficult "autisic moment."

One of my favorite pictures of Alexx (now nearly 21 yrs. old).

And in case you were unclear, these are the loves of my life right after my human family.

Joshua (1)

Heidi (6)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Power Beyond Prayer

I'm sure some of you have heard the song "I Refuse" by Josh Wilson. I have just loved it since the first time I heard it on KLove here in Indy, but I actually didn't know who it was (cue infomercial on the tragedies of adult ADD).

Let's rewind a bit.

My sister so amazingly drove over from Cincinnati one day in September and took me to the first night of Steven Curtis Chapman's Songs and Stories tour. I had no idea what I was in for.


I know that I love SCC and his music and his family and his . . . everything. But I didn't know he'd put together this tour with Josh Wilson and Andrew Peterson or what they were attempting to do. (I'd never actually heard of Josh Wilson or Andrew Peterson.) They are essentially re-creating when they (and other musicians) get together in little ol' Nashville and play songs and tell stories on their own time.

That evening was the bombdiggity. It felt like we were sitting around their little circle with them - laughing, crying, joking, telling on each other. They made the auditorium feel like a porch on a warm summer night, a starry evening around a bonfire, a group of friends hanging out in the family room.

So when Josh Wilson performed his song, "I Refuse," I was so excited to realize it was him! There are several videos of his that I would like to share, but I shall pace myself. I love the song, but I love more the power of its message and what drove him to write it, which he explains here.

I highly encourage you to catch one of the dates on this tour - it's an amazingly fun, insightful, personal evening.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I love what God is doing in my son's college-age ministry at White River Christian Church. Engage. Simple but as powerful as one - or a whole group - makes it. I love the leaders. I know most personally and completely adore them. They have loved Alexx since we moved back here from Houston, TX, and joined the church when he was 14. He's grown with them from early teenhood into the man he is becoming now at almost 21, and they have shaped his faith as much as any human can.  

I have to say here that I trust them implicitly. We have had situations and issues through the years that have shown the love and Christ-like ways that they deal with the kids in the ministries that they have committed to. They truly have their eye on the ball where these kids are concerned - our kids. They keep an eternal perspective with a current outlook. They never seem to forget (like I often to as a parent) the big picture - that what matters absolutely the most is where the hearts of these growing, impressionable kids are. And if they are in the hands of the Lord, then the rest is absolutely able to be dealt with. 

I wish I were one of their "kids" sometimes!

These kids, who are really no longer kids at all, are the greatest group of fun, loving, God-following people you will every meet. I have the pleasure of spending time with those who are closest to Alexx when they hang out at our house, and Sean and I love every minute of it. They are each just awesome, super people. In fact, we are probably ruining them one evening at a time when they spend time here. 

From the concept of the the Engage ministry to today has been so amazing to watch from the outside. Alexx would come home and tell me about what they were talking about starting . . . how things were coming along ...  Naming the group, talking about its direction, ideas for this and that ...  Watching him grow through being involved in the growth of something bigger than himself ...  It's all been such a blessing in this mama's eyes.

I know that from the inside, it has been phenomenal; and I would have loved to have been a part of that. But if I had been, then Alexx would not be who he is today. He would not have been comfortable growing and opening and sharing and becoming the someone that he is continuing to become with me anywhere near it; and I respect that process completely. I am incredibly grateful for it, as a matter of fact. I have been able to share the raising of my son with some of the most amazing people on the planet. And they are doing a KICK. BUTT. JOB.

This is a video that one of the Engage group members has put together just to show a tiny bit of what this group does on a weekly basis together.

I am 40, they are college age - and I want to be like them when I grow up.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Essence of My Faith

Simply put. A graphic, graphic reminder of what we Christians already know, but tend to lose sight of in the rigors of daily life. I watch the movie "Passion of the Christ" about once a year. My stomach is in knots every time I watch it. I don't view it as entertainment. My mind and heart view it a historical account, well captured in film.

I want to feel that sickening feeling to bring me back to the absolute truth of the sacrifice God made for each of us. Every single one of us.

Couple scenes from that with (as you all know well), my favorite band EVAH singing one of my favorite songs of theirs - and it brings me to humble tears every time.

Warning: Graphic images/scenes

Monday, August 1, 2011

Crazy Disciplined or Just Plain Crazy?

This is bad on several levels.

This is Joshua. Joshua is our 10-month-old American Bulldog mix. We adopted Josh at 11 weeks old. More on Josh's story in another post. All you need to know now is that Josh was born deaf and began training at 9 weeks old and we continued until he was around 6 months. We communicate to him using sign language. He's well-trained, but a lot of that is simply due to the fact that he has a great personality. Dogality? Caninality?

Anyway, Josh is crazy about his food. When his internal clock for meal time goes off, he is relentless. He acts a bit obsessive, not leaving you alone, "complaining" (sort of a whine/yawn) to you - trying to tell you that HE'S HUNGRY ALREADY. By the way, he only does this whine/yawn complain at three times: when he's hungry, when he needs to go outside, and when he's ready to go home from Club Canine and I keep standing and talking to my boss and he's run out of patience with me.

Another piece of vital information to this short story that is getting long is - I am a bit obsessive myself about what my dogs eat. And about my dogs in general. Okay, about almost everything. (Shut it, Mrs. Zipps.) They eat pretty high-quality food that I decided on after too much research. They get fish oil tabs for their skin. They take Benedryl for their skin and eyes. I put yogurt on top of all that for the live cultures (do your own research). Get it? The only people food I let them "snack" on is baby carrots, green beans, and cheese.

Here's where it gets bad.

As you know, I work at Club Canine, a doggie daycare and boarding facility, along with my 20-year-old son. Josh goes to work with both of us. So Josh and I were on our way to work Sunday afternoon when I found my stomach growling because I'd gone straight from church to pick Josh up and go to work. I WAS HUNGRY ALREADY.

So I got a kids' meal at Wendy's (insert shameful head bow). I know! So bad for me. But it was a kids' meal and not a clog-every-artery-and-just-kill-me-here-and-now regular size or (gulp) extra value meal. Don't judge.

Here's where it gets more bad.

I couldn't eat all the fries. So I gave Joshua one. (insert huge shameful head bow along with shaking head). Oh God, please forgive me, I know. Fine - I insert it into my own system. But to give it to my dog? My innocent, can't-choose-food-for-himself dog? Who trusts me to care for him in the best possible way?! My dog who ate two junebugs last night at work?! Wait, that doesn't support my point.

He loved, of course, every salty, greasy bite. So my dog heart ran rampant over my dog head and I gave him another. And this went on for a mile or so. Every time I would give him one, he'd gobble it down and look back up at me with those huge, sweet, puppy eyes and I would hear Oliver Twist croon, "Please ma'am, I want some more."

So I switched to putting a few down on the middle console so he could get them himself. And do you know what happened? DO YOU KNOW? He wouldn't eat them. He'd just look up at me until I signed to him "okay" and then he'd grab them and gobble them down. This is what he did every time I put more there until the fries were gone.

He is well-behaved and well-trained, but he is also a dog.

So again, I ask you - crazy disciplined or just plain crazy?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It has been a long, long time for this writer not to have written. There are so many contributing issues, the least of which is the "m" button that popped off my laptop. I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to re-secure the &*#$% thing to no avail.

The issues surrounding our family are growing up, meaning it is no longer appropriate for me to write about them on a public forum. Just know that two kids on the autism spectrum plus a host of other unmentionable challenges continue to plague our family, which is actually what has kept me far from this keyboard in recent months.

I am trying, folks, to keep up and am doing a miserable job. My house is total wreck, my new workroom 3/4 of the way finished, friendships moved on . . . life is generally kind of crappy right now.

The good, you ask?

My marriage is as happy and solid as ever. We cling to one another for dear life through these things, and laugh at as much as we can.

I continue to love my job wrangling anywhere from 23-45 dogs at a time and taking care of a smaller group on the weekends. These dogs are one of the greatest loves of my life. I enjoy them immensely. And the cleaning? Well, that's just icing on the cake for this obsessive, OCD woman who can't keep a square inch of her own home clean raising three boys. The dogs are cleaner and more responsible than my children.

My boys may be frustrating and hard to deal with at times, but they are God-loving young men. This is something I need to keep at the forefront of my mind when wanting to roll their heads down the sidewalk. Mrs. Zipps is very, very good at reminding me of this when I walk across the lawn to cry on her shoulder (or shoot angry lasers from my eyes). Perspective. If Jesus came back today, my whole family would go back with him - even if dishes from three days ago were sitting on the computer desk.

The puppy we adopted in December - the deaf American Bull Dog who, as a foster pup, came to Club Canine one day and stole my heart - is AMAZING. He is the bombdiggity and I'm not even kidding you, here. He is smart and loving and snuggly and tolerant and well-behaved and and and ... I can't say enough good things about him. Perhaps I should just write this blog about him and change the name to JOSHUA AND HIS VENTURES AS AN AMAZING DOG.

As always, I have the best mom and dad and sister and brother and brother and sister-in-law and nieces and nephews that anyone could ever, ever ask for. Without them, I would be toast. And not the good kind with real butter and cinnamon sugar.

And. AND this morning the guys are here installing our new heat pump/AC/whatever so we will stop melting in our own skin. Life is good! Right?

Yes. It's finally summer, no more snow and ice and dreary, colorless landscapes. Indiana corn and Indiana melon are on their way. The Farmers' Markets are finally back. My tomatoes and herbs are growing. I hear birds chirping outside my workroom window. I smell my lilac bush. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the younger boys.

I can do this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crazy Dog Chick

I work at Club Canine, a dog daycare/boarding facility. It is the love of my life. After my husband and kids, of course. Right?

I love my job so much because I love the dogs so much. This has been at the foundation of my personality since day one, according to my mom. I have the dog gene, as we say in our family. 

Today at work, my boss is out for the day, so I am up front greeting clients and taking the dogs in instead of being in the playroom. It is the middle of drop-off time and dogs and clients are in and out the door at a steady pace.

As one client walked in with her two dogs, I looked up with tears streaming down my face. This is where the Crazy Dog Chick title comes in to play. Do you think she expected to arrive to doggie daycare to a bawling woman? I doubt it, but it couldn't be helped.

And this is why.

Last fall, my boss looked up at me through the playroom window one day in much the same manner as she sat at her computer and I was in with the dogs - though hers was an expression of shock. She'd just found out that a woman she'd become online friends with through a forum for dog daycare owners had passed away in a car accident. Cristal was a woman she'd never had the pleasure to meet in person, but a friend just the same.

This morning, I happened upon something beautifully moving that Cristal's husband, Marcus, wrote recently; which is what made those tears flow at that very inopportune time. When I innocently picked up the printout from my boss's desk and began reading, I didn't know my heart would soon be caught in my throat.

What Marcus wrote struck me as both incredibly sad and beautifully inspiring. Some scoff of human-pet relationships; but as a lifelong dog-lover, I can tell you that for those of us who feel it, these relationships are very real and mean the world to us.

Marcus and his wife, Cristal, started Mile High Mutts together in Denver, Colorado. Here is what Marcus wrote:

I wanted to thank the many people who have expressed their condolences over the last six months. In the weeks after the accident I was truly overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from all over the country. I've kept my head down trying to just put one foot in front of the other. Something happened recently that told me it was time to lift up my head and reach out. A dog died at our facility! The ultimate nightmare scenario that keeps all daycare owners up at night happened to me. It didn't play out the way I imagined. No news crews and lawyers, just love . . . all kinds and so much love.

Chief was our customer for over 6 years. His mom does a great deal of business traveling so he stayed with us often. He was stubborn, independent and fierce. He was a favorite. 

He was diagnosed with liver cancer and was told he would not make it to Christmas. That was Christmas of 2009! He made it to that Christmas and the one that followed. Slowly, over the months, he withered. Fed the best of food, he was still losing muscle tissue and weight. We talked about the usual end-of-life decisions and concerns . . . no one wanted to see him suffer.

I just listened to Chief . . . really listened. He told me he wasn't done yet. He would come in every morning barking up a storm. Now, anyone who knows how we run our operation knows we jump all over barking and do not allow it. When Chief barked I would say, "sing to me!" And it was music.

Christmas 2010 came and went and Chief still had an appetite and still sought me out anytime I was in the pack. He went beyond what the vet said he could do. Six months on heart and another six months on stubbornness. The final six months was because he just didn't know how to give in.

At the end, he talked to me again. He told me he was done. He told me he would never get up again. I called his mom and said it was time. I don't think I could have said it on my own, but I was able to relay a message from Chief. She said she didn't want him euthanized at a vet clinic. She didn't want him transported home. She wanted Chief's last moments to be at Mile High Mutts. I was . . . humbled. I made the arrangements for a vet to come and she flew home. We all said our goodbyes and then Chief was gone. It was an honor. And honor to know him and an honor to help him. 

After the car accident, I didn't know what to do. Thankfully, I just listened to the dogs. In the pack, I felt some measure of peace. The daycare was our first baby. We took out a second mortgage, maxed out seven credit cards, quit our jobs and gave birth to Mile High Mutts. 

Taking care of my three babes has been all-consuming these last six months. But I think back to a day in the pack. I was so tired I wanted to sit . . . to relent. It was my first holiday season without Cristal. There comes a day when an alpha dog sits down . . . and is no longer an alpha dog. I looked across the yard at Chief . . and he looked back. I am still standing.

They have so much to teach us, these dogs. We just have to listen.

Death ends life, but often brings life in other ways. Marcus has a long road ahead raising his young sons without Cristal, but it sounds like his heart is moving in the right direction.

photo by Daniel Mohorovic

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gosh, This Really Kinda Stinks.

So, it's been awhile. Probably due to the contents of the previous post. Not much has changed.

I am focusing my emotions on things that are sure bets right now for sheer survival.

Sure bet #1: I love my job. No matter how obnoxious and chaotic it is at work, I am happy. Yesterday we had 40 dogs by 9:00 a.m. It seemed that most of them either forgot we have a dog door or were uninterested in going into the potty yard that is a wet mess right now due to all the melting snow that the city of Carmel transported and dumped in the parking lot that we share. The playroom seemed as great a place as any for all of them to pee and poop and puke in. All. morning. long.

The barking was out of control - as out of control as I let it get with my outstanding use of the shrill fingers-in-the-mouth whistle that I perfected as a teenager. Our two biggest howlers were on site yesterday trying their best to out-shrill my whistles. This gets the whole group going into "howl fests" which makes you want to crawl into a hole and dig to China when you have the noise sensory issues that I do.

But this all makes me happy because it is an escape. Plus these dogs love you no matter what. And they listen better than human kids do.

Sure bet #2: My husband is my best friend; and we cling to one another like plane crash survivors floating in the sea sharing a raft. We are both feeling completely defeated right now, but to turn on one another like so many spouses do in times of turmoil has never been our style. We are the ones who, floating on that raft, joke about the sharks circling us and make fun of that one's weird, bent fin. A little maniacal, yes, but that's just us. Ever hear us joke about autism? This is why. Caught a piece of a completely inappropriate conversation we are having and laughing about while walking through Sam's Club? This is why. We are surviving the best way we know how - by making light of it - or anything - for a laugh. Because laughter is our life support.

Sure bet #3: My family. My mom and dad, brother and sister - they are more than anyone could ask for. I can tell my sister that a mental breakdown is imminent, and the next thing I know, she is here. And we are laughing and peeing our pants in a restaurant and crying over emotions surrounding her recent trip to visit one of her adoptive sons' birth family. She doesn't try to solve anything, or tell me what I'm doing wrong or shake her finger at how I'm acting or feeling. She just listens, and hugs me, and laughs with me. I can text with my brother that I just received yet another teacher email, and he's texting right back with me no matter what he's doing at the time. I can call my mom and dad, and no matter which one of them answers, I can just start unloading or come undone without worrying about what they will say or do. I know they understand because they spend so much time with my kids and us that they feel it, too.

Sure bet #4: I know I have certain people praying very hard for my family. And no matter how much faith I am losing myself, they are rock solid for us.

Beyond these things right now, I'm not feeling very emotionally confident about much of anything else. In fact, losing confidence in just about everything else is what I'm doing. I feel incredibly lonely.

The sharpest bite right now is the bitterness over the feeling that much of what I do is one way. Meaning, when I stop doing what I'm doing, then it becomes painfully obvious that I was the only one moving - the only one pouring myself into whatever it is. I can plug this algorithm into a number of areas, and the outcome is, well, just like you think it would feel.

The good thing about that is this (see? still trying to find the good ...) - my house is a complete and utter trashed disaster. Since I can't tell you the last time another adult - anyone - came to my house besides my mom, dad, and sister - and my family for Christmas (see sure bet #3), it's not so bad that it's so out of control. I know that no one will ever see it.

So I go, go, go. I go to the church and do my volunteer job. So I see people then. And I go to work - so I see people then. I go to run errands, so I see people in stores. I go here and I go there. I go because if I don't do the going, I don't have the interaction. But you know what? I've recently become tired of the going. And the planning. And the doing.

I have started not doing the going unless I have to. Which, of course, isolates me more, which amplifies the feelings, which makes it all the more painfully obvious that I do all the doing. But, that's just the way it has to be. I'm sitting back, getting a clear, true picture of my life - taking stock, taking score, seeing what's true and what I thought was true but was really all just me making something work - and moving from there.

I don't know where it will take me, but a clear picture is coming forth. And no matter how painful it is, it's something that is true and unmanipulated by me. This is what I need to see. Because you know what they say - when you keep doing the same things and getting the same disappointing results, why are you surprised? Right now, I am doing what I have to do and that is it.

This is me not doing the same things and hoping for different results. So far, the results are even more disappointing - but they are different. This is what I need to see and figure out.

And I will, with my best friend and a lot of inappropriate laughter.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


 Hello, internet. How are you?

I've been seriously bogged down with life lately. I have so much to write about on here, but no time with which to write it. Life with two kids on the autism spectrum alone makes life in this home spin out of bounds. Add to that the normal things of everyday life - seven-year-old's basketball season, the new dog and his training, working part-time, volunteering, running a household with three boys, and trying to get fundraising up and going for the 12-year-old's mission trip - and there is little left over.

I've been trying my best to get through it with my chin up, but this past couple of weeks have been overwhelmingly discouraging in the parenting arena. I feel like it's Sean and me in one corner and Goliath in the other, but neither of us has a sling shot or enough faith to even get out of the fetal position.We are defeated.

So we just cling to one another and keep trying. But the trying is losing steam. Fast.

I know I can't just give up. But I am out of reserves and am feeling like I'm wandering through the hot, sunny desert in need of just a drop of water. I see mirages in the form of weekly therapy and meds that cost us over $600/month. But lately those seem just like that - something that looks to be effective, yet in the end things don't change. Leaving ourselves with nothing left after each paycheck with little obvious return right now is a hard pill to swallow.

I want to scream at teachers that I DON'T KNOW anymore. PLEASE DON'T CALL ME OR EMAIL ME. I want to be one of those parents who sends their kids to school with the attitude that my kids are their problem from 7:30-2:30 and that education and behavior there is not my deal.

So apparently I want to be completely irresponsible.

All of this sounds awful and horrible and so unlike me. This is what I am saying. I am not me right now and am having a helluva time finding a reason not to chuck it all and just say whatever. There are tons of rotten parents out there whose kids somehow turn out great. And my trying to be as excellent a parent as possible is turning out a lot like turning on a full blender without the lid.

A gigantic mess.

There is so much more than I am willing to write about here. Our home is not a happy one right now, and this saddens me the most. Because all Sean and I really want at the end of the day is peace in our home. Laughter with our kids. Fun. Contentment.

I know the most important thing is one to focus on. Every person in this home is a Christian. To that end, we have done our job as parents. We have given our children the gift of God and what he has for us and they have each chosen his path.

I know that life here on earth is messy and may be horrible every day until we go to heaven. I know these things. But really? Just a little easier for a little while would be so nice.

I know this is all very selfish and whiny. For that, I'm sorry.

Now I will go hug a puppy.

photo by Bartek Ambrozik