Saturday, April 30, 2011

Derby Mini Marathon

The before shot.
After. Still smiling. Sort of.

Caleb and Audrey enjoy lunch together.

Cooper's find at Lynn's Paradise Cafe.

The celebratory lunch, replenishing all those calories!

The two families outside Lynn's Paradise Cafe.

Posing with the course in the background.

My friend Claudia is a speedster. She's one of those incredibly blessed individuals that requires little race preparation to accomplish pretty incredible running times. I'm fortunate in that she lets me tag along with her for a couple of races a year. I always hope her brisk times, and effortless appearance will rub off on her slower friend.

Today, we ran the Derby Mini Marathon in Louisville, Kentucky. We arrived Friday night, with both families in tow. The last 24 hours, have provided a wealth of memories, and none better than:

1) Lunch at Lynn's Paradise Cafe.

So fun. A totally eclectic atmosphere teamed with scrumptious dishes, Southern classics in particular. Claudia ordered Bourbon french toast that arrived in one heaping, sugary pile of delicious. She equated it to one big cinnabon. Yum!

2) The dads watching the kids.

Two doctor dads manned seven kids (five boys!). They did amazing, taking them out to breakfast, followed by a swim in the hotel. We're blessed to have such wonderful dads.

3) The race.

As expected, Claudia ran amazingly well. She spurred me on with her constant words of encouragement and helpful tips. I know she could have finished faster, but like always, she wanted to help me along. I've blogged about it before, but I'm grateful to have a friend that works to make me better and celebrates along with me when I finish the race strong.









Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Great Outdoors



For most of the day, the rain held and sunshine reigned. The boys crept out of our rain shelter, and played among the mud and dried worms (yuck!). I love when they play outdoors; it seems like their array of imaginary play expands.

Today, Connor and Cooper took turns racing big wheels. Then, they switched to jumping rope. Suddenly, a light bulb went off in Connor's mind; why not combine the two? Of course, Cooper thought this was a fabulous idea (little did he know what was in store for him). Connor (as the idea man) sat on the big wheel, clutching a jump rope end. He instructed Cooper to grasp the other end, and pull him along. I think Cooper burned about a thousand calories using merely a jump rope to drag his 50 pound brother the length of the drive way again and again. But, the boys beamed and had a ball working together. (Why didn't I think of jump rope, big wheel races?)

After a while, they decided to move on to their next activity. Again, Connor came up with another ingenious game: escape. (I came upon the game after it was already in full swing!) Here's how it works: one brother (Cooper of course) gets tied up on a tree with the jump rope. The restrained brother uses all his might to try to break free. Poor Cooper must have stayed tied against the tree for at least ten minutes before I found him. But despite being held captive, he looked pleased as punch.

As we filtered in for the night, I looked around the house and missed the endless possibilities that linger outdoors. Hopefully tomorrow the sun will shine again, and the ideas will flow.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Basement Parties

Caleb showing off his medal at the conclusion of his fitness class.

Connor and kindergarten buddy, Nick, had a play date at the Children's Museum.

My friend said it's been raining for 13 days straight. I can't confirm that statistic, but it's certainly felt that way. Accompanying the rain, we've experienced intermittent severe weather. Several times in the last two weeks, I've heard the tornado sirens blare. At first, I think, "It'll never hit us." But then, I remember all those images on the news. I imagine the individuals standing in front of splintered houses and flattened cars probably had those same exact thoughts.

So, we gather the boys and head down to the basement. The boys have greeting our (now frequent) tornado-inspired outings to the basement with glee. It's forced family time. The six of us huddle around a TV, listening intently to a stern looking meteorologist pointing to an ominous looking weather map.

If the boys are scared, they certainly don't show it. They typically circle around Chris, and beg him to read a book in "silly" mode. Chris snags a paperback, and captivates his four young sons with his improvisations and impersonations. The boys glance at the pictures, and erupt into infectious giggles. Pretty soon, the basement carries a party like atmosphere, and the boys beg to stay down there just a little more.

Tonight, the sirens blared around bedtime. We resumed our positions in the basement. Without question, Chris grabbed a book, and the boys found their spots. I scanned the room and was grateful that despite the circumstances, the boys were making wonderful memories.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today's Perfect Storm


When Caleb was first placed on the autism spectrum, I suppose I treated to it like a case of appendicitis; sure it would be uncomfortable at first, but we’d get it removed, and move on with life, pain-free. There are days (weeks sometime) when Caleb's a dream. During those periods, I imagine he's cured. Hallelujah! Inevitably, right when I'm uncorking the celebratory champagne, those dreaded symptoms rear their heads. Such has been the case the last few days.

I suppose I should have known today was going to be difficult. It was the perfect storm: change in school routine, sensory overload, and removal of a highly coveted object. For an Aspie child, it was as if his world was uprooted and came smashing down. Caleb (circa two years ago-pre treatment) emerged with a vengeance and landed squarely in the principal's office.

I received the dreaded call, barely deciphering the principal's voice among Caleb's wails. As I rushed down to school that familiar inner voice screamed in my ear: "You're failing him. You're a bad mom. You need to parent him better." Then, I began to question:

1) Am I not strict enough?
2) Am I too strict?
3) Does he need more attention?
....and on and on.

By the time I reached school, I discovered a more subdued, even remorseful, Caleb. He had pulled himself together, and was engaging in a productive conversation with the principal.

A few minutes later, Caleb returned to the classroom, and I walked out of the office without shedding one single tear. I was still little shaken by the morning's activities, but grateful for a couple of things:

1) Caleb was finally able to pull himself together.

It took two years, but he can pull himself back from the brink.

2) Caleb is surrounded by wonderful teachers and a caring principal.

His teachers gave me hugs, and were quick to provide encouragement and listen to all my thoughts. I still believe they see the special in him, and will continue to maintain good relationships with my son.

3) Caleb is cloaked in prayer (mostly by his grandmother)

Of course, I called my mom. She was quick to pray, and eager to activate her "prayer chain." Thanks to all those who continue to lift him up in their prayers.

Caleb capped off his challenging day, by being accepted to a summer Asperger's camp. He was so excited. I could tell that he felt like he accomplished something. It made me think how much encouragement he really does need, even on days when he makes it difficult.








Monday, April 25, 2011

Cars

Lately, I've been wondering if Cooper's shenanigans stem from a need for more attention. This morning, I made a conscious effort to give Cooper my undivided attention.

I extended an invitation to play. Cooper accepted my offer, and suggested cars. So, we sat on his bedroom floor, while Cooper huddled over his Hot Wheels carrying case. He retrieved two cars, and placed one in my hand. I've learned from experience how you play cars:

1) You must name your cars.

Not any old name will do! The boys don't appreciate me naming their cars: pink sunrise or lavender unicorn. Instead, they prefer all cars be named with at least one word that relates to fire and the second word that refers to some sort of natural disasters. Names such as, "Exploding Volcano" or "Fireball Thunder" always meet with great approval.

2) You have to designate which cars are the "bad" guys and the "good" guys.

All four boys always request to be the good guys. So, by default, Collin (age two) and I tend to be the bad guys. (It's actually more fun to play the villain!)

3) Bad guy cars always attempt to conquer some large geographic area.

Today, Cooper declared the bad guys were trying to seize Michigan. All the good guy cars were in a tizzy. We had to call in reinforcements. Fortunately, Batman and the Bat mobile were waiting to assist.

4) Cooper always wins.

Did you really think Cooper would invent a story where the good guy (Cooper) loses? Of course, the bad guys were flattened thanks to an army of good guy cars and their entourage of superhero pals. (We didn't even have to bring in our army of dinosaurs!)

Cooper didn't perform one crazy stunt this afternoon. I'm anticipating playing cars tomorrow too.



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Collin's Easter egg basket.

The boys' homemade Easter bunny cakes.

Papa and Collin.
Note on garage door from the Easter Bunny's assistant.

Chris and I helped Collin find eggs.

Memaw and Papa helped the big boys.

Sometime in the 6 a.m. hour, I heard Connor exclaim, "Cooper, wake up! Wake up! It's Easter!" The excitement in his voice was unmistakable.

Within seconds, the boys bounded down the stairs to search for Easter goodies. This year, I attempted to create a healthier, more practical Easter basket (think less treats, and more books). My efforts were greeted with considerable less enthusiasm from my sweet-loving little ones. Fortunately, they didn't let their Easter basket blues cloud the remainder of the day.

Easter was spent in the usual way: church followed by a lunch and Easter egg hunt at Memaw and Papa's house. Wet weather forced the Easter egg hunt indoors. The self-proclaimed Easter Bunny Assistance (a.k.a. Papa) had a ball hiding eggs in the garage among the lawn movers and garbage cans. From the retrieved eggs, the boys secured more than enough candy to make up for the morning's sparsely sweet baskets.

At the end of the day, the boys returned home: chocolate covered, full bellied, and overflowing with memories.









Saturday, April 23, 2011

Terre Haute or Bust

Cooper has a blast with the blower.

The three story tree house. Connor is in the center gazing up.

A beautiful portion of Indiana.

The 1867 covered bridge we crossed over.

Cooper poses with a Bobby Knight replica.

Icky weather forced cancellations of soccer games, and Chris had the day off. We were left with an open Saturday and a touch of wanderlust. So, we packed up the kids and headed down to a new Children's Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana. (Ever since the boys snagged a brochure on the museum, they've been begging us to go.)

The Highlights

The museum was petite in size, but housed a large array of interesting exhibits and entertainment. The highlight was a three story tall tree house with a slide and nerf ball shooting guns. The boys were in heaven!

After several hours, we headed home. We decided to take the roads less traveled (the country roads, that is). Our car windows provided a panoramic view of beautiful Hoosier landscape: rolling hills, blossoming vegetation, and interesting historical structures. My favorite part: crossing over an 1867 covered bridge that stood in the shadows of a vintage Mill. Absolutely amazing!

The Challenges

As much as Caleb adores museums, new experiences can be overwhelming for him. I could tell he was emotionally teetering on the edge for most of our museum trip. Finally, he had a much anticipated meltdown. This one was pretty major. During it all, I was glad:

1) Chris was there, so we could work together.

2) The other boys appreciated the magnitude of the situation, and maintained compliant demeanors.

As Caleb was crying uncontrollably, I tried to gaze into his eyes and glean just a sliver of what he was feeling. Was he just really overwhelmed? I hoped it would turn my frustration into sympathy. Nonetheless, his eyes just looked blazing mad.

After a while, Caleb calmed down and carried on with life as if the last minutes never existed. I let out a sigh. I noticed as the wind blew out of my mouth, my chest actually hurt, my back ached, and my fists were clenched. I had maintained calmness on the outside for the entire time, while my body was screaming on the inside.

As always, Caleb's memory seems to be short about the whole incident. I just wish my memory wasn't so long.

The Ending

Caleb pulled it together, and we capped off the day devouring pizza at a small town pizza parlor. An end-of-the-meal ice cream sundae bar put everyone in a good mood, and provided the much anticipated sweet ending to the day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

While I Was Sleeping

Collin and Cousin Will enjoyed a pancake breakfast.

Cooper says goodbye to Uncle Matt, Aunt Heather and Cousin Will. We had a blast with our overnight guests.

Cooper couldn't wait to decorate eggs with his Star Wars egg decorating kit.

It's been a dreary, stormy Good Friday. The perfect sort of evening to snuggle in front of a movie at home. So, the boys and I nestled onto the couch, burrowed under some blankets, and watched Yogi Bear. The boys were enthralled, and I soaked up a few moments of cuddles and quiet.

Pretty soon, my eyelids sagged, my head bobbed, and in no time I was dozing. I'm not sure how much time passed, but when I awoke the movie had finished and the boys had scattered.

I always wondered if the house would still be standing and all four boys would remain unscathed if left without adequate supervision. Tonight was my night to find out. Amazingly enough, the house was intact and the three older boys were playing contently.

Then, I searched for Collin. I discovered Collin clutching a slice of leftover pizza. He had red sauce blanketing his face. When we locked eyes, he said, "I spilled." He then directed me to a spot on the carpet stained in pizza sauce.

Fully rested, I didn't bat an eye when I eyeballed the crimson stain. I quickly mopped it up. The whole time I kept thinking, "Even if this carpet stays red forever, that nap was worth every single stained carpet fiber!"

I meant it.

***********************************************************************************

Tonight, Cooper was preparing to say a bedtime prayer.

I reminded him it was Good Friday, and he might want to mention something about Easter.

He shot me a knowing glance and began, "Dear God. Thank you for my Easter eggs. Amen."

Not quite what I was thinking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pictures and Concerts

It was picture day at Cooper's preschool. He came bounding down the stairs all smiles. He had selected his own picture outfit.

Outfit #1: Of course, he picked his alligator basketball muscle T with oversized sweats.

I requested a change.

Outfit #2: He went fancier, and put on his soccer t-shirt with the same oversized sweats.

Again, I suggested he think even nicer. Church clothes, perhaps.

Outfit #3: (As photographed) Perfect.
My brother and sister in law came for an overnight stay. The four of us went out to dinner, and had so much fun. Wish they lived closer!

It's always one of my more stressful evenings: school plays. I'm never quite sure what a son will do when placed upon a stage, in front of a large crowd, and with a microphone. I've always had visions of having to yank an insubordinate child off the platform while a slew of parents stared wide-eyed and open mouthed at it all.

Tonight, Caleb performed in a second grade concert. He stood front and center during most of the production. We exchanged a wave at the start, and I started to sweat wondering how the next few minutes would unfold. But, Caleb performed well, and even seemed to be enjoying the process.

At the very end, I let out a sigh as the audience erupted in applause. Right then, Caleb flashed the two-handed Victory sign. What a ham, I thought, but it certainly was a victorious night for him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Missing My Babies

The shower participants (New Mom, Tiffany, is third from left. Baby Hudson cradled by Nikki)

The assortment of yummies (even a chocolate fountain!).

The beautiful table.

This morning my Bible study threw a baby shower. I suppose the shower was a little unconventional, in that:

1) It was held on a Tuesday,
2) We squeezed it in between preschool drop offs and kindergarten pick ups, and
3) Baby Hudson already made his appearance.

But, we wanted to pamper our friend and new mom, Tiffany, while selfishly finding an excuse to eat decadent cake and tea sandwiches at 10 a.m.

The shower was wonderful. We ate scrumptious food while laughing a little too hard, and passing around sweet little Hudson.

When Hudson made his appearance in my arms, I was aghast at the delicacy of newborns. In two short years, I had forgotten. I didn't remember how peaceful a newborn lays in your arms. I'd forgotten how a baby, just days old, can still grasp a finger. I failed to recall the divine feeling of snuggling a baby, a mixture of utter adoration and deep maternal affection.

As I sat there, memories of my four little ones (or not so little ones) flashed back. Had they really gotten that old? When did I move from clutching a newborn to working on multiplication tables? Wouldn't it be great to go back to the newborn stage...is it too late?

Right as that thought went flashing through my mind, my shirt became saturated from Baby Hudson's leaky diaper. I quickly handed the still sleeping infant back to his mother.

Was that a sign? In the least, it was a wake up call. I'm thinking my days of parenting a newborn are over. But, I offered to babysit Hudson in the future, and then hand him back right before bedtime.




Monday, April 18, 2011

Lunch Dates with Connor

Connor running around hiding Easter eggs at 7 a.m. (still in his pajamas!).

Cooper and Connor contemplated their next hiding spot.

The three younger boys counting their goodies.

The boys were in heaven today because:

1) I unearthed our Easter Egg box. They treated it like Christmas!

2) Our next door neighbor started a patio construction project. The construction tools and machinery captivated the boys for hours.


My mom mentioned I should write a blog about Connor. It's true. Although equally loved, Connor has probably been the subject of the least amount of blogs. I suppose the children I've written about the most have been the most "spirited" ones . Connor, my adorable six year old, doesn't tend to rock the boat (hallelujah!).

This year my schedule has been nutty, but I've had several hours each week
just with Connor. We use some of those hours for a weekly lunch date, and I let Connor pick the locale (McDonalds has been the popular choice). We sit and talk, or rather I listen as Connor talks about those subjects that interest him: Pokemon, superheroes, or animated characters. We both savor moments where the attention is solely on him.

What I've learned about Connor is:

1) He makes friends easily because he is a good friend to others.

2) He generally treats his brothers kindly, and is the most apt to serve as a sibling peacemaker.

3) He's funny.

As the school year comes to a close, I'm grieving the fact that our lunch dates are coming to an end. I'm hoping Connor and I can carve out future moments together where I can continue to build relationships with my very special son.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Water Wars

Caleb was in heaven at Zionsville's Z Fest (an Earth Day celebration). He was enamored by the reptile booth.

Collin adored the mascot, and had to be pried away from a hug.

Just when I think they've done it all, something new happens. Tonight, we had a first. One son won water balloons at a church activity. Said son then decided to blow up (not very successfully) the water balloons in his bathroom.

Chris came upon the scene a few minutes later. Evidently, the entire bathroom floor was blanketed in 1/2 inch deep water. (Chris said there was even water in the vanity drawers.)

I was upstairs, and heard Chris utter loudly, "What were you thinking?"

Then silence.

What I've learned about Chris is the skills he uses in treating his patients in the ER can often be transfered to parenting his sons at home. He keeps calm. He assesses the situation. He goes into action mode, stopping the hemorrhaging first (in this case the water). Then, he deals with secondary issues (mopping up the floor with the assistance of said son). Finally, he provides an action plan to prevent future injuries or treat existing illnesses (discipline and a pointed lecture).

Later, I asked Chris if he almost died when he spotted the flooded bathroom.

He replied in jest, "Well, I almost killed someone."

A few hours from now, Chris will start his ER shift. I'm betting he's looking forward to the respite.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Busy Boys

The boys had fun in the pool, but had more fun cramming themselves into lockers. Boys!

Lately, I've become keenly aware of how much my boys have grown. We're moving on to the next stage of childhood. (Collin's still little, but wants to follow big brothers!) Diaper bags have been replaced by backpacks and lunch boxes. Bikes have ousted strollers. We've purged the building blocks and teethers, to make room for an assortment of Legos and electronics. Where we once scheduled daily activities around naps, now we work around sports' schedules and homework. Carefree, unscheduled weekends seem to be a thing of the past, until today.

It was a rarity: a Saturday with absolutely no activities. I'd have to say, I relished in the unscheduled time. I actually completed a few household chores. I spent more time preparing meals. I enjoyed several hours without stepping foot in the car.

The boys wanted their lazy Saturday afternoon to be spent at an indoor swimming pool. So, we packed up the boys, and hit the pool. Family time was savored, and brothers enjoyed moments just being brothers.

Next weekend our schedule resumes its brisk pace, but I've made a commitment to slide in some sleepy Saturdays. It does the family good.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Starting Soccer

It reached 70 degrees yesterday. You know what that means for my boys: swimsuit and water weather! I was chatting with a neighbor friend, when I turned around to see the garden hose unraveled and fully activated, and Cooper clutching dish soap.

When I inquired about their plans, Caleb responded, "It's Operation Rub Down." He then told me I was lucky, because their car washing services were free. I was a little skeptical about my luck.

I let it gone on for a while, until one of them emerged from the garage clutching a snow shovel. I'm still not sure how the snow shovel fit in with the car wash, but I wasn't about to find out.


Unfortunately, Collin was caught in the hose crossfire.
(Above) The before picture.
(Below) Seconds later (the life of a fourth child!).


I always thought Cooper needed a constructive outlet for all his energy. So, we gleefully signed him up for soccer. I imagined those characteristics that drive me a little batty (Cooper's strong will and extreme feistiness) could be a real asset on the soccer field.

Wednesday was Cooper's first practice. The funny thing was fearless Cooper turned timid. He clutched my leg, buried his head, and pleaded to remain on the sidelines. After much coaxing, he agreed to enter the field as long as I accompanied him during practice.

So, there I stood sporting a cardigan and flip flops, among eight other males (two dad coaches and six little boys). Cooper and I spent most of practice resembling participants in a three legged race. We'd run in tandem, while he clutched my leg. "Good" girlfriends sat on the sidelines in their comfy folding chairs, openly mocking my athletic ability and throwing in a few choice catcalls.

During practice, Cooper kept saying, "We're not winning!"

I'd respond, "Remember we're all the same team. We're not supposed to win."

He looked perplexed and a little skeptical of a sport where we wouldn't attempt to win every single time.

At the end, I pondered whether Cooper's athletic prowess would emerge after a few more practices? Did David Beckham start his career clutching his mom's leg during practice?

Next week, I hope Cooper gains confidence, but I'll be wearing tennis shoes just in case.





Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Time Outs: Friends or Foes

Connor announced he had a pet. Here is his new found creepy crawly outdoor friend. Yikes!

Today, I was tired. I decided to sit a spell in an unoccupied seat. A few minutes later, I noticed a crowd of boys had circled me and were openly gasping.

Connor broke the silence. He exclaimed, "You're sitting in the time out chair!"

As someone over the age of 18, I saw the chair as merely a fixture of the dining room. But, the little ones in the house knew this particular chair in that particular location all too well. That chair is sturdy, and lacking in cushiony comfort. It's strategically placed for maximize boredom: arms length away from everything, scenic view of nothing.

As I sat there, staring into the abyss, I questioned why the boys would ever fight sitting on this "little piece of paradise." It was peaceful. It was isolated. It was great.

As I began to laugh, Caleb answered Connor's question, "She's not in time out; she just needs a break."

Bingo. I'm thinking I'll need many more time outs in the future.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Asperger's: Coming to the Place of Acceptance

Caleb's Florida find: a lizard shirt! He was so excited to wear it to school.

I was asked by my MOPs group to write an article about Caleb. Tonight, the words poured out, and I drafted the following article. If interested, please peruse. Keep in mind, two things:

1) It's lengthy.

They asked me to write about a subject that's consumed me the last several years. I had a lot to say.

2) Please overlook the edits.

I'm planning to look for edits tomorrow, when I'm a tad bit fresher.

Here goes:

In the winter of 2002, I delivered my first son, Caleb. I took one look at my precious baby, and was smitten. I’d snuggle him and imagine the next 18 + years rolling by beautifully. I envisioned us playing ball in the backyard, cuddling on the couch while watching a movie, and camping out in the backyard with his friends. To say I entered motherhood in ignorant bliss would be an understatement.

From the beginning, Caleb was different. As an infant, he lacked eye contact and seemed exceedingly alert. By the time he entered toddlerhood, he threw mammoth fits, became easily fixated on objects, and seemed extra sensitive to aromas and textures. In the midst of all these challenges, he wowed us with his advanced vocabulary, early reading, vast memory, and mature interests (think National Geographic). He adored lizards, and would spend hours poured over reptile guides. We shrugged off his differences by telling ourselves, he was merely an active, quirky, smart little boy. Then, we enrolled him in preschool and life began to change.

By the time Caleb entered school, his differences were apparent. He could barely get through a school day without incident. Transitions seemed to be his biggest hurdle. He wasn’t making friends. Home life was tough. We desperately needed help.

At the age of six, Caleb underwent extensive testing. We needed answers and a plan. During the process, a swim teacher (a seasoned school teacher by occupation) referred to him as a “high functioning autistic child.” It was the first time anyone had uttered the “A” word, and I was in shock. A few weeks later her words would prove true. Caleb’s test results placed him on the autism spectrum. Later, he would be specifically diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome conjures up images of Rainmanesque individuals who ramble off facts and memorize phone books. Caleb’s no Rainman, but he does exhibit characteristics indicative of an Aspie: delayed motor skills, inability to pick up social cues, narrow interests, lack of empathy, and many more.

My husband and I greeted Caleb’s diagnosis with mixed emotions: happy to finally have answers, sad that he’ll have a life full of challenges. The first two years after his diagnosis, we spent merely accepting the fact that our son was different. I really think we went through the stages of grief; we were grieving the life we envisioned and accepting the challenges that were to come.

Two years later, I can write this article without shedding a tear. I can tell a stranger my son has Asperger’s Syndrome and maintain composure. Getting to this place, has been a process and here’s what helped us make it through:

Falling on our Knees

Prayer has been my lifeboat. I read this quote from Charles Stanley, “Often times God demonstrates His faithfulness in adversity by providing for us what we need to survive. He does not change our painful circumstances. He sustains us through them.” I’ve never prayed for God to take away Caleb’s challenges, but I’ve prayed fervently that God would not give me more than I can handle, and equip me for what He’d given us. I can honestly say He’s answered my prayers and sustained me during periods where my strength was lacking.

Relishing in the Support of Friends and Family

We’ve been extremely blessed to have friends and family members that did everything in their power to support us. My mother has been my listening ear and sounding board for so many challenges I’ve faced. I also have a wonderful friend who’s a whiz at research; she’s sent me a wealth of information on the subject. From the beginning, she’d say, “I’m on Team Caleb.” I felt blessed to have someone like her on the team. These two individuals are not alone; we’re blessed by the “village” that’s surrounded us with love and support.

Finding Mothers in Similar Situations

Alone and misunderstood. There are two words I definitely used a lot during those first two years. As much as people tried to help, Caleb was a mystery. By word of mouth, I began to connect with other Aspie moms. Pretty soon, we started a support group. Our monthly meetings have been invaluable to me. We give advice and provide support like only mothers in the same situation can.

Finding an Outlet for my Emotions

The last couple of years have been a challenge. I was wrestling with my emotions on the diagnosis, while dealing with the daily challenges of raising an Aspie child. Many a nights, I would end the evening with raging emotions. So, I started a blog. It’s amazing, once the emotions came pouring onto the keys, my sanity revived. I needed an outlet, and my electronic confessional fit the bill.

Two years later, life is not without challenges but we’re in a place of acceptance and peace. God gave us the child that was perfectly made for us. We relish our time, and pray every day that we’ll be the parents he needs. We’re blessed to have a child that’s changed us for the better, and taught us that although life is different than expected it can still be good.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hat's Off to Mia

Yes, I'm holding a girl! This is Miss Mia Brinkruff. Mia's mom, Claudia (my dear friend), asked me to be Mia's sponsor (like a godparent) at her baby dedication. I was extremely touched and honored that I could be a part of Mia's life in such a profound way.

Collin went with me to the dedication ceremony. Quickly, he became infatuated with Mia's pink, fancy, ridiculously girlie hat. It was all he could talk about.

The minute we arrived home, Collin threw on his Batman hat (in a lopsided fashion).

I think he looks just as handsome, don't you?


Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Better to Give

Cuddle time!

I think I've mentioned a time or two about Cooper's propensity for shenanigans and mischief. Just when I'm about to wring his neck, his heart of gold emerges. Cooper's generous and quick to give gifts to loved ones. Cooper's gifts are unique (due to the budgetary constraints of a four-year-old). I've been given: pennies found on the floor, leftover food, and quite frequently items found in nature (think leaves, sticks, rocks, and the like).

Today, Cooper rushed into the house clutching two golden dandelions. He had a smile plastered on his face as he placed the lemon colored weeds in my hands.

"Mom, I brought you flowers from our yard. There's tons of them out there," He exclaimed, flushed with excitement.

Chris and I laughed.

"Pick as many as you can," Chris declared.

I think I'll hold on to the weeds. I hope they'll serve as a reminder of the sweet boy that resides amid the activity.

If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn. ~Andrew Mason


One more thing: Does anyone have any advice on how to get gum out of a pair of pants? If so, shoot me an email or leave a suggestion in the comments. Thanks friends!