Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Mouse in the House

Every once in a great while, we fancy up for the night!

A few nights ago, we discovered a mouse in our kitchen.  I describe that moment as "terrifying."  My boys would refer to it "thrilling."  In a nanosecond, my serene kitchen transformed into a wild kingdom.

I let out a scream rivaling those unleashed in a horror film and leaped on top of the kitchen table.  The boys raced downstairs, soaked in the scene, and let chase.  In their little world, a mouse in the house was about as exciting as if Barack Obama landed in our living room.  I could only imagine the terror that flashed through that mouse's little mind as four boys dashed after him.  I bet he was seriously rethinking choosing our home over the single lady's house down the street.

Ultimately, the mouse emerged the victor.  Much to my dismay, he escaped into some crevice of our house.  We were left with the unsettling notion that he still lurks within and could reemerge at any time.

The day after the mouse appeared, I picked the boys up from school.  I asked about their day.

"I put a prayer request into school," Cooper said.  "I told everyone to pray we get rid of the mice and bugs in our house."

At that moment, I could only imagine the thoughts running through the teacher's mind.  I once had a teacher tell me, "I'll believe half of what your child says about you, if you believe half of what they say about me."  I hope this teacher holds the same belief.  

I want to clarify something with Cooper's teacher.  We don't have mice in our house, just a mouse.

Or so we hope.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Asperger's: The Blessings

November looks more like January.  Snow pants unearthed from boxes in the basement.  Matching gloves found.  Warm coats dusted off.  We're ready for winter!

I have an Asperger's son. 

He was diagnosed in first grade.  

When we received the news, it was if a mack truck slammed into our hearts.  The "A" word was scary and conjured up images of a lifelong condition that would diminish his quality of life and wreck his future.

I remember asking, "Is there a cure?"

Doctors shook their heads.

Asperger's cannot be cured.  

There is no magic pill or coveted treatment to remove the challenging behaviors.  

But Asperger's can be managed.  

Skills that are not innate can be taught.  Conduct can be modified.  Proper emotional responses can be learned.  All of these changes take time, effort, resources, professionals,  money, and prayer (mixed with tears).

And that's what we've done...for years.

Six years after the diagnosis, things look different.  School behavior problems are non-existent (knock on wood).  He successfully enters extra-curricular activities.  He talks (and sometimes talks and talks) to others who cross his path.

But somethings are the same.  

He's the same boy with big ideas and unconventional interests.  He's unemotional at times, but exudes warmth in different ways.  (And when you're the recipient of that warmth, it's the most precious gift in the world!)  He's funny with humor that transcends his age (and perhaps that fact adds to the hilarity).  He's his own person, and his opinions don't sway with the whims of his peers.

Recently, my friend and I were discussing my son and his many successes.  

She said, "I hope you appreciate how far he's come."

Her words soaked into my core.  Truthfully, I haven't appreciated his progress.  And right then and there, I offered up a little prayer of gratitude.

Last Saturday, he went to a Pokemon event at our library.  Two friends from school accompanied him.

That was a moment I appreciated.

Friends have not come readily in the past.  

Not everyone understands different.

That day I shot up a big prayer of gratitude.  I thanked God that there isn't a cure for Asperger's because perhaps the things I love the most about my son would change.  But I also thanked Him for the many services, people, and resources that have diminished our challenges and ushered in many wonderful successes.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Displaying Love in the Little Things

 I attended my first tea party in honor of sweet little Mia's 4th birthday!

Connor served as a ball boy for an IU soccer game.  He was so excited to be part of the action along side of the field.

Connor's cheering section!  Snack bar goodies encouraged brothers to sit in the cold!

A friend recently celebrated a milestone wedding anniversary.  Her husband gifted her a pretty spectacular ring to commemorate the occasion.  

The next day, she proudly displayed her new bling.  I held her palm and she outstretched her fingers.  I gushed over the sparkly diamond and polished silver band.

"What a great husband," I exclaimed!

I thought about how that gift was such a wonderful display of her husband's affection.

Later, I mused over the ways husbands show affection.  Sometimes it's not exhibited in such grand gestures, but it's seen in the little things.

Today, I  reflected on that fact while watching my own husband rake leaves in the backyard.  Throughout the morning, the temperature nosedived and rain started to fall.  Despite the damp, frigid conditions, he continued to swoop up and bag an endless supply of leaves.  One could think he was braving the conditions to better our yard, but I know he was enduring the weather because he made a promise to me; he assured me he would rake leaves.  

I thought about my friend's husband too.

A friend's family recently endured a bad case of lice.  Even my friend fell victim to the critters.  For several nights, her husband combed through and treated her hair for hours on end.

We laughed about the ordeal later.  

I said to her, "I guess that's the 'worse' in the 'better or for worse' part of the marriage vowels."

I think it's those little things, raking leaves in the rain and combing lice from strands of hair, where a husband's love is shown the greatest.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why Run A Marathon

The birthday boy was greeted with goodies:  donuts and presents!

Who's the most popular kid in the house?  The birthday boy and his presents!

Birthdays are always sweeter when spent with friends!

Neither snow, nor cold, nor ice will prevent the boys (and Chris) from trick or treating!

A before picture of our Monumental Marathon (and Half Marathon) crew.

Basking in the glow of marathon PRs and Boston qualifiers!

Pumping the calories back in after the race!

Cleaned up, fed, and happy!

Saturday morning I raced in the Monumental Marathon.  The brisk conditions and flat course lent itself to stellar times.  I felt good, even as I reached the final stretch of the race.

As I neared the last mile, I picked up my pace and engaged in one final kick.  A sense of euphoria hit upon crossing the finish line.

My mind was euphoric...

my body not so much.  

As I walked through the race chute, my legs finally succumbed to fatigue.  I limped and hobbled my way to the exit.  My pained expression failed to mirror my inner celebration.

I spotted a church friend stretching near the exit.  She ran the half marathon and recounted her experience.  Then, she soaked in my appearance and asked, in a tone that begged for an authentic answer, "Why do people run marathons?"

Even in my sorry state, I had to laugh.

The finish line of a marathon is filled with individuals that look moments away from needing a gurney (or a coffin).  Scanning the scene, few would understand why a human feels the need to push oneself into exhaustion....and for what?  (I saw a sign along the race course that read, "Remember you paid for this!")

But the marathoners understand.

I would compare it to childbirth.  After a delivery, the mother looks worn, but there's a joy there that words cannot justify.  Labor is painful and hard, but blissful and rewarding all the same.

That's a marathon.

It's an oxymoron.

A contradiction.

A paradox.

It's hard and painful, but delightful and gratifying all the same.  And the only way to reach that feeling of euphoria is to wade through difficult.  To the marathoner, the difficult is the euphoric.

But the non-marathoner doesn't see or experience that feeling.

Just the marathoner knows the compatible feelings of pain and ecstasy.