Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just not FAIR

There are so many things that we as parents  help our kids fight through, but I think the one that gets me the most other than the obvious, is the "mine," followed closely by "it's not fair."  There are several forms of the fairness argument, not the least of which is the plea that one child had it first.  The one that kills me is "but it's MINE!"  I've been known to remind them that everything in this house that is theirs has been given to them... and that sharing is the best way to enjoy those things.

I've also been known to just take the offending article away.  There, not a problem!  And the tears over a toy, usually cried by one particular child, are often met with a reminder that toys aren't worth crying over. Just keep going and find something else to play with.  Or if someone wrongs you or upsets you, come talk to me about it.  But please, please, don't scream and hit and fight over a piece of plastic.

But there are times when it's just not fair.  This morning, in therapy, we had our parent meeting to meet the young lady who will likely take over Ryan's therapy next year.  The littles got to play in the BARC while we visited.  As usual, the kids had a great time.  Ryan showed off the cute side of his personality, stimming and humming and spouting off stimmy words and road signs.  Adorable!  The littles found the giant carton of Goldfish and dumped half of it.  Oh joy... note to self: buy Goldfish crackers for the BARC.  In between saying "no" and "stop that" and "be nice to each other" we talked about goals.  Trying new foods is still #1, and it's being closely followed by learning to get on an elevator without being held.  At 7 years old and sixty pounds, I'm thinking my back would appreciate eliminating that particular aversion.

When it was time to go, Ryan spotted the swing in the door.  Just a week ago, he realized it was there.  Ever since, he wants to swing for a reinforcer (reward, treat for those of you not all about ABA).  He asked to swing, we let him swing ten swings. Not enough. He melted down into a screaming, crying, shaking mess.  In trying to keep him from hurting himself, I managed to get in the way of his fists a couple of times... still better than him hurting himself to me.

It's just a swing.  We have a swing set at home.  Why in the world couldn't I convince him that it wasn't worth all this?  Why is he so attached to that?

We drive 45-50 minutes one way, twice a week for therapy, one hour at a time.  He gets a little speech at school, and we recently found a speech therapist to come to the house starting soon, we hope.  He gets a little occupational therapy at school, too.  We are blessed to have what we have, and we are thankful for the therapists and teachers we work with.  We try to learn how to do these things at home to bridge the gap.  But if you click here and read the whole thing, you'll see that between three and five hours of therapy a week isn't what is considered "intensive."  I read "sixty hours a week" and I felt sick.

I can't give that to Ryan.  If that's what he "needs" then we are so far behind it's nauseating.

Sure, if we had the money we could move somewhere that has more therapy available.  Sure, if there were more therapists out there I guess I could drive him to Waco more.  But there isn't the money for us to live in Austin or Dallas or the other metro areas around.  We have two other kids who are younger, one of whom caught one of the backswings during the meltdown this morning.

Yes, we're working with him.  Yes, he's improving.  No, it isn't enough.  Would it be enough if he was your child?

But what do we do?  It isn't fair.  Other kids get more therapy than he does.  Other kids live in areas accessible to more therapy than we do.  And you look at Richie and Maelynn.  They spend six hours a week on therapy for Ryan, because it takes about an hour from leaving, picking up, and dropping off to get him delivered.  I do my best to remember that we're not alone, but knowing others are suffering too just makes me wish I could fix it all the more!

Then I remember the people we met recently, and the little boy about Richie's age.

He was happy, sweet, and smiling once his meltdown ended.  I wondered why his dad stayed with him so much, but didn't think much of it, because we follow Ryan around an awful lot and he's seven.

Then, as I visited with his mom, I learned that on top of cancer, he lost both his eyes to pediatric glaucoma.  The doctors didn't catch it like Ryan's did.  They didn't listen to mom.  He lost his sight.

Eric and I think of glaucoma as kind of like a secondary or third diagnosis.  We almost forget he had it.  Had it not been for the common cold and a doctor... a general MD in the country, not a pediatrician... he would have gone blind.  Quickly.  Click here to read his story.  Honestly, it was a pediatrician who, the month before it was discovered, told me not to worry about the cloudiness.

So although we're not in an ideal situation, even though it appears that we're in an unfair situation, not being able to get the amount of therapies the experts say helps these kids the best, we trust that we are where God wants us.  I don't want to live a day out of the providence of God, who is good, and holds us every day and in every situation.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.  Romans 8:28-30

So we seek treatment, we seek therapies, we make decisions based on the education we have.  We do our best.  We learn what we can, we live our lives... really LIVE them, not just hand them over to the resignation of having to do things a certain way because of autism.  We seek to look through the surface and see the rich, deep joy that we could so easily pedal right past, because it is often shrouded in frustration and complications.  

We remember that we are truly blessed.  

Thanks be to God for it all.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Ryan

So today's Ryan's birthday.  On this day seven (holy cow, seven) years ago I went in to the hospital scheduled for an external cephalic version... in other words, his sweet little butt was wedged in my pelvis. If you know anything about having babies, you'll know immediately that this isn't exactly ideal.  Not life threatening for either of us, just kinda nearly impossible, since babies are designed to come out the other way.  As my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother before me, my first baby was crazy breech.

He wasn't due until June 9.  That's easy to remember because not only was Richie's due date also June 9 (now that's family planning!) but my dear friend Tina had a baby just the year before, and his due date was June 9 too!  But my whole family kept telling me that baby's coming on May 30.  Yeah, ok.  Sure.

Lo and behold, there I was, May 30, in a hospital gown deciding to have a c-section.  After a rather painful and harrowing experience with the version that didn't work, my doctor promised me I'd not leave the hospital without a baby in my arms.

After a few phone calls, the family flooded from Dallas and Oklahoma to Denton.  My family was a bit later than his actual birth time, but Eric's parents made it just in time for Mom to see Eric walk into the nursery holding a brand-new Ryan.  He was a little too cold, so he had to be under warming lights for a while, and I was in recovery for a long time, so I didn't get to see him for a while... like an hour or more.  Still not happy about that, but I try not to think about it.  Richie and Maelynn never left my side following their births, and that was wonderful.

One of the first things Mama said, shortly after "I saw him, and he's beautiful" was "Told you that kid would be born today." It's actually amazing I can remember that much through the demerol fog!

She was right!  May 30 was already important to us.  Not only was it Memorial Day that year, it was also my dear Granny's (my great-grandmother) birthday, and she adored little boys.  She's also part of where Maelynn's name came from. It was also Nanny and Grandad's anniversary.

Ryan is a little different than Richie and Maelynn in a couple of ways.  Only he was around to see his Papaw, only he met my father, only he will remember Nanny and Grandad.  I keep hoping that someday he'll be able to tell me what he remembers, if anything.  I've asked Richie what he remembers, and since he was not even three when Nanny passed on, he doesn't remember much if anything.  It was his Papaw who first suggested we check on his development.  He was concerned.  He bugged me about it, and the fact that he... someone who didn't just launch into a serious discussion very often... said something, we decided there was likely something to it.

How in the world do you wrap into a nice, neat little package someone who has impacted your life like your first child?  Is there a way to put that into words?

I don't think so.  I don't think it's possible to describe the way I feel when I catch him looking at me, smiling, when I've done something that made him happy.  I don't think it's possible to explain how my heart nearly explodes when he wraps his arms around me, rests his head on my shoulder, and whispers "I love you."  Are there words in our language to express the euphoric delight of his laughter, so pure and clean and clear that you can feel it?  How I just can't imagine not having him in my life?  How he's held a mirror to my face, showing me every facet of my personality, good and bad, and forced me to improve?  To lean on our God-given faith and delve into His word with a fervency that I had only thought could apply to others?

Is there a way to express the desperate nature of my deep desire to hear, understand, and know him better?  The desire that comes form my toes to never again hear him scream, see his face twisted in confused, tortured distortion of living on an alien planet in a society with so many traps?

I don't think there are the words to tell you who Eric Ryan Senzig is.  So I'll tell you what I told our pastor to read about him for his baptism Sunday morning.

Goes by Ryan, just because we liked it, and is "Eric" because his mommy is crazy about his daddy.  

Ryan loves trains, Cars (the movie and the vehicles), and drums.  He also loves to read street signs.  He can spot a "do not enter" sign from a mile away.  

He is an incredible little guy and has taught us more about God's sovereignty than we can say in a paragraph.  

He loves his family, and is especially crazy about playing iPad, swinging, and "the people train" (the DART rail), which he gets to ride when we visit Grammy and Grampy.  

I love you, buddy Ryan.  I'm proud of you.  Every bit of you.  There's not one part of me that isn't crazy about you, and I want you to know that Daddy and I are dedicated to not just helping you, not just raising you, but enjoying you every day of our lives.  

When you rejoice, we will dance with you.  When you cry, we weep with you.  When you're out of control, we will do our best to be your calm.  We will continue to carry you to Jesus.  He is everything you need.  

It seems like it's not enough... too simple... but maybe the best way to describe all we feel, all we want for you, is in those three little words... we love you. 

Thanks be to God for our sweet Ryan.

Memorial Day

Yesterday wasn't just Memorial Day... it was also the Texas State Solo and Ensemble contest.  So Eric was out from early in the morning until late.  His kids did great (as great kids do) and while his band kids were doing great, so were his kids.  We missed him, but we know that every year Daddy will be out for Memorial Day.  It's just part of band life down here.  

So between texting Eric to see what was going on, I was playing with the kids, sewing, and watching them in the pool.  

This one's grainy, but oh, my word.  Last night I took videos with the ol' iPod while the kids swam so that Eric could see them in action when he got home.  

Looks fun, no?  Ryan's chest-beating noise is not a fit.  It's from the "Pulse" video made by Stomp.  The DVD we picked up at TMEA this year has a lot of world music, heavy on the drumming.  This is some kind of tribal thing he picked up from the video.  Ah, the joys of having no inhibitions!

Richie and Maelynn... proof that they're brother and sister.  The ol' classic "don't touch me" little sibling routine.  

Soon it was time to get out and dry off before going in to take a bath.  The air was getting a touch cool for shivering, soggy little Texans, so I wanted them to get warm before going in the air conditioning.  They were so precious, snuggled into their towels.  Ryan put his towel over his head, talking about the "electric candles" (tiki torches) and doing quite well with them.  He was asking that I please "turn them off" though.  

Little sister was, of course, talkative and all about having her picture taken in her (Ryan's old) Nemo towel.  She kept offering to get down and do something, but I couldn't quite understand what. 

Then there's Richie.  He was a bit sad that it was time to go in, and I'm sure that he missed his daddy too.  They asked a lot where daddy was, and when he was coming home.  

And Richie's reflective mood reminded me that, while it's hard for us to have daddy gone for even a day, there are so many families whose daddies and mommies are over seas, defending our right to worship this Sunday, be out in the pool playing, and live the way we decide is best for us.  

Big hugs and a ginormous thank you to our military men and women, and for the families who would love to be texting their hero, knowing he he'll be coming home in time to brush teeth and tuck the kids in bed.  

To all of you who do without your hero so that we can live the way we do, our heartfelt thanks. 

Thanks be to God.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The more I flap my jaws at the short ones in my house, the more I'm seeing that my life would be a thousand times better if I'd take my own advice.  If I could just learn from what I tell my kids...

I would remember that you're supposed to obey all the time, even when no one's looking.

I would remember that people are more important than things.

I would remember that no one likes a whiner. 

I would remember that the heart behind what I do matters more than what I do.

I would remember that we don't yell... ever.

I would remember that other's feelings are more important than getting my way.

I would remember that honesty is better than smoothing things over.

I would remember that making mistakes is okay; not trying is the bad thing.

I would remember that if I put things away when I'm through, cleaning won't take long.

I would remember that others should always be put before me.

I would remember and live in... revel in... the fact that God loves us and knows what's best for us.

I would remember that when the storm comes, God is in control of it, and there's no need to fear.

If I could remember all that and live in it every day, making every decision perfectly and without fault, I would live a pretty sad life.


Yes.  Sad.  Because then I wouldn't need to share my messes with you.  I wouldn't see the need to share them, because I never had them.  I wouldn't need you to listen to all this mess and tell me that you've been there too.  I wouldn't be able to extend the hand... and receive the hand with great comfort... that says so simply but vitally, "I understand."

If I could remember all these things, I wouldn't need the gospel.  I wouldn't know the beautiful relief of grace and mercy and forgiveness.  Of the gift that is confession and repentance, and the great feeling of knowing I'm not alone in my struggles.

Because if we never saw dark, we wouldn't know light.

If I had all the answers, I wouldn't come here to feel around and find them, as you math teachers like to say, showing my work.

I'm inexplicably grateful for and humbled by the opportunity that such a simple thing that anyone can do presents in this little corner of cyberspace.  I'm grateful for all you other mommy-bloggers and daddy-bloggers, Facebook friends and tweeters, who have given me that hand of true understanding when I couldn't seem to find it anywhere.  Grateful beyond words for everyone who reads this thing, too.  I'm humbled that you've spent those minutes of your life, whether finding understanding, learning about our life, or just entertaining yourself with something while you eat lunch.

So happy 10,000 page views... it's a little milestone that I'm probably way too excited about.

Thanks over and over for reading!

Thanks be to God for you, reader, and many blessings!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Recently, we bought the kids early and late birthday presents of bicycles.  Early because the boys' birthdays aren't here yet, and late because, due to budget concerns (sounds official, no?) Maelynn had to wait for hers until May when her birthday is in February.  So lately the fun thing to do is back both vehicles out of the carport, letting the kids make laps in the carport while Eric and I watch.  It's very cute.  Richie is the one who is proud of his accomplishment, Maelynn is content to kinda walk on her toes, and Ryan is at times more content to watch his brother ride and stim.

It's a great time.  Ryan rides quite well, but as you can see, sometimes the draw to stim is greater than the need for speed.  I also must add that it felt deliciously parental to ride home with three brand-new bikes (and helmets, yes) in the back end of the van.  We smiled at each other so googley-eyed so often that evening, and even managed to skip the ten bucks extra for Richie and Mae's and assemble them ourselves.  Such a blessing it was to be able to provide such a wonderful treat for our kids!

But as Richie and Ryan (and, as soon as she figures out pedaling, sister) often discover, if you lean a little too far to one way you'll fall over.  Especially on a turn.  Each of the boys already had a wipe-out, and I've been proud of how they get right back up and try again.  At times I'll notice Richie leaning out of a turn a bit too much and warn him, and he corrects, avoiding the fall.  But I can't catch it every time.  Sometimes I think he's doing great and all systems are go, and then he's on the ground.  Other times he just doesn't listen when I say something.

Eric and I are working our own balancing act, as parents do.  We want our kids to have opportunities to show what they can do and be who God made them to be, and at the same time we want to protect them from harmful or potentially harmful situations.  This is one of those times that Ryan's challenges make things different.  We want them to have room to ride, so we back out the van and the truck and let them have the carport.  This creates a boundary that keeps the kids safer and keeps us calmer.  The boundary is clear... just don't go to the vehicles.

We want to be careful to give them... all of them... chances to fall and get up.  To make a mess and clean up.  To fail, then succeed in dealing with the failure.  As negative as that sounds, I can honestly say that I've learned more through pain and frustration and working through something than I ever did through something that came easy.

That said, there's a difference in giving them a chance to try something and setting them up for failure, injury, or even death.

Yes, they ride bikes.  Yes, they wear helmets.  A bike helmet narrowly saved the life of a friend of ours, so yes, they will wear them.  I don't care how dorky they look.  I don't care if people call me overprotective.  Do what you wish, that's cool.  My kids will protect their brains.  I am fully aware that I rode down my Nanny and Grandad's incredibly steep, twisty driveway a billion times as a kid, and lived through it all.  But we know better now, so we should do better, right?  The choice is up to each of us, however.  I know that in our area I'm likely in the minority on this issue, and I can assure you I'm not judging those who don't make the same rule I do... but I'm sticking to it for my kids.

Now for something a little harder for a non-special needs parent to see.

Ryan doesn't know danger.  Danger to my little man is candles, butterflies, dishwashers, washers, and elevators.  I have watched him try to walk, stimming, straight into a moving car.  I have seen him stim on the wheels of my van until, from my perspective, it looked like I would hit him.  Knowing this, and knowing that the number one cause of death in individuals with autism is accidents associated with wandering, we hang on to the little guy tightly.  Just last week a little boy with autism was killed in Arizona when he wandered away from home, where he'd been left with a babysitter, and to a highway, where he was last seen alive standing on the road, passersby trying to help him.  I can just see him stimming on cars going by. I look at his picture, and it looks like so many we have of Ryan... and it's chilling.

So not only do we ride our bikes in the safety of the driveway or the back yard, we do not let Ryan out of the house alone.  He knows how to walk in a line, to stay with his teacher, and his classmates love him and encourage him, and he knows to stay with me, even repeating the line from the social story about going to the store ad nauseum.  "I stay with my Mom," he says, over and over.  But I can't tell you how many times we've had to reach out and grab him to keep him safe.  We know that in any situation such as a church picnic, large family gathering, any time there's not a clear boundary that he knows to follow, one person at a time being responsible for his whereabouts is a must.  We look one another in the eye and say "you have Ryan" and the person receiving MUST SAY "yes, I have Ryan" or something clearly similar before person #1 walks away.

One of the dangers is that people who aren't his parents or family who know him best and see him in different settings often grow desensitized to these dangers.  They may see him looking like he's in line, in control, every day at school, church, or at home being himself and think we overreact.  Most of our friends, his teacher, and several of the aides at school know we're not crazy.  And it used to bother me to think that people might think we're overreacting, and at times it still does.  But more and more we're seeing that the greatest difficulty lies in striking the balance between opportunity and foolishness.  I still feel bad for keeping him home from a couple of things this year that I just didn't think were safe.  I had his teacher's understanding and the understanding of my husband and everyone else who is around him much, but there's still that Marlin parent in me.  You know, Nemo's dad.

Granted, Nemo had some seriously fabulous verbal communication skills.

But even with his wicked-awesome communication skills, Nemo got lost.

Even though Ryan has conquered so much, even though he can do so much, even though he is capable of doing so much, even though he's almost seven, even though within his routine he's pretty awesomely manageable, there are still some distinct differences in the level of protection he needs.  Anyone who has him in their care for any amount of time must understand that, especially outside his element, he is prone to wander... to slip away unnoticed... in an instant.  And it would only take that one instant for me to be without Ryan.

So, rather than sending my kid to the drop off, hoping that the movie ends the same way for us, I'll choose to err on the side of a more educated Marlin. We'll make sure the proper things are in place before sending him to the drop off.  I like to think that if Marlin had a little education and inclusion law on his side, he'd have brought his issues to the table well before the field trip to the drop off.  The district, knowing that Marlin is an educated, dedicated parent would trust his concerns, giving little Nemo (among other things, such as extended time for finishing swim races and a fin-resting period if he needs it) what he feels Nemo needs to be safe.  Maybe a rail on that drop off?  Some crisis aides for Mr. Ray?

Wait a minute... maybe Marlin isn't such a bad guy after all.  More every day I'm seeing Marlin as misunderstood, and maybe even a little mistreated.  If he had a little parent education for Nemo's particular need, and maybe a little PT and OT for Nemo, his little fit wouldn't have been needed.  I also can't help but feel for Mr. Ray's position.  He's obviously a seasoned, loved teacher who wouldn't knowingly place a kid in harm's way for the world!  It's got to be a little insulting to be told he wasn't capable of keeping track of Nemo.

So where's the balance?

It's in every situation, every day.  It's in every time we step out of the house, every time we pay the monthly monitoring fee for the security system on the house, every time I take the kids somewhere, every time we plan a trip, every situation at school where he will do something different or go someplace different.  It's in listening to the warnings, heeding them, and not being afraid to look a little... well... crazy.   Overprotective.

If I ever figure out how to strike the perfect balance without skinning my knees, you'll be among the first to know.  Till then, we'll keep pedaling, thankful for the caring, loving, amazing teachers we've had so far.

And as always, the ultimate thanks be to God.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shift in Perspective

This morning, Maelynn toddled into the kitchen in her Minnie Mouse jammies, toting two toys.  They spoke to each other, via little girl ventriloquism, then they gave each other kisses.  Everything says hello and kisses and hugs in Mae's world.  Everything!  This morning when she woke up and I was attempting to wake, she took her bearbearbear (yes, that's the poor thing's name) and helped it give me a "bear hug", a game she started with her daddy.  It's all about love with that kid, and with her brothers, it's more about lining up cars and driving them all over.  She plays with the cars and trains, and her Richie pushes the stroller and plays babies with her (they just walked through the kitchen, Richie pushing the stroller and mommy carrying her purse, just like they've seen Eric and I).  But it's funny... although we're very "everyone plays with everything" they still show a distinct girl perspective and boy perspective, and it's pretty cool to watch.

Ryan tends to do more play by himself, obviously.  But he still has times when he shows a great deal of love for his siblings.  He's even begun to ask if they're okay if they start to cry over something, which is wonderful!  There are so many fabulous things about Ryan, and I could go on and on about how neat and smart he is, all the ins and outs of being Ryan, and that's just what I can see.  He plays a mean drum roll, remembers things like crazy, makes us laugh, has the best giggle you can imagine when he's tickled, and he's like an atomic clock and a GPS all rolled into one at times.  He and his brother and sister give us so much.  This parenting thing is a ride I am definitely more than glad I stood in line for.

However, it's heart-wrenching to watch him struggle.  Last night he wanted to go out to play.  We were finishing cleaning up after dinner, and needed to wait to go out.  He started hitting, screaming, and yelling, demanding "YARD!"  As we always do, we made him wait until he calmed to go outside.  He does not get what he wants for screaming.  Ever.  Or for hitting, or yelling.  He must calm down, ask nicely, and wait patiently.  This took about twenty minutes of off and on red-faced, chest-beating noise until he finally calmed, asked nicely, and we went outside.

Soon after we were outside, he wanted to get on a tricycle he's completely outgrown.  Same thing.  It was a fight again.  Completely out of control, with his puffy, soft little boy hands clenched into tight, flailing fists, screaming, all that clearly exhibiting a few things.  One, that he does not understand why in the world he can't have that, and two, that he cannot yet control his emotions or express his feelings in any way other than hitting, screaming, and generally freaking out.  After much fighting to stay calm myself, and a trip inside with daddy to calm down, he was back out but still a little behaviorally shaky.

It wasn't his best evening, but not unusual at all.  What I can't seem to scrub out of my mind... what breaks my heart to pieces and leaves me feeling so inadequate and desperate... is the look in his eyes.  The fear, the confusion, the lack of understanding why this has changed.  He wasn't always too little.  But as I watched the plastic tricycle bow under his weight, his little knees hitting the handlebars as he pedaled, I knew he just couldn't keep riding it.  He has to accept this sometime.  Change and having to accept no are inevitable parts of life from which he simply cannot be sheltered.

We fight daily against our own expectations, frustrations, hurts, and even sometimes instincts to give Ryan the best chance at life he can possibly have.  We work to make sure he's safe, cared for, and getting all he can in the way of therapies, training for us, and we try to stay in communication with his educational system (for us, for now, it's the school district).  We keep up with the appointments, the meetings, the discussions.  We realize that Ryan's health and well-being isn't ultimately anyone's responsibility but ours.  That being said, we do not take that as a cross to bear, but as a gift!  It is our honor to care for each of our children, shepherding them as they learn to navigate this crazy world.  Special needs parenting is parenting intensified.  The problems are magnified.  The mazes are more twisty, the questions more obscure, and the answers too often are non-existent, or generalized to just doing our best and waiting.

So it's hard, but it's amazing.  All three of our kids grow and stretch us in ways we never dreamed.

There are so many days when I feel we fail Ryan.  I go to bed so often, as does Eric, wringing my hands with despair over how we just fail to reach him.  We fail to understand, to be able to better help him.  And self-pity is always creeping under the door, whispering that this is too hard, it's too much. The thoughts that start with "we should be able to..." begin to slither their way into my heart.  I picture other families bicycling down the road, all together, with mom and dad bringing up the rear.  All smiles, all happy, and everyone knows not to drive into traffic.  Everyone knows danger when they see it.  No one would rather stop and stim as his brother drives in circles around him.

And it starts to hurt.  The pain rolls down my cheeks and comes out in sobs, sighs, and a quivering lip.  Is it so wrong to just want my child to be able to protect himself?  To just want to be able to help him understand change, or to have him express his frustration in words?

This post started as something completely different.  Then I clicked HERE, and my heart turned.  Reading Katie's words warmed me as if God himself stood behind me, giving me a big hug, reminding me that it's all in His hands.   It happens, the self-pity, but there's always a new morning, a new day, a new minute, a new afternoon after nap time, when I can choose to eschew the self pity and clothe myself in the knowledge that we're not alone, and we can't do it all... but we know the One who makes that okay... even beautiful.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just a Boy

This morning, the littles and I made a short trip to deliver something to a friend down the road.  I was in  a bit of a hurry, so we took the van.  This is one of our good friends who the kids have grown up around, and they have a little boy who is between Richie and Maelynn's age.  They love playing with him, of course.  When I got back in the van, having made my delivery and visited a bit, Richie said that he'd like to play with "M".  Being the mom who likes to talk to the kids like they're people who are capable of understanding things, I explained that I had to do laundry, M's mom had things to do too, and then I said, "You understand that, right sweetie?"  You'll never guess what he said.

"No, I don't.  I'm just a boy."

He's right.  He is just a boy.

In my quest to do things well, without even realizing it, I measure my worth by performance.  Is my house a mess?  I must apologize and make light of my inability to keep that done.  Is my child misbehaving?  I'm quick to verbally and otherwise show my disdain at his or her behavior.  Is my van a mess (yes, it is)?  I quickly apologize and find some reason it's that way... "oh, you know how it is..." and attempt to make light and hilarity out of my failure.

There are so many problems with this.  For one, my van and my house are pretty messy because they're lived in, and honestly, there are other things to do than freak out about how clean they are.  Yes, I should do better.  But I don't, and that's that.  The thing that is rocking my core right now is the instant need to apologize for my children when they misbehave.... or just behave in a way that I think someone might not approve.

Please understand that I'm not suggesting that children should be allowed to run around doing whatever wherever with whatever and at whatever volume they see fit!  I don't!  But there are times, especially with Ryan, when I have to educate by example.  My calmness has to match what I think others' understanding should be.

Yesterday after church and lunch we needed to find some new sandals for Maelynn.  Her little toes are almost hanging over hers, and if you know anything about Texas, you know she needs 'em!  So we went to Target.  While we were there, I noticed that boys' flip-flops were on sale.  Ryan's tennis shoes (his favorites) are wearing out, and he doesn't have summer shoes that fit.  So I asked if he'd like sandals or flip-flops.  He said he'd like flip-flops.  Okay.

We proceed to his size, I select a few, then sit him (wiggling all the way) down on the bench to try them on.  Storying the thing to death, as usual, I told him that we'd take off a shoe, see if the flip-flops fit, then put the shoe back on.

When I actually took the shoe and sock off he FLIPPED OUT.

After about five or ten minutes (felt like an hour) went by, I'd managed to keep him from injuring himself, help him calm, and choose a nice pair of flip-flops that he can even wear to summer church if he wants.  But in that screaming, hitting, sweaty, red-faced meantime, all I could do was keep calm, hold his hands, talk to him, and try hard to not notice people walking by.  I have to say, this time I only heard one person say anything, and that was to tell her daughter to "just keep moving", and honestly, that was great.  That seemed to be that mom's way of saying, "don't stare, it's not nice" and I appreciated it.

For some stupid reason, I have the hardest time letting it sink to my core that these things just happen.  Just when I think I've carved out all the preconceived notions of how life should be, it's time to buy new shoes or something else happens that sends Ryan into hysterics that reminds me how far I truly have to go.  How far I am from knowing that God is bigger than autism, bigger than the messes, bigger than his fears and anxieties (and mine, for that matter), bigger than the school district, and that as long as He knows I'm doing my best, others' opinions shouldn't shake me.  Too often I expect too much from him, or forget that something as simple as trying on new shoes is not simple at all in his world.  I try to cover for him, or over-explain, when really all I need to do is remember what Richie said.

He's just a boy.

You know what the funniest part of that whole flip-flop thing is?  Ryan loved them so much he didn't want to take them off, so I picked him up, put him in the shopping cart, and pushed he and his sister and brother to the front.  When we reached the checkout, the cashier was cool enough to let me just rip off the tag and hand it to him, then let me borrow his scissors to cut the thing that held them together (hence the reason I didn't let him walk... and uh... I'm a little grounded from my pocket knife).  He wore them to our next stop, then all the way home.

Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy in understanding that I'm just a girl.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wednesday Take Two

Yesterday I told you about how awesome Wednesday was. Indeed, it was awesome!  But you only heard about part of the awesomeness.

Wednesday evening was the closing ceremony for the AWANA's program for our kids.  Don't know what in the world I'm talking about?  Click here.   Ryan was in Puggles in Fairfield, and started Cubbies when we moved here.  Richie just started Cubbies this year, and Ryan's now in Sparks.

Well, I say Ryan's in Sparks.  That's the level for his age, and he wears the vest.  He has a wonderful lady who stepped up and asked to hold his hand through this, and she does a great job!  Ryan kinda survived in Cubbies, where he stayed for three years simply because he was in PPCD, not kindergarten.  The leaders are awesome people, who are also band parents.  Ah, small towns.

So going to the AWANA's end of the year program was inevitable.  Ryan and Richie were both members of Sparks and Cubbies, respectively.  Soon as we found the sanctuary, Ryan busted through and ran straight to the back giggling.  Here we go.

Once Richie was shuttled off to sit with his Cubbies class, the rodeo began.

Part of the program is singing through some of the things the kids sing every week, saying pledges, all that.  Soon as the singing ended, my sweet little princess with braids flanking her head spouted off, "That was FUN!"

Ryan wiggled.  He flopped.  He giggled.  I don't think he sat still for two consecutive minutes.  Not kidding!  But he didn't melt down.  Situations like this are like bronc riding... except the horse rides you instead of the other way around.  It's interesting.

In between defending my face from Ryan's head... then feet... then head again, I saw my precious, curly-headed blonde boy stand obediently still with his class on stage.  He sang the Cubbies song with his friends, and there came tears.  My baby boy singing.  Then he received his book award... this means he finished his book, memorizing each scripture and (usually with a degree of coaching) reciting it for one of the workers.  Richie has loved every minute of Cubbies.

Ryan's turn came.  Of course, he wasn't with his class... he was with me.  He didn't slow down the tweaky long enough to shuttle him over there, and I figured he was better off with me anyway... or at least the program was.  When we heard his name, I got up, and he was more than happy to giggly-wiggly follow.  I thought he might actually accept his certificate!  Then he bolted straight past his head leader (thankfully a dear woman who I know understands) and to the drum set.  Oh gee.

We were so proud of our boys.  Richie for finishing his book, and Ryan for making it through the program without having to leave.

At home, it hit me again.

The difference between Ryan and our two littles, developmentally, is somewhat like two ships. They start from the same port, side by side, but the rudders are set to east and west, opposite one another.

See, when Ryan was in Cubbies as a three year old, it was hard to tell much of a difference between he and the other kids.  The next year it was a bit more obvious.  The next year, we wound up pulling him out just because he was too big and too hard to handle.  His peers are memorizing their verses, doing their work, and are now capable of keeping up with their books and are capable of the intrinsic motivation required to desire to finish a book.  Ryan paints with watercolors, tracing each letter of the verse for the week.  Sometimes he'll say it, sometimes no.  More likely no.  He's more interested in when he can get to the playground and SWING.

The ships, at the beginning, are right there together.  The rudders are set to different courses, but you can't really tell unless you're on the ship, helping drive.  But now, the ships of Ryan's and his peers' lives are farther down the course... and the gap is wider.  It's visible.  It's glaring at times.

And while the same pain for Ryan's struggles remains, I am now able to see his smile and giggles as a good thing, not just an interruption during a quiet time.  I am able to be proud of one child for his accomplishments as a typically-abled child, and still be proud of my special-needs child for his accomplishments, realizing that one does not take away from the other.

While it's not always easy to be the bridge from one ship to the other, like when I had to explain that we couldn't stay for snow cones and the church playground because Ryan was already melting down, I'm better able to be comfortable with my decision.  I'm better able to hug Richie and tell him I'm proud, and promise that we'll celebrate our own way in the backyard when we get home.

I'm so proud of my kids, and thankful not only for their accomplishments and growth, but for their role in my growth as a person, too.  And I'm inexplicably grateful for the things they taught me that I'd never have learned without them.  See, as the ships spread, my heart grows between them.

Thanks be to God for His providence, grace, mercy, and love.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spaghetti Monologue

Yesterday was quite a day for accomplishments in the Senzig house!  So much so that we'll break this down into two posts.  Today you get Ryan's (well, and B's) accomplishment.  Tomorrow we'll move to the Richman.

The usual Wednesday progressed, and we picked up the big boy from school and headed to 164 Texas east.  Normally I'd just say "to Waco" but Ryan's affinity for road signs has grown, and he loves to spout off things like "no thru trucks", "no parking anytime", "student pick-up and drop-off only, no parking", and of course, "164 Texas east (or west)".  One of my favorites is "CO... RD".  He said it just like that until I convinced him that stood for "county road"!

Ah, good times!

Anyway, we made it through all the "do not enter, mommy" roads, and even saw a random helicopter on the side of the road, which thoroughly tickled the boys.  Upstairs at the BARC, we shuttled Ryan into the room, took our potty stop, then settled in the hall for the hour.  Boredom ensued, resulting in this...

And this...

When it was over, and after Ryan had run down the hall to the stairway in protest of me talking to B (he says "the talk is gone" when he wants me to wrap it up), I thanked her for doing her usual work with my guy (which is actually anything but usual) we headed to the little elevator and piggy-backed to the door and then walked to the van.

After a pretty low-key ride home, we hung out and got dinner ready.  Spaghetti was for dinner, and I didn't make a pizza.


No, I didn't make a pizza.  He refused it Tuesday night, which sent me into a bit of a tizzy.  It's all he consistently eats, and I have to admit I panicked a little.  Okay, a lot.

So remembering his sudden disdain for his usual, I scooped him a plate of spaghetti, prepared it like I did when he ate spaghetti (it's been way over a year) and put it at his place.  We all braced for impact.  Surely when he discovers that's all he gets, things will get noisy, hitty, red, sweaty, and shaky.

As we sat down he did yell "no".  I told him matter-of-factly and calmly that since he refused pizza last night, he'd be eating what the family ate tonight.  We sat down, sang our blessing, and began to eat.

Then we sat very quietly as he pulled his plate toward him, and began to pick up (albeit with his fingers) his first bite.  He ate it.  He went for another.  And another.

"Are you seeing this?"

"Nobody move!  Nobody breathe!"

"Don't look, he might stop!"

J, Eric, and I sat still as a butterfly had landed on our laps.  We watched as he cleaned his plate.  I texted his therapist, who I usually try to not bother away from the BARC, and she freaked out too!  When he finished, yes he FINISHED, his food, he held up his clean plate and I sent his picture to her.

He ate spaghetti for the first time in over a year.

Black cookies and iPod time were thrown at him like confetti.

And there was much rejoicing!!!

This was also the first night that Richie sang all the words (okay, some were made up by him) of our favorite blessing to sing at dinner...

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; 
Praise Him, all creatures here, below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts; 
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Thomas Ken, 1674

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Little Pretend

So my computer is in the hospital this morning. I know Eric told me it was going in, but somehow I spaced it out. Realizing the ol' pod is a little clunky for typing the post I meant for this morning, I looked through the pictures and found great shots I'd all but forgotten.

We were in the doctor's office, awaiting his arrival in the exam room. Among the toys (yes, my children are allowed to play with doctor's office toys) was an old toy telephone, similar to one I played with as a child. I figured I'd hear dialogue from the third Toy Story movie. Imagine my surprise when the boy who doesn't seem to know how to pretend began to talk on the phone, albeit unintelligibly!

First, he tested the rolling part and stimmed a bit.

Then he moved over to the exam table. Pretty smart... it was closer to eye level and longer than the counter, and it had a ramp!

Hmm... this turns...

Different stimmy perspective...

Then the magic.

Just like he sees these phones every day, he stood there speaking (okay, muttering) in such a serious, businesslike way.

I'd do business with him... wouldn't you?  

Wish I knew what he was thinking... or what he was trying to share or pretend to share.  Must have been very interesting.  

Thanks be to God for the things he can do that they said he couldn't.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The ONEs

I've avoided this topic from every angle, simply because there's not an answer for it.  There's no simple answer, there's really nothing to be learned from it that I can currently see other than one of those lessons I've already learned over and over, and that's simply that sometimes you have to "suck it up, cupcake" and keep on going.

Then, after a conversation with Ryan's therapist last week, I realized that maybe someone will stumble upon our need, and maybe that someone or someone they know will hear of our situation and that will help them make up their mind to go into behavioral therapy, ABA, speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music therapy, art therapy, or something similar.  Just like one blog can't change the world but it might change one person's mind even a bit, even one more person to work with kids like Ryan would be awesome.

After all, it's one therapist at a time who has made a huge difference in our lives.

It was ONE therapist who told us that Ryan's still Ryan, no matter what they label him.

It was ONE therapist who told us that we should see that label as a ticket to the services we need to help him.

It was ONE therapist who got him to accept "no" without melting down for an entire day.

It was ONE therapist, not two, who taught me how to social story.

It was ONE teacher who taught me how to picture schedule.

It was ONE therapist who taught me how to help him learn to hold a crayon.

It was ONE therapist who taught me to do joint compressions, massage, that kind of thing to help Ryan calm.

It was ONE therapist who taught me that Ryan liked that, and what proprioceptive input was.

It was ONE therapist who told me what sensory issues are about, and helped me see that Ryan is a sensory-seeker.

It was ONE therapist at a time who encouraged me, telling me that it's okay to be frustrated.  They also told me it's okay to be scared and unsure of how to deal with my son.

I could go on and on about the things these ONEs at a time have done for Ryan, and for our family.  I could brag and brag on these people, and how they were just doing their jobs, but that "just" has made our lives better.

That conversation with Ryan's current ABA therapist, who is a student seeking her certification,  is moving relatively soon with her soon to be husband to the northeast.  He is seeking a PhD in his field, and has a ton more school to go, so she's looking for employment as an ABA therapist.  In searching the listings for where they're going, a place much smaller than Texas, she said that there is page after page after page of listings for ABA therapists currently practicing in that state.  But for Waco and the surrounding counties?

Four.  After B graduates.

Not pages, therapists.  For counties worth of kids.

And when our dear B leaves for the northeast, there will be three.

Ryan doing his new favorite thing... swinging.
This knowledge prompted several feelings.  Desperation that constantly lurks at the surface rose to my throat.  A little panic.  Validation for those feelings... those very real, yet fought, crammed down to a size where I can handle them, feelings.  I vented a little to her, trying to not unload on this sweet twenty something who has such a big heart and has done so much for Ryan.  But I remembered how blessed we truly are to have any therapy at all when she reminded me that there is a waiting list for the BARC.  And I remembered how much a certified, through with school ABA therapist costs, and remembered the need to be grateful for what we've been given, what we have... because when it comes right down to it, we are blessed and cared for.  We have to remember what drives our life and gives us our peace, joy, and purpose, and it isn't readily available ABA therapy.

So we have both feet firmly planted in gratefulness for what we have, hearts grounded in the knowledge that we are held in something bigger than autism itself, but our ears are tuned to the hunger to know our son better and help him more, and our eyes are peeled to opportunities to improve the amounts of and ways we receive knowledge to help Ryan.

All part of the balance for us, the tightrope walk that is life, the need for grace and gratefulness balanced with the quest to remind the world that we are here.

We're not the only ones.

There are so many kids out there who need people to work with them, parents who need someone to help them learn to their kids.  If you love kids like Ryan and want to make a difference... if it's time to choose a major or a career path... or if you're choosing between this and something else... we need more of you.  It's not easy, but nothing is... and these kids are amazing.  The study of behavior is pretty fascinating.  And for the rest of you?  Pray that more of these people rise to the occasion.  There are too many awesome kids like Ryan who need someone to help them have a better chance by being ready to teach their parents.

I don't know what the answer is, and that's why I've avoided this topic for so long.  I'm not even terribly sure what the question is in a way that is answerable.  But maybe I can inspire someone to be the answer to someone else's need... and if that were to happen, this clunky, rambling post was worth it.

Because there's someone else out there who hasn't yet met their ONEs.

Thanks be to God for His providence!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

[Thankful for being a] Mother's Day

As I plodded along, pushing one of the (coveted, I might add) blue race car shopping carts at the store Friday afternoon, in between saying things like "no" and "keep your hands to yourself" I heard Ryan say something that nearly knocked me over.

We had just come from a therapy session, where Ryan's therapist is using ABA therapy to help Ryan learn to overcome his fear of trying new foods.  Yes, I'm serious; no, you couldn't solve his problem by refusing to give him what he asks for.  There's a big difference in this and just being picky and stubborn.  This is a problem for us.  The other night, I decided I'd try to make peanut butter.  Can't be hard.  Stuff's getting more expensive all the time,  and it's loaded with preservatives.  So I whipped up a batch I thought tasted pretty great, and made him a sandwich with it and his regular grape jam.

Twenty minutes of completely melted-down Ryan later, we were both in tears.  He tried it, and he even tried a second bite, but the difference was too great for him.  It scared him to pieces.  So my ambition of peanut butter making landed us both in tears.  So yeah, the eating thing is a real problem, not fixable by good old fashioned "eat it or starve" tactics.

Now keep in mind that Ryan has some pronoun trouble.  "Your" usually means "my", "you" means "I", and so on.  He communicates, but you have to know him.  

There, in the craziness of a Friday afternoon in a large, busy grocery store, I heard from my son's heart.  

"You're trying to overcome."  

I stopped, cart, groceries, two kids in the cart, one holding onto the hold-on handles, and asked him to say it again.  He said the same thing.  I immediately said, "I know, baby!  And we are so proud of you!"  

No response from him, no smile, nothing out of the ordinary.  But he said it again later on the way home.  

Sometimes I think he knows.  I think he knows he's different, and he's struggling against the reins of autism... the anxiety, the routine, the need for calmness and familiarity.  I think that inside is a little boy who wants to fit in and play with the other kids, but there's too much other stuff in the way.  Or maybe he likes being himself, just wishes we'd all be just like him.  

Who knows?   

What I do know is that he's an amazing kid.  He can play a mean drum roll. He has memorized nearly every movie he's fallen in love with.  He loves on his brother and sister and his daddy and I, just when he's ready and on his terms.  

I know that Richie is a wonderful guy.  He has such a passion for everything he does, and he's completely crazy about his big brother.  I know that he loves Bob the Builder, Elmo, Thomas, and animals.  He totally digs squirrels!  We can spend an hour watching college squirrels while brother's in therapy.  He can melt a whole elevator full of Baylor undergrads with a "sic 'em!" 

I know that Maelynn is super smart, sweet, and loves her family.  She's quite a smart little girl, and often is mistaken for Richie's twin, though she's a full 20 months younger.  And gorgeous.  Did I mention gorgeous?  Oh, my.  We're all pretty crazy about her.  

I know that Richie and Maelynn both love their brother to pieces, and often try to comfort him even though he's hitting and screaming.  I've watched them both try.  The one that kills is when you hear Maelynn say "It's okay, honey.  Don't cry." 

So I may not know what's in Ryan's head.  I may not know how to reach him, and I may not get him the right therapies, and I may have a hard time even figuring out how to try.  We may have some really rough patches in small ways every day, and in larger ways we may be completely re-working our lives to make things fit.  

But I know that I'm grateful that having and loving these three makes me Mommy.  And I wouldn't trade them for the world!

Happy Mother's Day.  

Thanks be to God for our mothers, their mothers, and their mothers' mothers.  And for the love He gives us to share with our kids... and for helping us overcome so much. 

And to our Moms, our Nana, and the grandmothers gone before us, 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Pink Bug

My dear daughter has already, at the tender age of barely two, decided what she will drive.

One morning, as we rounded the corner in front of the elementary school, it came into view.  A bubblegum pink, convertible VW bug.  She saw it before I did, and immediately declared from her car seat, "It's my pink car!  Look, Mommy... it's my pink car!"

Since then, every time we see said vehicle she shouts "It's my car!"  Even Richie's in on the act now.  Soon as it drives away, "where's my car" and "I lost my car" and "where did Mae-mae's car go" come frantically from the back seat.  This morning, we saw Mae's car in the drop-off line just in time to see it drive away.  She and Richie immediately began discussing it as much as a toddler and preschooler can, and I said in my infinite motherly wisdom, "You can look forward to having a car like that if you want, but that can't be your only aspiration in life."

I know.  Crazy thing to tell a toddler!  Someday we'll enjoy telling her about how crazy she was about this random high school girl's pink bug.  I don't seriously think her life is going down the tubes simply because she wants a pink car, so try not to worry too much about me.  But I started to think... aspiration.  What should our aspiration be?

Then I thought about the other meaning.  Often, when Eric or I choke on a drink as people sometimes do, one of us will look at the other and say, "You're supposed to drink your lemonade, not aspirate it!"  So Aspiration and aspirate have to be related.  To aspirate something medically means to breathe it in.  To have an aspiration in plain old life terms means to have a goal or dream you live to achieve.

So what makes me breathe?  What do I get up in the morning ready to do?  What are the things that I do, that I live?  What do eat, sleep, and breathe, as we so often say?

Ask me years ago, and I'd have said something aligning with success in my profession.  To be a consistent first-division band director, to have state honor band, to win state marching contest, that kind of thing.  Then I got married, and more and more my heart pulled me to our home.  Then we decided to have Ryan.  I still loved band, but there was something different.

It took years for me to grow into motherhood.  I was so confused when Ryan was born.  I thought that I was supposed to feel like a mother, that I'd magically morph into someone who felt completely different the moment he was in my arms.  Imagine my surprise when I really felt like I knew the dog better than I knew him.  We grew together, and continue to grow together.  Richie and Maelynn came along, and along the way my aspiration changed.  I'd been a Christian since the sixth grade, and knew that God loved me, and that He brought me through so much.  I had a good handle on church attendance, knew by heart the two that got me through... John 3:16 (the first one you learn as a kid, I think), and Jeremiah 29:11.  There were other things I read along the way.  The Psalms were always a good comfort, and I enjoyed Esther and Ruth a great deal.  But nothing stuck to me the way Jeremiah 29:11 did.

When we moved to Groesbeck, I had the opportunity to participate in a bible study.  I'd never done much more than the Sunday-school type of bible study, and through the fellowship of these ladies and the writers of the studies, I discovered a love that had been waiting for me all along.

It waited quietly on the shelf through several moves, in and out of boxes.

It waited in my hand as I took it to church every Sunday, even Sunday and Wednesday nights.

It waited through my good days, through my bad days, quietly and faithfully sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to be desperate enough to open it.

It watched me seek entertainment, attention, and joy from so many other places.

When I was desperate enough to open it aside from looking up the passages in the sermon on Sunday, it was faithful to comfort and lead my heart to safety.

Then it sat again, in between the car, my hands, the church, and home again, as I sought to do life on my own.

I wish I could tell you that I picked it up and instantly, almost like magic, I understood every word.  I wish  I could say that every passage came immediately alive and all my problems were solved.  I wish I could say that I never had another broken relationship, or another pain in my heart.

I can't say that.  But what I can say is that the time I have spent in this world has been used to guide me to it.  I can say that as I get to know the word of God better, things are less confusing.  I'm more peaceful.  More joyful.  I can say that I do not regret the time I've spent in it.  It's made me smarter, wiser, and a better person.  It's enriched my marriage, helped me understand its author, and continues to lead me to be a more patient, kind person.  Through time in the word, over time, I've grown.

My aspirations have shifted.  As I've lived, I've learned that all those aspirations, goals, dreams... they've all poured my heart, like a funnel, into faith in God.  I still have goals and dreams, and I still have the problems that go along with living in the world.  But seeing these things through a different lens... a Jesus-colored lens... makes them all infinitely more worthwhile.  It colors my world with a gratefulness that I would not have otherwise seen.

The challenges.  Oh, the challenges are great.  The questions are many.  But my way of looking at them has changed.  My goals and aspirations are still there, but they are filtered differently.  Even as new ones arise, I see them through a different lens.  I am grateful for the challenges.

Wait a minute.... hold the phone...

Yes, I am grateful for the challenges.  The problems.  The broken relationships.  The money issues.  The questions, the journey, the searches for the right treatments, the back surgeries of life.  The postpartum depressions of life.  The spinal headaches of life.

No, I didn't enjoy these things.  No, I don't enjoy autism.  The autism culture, along with the ranks of women who have suffered miscarriages, postpartum depression, and the families who lived through daddy having surgery with three small kids in the house are not things I signed up to join.  While I did not ask for them and did not feel ready for any of them, they came anyway.  And not only was I not ready, I was scared.  So many things have seemingly come up and broadsided us from out of no where.

I'm not thankful for autism.  I'm thankful for the little boy who brought it to our home, and for the ways he  and his brother and sister teach me to eschew selfishness and nudge (sometimes shove) me to faith.  I'm thankful for having lived through some of these things, and the things they taught me about myself.  Lessons too great to shove into words.  If it had been my choice, I'd go back and by now we'd have four kids.  We'd have three neurotypical kids.  We'd have never upset anyone, and not have one person in the whole wide world who didn't absolutely think the world of us.  Eric's back would always have been whole, and he wouldn't have needed to go through the icky experience of having surgery.

But rather than having a life with no suffering, no pain, no complications... rather than wishing for the easy road and only being thankful when things are going well... I am surrounded in the love of a God who holds me through it all.  The warm, cozy blanket of the trust that it is all part of the plan, that it all works to the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  As the kids grow into their own dreams, goals, and aspirations, we seek to guide them in a way that they too can rise up through the challenges and pains of life, growing in the peace that God is good, he is sovereign, and we are held in his arms.

Because I want Maelynn to be happy whether or not she gets to drive her pink car.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Houston Trip With Pictures!

 So these days, since we're not yet of the iPhone set, we take pictures with our iPods.  Yes, we are 41 and almost 34 and just got our first iPods this year.  We are THAT cool!  Since we're such the busy types, we hadn't put the pictures on the ol' computer yet.  I've written so many posts wishing I had Eric's i-device so I could upload the few shots we managed to get on our trip to Houston for the Music for Autism Concert! My dear hubster finally had a few minutes (between my honey-do's, I must add) to transfer these little windows into our memories, so here they are!

First, we start in the driveway... makes sense, huh?  Our dear Ryan buckled his much-loved Elmo in with him.  He's had Elmo since a friend gave him to us when he was three, and Elmo remains the only stuffed toy Ryan has ever cared about.  And when he cares, he cares a lot!

Once we arrived, we were quite happy to be fed and out of the van, as evidenced by the brother-sister love going on here...

Immediately it was swim time, where sister got to rock her new tankini for the first time (thanks, Granny!).  She was even more breathtaking in person.  

The Rich-man all ready to fishetize (it's a word... I just typed it!)

And the Ryan-dude, all ready to swim!

But first, a go-'round in the spinning chair...

Next day, all checked out of the hotel, we decided it was time for some concert-age.  Here's Ryan at the end, his favorite part (the part when he didn't scream or melt down).  

Sister had a great time with her drum!  Talking up another toddler, no doubt.  Wish I had pictures of her playing the cello with the help of an amazingly patient cellist!  Maelynn danced around, charming the world, and perking her mom and dad up a great deal.

Our little drummer boy... look out GHS drumline!

Then it was time to make the three-hour trek back to Groesbeck.  On the way, being the red-blooded Texans we are, we decided to stop and see this guy...

And you knew it was coming... the obligatory family kid group-shot in front of the monument.  Yes, we felt very lampoonish!  The kids weren't exactly impressed.  

No, Ryan, sit by sissy!  

Much better!  Now look at the camera, everyone!  

Did I mention it was a bit sunny?  Did I mention there were cars going by on I-45 to stim on?

And on the way out, we saw that the Sam Houston statue folks have an old face of Sam's down where you can touch it, take pics with it, etc.  So, being the goofy mom I am, I said jokingly, "Okay, kids... pick Sam's nose!" 

Guess who did it?  

That's my baby!  The funnier part was he wouldn't stop!

Ah, literal thinkers!  Gotta love 'em.  And he didn't crack a smile the whole time.  So obedient.  

So there you go, the visual version of the fun parts of the Houston trip for the Music for Autism concert.  Confused by what I mean?  Want to read the story behind all this stuff?  Click here.  Many thanks to the folks at the Westview School for hosting the concert, and to Music for Autism for the concert itself.  

And of course, thanks be to God for the sweet faces in these pictures.  

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