Tag Archives: Parenting

Celebrating…

What a fabulous day!!

FIRST? First we woke up late because we all slept through our alarms (hey… it was a great dream) … I barely made myself look presentable for public.. then we all rushed through our morning.. I made a boring lunch for Sy.. rushed everyone out the door and then a bus was parked at the entrance of the school.. 

And SIMON WENT to school… 

Like he physically (and calmly.. I might add) walked IN TO the school with not more than a cross look at the bus in our way (that he deems a “muddy mudslide” that’s in our way).. 

Some of you may wonder if I am serious to be celebrating such a “terrible” “mom” moment..?? HaPpY we overslept and I took my kids to school late? 

Haha.. 

I AM serious.. 

This is amazing!!!!

When Simon’s Autism was at its worst and his mood disorder was unstable? Everything had to stay on schedule .. and nothing could be out of order.. or he wouldn’t (couldn’t) have gone to school.. 

So exciting!!!

Maybe tomorrow he will let me stop and take a picture of the sun peaking through the fog on my favorite road.. lol.. 

I guess I shouldn’t press my luck ..

That moment.. 

A million years ago.. ok.. it was more like 7 years ago.. I stood on my own doorstep letting the tears run down my face.. 

Someone had asked me how my son’s appointment had gone for his legs.. 

..it had NOT gone well.. not even close to well… and I could no longer hold my fears in.. or my sorrow .. 

I am a cry-er.. I am not a loud cry-er .. ha.. but neither am I a pretty cry-er .. I do think that I have cried enough tears (in my lifetime) to fill Lake Michigan. Tears of disappointment, tears of sadness.. tear of joy .. and worry.. and often anger.. 

But in that moment? 

In that moment.. I felt so many emotions I couldn’t sort them out. 

Why? 

Well.. what I thought were simple growing pains for my son? Those pains weren’t simple.. and my son needed an emergency surgery. The appointment that I had put off because it wasn’t convenient for my schedule? Putting it off those few days had caused my son to be in prolonged pain.. 

My 10 year old son’s growth plates were too soft to hold up his weight.. he would need a screw to hold that growth plate in place if he wanted to walk.. 

.. and me? I had been too busy trying to balance everything in my hectic life to notice…

.. so in that moment? 

In that moment.. as I let the tears pour down my cheeks..? 

I was so angry .. angry at myself for not seeing how much pain he was in (even if he didn’t complain).. I was so angry that I hadn’t made it a big deal about it when I called the doc for an appointment.. I was so angry that the surgery was going to cause him pain.. 

..  I was worried because.. well? ..worried because it was a surgery.. and worried because my son did not do well with hospitals …

..and disappointed.. 

.. disappointed because nothing in his short life had gone easy .. 

.. and .. I was sad… 

I was always strong.. I always carried my Faith in God’s plan like a Shield.. I always smiled through my tears .. always cheering others on .. 

..but in that moment? 

I couldn’t breathe.. I was broken.. 

..but on the other side of those tears? I picked myself up and trudged through the unknown territory that God had planned for me..for my son.. for our whole family.. 

I have often heard people say that “God will not give you more than you can handle”… I would often laugh and reply that I wish God didn’t have so much faith in me.. 

..but I think that statement is a lie… 

I think that God absolutely gives us more than we can handle.. but NEVER more than we can handle WITH HIS Strength .. 

With God .. All Things are Possible..       

                                      Matthew 19:26

.. even with my great Faith in my Heavenly Father.. I often find myself thinking I can plow through problems with my own strength.. I find myself not wanting to trouble God with my “little” problems because of all of the BIG problems that deserve His attention MORE than mine do.. 

..sometimes it takes me falling to my knees in tears .. sometimes it takes me feeling broken and alone… sometimes it takes “too much” .. to show me that I can’t do it on my own.. 

.. and then? 

Then God fills me with His Strength and His Love.. and All the things I have to do? They all become possible..

.. and it is all Beautiful in its time… 

A puzzle .. 

Parenting any child can be a maze of interesting (and sometimes painful) trials and experiences. Having more than 1 kid means you travel more than 1 parenting maze.. at the same time.. 

My two kids have carefully molded me into a strong, resourceful, patient adult.. 

How? 

Ha!! By testing every boundaries, terrible reactions to getting their blood taken, sleep walking, night terrors, wondering off in stores, tantrums, illnesses, sassy natures, emergency hip surgeries.. and medical conditions. 

By some miracle? My kids and I have survived this thing called childhood and we are ALL doing great.. 

It’s funny to me that people automatically assume that I had more trials with my Son with special needs then my “typically developing” daughter… Ha.. I have so many funny stories of my daughter testing every rule.. creating and recreating parenting techniques to guide her independent and …spirited .. personality into being successful.. and the awful (often hilarious) situations she got herself into.. 

In fact.. I often tell people that both my kids (and all kids .. in their way) .. have special needs.. Each child with their own super power.. and each child with their weaknesses.. some “special” Need that we have to pay special attention to.. 

The “great” thing about my daughter is that she showed off her super powers to the community.. and saved her weaknesses for home.. Ha.. How many times I heard a teacher say, “Your daughter is so responsible and organized.. and so polite all the time..”? Too many to count.. Then she saved her stubborn pride, her unbending determination for us at home. (Sigh)

Years later? We look back and laugh.. Man do I love that girl.. and what a successful adult she is turning out to be.. 

But with Autism? You can’t hide those “Special needs” ..and you can’t save them for home.. 

Traditionally the symbol for Autism is a puzzle piece.. because it is a puzzle trying to figure out what causes the symptoms.. a puzzle on how to get through the walls.. how to help them.. how to push them to be a success.. 
I agree with the puzzle symbol because I have done 16 years of research to figure out  how to help my boy with his roadblocks. 

But now that we have overcame the most difficult of these roadblocks..? Now that we have solved the mysteries of vitamin deficiencies and self stimulating behaviors..? Now that we have come back from the abyss of aggression and irritability??

Now that I just have my son back? 

I realize that my symbol for Autism is a little different than just a “puzzle” piece. 

When you see a sunrise coming up behind the trees? It can be a little frustrating because the trees are blocking out the light.. blocking out the beauty of the sunrise on the horizon.. 

But I love to see the sun peaking through the trees.. 

To me? To me the sun peaking through the darkness gives us the promise of better things… Hope for tomorrow .. a peak at what’s behind the shadows.. 

This is my symbol for Autism.. the sun peaking through the darkness.. 

When my son’s Vitamin deficiencies reached their lowest levels? The light in his eyes all but disappeared. He was malnourished (even though he ate enough to keep an army alive), he was unhealthy (despite the best medical attention).. and he was so miserable. He couldn’t focus, he could no longer make eye contact, he was aggressive and you couldn’t have a conversation with him. 

But in the midst of a storm of emotions? 

The rage would pull back.. the curtains would lift from his eyes.. and all of the sudden? All of the sudden the sun would shine from his eyes.. and I could see my boy again.

 I could see that he was still in there. 

He was still there.. Shining from behind the shadows of Autism.. 

and it was THAT sunlight that kept me going.. The hope that kept me pushing on.. 

And NOW? 

Now that we solved so many puzzles, we get to see his sun shining every day. 

There are days like yesterday, where his sun disappeared behind a clump of trees.. a little grumpy.. a little stubborn.. and a lot frustrated.. 

.. and I found myself annoyed.. annoyed because it was bad timing.. Bad timing for me.. 

But when I took a step back.. and took a few deep breaths.. (..ok.. ok.. a LOT of deep breaths)… ? I could still see his light begging to get out from behind that frustration.. 

So to me? Autism is so much more than a puzzle.. 

.. it’s a light.. that insists on shining through the darkness.. 

Sunsets.. 

The number one reason people give for NOT hosting an exchange student? It’s that the “good byes” would be too hard in the end.. 

..and today I would agree..

..the good-byes when I send home an exchange daughter are hard.. 

..beyond hard.. 

But the alternative would be hard as well.. 

In order for me to never hurt.. in order for me to never cry.. never hesitate.. or miss someone? 

Yup.. 

I would have to NEVER grow close to any one .. not a pet.. not a child .. and not an exchange student.. 

I would have to NOT live.. 

…and BOY have we lived.. 

Today my 3rd exchange daughter carried her luggage out of my house and loaded it into her mother’s rental car.. 

A year’s worth of memories and living were packed into those suitcases.. A year’s worth of holiday gifts and souvenirs… and some chocolate covered pretzels too.. 

..but what weighs more than those suitcase?

The love that we shared over the last year.. the laughter … the inside jokes.. the memories.. the songs we sang in the car.. the movies we watched.. the hugs.. and the tears we shared.. 

I can’t say that I would give back that “living”.. just to save a few tears .. (ok.. a LOT of tears)… 

I thought about that as I watched the sunrise this morning… 

..sometimes we only appreciate how beautiful the day was as we watch the sun set at night.. and sometimes we are sad to see it end.. 

..but then? 

Then if we watch carefully (and get up early enough).. we can watch the sun RISE on a new day.. a day full of promise and full of new possibilities.. 

So today as the “sun sets” on the time my exchange daughter stayed in my home.. I am a little sad that it’s over.. and I am spilling more than a few tears remembering how much we have lived this year.. 

..my cup runneth over tonight.. 

..but tomorrow morning?

Tomorrow a new day will dawn. A new chapter with my borrowed daughter.. a new life where we exchange pictures and video calls.. and ridiculous snapchats… where we continue to share in each other’s joys and sorrows.. and plan visits.. and I think that day will be just as beautiful (in its own way)..

So tonight I will enjoy my beautiful sunset.. with a few tears of love.. 

I loved my “day” with you here Bea.. can’t wait to spend tomorrow with you.. 

these small hours…

img_6181Every once in awhile. A song comes along that speaks right to your heart.
For me?

Little Wonders“.. from a Disney soundtrack..

I love this song..

Our lives are made.. in these small hours.. these little wonders.. these twists and turns of fate.. time falls away.. but these small hours.. these small hours .. still remain..

Our family is a very busy family..

We are involved in Theater and Choir at school.. the international students .. Dance.. trombone lessons… cheerleading for a time.. and a big BIG family…

We don’t really end up with a lot of free time ..

But we DO have such wonderful times together.. in those minutes between activities.. our little conversations in the early mornings (before coffee has kicked in)… the conversations in the hall after school before theater rehearsal starts.. our conversations around the dinner table.. my kids jumping in the car to keep me company on the way to errands and meetings.. board games.. and sappy Christmas movies.. funny Snapchat videos.. and quick hugs between activities.. quick chats before bed.. phone calls from college between classes .. 

“Our lives are made in these small hours”.. these short moments.. the moments with my college girl.. my daughters across the sea.. my 2 exchange daughters.. my son .. the happy moments.. the sad.. the stressed .. the relaxed.. the laughter.. the love.. the heartaches…

…these are the little wonders of my life…

This week as we prepare to send another “exchange” daughter home .. home to her family.. we are overwhelmed with these little wonders.. the moments that have made up our lives over the last year.. the memories we have stored up…

Our hearts are full..

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Love you Bea!!

I am so thankful for all the “small hours” with you.. and with Sabrina,  Simon, Mariam, Olimpia, and Basak…

.. so many little wonders..

Turning a page.. 


You know that feeling when you are in the middle of a great book? 
One of those books that is SO good ..you just can’t wait to see what will happen next or how it will end.. 

And it is so good that you don’t want to miss a single word.. 

…no speed reading this book…   

NOPE.. You read each sacred word and savor them all… 

But then? 

YUP.. Then you have to put that book down because life is going on around you… The dishes need to be done, the chickens need food.. the kids need to be socialized …

…but all the while you are being a responsible human being? The whole time ALL you can think about is that book … ??

WHAT is on that next page? What will happen to the heroine? What adventures and mishaps are in store?

THAT is how it feels to drop your daughter off at college.. 

.. I can’t wait to pick that book up again and see what is written on those pages… I can’t wait to hear about her adventures .. 

… but I admit.. It is hard to walk away from her beautiful book… 

Into the future…


One minute your little girl is knocking over bookshelves, breaking priceless souvenirs, throwing rocks at Scrooge on tv, writing on walls, putting pop tarts into the VCR, serenading the neighbors as they stroll past your front porch, trying to defy gravity, writing stories that don’t make sense, reading encyclopedias to get out of cleaning her room, reading books thicker than her arm, breaking lamps with her imaginary friends, performing lion king in a bathing suit and a scarf, wearing underwear on her head, and asking endless awkward questions in her endless pursuit of knowledge… 
.. and the next minute you are dropping her off at college.. Wondering what kind of trouble she can get into there.. 😳😳😳😳

Seriously love this girl of mine… And so stinking proud..

The thought of not hearing her practice her operettas in the shower EVERYDAY? It almost makes me miss the times she used whole bottles of conditioner in her bath time experiments.. 

…almost…

Actually I don’t… I don’t wish that time back.. I enjoyed it all while it happened.. 

But I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this magnificent blessing God entrusted to me.. 

Love you Princess Tiger Lily…

Eyes wide open.. 

While I was pregnant with my first child.. my strong willed daughter.. we could not decide on a name. So my husband and I struck a deal.. 

When our daughter was born.. If she looked like a “princess” then we would name her “Sabrina” .. 

..and if she looked like a “little ruler” we would name her “Ryanne”.. 

THEN? 

Lol.. Then I prayed to God He would send her into the world boisterous and crying.. 

When that moment came? The moment I laid eyes on my girl? I had been awake for 40 hours.. And in labor for 28 hours.. 

FYI .. They call it labor because it is REALLY hard work.. 

Someone placed that beautiful baby in my arms.. 

..and.. 

Well? She stared right back at me. Her eyes were wide open .. and so curious. She was taking in the world around her without saying a word. 

When her Daddy commented on something? She turned her head toward him and listened. When I laughed at her serious expression..? Well.. then she turned back to me. 

The nurse commented that she had never seen such an alert baby.. And our girl turned toward her and listened carefully. 

We quickly decided that her serene and graceful personality was more fitting of a “princess”.. And her birth certificate was filled out.. 

The last 18 years have sped by so quickly.. But she has remained much the same.. Always looking at the world around her with her eyes wide open… Curious and alert.. Learning as much as she could.. Holding her eyes so wide, as if she could soak in knowledge faster that way.. 

Lol.. But she also learned to express her opinion.. And negotiate.. 

Soon? Yup.. Her father and I wondered if we should have named her “little ruler”.. 
Recently I looked up “Ryanne” again.. Wanting to use it in a new book series.. And I realized the technical meaning was “a feminine version of Ryan”.. And Ryan means “little King”.. 

So Ryanne would mean “little queen”.. A mature and educated ruler.. 

Hmm.. So my husband had chose to name our daughter EITHER a queen OR a princess? Both of these names mean a natural leader.. 

And a leader she is.. An educated, empathetic, observant leader.. 

Maybe we should encourage her to run for President.. We could use more leaders like her.. 

But my little princess has dreams of her own.. And she will go on being a leader in her own world.. Clearing her own path.. 

Always with her eyes wide open.. 

She lived…

We never saved money for my daughter’s college.. We started to, but then…?

Well..?

Well..  then life happened.

As I was pulling pictures for my daughter’s open house last week.. I saw snapshots of that life …

First there were gymnastics classes and dance.. To give her socialization skills.

Then it was off to preschool .. To give her a headstart in school.. After all, she was already so smart.

Then came trips to museums and zoos.. Nature centers..

As her desire to perform evolved.. We added Performing Arts camps and classes..

Add in piano lessons, Girl Scout camps.. Community college Musical opportunities..

Yup.. Pretty soon her college fund was history..

But that isn’t the end of her pictures..

No sir-ee.. Then comes to the cross country trips that my husband and I took our kids on..


To New York to see family.. And to see Niagara Falls..

To California to see family.. and a quick stop at the Grand Canyon..

As we added each new state to our map of “places”? Yup.. More pictures.. Each picture brought a smile to my face.. Remembering the adventures .. the life lessons.. the laughter and smiles..

Along the way…?

Along the way paying for college became less of a priority.. and preparing her for life took its place.

Now don’t get me wrong.. We have always TALKED about college.. and her future. That part was never a question. With her reading before Kindergarten? It was just a given..

The only thing that changed was our focus on saving money FOR her future.. instead of PREPARING her for that future.

What we didn’t realize in making this subconscious shift?

Our daughter has lived a very full. And she learned to live IN TODAY.. although the while working hard toward her future. She enjoys her life where ever she is.. Whether it’s tutoring.. or creating a set.. babysitting twins.. or swimming in the moonlight.. she always has a smile on her face.

Even (occasionally) she will smile while doing dishes.. (hey.. she is human after all)…

So today when I look at my daughter .. and realize that soon she will have student loans..

..and I know that we (her father & I) can’t prevent that…

I realize that .. with those student loans?

She will also have memories of moonlit kayak rides, kayak adventures to find hidden islands, cousin sleep overs (aka stay up overs), many hide n seek adventures in the dark, science experiments growing what’s in our mouth (yuck), science experiments with coke and Mentos, reading millions of books, watching “books” we have read come ALIVE at the movie theaters, doing chores, earning her own money, getting pets, saying good-bye to pets, taking 30 hour driving trips to see cousins, seeing beautiful landmarks in our country, welcoming exchange sisters into our lives, sharing a room with someone you don’t know LONG enough to know them by heart, having to hug those exchange sisters good-bye at airports, art lessons, piano lessons, acting lessons, voice lessons, summer camps, theatre camps, family camps,  swimming in waterfalls, getting leaches, putting band-aids on little ones, having surgeries, playing board games all night, designing her own prom dresses, learning how to eat gluten free, saving money for Disney World, going to Disney World, learning how to drive, making her first solo trip, being center stage in the spot light, being backstage supporting someone else’s spotlight, singing songs on stage, singing her grandpa’s favorite song around the campfire,

Loving others,

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Faith in God,

Yes.. my baby girl will do amazing at college..

because she has lived a full life!!!!!!!

……I Love you Princess Tiger Lily…..

On her own… 

Once upon a time.. About 13 1/2 years ago.. a little girl (with lots of curls) headed off to her first day of kindergarten. 

And like EVERYthing in her life? Yup! She wanted to do it on her own. 

She did NOT want me to drive her to school that first day.

She did NOT want me to walk her into her class and help her get settled.

She wanted to ride the bus like EVERYone did.. 

She wouldn’t even let me hold her hand.. 

I was a little hurt I guess.. I do make plans in my head.. You know those plans, right? Plans on how to be the best mom.. 

But neither me nor my husband were suprised that she simply announced she would have none of my plans.. 

Why? Well you see.. Everything in her life until that point had been the same.. 

When she was 3 weeks old? She simply refused to let me rock her to sleep anymore. She wanted to be put in her crib so she could go to sleep ON HER OWN.. 

At 6 months? She clamped her mouth shut.. Refusing to be fed anymore. She wanted to do it ON HER OWN. 

Doing puzzles? She would gently move my hand away.. She didn’t want any help. 

Now this “on her own” attitude did get her in trouble.. Because it often slipped into.. “Let me do it my way”… 

Lol.. Once that attitude had her preschool teacher telling me she’s be better off with younger kids.. My beautiful, smart, strong willed girl…. was demoted to a younger class.. 

.. and well? Let’s just say her ballet teacher was so relieved when we moved to Missouri before recital.. I guess having my girl “co-teach” the class (only when she felt the teacher was being boring) wasn’t as fun as it sounded.. 

Sigh.. Honestly I knew how the dance teacher felt.. I wondered often why my daughter couldn’t just do it my way FOR ONCE.. 

Last night my daughter gave a speech at graduation.. as Valedictorian. That same stubborn pride.. The same frustrating determination to do things her own way.. ??


It would keep my daughter up until the WEE hours of the morning doing homework after a long night of Musical practice. 

It would have my daughter going the extra distance to do a project the way she wanted.. Which was often more than her teacher had asked for. 

Yes .. My daughter’s determination to do things ON HER OWN and in her OWN WAY.. is the very reason she made it to the top of her class .. 

So even when I retell stories of her childhood around the fire.. Tales of her stubbornness and the frustration I had endured… And laughing  until I have tears in my eyes.. 

.. Even when  I act like it was awful..  I am actually so very proud of the young lady she has become…

.. and I don’t really worry about her future.. I know she will get there ON HER OWN timing and in her own way.. 

Luckily I have God in our corner.. Watching out for her along the way.. because it’s going to be great.