Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's New on the Aspie Front?

It's been a long and often frustrating two months learning to navigate the educational system and fulfill the proverbial red tape in order to speed along the ARD process for John. I have had days where I felt overwhelmed and lost in the shuffle and other days where I felt like I had it in control, but most days, I just felt a little bit helpless while waiting for other people to complete their various requirements.

Early on in the process, based on John's outside testing results and the fact that he is extremely high functioning, it seemed that the District was leaning toward placing him on a 504 (medical) plan rather than label him "Special Ed" and assign him an IEP (individualized education plan). I reached out to friends and experts for advice, but ultimately my gut has been telling me that John really has a need for an IEP rather than a 504 plan, but it would be up to the recommendation of the District Psychologist after she evaluated him in the classroom.

After my initial talks with her, it was clear that she did not feel he qualified for SpEd and would most likely recommend him for 504. For MANY reasons, this is not what I felt was best for him, so I have been praying that God would work it out because it was totally out of my hands. I got a call from her yesterday and she informed me that after evaluating John in a the class setting, it was  1.) very apparent that the did have Aspergers and 2.) evident that there WAS a need for specialized education (IEP plan). Praise God!!!! It will ultimately be up to the ARD committee to decide which option the District will endorse for John, but they will weigh heavily on the psychologist's findings and recommendation, so this is a huge victory for John in the process of getting him the right help.

She also mentioned that John clearly needs therapy in several areas, specifically in outside organizational skills (Aspies are typically extraordinarily disorganized) as well as working in groups. Aspies are notoriously bad at figuring out the minutiae involved in group activities ie. figuring out their role, coordinating efforts, and communicating with others in the group. Compromise and interaction with a group of others is counter-intuitive to how an Aspie's brain is wired. It causes panic and great stress when they have to coexist in a group setting and be expected to participate. However, working with others is a life skill that John must develop if he hopes to be a fully-functioning adult. It's hard to force your child into situations that make them overwhelmingly uncomfortable and nervous, but as a parent, I have to remind myself that he must struggle in the short term to survive the long term. It's still hard.

So now, the next step is to schedule the ARD, hopefully in the next couple weeks and then we can finally start getting John some of the intervention he needs to be successful academically and individually. I'll keep you posted!!

Here is a recent pic of John visiting my Grandmother at her nursing home and another of John and me on our summer vacation this year.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scariest. Morning. Ever.

Most of you know we have two labs, three year old Scooby and 7 month old Paris. They are best friends. Paris adores Scooby and follows him everywhere. They play constantly and Scooby is so patient with Paris's puppy antics. When they do play, it sounds like they are attacking each other. They absolutely sound ferocious, but they are so gentle and careful not to hurt each other and their tails are constantly wagging.

This morning was no different than any other lazy Saturday. James and I were lying in bed getting caught up on our emails and Facebook while the boys played with their DSIs and Jossilyn watched cartoons. We were all gathered in the master bedroom.

The dogs tend to get playful after they eat breakfast, and we were pretty much ignoring them as they wrestled loudly on the floor. Suddenly, Scooby yelped in pain. I continued ignoring him initially because occasionally they nip each other too hard. Then, Paris yelped. It sounded urgent. All of a sudden, John screams out that Scooby's mouth is caught on Paris' collar.

James and bolted upright and looked over the end of the bed. Within just those few seconds, the dogs had gone into full-fledged panic. The problem was obvious. Somehow, as they wrestled, Scooby's lower jaw had slid under Paris's collar and was wrapped tightly around his back teeth. His canine teeth were preventing him from being able to dislodge his jaw. The more they panicked and tried to separate, the tighter the collar became on Paris's neck and the more frantic they became.

James leaped out of bed and, in a single motion, he was on top of Paris trying to free her collar. This was no easy task as the dogs were flailing around the room, frantic and terrified. Scooby thought that Paris was attacking him on purpose and he began to growl and attack back the best he could, biting into her neck.

James had a hold of Paris, but she wriggled away and flipped. Now the collar was twisted, as well as trapped on Scooby's mandible, and Paris was now being strangled tightly.

Scooby weighs 85 lbs and Paris weighs 40. I realized that James was really struggling to control 125 lbs of terrified, panicking dogs and I jumped off the bed to help.

By this time, the dogs were yelping loudly, Paris was crying out in this mournful, childlike wail that terrified me. I had never heard a dog sound like that before. The boys were screaming in fear and Jossilyn was starting to get upset.

I grabbed on to Scooby and tried to throw my weight against him while simultaneously getting him in a headlock. My goal was to try and hold him still so James could get the collar off Paris. Unfortunately, with the collar pulled so tightly against her neck, and being twisted as well, he was unable to wedge his fingers in enough to release the clasp.

James started crying out, "I can't do it!! I can't do it!! My God, I can't do it!!" his voice was full of fear and near breaking with emotion. In our 14 years together, I have NEVER heard him sound so scared or helpless. I glanced at his hands. His fingers were shredded and bleeding from trying so hard to release the collar. He had bleeding gashes all over his upper torso from the dogs' claws as they fought for freedom. James was trying so hard. I kept putting all my weight on 85 lb Scooby. It was all I could do.

The boys were screaming and crying in terror. I was crying. The dogs were crying. Then Paris went silent. She had passed out and was very near death. We still couldn't free them. I screamed out, "She's dying! We're killing her!" I screamed for John to run and get scissors. Paris was so near death that her body simultaneously and involuntarily defecated, urinated and released her glands. We were out of time.

Fortunately, when Paris passed out, she went limp which gave James just enough millimeters of space to squeeze the release on her collar and get it free. He freed them just as John returned with the scissors.

James carried Paris's limp little body away from the kids' view while Scooby collapsed in my lap. His gums were swollen, shredded and bleeding where the collar had dug into them as he struggled, but thankfully, he had not lost any teeth.

I looked at James and cautiously asked if Paris was alive. Before he could answer, I heard her head shake. James had freed them in just the nick of time and she came to on her own. Her neck is bare of hair where the collar pulled so tightly against her and we can feel where her throat is swollen.

I kept an eye on her all day to make sure her throat didn't swell shut, but she seems fine.

If this had happened while either James or myself were not at home, Paris would have died. Neither one of us could have controlled 125 lbs of dog AND freed the collar at the same time.

I am SO thankful that we were both home and that James was able to free them before we lost Paris. I can't imagine the trauma my kids would have felt if they had to witness Paris die in such a freak accident. Thank you, Jesus, for your providence over my family - even the canine members!!

Here is a picture of Paris' neck after the incident...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memory

Our lives have never been the same since that fateful day, eleven years ago. These days, we mostly go about our lives without dwelling on the tragedy that was September 11, 2001. But, like many of you, I choose to pause and reflect on the anniversary; to remember and recognize the thousands of innocent people that lost their lives that day, just going about their business.

It's the least I can do.

For the mothers and fathers who lost their babies, and the babies who lost their mothers and fathers, this day was a defining moment in their lives. It shaped who and what they are. For those of us who were lucky enough to go to bed that night with all our friends and loved ones accounted for and safe, it emphasized what our true priorities are, or at least what they should be.

Thank you to all those who fought at Ground Zero that day. And THANK YOU to those of you who have fought and continue to fight for my freedom since that day. You are true heroes and I am humbled by your sacrifice.

I made this video last year, but I thought I would repost it today. God bless.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Calming the Storm

Wow. That's all I can say. In the past week, I have been blessed with an overflowing of love and support from so many. It's been quite humbling to receive all your emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, etc. I am beyond touched. I aplogize that I have not gotten back to all of you. As much as I covet and love all your advice and personal stories, it became overwhelming at times and I have had to step back intermittently for breaks. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotions. Even though I expected the Asperger's diagnosis, it took a while to sink in that we had graduated from "possibility" to "reality". James, especially, has had a more difficult time processing everything. Unlike me, he didn't see the signs as clearly and really did not believe there was a diagnosis to be made. Therefore, it came as quite a shock to him and the reality of it took its toll on both of us. I shed a lot of tears last week.

I am in the process of setting up all the necessary meetings with the school district in order to accommodate John's unique learning style. It's an arduous, lengthy process. The paperwork is both daunting and redundant. I find myself in a position of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. It's uncomfortable and I don't like it. The meetings ahead are also intimidating. Praise God my mother, who has been a teacher for nearly 30 years, speaks the "code" (the endless series of acronyms that the legal process uses) and has offered to attend the meetings with us to translate and assist. The process is tiring and I worry that John will struggle until we can get these steps in place.

I spent a good deal of time this past week researching and learning what I can. At times I literally had to walk away from the computer. The information (thankfully) is abundant and it was overwhelming sifting through the various websites and documents and making sense of what did or did not pertain to our circumstances. We are blessed that John is very high functioning, but in some ways, that seems to limit the number of options for therapy available to him. Add to that the difficulty of finding a reputable facility near us that accepts our insurance and offers the type of help that John needs – it seems an insurmountable task. After days of combing the internet and numerous phone inquiries, I came up empty-handed and felt quite defeated and discouraged. I still do. There were several times I wanted to quit searching and go back to the status quo. For John's sake, that's not an option. I did, however, give myself permission to abstain from research or discussion of Asperger's for the better part of the weekend. My mind and heart were weary and I needed a break.

Friday night, we sat John down and told him the diagnosis. We both felt it was in his best interest to understand why things would be different this school year and he would receive some special assistance prior to the start of school today. The main thing I wanted to convey to him was that he had no need to be ashamed or embarrassed. This is the way God made John and he is perfect in God's eyes. I began by telling John that God had given him a most special gift. God had given John a special mind that was able to think in ways that his Daddy and I and others cannot. John is able to perceive information differently that most people and that makes him special. I explained that he had an Asperger's mind. His face scrunched up. “That's a funny word. What does it mean?" he asked. I gently but firmly said, “John, you are not sick. This is not a disease and you are not going to die. You don't have to take pills for this or get shots. This is simply how God made you. He chose you to have this special gift.” 

I told him how it was the Asperger's that was causing his difficulty concentrating and why he got so easily frustrated. I noticed his eyes begin to well up with tears and his face started to crumple. In that moment, my stomach dropped. Had we made a mistake? Was it wrong to tell him the truth? I asked him what was wrong; what he was thinking. He looked up at me and asked, “Mom, is the Asperger's why I am different from the other kids? Is that why I'm not good at certain things? Is the Asperger’s what's wrong with me?”

I was just about to reassure him that nothing was wrong with him, when he suddenly broke into a smile and added, "Or should I say… what's right with me?!?”

I knew then that my son will be just fine.

He asked a few more questions before I kissed him good night, and as I turned to leave the room he suddenly asked, “Mom, am I allowed to say Assperger's or do I need to call it Buttperger's?” He was totally serious. I don't think I have laughed that hard in all my life. Thank you, Jesus, for giving us calm in the midst of our storms.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beauty From Ashes

Life isn't fair. We learn that as toddlers and life continues to prove the point repeatedly as we mature. As humans, we plan our lives exactly as we would chose them to be, but, inevitably, we are thrown curve balls that alter the dream and paths we hoped to follow and we must build new dreams and alternate paths to achieve them.

Yesterday, life threw our family such a curve ball. It was not totally unexpected - at least on my part. But somehow, hearing it made official, seeing the words written on paper, was more difficult that I anticipated. I have suspected since he was four months old. The clues were there. The signs were there. But it didn't have to be real because no one had officially "made it so". Now it is official.

My son has Asperger's.

Asperger's syndrome, also called Asperger's disorder, is part of the Autism Spectrum and is a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). PDDs are a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.

Hearing those words from licensed professionals; seeing them written in black and white… suddenly, all the original dreams we had for our son changed. It hurts. I don't know how to raise a child with "special needs". I don't know how to protect him. I don't even know how to tell him. I only have nine years til he moves out of my house and goes off to college. Nine years to teach him how to deal with a world that he sees completely differently than me. Nine years to teach him how to break through his own barriers and become a functioning member of society - a task that is counter-intuitive to the way God wired him.

But God did wire him.

My son is made perfectly in God's image. God loves him even more than I do and He has plans for my son that even I cannot fathom or predict. My heart is broken for my son and the difficult road ahead for him. My heart breaks for the nine years we did not have a diagnosis and he struggled to function the way he thought we expected him to. My heart breaks for multiple times in the last nine years when I, his Mommy, did not meet his needs or respond in a way he understood. He must have felt so alone at times. My heart is breaking over the label "special needs" that will be written on school forms from here on out. I pray his self image never suffers from these words on a page. My heart is breaking for his lifelong challenges with finding and building relationships. I pray God puts loving people in his path that will love my son because of who he is, not in spite of it. I pray God helps my husband and myself find equal ground in the days and years ahead so that we can be a united front and a safe place for John to land when he needs it.

Our family is embarking on a new journey. My son hasn't changed, but our understanding of him has. His world hasn't changed, but now we will (hopefully) be able to provide him the tools to navigate it more easily.

There are so many people out there so much farther long in this journey than I am. I welcome and covet your insight and any tips that have helped you guide and raise your children. What worked, what didn't work, what resources or therapy were most helpful?

Lastly, please pray for our family, especially James, myself and John, as we re-learn how to relate to each other and seek appropriate outside therapy and resources - that we would be guided to the right places.

God does not make mistakes. My son is a perfect example of God's beauty displayed differently than what is perceived as "normal".

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Who wants dinner???

Well, our critter trap is at it again! We never did catch the Mama possum last summer and she's back to nesting in our flower beds. I guess she had another litter because we caught another one of her babies tonight.

This little fellow was feisty and not at ALL interested in playing "possum". He wanted revenge for his captivity. (Poor misguided fellow.) We plan to drive him about 10 miles out and set him free. John said why bother... he'll probably end up road kill anyway! =) Dinner, anyone?

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

YAY! My kids are colorblind!

Most of my readers are aware that we spent nearly 4 years living in the San Francisco Bay Area. We learned much about culture shock while living there, as it was quite like moving to a foreign country. The SF bay area is a melting pot of ultra-diverse ethnicities and we quickly discovered that Caucasians were minorities. I have never experienced how it felt to truly be a minority group until then. It was interesting. There were over 150 different languages spoken in the city we lived in alone. Here is a pie chart of the demographics in the city we lived in:
As this graphic demonstrates, Caucasians are considerably outnumbered. I was reminded of my minority status most at my sons' preschool. I LOVED their preschool. It breaks my heart that Jossilyn won't be able to attend that wonderful school. However, when John attended, he was one of four. caucasians in his class. The rest were of Asian descent. Matthew was the ONLY caucasian in his class. Again, the rest were Asian. When John started Kindergarten in Cali, again, he was surrounded by children of multiple ethnicities and backgrounds.

As a result of this exposure during my sons' early, formidable years, they became extremely color blind. They never noticed or realized that they were "different" than the rest of their classmates. When we moved back to Texas, they brought that racial innocence with them. I have NEVER had a talk with my children about how some people have different color skin or some people speak differently. I never had to. My kids only saw people... not the differences.

A few days ago, I had a hilarious reminder that my sons still carry this gift with them. Our family recently had the opportunity to spend some time at a housewarming party for some friends. We were having so much fun that we completely overstayed our welcome and soon found we were the only guests left along with the host family.

James and his friend were outside on the porch when Matthew (my 6 yr old) walked out. He studied James' friend for a minute and then blurted out, "Your whole family is black!!"

James was shocked and a little embarrassed, but our friends took it well and laughed. Then Matthew continued, "But your WHOLE family is black!!" as if he couldn't quite figure out why they weren't a mixture of races. The funniest part of it was that Matthew was genuinely surprised by this discovery.

I pray my children always view the world so simply and see people for their character rather than their color. What a gift the innocence of children is!

On another note... today is my Daddy's 62nd birthday!!! Happy birthday, Daddy! I love you so much and I'm so thankful that I am blessed to be your daughter.
Two days ago was my parents' 41st wedding anniversary! Congratulations to both of you and thank you for being such a solid example of what real, lasting love is and how a marriage should work. It IS possible to be married to the same person for 4 decades, still love them, still LIKE them, and remain completely faithful to them. Good to know. =)
Here's a snapshot of my sweaty, dirty girl at the park yeserday. LOVE my Jossilyn Claire!
Jossilyn is a hoot! She does the funniest things. I love watching how her little two-year old mind works and what makes sense to her. Yesterday, she brought a toy car to me, "parked" it, and scampered away. Here is the parking spot of her choosing:

This past week has been Vacation Bible School (VBS) for my kids. (For my European friends, VBS is like a 5-day Bible camp at church that is held every summer at most churches.) This week was particularly nostalgic for me as my boys attended VBS at the same church I attended for VBS when I was their age. For some of my friends who have been fortunate enough to live in the same place their whole life, that is probably no big deal. I moved around so much and never really had one "place" to call home. So for me, it is extremely special for my kids to be living in the same town where I spent my early childhood, attending the same VBS that I did, and making the same special memories that I carry to this day.
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day Bliss

This past Christmas, we gave our boys a go kart, which they LOVED! I swear that thing is more work to maintain than a car! For every two days they get to ride it, it spends a week broken in some form or fashion. It's no wonder since the boys push that sucker to it's max of 30 mph! Nearly three months ago, James decided to take a ride on the wild side of the go kart, nearly rolled it, and consequently bent the frame so severely it has been out of commission ever since. We needed a welder to fix it.

Enter my dear friend Robin Rollins' husband Dan into the picture. Dan is a master welder and while they were visiting us for a few days last month, Dan offered to fix the go kart next time he was in town. Turns out he came into town yesterday, on Father's Day. Dan the Man, brought along his Welder and tools and set to work practically rebuilding part of the framework. His hard work paid off in the looks on my boys' faces when they took the go kart for a spin for the first time in 3 months! Priceless!
Thank you SO MUCH, Mr. Dan, for spending your Father's Day making my boys so happy! And thank you, James, for helping!! A little grease never hurt anyone, right?
Jossilyn had her own Father's Day treat surprise for us. She decided to seranade us with her rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… over and over and over again. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. ;-) I managed to get a little of it on video. Enjoy! (She's quite serious about her performance and quite proud of the response.)

Another cute "Jossilynism" from yesterday… we had a Father's Day lunch with James' dad and family at Olive Garden. While there, I took Jossilyn into the ladies' room with me. As we were washing hands, an elderly woman in a wheelchair came in. She smiled at Jossilyn and said, "I like your bow!" Jossilyn eyed her from head to toe, and then in an effort to return the compliment, she replied, "I like your bike!" (At least the lady laughed out loud!)

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time for a Change

I got to feeling antsy last night and needed a creative outlet. Rather than redecorate my home at midnight, I opted to give the blog a face lift. After two years with the old look, it was time for a change, don't you think? Do you like it? Leave a comment and give me your feedback. Unless you hate it. Then, keep your comments to yourself. That way, I'll just think I am a true design genius. (Or something like that.)

We spent today celebrating my sweet nephew, Grant's, first birthday! After a long year of constant, unexplained illness and multiple hospital stays, Little G is finally feeling stronger. He still has a compromised immune system, and my sister has to be careful what environments she exposes him to, but we are so blessed and thankful that his health seems to be under control for the time being.

Happy birthday, Little G!!!!!!!!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Raining Pee

Nine pairs of panties? Check. A week of complete dedication? Check. Toddler willingness? Check. I was armed and ready to tackle the potty training monster for the third and final time. Looking back at my eager and fearless attitude, only a few days ago, I can't help but smile at that young, naive girl and her dreams. Okay, maybe just naive. Has it really been so long that I have forgotten the frustrations and setbacks of potty training?? Apparently so.

My ammo pack…

One critical item I neglected to factor in was our still-not-completely-housebroken puppy. Paris is much better than she was at "going" outside. But her little bladder is so teeny that she has to "go" all the freaking time. Enter Jossilyn into that picture. She wants to use the potty chair. She desires to do the right thing. However, her thimble-sized bladder she apparently inherited from her mother is not always able to comply with Jossilyn's wish to "hold it".

Therefore, I suddenly find myself side-stepping puddles at every turn. There are puddles on the carpet, puddles on the wood, puddles on the tile, puddles on the couch(!)… It's so out of control, I don't know who's nose to rub in what! How does one determine the puddle culprit? Is there a method? If Jossilyn had a tail, it would be neatly tucked betwixt her legs, just as Paris' is. They both cower and run from me when my nice and dry foot suddenly submerges is a warm, freshly made pool. Are they conspiring against me? I'm beginning to wonder.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Somebody Grab the Marshmallows!

On a whim, James decided to pack up and spend a four-day weekend with his close friend, Roger, in Ruidoso, New Mexico. It sounded fine to me - I'm still trying to even things up since my trip to London in February. I think, in hindsight, that checking mountain conditions first might have been prudent.

James' friend lives in Alto, just a few minutes from Ruidoso. Upon arrival, James was shocked to find that there was an out-of-control forest fire burning just miles from his friend's house. (?!?) He texted me this picture just hours after he arrived…

That's not sunlight on the left side of the picture. Those are flames. Hot, giant, leaping flames. This morning they had to quickly throw a few things in the car and evacuate. The fire is raging and zero percent contained as of now. James left his beloved truck behind, and I don't mind telling you he's fretting a bit about that. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the wind is favorable tonight and tomorrow so he can get back up to Alto to get his truck. Hopefully, it won't be too crispy.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Part of the Picture

Two posts in one day??? I must be on glue. Kidding. I just had something pop into my head and I thought I would share. Even though I am abstaining from FB, I still read it. I'm not strong enough to just quit and I don't think that addiction qualifies for a 12-step program. Yet.

Anyway, as I was perusing FB today, I saw that my niece had posted a picture of herself with the caption "makeup is a girl's best friend". Now, my niece is supermodel beautiful with a supermodel figure and a heart to match. Lord knows she does not need makeup. BUT… we are Texan girls and even I don't get the mail without my lips and lashes. That got me to thinking…

Now that I have a daughter, what image do I want to project to her? What do I want her to emulate? Don't get me wrong, I will definitely be teaching her the beauty tricks of the trade. After all, we are  females. But at the same time, I want her to be confident in her own skin. I want her to feel beautiful at all times because of who she is, not because of her abilities with Bare Essentials. That is something I have struggled with my whole life. 

Most people know I was a victim of childhood bullying. That experience changed the face of my self esteem for the rest of my life. It has taken me into my 30s to fully appreciate who I am and what I have to offer. It was a long, hard-fought battle.

My niece's FB post reminded me that sometimes we girls tend to hide behind the makeup. It becomes a mask or a crutch that allows us to step outside of our comfort zone based on false confidence. That confidence should stem from the beauty inside and be complimented by the makeup - not replaced by it.

My hope for my daughter is that she will be strong and confident enough to be judged on her heart and not worry what image her physical image is projecting. I did a little experiment to illustrate that.

In the first frame, you see me fully adorned in makeup. In the second frame, you see me raw and vulnerable wearing nothing but moisturizer. Each frame is a part of me, but not the whole me.
In this next photo, you see that the above was actually one image, split into two. This illustrates how it takes all of that combined to complete me. The "real" me is complimented by the makeup, but it is still me in the picture. I didn't change; only my reflection did. Beauty is only skin deep. Makeup makes us more aesthetically pleasing, but it doesn't change who we really are. I hope my daughter always feels as beautiful in her second frame as she is in her first. I hope the rest of you do, as well.

I'm adding this last photo just to prove to you readers that I did not walk around all day with only half my face made up. That would just be stupid. =)
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Back to the Basics

I have decided to take a break from Facebook, which has inadvertently replaced my blog in the world of updates. Facebook is so instantaneous. It reaches hundreds instantly with the click of a button. It's also public. And permanent. Things said or done on such a public, open forum cannot be undone. Often, hurtful things are said. I think I like the anonymity of my blog. I don't know who views or reads it. No one hits a "like" button, so for all I know I am talking to myself. But that's okay, too. Writing this is cathartic for me and it helps to organize my thoughts on paper. I need some zen right now, anyway.

It's been a crazy few weeks. It's also been a hard few weeks. My beautiful, vibrant cousin just lost her first baby to Trisomy 13. This has devastated the whole family. It has brought back anew the overwhelming emotions and memories of losing my own child. I only hope that through this terrible bond we now share, that I can offer her some words of comfort. Pray for us.

On a positive note, we got a puppy! There are conflicting stories as to how this puppy came to be a member of our family, but MY version (not my hubby's) is the truth. The kids were hungry and, as usual, they voted for McDonald's. As we were pulling out of the McDonald's parking lot, having satiated our appetites, we noticed a clean cut young man selling lab puppies out of his truck. The kids promptly commenced to begging for me to stop so they could see the pups. My instincts told me to drive. Fast. But then I caught the eye of a pretty little female black lab pup and couldn't help but be drawn to her. I pulled over. It couldn't hurt to look. Right? After all, I had been saying for years that our next dog was going to be small. As in microscopic.

I pulled over and got out to snuggle the little black pup with dark brown eyes and a very wet tongue. She was precious. Beyond precious. I took her over to the car so the kids could see her. Naturally, they loved her and the begging to keep her commenced. I spoke with the seller who turned out to be a local pastor and was very nice. I told him thank you for indulging us, but there was no way I was getting another big dog - especially a lab puppy. Labs. Chew. Everything. Our three year old Scooby is a delight to own now, but it took three full years for him to calm down. I thought about how old I will be in three years. Heck no. We do not need another lab puppy.

I drove off, puppyless and quite proud of myself. What self control I had shown! The kids started yelling their reminders that I had promised to "run it by Daddy", knowing full well that James would instantly strike down the idea of another dog. I called him from the car. Now, I am blessed to have one of those fancy schmancy cars that is equipped with a built-in blue tooth and carries the call through the car. This a fantastic option… unless you are discussing a new puppy and the call is on speaker for all children to hear.

I called James. He asked if the dog was a lab. It is. He asked if the dog was AKC registered. It was. (Uh-oh. This conversation was not going as it had in my head.) He asked if the kids wanted it. They did. To that, my sweet husband, the one who is supposed to be our voice of reason and talk me out of all the spontaneous knuckle-headed ideas I get, replied, "Sure! Get the dog! Just write a check."

Just write a check??? What the heck just happened here?


I turned around and looked at the kids who were screaming with excitement. I looked at their faces and said, "I guess we're getting a dog." With that we turned around and drove back to that sweet little black puppy. In somewhat of a daze, I handed the pastor a $400 check and drove away - with the dog - from what has to be the world's most expensive trip to McDonald's.

So, without further ado, meet Paris (with her big brother, Scooby)!!