I was driving the kids to Sunday School this morning and Olivia was doing her regular running monologue from the backseat.  Most days she talks about pretty random stuff, or is telling “Knock, Knock Jokes” or playing “I Spy.”  Today, though, her chattering took a different twist — I heard her say, “Some day we are going to go back to the swimming place.  The one with the slides.  And I will have fun.  And Daddy will be there.  And Mommy will be there.  And Christian will be there.  And he will play with me.  And he will talk using wordsUsing words, Mom…”

How great would that be?!?  🙂

Yesterday was Olivia’s 2nd birthday already! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already! She was very excited about her balloons and cake (i.e. she wanted cake for breakfast this morning). We had the special treat of pizza last night for supper. Both of the kids were talking about it all afternoon. It was quite yummy for something different! (Christian & Olivia both liked Christian’s special GFCF pizza – Olivia actually liked it better than the reg. pizza!) Overall she had a good birthday and seemed to enjoy her pink ball and purple beanbag chair.

Brian & I had a meeting with one of the guys from our modular home place this morning. That was pretty exciting! We were going through the catalogs and putting together our “dream” home. (Any bells and whistles we may like to price out even if we don’t get them.) It was pretty fun to pick out carpet, countertop, vinyl, cabinet, siding, shingles, etc. coloring and start to get an idea of what this home could possibly look like all pulled together. My head is trying to not let my heart become too optimistic about the whole thing, but what a relief it would be to be in a place of our own!!!

April is Autism Awareness Month – it has been interesting to watch all of the coverage on autism this week. (Like CNN devoted a whole day to it.) It is so interesting to me to watch all of this coverage now. I watch it hoping that I will learn about something new that I haven’t heard about before that we could try. I watch hoping to better understand what it is like to actually be the person with autism – just how scary and confusing the world must be to navigate through! I only wish that I could be in Christian’s head for a day so that I could understand things from his point of view once! It is so easy for me to pity myself and the things that I must go through everyday in dealing with his autism, but how one thousand times harder it must be for him! I was thinking to myself the other day, in the middle of him continually hitting me in the face because I wouldn’t let him hit Olivia because she was crying, anyway, I was thinking of the words that Jesus spoke about “turning the other cheek” and how that is just so applicable to that situation. Lots of times Christian’s frustration comes from a communication barrier or sensory overload. He is not just a brat who is looking for trouble. He just doesn’t know how to handle that situation in a way that most other people can. I struggle. It’s hard to know how to help him. How hard to push him. And how much is too much and how much of that is just way that God wishes him to be? I would love to have a future for him where he can live independently, but I don’t know for sure that will happen for him. That’s OK. I’d be happy for him either way. All I want is to be able to understand him better. To know what life is like for him, from his point-of-view. He is so fascinated by all of the things that the rest of us are too busy to notice in our daily lives. Yet he is also so frustrated that the people who love him the most can’t understand him and why things like reading that new book is so upsetting, why Olivia is crying is so loud, why a voice inflection in a certain manner starts an all-out hitting, screaming, kicking tantaum. I only wish that I could understand so that I could help him to learn to defuse these “horrible” situations before they come “the end of the world!”

I wish I knew too where all the other families in our church body were. I mean with autism happening in 1 out of 150 kids, there has to be so many other families affected by this disorder. How do they handle church? Do they go to church functions? Do their children go to Sunday School and how does that work out for them? What are different WELS churches doing to help our member who are struggling day-by-day with so many challenges that rip so many families apart? I’m just curious.

Anyway, just pondering these things today. Now another load of wash must be done!

Sleep has happened the last three nights! That is so amazing! Christian was up by 4am this morning, but I couldn’t complain considering he had gone to bed around 6pm. We are praying that this new sleeping schedule will start becoming more of a norm. (Maybe not going to bed at 6pm, but sleeping for 8 hours! How great would that be!!!)

Things are hopefully starting to come together for getting into a home of our own. We were approved for a loan yesterday with terms that we can’t beat anywhere! It sounds like we have a piece of land available for us just down the road from the Haack family farm. Then Brian could walk or ride his bike to the farm most days. That would be nice! Anyway, we are looking at the possibility for putting up a modular home on this land. Nothing too big and fancy, but big enough that the kids can each have their own rooms. (And we can have our room back to ourselves.) The exciting thing about this is that it could happen pretty quickly all of the sudden and we could be getting into the home by the beginning of summer. That would be SO wonderful! We will be praying that everything works out this time!

We just received Christian’s evaluation report in the mail (the state conducted testing with us at the end of January for placement in the waiver program). It was a little dishearting to read that he would now be classified as having “severe autism.” After mourning that “label” for a few days and contemplating what the future might hold for him, I gave up thinking about that. Each and every day is so different and unpredictable. How can I manage to tell myself what he will be capable of in ten years when I can tell myself what he is capable of in ten minutes. What a HUGE reminder again that God is in control, not me as much as I would like to be.

My Dear Christian–

We have been through so much since the last time I wrote.  You have started sleeping through the night, most nights.  You have no idea how happy that has made me!  🙂

As the pediatrician advised, we have done some evaluations in the last couple of months.  We had your hearing checked — it was great — but you are very sensitive to loud noises.  You had a speech evaluation this week — we will be doing some follow-up visits so that I can learn how to help you better at home.  You have one more evaluation left, probably sometime in January.  Hopefully that will go well, too.

You are so funny these days. You love to bounce and “sing” — especially in your stroller or at church.  🙂  You have also been interested in tongues lately — yours and mine and Daddy’s.  You love to stick it out and grab it.  Daddy and I love you so very much!  🙂

We found out that in April you will have a little sister.  We’ve decided to name her — Olivia Allana.  I’m curious how you will be with her — jealous?  sweet?  loving?  angry?  I guess only time will tell.  Grandma H is going to come down and help out and spend time with you while I have to be in the hospital and/or recovering.  I hope that you will warm up to her then and have lots of fun.  🙂

I love you, my precious son!  Always know that Jesus loves you, too!  Sleep well tonight.  🙂

All my love,  Mommy

My Dear Little Man–

I love you!  You are funny and seem to be able to sense when I am not well.  The two nights in your life that I have been extremely sick — you have slept through the night.  It’s amazing that you just seem to know that and since I have been feeling somewhat better, you are back to your old habits of still getting up a couple of times a night.  I look forward to the day when you make it a habit of actually sleeping through the night again.  I have forgotten what a full night’s sleep is like!  🙂  As I write this — you have stirred in your crib and started crying — again, with your ability to sense things, huh?!?  I wonder if that will stay with you as you grow and will be able to use that talent when you are older.  The future holds so much for you, my son, if you use the gifts that Lord has given to you!  You are an amazing gift that God has given to your father and me!  We love you so much.  Please don’t ever doubt our love for you, but even more importantly, don’t ever doubt the love of the Father above!  His love for you is beyond words.  Let him work that faith that is planted in your heart.  He will always be there for you even if the world turns it’s back on you and you feel as though you are all alone.  Trust in Him, son.  Trust in Him!

I love you and must sleep.  I am exhausted.  🙂

Al my love, Mom

My Dearest Christian,

You are becoming such a big boy!  You are running, climbing, and wanting to be more and more independent.  It’s amazing how quickly you are growing up!  I love you.

We decided not to let you cry yourself to sleep.  After a few nights of doing that (back in January), it just got to be too much.  I want you to know that Daddy and I will be there when you need us.  I want you to trust us.  I hope that we can establish that trust with you now, so that it will be part of you as you grow.  I just want to do what’s best for you.  I want you to grow into a decent, respectable man.

I often wonder, as we cuddle before you sleep, what you will do with your life.  Your personality is already poking through — you are a very determined person.  Once you’ve made up your mind to do something, you get very frustrated if it doesn’t go the way you expected.  That can be a good thing as long as that determination doesn’t turn into stubbornness (my side of the family is known for that).  One other trait to watch for is depression — it runs in the family — I just pray that it doesn’t run into you.

I’ve been enjoying being able to stay home with you during the days.  I never feel like I have to miss out on any of the new things you try to do.  I may start to sell baby slings from home.  Daddy and I are still talking it over to see if this is going to work for us.  It would help out our financial situation a little bit.  We’ve been living paycheck-to-paycheck for a couple of years now.  We may not have much money, son, but we love you so much! 

I pray that you sleep well tonight.  You are an amazing gift from God that we have been blessed with.  It’s an honor to be your mom!

All my love,  Mommy

My Dearest Son,

I love you!  You will never cease to amaze me!  You are continually figuring our something new about the world everyday — it is so awesome to try and see the world through your eyes (and so exciting, too)!

Last time I wrote I told you how Dad and I met and fell in love.  I pray for a love like that for you someday, son!  I found the qualities that I was looking for in your father without having to change my expectations.  Set your standards high when looking for your wife and then do not bend on the most important points.  Look for a woman with a faith firmly planted in the Lord — please, do NOT compromise on this — it could be a matter of eternal life or death!  Find someone with a compassionate heart and an honest spirit.  Also find someone who brings you joy — someone who will warm your heart with just one look or touch of the hand.  You will know when you find the one who completes you, especially if you ask for God to guide you.  How wonderfully blessed it is to have a Christian spouse!  I pray that you will also know this comfort someday, my son!

You continue to attempt walking on your own.  You’re getting it.  The other day you took five steps by yourself.  Soon enough you will be running everywhere!  Mommy will need all the energy I can get then!

I love you, son!  May God bless you, my child, my joy!

All my love, Mommy