Yeah, that’s right!  Things have been a bit crazy around here!  I have wanted to blog, but I didn’t.  Then I let myself feel guilty for not blogging, which brought my mood down, which led me to want to write, but not wanting to be a downer, henceforth, I did not write, which led to guilt (and run-on sentences) … vicious, stupid cycle! 😦

Anyway …  we made it through the end of the school year, field trips, concerts, swim/dance lessons, lack of therapists, constant schedule changes, etc. and into the summer, which means many things…

*I have gone back to work at a local produce farm for 4hrs each week.  It’s scheduled time out of the house, working hard, putting fresh, chemical-free produce into our frig on a weekly basis.  I enjoy it and the reminder that it brings me as to where our food comes from and how difficult it is to grow the food and grow it well.  Now if I could only keep our own garden weeded! 😉

*All of Christian’s new therapists are now fully trained! 🙂 Whew!  We might actually have a month where we make all of our required hours for the state! (80+hrs/month)  I feel, again, that our senior therapist has put together a good team who all seem to work well with Christian. (Thanks, BB!) [insert sigh of relief here!] I am thankful to God for bringing these new, wonderful people into Christian’s life (and for those who have been with us for awhile). 🙂

*Olivia is playing t-ball again this summer.  Her first practice/game was cancelled due to stormy weather.  She was disappointed, but now can’t wait for next week to roll around. 🙂  (Read about Christian’s adventures with softball here.)

*The kids have been out fishing with Brian at the nearby ponds a few times already.  Nothing like fresh fish sticks! 😉  (Read about our Father’s Day fishing adventure here.)  There is hope for many more successful fishing expeditions this summer! 🙂

*I’ve been attempting more home-baked goods lately: adding fish to our menu twice/week, homemade granola, crockpot yogurt, banana oatmeal cookies, rhubarb sauce, jam, etc.  Everything seems to taste that much better without the extra junk that is sometimes dumped into mass-produced foods. 🙂  Yum!

*The kids have been enjoying our fresh strawberries.  The berries have been slow going this year because of the cooler weather, but they are delicious and unlike most store-bought berries, are juicy and red ALL the way through! 🙂

*I have become an auntie twice in the last month(ish) to two beautiful nieces. 🙂  I love you, girls!

*I have also received a lesson in lawn tractor driving, so no longer have an excuse not to help keep the lawn under control.  (And I have learned from my mistakes!)

*Christian has fallen in love with Dr. Seuss books on his iPad.  He loves them all, but his favorite is “The Cat in the Hat.” 🙂  He has grown so fond of them that when I put the iPad to bed at night, Christian gets out the actual Dr. Seuss books and reads them instead.  (He has pretty much memorized “The Cat in the Hat” and also often walks about the house saying, “My father can read big words, too.  Like … Constantinople and Timbuktu.” from “Hop on Pop.” 🙂 ) Christian has also taken to dressing like the Cat, often wearing a tall hat and bow tie.  He’s SO cute! 🙂  (Although, yesterday afternoon he came running out of the bathroom wearing only the bow tie.  I was glad that I was the only one home at the time and enjoyed at good laugh 🙂 before I had to deal with the mess that was left behind. 😦 )

Christian as the Cat in the Hat (minus the bow tie)

Christian as the Cat in the Hat, minus his blue bow tie. 😉

*Christian totally misses school and the bus.  Daily.  Then he gets super mad at me when I can’t produce them.  😦  I’m praying that this phase passes soon!

*Christian is also still trying to get his top teeth to poke through his gums.  Painful for him.  Hard on the rest of us.  Sometimes aggression is involved.  Sometimes my food is declared “garbage” and quickly tossed in the trash after just being plated.  We are surviving on lots of deep breaths and silent prayers.  (And gum numb-er, stuff that is even more effective than orajel!)

*Pixar, Christian’s service dog, continues to do well with training at the Compassionate Paws training facility.  (Pixar will come home with us at the end of September!)  Vicki, the trainer, just started a blog about the goings on at the ranch.  You can check it out at http://compassionatepaws.blogspot.com

Sigh.  Where to start?!?  It’s been awhile since I sat down to write and ponder what’s been going on in our lives, so, I guess, this post will be a bit of a hodgepodge as these last couple of weeks have just rushed on by…

Well, last week was Christian’s spring break.  It was a struggle.  From a former-teacher’s standpoint, I understand the NEED for a spring break.  From Christian’s standpoint, I wish there was NEVER a break from school.  Our routine get SO messed up that it’s hard to get anything done.  It’s hard for Christian to stay dressed.  It’s hard to keep the peace between siblings.  It’s hard to keep my patience and sanity.  It’s hard to find something to do that pleases both kids.  It’s hard to keep up with the toileting issues that always rear their ugly heads anytime a major routine change happens, such as a LONG break from school.  Sigh.  We did manage to move a few of Christian’s therapy shifts earlier to help eat up some of the length of his days.  The kids and I went to visit my parents 45-minutes away and made animals at Build-A-Bear Workshop for their early birthday gifts from Grandma and Grandpa.  Christian was a little overwhelmed with all of the choices at the store, so I started making executive decisions for him, which turned out fine in the end.  (Especially when we got home and I realized that he wasn’t playing with his animal because I had put jammies on it.  Come on, Mama, animals don’t wear jammies!  I took them off the dog and then Christian LOVED his puppy!! 🙂 )  Liv got really shy there.  She refused to interact with the ladies in the store, but she knew what she wanted and found a Hello Kitty and dressed it in Hello Kitty jammies.  Yeah, she LOVED it!  🙂  Liv then stayed at Grandma & Grandpa’s overnight.  Her first night EVER away from us.  She did great!  She did so well in fact that she didn’t want to come home the next day.  😉  Who can blame her???  She had TWO WHOLE people’s undivided attention!  She certainly doesn’t get that around here.  Liv is looking forward to the next time that she gets to do that!  🙂  Oh, and the weather last week was BEAUTIFUL!  I couldn’t have ordered better weather.  It was warm.  It was sunny.  We were able to spend time outside.  🙂  (I just had to keep an eye on my little nudist.  He’d run out there with his clothes on and a minute later he’d be running laps in the yard TOTALLY in the buff, losing his clothes somewhere under the slide all while the neighbors were outside eating their supper.  Sigh.)  Christian started refusing to use his words towards the end of the week making it extremely hard to communicate effectively.  One of Brian’s grandmas broke her leg and ended up needing surgery.  (It went OK.  She is still recovering at the hospital.)  We had an Easter egg hunt with the kids in our living room on Saturday (since we were going to be gone most of the day on Sunday).  They had a blast.  Then we celebrated Liv’s Golden Easter Birthday here on Saturday, too.  She was excited!  🙂  Gifts, pizza, some soda, cake, playing with Neighbor Girl…Liv was a happy girl.  On Sunday, we rushed out the door after Brian was done milking to get to church.  We got there a few minutes late and didn’t get to sit in our usual spot.  Sigh.  Christian did OK, but struggled after 20 minutes.  And as pretty as Easter lilies are, they make me nauseated and headachy as I am very allergic to them.  We ended up leaving the service as communion started as wrestling Christian was getting harder and he was starting to “wet-noodle.”  We wanted to get out before he started his angry screams with hitting.  So, back on the road to my parents for the day.  I brought C’s jammies as I figured was better to have him wearing the jammies than streaking around all day in his underwear (or less).  I was happy that I thought of that before we left the house.  Liv enjoyed playing with her cousins, and celebrating Easter, and being the “Birthday Princess Flower Girl” for the day.  I enjoyed seeing my family and chatting a bit.  And it was nice to have some extra help in the backyard when everyone went out.  I stood on one end of the yard while the other end was guarded by other family members.  Thank you!  We only lost C once when he stealthily snuck through the house without making a sound.  Thankfully I found him hiding in the back of one of the cars in the garage inside of running down the street!  😉  After awhile, C wanted to snuggle with me in the dark, quiet basement, so I obliged.  We fell asleep just before supper, so when Brian woke me we decided to just let Christian sleep since he was tired enough to be napping and couldn’t eat anything that the rest of us were having for supper anyway.  Well, perhaps that was a mistake on my part.  I woke him a 1/2-hour later and then couldn’t get him to settle down once we got back home.  One day I’ll learn my lesson.  😉  I was a little nervous on Monday morning about getting back INTO our routine.  C wrestled me a bit getting into his clothes, but as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at school, he giggled.  He smiled.  He did his happy dance and then ran and galloped while “happy singing” all the way up to the school doors!  Amazing!  He was SO happy to be back!  🙂  (And I couldn’t have been happier for him, either.)  Therapy went well on Monday afternoon.  All back to routine!  🙂  Liv spent most of the day playing-up her Diva attitude while I attempted to pick-up the house and run errands.  Then she and Neighbor Girl played a LOT, which is wonderful, but they were also fighting and Neighbor Girl asks a LOT of questions.  More than Olivia does.  I didn’t know that was humanly possible.  And C went back to having accidents in the basement after his therapist left.  I was a bit frazzled.  (OK, that’s an understatment.)  I was ready to have everyone turn in for the night, so I could have some quiet solitude.  I basked in it before bed.  It was lovely. 🙂  Unfortunately, 1:30 rolled around with a wetting accident in one room, so I immediately started laundry.  2:30 started vomiting in the other, which continued for the next few hours.  5:30 came with a cry about the couch being peed on and then the vomiting started again.  Then I started not to feel so well.  Some of that just stemmed from major sleep-deprivation and having dealt with the middle of the night pukes.  I happily accepted Brian’s offer of taking Olivia to the store with him while he was home over his break.  Yes, I would rest with Christian.  And we did.  For 15 minutes.  Then I heard THAT sound.  Then I was covered in THAT stuff.  Eww…that didn’t help me feel any better.  😦  Poor C.  As I was getting myself out of my icky clothes, my phone rings.  C’s senior therapists.  Yes, we will cancel therapy today.  Thankfully, she was nice enough to come and stay with C for a couple of hours while ran to the store to buy additional carpet cleaning supplies.  I had used a week’s worth in 12 hours!  Oh, and she brought me Starbucks! 🙂  Thank you, AZ!  That really made my day!  🙂  Liv and Brian headed out to a Brewer game with some of his family after milking, which was fine with me.  I really just wanted to rest.  (And so did C.)  And that’s what we did.  I kept Christian home yesterday, too.  He just wasn’t himself yet.  I’m glad I made that decision even though that meant that I had to miss meeting up with a friend.  😦  (SM, I hope we can make it work out sometime soon!)  Liv was bored, but such is life some days, right?!?  But, today…Today Christian was back to his normal Christian-self.  He fought me getting dressed, (I mean, REALLY fought me!) but we finally managed to get out the door, and into the car, and then the kids fought ALL the way to school, BUT as soon as we pulled into the parking lot Christian was happy! 🙂  SO HAPPY!  🙂  And I was glad, as I wasn’t sure how it would go, but he dragged me up to the school building.  Happy screaming.  Happy running.  Happy jumping.  Sigh [of relief!]  I’m so excited that he was happy to be back!  🙂  And now, I should get back to my Liv, who has been hanging on my arm for the last 20-minutes…  😉

Christian LOVES his "Kipper" from Build-A-Bear now that the jammies are off! 🙂

Liv with her "Hello Kitty." Yep, that's what she named it! 😉

I am excited about tomorrow morning.  Christian’s senior therapist, AZ, is coming in to do autism sensitivity training with his Sunday School class.

I haven’t written about Sunday School much because it is hard.  I am there as Christian’s aide during that time.  He really struggles to attend and not be overly distracted by other things in the classroom.  He makes a lot of noise and gets strange looks from all of the other kids.  I struggle to help him the best that I am able under the circumstances.  Some Sundays, I consider not going because it’s too much work, but then remember the importance of Christian hearing the words of God.  Christian always hears more than I give him credit for, even if it doesn’t look like he’s paying attention.

Anyway, I don’t know why I didn’t plan to do this before, but after hearing at Christian’s IEP meeting that his teacher does sensitivity training with his mainstreamed classrooms, it occurred to me that was what Christian’s Sunday School class needed, too.

The kids there aren’t trying to be rude, but they just don’t understand what Christian is doing it and why he is doing it.  I pray that the training will help tomorrow. AZ, will read a story about a friend with autism.  Then she will talk about feelings and the different ways that everyone responds to how they feel.  And then the kids can ask questions.  I really think that this will help them understand Christian and anyone else they may meet in the future who acts a little bit differently at times.

Brian’s birthday was last week.  Christian made Brian this card with the help of one of the therapists, LW…

Happy Birthday Dad

I Love You Christian I Love You Christian

Christian

The VERY BEST part of this card is that Christian READ it to Brian ALL BY HIMSELF.  Brian and I were near tears by the end.  🙂

While Brian and I were at the ER yesterday afternoon, Christian was having his usual therapy.  One of his therapists, AZ, wrote me this note later —

“I didn’t make a schedule for Christian today and he was running around a lot. Liv looks at me and goes, “AZ, you gotta make a schedule. That’s just what you do””

Yep.  She’s a mini-therapist in the making.  In the mornings and on weekends when the therapists aren’t scheduled, this is what she does, plays therapist, whether Christian likes it or not.  (And we are working hard on getting her to back off a little bit.)

I get a little worried sometimes when I think about Olivia and how our relationship will look in the future.  She’s already pushing all of my buttons on a daily hourly basis.  What will she be like as a teenager? 

I had mentioned to one of our therapists last night that I couldn’t even remember what a “typical” 3-year-old should act like.  She told me that Liv was pretty “normal,” but extremely head strong compared to all of the other 3’s she knows.  And she’s smart.  Really smart.  Liv will have to start taking breaks from Christian’s therapy sessions because she answers Christian’s questions for him.  (And we think he has slowed at answering questions because he knows that Liv will answer for him if he waits.  Two too smart kids! 😉 )  And Liv is just so imaginative and creative and entertaining…

…but she also has a side that is overly anxious (nervous) in public.  She’s afraid of storytime (even if I stay there right by her).  She’s scared to be around “new” people in “new” places.  Somedays, she gets SO nervous that the color drains right out of her face and she looks like she will pass out.  (Wow!  I sure hope that she adjusts to 4K alright next year!)

Liv has times where she plays Christian’s therapist and advocate — reminding Christian that he needs to use his words or reminding me (or others) that Christian doesn’t like certain songs or sayings, etc.  Yet, at other times, she provokes him to anger taking his beloved letter blocks or his Leapfrog Texter, and then she wonders why he hits her…  (although, one REALLY awesome thing came out of that this week — Liv bumped his letter blocks, and Christian instead of just screaming and hitting like normal, first said, “I sad” 😦  How GREAT is that!?!  Communication at its finest!!! 🙂 )

One other thing that I am starting to realize is that I think Liv is lonely.  We don’t have a lot of close friends in the area.  She doesn’t get to play with other children much.  She talks about her cousins all the time and asked if one of them (a girl cousin just 8-months older) could move into her room.  And she tries to engage in play with Christian, but he doesn’t play the way she wants or needs.  I wish that I could alleviate her loneliness for her.

I’m also learning that her personality, which seems SO DIFFERENT than mine, is actually a lot closer than I realized.  As a child, I always felt that I was doing everything wrong.  Constantly.  That no matter how hard I tried, my efforts would never be good enough.  For anyone.  I still struggle with those feelings yet to this day.  I don’t want Olivia to carry that same burden, but in some ways, I can see it creeping up in her already.  She is overly apologetic about certain accidents she has around the house.  She hides things when she thinks that Brian or I will be upset.  It breaks my heart to see that possibility in her.  I am working to try and fix that before it becomes the lifetime struggle that I have with an inability to measure up to standards set by others (or even myself).

And, Liv, she’s just and old, wise 3-year-old.  She has great empathy.  She is super silly.  She will be setting the fashion trends as a doctor, veterinarian, fire fighter, postal worker, teacher, princess some day.  She has major heart.  And I love her, more than I could have imagined possible.

Sigh.  I am thrilled to report that Christian is no longer staying up past midnight, but he has still been up ’til 11pm.  I’m pretty tired.  Actually, I’m VERY tired.  However, I am, again, thankful that the Olympics are on.  He seems to have taken a liking to “skate” = speedskating and “down” = skiing.  🙂  Perfect.  Some of my favorite events to watch!!!  😉

We are still seeing more aggression than usual.  More hitting and kicking me, especially when getting changed.  More spontaneous shoving of Olivia.  More tantruming and screaming when he doesn’t want to do something.  Sigh.  I really hope THIS part, in particular, goes away soon!

He has also been avoiding his therapists a lot, too, and clinging to me instead.  One night I had to actually lock myself in our bedroom, so that Christian would work with his therapist.  And major parts of his communication skills are still missing — like if asked a question, he will not even acknowledge you standing 6-inches away from his face.  That is heart-breaking. 

Also heart-breaking, watching him go back to dragging his forehead across a room on the carpet.  We have seen him do that maybe 3 times in the last 3 years (since we pulled gluten from his diet).

Sigh.  It’s amazing how much damage TWO pieces of toast can do…

(…and I’m praying that the rest of it leaves his system soon!)