Sunday, December 29, 2013

hope and other gifts

What a morning.

I woke up to the sound of Isaac beside me in bed..."Mommy...It's YOUR birthday now.  When's the party?"

I smiled with my eyes closed and then WAS my birthday.  I paused, letting my brain adjust to the time and day.  Yesterday had been Isaac's 7th birthday, and I had spent the day sleeping or in the bathroom fighting a miserable stomach bug.  I remembered crying as my husband packed up our gifts and Isaac to go and celebrate Christmas with the Hladky side of the family (Ethan, who also had the bug the night before was better but stayed to help me).  I was missing out on so much.  This wasn't how I had planned it to be! Stopping for another second, this time in the present, I realized my headache was upset stomach wasn't rumbling anymore...I took a deep breath, holding it for another second to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  Exhaling to find I was most certainly awake, I opened my eyes.  I had a new day to be thankful for.

Still moving a bit slower than usual, I began inspecting all the things I hadn't been able to do:  a laundry basket full of clean clothes sat in the corner of the bedroom...dishes were piled in the and gifts were scattered precariously throughout the hall, kitchen, and living room, and I looked like a freight train hit my face. I began quietly searching my heart to think of those who are struggling with health issues of their own...loss...pain...loneliness...despair.  It was overwhelming and I didn't know where to start...

So, I had to stop.  Focus.  Just take a deep breath, and recall all the things that had already been done for me and for those I have heavy on my heart.

Grace...mercy...strength in time of need...wisdom...healing...because of Jesus.  Because of the one whose birth we just celebrated a few days ago...

The best birthday gifts are the ones that have already been open, just sitting unnoticed daily in the corners of our hearts.  We just need to take a minute to count them, soak them in, and walk with the purpose we have been promised.  Sometimes we will stumble.  Sometimes we will run and soar.  Other times we will have to wait.  No matter what, we keep moving and in due time, we will arrive.

On this birthday, I am reminded of Romans 8:38...

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to seperate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Hope.  It really is the greatest gift.

Happy birthday, with hope...

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Leaves are lighting up in hues that remind me it's October:  fiery oranges and crimsons, pops of yellow splashed between that seem to glow in the dark with a navy blue sky in the background.  October also means snow, apparently, (a few inches for our friends in the snow belt today!  Wowza!), and one of my favorite butterflies-in-the-belly inducing times--parent teacher conferences.

Yesterday I was able to squeeze in a half hour with Isaac's wonderful 1st grade teachers.  Miss Edgehouse and Mr. Ratkovsky are energetic, patient, and "really awesome." (I couldn't have said it better, Isaac. :-)

As I sat in the cozy rocking chair, I calmed down a bit in the softly lit room with a fun table lamp on the book shelf next to me.  "The harsh lights can get to the kids sometimes.  The lamps help a lot," Miss Edgehouse shared at Open House.  I remember this as I feel the effects and agree. Both teachers sit and gather their papers and notebooks and we begin...

And Isaac goes wild.

He skips around the classroom, opens cabinets and takes out small dinosaur and wildlife figures and hums loudly...he runs to the corner where a large swing hangs from the ceiling.  He crawls in and we hear him making repetitive sounds of glee.  I am trying to focus and trying not to call out his name, count to three, and tell him to sit and play quietly.  The teachers are pretty unphased and we continue...

We discuss Isaac's progress from August to now in reading and comprehension.  He is doing fantastic.
Reading at a 3rd grade level, Mr. Ratkovsky tells me they are working on comprehension and description. I smile, all the while listening to Isaac's noises and excitement.  Things escalate as Miss Edgehouse tells me how well Isaac has been doing in Math, and in a few weeks will begin extra enrichment to keep his progress at a steady level and keep him challenged.  His science and social studies skills are wonderful too:  He knows symbols, concepts, and can talk about them.  I see the teachers look behind me as Isaac climbs up and tries to move a clothespin from the behavior chart.  "Look, Mom!" He yells, "See, this is where we get to make expected choices!"  As he roughly leans over, the chart falls to one side and swings crookedly.  Isaac's teachers laugh and shake their heads and talk with him about being careful and gently motivate him to something else.  In a few minutes, he's running on all fours, pretending to be an animal...grabbing a ball and tossing it in the air.  Bouncing, like the ball, off the walls.

For me, this is normal.  Isaac has always been intensely active, usually in spurts, and it is usually out of control.  As we continued to talk, I was amazed to hear that this was a side of Isaac his teachers weren't familiar with.

"We haven't seen him like this. Ever."
"Is he like this at home?"
"This gives us a whole different perspective of Isaac!"
"Does he play any sports?"

I am amazed.  I ask, "He doesn't get active like this in class?"

Their answers leave me puzzled.  "Isaac very rarely has days where he can't follow directions.  He sits in his seat, does his work.  He is good at telling us when he has completed a task and can quietly raise his hand and move on independently.  When he is tempted to make an unexpected choice, he is aware and changes his behavior. He does like to do a lot of copy-cat behavior with his friends, but he knows when to stop."

Again, I am amazed.  Happily amazed.

As we wrap up the meeting, I chat with Miss Edgehouse.  She mentions to me that he can have chatty days, and I laugh and say, "Pretty amazing for a boy who was non-verbal and had his greatest delays in expressive language, huh?"  She almost didn't believe me.

As Isaac and I walk (he skips) to the van, a ball of tightly wound energy that could barely hold my hand.  I tell him how proud I am of him, how much I love his teachers and his school, and how he makes me so glad to be his mommy.  He beams.

When Isaac is home, he cuts loose.  He needs that outlet--he needs to be able to "let it all out" after a long day of focusing, working, listening.  It helps me remember just a bit more that it's okay for him to get a little out of control.  He is working on the control part in the places that matter, and I am working on the patience part with the knowledge of hearing it's working.

"Kick off your Sunday shoes", everyone. And keep learning.

Friday, September 6, 2013

who's afraid of the big bad...giraffe?

Lately, we have been telling lots of stories at our house.

Stories about summer; about the first weeks of school and the drama that ensues; about the leaves that are changing; about our hopes and dreams...

even, the not-so-nice dreams.

Every child deals with fear.  Even as an adult, our fears seem to multiply BECAUSE of our children.  Will they get their feelings hurt?  Will they fall off of the monkey bars at recess?  The wills and what if's seem endless.

Yesterday evening, after dinner and showers, Isaac sat with me at our kitchen table.  He, with a before bed snack of cereal and milk, and I with my hot tea (fighting a cold here...).  The night was chilly, and you could hear the crickets shouting at us through the big, night cloaked windows behind us.  Our conversation took off...

"Mom, guess what."

"What, Booder?"

"I had a couple of dreams last night....and two bad ones."

"Oh, I'm sorry love.  Sometimes those happen."

"Yeah....and here's what it was about.  I came home from school and I looked in the kitchen...nothing there.  I looked in the basement, nothing there.  I looked in the bathroom, nothing there.  I looked in the dining room, nothing there..."  (To save you time, he went through every room of our house, including closets, and found nothing, until...) "I came to YOUR room and there was a big long tail and it had black eyes, and it was looking at me, and then...I ran down the hall..."

"Okay, that doesn't sound nice at all...what happened?"

"Well, I went back to see it because it just wanted to go outside, so I let it outside.  It was just a big rhinoceros."

  [end of first scary dream]

"Wow. helped the rhino?"

"Yes.  BUT."


"But MY room there was a big giraffe."

If I could describe the way his eyes grew large as he talked, or the way his wet hair dripped onto his forehead and his spoon hung mid-bite from his mouth, I would.  But it's not important.

The important part is how we are facing fear.

It was time for bed, and Dan, Ethan, and myself were standing at the bottom of the stairs.  Isaac had to put his cereal bowl into the sink (this is something we taught the boys to do early on--just clean up after yourself as a good habit).  He stood in the middle of the kitchen and looked at us, then his bowl on the table, then back at us.  He ran toward us, panic on his face.

Dan calmly hugged him, "Buddy, you need to put your bowl away, please."  Isaac was terrified.  He had spooked himself after telling me his stories and his imagination was running just as wild as he runs on the playground.  "Um...but, I'm scared.  Can somebody close the door?"  (We have a door that goes from the kitchen to our foyer, and the foyer was dark, the door open) Dan knelt down and took Isaac gently by the shoulders.  Ethan and I stood beside them.  "Buddy, it's important to face your fears.  I know you're afraid, but there's nothing over there that can hurt you.  The dark is the dark, and nothing more.  We are all here and will protect you."  Ethan chimes in, "Yeah, I'll protect you. And remember, God is always with you too, and he's bigger than anything."  Isaac struggles for a few minutes, trying to get us to go with him, carry him, or just close the door.

Finally, we met halfway--I stood midway between the table and Isaac.  "I'll stand here...see?  I'm looking at the foyer and there is nothing.  You can do it."  Isaac slowly walked to my side, looked in the direction I was looking, and made his way to the table, carefully picking up his bowl and walking slowly with a smile and a giggle at his accomplishment.  Our whole family cheered and gave him high-5's.

Why is this blog worthy?  Because I know it's not the last time we will deal with the discomfort of fear.  Learning how to handle it and teach Isaac what tools are necessary to combat fear is essential as he grows.  Isaac's life has had an underlying theme in my own journey through life:  Fear.  His needs have challenged me in every area to look through that dark door of the unknown that might be keeping me from moving ahead, and to step bravely on and accomplish a goal--despite the looks, the judgment, the words, or the all-knowing advice of others.  

In our home, we also practice prayer, and combating fear with TRUTH.  We believe in Jesus, and also teach our children that He is an "ever present help in time of need."  I love this passage of Hebrews 4 in The Message...

14-16  Now that we know what we have--Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God--let's not let it slip through our fingers.  We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.  He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all--all but the sin.  So, let's walk right up to him and get what he is ready to give.  Take the mercy, accept the help.  

That beady eyed, big bad giraffe of fear is always going to come around--it's debilitating presence an invisible crippler of hope. But we have something greater.  And we are learning, constantly learning, how to take what he freely gives--help...the chance to try again, to face life head on, and to win.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Growing Pains

Summer has been beautiful.  I've taken a break from the computer for a good part of the past 3 months, savoring time and making memories with Ethan and Isaac.  We've had pool days, water park fun with friends, an exciting and relaxing vacation to the beach, exploring cities and museums, bike riding, ice cream eating, and sometimes, just not doing a thing! It was a little slice of heaven.

Isaac "two toes" the Pirate on our pirate excursion at Beaufort, North Carolina

The summer was beautiful.  But, it was fast.  Lightning speed, fast!  I blinked, and part of it became a blur. I do remember feeling like my boys truly have grown (literally) and I was able to stand back and let them raid the refrigerator once or twice...and then grow some more.  The proof is in the shoe size:  Ethan is now a 6 and Isaac a 1.  They are now in 4th and 1st grades.  With all this growing comes a need for more teaching, more maturing.  (Yes, and the fart jokes are still a part of that...sigh).

I'm being honest.  It's been a rough start to the academic year.  With new teachers come new rules, boundaries, and expectations.  And I'm just talking about myself here.

We have faced some new challenges--and some old ones that faded away when routine was absent.
We have had to deal with fears and anxieties that have never been an issue before.
We have had to spend more money on uniforms because SOME BOYS didn't listen to mom when she told them to "stop growing....right....NOW."

So when I was cleaning out Ethan's dresser, making a change in some sizes of course, I found a crumpled piece of paper that I had saved from back when I was a young girl that my parents had typed and framed for me.  I had forgotten I had kept it.  I must have stashed it away in Ethan's drawer for when he was older...and what an appropriate season of life to find it and be reminded.  Here is what it says:

It's Your Move, Christa

but cannot live it for you
but I cannot make you learn
but cannot account for it
but I cannot always be there to lead you
but I cannot make you believe
but I can't always decide for you
but I can't make you lovely on the inside
but I cannot accept it for you
but I cannot force it upon you
but I cannot make you one
but I cannot make you unselfish
but I cannot force you to show honor
but I cannot doubt your teachers
but I cannot choose them for you
but I cannot keep you pure
but I cannot build your reputation
but I can't say no for you
but I cannot prevent you from using them
but I cannot achieve them for you
but I cannot force you to be gracious
but I cannot make your morals
but I cannot place you in God's family
but I cannot make you walk with God
but I can't have your relationship with him as your Savior
but I cannot make Jesus your Lord
but I cannot give you eternal life. 

Thanks for listening, Mom and Dad

After I found this letter, I just stood at Ethan's dresser for awhile, reading it over, remembering where it had hung on my bedroom wall.  Somehow, this makes parenting sound terrifying (yes, I'm talking to you, fellow control freaks) and beautiful simultaneously.  And it is.

That night, I was tucking my little men in with Dan and as he was chatting with Isaac in his room, I talked with Ethan about this school year ahead.  He shared some things on his heart, and I shared some on mine.  He curled up next to me and said, "Mom. Can you pray for me?" Of course I did.  And I plan to do more than just that.  This school year...

I plan to do what this letter says--what I can and NOT what I cannot.  I have limits.  I am an earthly parent with faults and breaks.  Just as my children are growing, I am also growing.  In wisdom, in grace, and in all the other necessary fruits of the Spirit that flourish when we love as Jesus loves.   I am going to be swift to pray, wise to act,

I think I'm going to update this "It's Your Move" letter for Ethan and Isaac...print it and frame it and hang it somewhere they will see it and be reminded.  Maybe, they will keep it and share it with their babies...

Sometimes growing means admitting you are where you are for a reason.  Then, and only then, can you see the lesson God has budding for you.  I am so thankful these boys have been placed in my garden to help nurture and teach and love.  Here's to the growing pains.

Our Family, Summer 2013

Size 1, Grade 1, Mr. Isaac Josef

Friday, May 24, 2013


Oftentimes, when I think about what's on my heart, and what's been rolling around in my head, I have to really think and soak.  Not today.

As I sat down at my computer this morning, I caught up with the recent news.  The victims from Monday's horrible tornado in Oklahoma popped up on the front page.  I reluctantly browsed the images, looking at the faces and reading the stories about lives cut short; children who were torn from their parents arms while waiting the storm out in their bathtubs...boys and girls who were off to school that morning, boys and girls Ethan's age...who didn't get to kiss their moms and dads ever again.  My eyes are pouring with tears and my heart aches.

It's easy to get frustrated daily, isn't it?  It's normal to feel inadequate as a parent.  I know.  But suffering like this, and experiencing the pain of loss from the outside looking in...I can't help but let it strike me to the core...

How many times have I let my anger come out and wish I could have taken it back?
How many times haven't I told my children that I am proud of them, that I love them, and that no one else can love them like Jesus does?
How many moments have I mumbled under my breath complaints about my schedule or having to get up late with a bad dream or a potty break?
How long have I sat awake at night wondering why Isaac had such an "off" day and wished he could just be "normal" so life would be easier?
How many times have I silently wished Ethan would be more like me in the classroom, and less of himself?  

Honestly.  How dare I.  How DARE I. 

Moments, minutes, days...these are gifts.

My precious children, how you make me wonder how God thought I could ever be what you need to teach you and to raise you in his wisdom and grace?  In all of my fallibility, He saw fit to let you be mine for a short time on earth.  I'm so sorry if I have or ever will take that beautiful mystery for granted.  Please forgive me.

To those parents, families, who are experiencing searing heart truly does hurt with you. I can't comprehend...

I couldn't imagine...

In all of the hardships, in all of the trials--in LIFE--we must love and press all the juicy goodness and beauty from our experiences.  It's difficult, being squeezed and pushed--but it's worth all the sweetness in the end of the day, when we hit the pillow and know that we aren't the same as we were 12 hours ago if we allow Jesus Christ to transform us through the process (even if that included tears, raised voices, asking for forgiveness, and then reassuring of our love).  We pray that we have the gift of another day to do it all again...and if we don't, we can hope that we have honored God in the role he has blessed us with as a parent--that we loved until we couldn't love any more...any less..."beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and anyone that loves is born of God and knows God..."  (I John 4:7)

I type and stare at my mousepad on the desk beside me.  Images of my sons, from babies to school age, stare back at me.  Smiling faces, hugs, beach scenes, sitting together in the kitchen...memories flash and I take a deep breath.  I praise my own heavenly Father for such images, such memories.

Today, and always, may I never take them for granted.

My mousepad lesson today...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

a new ice cream

Thursday night was beautiful.  I had high hopes that the evening would go smoothly.  Ethan was performing at his Spring Musical Concert at school, and after having listened to him practice numerous tunes on his recorder, the much anticipated night had arrived.

I helped my eldest get gussied up in a blue button down Oxford and a blue striped "power" tie.  He looked handsome and confident.  Isaac squirmed on the bed next to us as I helped Ethan with the button closest to his neck:  "Mommy, Mommy, Moooooommmmmy!"  Isaac was yelling my name for no apparent reason.  "Isaac, I'm right here...." I quietly hushed him.  He continued to flail his legs and talk with no volume less than extreme.  After helping Ethan, I pulled Isaac aside, sat him on my knee, and tried to look him in the eyes.  The eye contact was slim to none.

"Isaac, I don't know know why you are screaming at me, or why you are kicking.  Can you tell me how to help you?"

Sometimes I have to ask Isaac why he's doing what he's doing to help him figure out what he needs.  It could be he's just overly stimulated, excited, or, even has to use the bathroom.  Usually a conversation helps, but in this case, he wiggled off of my lap, and ran away flapping his hands.  Sigh.

As we load into the van, the loudness and fidgeting continues.  I start worrying.  Will Isaac be still during the concert?  Will he shout out and make a scene?

When there are crowds, there are glances.  Where there are glances, there are stigmas. Where there are stigmas, there are assumptions.  I hate assumptions.

My mom and Gram met us at Ethan's school, and already saved us seats close to the front.  More worrying...It's impossible to describe in words how my mind creates a series of "what if" scenarios...

As the music and singing began, Isaac became more and more active.  He couldn't sit still, he couldn't control his volume, and even at one point, his bodily functions (I suppose it's normal for a 6 year old to pass gas while sitting on his Mimi's lap during a quiet lull between orchestral performances....)  I decided to take him to the bathroom, and ended up staying in the back of the auditorium til the end of the show.  He jumped up and down, shook his head, and generally was not able to focus at all.

My mom and Gram took Isaac outside while I rounded up a jovial Ethan.  He had mentioned to his friends and their parents that we were going for ice cream.  After a few more families decided to meet us at a local ice cream shop, they boys excitedly ran to the van.  I chatted with a few familiar faces, and ran into Ethan's wonderful teacher.  I stopped her to give her a hug and thank you, and, just like that, I couldn't control my emotions.  Tears welled in my eyes and I apologized for the episode.  I blamed it on my husband being away on business (which was a large part of it) but really, it was because I had been trying to put on a good face, trying to not let people see how hard it had been at home all week, that night, watching Isaac have a hard few days and me not knowing how to help or put a finger on a specific trigger.

The straw on the camel's back was getting ice cream.  Isaac tried to join the bigger kids and sit on a fence and eat their treats.  He lost his balance, stumbled off and splat!  His ice cream cone hit the pavement.  The other kids (including his big brother) began to laugh as Isaac picked up his cone, and took a lick.  I watched with furrowed brows and held breath as Isaac absorbed the kids laughing, didn't know how to process their response (which was, just like children, meant in fun), and in frustration, threw his ice cream--barely missing a stranger who was sitting nearby.  He began to cry.  For the first time that I could remember, Isaac was crying NOT because of a physical injury, which, even then takes a very serious wound to bring tears.  He was crying because he was hurt deeply, emotionally.  For a boy who struggles identifying emotion in general, this was a beautiful, terrifying moment as I watched.

I wanted to run over, yell at the kids to stop, scoop up my son and cry with him.  I wanted to throw my own ice cream that was melting in my hot, angry hands.  I wanted to shake Isaac until all the autism fell out of him in a messy heap on the sticky ground, and hug him until everyone disappeared.

Tables of people who had watched Isaac throw his ice cream, and earlier, run and scream with no context in their minds, began whispering to one another as I stood close by.  I wanted to turn to them and explain, reason with them and pull out a pie chart showing how rarely this really happens, but how horrible it can be.  I wanted them to see Isaac for who he was...

After holding Isaac for awhile, I talked with him.  "Are you sad because you dropped your ice cream?"  "Yes..." he sobbed quietly.  "But, mom...they, they, they...l-l-laughed at me."  My heart broke.  Lifting my head so he wouldn't see me crying either, I smile and say, "I know.  I saw them.  They thought you were funny."  "B-b-but I wasn't funny" he said.  I bypass the talk about throwing the ice cream out of frustration.  I decide to encourage him.  "I'm glad you could be sad and tell me why.  Thank you for doing that."  I gave him a long hug and bought him another ice cream.

Seeing the world and experiencing it through Isaac's eyes is part of my existence.  His autism is part of me because he is a part of me.  We battle together, we interpret together, we learn together.  We also will fail together, cry together, get frustrated together.  But, it will be together.

A new ice cream: a second chance to learn, and more grace for the moment.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Dear Frustration...

Dear Frustration,

Normally, seeing as it is Monday, I'm prepared for your retaliation on the start of my week.  I anticipate the  weekend blues and piles of laundry that I pushed aside until today.  But, was a glorious weekend, and I was up to speed on everything--I reveled in the joy of being a mom.  Catching up today on taking a deep breath and thinking about my blessings was about all I had hoped to check off of my "to-do" list. 

Then, you show up.  And you bring your ugly friends with you.

I've had about enough of you ALL for today. 

Anger?  You can stop destroying my peace.  No one is perfect, and honestly, I don't need YOU to remind me.

Lonliness?  I'm kicking you to the curb.  Taste your own medicine.  I might feel lonely, but I'm never alone. 

And finally...


Sometimes I think you think you own me.  You think you can pop in at any time and tell me I'm a failure, I'm not doing a good job, and I'm never going to be satisfied. 

I want to take this opportunity to tell you you're wrong, and you're not welcome here. 

I'm sure you'll show up sooner than later after this is over.  I'm sure you'll ring the doorbell of my thoughts and butt into my self talk...but I'm not going to fall subject to your games.  Lies don't become me--beauty doesn't lie in the eyes of the beholder; it lies in the heart of my CREATOR.

So, take your baggage and guilt and leave.

Leave me alone.
Leave my children alone.
Leave my husband alone.

I am free.  I am owned by grace.  I am saved and restored.  I am looking to my Source for strength and He will tell me who I am, not you OR your friends. 

A mom who stands on Truth

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I have been browsing through old notes of mine.  I came across this gem, which, in honesty, encouraged me more than it did even then when I wrote it! Back in September 2009 I journaled about the use of names--more specifically, my own to my sons--Mom.  I am reminded tonight of the preciousness of this, the trust, hope, grace, and love that embodies my name and what a gift and responsibility it is.  More importantly, I lean on the name of Jesus.  He is my everything.  I needed that tonight...

So here's the original note. Ethan was in Kindergarten, and Isaac still in a crib! LOL!  How time changes, but our heart's lessons go on.   Hope it gives you encouragement like it did me.  

My bright-blue-eyed alarm clock woke me this morning. "Mom," the voice said softly,"I think your radio is on." Sure enough, the music was playing and neither Dan nor myself were moving. I inhaled deeply, hoping to expunge some energy from the little man standing beside my bed. 

As we go into his bedroom to hunt for the little plush walrus that he won for "good listening" in school yesterday, Ethan finds it and jumps up victorious! "Mom! I found it!" Simultaneously, I hear Isaac in his room next door wake up and chime in, "Momma! Momma! Momma!" 

I realized then how often I take hearing my name for granted. As a Mom, you often wish you had the ability to be called something different. You hear it all too much, usually at the most inopportune of times. My mother-in-law tells me that when my husband and his siblings were little, she would half-jokingly, half-seriously tell them that she changed her name and would not be responding to "Mom" anymore. Thankfully, there is a name that never loses it's urgency, never leaves the caller to fend for themselves, and always responds with an answer--God. 

The Psalmist, David, the Israelite King with a tendency to see the cup half empty one second, and overflowing the next, explains my point: "Pay attention God to my prayer; bend down and listen to my cry for help. Every time I'm in trouble I call on you, confident that you'll answer." When my children call me, use my name, they are confident I'll answer. They link my name with a need--with a question, with a conversation, with an answer. All to often I forget that my God is just a name away, hoping that I will call, hoping that I will take a moment and speak with Him, confident that He will listen and respond as He says He will.

I'm only human, and my name is fallible. My ability to answer every question and meet every need of my children is about as dependable as my ability to hear my alarm clock every morning. Thankfully, like David, I have a name to call on when my name fails. I have strength and hope in the name of God, his son Jesus--a name above every other name. 

I hear my name being called in the kitchen--Isaac wants to show me a truck...I'm glad to answer, because I am glad he knows my name. I am glad he uses it, and trusts I will answer.


Monday, April 15, 2013

look, don't touch

It's 10 am, and after a fast-paced morning (picture Nascar're getting warmer) I am making my  rounds through the boys' rooms after they have made it out the door to school.  No, I take that back; after they have been teleported out of their pajamas that lie in a heap. I walk over to see our new pet, a fancy rat named Willow, in her cage in Ethan's room.  Inside, all of her toys and her bed are moved around so she can't get to her water, or her food bowl.  It's was here.  I struggle not to get angry.  It wouldn't be so hard to take if this were the first, or even the second time.  But this is the 9th.  Yes.  I'm counting. 

The rule is, no opening Willow's cage without asking mom, dad, or Ethan.  I have found Isaac a few times, trying to sneak open the cage.  We have talked about it.  If Willow were to get out, we might lose her.  If Willow escaped, she might get hurt or not have food.  If you were Willow, would you like it if every time you turned around, something in your home was different or out of place?  If, if, if...

Thankfully, the cage is closed, but I take a few moments to readjust the interior so that she can get around. As I'm moving Willow's home back to it's original state, I remember a moment not too long ago in the store with Isaac...

We had made a stop at Hobby Lobby for a few items I needed, and as we browsed, I got down at eye level with Isaac and said, "There are a lot of breakable things here.  You can look with your eyes, but don't touch with your hands, okay?"

This is torture to Isaac.  Part of his major processing is done through hands-on.  He is quite the tactile learner.  I kept an eye on him as we walked around the aisles, trying to find all the items on my list without overstaying our welcome (or before something got broken).  I tried not to laugh as I watched Isaac reach a hand out to touch a ceramic statue, and then pause mid-lift.  Slowly, he put his hand back down and leaned in so close, his nose was almost touching the figure!  "Isaac?"  I ask, a little smile in my words--"What are you doing?"  He looked at me with a very serious stare and said, "Mom...can I look with my hands this time?" LOL

Back to the cage...

I will be having another talk with Isaac today.  We will discuss the rules....again.  We will have some sort of consequence to breaking the rules...again.  But we will also talk about how touch is important.  It helps us to connect and relate in a way that is becoming extinct in our culture.  A hug, a handshake, or a high five:  all of these physical touch responses are vital to Isaac's growth and sense of love and acceptance and all a part of relationships in our world. Touch brings about comfort, strength, appreciation, hope. 

As much as I know Isaac has done something he isn't allowed to do, I also know he does something that we all need to do more of--not being afraid of touching others lives and hearts. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

perspiration inspiration

Never before have I had an epiphany while on an eliptical machine...

Until today.

I just joined a fitness club, not because I need to lose weight, but because I needed some inspiration.   I needed some fresh air after the cold and the snow and the decorations came down.  I needed to get out and see people, friends, and remember to be kind to myself. I needed a challenge, and I wanted to step outside my comfort zone.  Imagine that.

As I was...elipticizing (???)...I chatted back and forth with a friend of mine who I joined with.  When we finished our half hour, she said good-bye and I headed to work on a few more machines.  A woman smiled at me as I was wiping down an ab machine I fondly refer to as "Killer."  I paused, thinking she might ask me a question.  She looked like she was about to and then turned and walked away.

I was slightly confused as I got situated on "Killer."  I made a note to approach her after I was done.

As I passed the eliptical machines on my way to the locker room, I saw this woman again.  I made a quick decision to hop back on the machine next to her, hoping to strike up a conversation...and not get punched in the face.

Her face was not what it was 15 minutes before.  She was somber, focused, and kept her gaze directed away from me.  On purpose.

Defeated, I decided I couldn't get off of the machine after only 30 seconds, so I set my course and kept pushing myself.  My legs were done.  But I felt like I needed to wait for her.

She finally finished up and I pretended I did too.  I had given up as she cleaned her machine and walked away.  I guess I wasn't supposed to talk to her after all.  Embarrassed, I walked to the locker room to get my sweatshirt and keys.  As I was zipping up my hoodie, I felt someone come up next to me.

"I'm sorry...I just thought you looked like someone I knew.  I must look like a weirdo..."  It was her.  The woman I caused paralysis in my legs for.  I smiled at her.  "No, no, not a weirdo.  I just wondered were...okay."  The words came out of my mouth like a splash on the floor.  After a pause, she spoke.

"I just noticed you here yesterday, and I saw your Walk for Autism shirt...and then, today...I saw you were wearing a shirt about...Team Isaac with that "Keep on Truckin" saying on the was inspiring to me, I don't know...and I just wanted to tell you without being weird."  Nervous laughter.

I tried not to cry.  I was so touched.  "Isaac is my son, actually, and we had these t-shirts made up when we walked in his honor a few years ago.  We put a truck on the back because, well, he  loves anything with wheels, and keep on truckin' is the slogan we decided on don't stop fighting for the ones you love, no matter how hard or how long it takes, right?"

She nodded and smiled but it looked sad.  "Have a good one." She put on her jacket and walked out.  I wondered how hard that was for her to tell  me what she just did.

We don't always know the reasons why we end up where we do, at what time, and with whom.  I flashed back to the day I wore that "Keep on Truckin'" t-shirt on a cold September day in 2009, watching Isaac in his stroller as we walked...I remember looking at him and wondering where he'd be and how we'd get there.   Today, I knew I was there not to BE inspired, but to be and INSPIRATION.  I really hope I see her again, and maybe we can talk more.

My legs are sore, but my heart is revived.

Friday, January 11, 2013

red light day

My phone rings.  It's two-something in the afternoon.  It's a Friday, I have dessert done for a get-together later tonight--the sun is out, promising for an unseasonably lovely weekend...and the phone rings.  I recognize the phone number.  It's Isaac's teacher.  I take a deep breath and answer.  

"Hello?"  "Hi Mrs. Hladky, it's Mr. Wojnicz, Isaac's teacher..."  "Oh, hi, how are things?"  (Don't know why I ask this question, so I squint my eyes shut and smack my forehead...but we keep talking). "Well, I just wanted to call to let you know Isaac's going to be coming home with a red light today...he made some bad behavior choices while waiting to use the bathroom, and was running in the halls, raising his voice...we had a talk about it, but decided it was a good idea for him to have a red light today to talk about it at home with you and Dad."  Some of you are reading this thinking, "That's it?  He was running and being loud and cutting in line for the bathroom?"   In Isaac's school, its a little different.  Order, control, and even how loud the kids are become major issues in creating a healthy, safe, and encouraging environment for these kids who may not function in a regular classroom.  Back to my story...

First, relief.  Isaac's not physically harmed.  Second, smiling.  I could picture him running down the hall, yelling something along the lines of "I'M FREEEEEE!" while trying to zip up his jeans on dress down day.  Third, a pang in my heart.  It's never easy to hear that your child had to be reprimanded.  I'm not embarrassed, though...never embarrassed.   I learned long ago that although Isaac's my son, he is still his own person and responsible for his own actions--especially in school where he knows the rules.  It's just my job to love and lead him through.  

I text Dan with a few should we discuss this?  He tries very hard to listen and obey and this is only his second red light of the school year...but, what should the discipline be?  

Yes, I said the "d" word.  

Discipline is something we use in our home.  We use it because we love our sons.  It's tailored specifically to each boy, because they are different and comprehend differently.  We want to teach them, correct them, and love them all at once (and it IS possible, done in the correct way.) We want them to grow up with respect, and an understanding that every action has an effect. Good choices=good effects.  Bad choices...well....

I hear the car pull up the drive, and watch as my friend/carpool partner leaves and Isaac comes through the back kitchen door.  He knocks first (this has become his habit--he likes me to say, "who is it?") When he walks in, I pretend I'm oblivious.  Simply mom, just unloading the dishwasher.  

He is very still and very somber.  

"Mommy...I didn't get a green light today...I didn't even get a yellow light...I got a RED LIGHT."  He emphasizes the red light part.  I simply stop what I'm doing, go to his side and kneel down to eye level.  

"Isaac, everybody has red light days."  I give him a huge hug.  "I love you and I'm sorry you had a red light."  

We talk about the behavior that he got in trouble for.  He tells me he's ready to go to his friend's house for the playdate we planned.  I make the difficult decision to cancel the playdate as the consequence to the red light.  He is sad...mad...frustrated.  I hold my ground.  I try and hug him and he pushes me away.  

This is the painful part of parenting.  

After a few minutes, Isaac has forgiven and forgotten.  He smiles as he plays with his cars.  And I finally get that hug.  

It might seem like an insignificant day, but for me, and for Isaac, it's moments like these that build trust between us, teach boundaries, and remind him that there are rules that he has to abide by.  

The rule that never changes is my love for him.  Even on red light days.