7 Quick Takes Friday

1) So in just over 6 hours I will be on vacation! I am so excited, this is my first real vacation since before I was pregnant with Shelby. Not just a weekend trip, a real vacation. We are headed to Emerald Isle for a week with my parents and 2 of my 3 brothers. Yes, I live 20 minutes from the beach but Emerald Isle is much different culture-wise from the beach I live near and is very special to my husband and I.

2) My kids are not at all co-sleepers. They like their own beds, thank you very much, but when I woke up to come to work tonight, there was Joey, in our bed. I hope he’s not sick.

3) Shelby is so ready to go back to school. This last week has been our first rough one with her all summer. She has been on a destructive tear all over the house and nothing seems to make her happy. She wants to go outside, but let her go outside and she wants to be in. Sometimes we forget kids need vacation too! After next week, only a couple more till she goes back full time!

4) Will is major into copying things. Major. He is the first one of our kids to imitate animal sounds before his second birthday. Right now there is just one. Whenever our dogs start barking…

5) Please lift up Lerin and her family and Karen and her family in prayer.

6) Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by Twitter or Google Reader? I’m sure I’m completely alone in these. The reader feels as though it demands me to look at it far more often than I would care to. Twitter, I find too restrictive. I still have my account,  but, I almost NEVER log in.

7) Just in case you missed it, Betty Beguiles is hosting an awesome Shabby Apple giveaway. I had to share again, because I love the styles and who doesn’t love a giveaway moms, am I right?

Come Visit Jen and check out everyone’s Quick Takes!


Thankful Thursday Part Deux

Okay, please ignore the fact that my mother is holding a knife and looks possessed in that picture. It was taken at my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary party that my brothers and I gave them in 2008.

My parents, like most parents, would do anything to help their children and have. But unlike many of my friends’ parents or a lot of parents I know today, my parents made us in charge of our own destinies. I wasn’t homeschooled or sent to Catholic school, but that didn’t mean my parents didn’t make sacrifices. They attended every single play, performance and game. They instilled in us that we better have our homework done, but they never hovered. To rephrase an old allegory: they taught us how to fish.

Like all parents, they were never perfect, they made some mistakes, but rather than dwell on them, they learned from them. That’s an example I take to heart when I realize I screwed my child up, yet again. In fact there is a running joke with my mother about how something she did is “coming out in therapy.” Someday I will probably be hearing those same complaints.

The long running joke with my father is to call him “coach.” I have three younger brothers (I’m the only girl, yeah, it was rough, I won’t lie). All of them played some kind of sport at all times when we were growing up. And my father was always a coach. One year my father adamantly told us that he was not coaching anyones teams anymore. That was final. Until one stormy summer night when he left to go with my brother Ben to baseball practice and the phone rang. It was thundering and lightning at this point and a little boy’s voice on the other end of the line answered me, “Can I speak with Coach Oeser?”  I was taken aback for a second not sure who he was asking for when it dawned on me, he was asking for my dad. But wait, my dad was out of the coaching business. After informing the kid that he had already left for the ball field, I hung up and asked my mom, “Is Dad coaching Ben’s baseball team?” Her reply, “I dunno, maybe.” When he came home that night, he was greeted by my mother, “Hey Coach!” His secret was out.

My parents taught me a lot about life, faith, marriage, religion…not all of it conciously. It reminds me that every day little eyes are watching me and learning.

Thankful Thursday

1. Vacations

2. Perspective

3. Shrek

4. Stories about politicians that you can laugh at

5. True friends who stand up to someone who attacks you before you realize you were attacked (I have stealthy friends)

6. The Office again–when there seems like nothing to laugh at in life, I have Michael Scott to turn to

7. Sales

8. Eggplant Parmesan

9. The prayers my friends are willing to spare for people who are strangers to them

10. My husband



1) I made it through 2 days while Jeff flew to Denver and back despite having worked the night before. The kids had a great time although they did ask constantly for Daddy.

2) I got all 3 kids to Wal-Mart and back on Saturday. It was a pretty uneventful trip which is a major success for us!

3) I found all kinds of great deals at the grocery store and Walmart this week. I pretty much stumbled into them, but I was awake enough to remember, so I thought that was a success!

Cheer your fellow moms on!

It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that. ~Danielle Bean

I’m Kristen: And my kids watch television

I am in awe of the many moms I know who don’t have televisions in their homes or don’t have kids who watch tv. That would include my mom. I’m still trying to figure out a balance in my home.

I have one big strike against me: his name is Jeff. My husband switches on the television to watch “news related programming” (ie Fox News or the Today show) as soon as his eyes open. And I’m still at work when my kids wake.

During the summer when the heat index is 114 degrees and the humidity is 100% we have an additional challenge, limited outdoor time. But what about the rest of the time?

Unfortunately tv is not going to be gone completely in our home anytime soon in part because Shelby has to have some complete decompression time and the best way that happen is jumping on the trampoline watching Spongebob. (My kids are amazingly fit thanks to the trampoline and their general restlessness despite the amount of tv they watch.)

But I am desperate to find ways to reduce what they watch.  We have coloring books, bubbles, tons of toys, and we’ve tried board games (the restlessness gene works against that last one). On weekends, when I am home and get up with them, I leave the television off for as long as I possibly can. Weather permitting I put them outdoors when breakfast is over when the temps are nice. For as long as I can because it won’t be an option later. Then, of course, at some point, Daddy is up and sports are on. For this reason I try to plan all family outings for as soon as Daddy gets up and as long as kids can tolerate.

But, I don’t want to get rid of it altogether. Joey’s vocabulary is ever-growing thanks to Baby Bumblebee and he’s learning Spanish courtesy of Dora and Diego. Not to mention, he loves Animal Atlas and any type of nature show. There are some things that I just can’t provide him that type of access to.  I wish I had more means, but I don’t. Joey has also been more creative in his drawing and storytelling too and since he doesn’t like sitting for reading, I pretty much have to assume Nick Jr and Sprout are helping us in those areas.

I don’t think we will be getting rid of the television anytime soon, but balance is what we are striving for. First order of business, get Jeff on board. Second, work out a schedule. Third, change the climate enough that my kids can always play outside…

Will She Ever Be “Normal?”

When someone asks me this about Shelby I hesitate. I know what they mean, will she ever speak, be able to relate to others or master the fine motor skills to cut with scissors. But the answer is complicated.

The short answer: we don’t know.

The long answer I am afraid I will bore people with. While we don’t know for sure if Shelby will ever speak or have enough fine motor skills to write, the therapy regimen she is in now has proved very fruitful for many of her peers. That being said, it’s not a guarantee.

Just months shy of his fifth birthday, a neighbor’s son has begun to speak and even potty train. We are ecstatic. None of us could have predicted this. But I’m not naive enough to believe that means Shelby will be doing the same by her 5th birthday. His mother has been a true ally in this journey called parenting a child with autism. And yesterday, she had truly kind words for me. She told me that Shelby has lots of good things to look forward to. And I know this is true.

The future is overwhelming for all parents but it takes on a unique panicky feel with the parents of an autistic child. I feel like the undertow is pulling me under fast if I try to think if Shelby will be able to graduate from high school or live on her own. So I have to stop and just focus on right now. If I don’t , first I miss what’s going on right now, and then I have a panic attack. That’s no  good for anyone.

“Normal” is a relative term even when describing non-autistic children. For some people a normal child reads and communes with nature. For others, a normal child eats sugary processed cereals and plays contact sports. And still other believe a normal child does well in school and plays an instrument.

Shelby is unique. If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. I’ve had to learn that you can’t necessarily try any and every treatment with your child because it worked with someone else’s child. Think gluten-free diets or chelation therapy. I’ve had so many well-meaning friends and family members to tell me to try this, or talk to this therapist, or buy these DVDs because they worked for someone else’s child. I try to be charitable, but mostly (since I’m human and not up for canonization) I get annoyed. I understand that this certain series of DVDs or books got Child A speaking in complete sentences within six weeks, but it’s a lot of money to invest for me when previous DVD series and books didn’t work. (Most of those types of media are basically the same, btw. If you luck out on one your child responds to well, you are really in luck, but many children just don’t learn well from media.) I appreciate the concern, I really do, but most days it’s enough already.

No one wants Shelby to have a “normal” life more than we do, as her parents, but we realize that her “normal” and our “normal” may never coincide. I had to reconcile within myself that Shelby has a good chance at speaking someday, but there is a decent chance she won’t as well and I have to be okay with that, if it is part of God’s plan. Shelby eats almost exclusively with her hands as part of her sensory processing disorder. Unlike most children, the sensory issue is not with the silverware in her mouth, it’s that she loves the feeling of the food on her hands. All of the occupational therapists we have worked with have let us know that Shelby’s particular sensory issue in this area is extremely difficult to “correct.” But one therapist pointed out that in many parts of the world, this behavior is actually proper eating etiquette. She used Ethiopian cuisine where the people use bread as their tool as an example. While we’d like her to be able to take tea with the queen, it’s not high on our priority list right now, unless it’s the Queen of Ethiopia, I guess.

Who knows, maybe in 20 years, Shelby will be finding a cure for cancer and her name as well-known as Temple Grandin’s. Maybe, but if she’s in a group home or living with us still, that’s okay too. Maybe most of the world doesn’t think she’s normal, but she’s the best Shelby she can be. And we could not ask for more.

Tiny Treasures Tuesday

Image Credit: Lerin at Beautiful Chaos***please pray for her grandfather

William– He is a climber,  he opens doors, he is not quite fifteen months old and says no. Every day is an adventure with this growing boy!

Joseph– Joey would like us to believe he is a tough boy all the time, but Friday night when Daddy wasn’t home, he had to sleep with Mama.

Shelby– Big girl is growing up fast and loving life. She has been going to speech with her new therapist for 3 weeks now. Last week there was only one escape attempt…

Monday Minutes

1) It’s a pillow, it’s a pet…Shelby’s is a lady bug, Joey’s is a turtle and Will’s is a moose. They LOVE their pillow pets. And everyone knows which one is theirs but Joey thinks they are all secretly his.

2) This weekend was exhausting for me. After getting off work on Friday morning, I was a single parent for about 36 hours. Jeff visited Colorado where he saw this:

and despite that beautiful sky decided we will not be moving to the prairie. At least not right now. My in-laws kept the kids for a few hours Friday morning so I could take a nap before starting my weekend. So, I wasn’t completely exhausted from the start. And Daddy got home right at bed time Saturday night which was AWESOME!

3) We had movie night this afternoon and watched Shrek the Third. I convinced Joey on Saturday to watch Shrek and Shrek 2 and he is a huge fan of both now. I wanted him to have the background before the movie today. He loves all 3 now. I thought that he might be a bit scared, but true to form, he thought mean characters were mean and funny ones were funny.

4) I took all 3 kids to Wal-Mart Saturday, by myself, and we didn’t have one melt-down. I was thrilled. The kids were thrilled and each of them got something for their good behavior.

5)  Will has been saying “uh-oh” and “bye-bye” along with Mama and Dada. This morning, as I put him on Shelby’s bed to change his diaper, he started laughing and said to me, “no, no, no Mama!” (He still got the diaper change, not matter how cute!)