Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Perfect "ism" For Me

Aaron loves Handy Answer Books.  He will read a few pages of one of his Handy Answer Books every night before bed.  Only before bed, mind you.  Aaron will not read at any other time because..........well, because in Aaron's world there is only one time for reading and that time is right before bed, after his teeth are brushed and all his pillows are placed just right and his back scratcher is positioned beside him in the perfect position and his lamp beside his nightstand is on and the nightstand is pulled right over to where it touches his bed and he and I have said goodnight and hugged and he makes sure that I am going to turn the hall light off and he has asked whether or not it's going to rain.  I think that's it.

There are many different Handy Answer Books on topics such as weather, dinosaurs, math, geology, etc.  Right now Aaron is reading the Handy Answer Religion Book.  Some day I will write a blog about Aaron and religion.  He has some interesting insights into this sensitive subject.  Anyway, this Handy Answer Religion Book has been eye-opening to him as he has read about some religions that he had never heard of before.  For instance, Daoism was fascinating to him.  We heard many facts about this unusual religion.

Last night Aaron had a meltdown over not being able to play Spiderman on his computer.  Gary put on another game, Shark Tales, that Aaron could play but Aaron's Spiderman behavior keeps us from allowing that game.  Therefore, Gary and I were mean and didn't care and were some other things that Aaron chose to call us..............and he slammed and banged and generally upset us all - even the dog.  Aaron is like a balloon letting out air at times like this and we usually have to be sure that he lands safely.  And he did finally land............in the big easy chair in the family room, with a bag of tortilla chips and the TV tuned in to the Olympics.

As we sat there, Aaron completely calmed down and acted as if nothing had even happened.  He was happy and talkative and at ease.  It's always somewhat amazing to see the change in him - how quickly it happens and how he's able to pick up like nothing was ever amiss.  Gary and I are still licking our wounds, but not Aaron.

Aaron began talking to me about the new religion that he's reading about in his Handy Answer Religion Book.    He was struggling to say this religion correctly.  "Mom, I'm reading about a new religion since I finished Daoism.  This new religion is Con....."  Then he stopped and soon picked it up again.  "It's called Con.....fus....."   And finally, "It's called Confusionism!"

Confusionism, huh?  

"Yes!"  he answered.  "It's a religion I've never heard of called Confusionism!"

After the very confusing up and down day that I had just experienced..................and the confusing up and down meltdown that Aaron experienced.............the religion of Confusionism sounded perfect to me!

On most days, actually, I think I could write the whole chapter on Confusionism in Aaron's Handy Answer Religion Book!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Some Reasons I Smile

Living with Aaron can certainly have some challenges.  Gary and I fight frustrations nearly every day as we live with our adult son…………..our son who has his own challenges that can at one time break our hearts and in the next few minutes be causing us to want to pull our hair out.  We bite our tongues, or at other times wish we could undo what we just said.  The years have helped to temper these episodes, but we still struggle.

Then there are the times that Aaron is so funny that we laugh.  Or our struggle may be to NOT laugh because of encouraging a negative behavior or an inappropriate comment…………..or because Aaron may not appreciate our laughter and so he will become angry.  We’ve chewed our tongues more than once during those moments………….or shared knowing glances behind his back……………or waited for him to leave the room before we collapse in laughter.  What Aaron doesn’t know won’t hurt him – and it sure helps us to feel better!

Aaron has made some really funny comments over the past few days, so I decided to share some of them with you.  Maybe they will lighten your day and help you to smile…………or laugh………….and you don’t have to worry about how it will affect Aaron. 

Aaron saw a small candle on the kitchen counter and asked, “Mom, can I have that light up candle in my room?”  He knew the answer would be no, but he always thinks it’s worth a try to ask just one more time.  Anything that “lights up” is not allowed in Aaron’s room.

One of the staff at his day group, Barb, gave us a jar of grape jam that she made.  I wanted Aaron to try it, so he agreed – a little reluctantly, because he just wasn’t sure that he would like it.  And my instructions from Aaron were not to toast the bread – “Don’t make the bread crunchy, Mom.  I want it soft.”  So I spread some of the jam on the untoasted slices of multi-grain bread that I was using…………..the bread that has oats on the crust…………and watched him struggle to eat it.  I finally asked, “Aaron, don’t you like the jam?”  He answered, “I like the jam, but this bread has white crunchy things on it that are squares.”  Leave it to Aaron to notice every tiny detail of his bread and to make faces like he was eating little cement squares instead of oats!

Yesterday after Aaron ate his lunch, the place mat under his plate was full of crumbs.  Aaron has watched me shake the place mats over the sink to get rid of the many crumbs he leaves after he eats.  He stared at the crumbs on his place mat and then asked, “Mom, how are you going to get rid of those crumbs on this place mat?  Wiggle it?”  Well, I guess you could put it that way, strange as it seems.

We passed the water tower not far from our house as we drove around last night.  Aaron thinks water towers are very interesting and always asks questions about them, so last night he made a comment about the tower.  I affirmed that it was a water tower and he said, “It’s a water tower?  I thought it was a sewer tower!”  Ewwww!  Of course, this was followed by a long conversation about sewers, until I finally told him – as I so often do – to google it!

This morning he had yet another observation about his sore elbow and how it was folded under his chest in his sleep and was this why it was sore and would I say that this is why it was sore, etc., etc.  And finally he came to this conclusion:  “I’m guessing the muscle has been squished.  It’s not squished into the normal position.”    Ouch!

And finally, on our way to meet his group, he was very happy to have Jackson riding with us.  Which brought up talk of other dogs, which led to talk of Cody’s dog in particular:  “Mom, Cody has a Husky dog.  He has one of those dogs that’s in the mushing race!” 

If you don’t know what a mushing race is……………..google it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

All Kinds of Olympics!

Last year Aaron became interested in football for the first time in his life.  Many of you may remember reading some of my football blogs last fall and winter.  Seeing football through Aaron's eyes was - well - interesting.  I was never more aware of the length of a football game than I was when watching it with Aaron, who talks and talks for a majority of the game.  Football games are long...........very, very long.  But it was very, very educational to listen to Aaron talk about the four rounds that comprise a football game;  the refs in their jailhouse suits;  whether the liquid that the players had squirted in their mouths was indeed mouthwash;  which team we were voting for...............among a few of the many insights that Aaron shared of his understanding of football.

And when the football season started, Aaron said the same thing that he said the other night when he saw that the Olympics was nearly ready to begin.  Aaron saw the Olympics commercial on TV and became very excited. "The Olympics is coming out?!"  Whereupon he clomped down to Gary's study and exclaimed, "Dad!  The Olympics is finally out!"  Aaron makes it sound like the Olympics is the next blockbuster movie that he wants to see.  In fact, one night after Aaron again told us that the Olympics was coming out, Gary asked him if they were coming out in 3D...............and that comment was totally lost on Aaron as he walked away, happy in the knowledge that the Olympics was coming out.

He doesn't quite understand what the Olympics really is and what they actually do in an Olympics.  He asked one night, "What do they do on the Olympics?  Different kinds of sports?"  We've been trying to explain what the Olympics are for and what they do, including what sports are competed in during these summer Olympics.  It's all very new to Aaron, so we've been smiling a lot at his comments.  The opening ceremony was of no interest to him, but he's watched some of the competitions and of course, has a lot to say about what he observes.

He was intrigued last night as he watched some of the gymnastics.  During the floor routine on the mat, Aaron asked why the gymnast was bouncing............and while watching the pummel horse routine, he wondered why they were spinning.  "Is he dizzy?"  Aaron asked.   He thought the different swim strokes were amazing.  "What?!  They just keep on going?  When are they gonna stop?!"  Finally that meet was over and Aaron asked, "Did the U.S. become first?"

Today he watched a little while he ate his lunch.  More gymnastics came on and he wondered out loud, "What kind of Olympics is this?  Is this the pole kind?"  Gary knew that Aaron meant parallel bars while I was still scratching my head on that one.  When he saw the rowing teams, he was so surprised.  "HUH??  In the Olympics they do boating?"

Yes, Aaron, in the Olympics they do rowing.  He was still trying to absorb this news.  "I never knew they did boat!!"

Finally he asked, "So there's all kinds of Olympics?"

There are all kinds of Olympics, Aaron.  And I'm sure we'll be hearing all kinds of insights!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

That Pillsbury Dough Boy!

The other day I cleaned out the refrigerator, a job that really needed doing.  In one of the drawers, which you can see through, I rearranged everything……and there in full view were two containers of crescent roll dough.  I had bought them for something I ended up not making, so there they still lay, unused.  That is, until Aaron saw them, due to my cleaning…………and my forgetting to hide them.  Once Aaron saw them, he laid claim upon them with a vengeance. 

He pulled one of the crescent roll containers out of the frig on Sunday while I was in the kitchen, and walked over to me.  “Mom!  Can you fix these CROY-sont rolls tomorrow for breakfast?”  Notice that I tried to spell the word “croissant” the way that Aaron pronounces it.  I didn’t tell him that they are actually crescent rolls.  What does it matter?  He’ll insist that they are CROY-sont rolls regardless.  I told him that if he got up in time, then yes, we could probably have the rolls for breakfast.  And needless to say, I was reminded several times of this hopeful upcoming breakfast.  “Mom, can you fix both CROY-sont rolls?”  And I told him that we did NOT need 16 CROY-sont rolls.  One container would be more than plenty.  Aaron smiled and decided to leave well enough alone.  One it was!

I was in the shower on Monday morning when I heard Aaron thumping up the hall.  He never walks softly, so even in the shower I could hear his distinctive clomping.  Then the expected knock on my bedroom door.  Of course, I didn’t answer………..so he knocked again………….and paused……….and then I heard him thumping down the stairs.  It wasn’t long until he was back at the door, my shower still running, and this time he not only knocked but said, “Mom?”   Silence.  More thumping back up the hall to his room.  Before long, the whole scene was repeated………Aaron ever hopeful, I guess, that even though he could still hear the shower running, I would somehow appear at the door to answer the question I knew he was going to ask.  Not on your life, buddy!  So he waited…………..and knocked……………and waited some more. 

When he heard the water turn off, he was back at the door in a flash.  “Mom?!  Can I have some of those Pillsbury?”  I told him yes, and he continued, “Can you hurry?  I’m hungry.”  I told him that he would obviously have to wait………….something that Aaron doesn’t do very well.  I heard him go downstairs, and soon he was back at the door. 

“Mom, I laid that Pillsbury Dough Boy on the table.”  I almost told Aaron that there was really no dough boy this time, that these were Great Value…………but who cares?  It was Pillsbury Dough Boy to Aaron and so I left it there.  Or Aaron left it there………on the table……….waiting for his very slow mother.  Eventually the CROY-sont rolls were baked  - with me eating two and Aaron eating six.  Yes – six!  And enjoying every delicious bite!

When he got home from his day group, he said, “Mom, we had pizza at Paradigm for someone’s birthday.  It was Pizza Hut!”  I asked him if he ate any after eating six CROY-sont rolls.  He answered, “Yes, but I decided I needed to lose weight so I only had three pieces.”  Good grief, Aaron!  I’m so glad you’re concerned about your weight!  Imagine if you didn’t care!

The call of the one remaining container of CROY-sont rolls was strong, and so the evening was still young when Aaron asked, “Mom, tomorrow do you want to have that Pillsbury Dough Boy?  There’s only a last one in there.”  I knew that this last one in there would be Aaron’s constant focus until it was gone, so why not?  Yes, Aaron, we’ll have the last one in there, tomorrow.

Aaron was up early, anxious to see if Mom remembered the Pillsbury Dough Boy promise.  He took that last container out and brought it to me.  “Mom, here’s the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  Can you fix the CROY-sonts now?”  So I popped them in the oven, and we sat down together to another Pillsbury Dough Boy CROY-sont breakfast…………..with me being glad that we polished off the last one in there.  Neither of us need to eat like this every morning. 

Taking time to sit with Aaron, to pray together, and to talk…………..mostly me listening to Aaron talk………….can be very enlightening.  I know it means a lot to Aaron for me to sit there with him while he talks about the comics in the paper that he likes and how good the CROY-sont rolls are and why he doesn’t want butter on them (you don’t want to know) and all the myriad random topics that cross his mind. 

And if I hadn’t taken that time with Aaron this morning, I might have missed this gem as he talked about looking at sugar, salt, and pepper in his microscope years ago.  “Mom, did you know that salt is a square and pepper is a leaf, but sugar is a no-shape?”

Wow, Aaron!  How amazing!  He truly does delight me with his descriptions and his ability to recall so many details. He also leaves me smiling and scratching my head as I look at his plate.  I will never completely understand why Aaron needs a knife, fork, and spoon in order to eat his CROY-sont rolls, but he does……………as well as everything else under the sun that he eats. 

That’s part of the mystery of Aaron that not even a microscope can reveal.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Chair!

Well, today was the big day – the day that Aaron had waited for and talked about and anticipated for so long.  Did I mention that he talked about it?  A lot.  He hoped that today would be THE day that his new (to him) desk chair would be delivered by Dad to our home and carried up to his room.  And as I mentioned in the previous blog, we knew that Aaron would talk about it a lot this weekend.  We were right.

Aaron wasn’t overbearing with his talk about the chair, but he did ask about it several times on both Saturday and Sunday.  Is Dad getting the chair on Monday?  So Dad IS getting the chair, right?  Will I have the chair on Monday?  Is Dad REALLY getting a chair?  And my favorite, said by Aaron yesterday, was  “Is that chair coming to our house tomorrow?” 

I sure was hoping that Gary was able to get at least one of the chairs that he bid on in the auction.  If not, I knew a trip to the store for a new chair was a real possibility.  This morning, Aaron did ask about it several times again – but he was far more interested in his croissant rolls that I was going to bake for him.  That may be another story. 

When Aaron burst through the door this afternoon, home from his day group, he said, “Mom!  When is Dad coming home?”  Of course, what he really meant was……….When is the chair coming home?!  I reminded Aaron that IF Dad was able to get a chair, then they would get home when they got home………..I wasn’t sure of the exact time.  Aaron busied himself with his Kung Fu Panda computer game and totally lost track of time.  Gary pulled in later and sure enough, there were the chairs in the back of his truck.  YAY!!!  We were saved!!

Gary and I were in the side yard when Aaron came downstairs and into the garage………..and saw the chairs.  He was all smiles and happiness as he came out in the yard to tell us that he saw the chair.  “Dad, you got a chair!”  Yes, Aaron, Dad got a chair and now you can relax.  Of course, as Gary said to me later, it won’t be long before there will be something else that Aaron wants or needs that will consume his thoughts and his talk.  For now, though, we’ll enjoy Aaron’s happiness and hope that he’ll take good care of this chair. 

We do believe in miracles.  And we love seeing Aaron happy.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'm Gonna Be Mean

For some time now, Aaron's desk chair hasn't worked correctly.  To be specific, the pneumatic feature no longer operates.  That's because Aaron doesn't usually just sit down softly in a chair.  He drops.  And when someone of his size drops into a chair, even the best pneumatic feature will eventually cease to be a feature and will become an operation of the past.  Now Aaron's desk chair sits rather low, permanently stuck where Aaron's dropping into it left it.........tired and refusing to cooperate with Aaron ever again.

Aaron immediately wanted a new chair, but we decided to teach him a lesson and allow him to sit lowly in his chair for awhile.  It's actually been a long time that  he's endured this rather low position.  In the meantime, Gary found out that there would be an auction at FlightSafety, where he works.............an auction of office furniture and so forth.  Gary told Aaron that on the day of the auction, he would bid on an office chair for Aaron.  It would be a nice office chair, but Aaron was going to have to wait for it.

Aaron rarely waits in silence.  Therefore, almost daily he has asked his dad about the auction.  Was the auction today?  It wasn't?  Then when will the auction be held?  Are you still going to get me a chair?  Why wasn't the auction held yet?  Will you tell me when the auction happens?  When will it happen?  Was it today?    You get the idea.   Many, many questions.  Many, many comments.   For many, many days.

One day Aaron asked me, "Mom, when is Dad going to be betting on the chair?"

Aaron, Dad won't be betting on the chair.  It's called bidding.............it's an auction............where you bid............not where you bet.

"So when will Dad bet on the chair?"

Never mind.  And are you telling everyone that your Dad is betting on a chair?  Do I need to clarify some issues with your staff and friends at Paradigm?

Yesterday Gary came home from work and gave Aaron the good news.  The auction was held and Gary did indeed bid on the coveted chair.  He will hopefully bring the chair home on Monday.  Of course, Aaron is very happy to hear that on Monday he will have a new (new to him) chair.  Poor chair.  But we have instructed and instructed Aaron about how to sit in the chair.  How to sit and not drop.  We'll see how this goes.  And it is not a pneumatic chair, but one that spins in order to be lowered............or highered, as Aaron says.  I may someday have a spinning story to tell, knowing our Aaron.  I'm sure that the instruction time will be very fascinating.  

This morning Gary and I were working out in the front yard, and Aaron was sitting in the mulch doing his relaxing in the mulch thing.  Sometimes we sound so odd...........like the Adams family.  Anyway, Aaron has continued to talk about the chair in order to confirm that Gary did bid on the chair and that the chair would be his.  We expect this constant conversation until Aaron is actually in possession of the chair, but still it gets a little old.  Chair talk...........over and over again.   While busy in the mulch, Aaron said, "So Dad, will you bring the chair home?"  And Gary said, in a teasing way, "No, Aaron.  I think I'll just leave it at work."

Aaron doesn't appreciate sarcasm like you and I might.  Aaron lowered his voice and said for only me to hear, "If he keeps talking like that to me, then I'm gonna be mean."  It was just too funny.  We've praised Aaron for how pleasant and nice he's been this week, for the most part, so this threat to be mean was the best way he could think of at the moment to get back at Dad for his sarcasm.   Gary heard the conversation and we burst out laughing while we watched for Aaron's reaction.............and there was none, of course.  Aaron had made his point and we were, in his mind, to be forewarned if we did not straighten up our attitudes.  Never mind his.

Aaron has since asked Gary again about the chair.  I should keep count of the number of times we have this chair conversation this weekend.  It makes me want to grab a trash can and go sit in the mulch!  I think Gary  might join me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Crown Day!

Aaron has been counting down the days - literally - until he was to get his permanent crown put on.  Out of the blue he would say, "Seven days, Mom."  Then the next day it would be, "Six days, Mom."  Well, today was the day.  He had been a little worried about whether or not it would hurt - would he need another shot - would he be numb and unable to eat for awhile (his biggest concern, by far) - and of course, would we eat lunch out somewhere?  He was relieved to hear that it would not hurt - that he would not need a shot - that he would not be numb and so he could eat - and that yes, we would eat lunch out somewhere.  Life is good.

I was doing some yard work this morning and Aaron was on the computer.  After I got out of the shower, I checked his room and found it empty.  There he was, out in the mulch, doing his relaxing "mulch thing."  He doesn't mind all the box elder bugs around him.  He was in his own world, relaxing and gearing up for lunch and then the dreaded crown.

Before long, we were pulling into the parking lot at Chili's.  For some reason, he wanted to remind me at that moment of the time he threw up all over his carpet several months ago............and how he was sure it was because of eating a Subway sub.............and that he doesn't want to eat at Subway ever again.  And I reminded him that it probably wasn't the sandwich at all, but maybe all the extra cheese he requested..........just like the extra butter on his theater popcorn.  He replied, "So Mom, are you saying that my body is not made for extra cheese?"  Little did we know how interesting his lunch soup was soon to be.

Aaron wanted the spiked lemonade that the server mentioned, but instead settled for strawberry lemonade.  His face puckered at the first sip, and he leaned over to examine the contents of his glass.  "Mom, what are those spots?"  I assured him that they were just strawberry seeds and he was relieved.

We both ordered the Chicken Quesadillas from the lunch menu, along with soup.  Aaron was excited to see that they had Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  His experience with that soup on Saturday night was positive, so he was looking forward to another bowl of this tasty soup.  The server and I had a time, though, explaining the Quesadillas to him.  It was pretty comical and she was a good sport, but I finally just told him that he would like them and let's just order.  Goodness!  Did he want us to draw a picture?!  You do not need every little detail of these Quesadillas explained, Aaron!  Are they flat?  Are they soft?  Are they hot?  Are they cheesy?  Have you made them, Mom?  AAAHHHH!!!!

His soup came and he cautiously dipped his spoon in, unsure of this new dish piled with green onions and bacon.  It didn't look like Saturday night's soup.  It turned out to be very cheesy...........VERY cheesy.  Weren't we just talking about too much cheese?  It was quite interesting to see him eating this VERY cheesy soup.  Aaron was very appropriate to finally call it "Stringy Soup".................for it certainly was stringy!  It was actually hilarious to watch him try to grab the strings of cheese hanging off of his spoon, then see the cheese wrap around his fingers or land on the table.  He wasn't frustrated, but did do a lot of grunting and sighing.  Four napkins and two glasses of lemonade later, he had finally conquered the soup and was able to move on to the Quesadillas and fries.

See the napkin he removed from under his bowl?  Napkins do NOT go under bowls!

He separated his fries from the Quesadillas, eating the fries first - each one dipped methodically in his ketchup.  The ketchup reminded him of blood and we had a nice little conversation about red blood and white blood.  You just never know where things will go with Aaron, because blood led to............of all things...........lab tests and urine samples and "Mom, what does a hospital do with all that pee?"  He wasn't being gross or silly, so I tried to engage in this conversation in a very scientific way........without laughing.  I was glad when he moved on the Quesadillas, leaving the ketchup behind, where all he wanted to know was, "What is the middle part of that white thing?  It tasted weird."    Huh?

Of course, he wanted to use the bathroom before leaving............and to wash his hands with an unknown number of paper towels for drying.............and as he walked to the bathroom, through the tables full of people, I wondered what people thought of his unusual way of walking and his total oblivion to being so unique.  I'm thankful he doesn't care about all that, and I sometimes wish it didn't stab at my heart so much.  I also wish I wasn't embarrassed at how loudly he clapped when we finally stood up to leave.  Not one clap, but two............VERY loud claps, as only Aaron can clap.  He was so unaffected and I was so aware of people's stares.  Outside, I asked him why he was clapping and he just said it was because we were leaving.  It seems to be a release for him...........and I think it's so amazing that he doesn't see it as loud or strange.

On the way to the dentist he told me about how when he and Dad had gone to DQ, they had passed a "company building that had a tanning cleaning place."  Sure glad I can read between the lines with Aaron!  And I wish I could tan while I clean!  His crown insertion was very quick and painless; buying some DVDs at CD Tradepost was fun; and listening to the Beach Boys on this hot day was the thing to do.  Of course, Aaron had to remove the insert from the DVD box and stare at their picture, finally asking, "Which one has the weird voice?"  Oh Aaron - always listening but so unaware of how you appear or sound to others.

Our last stop was to run in and get his hair cut........while he talked to the hairdresser about how he hopes we can take a vacation in October and where we might go and who called our house that morning and "MOM?  Who called while you were in the shower?"  For crying out loud, Aaron!  EVERYBODY in Great Clips can hear you!!!!!  But if I don't answer he will repeat it, shower part and all.  And of course, before he left he had to tell them all about his new crown and how that dentist "shoved it in my mouth!"  Wonder why no one asked for a referral?  If Dr. Baxter only knew!

A day with Aaron.............never quiet, never dull, never routine............sometimes never ending, it seems.

And I have to smile.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've Had Enough

We decided to go out to eat on Saturday while Andrea was down from McPherson for the night.  This is really no big deal..............except that we took Aaron with us, which turns everything routine into a big deal.  We decided to go to Longhorn Steakhouse.  It's still fairly new and none of us had been there before.  Aaron was happy with this choice - a new restaurant to experiment on!  He loves trying new restaurants, especially when they somehow interest him.  Longhorn is a fascinating name, so Aaron was intrigued.  He's also been intrigued over the years with Hooters, having seen signs on the highway and then heard our adamant "NO!" when he's asked if we could take him to Hooters................or Hoots, as he sometimes calls it.  Longhorn is a safe choice and so off we went.

Anytime we go somewhere with Aaron and park the van, we tell him right away to wait on us.  This is because Aaron will barge ahead of us and walk in doors first.............and by the time we catch up, there's no telling what all he will have said or done.  Of course, he was immediately off at a fast clip - well, fast for Aaron - and we were, as usual, telling him to slow down and wait for us, etc., etc.  We did all manage to walk in together, but as if pulled by a magnet Aaron zipped in a split second to the little cup that held the toothpicks - barging past the welcome station to the cashier desk to claim his toothpicks.  So of course the first words out of our mouth upon entering Longhorn, was Gary saying, "Aaron!" and Andrea saying, "Aaron!" and me saying, "Aaron!"  A trio of Aaron's it was.  Quite lovely and a great way, I must say, to start our evening.  Aaron grabbed a handful of toothpicks..........because EVERY time he eats he must have several toothpicks.............until Gary told him he must get only one toothpick.  They were covered in plastic, so he put all back but the one that he was allowed to keep............and which he didn't even end up using.  Aaron doesn't care if he actually uses the toothpick - he just MUST have toothpicks with every meal.

We were led to our booth, and Aaron slid in right beside me, saying, "Mom, I want to sit beside you because I love you!"  Wow!  That was unexpected and very sweet, made even more so when he laid his head on my shoulder.  I reminded him, though, that we were here to eat and that he needed to sit up.  His exuberance over eating was making him very affectionate with me but now was not the time for that.  Our server came and thankfully, she was one who clicked with Aaron and liked him.  We all relaxed, and began to order our drinks.  Of course Aaron said, "Can I have beer?"  He thinks this is always a very funny thing to say and tonight was no exception. We said no to that idea just like the Hooters idea, and Aaron laughed.  Of course, this is all being said in Aaron's usual loud way.

When we eat out and Aaron orders food, he usually asks the server for his selections - such as, "Can I have a Super Duper Double Bacon Cheeseburger?"  Or, "Can I have onion rings?"   I tell him all the time that he doesn't have to ask the server what he can have, but to just order.  I assumed that on this night he would want his usual water, but when I asked him he said no...........and then proceeded to hunch over the drink selections on the menu, while the patient server and the not-as-patient parents waited..........and waited...........and waited.   I fully expected to hear the Jeopardy song begin playing, waiting for Aaron to order his drink in the form of a question............da da da da da da da, da da da da da........................and then he said, "Can I just have water?"   All that time and you still just want water?  Sigh.

Aaron decided that he was tired of hamburgers - huge shock! - and that he wanted, of all things, soup.  Soup?  Are you sure, Aaron?  Yes, he wanted soup..........and a salad.  He ended up ordering Loaded Baked Potato Soup..........which he liked............and a steak salad, which he liked but not all that much because it didn't have Ranch dressing on it, he told me later.  When the soup came, Aaron examined it closely, wanting to know what was in it.  He pointed down at the bowl and asked, "What are those dark spots?"  Dark spots?  Where?  We finally determined that he was pointing to the bacon and upon hearing this piece of good news, he dug in and ate happily.

He loved the bread and butter, and was very happy indeed when the server refilled the basket.  He brushed crumbs off the table over and over again, despite our telling him over and over again that this was unnecessary.  It's obviously necessary to Aaron.  He dug into his salad then, and slurped on his water, and leaned on my arm no matter how far away I tried to scoot - making it hard for me to eat - so I reminded him to move over and he would for a minute until soon I found him leaning on me again...........intent on his eating and unaware of his leaning.  But he was aware that the people across from us were drinking something fascinating to him and before we could stop him, he pointed to them and said, "Look!  Those people are drinking wine!"  Whereupon you could hear that trio again, all of saying "Aaron!"  and hoping that those people drinking the wine or whatever didn't notice Aaron or our trio.

He decided that he had to go to the bathroom and since he had already registered where it was, off he plodded............with us wondering what would happen between here and there...........and IN there.  When he returned, the server brought some take-home boxes as Aaron finished up his salad.  She then began removing plates, and Aaron scooted his plate toward her and said, "Here. I've had enough of this."

Well, Aaron, that didn't sound quite nice.  But the server laughed and we laughed and Aaron didn't think anything at all was funny.  He just doesn't get us sometimes, you know?

By then it was time to follow Aaron out the door and go home, while he rather loudly said, "I was just very curious about what those dark spots were in that soup!"

Yep, we about had enough of this.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Well-Traveled Backscratcher

Aaron loves his old wooden backscratcher.  It's been through a lot, believe me, and shows it by missing one of its prongs and having marks on its handle.  Aaron keeps it by his side while he's playing games on the computer, while we play Skip-Bo, while he watches TV, and while he reads in his bed at night.  But today the backscratcher................or Aaron.............went too far.

When Aaron came home from his group, I told him that his glasses that had been ordered had finally arrived and that we could go pick them up.  He was very happy about this, so he got ready while I ran a comb through my hair and off we went.  We arrived at the optometry office and went straight to the waiting room where we would pick up the glasses.  I was signing in, with Aaron standing right beside me, when suddenly with a "whoosh" he pulled his long backscratcher out of his shorts and proceeded to scratch his back.  He had pulled it out so quickly, like Zorro pulling out his sword, that I was shocked for a second.

Then I recovered my senses and said, "For crying out loud, Aaron!  What are you doing with your backscratcher?  And where did it come from?!"

He just stood there, happily scratching his back for all to see, and then said, "I brought it from home."

Well, I obviously knew that!  And I realized, as I hurriedly finished signing in, that Aaron had put the backscratcher down his shorts, under his shirt, and partly up his back.............I guess.  He has an amazing ability to sneak out of the house with all sorts of things.  In his pockets I have found toys, rolls, silverware, money, candy, okra, cucumbers, crayons, markers............to name a few items.  But a backscratcher?  I didn't notice a backscratcher?  How did he sit down in the van?  I have no idea.

I ushered him to a chair, all the while with him scratching.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  "Aaron, you should not have brought the backscratcher with you."

And he replied, "So what am I supposed to do when my back itches?"  Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Aaron, you do what you always do...........scratch, scratch, scratch...........whatever that is............scratch, scratch, scratch.

Not wanting to create a scene.........as if we weren't already creating a scene...........well, HE was creating the scene.............I smiled while trying to firmly tell him that the backscratcher had to go.

Just then they called our name and Aaron hopped up quickly, walking with ownership to the table where we were told to sit..............scratch, scratch, scratch.  A couple of the employees were smiling, and one proceeded to tell me how she always keeps a backscratcher in her car.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  I guess this should have made me feel better.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Aaron is rather large and more-than-rather loud, so this extra scratching activity did nothing to keep us from being noticed.  When Aaron and I go out, I always wonder what he'll say or what he'll do that will attract attention.  Today was right up there with his loud clapping or his funny manner of barreling through people or how he waves at security cameras or holds his hands up to stop traffic as we walk into Wal-Mart or the time he pulled a box of Cheerios out of the huge Cheerio display and I heard the other boxes hitting the floor...............ah, sweet memories.  Now I have another one to add to the list.  

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

I was very relieved when the lady retrieved his glasses quickly and very relieved that they fit without adjustment and very relieved that we were done in record time and very relieved to head for the door.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Of course, there were a couple cute young girls behind us as we exited.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  By then I just laughed and Aaron went to the van, wearing his new glasses and scratching happily.

On the way home he saw some election signs on the side of the road.  "Mom, I keep seeing these signs that say something about judge or sheriff or president.  What is going on with that?!"

Oh Aaron - that is exactly what I've been asking about you and that backscratcher!

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lessons From the Pruning

It was a beautiful spring day, not too hot or too cold – just a perfect day for some outside work.  I had been looking at our grouping of Rose of Sharon bushes that grow on one side of our yard.  I knew it was time for their spring pruning and so I decided that today was the perfect day for that.  I need a fair amount of time for that chore because I prune each branch by hand, one by one, as well as cleaning out underneath the bushes where weeds and volunteer plants grow at will.  I took my garden utensils outside and began the clipping, standing back every now and then to be sure that I was keeping the height even or to see if I had missed a branch. 

When Gary got home from work, he came outside to join me.  There was one end of the bushes that needed some thicker branches cut out.  Gary took a saw and cut that unwanted growth away.  A little sawing here, more cutting there, and before long we were satisfied that this bush was complete and that our job was done.  When I do this pruning, I always wonder if I’m cutting too much or too deeply or at the right time of the season.  Every year, though, the growth returns in abundance and we are rewarded with beautiful blooms in shades of soft purple and gentle white.
As the weeks passed, I watched closely for the tiny little green leaves to appear that would signal to me that the pruning had been beneficial.  Sure enough, as the days warmed even more, the sun shone brighter, and the spring rains fell, I began to see the new leaves emerge.  Yet there was one area that was lagging behind.  The bush on the end where Gary and I had cut out the extra growth, where Gary had done the deeper pruning, was still barren.  As the other bushes started filling out, full of bright green leaves, this end was still empty and brown.  It looked uglier as the days passed.  The contrast was sharp as it stood starkly void of leaves – made even more barren and unsightly with the pretty green backdrop of the growing bushes around it. 

I was sure that we had over-pruned this part of the Rose of Sharon.  I wondered how the bushes would look after we cut this empty section away, which I was certain we would need to do.  Almost daily I would examine the dull, brown branches and walk away, more convinced than ever that they would never grow at all, much less bloom with pretty flowers.  But one day as I passed the bushes and stopped once again to observe them, I was surprised to see the tiny beginnings of growth.  Yes, there it was!  I was positive I saw the bulging of new leaves that were surfacing from the seemingly dead branches.  As time went on, these bare branches began to be covered by miniature leaves that turned its stark ugliness into soft beauty.  And one day, there it was!  A flower!  Just one so far, but a sign that this section has indeed come out of the deep pruning with growth and beauty.

I’ve pondered a lot lately about how many times our lives are like that Rose of Sharon.  Sometimes God has some pruning to do, cutting away the unnecessary in order to shape us into what we need to be.  This pruning is never pleasant, for pruning involves chopping and chopping usually hurts.  Issues like pride, selfishness, immaturity……….so much unwanted growth in our lives must be severed in order for us to grow into maturity.  And there are seasons when the pruning goes very deep.  God knows when we need that extra pruning, the deep cutting and shaping that is even more painful than anything we have experienced before.  It hurts………….hurts terribly……….and we can either trust our Master Gardener or we can turn away in rebellion and pain.

The hurt is even worse when others around us are apparently thriving, moving on with their lives and their ministries in obvious ways.  We feel bland and unwanted, wondering why God is withholding our blessings and our desires.  When will it be our turn to flower and blossom again?  Why did God cut so profoundly?  While others are healthy, and serving, and smiling, and glowing…………..we feel empty and brown and aimless.  It’s so easy to look around us as we are surrounded by the green leaves and the gorgeous flowers of others, and to feel even more dead and unproductive.  Yet God has a plan in the pruning!  He is the perfect designer of our lives, and it’s in the suffering that we become useful and firmly established in His master plan.

James spoke about this matter of suffering in the familiar verses of James 1:2-4:  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."   Isn’t it interesting that the word “various” mean “multi-colored?”  Not one of us suffers the same as another.  God has “multi-colored” ways of shaping and growing each of us.  The word “perfect” means “maturity” and the word “complete” carries the idea of “full development.”  So God is telling us to be joyful in the middle of the multi-colored trials that He uses in our pruning, knowing that in the end, if we allow it, we will mature into the full development that God desires.  

In the cutting and the clipping, God is shaping us and growing us into maturity.  Be patient.  Know that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  The vibrant leaves will emerge and the beautiful flowers will bloom again someday.  Don’t let the weeds of doubt and bitterness crowd out what God is trying to accomplish.  Be patient, and understand that suffering is what unites us to Christ.  And who knows what new direction and new ministries may grow out of the deep pruning that God is performing in our lives at the moment.  It may take time to see it but be patient, and one day you’ll be enjoying some lovely flowers that will show forth God’s glory!    

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Scary Snacks!

Is it just me or have the rest of you noticed how things anymore are bigger and bolder and better than EVER!!!  Even our food........snack foods in particular...........have MORE flavor and MORE spice and MORE color.  Even Aaron's favorite Hot Tamales now have FIERCE cinnamon flavor!  WOW!!!!   MORE of everything!!!!!  It's just AMAZING!!!!!!!

This amazingness has not escaped Aaron.  Of course it hasn't.  Nothing escapes Aaron...........well, except for normal social protocols, but that's not the point here.  Aaron notices colors and tastes and textures and labels.  Definitely labels......although at times he does get the wording a little confused.

Such was the case last night.  We were playing Skip-Bo and he was eating his favorite Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  Now Aaron usually eats his Pringles with gusto, cramming and chomping with ease.  Of course, he had his usual two bowls..............one full of the Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and one empty bowl..............soon to be filled with the Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles crumbs.  As I've written before, snack crumbs cannot go into the original bowl that holds the actual snack.  I have quit trying to fight this issue, change this issue, or explain this issue.  I am just thankful for my dishwasher, which is usually full of bowls.

Moving on............last night I noticed that Aaron was not eating his Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles with gusto.  He was picking each one up, examining it closely, and then slowly taking small bites of each chip.  He would then chew slowly, thoughtfully....................and quickly swallow.  He finally said, "Mom, have you seen the black dots on these chips?  What are those dots?"  I explained to him that the dots were just some of the spices.

He continued to eat in this methodical, slow fashion.  So I asked him if something was wrong.  He answered, "Well, these sour cream and onion chips are Multi-Blasting.  Does that mean they're strong?"

I laughed loudly............very loudly.........while Aaron just continued to examine a Multi-Blasting chip and then chew slowly.  This made me laugh even louder, which really did go along with the atmosphere created by these MULTI-BLASTING chips.

Oh my goodness!  I told Aaron that the container said these favorite chips of his are Multi-Grain and are BURSTING with flavor.  They are not Multi-BLASTING chips.  Aaron seemed relieved to hear this bit of news about his favorite Multi-Grain Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  He then ate with more freedom...........as if he needed more freedom to eat............but at least he wasn't worried about the Multi-BLASTING chips and what effect that might have on his mouth.

Notice that this concern over Multi-Blasting did not prevent Aaron from eating.  He just ate slower and with less cramming and less noise that this cramming often produces.

Now I am seriously considering having some signs made for our kitchen.  Something concerning BLASTING food..............eat slowly and with caution.............and very quietly.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rocking Together

Yesterday was one of those days.  It was a culmination of several of "those" days that actually became one of THOSE days.  Am I making sense?  Let me once again offer some quotes from Karen Williams in her excellent article - Understanding the Student with Asperger's Syndrome.  For Gary and I, the title should read - Understanding Our Son with Asperger's Syndrome (If That Is Even Remotely Possible).  Williams says, under the category of Emotional Vulnerability:  "Rage reactions/temper outbursts are common in response to stress/frustration."   She goes on to say that those with Asperger's "...........are easily overwhelmed when things are not as their rigid views dictate they should be."

I would add that, likewise, parents of Asperger's children (or adults who behave like children) are at times overwhelmed when things are not as their child (or adult who behaves like a child) wants them to be.  Williams adds, "Affect as reflected in the teacher's voice should be kept to a minimum.  Be calm, predictable, and matter-of-fact in interactions with the child with AS, while clearly indicating compassion and patience."

As a parent with an adult (who sometimes behaves like a child) with Asperger's, I do whole-heartily agree with Williams.  I would also add that perhaps the parent should have a pillow to scream into; a punching bag hanging in the garage to punch on; a blog to write in...............OK, just kidding.  Sort of.

Aaron's been hung up on a computer game and it's been all consuming to him.  Saturday was one of those days when he just would not get off the computer to shower, take his pills, or even eat.  Aaron has to reach a certain level of a game before he will turn it off.  This is why we removed Nintendo and PlayStation from our home years ago.  He does much better on the computer, for some reason, but occasionally will revert to these old behaviors.  When this happens, we take the keyboard away and hide it.  Aaron has come to expect this and is usually agreeable about it...........as if it's almost a relief to have the temptation removed.

Yesterday he was not relieved.  We removed his keyboard Saturday night, so on Sunday he clipped coupons and then napped while our small group was here for lunch.  After his nap, when the small group was gone and a friend who had stopped by had left, Aaron fully expected that his keyboard would be returned.  We had not made it clear that we were not returning the keyboard at that time.  Mistake number one:  Not being clear and consistent, and expecting Aaron to follow along.  Consistency has always been an issue, especially with me.  And inconsistency and change does not work well with Aaron.

Aaron was talking to Gary and me about all of this, and followed Gary downstairs to his study, where they continued to have a pleasant conversation.  Gary was very upbeat and happy.  Aaron was holding a container of his favorite Pringles...............and was becoming agitated.  Soon I heard a strange noise and when I walked downstairs I discovered Gary staring quietly at the mess.  Aaron had thrown his container of Pringles across the room and there was a huge pile of chips and crumbs all over the floor as well as some of Gary's bookshelves.

Well, well, well............now what?  Aaron grabbed the container, twisting and squeezing it in sheer frustration as he continued to escalate.  Gary and I followed him upstairs, talking calmly to him.............no affect in our voices at all.  If we yelled, we knew that Aaron would go through the roof.  His eyes were darting around, probably trying to find something else to break.  We stood there, using soothing tones that calmed Aaron a little but were not totally defusing the situation, when suddenly Gary asked, "Aaron, do you want to go to Dairy Queen and get a blizzard?"

It was amazing to see Aaron's face.  His struggle was so evident as he tried to process this offer.  He was slowly deflating, but he wanted to still be angry.  He paced around the family room and then angrily said, "OK!!  I'll go!"  He put on his shoes and socks, and then Gary asked him if he wanted to take the van or the truck.  Aaron calmed down even more as he said that he wanted to take the truck, so off Gary and Aaron went..........with Aaron sitting up in the truck with his dad.  I knew what an effort it took for Gary to do this.  He was tired after a hard weekend of working outside, studying for Sunday School, and teaching that morning.  I knew that Gary wanted nothing more than to rest, to relax, to have time for some things that he wanted to do.

His love for his son was evident..............both of us were loving Aaron at that moment but not really liking him.  While they were gone, I vacuumed up the mess downstairs, wishing that the messes that Aaron makes in our hearts were as easy to dispose of and forget.  When they returned home, Aaron was a different person.  He was full of talk about his M&M Blizzard, their run through the car wash, what road they were on, and the barber shop that was nearby............."You know, Mom, they have that red and white sign that looks like a spinning candy cane!!"

Later, Aaron and I sat on the glider on the front porch as a thunderstorm moved through.  I love doing that and was happy that Aaron joined me when I invited him to come out.  There the two of us sat on the glider, trying to rock as the wind blew and the thunder rumbled and the rain came down.  We talked...........mostly Aaron talked, of course...............and I kept trying to rock.  You see, Aaron likes to sit forward on the glider and when he does this, he rocks in his own rhythm..........which is the opposite of the way I am rocking.  When I went forward, Aaron went back.  Then when I was going backward, Aaron was pushing forward.  This is not conducive to smooth rocking!  I told him to sit back and relax so that we could rock, and for a minute or two he would.  Then he would sit forward again...........and again we would not be able to smoothly rock as he was moving against my every move.  I just observed, and smiled, and laughed softly at the awkwardness of this supposed rocking.

And I realized how Gary and I have to rock together in our life with Aaron.  We don't always accomplish this feat, believe me!  Any married couple will agree that it takes time to develop unity in every area of marriage.  Aaron and his issues have certainly been difficult for us at times.  We haven't always agreed on how to handle discipline, especially, as well as other areas.  Time and maturity and experience have taught us so much.  So many times, I have rocked one way while Gary is rocking in another direction.  This makes for jerky, unhappy motions in our marriage and in Aaron's life as well.  He needs us to be unified...........and Gary and I need to be a solid unit as we deal with Aaron's life and decisions that involve him.

Gary blessed me yesterday in how he handled Aaron with love and wisdom.  We were rocking together and the result was smoothness and pleasure in the end as we saw Aaron relax and calm down.  We never know what we'll face today or tomorrow with Aaron, but we do know that if we rock together with God in the center, then life will be much happier and certainly more peaceful.

Friday, July 6, 2012

From Head to Toe

Aaron rushed into my bathroom this morning as I was fixing my hair.  He just had to tell me that he had gotten a new bottle of body wash out of his bathroom cabinet.  "Mom!  I got some new shampoo and look at what color it is!"   It was a lime green and Aaron, who notices everything about everything (except for people's reactions to HIM!) thought that this color was quite funny.

He laughed as he asked, "So why do I want green shampoo on my head?  Won't I look like grass?!"

We both laughed as I assured him that he would not look like grass, and off he thumped to take his shower.  Aaron is very aware of his hair and his skin and his teeth and his nails and his toes and whatever else.  Every bump and scrape and sensation is often an object of discussion...........whether we want to hear it or not.  Believe me, we often do NOT!!

Aaron knows that he is getting a bald spot on top of his head.  The other night he asked, "Am I bald?"  I told him that he is not totally bald and he added, "So am I bald on part of my head?"  Yep, Aaron - you are becoming bald on part of your head.  He's not too sure that this is acceptable.

He likes the fact that he has a mustache, though, and a goatee.  Just this morning he said, "I like this!"  I looked over to see him pointing to his mustache - and then began the discussion he always has about not wanting to cut it, with me explaining why he needs to keep it trimmed.  We actually let him grow a mustache and goatee because he does NOT like shaving, so at least this helps a little in that area.

He's very curious about why he sometimes wakes up with a stiff elbow.  I've told him that at times we sleep in the same position and so something like our elbow will get stiff and tired from not moving for a long time.  One morning he got up and told me that his elbow wasn't just sore, but that it was really sore.  "Mom, my elbow hurt in my sleep.  It was a lot worse than those other tired positions."

I've also told him not to wake me up at night for just any little ache and pain, as he used to do.  Major stuff, yes........but not a sore elbow, for instance.  A couple weeks ago, when he had a bloody finger from a hangnail repair gone wrong, he talked and talked about it.  "Mom, I had some pulled skin.  Maybe I broke the feeling part of my skin."

If any of you think you can explain the concept of not breaking the feeling part of your skin, then I would love to hear from you.  Anyway, I assured Aaron that he was fine.  He then asked me, "Would you mind if I called you during the night for loose skin?"

I affirmed that yes, I would mind if he called me during the night for loose skin..........unless it was a huge area of loose skin, like his whole torso.  Then I had to explain torso.

He likes to sit in our leather chair while he watches TV, and often will have one or both legs folded underneath him.  Yesterday he was trying to unwind himself from this position as he got up from the chair, and soon he said, "Mom, the side of my legs make a weird sound!  The skin is stuck to the leather!"

I tell him not to fold his legs underneath that way, knowing that he will continue to sit that way and that he will continue to be amazed at how his skin sticks to the leather.  And I imagine there is something else that he continues to do, but I refuse to ask.  A long time ago he informed us that he saw some hairs growing on his chest............and so he pulled them out.  Yes, he pulled them out!

The last time that I ventured to ask him about that, he confirmed that he was still pulling out the random hairs that he found growing on his chest.  To Aaron, hair should not be growing on his chest.  Maybe it's all the times in our 6 years of living in Europe that we saw very hairy men with no shirts on..............and our kids would yell, "Ooohhhh!!  Grossy Men!!!!"

Or maybe he just wants his chest to match the part of his head that is bald.  I don't ask anymore.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Give Me More! - End of Day Update

If you did not read my previous post - Give Me More! - then you should read it now so that this post will have more meaning.

Now:  Aaron recently returned home and I heard the rustling of a bag.  A Wal-Mart bag, I presumed.  I was right.  He came downstairs to talk to Gary and I, and out of the bag he pulled.............croissants.  His love affair with this bread continues.  In the container were two croissants left uneaten - at that point.  

"Mom, I got a large Cheddar Pasta Salad but I couldn't get two croissants because it cost $11.01."

Since Aaron took $8.39 to Wal-Mart, then he was confined to that amount and $11.01 was more than he had to spend.  I asked, "So Aaron, how did you know that it cost $11.01to get two croissants and your LARGE Cheddar Pasta Salad?  You must have taken two boxes of croissants up to the register and tried to buy them."

"No!" he said.  "I only bought one!"

But you must have taken TWO up to the register, right?

"Well, yes, I took two but I didn't have $11.01.  So I just could buy one box!"

Ah-ha!  So much for Aaron using restraint in his food purchasing.  I should have known.  The only thing restraining him from buying 12 croissants instead of the 6 he bought was his $8.39.  I guarantee that before his next Wal-Mart trip he will be asking for $11.01.

When he left the house this morning, his bed was a mess and he asked me to help him make it.  I didn't have time to do that, so after we talked about his Wal-Mart trip, he asked, "Mom, did you help me make my bed while I was gone?"

This isn't the first time he has asked this question and my answer is the same:  "Aaron, how can I help YOU make the bed when YOU are gone?  Isn't that just ME making the bed?"

"Yeah, but did you help me make it?"

No, Aaron.........I did not help you make your bed while you were gone.  I smile.  He's oblivious.

He went to the other room to talk to Gary and returned soon, licking his lips.  Of course, the remaining two croissants were history and the container was empty.

"Mom!  After Wal-Mart, do you know what we then did?"

No, Aaron - what did you then do?

"We went to Sonic!"

I am feeling stuffed just thinking about Aaron's Sonic trip on top of a large Cheddar Pasta Salad and 6 croissants (although he said he shared).

But he assured me that he just got water at Sonic.  Yay!  A wise choice!

We went upstairs so that I could actually help HIM make his bed since I didn't help him make it while he was gone.  Now he has gone to Lowe's with Gary and no telling what stories he will return telling..............or Gary will tell me behind Aaron's back.

At least we know there are no croissants at Lowe's!

Give Me More!

Aaron appreciates the value of money just like the rest of us.  Of course, to him the value of money translates into Number 52 Quik-Trip Slushies; multiple boxes of Mike and Ikes or Hot Tamales; and the largest order of popcorn at the theater.  This morning he was talking to me about the fact that he's going to Wal-Mart today with his day group.

"Mom, can I have some extra money?"

Sure, Aaron.  You can have some extra money for Wal-Mart today.

Then I reminded him that I didn't want him to buy tons of candy or ice cream or Croissants.  I reinforced the fact that he could buy a Subway sandwich or a Cheddar Pasta Salad.  And I added, "Aaron, you don't have to buy a 12 inch sub.......a 6 inch is fine.  And you don't have to buy a large Cheddar Pasta Salad...........a medium would be good."

Realizing where my line of reasoning might be headed, he asked, "So how much money are you going to give me?"

I replied that I didn't know yet.  So he asked, "Will you give me more than you are?"

He makes me laugh.  My suggestion of a 6 inch sub or a medium Cheddar Pasta Salad just might mean that I was planning on giving him less money...........and he did not miss that possibility.

Quick, that boy is...........where it matters............to him and to his stomach.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lessons From the Warning Birds

I finally had a free morning………..one in which I did not need to take Aaron to his day group, nor did I have errands to run or any commitments to meet.  I had a long outside to-do list and was eager to get started before the heat made being outside unbearable.  One of the first jobs I decided to tackle was an easy one.  The forsythia bush beside the garden was overgrown again, despite being pruned just a few weeks ago.  I grabbed the small pruning shears and my garden gloves, and then rolled the trash can out to the bush in need of a trim.

I had only made two or three little snips with my shears before I was very surprised by a dive-bombing bird.  This bird nearly clipped the top of my head!  He – or she – then immediately turned around and flew over me again as I instinctively ducked down out of the way.  The unhappy bird landed on one of the wooden beams that surrounds our garden and proceeded to squawk very loudly at me.  A second bird flew into our nearby pear tree and also berated me sharply for obviously infringing on their territory.  I knew that there was a reason for their irate behavior.  I figured it must involve a nest and possibly some baby birds that were already born, or eggs waiting to hatch. 

I really wanted to finish trimming this bush since I had the time and since I had started on it.  I carefully reached up to trim some of the upper growth when I heard a very unusual sound, one that startled me and made me move back away from the bush.  It sounded almost like a growl, but with bird undertones, and was coming from inside the bush.  Peering very carefully between the branches, I saw the little nest……..compact and nearly hidden among the tangled growth inside the bush.  In the nest, sure enough, were at least two little baby birds with eyes open and hearts probably pounding in fear.  I don’t know if Mama Bird had made the unique sound I heard or maybe one of the babies, but something was warning me to go away.  And I did.  I decided that I could finish trimming the bush at a time that was safer for these baby birds – and for me!  The uneven growth would just have to stay awhile longer.

As I moved to the vegetable garden to continue my chores, the adult birds lingered nearby to watch me and to be assured that I no longer disturbed their precious babies.  This whole episode reminded me of the warnings in our lives that occur at various times and stages.  As God’s children, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon our salvation.  One of the ministries of the Spirit in our lives is to warn us and to redirect our steps, just as the Spirit redirected the steps of Paul in Acts 16 when he forbade him to go to Bithynia.  Sometimes we are headed in a direction that may be good and seem right, but God has other plans for us.  That voice in our heart that makes us uneasy or that definite closed door is often the Spirit warning us and changing our path to the better one that God has for us.  We may not understand the change and often we don’t like it, but knowing that God sees our entire future and leads us in love is such a comfort.  Paul could look back and see that’s God’s warning and His will was best, and maybe someday we will be able to do the same with our lives.
God’s Word also has warnings for us to listen to and to obey.  David talked about the perfection of God’s Word in Psalm 19.  He described God’s laws and commandments to us as being sure, right, pure, true, and sweet – to name a few.  Then in verse 11, David said, “Moreover, by them your servant is warned……..”  Warned?  Most definitely!  God’s Word lifts us up into truth and is sweet and so pure and very encouraging………….but His Word is also full of warnings for mankind.  As God’s children, we need to heed the warnings we read in His Word – all sorts of warnings that call out to us just as much as those angry birds called out to me in my yard.  There is absolute truth, and absolute right and wrong found in the pages of our Bibles.  We need to read it with obedient hearts and listen to God’s warnings contained therein. 

One more avenue of warning can be found in the godly friends or family members that we have in our lives.  In his challenge to the Corinthian believers in I Corinthians 4, Paul finally says to them in verse 14: “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish (or warn) you as my beloved children.”  Sometimes there are faithful people in our lives who see us making bad decisions, or headed into a dangerous relationship, or harboring bitterness, or any number of other situations.  I’ve been personally blessed with wise counsel from family and friends at various times in my life.  Some of that counsel may take the form of warnings………..warnings that we need to heed when given by one that we know to be following the Lord and whom we can trust to advise us with sound wisdom.  Warnings from those who have lived life longer than we have and who have seen the result of sinful ways.  Warnings from those who love us and love God and want us to have His best. 

May each of us be open during those times when the Spirit, or God’s Word, or loving people in our lives are trying to get our attention……….are attempting to redirect our thoughts or our activities or our desires away from ones that can be damaging to us.  Even when it means leaving the path that we were on…………..leaving a job undone………..ending a relationship……………throwing off a worry or a heavy load of hurt……………whatever the situation, may the trusted warnings that we receive be well received.  God has a reason for the warnings tucked away in His plan for us…………reasons even more precious than little baby birds.