Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Aaron Not Talking?

Night before last was a rough night for Aaron.  He had several seizures............ and while this is nothing out of the ordinary for him, these seizures were stronger, it seemed.  It wasn't long after I had lain back down that I heard through the monitor in our room the sound of him rustling  around.  As I got out of bed I heard a loud thump and knew that he had fallen.  I found him sitting on the floor at his open bedroom door.  He was so out of it that he was hardly aware of what was going on.  I finally figured out that he wanted to go to the bathroom, and I also realized that he needed to change his pants after this last seizure.

As I helped him to the bathroom, I saw that Aaron couldn't talk.  Sometimes these hard seizures have that effect.  He was trying so hard to communicate with me but the words wouldn't come.  It was as if his mouth wouldn't even open.  He tried and tried to say a word, and finally a word would come out after great effort.  I was able to put two and two together as he let me know that he needed to go to the bathroom, and then later let me know that he was in some pain and felt like he couldn't breathe. 

I didn't let him know how much that scared me..........the pain and the breathing issue.  I got him settled back into bed, pulling his pile of covers up around him just the way that he likes.  I sat there with him for awhile, watching his breathing and finally watching him fall asleep.  And I thought about how he reacted during the time in the bathroom and then as we sat on his bed, and he couldn't form words.  He didn't get frustrated, but instead he would just look at me as if he was asking for my help.........and he would smile.  Over and over he would give me that look, and then smile.  It wasn't a "Ha-Ha, I think this is funny" smile..........but instead it was like a trusting smile.......a sweet "It's up to you now, Mom" smile.  It was up to me to finish what he was trying to say; to understand what he needed; to give him comfort and help when he needed it.

Aaron can be so rough and gruff much of the time.  He thinks that it's funny to poke and pinch and give us whacks on our back or rear end.  He's loud and sometimes says things that irritate everybody, and when corrected he says that he thought it was funny.  So when Aaron is vulnerable and needy, it touches a place in my heart that makes me realize just how fragile he really is.  His health because of these seizures is at the forefront at that moment, but also his frustrations and fears are revealed in his eyes.  And in that smile.

His last seizure was around 7:30 in the morning, and soon afterwards he roused up enough to want to come downstairs.  He made it down the stairs, which scared me again since he was so wobbly, but nothing would deter him from what he wanted.   And again, he couldn't talk but kept giving me that look and that smile.  It was a tough morning as he tried to get comfortable.  He had a bad headache and he threw up.  I finally rubbed his back and tickled his arm, and he was able to tell me that it felt good.  He relaxed and dozed off and on, and finally woke up able to talk pretty well.  "Do you want me to eat something?" he asked.  I knew he was telling me that he was hungry, so when I asked what he wanted he immediately asked for tomato soup.  "Tomato soup?" I asked.  "Are you sure?"  But Aaron was very sure, so I fixed him the soup and then went to help him up.  As I pulled on his arm, he said, "You're stretching me."  He laughed and I could tell that he was feeling better.  He ate his soup, and then took his pills.  "Are you poisoning me?" he said.......and laughed again at his funny joke.

He lay back down and fell fast asleep.  Later I heard him stirring and then heard, "Mom?"  I asked him what he wanted and he said, "Well.  Did the fog go away?"  We talked about the fog, and it wasn't long before he offered this observation:  "Mom, since you wanted me to lay here every now and then, do you know what I was doing?  I was gassing!"

This is when I knew that Aaron was back.  Yes, back full force and in all his honesty.  Later in the afternoon he went with me for a quick trip to Wal-Mart, and then to get tacos for him to take home and eat..........with his three forks and his knife that he didn't use and the napkins and his toothpicks.........you know the routine now.

Of course, he talked.......and talked some more.  He talked about fish and about lobsters and about snoring and about losing weight and about someone he knows that has not lost weight and who still snores.  He talked about lots of other things, too, as always.  I was so sleepy that between the driving and his talking I'm surprised I was able to find my way home.  But find my way I did.

I'm glad that Aaron found his way back from the effects of the seizures, and even glad that he was talking again.  I keep thinking about that helpless smile he kept giving me and the look in his eyes when he couldn't talk.  Sometimes I say, either out loud or to myself, "Oh, Aaron.  Just don't talk for a few minutes!"  But when he really couldn't talk, I so wanted to hear him speak.  Again, be careful what I wish for, right?


Even his talk of gassing was good to hear..........sort of.  Oh, Aaron!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Putting Burdens in Perspective

I decided on this rainy, gray afternoon that I would snuggle under my soft blanket on the couch for awhile.  Maybe I would even take a nap, although my body doesn't usually cooperate with naps for some reason.  Today I wasn't feeling great and so to just lay down and rest sounded wonderful.  However, within 60 seconds of laying down I heard the unmistakable sound of Aaron's desk chair scooting back.  Soon he came thumping down the stairs and blustered into the family room where I had just closed my eyes.  So I opened my eyes and there he stood, looking at me as he held his black fuzzy pillow and his soft blanket and his back scratcher.

It would be highly unusual for Aaron to realize that he was bothering me.........or to care that he was bothering me.  And today turned out to be a usual day, because Aaron proceeded to position his items on his favorite chair as he told me that he was tired of his computer and so he wanted to watch some television.
 
Sigh.

I pushed back my soft blanket and gathered all my items as I told Aaron that I would just go upstairs to lay down in my room.  He thought that was a great plan as he was already settling into his chair and picking up the remote.

Sigh.

I was settled on my bed under my soft blanket and had even dozed for a few minutes.  I was relaxed and just resting when I heard it...........the again unmistakable banging of Aaron's feet on the stairs.  He was coming upstairs.  Soon I heard him turn toward my room and then he barreled through the closed door.  I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!  He didn't knock and he wasn't quiet.  Nope.  He just zipped right in and said, "Mom?  Can you take me to get some supper from a restaurant?"

"Aaron?" I asked.  "Do you not see that I'm trying to nap?"

"But can you take me to get some supper later?" he repeated.

Sigh.

"And if you can take me, can we go to Burger King?" he continued. 

"I don't know, Aaron," I answered.  "Burger King is kinda far away, you know."

"Well," he said as he started out the door, "let me know if you can take me to Burger King.  If you can't, it's OK."  And out the door he scurried.

Sigh.

I was totally awake now, and a little aggravated at how Aaron totally doesn't get it..........doesn't get the fact that I was trying to nap and that he just barged in talking.  He could have at least whispered, for crying out loud.........though Aaron whispering is very rare indeed. 

Somehow as I lay there, though, I started thinking of what it's like to be Aaron.  Sometimes I think of how self-centered he is........like he was twice already in a span of 30 minutes as he disrupted my attempted nap.  But in the quietness of my room after he blustered out the door, I thought of what it must be like to always be dependent on others to take him everywhere.  Aaron can't jump in his own car with his keys ready and drive himself to Burger King.  Instead, he must ask someone else to take him out for a favorite food.........and hope that Mom or Dad won't mind driving a little farther to take him to get what he's wanting.  If they do mind, then he'll say OK like he just did, and he'll be happy to go closer.......to Sonic, or Taco Bell, or McDonald's. 

What do I do if I want a particular food or if I want to go to a certain store?  I just jump in the van and off I go.  Aaron doesn't have that luxury.  He must ask for a ride, and then he must hope that Mom or Dad won't mind taking him to the place he really wants to go instead of to the place that's just more convenient.  What would it be like to never have the freedom to come and to go anytime and anywhere you wanted?  I felt like crying as I lay on my bed under my soft, warm blanket.  Aaron's dependence on us is a facet of his care that can easily be seen as a burden to us.  But at this moment I was aware of his dependence on us being a heavy burden for Aaron to bear.  I wondered if it's ever hard for him to ask us to take him places?  "If you can't, it's OK," he had said.  He would make it OK, but deep down he really wanted Burger King. 

And Burger King it would be, I decided!  Just then, I heard it.  Thump, thump, thump!  Up the stairs came Aaron.........and into my room he barged once again.

Sigh.

"Mom?" he breathlessly asked.  "Have you decided?"

I patted the empty side of the bed and told him to sit down.  He was not wanting to sit down, really.  He was wanting an answer about Burger King, but he knew that somehow his sitting beside Mom on the bed just might hold the key to a possible Burger King supper.......so he sat.  I patted his leg and I told him that first of all, he should remember that Mom was trying to nap.  He should remember to not rush in the room when Mom is napping.  He should remember not to talk to Mom when she is napping.  This little talk did not have one mention of Burger King, and so Aaron began to fidget. 

"OK," he said as he agreed to my napping instructions.  "So can we go to Burger King?"

Sigh.

"Yes, Aaron," I answered.  "I'll take you to Burger King."

Happy Aaron jumped off the bed, and soon we were in the van driving on the way to his chicken nuggets and French fries at Burger King.  Aaron in his pajama shorts and sleeveless shirt and old man sweater, with his slipper socks and slippers on his feet.......and me hoping that we did not have to get out of the van for any reason. 

Sigh.

And Aaron talked non-stop about clones again.  Oh my goodness, will he ever exhaust the clone subject?  All the way there and all the time in the drive-through line and all the way home........clones, clones, clones. 

Sigh.

We got home with the goods............ and Aaron settled in his chair with his pillow behind his back and his blanket on his lap just right and his toothpicks beside him on the end table and a knife and fork and spoon that he didn't use but had to have and his bowls, of course.  A bowl for his chicken nuggets..........a bowl for his fries........AND a bowl for the barbecue sauce. 

Sigh.

There were two bowls on the table already full of his Pringles........a dirty bowl in the sink.......two bowls in the dishwasher.........his three bowls on his lap........and one solitary clean bowl left in the cabinet.

Sigh.




I looked around and realized that it really doesn't take much to make Aaron happy.   Sometimes, too, it doesn't take much to get on my nerves.  I need to take these little things that can become big things, and put them in perspective.  Life is too short to get uptight about a drive to Burger King or interrupted naps or the multiple dirty bowls or clones.

Well, the clones are beginning to be too much now, seriously.

Sigh.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cool Aaron

Aaron came out to the patio this morning when he got out of bed.  I was finishing a phone conversation, so he stood there trying to wait patiently............but waiting patiently is very hard for Aaron, so soon I felt the familiar finger poke on my shoulder.  Then Aaron saw my familiar hand motion that meant to be quiet, and so back inside he went.....but not for long.  Soon he was back outside, holding up his Sands of Oblivion movie and whispering, "Mom.  Mom.  I need to show you something."  Again he saw my "be quiet" motion, and so he sat in the chair beside me to wait it out.   Soon I was finished, and so Aaron launched happily into what he wanted to show me.........or tell me, as the case may be.........about the Sands of Oblivion movie. 

He was happy today, I could tell.  Unlike yesterday, where he was only half happy, as he would say.  Yesterday he told me that he had a hard time sleeping.  "I tried to find a way to get myself asleep," he said.  "I didn't get to sleep until 2:00!"  Then he waited for my expression of sympathy, which never came in a way that would satisfy him..........meaning that I didn't let him stay home yesterday to recover from not finding a way to get himself to sleep.

Today Aaron was very alert, saying he had slept much better, and from his constant talking I could certainly attest to his happiness.  I eased myself away from the discussion of the Sands of Oblivion........the bad guy that I can't name and the necklace he wore and King Tut and all that sand and is any of it true and what is not true.  Even my coffee couldn't keep me awake enough for that conversation, so off I went to get in the shower, telling Aaron to do likewise.

Aaron heard me turn the water off awhile later, and I could soon hear his deep monotone voice out in the hallway.  He was sitting at my closed and definitely locked door, just droning on and on about.......something.  I couldn't quite hear him, and even when I told him to wait he continued talking.  Every now and then I'd hear him raise his voice and say, "Right, Mom?"  All he got was silence and then I would hear him again, "Right, Mom?  Right?"

Now I know not to reply, "Right, Aaron."  I've learned that I may have just said yes to giving him extra money or stopping for food that I did not agree to or promising to play Skip-Bo that night.....or any number of other things.  You'd think he'd know that I can't hear when my door is closed and the radio is on.......but no, Aaron continues to sit there talking and talking.  Talking into oblivion, which I was thinking would make a great movie title regarding Aaron.

Finally I opened my door and Aaron barreled in, never missing a beat.  He had switched from the Sands of Oblivion movie to his Star Wars game.........Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.  The other day he wanted me to look on the computer to see if I could find the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic  THE MOVIE.  As opposed to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic the PC game.  I finally agreed to look it up on Amazon in order to either prove that it doesn't exist, or to just give up and order it..........in order to make Aaron quit talking about it every single day.  Aaron said that he would write out the name for me so that I could type it into Google, but I told him that I would write it.  I wrote:  Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic - The Movie.

"No!" Aaron blurted out.  "You move that part here!"  He was pointing to the dash that I had put after the word "Republic."  I had to change it because I knew that Aaron would be very bothered if I didn't put it in the right place.  Therefore I wrote:   Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic The Movie - Part One.   Aaron was satisfied that the dash was correct now as he informed me that I had to write "Part One" because there are lots of parts to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic The Movie.  And we were looking for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic The Movie - PART ONE!!!!   He thought I was sighing because I needed breath. 

Anyway, that day we did not find Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic The Movie - Part One.  Or any other part, for that matter..........because it doesn't exist except in Aaron's hopeful mind.  But Aaron loves talking about this game, as he did this morning.  This was my view as I sat on the edge of the bathroom counter, putting my face on........and trying to keep my face straight as Aaron went on and on and on about this favorite game.


In particular, he wanted to talk about the clones in the clone army........how they dressed and what they looked like and how they fought and how they were all alike and do scientist's today make clones and why not and if they did how would they do it.  I was seriously near oblivion.  It didn't matter to Aaron if I answered every question, but at times he would randomly stop his talking and I realized that I was supposed to answer a question.....which I often had to make him repeat, sad to say. 

"Mom?" he asked, "if a scientist made a clone would he put our DNA in a copier?"  And off he went into a mostly one-sided discussion of making clones.  Most of his questions I answered by saying, "Ask Andrea when she comes home soon.  She knows all about DNA."  My apologies, Andrea........and you better still come home!

"Mom!" he exclaimed.  "I think if a scientist could clone us, that would be a problem in our house!" 

Yes, Aaron, in particular one of us would be a huge problem if he was cloned.  And Aaron laughed as he launched right on with talking about how army people today are not clones.......and how clones make a bigger, stronger, good guy army.........and the good guy ship and the bad guy ship........was the ship called an assault destroyer?...........and did the smoke come out the air tank?........or did it come out the exhaust port?   I became alert at the word "exhaust" as I realized that this is how I was feeling, but Aaron was already wondering how DNA is obtained and when those lab people stick a needle in his arm are they taking his DNA?

All the way to meet his ride, Aaron didn't miss a beat but continued his Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic dialogue.  This time he was interested in George Lucas and if he is still alive.  He was happy to hear that George is still with us, but surprised that someone who is as old as middle age can still make games and movies.  He was in the middle of examining every aspect of detonator bombs when we passed the field that sometimes holds his favorite big black bulls and so in the middle of detonator bombs he yelled, "BULLS!!!!"  That woke me up!

Soon we pulled into Quik Trip, where Aaron smoothly transitioned from bombs to the "air pipes" that people use to put air in their tires, and that "sponge on a pole" that we use to wash the bug guts off the windshield. 

Aaron called me awhile ago from his day group to tell me that some of the clients were going to watch a ball game.  One of Barb's children is playing in that game, I guess, and Aaron said, "Only one part of Barb's children are there!"  I would tease Aaron about what part that might be.............a leg or an arm........... but my humor would be lost on him, which would still make me laugh as he would stand there and look at me like I was oblivious indeed.

Aaron came home two days ago and showed me this:


He had printed on his leg the words that he loves to write about himself - Aaron Moore is cool.  In fact, it's still visible on his leg.  Ask me how well he showers. 

But Aaron Moore IS cool.........in his own odd and unique way.  He may talk me into oblivion on days like today, but truly Aaron Moore is cool! 


I'm just ever thankful that Aaron Moore can NOT be cloned.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Words and Ways of Aaron

I loaded some more dishes into the dishwasher this morning and counted the bowls.  I have five bowls in there.  So what's the big deal?  Well, I emptied the clean dishes yesterday as I was fixing supper......so these are five bowls just from late yesterday afternoon and last night........and Gary and I didn't use any of those bowls.  Those are all bowls that just Aaron used.  Five.  All by himself.

Aaron's use of bowls reminds me of some of his very unique ways.  The other night I took Aaron to Sonic to get a milk shake.  He settled in his favorite chair with his treat when we got home.  I looked in the family room and saw this:


Yes, Aaron put the milkshake...........cup and all..........into a bowl.  I know better than to make a big deal out of it or to try to stop Aaron from doing that.  Aaron LOVES bowls and puts everything, nearly, into a bowl.  When he eats his favorite Pringles, he has a bowl into which he puts the Pringles and then a separate bowl that he leans over when he bites the chip and into which the crumbs fall.  He dumps jelly beans into a bowl.......or Mike and Ikes.......or Hot Tamales.  Monday evening, as I sat with Aaron on the couch to watch Wheel of Fortune, he was eating peanuts.  I watched him and saw that he was dumping several peanuts into his hand, then dropping them all into a bowl (of course!), and eating them from the bowl.  He ate for awhile and then decided to offer me some peanuts.  He poured some peanuts into my hand, but when I started to eat them he told me no.........and then said, "Here."  He held the bowl out to me.  I asked if he wanted me to drop my peanuts into the bowl and then eat them, and he said yes.  So I ate my peanuts the Aaron way, and he was satisfied..........and I was amazed, as always, with Aaron's way of living his life.


Yesterday morning was a great morning, which was quite a relief after the rough Monday that we had the day before.  One of Aaron's first questions when he came downstairs was to ask me if it would storm that day.  Monday was a stormy, rainy day, and he loves storms.  He also loves to have the weather outlined for him nearly every morning and every night.  In answer to his question, I told him that it might storm in the evening.  He thought for a second and then asked, "So this evening means like in bed?"   Remember my story about dusk?  I had visions of a repeat of that scenario, and so I was very happy when Aaron liked my answer and didn't keep asking over and over and over about when evening would happen.

He was happy that he had slept well that night, which is another one of Aaron's frequent concerns..........how he sleeps, when he went to sleep, and when he gets up in the morning.  He said, "Mom, I fell asleep during the bed.  And today I woke up at 7:56.......and then I woke up again at 8:07!" 

He was happy that I agreed to fix him some cinnamon toast, and as he later ate it he was reminded of French toast.  He wanted to know about how to make French toast, but none of my answers seemed to satisfy what he wanted to know.  Finally he said, "I'm just saying......what's in the middle instead of just cooking it?"  Then I understood that he wanted to know why the middle was sometimes squishy..........and made progress in answering that question before he moved on to the next topic.

"Mom?" he asked.  "I told Tim about those white spots on Jackson where his fur is loosening up.  Can't we put some new fur there?"  After a long discussion about allergies and loosening fur and how we can't put new fur there, I walked into the kitchen to find a gallon baggie full of markers sitting on the table.  Oh great!  Aaron had discovered the old markers downstairs from where I was cleaning out some drawers.  Of course, he claimed them for Rosie!  I offered to let him take two markers and he grabbed three and I agreed with this compromise.  Now the rest are hidden because Aaron would continue to sneak some into his pockets every day to take to Rosie until they would all be gone. 


Speaking of putting things into his pockets, this is always something that Aaron does.  I never know what he'll have in his pockets when he comes home.  Yesterday it was this:


He found these sunglasses on the ground, he said..........and if anyone from Paradigm is missing some glasses, then please let me know.  Aaron was delighted with his find and thought that he truly looked cool.

Speaking of delighted, he was also very happy with his food purchase yesterday....which he brought home and which was laying on the kitchen table in a Wal-Mart bag.

Three.......yes, three........bags of cheese cubes.  This reminded me of the three boxes of croissant rolls he bought (more than once)........or the bags of candy........and the containers of Pringles, or peanuts.   Why does he buy in multiples?  I tell him over and over that one is such a good number, but he doesn't seem to agree. 

This morning I found Aaron and Jackson on our bedroom floor.  Two buddies......as long as Aaron is being quiet and nice.  Otherwise, Jackson slinks out of the room and tries to stay out of Aaron's way.    There are days that we all want to stay out of Aaron's way.  But his ways and his words are just what make Aaron....Aaron.  We take the good with the bad......the funny with the frustrating........the sweet with the stubborn.


I need to run the dishwasher before he comes home this evening.......and by evening I mean around 4:32........because I'm sure that by tonight......and by tonight I mean by 9:57..........there will probably be several more bowls sitting in the sink........and by several I mean 5.

There.  Now I need to check the weather. 


Monday, July 22, 2013

He Said Thanks

I've been making a concerted effort to work with Aaron on some basic manners.......behaviors that can get overlooked far too easily in the routine of our days.  One of the big ones is to say a simple "thank you" when I do something for him.  Aaron can be demanding, and it's all too easy to overlook his lack of thanks on some days.  But too much overlooking can lead to ingrained behaviors on his part......and on mine.  I can get as accustomed to his lack of thanks as he can get to being demanding.  Therefore, when he wants something from me I pause beside him after giving him his request.  I just stand there watching as Aaron starts getting a little uncomfortable, and then he'll chuckle softly and flatly say, "Thanks."

Aaron's mornings this past week were stellar for the most part.  He was compliant and pleasant, willing to go to his day group and able to pull himself together when he was feeling a little out of sorts.  But this morning..........let's just say that I was having a full payback for so many happy days last week.  Was it the full moon last night?  Was it the rain this morning?  Was it that Aaron woke up at 6:30 and couldn't go back to sleep?  Was it that today is bowling day for Paradigm, and he doesn't want to go bowling?   Whatever it was, it was NOT fun!

He and I were sitting on the patio, watching the storm clouds darken and enjoying the lightning.   He was eating some peanuts and even offered me some.  I took his jar of peanuts and poured a few in my hand, but he insisted that I put them into his ever-present bowl.   I dumped them into the bowl because I knew that this was important to him, and then I picked them out one by one as I ate them and as Aaron enjoyed sharing them.  What a nice morning!  Until I mentioned getting ready to start our day........and Aaron said, "Do I have to go today?!  I don't want to go bowling."


My internal alarms started buzzing as I sensed that Aaron was serious in his questioning.  He wasn't at all jovial but instead had an edge to his voice that told me our pleasant morning  might be drawing to a close.  Just like the approaching storm became closer and more intense, so Aaron's approaching mood change was storming upon our nice time together.  He became verbal, letting me know that he was very unhappy with me for telling him that he had to go to Paradigm. 

I finally went inside and so did he, but I went on up to my room to get ready......closing and locking my door as I wished that I could just as easily close out his ill behavior.  After my shower, I opened my door and found him outside in the hall.........still angry and still insisting that he wasn't going to his group today and still informing me of what a bad mother I was.  He knows that if he doesn't go to his group because of his anger, then he doesn't get his computer keyboard.  Seeing me also confiscate the TV control only confirmed to him his awful predicament......and increased his anger.

I won't go into all the words he used........no cursing but certainly some name-calling and much anger.  It's a side of Aaron that I don't like to share.  He isn't funny Aaron at this point but is instead very hateful and frustrated.  His lack of filters and self-control is fully visible, trust me.  However, he did get dressed and had me help him with his belt.  He wanted me to look at his tooth that was sore........and therefore I was able to show him some small measure of love and care as I gazed into his wide-open mouth and then gave him some Ibuprofen.  He softened.  I was still mostly silent, showing him that hurt inflicted upon others isn't so easily shrugged off.

Earlier in the morning I had told him that we could stop to get him something at Dillon's, so as we prepared to leave he asked if we could instead run by Sonic and get him a milk shake.  A milk shake this early?  I thought about it, and then agreed.........with little emotion.  He knew that Mom was still upset.  He reaches a point in these moments when he seems to realize that he has crossed a line, but he doesn't know how to make it right........how to extricate himself from the muddy mess he's in.

He talked on the mile drive to Sonic, but his chatter was tempered by my silence.  We pulled through the drive-through and soon Aaron had his favorite Hot Fudge Sundae milkshake.  He even blew his straw wrapper on me, which was sure to bring a smile..........but he saw that Mom was still not so happy.  I drove a little ways more, and then out of the blue......... rather quietly and quickly.........Aaron said, "Thanks."

Oh, Aaron.  I knew he was grasping at this point for anything that might break the ice........and he remembered that Mom liked it when he said thanks like he was taught to do.  The ice around my heart melted a little, which he sensed and so he proceeded to talk and talk.  And I took the opportunity to say, "Aaron, when you are upset you need to just talk to me nicely about what's bothering you."  I gave him some examples as we neared our destination, but I knew that he was just glad that Mom was talking.  He wasn't exactly taking notes on what I was saying.  Does he ever?

Well, yes, he does.  He said thanks, didn't he?  He wanted to do at least one thing right on this morning......and he wanted Mom to be at least a little pleased with him.  He happily climbed in the Paradigm van and off he went for his day.  I went home to collect my thoughts and lick my wounds, and regroup for the time that he barrels in the door at the end of his day. 

Thanks.  A small word that carries a lot of weight.  A word I need to remember on a day such as this as I thank the Lord for everything, as the Bible says I should do..........even grouchy Aaron. 


Especially grouchy Aaron!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Diversion

I was outside on the patio this morning with my cup of coffee, talking to a friend on the phone, when the patio door opened and there was Aaron..........showered, dressed, shoes on........Wow!!  He pulled out a patio chair and sat beside me, staring down at my feet.  He stared and stared while I finished my phone conversation.  I hung up the phone, looked at Aaron, and wished him a very good morning. 

"I don't like your foot color thing," he replied. 

"What?" I laughingly asked. 

"That painting on your feet," he continued.  I laughed again.  No good morning from Aaron in return for my greeting, but only a precise and blunt commentary on my feet.  "You don't like the polish on my toes?" I asked in fake disbelief.

"No," he flatly replied.  My dark pink polish may have looked blue to Aaron since he's color blind, but when I asked him what color my toes were he said they were a "kind of pink."  And with his disapproval of my toes established, we went inside........where I poured his coffee and then went up to get myself ready while Aaron drank his coffee and read the comics.

Aaron had a perfect morning relaxing in the mulch until it was time to go.  He was in a very happy mood today.  We passed the cow pasture and there out in the distance were the cows that he loves to see.  Some days they're not anywhere in sight and Aaron wonders about that.  One day he didn't see the cows and he said, "Where are the cows?  Maybe they've been turned into meat!"  But today the cows were there and Aaron was glad.



Picture from Beth Hite

It wasn't long before Aaron brought up the subject of Rosie.  He talked again about how they held hands........several times, according to Aaron........and how he liked that.  Then he said, "I could tell she almost put it as I was her boyfriend." 

He couldn't quite explain what he meant by that, so he continued.  "If she had said I was her boyfriend, I would have said that I don't want to get married right now." 

I told Aaron that he and Rosie can be good friends.  I said that they can even call each other boyfriend and girlfriend if they want.........but it doesn't mean that they will get married.  I encouraged him, as I have done so often, to just enjoy being good friends.

"So how long did it take you and Dad?" he asked.  I knew what he meant, but I asked anyway.  "How long did it take Dad and I to get married?" I asked.  He said yes, and so I paused before telling him that it took a year and a half. 

Now I wonder if Aaron is counting up a year and a half from now to see when he might need to get married.  I reminded him that having this special relationship with Rosie does NOT mean that they must marry.  I do believe that Aaron is feeling like a boyfriend/girlfriend connection is the precursor to sure marriage.......and he's feeling some pressure.  What both sets of parents want, believe me, is for Rosie and Aaron to continue being special friends.  Period.

And in true Aaron fashion, as we drove by the field where bulls graze, Aaron quickly went from talk of hand-holding and marriage to talk of bulls.  "You don't eat bulls," he blurted.    I said, "What?!" 

"You don't eat bulls!" he repeated.  "Cows are hamburger but bulls are nothing!"

Picture from Beth Hite

I laughed, both from the humor of what he said and from relief to have left this marriage talk.  I'm no cow or bull authority, so I didn't try to expound on what he said.  I was just thankful for the diversion that the cows and bulls had given Aaron, and not in the way you might think.

I have to laugh, really.  I just have to laugh, and wait for the door to burst open today to see what else Aaron wants to talk about.


Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Rosie Did

It was almost two years ago that I first wrote about Aaron and his special friend, Rosie.  Since then I have written several more times about their very special friendship.  Aaron and Rosie continue to have a sweet relationship......one that we can't quite define but one that is unique to them.  Aaron is kind to Rosie, at least as far as we know.  He still likes to take Rosie things,  and to share food or money with her.  We've been working with him to come up with other ideas of items to take to Rosie....things like pictures from the movie Cars that we print from the computer, or baby carrots instead of chips, or apples instead of Nutty Bars.  Just the other day, after cleaning out a drawer in what used to be our home school room, I found three crayons.  Aaron was very happy to take those three crayons to Rosie the next day.......because Rosie loves crayons.  And Aaron has already taken her every crayon that we own.....or so we thought.  I think these last three should be it!


We've met Rosie's parents and we've talked some about their friendship.  We're all very delighted for them to have each other.  We don't want to discourage them in any way, but I believe I can safely say that we just want them to remain as special friends.  Aaron, though, has been observing some things and connecting some dots.  Some days I feel like the ice we're stepping on may be getting a little thin. 

Some of his comments are funny.....like the night we went to watch the Fourth of July fireworks.  The next day, Aaron said, "Mom, I saw a boyfriend and a girlfriend last night."  I asked him how he knew that they were boyfriend and girlfriend, and he replied, "Well, they were acting strange."  He couldn't describe to me what he meant by that statement, and I was trying like everything to remember who was sitting near us and how they were acting........but all I could come up with was a cute couple who sat near us and who were sweetly snuggling some.  To Aaron that was strange?  Maybe that's really a good thing for him to think that way, right?

One evening as he and I walked around our circle,  Aaron once again mentioned Rosie.  He seemed burdened as he mentioned her and then again as he said something about whether or not he was her boyfriend.  I asked him if he wanted to be her boyfriend and he answered, "Well......kind of.  But then I have to think about marriage and that's hard."

I nearly stopped dead in my tracks as my mind was swirling, trying to think of what to say to him that would neither condemn nor condone this new word he was saying.......GULP!!........marriage!!   He continued.  "Was it hard for you and Dad to think about marriage?"  I mean, how do you answer that question to this boy/man who is trying to figure out all this relationship stuff?   I stumbled through something about how it's hard to know that you should marry this person, and is this person the right one, and that being friends is great,  and I don't know what else I said.........and Aaron asked what I meant.........and I just said it's very hard to explain.  So, yes, it's very hard to think about marriage.  When we got home, I much-more-calmly-than-I-felt sat down and talked to Gary about it.  He just shook his head and looked as helpless as I felt.  

Aaron doesn't even understand what marriage really means.  He just knows that when two people, like Mom and Dad, became good friends.........and then even better friends.........and then very good friends......that they got married.  Connect the dots......one, two, three, four.....

Today Aaron was giving me his usual run-down of his day.....where they went and what he ate and what he did.  He told me that Rosie was sitting beside him in the van.  Aaron's voice got very soft as he said, "Mom, do you know what Rosie did?"  Then Aaron leaned down toward me as I sat in my computer chair.  He reached for my hand and I nearly flinched, because Aaron loves to take our hands and roughly squeeze them.  But I didn't move as Aaron very gently took my hand and held it.  "Rosie did this," he said as he continued to sweetly hold my hand.......like a couple would do.  Oh my.  It was a tender moment, but I knew that it was really a tender moment between Aaron and Rosie, just being demonstrated to good old Mom.

"Did you like that, Aaron?" I softly asked him.   "Yeah," he softly answered.  And that was it.  He soon lumbered upstairs to change clothes and start his evening.  I sat still for a minute, transfixed over that moment......how sweet it was, how tender........and how much it says about Rosie and Aaron.  Holding hands was not lost on Aaron.  It meant something to him, deeply......not physically but even deeper, in his heart.  We don't want to dismiss that for Aaron.  I don't think we could if we tried.  We love this joy that he and Rosie seem to have together - this special bond that they share.


I have a feeling, though, that when Andrea or Andrew get married someday..........we're gonna have a whole lot of questions to answer from Aaron as he connects even more dots.  I never dreamed this would ever be a concern for us with Aaron, but here we are..........maybe. 


I still think God sent an instruction manual with Aaron, surely.  I just wish I hadn't misplaced it.    

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Grown-Up Man?

Last night Aaron had asked if he could have pancakes for breakfast the next morning, so after my shower this morning I opened my door and went to Aaron's bedroom to tell him that his wish was about to come true.  I was going to fix pancakes.  But Aaron's room was empty, though his bed was made, and so I went downstairs to find him.  Upon walking into the kitchen, this is what I found.


There were his shorts in a heap on the floor, looking as if he had just slipped them off and left them there.........which he had.  I looked around for him, but there was no sign of Aaron.  I went upstairs, wondering if he was hiding in his closet like he has done before.  No, still no Aaron in his closet or in any other closest or under a bed.  I looked outside, thinking he must be in the mulch, but all his mulch or twig sites were empty. 

I went ahead and got his pancakes started before checking all the downstairs areas, including our two storage rooms.  All were empty of Aaron.  Now I was starting to get a little concerned.  I called for him and told him that I was fixing pancakes, but the house was silent.  Back outside I went, calling his name, but there was no answer.  I went over to the side of the house where he had been sitting by the trees last week, and when I looked on the other side of the trees, there he was!  His back was to me, and his bland clothes didn't stand out, so he was hard to see.

I called to him again, and he finally answered.  "I didn't think you'd see me!" he happily said.  He had no idea that I was getting a little frazzled.  He got up immediately when I told him that his pancakes were ready.  He reminded me of a young child as he was obviously pleased with his good job of hiding, and excited as he anticipated his fresh, hot pancakes that were waiting for him.


He put his mulch trash can back in the garage and then washed his hands thoroughly before he came to the table, stepping over his dropped shorts.  He explained to me that those were the pair of shorts that were hard to button, so he had just dropped them there and put on his shorts from yesterday.  I left him to eat his pancakes and went back upstairs to finish getting ready, where he later joined me.  His denim shorts were back on as he walked into my room, holding them together at his waist and carrying his belt that he needed me to help him thread through his belt loops.  I helped him button the shorts and get on his belt, and then he handed me one of his tennis shoes that he wanted me to untie and retie after he slipped it on his foot.

All the while, he was telling me about eating five pancakes but leaving the others on the plate, and wondering if Jackson could have the ones he didn't eat..........and if it was OK that he let Jackson eat the crumbs that were on the floor.  I wondered if the crumbs were more like bite-sized chunks that he conveniently left on the floor for his dog buddy to eat, but knowing I wouldn't get an accurate answer I just left that unsaid.  I agreed that we could take Jackson with us for our drive to meet Aaron's group, so off we headed for the van........after Aaron made sure that I put in his computer keyboard.  As we passed the kitchen table, I saw Aaron's empty plate and then the pile of untouched silverware there on the side.  I always shake my head at Aaron's need of multiple pieces of silverware, no matter what he eats.  It's like a security blanket for him, always necessary but rarely ever needed.


He grabbed two bottles of water and hopped in the van, with Jackson sitting on the back seat and music soon playing from the CD that I inserted........and that Aaron examined and then approved.   Soon he said, "Mom?  Last night at 11:01 I saw lightning."  

"Really?" I asked.  "So what time was it?"  I love his precise time-giving, and he did not disappoint me.  "It was at 11:01," he repeated.  "And it scared me!"  So we talked about why the lightning scared him.........him saying that he didn't know it was going to lightning.  Last night was one of those nights that he didn't check on the weather and the outside temperature before going to bed, so I guess that explained his surprise at the lightning.  I imagine that tonight he will remember to do his routine weather check before he closes his door to go to bed.
 
Then as he so often does, Aaron took a sharp verbal turn and for whatever reason he said, "Mom, yesterday I saw a man at McDonald's who had a beard like this."

  I looked over at him and he was making the motion of a long, skinny beard coming down from his chin.   Aaron continued, "I thought he would get food in that long beard!"  And then....."He wasn't an old man but he was a grown-up man!" 

I laughed, and thought as Jackson and I drove home about Aaron not being an old man..........but is he a grown-up man?  In some ways yes, but in many ways no.  There he was this morning, playing his hiding game and loving his pancakes and trying to feed the dog and needing help with his buttoning and his belt and one of his shoes.  We have some work to do to help Aaron be more of a grown-up man, but some things about him will probably never change.  He will always think that hiding from Mom is fun sometimes, and that secretly feeding the dog is great, and that unexpected lightning at 11:01 is a little scary. 

It's all a part of fun and frustrating Aaron, and part of the balancing act that parents like Gary and I face every day.  I'm thankful that we can have Aaron with us at this stage of his life, and I also know that we must prepare him for the time that he will need to be very grown-up and learn to live somewhere else. 


And that is like the unexpected lightning.......a little scary.  Makes me want to grab Aaron's trash can and go hide behind that tree he was using this morning!  But I can't and I shouldn't, so Gary and I will someday face that time together - I hope - and certainly with the Lord by our side.       

Monday, July 15, 2013

Clothes.......and Shoes.......and Clothes

Like any of us, Aaron has preferences in his life.  He has preferences about what he eats, for instance.  Take chicken..........Aaron has gotten so he will only eat boneless chicken.  When he knows that I'm fixing chicken here at home, he always asks if it is boneless.  If it's not boneless, then he wants the meat cut off the bone.  He doesn't like to get his hands messy by picking up the chicken, and he's very awkward with a knife and fork, so I understand why he wants the chicken cut off the bone......or why he likes to just keep it easy and have boneless chicken. 

He came home from Paradigm the other day and clomped upstairs to find me.  "Mom!" he exclaimed.  "Guess where we went today?" 

He didn't really want me to guess, because he launched right on with his story.  "We went to Church's Chicken!!"  He asked me if I have been to Church's Chicken, and then told me that he had eaten boneless chicken........of course! 

Yes, Aaron, I know how you love boneless chicken!  And he asked, "Mom, do you want chicken that has bones?"

I told him that I do like chicken that has bones, and then I asked, "So do you want chicken that has bones, Aaron?"

"No!!" he replied.  "I cough on them!!"

I started explaining once again that he doesn't need to EAT the bones, but he was already telling me where else they had been that day.  "Mom!  We also went to TJ Maxx!"

Now I know Aaron and I knew that TJ Maxx was probably not his favorite store.  Aaron will go shopping with us at the drop of a hat if he knows we are going to Wal-Mart.....Dillon's.....Aldi......Target............definitely CD Tradepost..........even Lowes or Menards or Ace Hardware with Dad.   I doubted, though, that TJ Maxx would interest him, and I was right.

He continued, "I didn't really like TJ Maxx.  It's just a clothes place."

I told him that they have other things there, too, and he asked, "Like what?"

I quickly racked my brain to think of some of those other things that TJ Maxx has that Aaron would like as he stood there staring at me, waiting for those interesting items that he must have missed. 

All I could come up with in a hurry was shoes, so shoes it was. 

Well, Aaron, TJ Maxx has shoes.

He looked at me like I had just lost my marbles when I said that TJ Maxx has shoes.

"NO!" he replied.  "Shoes are in the CLOTHES family!!!"


It's a lesson about the science of clothes........and shoes........ that I will not soon forget.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Went Outside

I knew the minute that I laid eyes on Aaron this morning that he was tired and probably grouchy......and I was right.  He was having another "I'm tired and I don't feel well and I don't want to go to Paradigm" morning.  I just poured his coffee, opened the comics as I told him how funny Get Fuzzy was today, and told him that it was a nice morning..........so going outside to the mulch would be a great idea.  He dismissed that idea with a grunt, and I made my exit to go upstairs and get in the shower. 

Later, I went downstairs, steeling myself against Aaron's certain verbal onslaught..........and found it strangely quiet.  There were his empty coffee cups on the table, his pill container and water glass on the counter showing that he had taken his pills, and the rumpled comics revealing that he had read his favorite Get Fuzzy comic.  I glanced out the window and saw a splash of yellow out under the trees.  There sat Aaron, wearing his yellow shirt, and fully occupied in the twigs and small sticks there under the trees.  He was meticulously breaking each twig and watching it fall into his mulch trash can, slowly filling it even more, piece by little piece.


I left him alone, hoping that his quiet time under the trees was working its magic.  Still, as I walked outside after awhile to tell him that it was nearly time to leave, I dreaded his possible reaction.  By this time he had moved over into the neighbor's back tree line, where there was a whole new and fresh pile of dry twigs.  I approached him, took a deep breath, and said, "Hey Aaron!  It's time for us to go."

To my great surprise and relief, he happily just said, "OK!"  And that was it!  Wow!  He got right up, and he and I walked to the house, talking about the nice day and how the sun was getting hot.  I was still surprised at how much his mood had changed, and was just very thankful that it had changed for the better. 

As we drove to meet his group, Aaron launched into his topic of the day.........robots.  In particular, HK47......the robot on his Star Wars Republic game.  He talked about everything robot and HK47 that he could think of, and asked me tons of questions that I tried to intelligently answer despite the fact that I am not a robot or HK47 expert.  Finally Aaron paused for a breath, and I quickly grabbed the moment to tell him that I was really proud of him for doing so well today.

He flatly replied, "I went outside."  That was all he felt the need to say.......so I said, "You like going outside in the mulch, don't you?"

"Yeah," he answered.  "My mind thinks."

Now this may sound like no big deal, but to me it was huge..........because to Aaron it was huge.  Huge for him to be able to convey just what he's doing as he sits out on the ground, breaking mulch or twigs into his trash can.  I asked him what he thinks about, and he told me that he still makes up stories......which I knew that he used to do, but I wasn't sure if his mind was still thinking up stories.   This story making calms him, and the repetitive motion of breaking small pieces of wood is a large part of this calming process.
 
Hoping to continue this glimpse into Aaron's mind, I said, "You like it outside, don't you, Aaron?"

And he answered, "Yeah.  Unless it's a hundred!  Then that's a problem!!"

I laughed, and Aaron laughed as he rubbed his hands together, and the spell was broken.  The sharing was over as he launched again into robots and HK47..........how he talks and what he says and what he sees and how he moves..........

But I was back at his simple comment........"My mind thinks."   It was like looking into a secret room full of hidden things not ever seen when he made that simple comment.  I loved that moment!  I loved those three little words that were enormous to me!  Somehow that time for him to let his mind think is also a time when he is able to refresh and be calmed. 


It's the cheapest, most effective therapy ever.........at least for Aaron!  I still think I just might join him.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Shut-Up

When our children were little, we tried to teach them to be polite.   There were certain words or phrases that we didn't allow them to say.  One of those phrases was "shut up."  We worked hard to keep from using that phrase, or allowing the kids to use it, when they were growing up.

Fast forward now to Aaron.  I don't know if it's because this was a forbidden phrase in our home or what, but Aaron says "shut up" now.  Sometimes he says it in a humorous way, with a smile or a laugh, and we know he's not being malicious.  Other times, he is more serious when he says it........and when he is really angry, he throws it out with venom.  It seems that nothing we say or do has been able to keep Aaron from uttering "shut up" from time to time.

We know that the other clients in his day group get tired of hearing Aaron say "shut up."  After his recent bad day at Paradigm, Gary and I have really been calling Aaron's attention to how often he says "shut up"...........and then reminding him of how much it offends and bothers people, and what a better response he could use.

Aaron has really tried to cooperate with this focus for the most part.  The other night he and I were having some light, fun conversation before bed..........and he laughingly told me to "shut up."  I gave him my Mom look and before I could say a word, he said, "Mom, have you noticed that I've stopped saying shut-up?"

I replied, "Aaron.  You just said it."

And he answered, "Well, I start to say it and then I stop saying it and then I say it."

So now we know Aaron's definition of stopping something.  He starts, then stops, and then starts again.  He kind of stops, right?   I could use this for my eating habits, you know.  "Well, I start to eat it and then I stop eating it and then I eat it."  Or any number of other habits that I struggle with!

I closed our bedroom door that night, and Gary and I laughed as Aaron thumped up the hall to his room.  We definitely still have our work cut out for us!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Test Results......And More!

Today I took Aaron to his doctor appointment at the air base.  I will tell you right away that all of his test results came back perfectly normal.  What a huge relief!!  His blood pressure was excellent, and his weight showed that he has lost a grand total of approximately 60 pounds over a 7 month period.  The drug that we weaned him from this winter can cause weight gains of 50-60 pounds, so since all tests are normal and he has no other symptoms, we are fairly certain that this explains the huge weight loss.  We will monitor his weight monthly and send that info to his PA there.  We are very, very thankful for this good report today.  Thank you, Lord!

And now for the rest of the story.  You surely know that going on an outing with Aaron will be interesting.  His test results may have been normal, but as for the rest of the morning.........

We walked up the hallway of the clinic and went right away to the sign-in counter.  I was aware of the curious stare of the girl behind the desk as she was trying to mentally classify Aaron.  Good luck with that, I thought.  And as I turned to remind Aaron to stay beside me, and to quit making the mouth noise, and to not clap........ I was also aware of the stares of the two people behind us.  I was so thankful that Aaron doesn't notice that, and that he feels no discomfort in public settings.  Absolutely none, as he delightfully started pulling on the stretchy barrier that marks the sign-in lane and I reminded him not to do that as I remind him at every clinic visit......and I was glad to take the necessary information form and sit down.

But Aaron had no sooner sat in the chair beside me when he was up again, headed with purpose toward something.  I quickly looked up and called him back, but then I saw what he saw..........a blood pressure machine!  He loves blood pressure machines, and so he said that he wanted to do this while we waited for his name to be called.  Mind you, none of Aaron's conversations are spoken quietly.  I just nodded and smiled, and he happily turned in the chair at the machine..........where he proceeded to take off his ring, his watch, and his glasses.  I was thankful that he didn't start to remove his shirt as well!  And also thankful that right then his name was called.........so he sighed, and put on his ring and his watch and his glasses.

Aaron loves doctor visits.  He likes being the center of attention, and he likes answering questions whenever he is allowed, and he likes going on and on about whatever he wants to talk about to this person who has an interest in him and has ears to listen to his stories.  However, this day was a little different.  He did not have a rash to show, or a complaint to complain about, or a pain to rate.  When the PA came in the room after Aaron was triaged, she and I just talked and talked about Aaron's test results and his meds that he takes and when he was weaned off the one drug.  She looked at Aaron, and spoke to Aaron, and smiled at him.......but the vast majority of the conversation was with me.  And why should Mom get all the attention?  She is not the one who lost weight and had to have blood drawn and had to pee in a cup and had to have nasty fecal smears done. 

So finally Aaron eased off of the exam table and stood beside me, staring at the wall.......the wall full of fun gadgets just waiting to be touched and picked up and explored.  I told him to not even think of touching anything.........so he sat in the chair against the wall.  He sat there quietly, until I heard him rather softly say something about wanting to show her this.  Show her what, I thought?  But I was concentrating on my conversation with the PA.  Aaron, realizing that he was being further ignored, began to scoot his chair closer to me.  Scoot, scoot, scoot.  Still, the PA and I were engaged in what we were discussing.........so Aaron proceeded to take off one of his shoes and then to remove his sock.

He sat in the chair, and then scooted even closer to me..........minus his shoe and sock.  Still we talked, but not about what Aaron wanted us to notice and discuss.  He knew better than to interrupt again, so instead he proceeded to slide down in his chair in order to stretch his leg out and place his bare foot up on the trash can that was right beside my chair.  And there he sat, scrunched down in his chair with his leg stretched out and his foot resting on top of the trash can...........waiting to be noticed.........waiting to be questioned.........waiting to be examined.......waiting for SOMETHING! 

Lt. Wendt likes Aaron, and she smiled like she understood and I smiled because I understand all too well.........and then as Aaron saw a break in the conversation, he jerked up and grabbed his foot and said that he had something to show the PA!  He pulled back his toes and there, underneath his last two toes, was a little patch of peeling skin.........and some black slipper sock fuzz.  "Look!" Aaron breathlessly said.  "What is that?!"

Lt. Wendt was grinning, and I replied to Aaron, "That's slipper sock fuzz and some loose skin because you don't shower correctly!"  Aaron was disappointed that this was the only discussion and diagnosis that he was to hear about his toe problem; but he was happy that the PA listened to his lungs and his heart, and that he got at least a little attention to make this visit worthwhile.  Soon his shoe and sock were back on his foot and we were driving down the road, headed for lunch at Subway..........where Aaron told me all about getting "unsweeted tea" when he went to Subway with Krysten, and do I like "unsweeted tea?"


After lunch, we went to our vet to pick up dog food and allergy pills..........and where Aaron got to pet Cato, the resident cat.  Then to Dillon's for one of his prescriptions, and for junk food, and where of course Aaron had to try out the lounge chair that was on sale.


  And we looked at raspberries and blackberries to see the differences in those two interesting fruits.  Never a dull moment with Aaron!

All of this weight business with Aaron has taken a toll on us, and I believe he and I were both feeling like a huge weight was taken off our shoulders.  Thank you, Lord, for good test results and for a good day with Aaron........and that all Aaron had to show the PA was slipper sock fuzz under his toes!