Thursday, September 30, 2010

Relax. It's a joke.

How many kids with ADHD does it take to change a light bulb?

Wanna go ride bikes?

I joke because I can. We are finding that the key ~ at least for us ~ to living with a child with special needs is humor.

And that joke was a perfect way for me to announce some exciting news.

Tyson can ride a bike!

After a summer full of frustration and tears (for all of us) he is able to ride his two-wheel bike with no training wheels.

Look at this face:
That is the face of Satisfaction. Accomplishment. Perseverance. Pride. Joy.

He's cruising around the circle like a champ!

His bike is a little small for him. We told him we would not buy him a bigger one until he learned to ride the one he has. With his birthday & Christmas coming up, I think there may be a new bike in his near future!

I cannot tell you how happy we are. I was honestly beginning to think he really wouldn't ever learn. He cried and gave up so many times. He put his bike next to the garbage cans in utter defeat several times. I ran behind him around that circle more laps than I can count. I prayed for him so many nights. 

This accomplishment, the look on his face, the joy in his smile is truly one of the greatest blessings ever.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween Ghosts

Well, October begins this Friday, and I thought I would share our new Halloween decorations.

We made them for FREE! with materials we had around the house, but you could make them pretty cheap if you're resourceful.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Some old tennis balls (or golf balls for smaller ghosts)
  • White fabric (I used garage sale-find curtains)
  • Scissors
  • White pipe cleaners
  • Fabric (or permanent) markers
  • Needles & white thread
  • Very enthusiastic helper

Here's what you do:
Cut the fabric to cover the tennis ball, plus enough to hang in a spooky fashion. I just eye-balled it. You'll need more than one layer if your fabric is thin. Also, more layers mean a fuller "body."

Put the tennis ball in the center & gather the fabric around it. Fasten with a pipe cleaner.

Shred the fabric that's hanging loose. I started it by snipping several places along the edge & then let the boys finish by ripping the strips apart. Be sure all the rips move up, toward the tennis ball. (I couldn't get a picture because Riley needed a little help.)

Draw a ghostly face with your marker.

Fasten a loop of thread to the top using a needle & thread. Just thread the needle and slip it through a couple layers of the fabric. Then knot the ends.

Repeat until you have several, then hang them in your home or from your tree.

Visit Kristen for more Works For Me awesomeness.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Multitude Monday

In these last hot days, we head outside...
 We tackle the last outdoor projects of the summer...

 Small hands imitate large ones...
And we say farewell to summer.

Remembering some blessings from the summer:

15. The smell of just-cut grass

18. Eating all three meals with my boys every day

30. Lazy days with the people I love

35. Silliness on a hot summer day

36. Tennis with my husband & boys

37. Sunsets that paint the sky

50. A safe return home from a long road trip

61. Thursday afternoons with my Nani & Popi

The blessings of summer have come to an end, but the blessings of Autumn are just beginning.

holy experience

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rabbit, Hounds & Great Big Balloons!

I'm apologizing in advance for the number of photos. I took over 100, so it was hard to whittle them down to these "few." Last weekend was the Forest Park Great Balloon Race. It's an annual event in which over thirty hot air balloons take off from Forest Park for this Rabbit & Hounds balloon race. They set up a fair grounds with booths, games and (my favorite) funnel cakes.

In this Rabbit & Hound race, the Energizer Bunny balloon takes off five minutes before the other balloons begin to inflate. When they are ready, the other balloons (the hounds) take off and chase the Bunny. They mark the ground where the Bunny lands with a big X, and the Hounds try to drop bags of birdseed as close to the X as possible. The one who gets the closest wins a prize.

One of my favorite parts is that everybody gets free Energizer bunny ears; it's funny to see who wears them.

People even put them on their dogs!

The balloons are truly a sight to see.

There are several themed balloons:

My Favorite

Matt's favorite

Riley's & Tyson's favorite

Hey, what's that? Hiding behind that tree...
Do you see it? I think it's...
Yeah. It's a... a....
...Gigantic Energizer Bunny!
Consequently, if you wanted to fill this Bunny with AA batteries, it would take a little more than 550million of them.

We don't know which balloon won. Several of them set down just moments after taking off due to a crazy cross wind that resulted in a bit of balloon chaos. They were whipping around, barely missing each other. All in all, it was great fun.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How I Spent My Day...

Grocery Shopping

Clearing clutter from the main floor of our house

Cooking up 20 lbs of ground beef & deer (for tacos, spaghetti, sloppy joe's & stuffed peppers)

Baking chocolate chip cookies

Baking homemade bagels

Finishing up a little laundry

Throwing out the bathmat after the washer ate it

Trying to make yogurt for the first time (I don't think it's going very well...)

Repeating, "Please do not sit on your brother," about a million times.

How did you spend your Sunday?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Won't You Consider?

Seven months ago, a very special blogger took a trip that changed the lives of many.

She changed the life of my family; she changed the life of a Kenyan family... just by taking a trip, presenting a need (because she's very good at that) and blogging about the whole thing.

Okay, that was much more simplistic than what actually happened, and I do believe in giving credit where credit is due (though she would probably say that she doesn't deserve any credit...). Kristen didn't just go on a trip. She trusted in God and allowed Him split her heart wide open, to show her the most heartbreaking places on Earth, to show her poverty, despair, faith and hope all rolled up into one of the most desperate areas known to man. And she came back and shared her experience with her readers. She continues to move hearts and hands through her blog.

And in bravely fulfilling a purpose that God seems to have assigned her, she moved our hearts and our hands, and we brought into our lives and our family a beautiful little girl who lives on the other side of the world.

And now, another blogger who moves me almost daily has embarked on a similar journey. Ann has a beautiful way with words. She has a talent for expressing in words that which does not easily translate from heart to mouth to syllables. She is a daily inspiration to me, though she doesn't know it at all.

If you have a moment, if you are brave enough to allow God to break your heart, if you have faith enough to allow Him to move you... please visit Ann's blog. She's been posting pictures and words all week that will repel you, hurt you, make you look into the face of desperation.

But her words will also show you true faith. Raw, powerful, inspiring faith.

And her words will show you that there is hope. Real, honest, tangible hope. God moves among the hearts of people, brings them together. Across miles, across oceans, across languages. It wasn't a terrible sacrifice for us, but it continues to be a tremendous difference for a seven year old girl in Africa.

Please read the stories of these women. And if you can find the space in your heart, make the space in your pocketbook, create the space in your life... consider making a real difference in the life of a real child.

Monday, September 13, 2010


...sometimes God shows us just how beautiful He is.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In Which God Blows the Odds to Pieces

Last Thursday morning, when I woke up, I was the mother of a child with special needs.

I just didn't know it yet.

In fact, it turns out, this is a title I've carried for 7 years. We just didn't know it.

Oh, I guess there were times when we wondered, questioned, considered... but that's other people's kids. I know how that sounds, but hear me out. The thing is, that when you are a person who dedicates her career to serving children with special needs, you sort of just figure that the odds of God giving you your own child with a diagnosis are astronomically insane.

And then God steps in and blows all of your carefully considered odds out of the water like a pirate ship full of C4.

We met with the psychologist on Thursday, and I have to admit that going into that meeting, I think I was more afraid that there would be no diagnosis than I was there would be. I honestly prepared myself to hear something along the lines of, "Tyson is a delightful child... and he does not qualify for a diagnosis, which means that all of the behaviors, the tension, the trouble in school is probably due to parenting problems."

Instead, we heard, "Tyson is a delightful boy. He's very sweet... and he definitely qualifies for a diagnosis."

So here is where we stand:

1) Tyson now has a diagnosis of severe ADHD, combined type (if you're a numbers cruncher, we're talking two standard deviations from "normal"); he has significant deficits in Executive Functioning (which explains a lot); he definitely has some oddities and symptoms that fall under the category of Asperger's Syndrome (i.e. high functioning autism), but those evaluations were inconclusive.

2) We have been assured by a very respected and competent professional that none of this is due to our shortcomings as a parental unit. (I know it might seem obvious, but I have feared that this was somehow my/our fault all along).

3) We will be meeting with the pediatrician this week to discuss and begin the process of finding an appropriate type & dosage of medication. (Pray for us - this can be a terrible process that includes tantrums, tears, depression, feelings of hopelessness... and that's just the parents.)

4) Once meds are in place, are stable, and are showing some results, we will be exploring a few treatment options for the Executive Functioning deficits. Among our list of possibilities are music therapy (of course!), Brain Gym and CogMed (a computer software brain-training program that looks awesome).

5) The question about autism is still there. It's just dangling out there in space. The medication will either alleviate those autistic-like symptoms, or it will further reveal them. If they do not get better, we will revisit and reevaluate for autism in about 6 months.

6) We will continue to utilize a variety of behavioral supports at home, will be seeking an IEP at school, and will most importantly, continue to pray that God will guide us on this part of the journey.

Also, we are just trying to settle into this new label, to the realization that Tyson's disobedience is often not his choice, to the new habits that we all need to cultivate, to our lives as a family with someone who has special needs.

Do you have any children with a diagnosis?  How did you deal with it?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


We here on the Purple Brick Road will be faced with an outcome tomorrow.

There are only two possible outcomes.

The only thing that is certain - absolutely certain - is that one of two things will happen.

Each possibility means something completely different, though neither truly means the "end of the world as we know it" (& I feel fine...)

You'd think that one would be better or worse than the other; isn't that how everything in life is? One option always weighs more heavily than another?

So, then I ask you:
How can I be afraid of both outcomes?

I apologize, kind friends, for my absence. Several factors (I think they call them collectively "life") are taking up my time & energy. Please don't give up on me... I have much to share, just as soon as I pop my head above the water & catch my breath.