Friday, December 31, 2010

Trains, Trains, and More Trains

Last year, we began a family tradition of seeing a model train exhibit in a mall near us. The trains are a fund raiser for a children's hospital and well worth seeing every year. The exhibit is set-up differently each year and doesn't cease to be marvelous.

This year, Snugglebug has been very interested in trains, and we knew this tradition was going to be a big hit with him. It was!! He enjoyed it so much that we circled the room three times before leaving. He kept signing, "More Trains. More Trains."

He was enthralled with every single train, and we noticed that no matter how many times we went through the exhibit we saw more things that we had not seen before. We were just as amazed as he was. This tradition will be one that we keep for quite a few years!

I want this Christmas tree! There are three trains circling this tree. It is absolutely the most magical and spectacular Christmas tree I have ever seen! Whoever designed this gets a huge round of applause from me!!

My favorite pose. He is leaning on the plexi-glass and watching the trains go by.
He would do this for several minutes at a time, just taking it all in.

"Look at that one, Daddy."

"More Trains! More Trains!" Both words signed together
over...and over...and over!! Love it!!

He just assumed we weren't paying attention to the trains.
He pointed them out to us to make sure we saw them.
(I wonder where he learned this.) She asks, sarcastically.

Our Wonderful Families

This year was the year of family photos. At gatherings of both my family and my husband's family, someone suggested family photos. This great idea is often overlooked and forgotten due to the milieu of gift opening. But, this year it was a priority to someone and now we have the gift that keeps on sharing throughout the coming year. Here are a few photos of our fabulous families:

Papa and Grandma Felini
My husband's parents

Three generations of Felini men. This one will be framed
and hang on the wall next to Papa Felini's father.

My beautiful family.

The Western Clan
My siblings, their children, and my parents.

Grandpa and Mama Gran Western
My parents

All total, Snugglebug has:
2 sets of Grandparents, both still together and not divorced
8 Aunts
6 Uncles
12 Cousins
9 Second Cousins

I don't dare count any higher than that or you'll be able to guess the grade I received in basic college math. :-)

Operation Actually Read the Bible, Year 2 Complete

Two years ago, my friend Becky and I began trekking through the Bible. She aspired to read the Bible in a year and did! I aspired to study the Bible but in five years. The goal was a chapter a day read more than once so as to truly absorb the scriptures.

I have done just that and am actually ahead of schedule. January begins Year Three of my study through the Bible. I am more than half through the Bible and if I keep reading at the same rate should finish in 18 months but I hope to finish by this time next year since many of the Old Testament books are short.

I spent a great deal of time reading the Old Testament this year. I started alternating Old Testament and New Testament books but was quickly absorbed by the men of faith throughout the Old Testament. I read Genesis straight through to 1st and 2nd Kings jumping over 1st and 2nd Chronicles to read about the women of faith in Esther and Ruth. I learned so much from the men of old and am inspired by their faith and tenacity.

This fall I read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and John will start the new year. The Gospels as well as the previously read Old Testament books have shown me the depth of God's Grace that I never fully understood.

As a mom, reading time is practically nill. I read before falling asleep, which sometimes allows me 5 minutes to read and sometimes an hour. You don't always accomplish much when you fall asleep 5 minutes after picking up your book.

From time to time, I have taken a break from the scriptures to quickly devour another book, thus the reviews you see from time to time. I don't have time to read my Bible and a book, so breaks are required. It works and keeps me from being burned out on one book.

In the meantime, I am making quite a list of books that I want to read when time allows me to go back to devouring books again.

.....And as 2011 begins, my trek through the Bible continues....

Where'd November Go?

I'm not sure where November went. I searched high and low and found it right where it should be, sandwiched right between October and December. I questioned November thoroughly about his absence, and he assured me that he had been present for all 30 days. I distinctly remembered only one day (Thanksgiving) in November. But, he argued that November had 30 days and even quoted the poem, "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November..." Yes, he was right. November does have 30 days, so now I must search for the other 29 that I seem to have misplaced.

Don't know the poem. You can follow this link to see the original poem and some modern renditions.

Halloween and the Almost Costume

Halloween, while ages ago, deserves a post for several reasons. The first is that I promised someone to post on Snugglebug's first Halloween adventure complete with costume. The second is because it was the day before what turned out to be a VERY important doctor's appointment.

Halloween didn't exactly go as planned which I am learning happens all the time with kids. Snugglebug's costume was simple. It was a police shirt, costume hat, handcuffs to be secured to his belt, and a badge. If you are picturing a miniature of Snugglebug's policeman daddy, then you are correct.

Snugglebug, however, had other ideas. He got up grumpy, fussy, and refusing to eat which made things even worse. When his blood sugar gets to a certain level, he gets really grouchy. We didn't know what was wrong except that he just seemed to not feel well. He didn't have a cold or a fever. He wasn't constipated. Nothing seemed to add up except that he was a fussy, grouch.

So, when it came time to put on the costume, as simple as it was, he refused. He wore the t-shirt but that was it. No costume for this kid! But, off we went to the church's fall festival. We thought for sure he would perk up when he saw the other kids in their costumes and all the fun games. But, alas, he wasn't happy. He wouldn't even allow a cute photo. So, I have no photo of Mr. Grump from Halloween. It is just as well. Who wants to remember a mood like that.

Snugglebug did find a table where they were giving away candy and no game participation was required. He made himself at home at this table and pigged out on chocolate which actually helped his mood. (He's my son. Chocolate always lifts my mood too.)

The next day, he was still in a mood. We had speech therapy followed by a GI appointment. Speech therapy was a complete waste of time but the GI appointment was a turning point.

This summer, this GI had discovered Snugglebug was bleeding internally from massive amounts of acid collecting in his stomach and causing extremely bad reflux. He changed his acid reflux medication and put Snugglebug on a dairy-free diet. With the exception of the chocolate, the day before, we adhered to the new rules fairly well. But, alas, I saw no real change. The new medication didn't seem to be doing its job either.

The doctor changed his medication once again. This would be Snugglebug's fourth acid reflux medication change. I also, reluctantly, agreed to stay on the dairy free diet for one more month (which turned out to be closer to two months) until another endoscopy could be performed to see if the new diet was helping.

Within a week of starting the new medication, Snugglebug was a new kid. He was sleeping through the night for the first time ever. He was eating better! And he wasn't a grump!

After 2 1/2 years, we finally found a medication to control Snugglebug's acid reflux!!

Shortly before Christmas another endoscopy was done (Snugglebug's third in 6 months). The doctor was pleased with the results. The stomach bleeding was gone, the acid was down, and his esophagus was healed. The new medication was working!!

We, the doctor and I, compromised on the diet restrictions. Snugglebug can have cheese, but not milk or milk products. He can eat birthday cake and ice cream when we go out or to parties, but at home will remain dairy free. That's a compromise I can live with. And now, I have a happy child that I can live with!!

Next year, I'll bet he'll wear his Halloween costume and play all the games.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Note: I have a long list of blog posts to catch everyone up. Unfortunately, our week of break has turned into a week of specialist's appointments as we try to beat the Jan. 1 deadline when deductibles roll over. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post.

New year's resolutions are on the mind's of many as we approach January 1st. I typically have a list of things I would like to get done but they are by no means resolutions for the new year. It is the ongoing to-do list that typically encompasses my entire white board each week.

Once at a small group meeting (many years ago, while I was still in college) the question was for us to list our new year's resolutions. I didn't have any, but had read a truly insightful Garfield cartoon earlier that day.

The Garfield cartoon had Jon making his usual list of resolutions. Garfield snuggled in his bed, under his blanket says that his resolution is "to lower his expectations." I decided to announce that I was following the example of a cartoon cat who likes lasagna and lots of naps.

Despite my lack of resolutions, I have no lack of drive and no lack of plans for the future. I don't always reach those goals, but I work hard to at least give it a try.

As a mom, I have found that long-term goals often go unmet, and I can plan all I want and those plans fall through. I can have a to-do list the entire length of my whiteboard, and if it is a good day, check off one of those items. Typically, my expectations are to complete the whole list in one day and have the rest of the week free for the therapy appointments, playdates, park visits, etc. Typically, that never happens. I've really struggled with the fact that I just never accomplish what I want to anymore. The post-baby, new-mom world is a struggle for me. I've been really focusing on this struggle this past year and have come to this knowledge:

I need to lower my expectations!!

I expect so much of myself that I can't appreciate what was accomplished. I am focused on how I didn't reach my goal or fell short of completing my to-do list. I find myself falling into a bit of depression when plans fall through or don't go according to plan.

So, after reading some really great mommy advice books including, I WAS A REALLY GOOD MOM BEFORE I HAD KIDS and I'D TRADE MY HUSBAND FOR A HOUSEKEEPER, I am following the advice of a lasagna loving cat. I'm lowering my expectations. My new year's resolution is to let it go when plans don't work out, to "play it by ear" more. To not be depressed when goals aren't met, but to admit that that's part of life.

As a mom, my only goal should be to raise a godly son who loves the Lord. He can't see love if I am frustrated over not meeting my own expectations.

This doesn't mean I am putting away the whiteboard or the to-do list. The laundry still has to be done. Doctor's appointments must still be made and attended. Insurance paperwork must still be completed. The to-do list will never go away but my expectation of completing everything on the list in one day or even one week will go away.

Just to prove that I am following my new lower expectation resolution. Christmas cards will be in the mail today...hopefully (2 days before the new year.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Of Paperwork and Doctors

Doctors require a great deal of paperwork. I try to download what I can and fill it out at home before getting to the office just to save time and because there are usually enough pages to give a person a hand-cramp before they are finished.

But, there is always that chance that you walk into a doctor you have seen a several times in the last year, and after they photocopy your insurance card and driver's license again, they hand you a stack of papers to fill out that look incredibly similar to the "new patient forms" you filled out prior to the first visit. Only these forms are to update your record. I think what they don't want to tell you is that someone accidentally spilled their coffee on your file, and they can't read your address in order to send you the bill. So, they have you fill out all three or four pages while you wait and before you are allowed to see the doctor, so they will have your billing address...and a LOT of other stuff.

Is all that information really necessary? I understand needing the social security number and address of the patient and the person responsible for the bill. They need those to file with insurance, and in case you renig on the bill, and they file it on your credit. But, they also want the social security numbers, addresses, cell phone and work phone of every other person in your life. Is that really necessary?

And, they want your driver's license number and every piece of information printed on your insurance card. Didn't they just copy both of those? Maybe, it's like an open book test to check your eye sight.

But I can understand the information from the insurance card. What if the same person spilled coffee on the photocopy of the insurance card? They have a back-up of your handwritten insurance card.

Some questions make sense. It makes sense that they need to know if anyone had certain illnesses in your family. But, is it really necessary to know how many pets you have or what kind they are? And do you need four lines to answer those questions? I suppose if you were going to the vet, but not for a gastroenterologist.

Some questions apply to adults such as workplace and occupation. But, when you are filling it out for a child what do you put?

Workplace: Home
Work Address: See above address listed three times
Occupation: Playing...and chasing the three cats, riding the two dogs, antagonizing the guinea pig, and trashing mom's house faster than she can clean it.

And, how many emergency contacts does one person need? And they want the person's name, address, cell phone, and work phone. For this reason, I am having my husband's name, address, cell phone, and work phone tattooed on my arm where they check my pulse. And, should I have a heart attack, and they are checking the records for my contact info, it will read, "check pulse."
It just saves everyone time.

But, they also want "an emergency contact who does not live in the home and you are not related to." Really?

Well, since this is all about being thorough:

If I trip and break a bone, call my, address, phone number.
If I have an allergic reaction, call my doctor (that's not you), address, phone number.
If I become locked in the bathroom and the door is jammed, call my handyman....
If I am accosted by ghosts, call Jason and Grant of Ghosthunters...
If I am accosted by evil spirits, call a priest, any priest with a REALLY big cross...
If I am robbed at gun point, or at any point for that matter, call the police....

I am nothing, if not thorough.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Quest for Encouragement: Are you in the airport or not?

A friend read Amsterdam International and asked what she could do or say to support and encourage those of us with neuro-atypical children (my word not hers, but about that in another post). I was so touched by her question. The simple desire to encourage me means more than any words she could ever utter.

Yet so often I don't even admit that I am in Amsterdam International, let alone admit that there are no windows to even view the tulips and windmills. When asked the age old question, "How are you?" I give the age old answer, "Fine." Besides, there is no way to answer that question when the airport feels like it is closing in on you.

So, using Dana's analogy of the airport and tulips, I have devised a coded question for friends and family to ask the parents of neuro-atypical children....

Are you in the airport or not?

You see some days you are in the airport. You might be near a window with at least a view of the tulips, but other days you might be smack-dab in the middle with no sight of an exit, a plane, or a tulip. All you see is the concession stand and its day-old sandwiches.

Then there are other days, when you escape the confines of the airport to see Amsterdam. You might not see the tulips, but you are at least breathing fresh air. But, other days, you might actually be seeing the tulips.

Each day is different. For those of us who have children with health problems, we cannot begin to explain those problems in the few minutes allowed for the "How are you answer?"

But, if we ask, "Are you in the airport or NOT?" A quick answer tells all and means the world to us moms. Just knowing that someone is interested...Just knowing that there is no judgment in how we truly feel, reminds us that even when we feel we are alone, we aren't. We have friends, who if they cannot even begin to understand what it is like to prep a two-year old for a colonoscopy, they can accept where we are and how we feel.

No matter the issue of the day or the view in Amsterdam, we just need a caring heart and sometimes someone to listen to us. We realize not everyone wants to know all the details. All we want to know is that someone cares enough to ask..."Are you in the airport or not?"

Quest for a New Word

With all due respect to those who believe there is no such thing as a normal child, I do believe there is a "normal." AND that my Snugglebug does not fit in that category.

A normal child goes to the park, Snugglebug goes to Specialists (6 to be exact).
A normal child goes on playdates, Snugglebug goes to therapy (3 hours a week to be exact).

A normal child does not have to be prodded to move forward in development. It just happens.

So, while the word normal is not the best word to use, I am at a loss for what to use to describe our situation. A Dup Group parent suggested the terms neuro-typical and neuro-atypical to describe their two different developing children, one of whom has 7q11.23 duplication and one who does not. I like the terms. They seem to fit the definition.

So, until I find a better way to describe sweet babies who need extra love, extra help, and extra supervision, I'll be using neur-atypical.

I'm open for suggestions.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Amsterdam International

The article below was written by Dana Nieder, the mother of a special needs child. This article speaks to every crevice of my heart. It is hard to explain what it is like to be a parent on this journey of life with a neuro-atypical child, but she does.

The poem below, Welcome to Holland, is written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a writer for Sesame Street and the mother of a child with Down Syndrome.

Dana uses the poem as a basis for her article, which is why I included Welcome to Holland here. Dana includes a link to the poem in her article.

I would love to hear comments from you, my readers.



Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.


Amsterdam International
Written by Dana Nieder

To fully get this post, please read (or re-read) Welcome to Holland before starting. Thanks.

In the special needs world, there is a poem (essay? whatever.) called "Welcome to Holland." It is supposed to explain what it's like to have a child with special needs. It's short and sweet.

It skips everything.

While "Welcome to Holland" has a place, I used to hate it. It skipped over all of the agony of having a child with special needs and went right to the happy ending.

The raw, painful, confusing entry into Holland was just glossed over. And considering the fact that this little poem is so often passed along to new-moms-of-kids-with-special-needs, it seems unfair to just hand them a little story about getting new guidebooks and windmills and tulips.

If I had written "Welcome to Holland", I would have included the terrible entry time. And it would sound like this:

Amsterdam International

Parents of “normal” kids who are friends with parents of kids with special needs often say things like “Wow! How do you do it? I wouldn’t be able to handle everything---you guys are amazing!” (Well, thank you very much.) But there’s no special manual, no magical positive attitude serum, no guide to embodying strength and serenity . . . people just do what they have to do. You rise to the occasion, and embrace your sense of humor (or grow a new one). You come to love your life, and it’s hard to imagine it a different way (although when you try, it may sting a little). But things weren’t always like this . . . at first, you ricocheted around the stages of grief, and it was hard to see the sun through the clouds. And forget the damn tulips or windmills. In the beginning you’re stuck in Amsterdam International Airport. And no one ever talks about how much it sucks.

You briskly walk off of the plane into the airport thinking “There-must-be-a-way-to-fix-this-please-please-don’t-make-me-have-to-stay-here-THIS-ISN’T-WHAT-I-WANTED-please-just-take-it-back”. The airport is covered with signs in Dutch that don’t help, and several well-meaning airport professionals try to calm you into realizing that you are here (oh, and since they’re shutting down the airport today, you can never leave. Never never. This is your new reality.). Their tone and smiles are reassuring, and for a moment you feel a little bit more calm . . . but the pit in your stomach doesn’t leave and a new wave of panic isn’t far off.

(Although you don’t know it yet, this will become a pattern. You will often come to a place of almost acceptance, only to quickly re-become devastated or infuriated about this goddamned unfair deviation to Holland. At first this will happen several times a day, but it will taper to several times a week, and then only occasionally.)

A flash of realization---your family and friends are waiting. Some in Italy, some back home . . . all wanting to hear about your arrival in Rome. Now what is there to say? And how do you say it? You settle on leaving an outgoing voicemail that says “We’ve arrived, the flight was fine, more news to come” because really, what else can you say? You’re not even sure what to tell yourself about Holland, let alone your loved ones.

(Although you don’t know it yet, this will become a pattern. How can you talk to people about Holland? If they sweetly offer reassurances, it’s hard to find comfort in them . . . they’ve never been to Holland, after all.

And their attempts at sympathy? While genuine, you don’t need their pity . . . their pity says “Wow, things must really suck for you” . . . and when you’re just trying to hold yourself together, that doesn’t help. When you hear someone else say that things are bad, it’s hard to maintain your denial, to keep up your everything-is-just-fine-thank-you-very-much outer shell. Pity hits too close to home, and you can’t admit to yourself how terrible it feels to be stuck in Holland, because then you will undoubtedly collapse into a pile of raw, wailing agony. So you have to deflect and hold yourself together . . . deflect and hold yourself together.)

You sneak sideways glances at your travel companion, who also was ready for Italy. You have no idea how (s)he’s handling this massive change in plans, and can’t bring yourself to ask. You think “Please, please don’t leave me here. Stay with me. We can find the right things to say to each other, I think. Maybe we can have a good life here.” But the terror of a mutual breakdown, of admitting that you’re deep in a pit of raw misery, of saying it out loud and thereby making it reality, is too strong. So you say nothing.

(Although you don’t know it yet, this may become a pattern. It will get easier with practice, but it will always be difficult to talk with your partner about your residency in Holland. Your emotions won’t often line up---you’ll be accepting things and trying to build a home just as he starts clamoring for appointments with more diplomats who may be able to “fix” it all. And then you’ll switch, you moving into anger and him into acceptance. You will be afraid of sharing your depression, because it might be contagious---how can you share all of the things you hate about Holland without worrying that you’re just showing your partner all of the reasons that he should sink into depression, too?)

And what you keep thinking but can’t bring yourself to say aloud is that you would give anything to go back in time a few months. You wish you never bought the tickets. It seems that no traveler is ever supposed to say “I wish I never even got on the plane. I just want to be back at home.” But it’s true, and it makes you feel terrible about yourself, which is just fantastic . . . a giant dose of guilt is just what a terrified lonely lost tourist needs.

Although you don’t know it yet, this is the part that will fade. After you’re ready, and get out of the airport, you will get to know Holland and you won’t regret the fact that you have traveled. Oh, you will long for Italy from time to time, and want to rage against the unfairness from time to time, but you will get past the little voice that once said “Take this back from me. I don’t want this trip at all.”

Each traveler has to find their own way out of the airport. Some people navigate through the corridors in a pretty direct path (the corridors can lead right in a row: Denial to Anger to Bargaining to Depression to Acceptance). More commonly, you shuffle and wind around . . . leaving the Depression hallway to find yourself somehow back in Anger again. You may be here for months.

But you will leave the airport. You will.

And as you learn more about Holland, and see how much it has to offer, you will grow to love it.

And it will change who you are, for the better.

© Dana Nieder 10/2010

Please feel free to forward this, blog about it, post it places, etc. My intent in writing it was to reach families in the early stages of processing having a child with special needs and to let them know that they are not alone. If you do blog about it, post it on a website, forward it, etc, please link back to this blog (or cite my name, Dana Nieder) and include my email address ( so that I could be contacted if anyone wants to reach out.

Also, if you blog about it or post to a website, please email me to let me know, because I think that's pretty cool :)

Thanks for reading :)
Posted by Dana at 10/05/2010 10:05:00 PM

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Play Ball!!

It's a great day to be a Texas Rangers fan!

Last night, I sat in utter astonishment as the team that I have routed for my entire life won the American League Championship Series. This nn contrast to their win for the American League Division Series where I was jumping up and down, dancing, and doing this internal squeal because the rest of my family was sound asleep. For the ALCS win, I was elated to the point of not really believing it. It took all of five minutes for it to set in, and then, I jumped in my car, drove fifteen minutes to the nearest big city to purchase one of the last ALCS Championship t-shirts. At 10:35 p.m., they were sold out. I was lucky to get what I did. Granted, I could wait till Tuesday when they have a million shirts, but for someone who has attended Ranger games, listened to them on the radio and watched them on TV, and memorized the roster year after year, I had to show my respect by a late-night drive to purchase a t-shirt.

My husband has been giving me grief about my division championship t-shirts. I bought two! I wear one, then wash it the next day, while wearing the second. On the off chance that I don't have time to do laundry that day, I also bought a Hamilton jersey t-shirt to wear in between the division championship t-shirts. Alas, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing my team do so well this season.

All of this is my dad's fault. Yes, I blame him for my baseball enthusiasm. It started on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when he rounded up my sisters and I and took us into the backyard. He presented each of us with these large, uncomfortable, plastic gloves and showed us this large, bright orange softball. While it may have been a softball, the game he taught us was clearly referred to as baseball.

That day he taught us the fundamentals of a game that we would all fall in love with. It was the beginning of many a Sunday afternoon spent playing our four-person version of baseball.

Near the beginning of baseball season, we would rent every baseball movie the library had in stock. Our favorite was The Sandlot. It's still a favorite to this day. Then, baseball season would begin. We didn't watch every single game on tv, but we watched quite a few. We attended at least one game a season, a tradition that I continued through college and until I married and moved to far from the stadium to make attendance easy.

We are passing on the tradition to our own Snugglebug. We introduced him to baseball while on vacation this summer via The Little League World Series! Another family staple around here is the LLWS. We don't miss it!

Each night in our hotel room, we would snuggle down under the covers and watch the boys play ball. Even two-year old Snugglebug watched all six innings. Who would have ever guessed that a little one would sit still that long?

When we got home, we purchased him a t-ball set and started our lessons of baseball. When the Rangers' games start, he gets out his t-ball set and bats when they bat. If he isn't batting, he is sitting next to his daddy, watching the game. We let him stay up a little past his bedtime, so he can watch part of the game with us.

For you football fans, you shouldn't worry. We are great believers in a well-rounded education and his daddy is teaching him the ins and outs of football and even tosses a small, plastic football with him in the backyard. But, this post is about baseball and the glory of what is OCTOBER and the WORLD SERIES!!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review: Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado

If you enjoy Max Lucado books, then you will enjoy this one. In his traditional, easy to read style, Lucado inspires the reader to move forward in his or her Christian life. While the book is not full of fascinating ideas to out live your life, it is a gentle reminder that God places moments within each day when we can make a difference in someone else's life. Lucado sites lots of scripture and compares today's church to the early church in the book of Acts. He reminds the reader of what we are supposed to do as a church and as Christians and encourages us to do just that.

This book is not overwhelming. Unlike, A Hole in Our Gospel, it does not leave you in tears with each chapter and when you close the book you are not spurred to pack your bags and become a missionary. But, it does remind us that we have a great job to share God's love and grace with others.

As with most of Lucado's books, this one also comes as a small group or individual Bible study. I read this book in three days and wouldn't necessarily say it would make a great Bible study.

Hanging Out at the Pumpkin Patch

Another fall tradition is a visit to a pumpkin patch. Thus far we have not visited the same one twice which adds to the fun. There are so many different pumpkin patches in the area. This year we went to the Dallas Arboretum. It is a bit of a drive for us and in Dallas traffic no less. But, we made it and it was well worth the trip.

Snugglebug enjoyed the pumpkins immensely. He has been learning the word pumpkin in sign language and by the time we went to the pumpkin patch, he was signing it quite well. He was almost chanting in sign language, "pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin."

The hay maze was a favorite of Snugglebug. He ran through the maze and then climbed on the hay bales. This was his first attempt at climbin

Climbing on the hay bales is a big deal for this texture sensitive child. The first time he touched the hay he drew back his hands and rubbed them on his shirt. The second time he tried just touching the hay with his knuckles. Still not good. He gave up and continued running through the maze but the desire to climb overcame his texture issues, and he succeeded in climbing the hay bale. That was only the beginning. There wasn't a hay bale that he didn't climb after that.

There were hay bales everywhere with pumpkins of all sizes piled on them and around them. The kids could climb all over the hay and the pumpkins. No rules about looking but not touching.
My favorite pic of the day. He chose this pose himself.
"I'll have pumpkin, please." Sitting in the chair was his idea, but he wanted the chair the girl in pink was sitting in.

My sweet baby boy and I.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On Adoption

From Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life, 2010: Thomas Nelson Publishers: p. 6

And we have enough bedrooms to house the orphans. Here's the math. There are 145 million orphans worldwide. Nearly 236 million people in the United States call themselves Christians. From a purely statistical standpoint, American Christians by themselves have the wherewithal to house every orphan in the world.

Of course, many people are not in a position to do so. They are elderly, infirm, unemployed, or simply feel no call to adopt. Yet what if a small percentage of them did? Hmmmm, let's say 6 percent. If so, we could provide loving homes for more than 14.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Among the noble causes of the church, how does this one sound? "American Christians Stand Up for AIDS Orphans." Wouldn't that headline be a welcome one?

I don't mean to oversimplify these terribly complicated questions. We can't just snap our fingers and expect the grain to flow across borders or governments to permit foreign adoptions. Policies stalemate the best of efforts. International relations are strained. Corrupt officials snag the systems. I get that.

But, this
much is clear: the storehouse is stocked. The problem is not in the supply; the problem is in the distribution. God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering.

Cynda Here:

For most of you, if not all of you, reading this blog, you fall into a category known as Gentiles. We aren't born of God's biological family known as the Israelites or Jews. Yet, God saw fit to adopt us idol worshiping gentiles, love us as his own children, and give us part of their inheritance. He didn't have to. He had his own children already. Brought out of Egypt by His hand, led to the promised land by His leaders. He has an entire nation. Yet, he chose to adopt us because of his immense love for all of us regardless of nation or skin color.

Without God's love, we didn't stand a chance. We were lost, hungry, and lonely. But, he took us in, made us his own, and gave us an inheritance.

There is no greater way to share the love God has so freely given us than to follow his example and adopt a child that is not our own, that does not share our genes or biology, and maybe not even our skin color.

In Texas alone, there are 3500 children ready and waiting to be adopted. I don't know what percentage of households in Texas would fall into the same 6% as described by Lucado above, but I am guessing that there are more than 3500 households in Texas who could adopt these children.

These children and others world-wide don't stand a chance without us. They will die hungry, lost, and alone, if someone isn't willing to share God's love and grace with them.

Book Review: The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley is by far the most enlightening book that I have read this year. Stanley explains grace in a way that I've never heard before.
I read this book in three days and turned it around to start over again. I couldn't put it down, but there was just too much information to digest the first time around.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone anywhere. It would make a great book for new Christians as well as experienced ones. It would also make a great Bible study for a small group. With 13 chapters and tons of scripture references, a small group could read a chapter or two a week and discuss it. I can imagine no greater faith builder than discussing the meaning of the Grace of God.

I've sat under many preachers and never heard them explain grace in this way. Stanley illustrates his point with scriptures and stories from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

He begins with creation, explaining that the very act of creating the world and eventually man is an act of God's grace. He continues with Adam and Eve and the first sin and their need for grace. He follows the same train of thought through the Old Testament and into the New Testament. Using historical background that is not included in the scriptures, Stanley throws light on the reason why it was so important for Jesus to speak to the Samaritan woman at the well. Stanley highlights the historical significance of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Tax Collectors so that we might better understand the incredible amount of Grace Jesus shared throughout his ministry.

But, Stanley doesn't end with Christ's death. He continues through church history showing how the church deviated from the gospel and surmising why grace was not enough for their religion. He ends with today's church and asks some poignant questions about today's churches and today's religion. He explains the meaning of graceless religion in a way that will forever stick in my mind.

Stanley gave me new understand of God's grace, my faith, and the need for trust in God. It was as though he provided a key to understanding every story in the Bible not to mention the true meaning of "by grace we are saved."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

State Fair of Texas

I love this man!! We go to the State Fair of Texas every year. I can probably count on one hand the years I have missed the fair since I was about 12 or 13 years old. We missed the fair last year due to the weather interfering but this year the weather was perfect and so were the people who went with us.

BIG TEX: The Voice of the State Fair welcomes each person with a Texas sized "Howdy"

Our Crew: Derek, Mei Mei (5 y/o), Jennifer, Kenny (11 y/o), and Snugglebug (2 y/o).
Derek is one of our "adopted" kids. Jennifer is his fiance'. Mei Mei is Jennifer's guest and her "adopted" sister for the day. Kenny is Jennifer's little brother. As you can see, we have a lot of "adopted" kids with us. They aren't adopted in the traditional sense and the story is far more complicated than I can explain. Suffice to say that they spend a lot of time with us (minus Mei Mei who we met for the first time this trip). They three younger ones added so much joy to the day. We experienced the fair in a brand new light thanks to them.

Our happy group meandering to our next destination. We are experienced fair-goers and don't need to stop and look at every little thing. We map out our route with specific things in mind and head out. Snugglebug walked almost the entire day. He refused to ride in the stroller, which gave us a lot of room to carry stuff.

I'm still amazed to see him walk. You would think I would get over it by now. He's been walking for a year and I still find myself in complete awe of the fact that we actually made it! He looks so big walking through the fair grounds.

The highlight for the kids were very expensive bubbles and an equally expensive inflatable ball. They played with those all day. You can't see the bubbles too well in the picture but you can clearly see them jumping up and down to pop them. Well, whatever it takes to keep them happy. Derek and Jennifer were thrilled that the bubble gun ran out of bubbles just before we left the fair.

Everyone goes to the fair for a different reason. Some for the food, some for the rides, some for the ferris wheel, but we go for the side shows. The side shows aren't what they used to be with rare and odd people and animals like the wolfman. Today they are talented people and animals showing off their skills. One of our favorites are the African Acrobats. These men are at the fair every year and amaze me with their acrobatic skills.

There are other attractions as well. This year, new to the fair was a giant sandbox. It was indoors so by the afternoon we were ready to take a break and enjoy some A/C. Kenny was a character and posed for the camera. Mei Mei made a sand castle, and Snugglebug just buried his toes in the sand and watched everyone else.

Probably one of the longest running shows at the fair is Billy Roy's One Man Band. Strike the image of the man from America's Got Talent. This man really does have talent. He took a few years off and I realized the first year that we didn't see him that he is without a doubt my favorite act at the fair. He plays ten different instruments and sings (he doesn't count his voice as an instrument.) He's a delight to watch. He has more coordination in his pinky than I have in my entire clumsy body.

Other side shows included: The Bird's of the World (an awesome display of the biggest and most exquisite birds flying from the ferris wheel into an amphitheater), A High Dive act based on Pirates of the Caribbean (more than a little cheesy), a dog diving act, and pig races.

The Butter Sculpture: Another favorite and a must-see. Yes, it is ALL butter. I'm not sure who came up with the idea. It started 5 or 6 years ago and we're still amazed. The sculpture is in a refigerated case and is entirely of butter. Shhh, don't tell Paula Deene what they've done with the wonderful stuff.

The kids using up the last of the bubbles while we eat.

Our final and most important fair tradition is a family photo. In years past these photos have ended up taped to our mirror, framed on the wall, and tucked in our wallets. It's not so much that we look so great in these photos. We always take them at the end of the day, and we look hot and sunburned. It's that the photos show the thrills of the day. We can look back and see all the memories we made on that day. No make-up needed to make a perfectly memorable photo.

Back Row: (l to r) Jennifer, My sweet hubby, Snugglebug, Derek
Front Row: (l to r) Mei Mei, Kenny