Monday, October 29, 2012

Turning Down the Noise

 All of our boys love trains. And I think it all stems back to Race's obsession with Thomas when he was younger. So, whenever we go to Flagstaff, we visit the train depot. It's turned into a tradition.

And I honestly have no idea how Race tolerates it. Because one of the major things that puts Race into sensory overload is noise. And as he's getting older, he's starting to recognize this and we're getting to talk about it. And we've developed strategies for him to ground himself when he starts to feel "out of his body," as we call it.

For me, this picture means more than just "Race sitting by the train tracks watching the trains." I took it last February when things were kind of spiraling and not going well for us at school. And in so many ways, this is what life was like for Race, day after day. Life was loud.

There were times last spring when I'd sneak into his room to make sure he was under all his blankets and he'd be awake at 11:00 still. One of these times, we had this conversation:

"Race, why aren't you asleep? You have school tomorrow and you're going to be tired."

"I know, Mom. I'm just waiting for the noise to go away."

"What noise, Race? Everybody's asleep."

"Just the noise. It makes my brain hurt."

After snapping this picture and filing it on my computer, I've returned to it again and again as I sent him off to school. I'd find myself thinking, "How would I feel if I had to listen to a train rushing by me ten feet away, constantly?"

We needed a way to turn down the noise in his life.

We are homeschooling now. Which by the way is a very controversial topic. You should see some of the looks I get when I tell people, "I'm homeschooling my autistic son." Not that I care about the looks. I actually find them amusing. And five years ago, I probably would have been the one handing out the looks. It's funny how life is always teaching you lessons isn't it?

Because I will stand here and tell you today, I believe in a free public education. I do. I watched my parents as teachers impact the lives of hundreds of kids for better. And I too have felt the impact of good teachers in my life, and strived to be that teacher myself when I was teaching. I am grateful for American Public Education, no matter how messed up it seems to be getting.

And I also believe in fighting the fight for my kid. To make sure he's getting the services he needs to succeed. I have no problem fighting the fight, no matter how exhausting it gets.

But what I've learned this last year, that sometimes, no matter how hard you fight, no matter how hard he and I both try, sometimes its not enough. Because my idea of Race's success and someone else's idea of his success are two very different things.

Homeschooling has been the best thing in the world for Race. He is such a bright and in many ways, gifted boy. He loves learning, he thrives on information. So now he submerges himself in information without the social stresses that were getting to be too much.

And he is soaring. I won't lie, it hasn't been easy. And sometimes, by the end of the day, we've had it with each other. But...

The noise in his brain isn't constant anymore.

He is happy. He is more confident and is learning to understand himself for who he is.

Because more than ANYTHING else, I want him to love himself.

And in order for him to do this, I finally realized, we had to turn down the noise.

Race wants to be a cartographer when he grows up. Can you see why?

Race's room.

The boys found this awesome rhino-beetle outside and has been such a fun little pet. 

Race loves science. Here, he's wrapping one plant's leaves in tin-foil and leaving the other alone, watering each the same and keeping all other variables the same. It is amazing how much plants rely on the sunlight to thrive. Just like people I guess... we all need sunshine in our lives to thrive don't we?

We studied shadows for one of our art and science lessons. So, here's Race capturing the shadows in a painting.

One of my favorite pictures:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Witt's Shark Birthday

The boys probably spent hundreds of hours at the pool this summer. So since we practically lived there anyway, Witt decided he wanted to hang out there for his sixth birthday.

So Witten had a shark birthday:
The cake:
(made by yours truly. the teeth were pine-nuts)

The gift:
(a bo staff for Tae Kwon Do)

The party favor:
(shark jell-o cups made by the birthday boy himself)

We didn't get any pictures at the pool, because... it's the pool. But the birthday boy had a great day.

I am so grateful for the Cowboy. I don't know what I'd do without him. He makes me laugh, he's a big helper around the house and he's so creative and smart.

We can't take him anywhere without people making comments about his beautiful hair. He tells me, "It's not beautiful hair, Mom. It's awesome hair."

When people ask him, "Where'd you get that hair?" His answer is usually, "Jesus gave it to me."
But I've also heard him tell people, "From my Nanna."
And I've also heard him say, "From my ancestors."
And, "From Ireland and Scotland."
And ready for this one? "My mom says it's because I'm a fire cracker."
And then there's times he's said nothing at all because the person asking him was a little creepy.

Gotta' love that kid.
I can't believe he's six.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autism Coolness

If you haven't seen this, sit back and get inspired and spread the awareness. This is cool.

There are so many amazing things about autism. Here's one of them:

How many eight year olds can tell you the names of every US President in order? Or how many can tell you whose face is on every US minted coin or paper bill?

Autism coolness. 
These kids are changing the world.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Give a Rooster a Bath

Our little rooster, Sam is a mean little guy. I honestly wonder sometimes why we keep him around. But for some reason, the boys love him. I have no idea why because he truly does not return their affection.

The other evening Sam ran through the oil pan that was left out after John changed the oil in my car. His beautiful white silkiness was soaked black. He was a mess. So after googling "How to give a chicken a bath" we gave that ornery little thing a bath...

I know it looks like John is torturing him, but it really was the only way we could get all the oil off of Sam. And this is the best picture I got because it wasn't a one man job. It took three of us, and we were all soaked by the end.

And when the excitement was done, the boys took turns loving on wet Sam. And it was the first time since he was a little chick, that he didn't fight the love (probably because he was in shock, but nonetheless...).

So after a good blow dry and lots of love, the boys are happy to report that Sam is now back to his horrible self: strutting around the yard, attacking us when our backs are turned, and cock-a-doodle-doing all day long.

And the boys just love him...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Big Plans

Witten says he's going to be an engineer when he grows up. Well, let me back up... some days he's going to be a fireman, other days he's going to drive heavy machinery, some days he's going to be an outdoors guy like Bear Grills in Man vs. Wild. But most days he's going to be an engineer. And here are some of his latest ideas:

A bike pulley: they quickly found out this was a little dangerous for the one being pulled.

 Here's another view:

 A car chute: The boys conducted an experiment to see which car flies out the farthest. It was awesome! They made predictions, charted it, and drew conclusions when they were finished... science in every day, boy life.

The Lego version of the Great Wall of China.

A javalina trap: He was ticked the next morning when the apple was gone and the trap was still set...

Changing flat tires:

And my favorite was the water system he created so he could build bridges for the cars.

It's so exciting, watching Witten learn and grow; watching him fail at some of his inventions and succeed in others. It's going to be fun watching him decide in the years to come on what he wants to be when he grows up.

But Witt, whatever you decide, I hope you love it. I hope you love it as much as you love playing now, when you're six.

Just make sure you love it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

General Conference

I love Conference. I'm so grateful for the opportunity we get twice a year to sit and be uplifted with the messages of the Gospel.

Every time Elder Holland speaks, I am inspired, uplifted and enlightened. His talk on Sunday morning, once again, did this for me. The commandment, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." was more fully understood as I listened to him speak of the remaining eleven apostles after Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection.

"We have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord." -Elder Holland.

Every six months it seems the boys sit more still. And every six months more and more phrases catch their attention and I watch their heads raise up from their drawing pad and they tune in to the words being said, or they shout out the next speaker's name in excitement because they recognize them. For me, these moments are priceless.

I am so grateful to be a mother.
I am so grateful for General Conference.
I am so grateful for the Gospel.
I love my Savior.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Slide Rock

Another summer adventure,

Slide Rock.

So much fun.

And we got there before they shut the place down for e coli a few weeks later. Gross.

But we had a blast. Especially with four fearless boys. We love it when Adriane's family comes to visit, because the boys LOVE her little brother Luke. He is such an awesome kid, we wish they'd move here.

. It was very hard to get these boys to sit down long enough to get a picture all together. They had a blast.

I love my friend:

Race is such a fish. While we were there, he asked if he could go jump off the cliffs with those big kids into the pools...
"Um, no."
"How old do I have to be?"
"Much older, and in deeper water."

...and you wonder why I haven't attempted the Grand Canyon yet.

Witten kept up with all the big kids down the big chutes. I didn't get any pictures of the big chutes because I was too busy playing life guard.

Lane ate a lot of snacks.

We had a blast of a day. Can't wait till next summer for sure.

Adriane and I had to laugh at all the vacationers. They show up in their fancy bikini's and expensive beach-wear. But when you're a local, you learn quick that board shorts and tee-shirts work best. And even then, you usually go home with ripped shorts...

Just a little Slide Rock advise.

Teddy Bears' Picnic

Another highlight of our summer was the Teddy Bears' Picnic. My friend Jenn had this fabulous idea and we all had a blast. We are so grateful for our friends. We're so grateful for fun days like these.

The bears the boys brought:

 my favorite part:

Jenn, Tressa, and me.


Organizing this post has made me think of when I was younger, sitting around my grandmother's player piano with cousins, singing this song over and over.

Sweet memories.