Emma and Ethan will be getting braces this week, just in time for their 13th birthday. They have both expressed their displeasure with the timing of this not-so-pleasant birthday surprise. In preparation for braces I was told they need spacers so today I had to take them to the dentist for this pre-braces appointment.

I picked the twins and Caleb up from the Junior High and we traveled though the snow-covered roads towards the dentist office. We were running a little early (I know, so unusual for us) and so we stopped at McDonalds for a quick snack.

“What would you like?” I called towards the back of the van.

“Is this a meal or a snack?” Ethan asked.

“Just a snack.” I replied. “We will eat dinner after we get home from the dentist.”

“Hmmm…” Emma thought aloud. “I already had popcorn for breakfast. What else won’t I be able to eat after I get braces?”

“I want chocolate chip cookies!” Ethan shouted

“No problem. But you don’t need to yell. I’m right here.”

“I guess I’ll have a milkshake. Can I have milkshakes when I get braces?” Emma asked.

IMG_9268“Yes, milkshakes are OK. Really, there’s not a whole lot you can’t have. Just nothing too hard or sticky.”

“Can I eat Three Musketeers, Famous Amos cookies and brownies?” Ethan asked

“If you eat all that at once you will be tossing your Famous Amos cookies” Emma replied with a smile.

Caleb tapped me on the shoulder and said, “French Fries”. I smiled and thought how great it was that he could communicate what he wanted so clearly. Caleb’s verbal vocabulary is limited due to his autism but he can communicate fairly well through written or typed words and he can verbally say quite a few words now too. It’s great to see him communicate, especially when it is unprompted.

When we arrived at the dentist I told everyone to bundle back up for our walk across the parking lot since the HIGH today was only 17 degrees. Winter is not my favorite season, but I guess I shouldn’t complain since it’s really been pretty mild so far. Once inside the warm dentist office we unbundled ourselves and found seats in the waiting room.

“I hope they call Ethan back first.” Emma said.

“No way! I always have to go first!” Ethan protested.

“Well, that’s what you get for being 4 minutes older than me.”

While Emma and Ethan were busy taking bets on who would be called back first, Caleb was quite the social butterfly in the waiting room. He worked the room making sure to say “Hi” to all the other patients. (You can read more about Caleb’s improvements in social skills over on my other blog, Caleb’s Voice.)

IMG_9269“Emma and Ethan” the dental hygienist called out.

They looked at each other and laughed.

“I guess you guys BOTH get to go first.” I teased as they got up and followed the hygienist back into the exam room.

I read a few magazines, checked my email on my phone and before I knew it “Fred and Ethel”, as we affectionately call the twins, came strolling back into the waiting room together. Emma was smiling as big as life but Ethan looked less than thrilled. Apparently only Ethan needed spacers and Emma got off easy this time.

I asked Ethan if it hurt and he said it did when they were putting them in, but his teeth felt OK now.

“Mine didn’t hurt at all.” Emma said, teasing Ethan.

“Just wait,” Ethan warned,  “Thursday is coming and you are NOT getting out of the braces!”

So stay tuned for more of this story when we journey back to the dentist on Thursday for part 2 of Fred and Ethel Visit the Dentist.

Why I Blog

January 3, 2016

2015 was not a great blogging year for me. At the end of December I got a really cool report from WordPress showing my blog stats. It was really cool until I looked at it realized I posted a total of two times. Two times in 365 days – wow! That’s nothing to brag about. (On the bright side, I only posted one time in 2014 so technically I posted twice as much in 2015)

My goal for 2016 is to blog more. However, I want to be more specific in this goal so I am challenging myself to post at least once a week. I’d love to post three or four times a week, but considering I didn’t even post three or four times in an entire year I thought I’d try to be realistic.

I’m starting with asking myself the question of why I blog. Why did I start blogging in the first place? I thought back to when I started my blog. I had been posting things on Facebook about my kids. I’d post funny things they said or did or share my struggles (and humor) of motherhood. I liked sharing with others and I enjoyed hearing how the stories often helped other parents or made people laugh.  It also was very therapeutic to write about motherhood when I was stressed and up to my eyeballs in laundry and dishes. My mom encouraged me to start a blog to share these stories.  I checked into blogging and was excited because I could post more detailed stories (no word count limit) and add photos and other cool widgets.

So I think I have determined that my original purpose for blogging was to relieve stress in my own life as well as to give my readers some humor and joy in their stressful day.  Is that still the purpose of my blog? I think so, but it’s different now that my kids are older.

When I started blogging Drew was 13, Caleb was 9 and Emma and Ethan (the twins) were 7.  In fact my “Meet the Pastor’s Family” page on my blog still reads:

My husband Dwight and I were high school sweethearts and we have been happily married for 17 years.  We have a 9 year old son, Caleb, who has Autism and is non-verbal (he also has a fascination with flushing toys and other un-flushable objects down the toilet … we now have the plumber on speed dial). Then there are the twins, Emma & Ethan, who are 7 years old. They act like a little old married couple and so we affectionately refer to them as “Fred & Ethel” from I Love Lucy.  Our oldest son, Drew, just turned 13.   Wow, I am a mother of a teenager  ~ That makes me feel old !  I sometimes feel like I’m running in circles trying to balance a full time job, motherhood, and all the church activities and responsibilities that come with being a pastor’s wife.  Well, now you know a little about my family and my life … I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of our not-so-perfect pastor’s family.

So I guess one of my first tasks of 2016 is to update this page since the twins are about to be teenagers and Drew will be graduating from High School in June!

New Year’s Resolution #1 : Blogging once a week in 2016

What is your New Year’s Resolution? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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Airport Adventure

February 22, 2014

I was tucking Ethan and Caleb in for bed the other night and as I kissed Caleb goodnight I asked, “What time is it?”

“Bedtime.”  Caleb replied as he snuggled down in the covers.

However, Ethan jumped up and shouted his answer at the same time, “It’s adventure time!!”

“No. No, it’s not adventure time.” I said to Ethan, “Caleb is correct, it’s bedtime.”

As I left the room I smiled as I thought back to my childhood and the fun adventures I had playing with my sister, Leslie. When we were little we enjoyed playing Barbie’s, making cookies, and playing games. In high school we spent many hours laying out by the pool, working on scrapbooks and doing each other’s hair and make-up.  I loved having a little sister and miss those times as we have both grown up, gotten married and had children of our own.  We live several hours from one another and it’s hard to find time to get together. On the rare occasion that we do see each other it’s usually at family holiday gatherings where there is so much chaos with all the kids that it can be hard to carry on a conversation.

IMG_6804Last weekend Leslie and I traveled back to our hometown of Bakersfield, CA for our grandfather’s 95th birthday party.  It was a great celebration and I loved seeing our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. However, my favorite part of the trip was spending quality time with my sister talking, laughing, and reconnecting.  When it was time to fly home I was excited to see my husband and kids but a little disappointed that I didn’t have more time to spend with Leslie.  The weekend had gone so fast and I really didn’t want it to end.

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We got up at 4:00 am Monday morning and my dad took us to the Bakersfield airport to start our trip home. The plane they put us on was “quaint and charming”, as our stewardess called it. I called it “teeny tiny” and I was amazed at how bumpy and loud the flight was.  We flew from Bakersfield to San Francisco to catch our connecting flight to Chicago and then home to Indianapolis.

However, when we got to the gate we were told the flight out of San Francisco was delayed. Apparently the Captain’s chair needed to be replaced. At least that is the reason they gave us over the loud speaker. First it was delayed 15 min, then 25 minutes, then 55 minutes. At this point we knew we would not make our connecting flight in Chicago since we only had an hour layover.

IMG_6884We decided to make the best of it and do what we always do when we are stressed – eat!  Even though it was only 9:00 am we had been up for hours and hours so we decided to go for a burrito with chips and salsa.

As we were enjoying our burritos and discussing what to do about missing our connecting flight, we looked up and saw the pilot and co-pilot walk off the plane with their rolling suitcases trailing behind them.

“That’s not a good sign.” I said to Leslie. “I guess we may have an interesting day ahead of us!”

The agent at the terminal desk came on the loud speaker again to let us know that the flight had been indefinitely delayed. She advised that if we had connecting flights it would be very unlikely that we would make them so they would suggest that we go to the customer service desk to re-book and find an alternate flight to our final destination.

I am not one of those go-with-the-flow type of people. I am a planner and I can get stressed when plans change unexpectedly. However, I found myself laughing uncontrollably as Leslie and I finished off our burritos and speculated on what went wrong with the replacing of the Captain’s chair.  A few minutes later we headed towards the customer service desk to see if they could help us get back home.

As we approached the desk we saw the line was very long and the faces in the line were not very happy. Leslie and I got in line and again found ourselves talking and laughing while we waited for over an hour in the line. The other customers in line were griping, complaining and getting angry and rude with the airline employees. Leslie and I decided we’d get a lot further by being nice since we both know what it’s like to be on the other side of that counter.  Not that we have worked at an airline as ticketing agents, but we have both worked in customer service and public service jobs and know how exhausting it can be to deal with upset and angry customers all day long.

While we were waiting in line my husband, being the awesome guy that he is, had researched and found a direct flight home that was leaving at 1:30 pm.  We needed to try and get on that flight since the next available flight out would not leave until 10:30 pm and had several connections on it’s way back to Indy so we would not arrive home until 10:30 am the next morning.  As we wound around in the line closer and closer to the ticket counter a stewardess came along offering all of those in line cookies, juice and soft drinks.  It was a nice gesture on the airlines part and it did seem to help bring a few more smiles to those waiting in line with us. As Leslie and I finished our Diet Cokes and cookies we finally made it to the front of the line.

We walked up to the ticket counter together and politely explained to the gentleman behind the counter that we both needed to get back to Indianapolis for work the next morning.  Leslie told him that we had looked online and saw there was a flight leaving at 1:30 pm and how perfect it would be if they had 2 seats available for us on that flight. She also threw in that she thought the stewardess should be serving steaks to the ticket agents since they were the ones working so hard – that seemed to bring a smile to his face.

The ticket agent typed some information into his computer and said, “It looks like we have 2 seats together on that flight in the economy plus seating so I will upgrade you to that level at no extra charge.  Do you have any bags you need switched over to that flight with you?”

Leslie and I had both checked suitcases and so we handed him our claim tickets and with a few clicks of the mouse he had re-routed our bags to accompany us on the flight home.  “Wow, that seemed to go really smoothly!” I thought to myself. I just hoped the rest of the trip home would be that easy!

We called our husbands and texted our mom and dad and let everyone know of our new flight information.  We still had a couple hours until our flight so we went and got some ice cream for $4.00 a scoop and sat down to enjoy it.  Although our trip hadn’t gone as planned we both said how thankful we were that it was just us, and not us plus all our children, stranded at the airport.  Not only would it have been a lot more stressful, but it would have also been a lot more expensive. With the high cost of food at the airport it would have probably costs us $100 for lunch!

IMG_6883The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. We enjoyed the extra leg room in the economy plus seating and passed the time watching Baby Momma on my iPad, talking, and reading books and magazines. Before we knew it we were landing in Indianapolis. The captain came on for his landing announcement and told us the current temperature was 9 degrees in Indianapolis and we shivered just thinking about the shock our bodies were about to experience! As we walked down the tunnel from plane to the gate we felt the frigid air against our faces and actually saw ice that had formed on the floor inside the tunnel. Welcome home to the frozen tundra of Indiana!

We were impressed that our suitcases were actually waiting for us on the baggage carousel. We grabbed our suitcases and braved the cold as we left the airport and headed for the car.

IMG_6793What an adventure we had been on!  It was an adventure that we could never have planned, but one that we will never forget. It’s funny how an unexpected change in plans can provide us with some of the most memorable moments in our lives. So next time your plans change or you have unexpected delays try to stop and enjoy the moment and remember that we all need a little adventure every once in a while.

School Daze

August 17, 2013

IMG_5654School started this week and we are slowly adapting back into the routine of going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and having to do things like check homework and pack lunches. Wednesday night we ran out of lunchmeat and bread and so I decided I’d just run to the Dollar Store since we live in a remote location and the nearest grocery store is 20 minutes away.

Ethan joined me on my shopping trip with the secret hopes of getting a toy. I am a softy and so I conceded and let him have one dollar to spend. He ended up buying fake lottery tickets and playing a joke on Emma making her believe that she had won $5,000 – she was not amused when she found out it wasn’t a real lottery ticket.

When we got back from the store I was putting things away and found that the lunchmeat I had bought was “bacon lovers” honey ham. I had never heard of such of thing.

“Hey Emma” I called (since Emma is a big fan of bacon), “Look at this. I accidentally bought bacon lovers honey ham – it’s ham with bacon in it. What do you think of that?”

“Well, I love bacon, but I am not sure I would like it in my ham. Besides, I don’t even like ham.” she informed me.

“Wait a minute. What do you mean you don’t like ham? Last night you and Ethan made ham sandwiches to pack in your lunch and you even ate some of the ham as you were making them. And then tonight you had a ham sandwich for dinner.”

“No, I didn’t.” she objected. “That was turkey.”

“No, sweetie – that was ham. We just finished off a package of ham.”

“Really? It was ham? Huh, I guess I do like ham then. But I still don’t think I want to chance mixing ham and bacon.”

“Well, OK. Then you guys can just have peanut butter sandwiches in your lunch.”
They packed their lunches and got their backpacks and shoes and socks laid out and then started getting ready for bed.

Two hours and several requests for drinks of waters and hugs & kisses later, all was quiet in the house as the kids finally drifted off to sleep.

For those who are not aware I am currently taking classes and working on getting my MBA so after the kids are in bed it’s my time to study, do homework and write papers. I finished up my schoolwork, threw a load of towels in the washer, brushed my teeth and my weary body fell into bed around 1:30 am.

At 3:30 am I woke up briefly when I heard Caleb get up and go to the bathroom. I assumed he would go right back to bed so I didn’t get up. I fell back to sleep and was awoken again by Caleb standing over me and watching me sleep. I glanced at Caleb who was fully dressed for school with clothes, shoes and backpack on. I then looked over at the clock, blinked several times as I realized that it was 4:30 am. “Caleb, its way too early for school! Please go back to bed!” He took off his backpack and shoes and got back into bed. I went back to bed to try and get another hour or two of sleep.

“Mom, mom, mom!” I hear a little voice say in a whisper. I look up and see Emma standing at my bedside. It was 5:55 am.

“What are you doing up?” I asked her.

“Caleb woke me up at 4:00 and I have just been watching TV in my bedroom with the volume down really low.” Well, at least someone is trying to be quiet.

In the other room I could hear Caleb’s bouncing on his bed and laughing. Where does he get all that energy? I closed my eyes thinking I just needed five more minutes of sleep.

Emma came back in at 6:10 and said, “I’m hungry mom. Can you fix me some breakfast?”

I decided that sleep was not an option at this point so I might as well just get up and join the party. “OK Emma. What would you like for breakfast? Maybe an Eggo waffle?”

“Umm… I think I’d like bacon.” She said with a smile.

“Honey, I don’t have bacon. Unless you count that ham with bacon I bought by mistake. We have waffles, fruit loops, poptarts or fish crackers.” I replied.

“Oh, OK … I guess I’ll have waffles. I’m gonna go see what Ethan wants.”

“Wait, is Ethan up too?” I said as I followed her into Ethan and Caleb’s room. Ethan was stirring a bit since Emma was talking him, but he was still half asleep.

“I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he said cinnamon rolls.” Emma reported.

“Cinnamon rolls? I don’t have cinnamon rolls. Remember, we only have waffles, fruit loops, poptarts or goldfish crackers.”

“Oh, that’s right. Sorry Ethan – you’re out of luck. Mom said we don’t have cinnamon rolls. Don’t feel bad though, I’m not getting the bacon I asked for either.”

Ethan just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. I walked over and sat down on his bed and started rubbing his back. “Did Caleb wake you up too? He’s been up for hours and he woke Emma up at 4:00.”

Ethan yawned and said, “Well, Caleb woke me up but I just went back to sleep. But now that you and Emma are in here too and so I guess I’m not going to have any chance for sleep now.” Ethan, like me, had decided he might as well get up.

By this time it was 6:45 and probably time for everyone to start getting ready for school anyways. Ethan and Emma got dressed and Caleb started getting excited that everyone else was up and that it was getting closer to time for the bus to arrive.

We all ventured downstairs to Drew’s room and woke him up. Beware the sleeping teenager…..he was not happy to be awakened by his cheery siblings. He pulled the covers back over his head and mumbled, “Just five more minutes….” I know how you feel Drew!

By 7:15 the kids were dressed and happily eating their breakfast of waffles and poptarts. The bus came right on time at 7:25. I waved goodbye as they took off on their adventure for another day of school.

I would loved to have crawled back into bed since I didn’t have to be to work until 11:00, but I was scheduled to speak to Caleb’s class at 8:45. Caleb has autism and is mainstreamed into a general ed classroom. Every year my husband, Dwight, and I go and talk to Caleb’s classroom in the first week of school. We talk to them about autism and about ways they can interact, communicate and include Caleb. Since I needed to hop in the shower, get dressed and make my way over to the school sleep would just have to wait.

ImageAs I got ready for the day I thought about when the kids were infants and how every night was a series of feedings, diaper changes, etc. Especially that first six months of the twins lives. I don’t remember much from that period of my life and I blame that on the sleep deprivation.

I guess I should just be thankful that these short nights are much less frequent now and that, for the most part, the kids sleep all night. I am also thankful that on Saturdays I can sleep in since the kids are old enough to entertain themselves for a few hours.

This morning Caleb crawled in bed with me around 8:00 am but then after a few minutes of cuddling he went back to his room to play and I had the luxury of sleeping for another hour or so. I finally got up when I heard the kids talking about what they wanted for breakfast. Guess it would have been a good morning for cinnamon rolls and bacon… If only I had remembered to go to the store and buy some. Oh well, maybe next Saturday!

ImageToday I will be interviewed about my new book Running Through the Raindrops…Finding Joy in the Chaos of Raising Kids on Blog Talk Radio.

I am not an expert in computers and the Internet, but from what I can gather this interview can be listened to live at 3:00 pm EDT or any time after that as a podcast.

Simply click on the link below if you‘d like to listen in and join us! I will be reading an excerpt from my book so tune in to hear about the adventures of the pastor’s kids!

Click HERE to listen (after 3:00 pm EDT)

“What are we doing on Saturday?” Ethan asked me earlier this week

“Well, I have my book signing on Saturday afternoon and I am getting the oil changed on the van in the morning.” I replied as I finished setting the table for dinner

“Are we all going to your book signing?” he asked

“I don’t know. Do you want to come?” I hadn’t really thought about making it a family event because I really didn’t know if the kids would enjoy it.

“Yes, I think it sounds like fun!” Ethan replied. “Plus, all of us kids should be there because people will probably want to meet the stars of the book.”

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Emma & Ethan playing with the umbrellas

So, Saturday afternoon the “stars” of Running Through the Raindrops were all in attendance at my book signing and they had a great time playing with the props (umbrellas), sampling all the cookies and talking with those who stopped by to purchase the book. It was a successful book signing and I was so glad the kids all came along.

Now by “successful” I don’t mean I sold hundreds of copies of my book or that there was a long line of people waiting to meet the author.  It was successful because we had the opportunity to meet other parents and talk with them about the struggles and the joys of raising kids. We had some especially meaningful conversations with parents who also had kids with autism and had been through many of the same struggles we had. My husband, Dwight, and I really enjoyed meeting these wonderful families and, after all, that is the whole reason I started writing in the first place. I wanted to connect with other parents and share our joys, our fears and our frustrations.

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Caleb, Drew, Emma & Ethan

One of the most amazing moments was when a friend of ours brought her granddaughter, Hannah, into the book signing. Hannah is in school with Caleb and she also has autism and is non-verbal. When Caleb and Hannah saw one another they both smiled and started jabbering away. We couldn’t understand what they were saying, but Caleb was making his “happy sound” and jumping up and down so I think that they were excited to see one another. It was blessing to see a friendship that goes against what so many have defined autism to be.  Friendship is one thing that kids with autism are said to not be capable of understanding or obtaining but it was clear to us that assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth!

So here is to my “stars”: Drew, Caleb, Ethan and Emma – I love you and I had an awesome time celebrating with you on Saturday!

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If you haven’t read my book and want to learn more about it you can click HERE for an interview I recently did with Michelle Lynn Brown. You can purchase Running Through the Raindrops on Amazon as a paperbook or Kindle. Also available as a NookBook and on Kobo.  If you have read the book it be great if you’d leave a review on Amazon – thanks so much!

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Time Marches On

June 2, 2013

Image 1Another school year has ended and I am now the mother of a 6th grader, two 5th graders and a sophomore in high school.  How can this be possible?  It seems like only yesterday I had three in diapers and one in kindergarten and today I rode in the car with my oldest son, Drew, behind the wheel.

He was driving to graduation to play in the band and I couldn’t help but think that three years from now it will be HIS graduation we will be driving to!  I mentioned that to him and he said, “Don’t remind me!”

I was a little surprised by his response and so I said, “Why do you say that? I would think you’d be excited to graduate. You know, no more school.”

“Well, I guess, but I’m not looking forward to leaving you and Dad and all my friends at school.  I’ll probably go to college close by so I can see you but it won’t be the same as living at home with you guys and being able to talk to you whenever I want.” Drew explained.

I thought it was just a mom thing that I was so worried about Drew growing up, but I guess he has worries of his own. I started to think back to my teen years and I remember having some of those same fears.  As I got closer to graduating I found myself more and more excited to finish and be done with high school, but I still had some anxiety about leaving all that was familiar and venturing out into the unknown.

I look over at my son, who now towers above me at 6’2”, as he carefully concentrates on the road and realize how lucky I am to have such a great kid. He really has a sweet, kind heart and has always been such a big help with Caleb and the twins.  Being the oldest is never easy, but he has never complained.

Pretty soon he will have his actual license and be able to drive alone and probably start dating and hanging out with friends more and more.  I am proud of the fact that he likes his family enough to want to hang out with us. He still gets along pretty well still with his siblings but they do have their moments when they get on each others last nerve.

The other day I was reading a book to the twins and it had the word “sibling” in it. I asked them if they knew what “sibling” meant.  Emma said, “Someone who drives you crazy but you love them so much you couldn’t imagine life without them.”  Wow, I thought …  that is a pretty accurate description!

ImageHere is the photo I took on the last day of school.  As you can see, Drew looks much less thrilled than the younger three.  After the photo was taken Emma said, “Geez Drew, you could at least smile and look happy. It’s the last day of school – it’s gonna be a fun day!”

“Maybe for you” Drew replied. “You are going to have parties and play games all day.  I have three finals to take. It’s not such a fun day when you’re in high school. Enjoy your elementary years while you can, pretty soon you’ll be taking finals too!”

Drew is absolutely right … pretty soon it will be Emma and Ethan taking finals and driving and that is an even scarier thought!

 

 

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ImageDon’t forget to check out my new book, Running Through the Raindrops … Finding Joy in the Chaos of Raising Kids

Now Available on Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle