About Me

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I am the crazy mom of five boys.  Four of my five boys are on the autism spectrum. Neuro-Diversity rocks!!!  I cook, I clean, I blog, I breathe.  Yup that is about it.  If you want to catch a glimpse of our crazy world you are more than welcome but don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Thank You to My Heroes

When I was a young adult, I had a group of friends from work that I did everything with.  We called ourselves "The Midnight Riders", not all that original but at 18 you think you are a whole lot more original than you actually are.  We never got into trouble but we spent late nights watching movies, eating take-out Chinese food and talking or riding around in Mike's pickup truck, listening to Shania Twain and talking or laying in the snow, looking at the stars and talking ( it would seem we had a lot to say ;).  Of this group of friends, my best friend was Mike.  He and I fought like a brother and sister and stood by each other the same way.  One night (two days before Christmas 1995 to be exact), while I was working at the mall, there was a shooting spree.  Two groups of hotheads started fighting and then began shooting, sending five thousand Christmas shoppers into a panic. One person died and several more were injured.  I was working my way through college at the time and one of my jobs was as a manager at Chick-Fila.  There I was, 18 years old, responsible to keep safe these other kids that worked under me.  I brought down the gate and shoved them all in the back away from danger.  I stood there, praying that nothing bad would happen to any of them.  About an hour or so later there was a loud banging on the back door.  Panicked, I looked through the peep hole and saw my Dad standing on the other side of the door.  To this day I am not sure how he got in, the whole mall was locked down.  I just remember feeling relieved that I was no longer the only person responsible for these kids.  My Dad, my super hero.
After we were given the all clear, Mike came running in the back door.  He had rushed over as soon as he had heard what had happened and eventually found a way to get in the building  to check on me (probably wasn't the brightest move but we were 18, what can I say).  The next day, Christmas Eve, Mike showed up at the store at 6 am to help me clean up the mess we had been forced to leave the night before.   Mike, my true and faithful friend.
Honestly, I have not spent much time thinking about that night all those years ago.  It is one of the those things I just don't dwell on that much. However, this past week has brought it back into sharp focus.  Surprisingly, it isn't the terror or panic I find myself thinking on.  Instead, I find my thoughts coming back to my Dad and my friend. It seems that time does indeed bring healing and perspective.
This night in my life, in no way compares to the horrors of the past week.   I don't begin to pretend to understand what so many families in our country are going through right now.  In all honesty, I can't even talk about it yet.  At my doctors appointment yesterday, a nurse began speaking of the tragedy as she took my vitals.  I abruptly changed the topic. I hope I did not offend her; I simply cannot go there.  I am silently sitting a kind of shiva, grieving for so many that I have never met.
This post is my chance to honor two men who were heroes to me on a night I needed heroes.   So from the bottom of my heart I say, thank you to my dad and to Mike.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Top Ten Character Traits for my Children

This year my parents came to for Thanksgiving.  It was so nice to visit, to see my kids getting to know their grandparents a little more.  With 1,400 miles between us we don't get to visit as much as we would like so we endeavor to make these yearly visits memorable.
After my parents left, I began to think of the lessons and priorities my parents installed in me through my growing up years.  This naturally segued into my thoughts on the important lessons and characters traits I am trying to instill in my own children.  I know what I am aiming for but I have never taken the time write it out. There is power in putting words down on paper.  It takes abstract thoughts and ideas and makes them real and tangible.  As a writer, I find that written words have the ultimate power over me, they become a commitment, a vow if you will.  So today I am committing to paper the top ten character traits I am striving to instill in my children.  It is my public commitment to the goals that are already in my heart.

1.  I will teach my boys to love the Lord their God with all the heart, soul and might.  I will teach them that this love is not mere religion but is a relationship, the ultimate love relationship.  I will teach them the importance of loving and knowing scripture.

2. I will teach my boys the importance of patriotism.  I will teach them to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms and to thank those who put their lives on the line to continue to protect us.  

3. I will teach my boys the importance of hospitality by being hospitable.  My children will be raised in a home that is loving and open to anyone who wants or needs to be there.

4.  I will teach my boys the importance of working hard and doing a job until it is done correctly.  This is a lesson my parents taught me that has made my life so much easier.

5.  I will teach my boys the importance of enjoying the moment, of valuing the place you are in life rather than  always pushing for the future.  I was always so future minded that I missed out on much of what life was offering me in the moment.  I want my boys to enjoy the now.

6.  I will teach my boys to be charitable, not to make themselves feel better but because the only way to be truly human, is to allow ourselves to feel the suffering of others and do all that is in our power to help.  I want my boys to learn to give without strings or conditions.  A gift is only a gift if it is given freely, with no expectation of repayment.

7.  I will teach my boys to love the music, art and literature.  It is important that the love for these is nurtured and explored.  These things add beauty to our lives, they add texture and color to the minutia of everyday life.

8.  I will share with my boys a love of learning.  I will give them every  educational opportunity that is within my power to give.  I will support their interest and give them the resources to explore them.

9.  I will teach my boys the importance of neuro-diversity.  I will teach them that God made everyone and God does not make mistakes.  That they are each fearfully and wonderfully made.  I will teach them to stand up for neuro-diversity themselves as the grow older.

10.  I will teach them to stand up for what they believe in, even when it is not popular and has a personal cost.  I will teach them that this is the truest test of their character: Can you stand when those around you fall?

And those my friends are the top ten character traits I am working on with my boys and to be honest I am continuing to grow in myself.  I am going to print these and hang them on my wall where I will daily be reminded of my ultimate goals.  I know your goals are probably different than mine but I encourage you to put them down on paper.  Just taking the time to form my thoughts and ideas into words was very enlightening to me.  Some of my top ten surprised even me. -Kristine




Friday, November 30, 2012

A Glimpse of a Wardrobe Malfunction Done Skiff Style

It's 6:56 am.  Things 1-4 are already fed, dressed, on the bus and on their way to school.   Already I have run to the grocery store for lunch supplies and still ran everything like clock work.  Oh yeah, look at me doing my happy dance. Okay it is more like an old woman , arthritic hobble but it is a joyful arthritic hobble. Four down and only one left to go.  Paul comes drearily down the steps at 6:58 and sleepily announces: "Oh yeah Mom, I forgot to tell you yesterday I tore my shoe almost in half playing outside. I'll need new shoes before school."   I look at the clock, 7:03. My happy hobble has ceased.  I look at the offending sneaker, hoping above all things that Paul  (Mr Give Me The Facts and Nothing but the Facts) is somehow exaggerating the extent of damage to his shoe.  No such luck;  the shoe is gone.  No amount of duct tape trauma care is gonna patch it up for even one more day.  7:06 and Paul and I are in the van heading out to buy his fourth pair of new shoes since school started in late August.  Here I must pause and remind you we live in small town TX.  You cannot just run out and buy shoes.  No, the nearest place to buy shoes is 14 miles away.....14 miles not a big deal, unless it is 7:08 and your child has to be at school no later than 8:15.   We hightail it to Walmart (14 miles away).  It is 7:27 when we pull into the parking lot. We rush through Walmart, pick up the first pair of Men size 8's we can find and run for the register (the ONLY register open at 7:35 am). Obviously,we get the cashier who is in training to retain his Guinness World Record as The World's Slowest Cashier.  Five minutes later, five minutes to ring up a pair of shoes.....sigh, and we are break necking it  back to the van.  We pull up in front of Paul's school at 8:07.  I am congratulating myself once more for my complete awesomeness as a mom.  Go me, oh yeah!! Then I notice Paul's jeans as he is getting out of the van.....mustard spattered and ripped and dirty at the bottom......probably the same ones he was wearing when he ripped his shoe.  8:09 my son walks into school, on time, with bright new shoes and mustard spattered, dirty, ripped jeans.  And that my friends is how we rock wardrobe malfunctions here in Skiffland.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autism and Sleeplessness


  from: Wynken, Blynken and Nod  
                     by: Eugene Field
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea,
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
                     Wynken,
                     Blynken,
                     And Nod.



 There is nothing sweeter than snuggling the fuzzy head of a sleeping baby, or brushing the angelic cheek of your child as they slumber, or even just standing in the doorway of your child's bedroom, listening to their rhythmic breathing and quietly watching them through the soft glow of the night light.  It is in these quiet, unguarded moments, when their usually running feet are still and their usually talking lips are quiet, that we as parents get to reminisce of their yesterdays and dream of their tomorrows.  It is in these moments of peace that we can gather ourselves back together from the craziness of the day and remind ourselves on the particularly rough days that we actually do like these sweet little monsters.
But there is nothing that can drive you to the brink of insanity as a parent faster than a child who will not sleep.  It is in those long sleep deprived nights of rocking, pacing, potty runs, dink refills, even night time drives that you are brought to your lowest emotionally and physically. 
Sleep issues and autism often walk hand in hand.  Believe me when I tell you that we have walked the gamut on this with our guys.  Today I am going to go over a few of the things we have seen with our boys and some of the tricks we have found that worked.....or didn't.

The first year with my oldest son, Paul, was very difficult.  He had to nurse every 20 minutes for the first three months of his little life.  If I tried to get him to take more that that he would empty his stomach.  He just could not hold anymore down.  By the end of three months I was in a state of near delirium.  I put a sign on our front door asking people not to knock or ring the bell because the slightest sound awoke him from the precious few minutes of sleep we got.  This caused some offense to family and friends  who wanted to visit.   At that point , I was too tired  to explain.  After three months we were slowly able to stretch out his feedings to every two hours.  For the rest of the year that was our schedule.  What we did not know at the time is that many of the issues we were dealing with were directly related to autism.  Digestive issues, food sensitivities and allergies, and texture issues are common for children on the spectrum.  Paul was also a very sickly child up until three years old. By the time Paul was 3 we had three other babies, one of whom had his own set of sleep issues above and beyond that of infancy ( more on that later).  Between his feeding issues and sickness, sleep was a very rare commodity in our household.  Sleep deprivation took it's toll on both myself and my husband.  It definitely added stress to an already stressed marriage.  Neither of us was capable of being very rational when we were both so very sleep deprived.
At three, something miraculous happened, Paul started sleeping!!  Not only did he sleep, he would announce he was tired and put himself to bed, all on his own!!!  Oh happy, glorious day!!  I thought our sleep issues with Paul were at an end; that we were finally on the path to sleep filled nights!  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Around seven years old, Paul started having a terrible time getting to sleep (this is still an issue today).  He would be in tears because he "couldn't get his brain to be quiet".  We have all had the occasional night where our thoughts race.  But with Asperger's it is often multiplied by a hundred fold.  We tried everything to get him to sleep: reading, music, a fan, white noise.....nothing worked.  Finally I did the thing I swore I would never,ever do: I put a TV in his room.  This has helped a lot.  About an hour before bedtime, we send him upstairs to his room and he spends an hour or so watching television.  This gives his brain something to focus on and he tends to fall asleep.  There are still nights that he cannot sleep, especially nights when he is stressed or excited about something ( a big test the next day or a field trip,etc).  On these nights we leave the TV on for him, certain channels only (for obvious reasons), and he eventually falls asleep.  He also has a bedtime routine he has to follow exactly.  Every night when he heads up to watch TV he makes himself a cup of peppermint tea and brings it up.  The act of making the tea and drinking it is a calming routine to him.  He cannot be the least bit stressed or he will not fall asleep.   Calm and routine are of utmost importance to Paul.
Noise is also an issue that still causes sleeplessness for Paul, though not nearly to the extent it has in the past.   Cricket season is very, very rough in our house.  Short of going out and hunting every cricket in north TX there is not much we can do about it.  Paul has had huge meltdowns over cricket noise.  Now he tends to keep the TV on on the worst nights and that gives him something else to focus on other than the crickets.

Jamie's sleep issues have lessened over the years.   When he was first born he had to be rocked asleep.  My husband and I spent hours rocking either him or his crib to get him to fall asleep, only to have him awaken as soon as the rocking stopped.  A baby swing would work sometimes but not always.  His sleeplessness would awaken his twin brother, Alex, and then we were in for a long night.  When Jamie was a toddler, he would awaken with terrible night terrors.   He would fall asleep fine but would awaken in the middle  of the night screaming, thrashing and sometimes running around the house.  I would have to rock him for hours to calm him down.  He was nonverbal at the time.  His night terrors lessened and eventually went away completely as he learned to communicate.  It seems to me, though I cannot prove it definitively, that his frustration with his inability to communicate effectively was coming out in his dreams.   This was a very heartbreaking time for me as a mother, there was little I could do for Jamie other than hold him.  
Jamie sleeps pretty well now.  The only times we have issues are when he is having growing pains.  Jamie has always grown in drastic spurts (he grew 6 inches in less than three months this year).  When these spurts occur it is very painful.  Jamie also has a routine he does every night before he goes to sleep.  He has to set up his bed as he calls it.    He has to have all his stuffed animals (and he has a lot of them) set up in a certain order on his bed, he has to have certain blankets and pillows.  We have also learned he reacts differently to stimulants and depressors than most people.  If we give Jamie Benadryl it will make him hyper (we learned this one the hard way).  When we need to calm him down we will give him some coffee.  It relaxes him very quickly. 

Benny has always needed less sleep than your average bear.  This is also common in kids on the spectrum.  I remember when he was a baby asking the doctor in frustration what was going on.  He was a fabulous old doctor who had delivered everyone and their mother in the Richmond, VA area.  He smiled at me and sagely said "some babies just don't need as much sleep."  This was not the answer I was looking for at the time ;)  However, this has remained true for Benny throughout his life.  He tends to sleep less than other kids but when he does sleep, he sleeps very deeply.  He also sleep walks occasionally.   This has been increasing this year as he closes in on eight years old.   Benny doesn't have any particular routine he adheres to.  He just tends to chat himself to sleep (which annoys his brothers to no end;)

Sleeplessness does not only affect children on the spectrum.  My husband still has real sleep issues.  He rocks himself to sleep.  This was a real issue when we were first married because it made me motion sick.  It wasn't until I understood autism that I had an understanding of the rocking.  He also has very jumpy legs ( Jamie and Paul also have this).  At first we attributed this to restless leg syndrome but research has come to light which links  autism in general and particularly Asperger's Syndrome to this type of lower limb movement.  My husband also struggles with getting his brain to turn off so that he can fall asleep.  He says that when he was a child his thoughts were so loud that they almost sounded like a crowd in his head.  He learned to "drown out the sound of his own thoughts" by rocking.  When he can't rock his whole body, he will rock his head.  

There are many studies that connect Asperger's Syndrome with these movements as well as REM sleep disruption.  I'm including a link to one of them here: http://www.pattymemorial.org/fromAutisticscc/AspSleepNeuroStudy.html .  There are many more studies and they make for interesting reading.

Over all, what I have learned is that with each of my spectrum guys sleep is as individual as they are.  Although not one single trick works for all of them, maintaining a calm and peaceful environment does seem to be essential to everyone. I chose to write about this because a friend requested this topic.  I love it when I get blog topic requests.  The feedback gives me an idea of what you all are interested in reading :)  I hope it was helpful to some of you.  Lots of love  -Kristine 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Glimpse of Being Fat

Over past few months I have remained silent as a disturbing trend infiltrated the Christian community where I live.  I have stayed silent out of deference to people whom I respected. I have stayed silent out of concern of bruising others feelings. I have stayed silent because I felt like the last person who should speak on this and I have stayed silent out of fear of losing relationships.
Today I was shaken out of my silence.  My husband posted a link to the four minute response Jennifer Livingston, a  news anchor for a local television station in Wisconsin, made to a viewer who sent a demeaning email accusing her of being a bad role model to young women because she is too fat.  Her response was eloquent and well stated.  I encourage you to look her up and watch it.  It is worth the watch.
 Before I go further, let me say I am over weight.  I know this, I do not pretend that it is not an issue.  To be clear before we continue, I am fat and admit that this is a problem that I struggle with every single day.
This is a deeply personal and hurtful battle that I have fought for most of my life.  I am used to being judged immediately by people when they first meet me by my size.  All my years growing up I had family members make snide comments, "helpful" suggestions, and devaluing statements about me and about my weight.  I have had strangers do the same thing without knowing the first thing about me.  I have had my value in eyes of others, and if I am honest, even in my own eyes, change depending on what the scale has said.  When I was thin my value within my family went up immediately.  People were quick to tell me how glad they were that I was no longer hiding my beauty under so much fat.  If my weight increased then everything and anything bad that happened was because I was too fat; from falling down the stairs and nearly losing my babies to the fact my children have autism...all of it was my fault because I was fat.  I am used to being judged not on who I am but on what the scale says.  For years, I allowed this fact to nearly crush me.
The one place where I felt accepted and loved unconditionally was my church.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God loved and accepted me no matter what my size, the color of my skin, how well I did on a test or how much money was in my bank account.  I had people in my church who never made me feel out of place or rejected.  My Pastor only ever displayed to me that God loved me unconditionally. In fact, my Pastor only ever displayed that love to anyone and everyone who walked through the doors to our church.  It did not matter if a person came in disabled, or of a different color, or from a different country, if they came in rich or dirt poor, if they smelled or if they were flat out drunk; my Pastor and the people in my church only ever showed them love and respect.    They did not do this because they were perfect or because they had some special gift.  They did this because that is what Christ has called us to do; to love the unlovable, to do unto the least of these.
Is it important to be fit and healthy? Yes.  Is it important to take care of the bodies that God has given us? Absolutely.  Could I do a better job in these areas? For sure.  
Should I feel out of place in Christ's church because I am not there yet? NO!!!  
I have seen a change in the way we relate to others in the church.  Daily I have friends who only know me from a church setting trying to sell me diet products.  They are excited to share this product that has changed their lives with anyone and everyone in their path.  What I don't think they realize is that in their zeal and excitement they are making some people feel that they are unacceptable the way they are.  That even in church and around Christians they cannot be loved or accepted based upon their appearance.  Is there anything wrong with these diet product in and of themselves? No.  Am I upset because others are finding them useful? No, actually I am excited that they are achieving their goals.  However, Christ did not call us to make people thin or fit.  Christ did not call us to transform lives by the sharing of our dietary supplements.  Christ gave us one simple commission.  Christ has called us to go out and make disciples of all men.  The end, that's it.  When our churches and Christian communities stop seeing this as the goal then we are losing sight of what is important.  
Dear friends, I know I probably have offended some of you by this post.  I am very sorry that was not my intention, at all.  However, I felt very strongly that this needed to be said.  If you are one who is in my shoes, who feels unlovable because of the way you look or how you have performed know that you are loved.    Please know that God's love for you is not dependent upon anything you do, on how well you talk, or what you look like.  God's love is not based on anything you can do or be.  God loves you because you are His creation.  God loves you inexplicably and completely.  I will be praying that you will feel His love tonight. -Kristine


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Road Undiscovered-a micro blog

The morning sun is bright, reflecting off the road in front of me.  I squint my eyes against the glare and peer at the endless black ribbon that stretches before me.  It is a beautiful Texas fall day and I find it enervating.  I just want to drive.  I don't want to go any place in particular; I long to go, explore, expand my horizons.  East or west? North or South?  It doesn't really matter.  I want to spread a giant road map before me, close my eyes and randomly put my finger on a spot and just go.
I'm not restless by nature, quite the opposite in fact.  But today is just so beautiful, open and unspoken for.  It begs to be more than just another in a long line of errand filled, task consumed days, seemingly checked off the calendar before they begin.  In this moment, I remember that my childhood was filled with days like this, days of promise and possibility. When did the magic of each dawning day get lost in the minutia of daily life?  I don't know. Somewhere between my teen years and college would be my guess.  We exchange dreams and adventure for routine and stability when we cross the threshold of adulthood.  This is a necessary and expected exchange but for today I glimpse what morning was oh so long ago.
I pull into my driveway, the adult in me has commitments to attend to today but I am grateful for my glimpse of the endless, undiscovered road this morning.  Every day I want to awake with that same feeling of expectation and promise.  One day soon I will make the time to take the road not yet traveled, with all it's undiscovered treasures.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Glimpse of "er"

This morning the alarm went off at five am,  just like it does every school morning.  Truth be told, I am not terribly fond of the alarm clock on any given morning but today it seemed to beep more shrilly, more loudly and more annoyingly than any previous day.  I trudged to the kids rooms and awoke them one by one.  On any given school day, it takes a few minutes of prodding and cajoling to get them moving but today it took longer and they griped louder and I was proddy-er (yes that is a word....it's my blog and I say so ;)
We made it downstairs and the light was more blaring causing the daily Jamie melt down to be more melting downy-er (again a word....see previous caveat) and the daily Benny meltdown triggered by the daily Jamie meltdown was WAY Benny-er.  Sam was slower, breakfast was wronger, Alex was more purposely annoying-er (Alex is my stir the pot kid), Paul was  Aspie-er.   It was a very "er" kind of day.
Everyday, I try to look at my life through the lens of humor.  Everyday, I try to choose laughing instead of crying. Everyday, I purpose to not let my families circumstances or disabilities define my attitude.  But today was just such an "er" day.  Today, the two months from hell collided with my "er" day and I was in a proper snit.  I dropped Paul off at school,  went home and I had myself a proper pity party, complete with party hats and streamers.  It really is a shame that only the cats were here to witness it!  Those fifteen minutes were the stuff legends are made of.  Then I had to give myself a time out.  "Self" said I "get it together.  This is not the way we behave." "But I'm sick of everything being a fight. The past two months have been terrible!!  I've had this bad thing happen and this annoying thing happen and this frustrating thing happen  AND this completely ridiculously blown out of proportion  thing happen (bad things expunged from the record to save you from reading all my whining;) and to top it all off I have had a very bad day!! (insert foot stomp here)"  I replied.  (Yes, I had a two part conversation with myself.  Don't worry the funny farm is on my speed dial. A friend and I have decided to coordinate our breakdowns.  This way we can share a room;)  "That's it!  You are in time out.  Have a cup of coffee, eat some breakfast, take a hot shower and watch an episode of I Love Lucy.  Take a minute, get your attitude in line and your sense of humor back!" I snapped at myself.  
So that is just what I did.  I spent an hour getting myself together, putting my big girl panties back on and choosing to change my attitude.  Afterwards, I looked back at my morning and the truth is, this morning was exactly like every school morning here in Skiffland.   It turns out the only real "er" in my morning was that I was attitudey-er.   
Since taking a few minutes to reset my attitude and my sense of humor, my day has gone fine. I just needed to refocus on what is important and take the "er" out of my day.   I hope things are well for you my friends.  As always lots of love-Kristine

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Glimpse of the Surreal

The Road Not Taken
by: Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.  


There are times in life that can only be described as surreal.  This past month has been one of those times in Skiffland.  We went ,in a few days time, from having our feet firmly planted on one path  to, in the blink of an eye, having that path completely disappear before us.  Now, we have to figure out where God is leading us as a family.  To be clear, nothing horrible or terrible is going on.  We are just at a bit of a stop gap right now.  Between a personal situation that affected our family's general direction and a health condition that has flared for my husband, we are praying that God will lead us to the new path he has for us.  Personally, this has been a difficult month.  I don't really like change to begin with, and I particularly don't like change when it comes with no warning and is forced upon me.  I need a little time to get used to the idea, dip my toes in ,if you will, before I am completely submerged.  However, it is in these times that I am reminded of God's presence all the more.  I know that even when things seem discombobulated and out of control to me, God has it all in complete control.  I see more clearly with each passing day the way God uses the unforeseen to draw us closer to him and closer together as a family.  
 God has used the situations of the past month to deal with some deep hurts from my past that I thought were long gone, some of which I had never even admitted to.  To be completely honest, I am not comfortable yet with these things.  I feel raw and exposed.  Part of me would much rather go back to the time where I covered up the pain of abuse with walls of denial and toughness.  But I know that in letting God expose the painful things in my heart, I am allowing Him to heal them and to use them to minister to others who have been through similar situations.  The healing process is painful but it is also freeing.
 My respect for my husband has grown so much deeper this past month.  I have seen him stand up for truth and lead when it would have been easier and more convenient to ignore the issues at hand.  I have seen him push himself physically to provide for our family when there are days that just getting his legs under him is a great effort.  I am blessed to have a man of God who takes both his spiritual and physical responsibilities to his family seriously.
Yes, God uses all things for His glory, even the tough things.  I do not know what exactly He is doing through all this and I certainly don't know exactly where He is leading us but I do know whatever and wherever that is I am excited to see it.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Singing, Dancing and Rejoicing

 Let everyone break forth in singing,dancing and rejoicing!!!  The Skiff Boys have returned to public school!!  Seriously, I feel like a million and one pounds have been lifted from my shoulders!  

I have to give a huge thank you to the middle school here in our small town.   Paul was dead set against going back to public school.  We thought long and hard about continuing to home school him because he took so well to it.   In the end, we felt it was important that he at least try to return to school for the social aspects and to be thoroughly reintegrated before high school (I never intended to home school for high school).  I brought Paul to the meet the teacher event at the school a few days before the start of school.  Paul had an absolute autistic meltdown not five minutes after we arrived.  He was crying, flapping his arms and refusing to look at anyone.  We waited to speak to the Guidance Counselor in the hallway for a good twenty minutes, with each ticking minute Paul became more worked up and I seriously considered just withdrawing him then and there.  Finally, it was our turn to sit down and talk to the counselor, for the purposes of this blog we will call her Mrs. Marvelous;)  I introduced us as we sat down, Paul was in no condition to talk at all.  Mrs Marvelous knew exactly what to do.  She didn't try to engage Paul, instead she closed her office door so it was quiet and continued a normal conversation with me.  This allowed  Paul the space he needed to calm down.  After he was calm, she asked him how she could help him if ever needed to calm down again, what were the specific things that would help him, did he mind being touched on the shoulder (when Paul said he preferred not being touched, she was not offended instead she made a note of it).   She then asked him what his interest were and really listened to him, even while he monologued about cats ( this really meant a lot to Paul).   She then asked Paul to give her one day to rework his schedule and to come back for a private tour before he decided that public school wasn't for him.  
We went home and Paul was still skeptical but much more calm.  The next day Mrs Marvelous phoned me. She had reworked Paul's schedule so that he had the classes he liked/ needed.  She even made it so that he could have gym class with a friend who isn't even in his same grade level!!!  Mrs Marvelous then told me that she and the principal had spoken and they both felt that it may be better for Paul to start a day later than the other kids so that he could avoid the first day of school chaos.  I had thought about this very thing but hadn't dared asked, fearing it would be impossible!!!!  Paul's attitude changed in five minutes from being against going back to school to being super excited to be starting school!!!  Anyone who knows Paul will tell you this kind of an attitude change is a miracle in and of itself.  
  Since second grade getting Paul to school has required an iron will, more than once I have carried him into the school mid meltdown.  I actually would call his teachers and ask how he was doing before I would go grocery shopping 15 miles from our house.  I didn't want to get halfway through grocery shopping only to have to rush back to the school because I was called to the school to calm him down or work with him.  This happened several days a week more often than not.  That is how stressed school has made him in the past.  Now Paul awakes excited to attend school. Don't get me wrong,  there have been few bumps that needed to be ironed out in his schedule, but Paul adjusted to the changes and still looks forward to school every day.  I cannot begin to express what a huge deal this is in our lives!  Seeing him smile as he walks into the school building is worth all the stress it has taken us to get to this point.   Thank you Mrs Marvelous and all the other amazing teachers and staff who have made this transition for Paul such a positive one. 

Thank you my friends who stayed with me on this journey and encouraged me.  Each of you has brought a unique perspective into my life.  Please know as always I appreciate each and every one of you.  Lots of love-Kristine

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Glimpse of Miss Mary (a micro blog)

Paul made butterscotch pudding at lunch time. I took a bite and was instantly 6 years old and sitting in Miss Mary's tiny living room in WV. I would go visit her almost daily because she was all alone and it made me sad. She always had a bowl full of butterscotch candies and a fresh package of Newport cigarettes on her desk. She gave me the butterscotch candy and she got the Newports. We would sit and watch TV ( a rare treat for me). I never knew if she was 62 or 102 but she was my friend. I moved back to WV temporarily so I could care for my great grandmother when I was ten. I would visit her when I had a chance. That was the last time I saw her. It's funny how our brains work. I haven't thought about Miss Mary in years, yet one bite of butterscotch pudding and I remember every detail.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Glimpse of Morning

BEEP!!!! BEEP!!!! BEEEEEEEP!!!!  The alarm blared its way past my dreams, into my subconsciousness, bringing me startlingly awake.  "ugh" I mumbled as I rolled over and snuggled deeper into the covers.  Seven minutes later we have a repeat performance of the same show.  I deserve a Tony for longest running show, at least three times a day for 35 years running.  The past 13 years the BEEP!!!! has often been replaced with crying, "MOM!!!!", arguing children, or a blaring video game (you have to keep the show fresh and alive;) but the results are the same.  My bed and I are heartbreakingly parted far to soon, our relationship sharply severed, leaving me in a haze that only clears after my second cup of coffee.  I expect word of my nomination by the Tony awards committee any day now!
This morning I awoke to the all to familiar squawks of the Benny bird intermingled with the relentless beeping of the alarm clock.   "Ugh" I mumble, my vocabulary is very limited first thing in the morning.  "We need a less intrusive alarm clock" my husband says (how he has a word like intrusive ready and available first thing in the morning is a mystery to me; a completely unfair, baffling mystery).  "Benny stop squawking and tell us what's wrong." I croak incoherently. "Benny stop making noise and fighting with your brother first thing in the morning" my husband translates.  Benny comes running into the room, crying and squawking, climbs into bed and begins his dissertation of his woes.  My ears are not really awake enough to translate Benny squawk into English, instead all I hear is my brain beating a constant refrain of "Must have coffee!  Must have coffee! Must have coffee NOW!" (we'll discuss my addiction at another time, thank you very much ;)
I grunt enough platitudes to soothe the Benny Bird enough for the hubby to understand the nature of his distress.  The Benny Bird flies off once again.  I try to snuggle down into the comforter for just a few more, precious, stolen, minutes of sleep.  But it is no use.  The day has begun and there is no going back. I slowly make my way downstairs, encountering two more melting down children on my way.  Paul is ranting and raving over Sam's inaccuracy.  Sam is crying and mad over Paul telling him he is lying because he was not accurate.  I'm not awake enough to sort out the details yet. The universe is not playing fair today.  Three children in meltdown mode BEFORE coffee has been banned by the Geneva Convention and The united Federation of Planets (as any Trekkie will tell you).  I send everyone back to their beds and make coffee.  Silence is golden!!  I make breakfast with little interruption. The boys once again begin to trickle out of their rooms and we start the day again.  Let's hope Wednesday 2.0 has a more successful launch!  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Vacation in the Past

Hello my friends.  It has been too long!!  I've missed our chats.  So much has happened in the last few weeks that I barely know where to begin.
Deal Island on the Chesapeake Bay
As many of you know, I recently went away for a family wedding.  My amazing, wonderful beyond words, husband took vacation time from work and kept ALL FIVE BOYS so that I could spend six days ,by myself, in my childhood stomping grounds, the eastern shore of Maryland.  It was wonderful to be home.  It was a very personal, deep time of introspection for me,  a time of joy and a time of mourning, a time of reunion and a time of loss.  It has taken three weeks for me to even begin to get my head around all that happened over those six days.  Forgive me if I seem to wander a bit in this post.  Consider this post the lazy river ride around my brain. Grab an inter-tube, a cool drink, lay back,  relax and enjoy the view.
My vacation began on an early Thursday morning.  I rushed through airports, caught connecting flights by the  skin of my teeth and arrived in MD exhausted, a bit frazzled and ravenous (I hadn't had time to grab breakfast in any of the airports because the flight schedule was so tight).  I grabbed lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant and headed to my hotel for some shut eye (exciting I know.  I'm the life of every party;)  As soon as I had caught a few hours of sleep I hit the beach.  I love north Texas more than I can say but I so miss the beach.  It was fabulous to sit and listen to the surf and allow myself time to destress.  I visited the old coffee house I had worked at as a young woman.  I'm not sure how to describe the experience other than it was like stepping back in time.  The man who runs the place was like a surrogate father to me.  It was amazing to stand next to him on stage once again, to share and to sing his favorite hymn.  I wish I could capture those moments like sand in a bottle, they are so precious.  I reconnected with friends whom I had ministered with 17 years ago, yet it was as if time had stood still as we picked up right where we left off.   I found myself wishing the night wouldn't end because I knew deep in my heart this was goodbye.  Bittersweet, precious moments in time.
Sand sculpture done by a friend in MD.
The next day, I headed to my old hometown.  I stopped into the jewelry store where I had my first job when I was 13 years old!  It was amazing to reconnect with my friends there I had not seen in so long.  A huge thank you to my friend Melissa, who owns the jewelry store.  I stopped in only to reminisce yet she took one look at my engagement ring and declared it needed to be reshanked (it is an antique handed down from my husband's late grandmother).  She not only reshanked my engagement ring but also did some work on my wedding band.  If your ever in Princess Anne, MD stop in to Bailey Jewelers and say hi to Melissa for me.  They have amazing, one of a kind jewelry pieces designed by both Melissa and her late husband John.
One of many original Bailey Jewelry designs
Main St of my hometown

I finished up the evening, on the veranda at another friend's coffee house, looking out at a lake and wild life while surrounded by family that I love so very much.  It is said you can never go back home but this trip showed me that sometimes you HAVE to go back home.  No one knows you better than the one's who watched you grow and helped to shape you.  So much has changed so much in the past 20 years, the storms of life have reshaped parts of my personality and character.  Yet for a brief moment, I was able to reach back through time and touch the girl I once was, to walk in her shoes and reconnect to what was important to her. The funny thing is, I discovered that much of what was important to her is still important to me.  I had just forgotten.

Dustin and Julie
The day of the wedding arrived.  It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony and reception.  We laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank, we were moved.  I am so proud of the man my cousin has become and the wife he has chosen for himself.  I have no doubt that there are many great years in store for them both.  I will admit to more than one tear as I watched them pledge their lives to each other.  I know his Momma is proud of him right now.
Nina Marie Walker

Sunday morning dawned bright and early.  I spent the morning at the grave of my aunt and good friend,  Nina.  We grew up together, even shared a bedroom for a while.  We giggled together over first crushes,  ogled posters of cute rock stars, I "helped" her do her school projects, and she taught me to paint my fingernails.  Nina lived life to the very fullest.  There isn't a week that goes by that I don't think of her.  Afterwards, I needed a few moments of peace, so I headed to one of the most peaceful places I know, Deal Island.  There I sat, my feet in the gently lapping waves of the the Chesapeake Bay.  I had one of the best Sunday services of my life, just me talking to God on the deserted beach.
I finished up my vacation with a visit from my dear friend Dee and her wonderful kids.   Dee has been my friend since our college days.  Though we haven't lived in the same state for more than a few weeks since then we have remained true and steady friends.  We talk at least weekly.  She is a true friend in every sense of the word.  When I have been at my lowest she has come along to lift me up, when I have had great joy she rejoiced with me.  She has stood by my side through the good , the bad and the ugly.  Dee is a true woman of God, who is unashamed to speak the truth in love and is quite possibly the strongest person I know.  I love you girlie!  Thanks for visiting on my vacation!!

Dee and her beautiful brood ;)
That about sums up my vacation.   I am now in the midst of trying to work out the details of school for the boys.....more about that stress next time.  For right now, if I close my eyes tight enough, I can still hear the sound of the ocean and see a young girl slowly walking along the beach, the wind blowing her hair as she picks up sea shells.  Lots of Love-Kristine


Monday, June 25, 2012

Top Ten Tips for aspiring Super Mom's

I don't know about you, but when I brought home my first little bundle of joy from the hospital I was determined that I was going to be the worlds best mother.  My child would be the healthiest, the brightest, the fastest, the wittiest.  Actually, I'm almost positive that I caught glimpse of  my child  wearing red cape with Super Baby emblazoned upon the back as he was delivered  (No that is NOT the 20 hours of labor or the Demerol talking.).  Yup that's me, super baby's mom!!  Now where is my preferred parking spot?

Five kids and nearly twelve years later, I have long since relinquished my Super Mom title.  My exalted reign lasted exactly one hour after leaving the hospital.  I clearly remember the moment I unswaddled my little bundle to change his diaper and he turned completely blue.  I checked to make sure he was breathing, ran to the phone and placed a frantic call to our pediatrician.  It turned out my perfect little bundle was born with so little body fat that even on a 90 degree day, with no air conditioning, he had to stay bundled.  My Super Mom reign was over almost before it began.  Things did not improve from there.  By the time I had my second child, 17 months later, I was in a constant state of complete guilt.  Now I was splitting myself between two babies, a husband and the house.  Needless to say, nobody received enough of my attention.  I was overwhelmed by feeling like a complete failure as a mother and wife.  Once the twins came along there was no time for guilt.  I was running so hard just to keep up with four kids, all under the age of 3, that I was just on auto pilot, doing the things that had to be done just to make it through the day.
Today, I felt a bit overwhelmed.   I have a lot going on as I get ready for my trip back home.  As I was rushing around, trying to get everything checked off my to do list, I thought about the time all those years ago when I aspired to be Super Mom.  So tonight, I have made my own top ten list.  My top ten pieces of advice to any aspiring Super Mom's....hey my reign may have been short lived but I still held the title.

Top 10 Tips for aspiring Super Mom
10. Good baby swag does not a super mom make.  You will regret your designer diaper bag the minute your perfect little one has an exploding diaper in his back-up, back-up outfit.  At that point, all you can do is rinse it out in the bathroom and stick it in (you guessed it) your super expensive, designer diaper bag.
9.  Embrace the banana clip, stained t-shirt ( yes every shirt you own will have a stain on it within a few months), and yoga pant look.  I know you swore to your bestie back in the day that you would NEVER be THAT mom (most of us made the same solemn oath).  But you will, so stock up on banana clips before your bundle of perfection arrives.  It will save you from scrounging under the sofa cushions looking for one when you realize you have to run to the store for diapers NOW and you haven't showered in two days (okay lets be honest here, you're actually on your third day without a shower).
8.  Speaking of showers, as Super Mom these are a luxury to be prized above all things....except sleep.  Inferior moms will put their  babies into their cribs for five minutes to grab a slice of heaven (they may even let their baby cry....gasp).  But not you, as Super Mom you are required to either forgo the luxury completely until another, approved adult can hold your angel or you will bring the baby seat into the bathroom with you and leave the shower curtain open enough so that your angel never loses sight of you, in all your Super Mom Perfection.  It's a sacrifice, but being Super Mom isn't for the faint of heart.
7.  Sleep is for the weak!!  You thought you were something when you stayed up 48 hours straight to cram for finals in college. Ha! That's nothing.  Girlfriend, you will never see 8 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep again!  You will do a song and dance when you get three hours of interrupted sleep! Buy good concealer to cover the dark circles on the rare occasions you leave the house.  Super Mom's do not frighten toddlers with their raccoon eyes.
6.  Learn to eat, brush your teeth, brush your hair, talk on the phone and write a message down all with one hand.  This will save you many awkward moments as you adjust to the fact you have lost an arm.  No, they don't chop it off in the hospital after you give birth!  Nope, from now on your cutie patootie will have permanent residence in one arm.  Slings are quite in fashion now, they come in a variety of colorful patterns that cover your stained tee shirts.  If you are planning to go this route contact your friendly, neighborhood sling expert mom.  She will show you more ways to wear that sucker than ways Bubba Gump knows to cook shrimp.
5. All other moms ,who have babies within six months of your little dumpling's age, will feel the need to prove that their child is superior to yours in every way.  Being Super Mom, you know that this is untrue.  This scenario requires great delicacy because you are by now feeling the deep need for understanding, adult conversation.  I suggest that you compliment the other child's progress nicely.  Then as you are leaving your play date (every two month old NEEDS a play date.  This is imperative to proper social development.  REALLY, this is Super MOM 101 stuff.  Refer back to the chapter in your Super Mom manual the covers Baby Einstein, playing classical music in utero and teaching sign language to your little genius)....as I was saying, as you are leaving your play date just casually mention how your three month old now knows how to sign please and thank you.  This will allow the other mother to know who really has the smartest child, while avoiding the momma throw downs that sometimes occur at play dates.
4.  Cloth diapers and making your own baby food are all the rage right now.  However, from one Super Mom to another, your child will not suffer permanent emotional scarring should you choose to go the Pamper  and Gerber route.  You will have a few points deducted from your Super Mom score but the time and energy that you save ,on these things, can be used to teach your child more words in sign language, which will boost your score once more.
3. Amazon is your friend and Amazon Prime is your new BFF.  Every outing, whether to Target ( it is where all the Super Mom's shop), church, or a two week vacation, require almost the same amount of packing, gear and preparation.  To save yourself the hassle, order what you can online!!  Also, the "feels like a cross country move when I run to the store to buy diapers" phase only lasts a few years.  There is light at the end of this tunnel.  Then the "I am your personal chauffeur" phase starts.
2.  On a serious note, you will at times feel isolated and alone.  This is the hardest part of being being a mom of young kids.  This stage passes and you will again have friends and a social life.  In the meantime, have someone watch your special little bugaboo and have a girls night with your old girlfriends once in a while.  It won't be the same but those few hours of laughing will be a lifeline to you in your lonely days.
1.  There is no such thing as a Super Mom!!  That's the big secret that everyone has been keeping from you. We are all struggling, right along side you, trying to do our best and still feeling like we aren't enough.  Give your child grace to make mistakes and room to be a kid, give your friends grace as they struggle to be the best mom they can to their children and most importantly give yourself grace.  You aren't perfect.  Just take it one day at a time, friend.   I'm still taking it day by day.  Lot's of love, Kristine

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Glimpse of Auditory Sensitivities

Music has always been very important to both my husband and I.  Hubby was raised in a very musical family and was picking out songs on the piano almost before he could walk.  The same is true for me.  I am not sure how old I was when I sang my first solo in church.  It was definitely sometime in early elementary school.   it was only natural that one of the things that attracted me to my husband was his heart for worship and his musical talent.

When I discovered I was pregnant with our first child, it was only natural that he was surrounded with music from the moment of conception on.  Daddy playing keyboard, me singing, CD's playing, music at church....music, music everywhere.  Once Paul was born he was sickly. He had to nurse every twenty minutes for the first three months of his life.  He would spit up all the contents of his stomach if you fed him any quantity at once and he had a hard time maintaining weight.  So he spent most of his days in my arms being rocked and sang to. as I sang my way past the point of exhaustion and marched straight into delirium.  At three months, Paul could finally stretch his feedings out to every two hours.  Yet, still when I held him he became agitated (If I was rocking him, I was singing....singing was just that much a part of who I was.  I even sang in my sleep as a child.  It drove my sisters CRAZY!!!  My mom said when I moved out of the house I took the music with me).  Then,  I began to notice he would become worked up when I played CD's or had the TV on or when were in church or in the mall.  In fact anywhere there was any amount of noise Paul became completely inconsolable.  The music ,that was such a part of our family, disappeared almost completely.  I felt like someone had cut out a large part of my heart.   We tried to find a church that would work for Paul.  But it never failed the noise would drive Paul to meltdown and we would be forced to walk around with him outside.  We stopped going to church.  We stopped going shopping with him.  The older he got the worse it became.
Enter Jamie. As much as Paul melted down to music, Jamie craved music.  The only way to get Jamie to calm down was for me to sing to him for HOURS.  Now I had one child who melted down when there was any music and one who would only stop melting down with complete immersion in  music.  Our family became split.  I would put Paul in the playroom  while I calmed Jamie down on the other side of the house in his bedroom.  Paul resented Jamie because everything Jamie needed was the opposite of what Paul needed.  Jamie is hypo-sensitive so he craves CONSTANT sensory stimulation.  Paul is hyper sensitive to EVERYTHING (light, texture, commotion, etc) but noise most of all.  
Then Paul started Kindergarten and everything just got worse.  He could not attend assemblies (they were too loud), could not eat in the lunchroom ( too loud), could not attend music class (too loud), could not be in a classroom that was loud.........and the list goes on and on.  You have to understand this is before Paul had been diagnosed with anything.  We were in the beginning stages of having Jamie diagnosed.  We really had no idea what was going on.  As I write this blog, I write with the knowledge of hindsight  but at the time I had no idea about hyper sensory sensitivity or hypo sensory sensitivity.  All I knew, was that my house was being torn apart at the seams.
We were super blessed that Paul was placed (by coincidence) with a teacher who had spent 20 years working in special ed and had won national awards for her work with autistic kids.  She had only that year returned to the general classroom.  She recognized the signs of Asperger's in Paul (side note: sensory sensitivities were not the only things going on with Paul.  You can not diagnose autism or Asperger's only through sensory integration difficulties) and encouraged us to start the process of getting him diagnosed.  I had come across information on Asperger's through my research on autism for Jamie and had begun to suspect both Paul and my husband were on the spectrum.  To make a long story short, they both are indeed on the spectrum.  Their specific diagnosis is gifted Asperger's.  One of these blog posts I will get around to the difficulties, failures and successes we have had in educating a child with these two diagnosis at once (often referred to as twice gifted).  however, that is not the point of this blog post........so back to the story.
Our house has continued in this manner for years, Paul needing one thing, Jamie needing another.  It led to deep resentments in both of them.
Today, as I was in the living room, I over heard Paul SINGING along with Rich Mullins in the office and I teared up.  I could only think of the fact a year ago this NEVER would have happened.  This past year, Paul has begun to really expand his borders and his sensory sensitivities have lessened dramatically.  I'm not sure whether it is just his age, or the fact we removed him from the completely overstimulating environment of public school to home school him, or the fact he has made new friends, or a combination of all three but now my son TURNS ON MUSIC!!  He "sings" (at least attempts something that kind of sounds like singing and a cat caterwauling mixed together. Pavarotti he is not;) and his frustration with  Jamie has lessened greatly.
I have been given back music.  I feel like someone has restored a large part of the heart of our family.  I cannot tell you what a blessing this is.
Friends, I don't know if any of you has faced this particular situation or not.  But I am willing to bet many of you have had to give up something that is a part of the fabric of your soul for one reason for another ( you love to run but a bum knee prevents you, you love to paint but paying the bills is preventing you from pursuing your passion. The list is endless)  Let me encourage you that in time God can restore it to you the same way he has restored music to my home.  Lots of love-Kristine

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Glimpse of the Bible

This blog provides glimpses of our lives, my thoughts and feelings.  This past week I have been struggling with what to write about for two reasons.  The first ,quite honestly, is my brain is spinning in a million and one different directions, none of  which are of an interesting enough nature to bore you, my friends, with.  Indeed, this is average every day life stuff: party planning, book club reading, trip planning, house cleaning, kid raising, BBQ attending, pool splashing, every day, summer life stuff.
The second reason is a bit more involved, and to be honest controversial.  And though I am no stranger to controversy on this blog, in general I try to stick to our lives and the things that are going on within me.  But no matter how many hours I have stared at this computer screen this week (and it has been MANY)  trying to write something, anything, other than this topic, nothing has come.  I feel like Jonah and writer's block has been my belly of the big, stinky fish.   What could possibly be so daunting that you would rather sit in the fish's belly than to write about it?, you may ask.  What topic could possibly have you tied up in so many knots?, you inquire.   Well, I'll tell you but first I am going to give you a bit of background on me.

I have shared on this blog that my husband and I met at Bible school.  My whole life had been spent within the ministry.  By the time I went to Bible school there were very few ministries within the church that I was not intimately familiar with.  I am 35 years old and I am blessed to have known Jesus as my personal savior for more than 30 of those years.  I know some of you will dispute that but I very clearly remember making the decision to follow Christ and my life since that point has been dedicated to doing just that.  That is not to say that I have not walked through hard times in my faith, that is not to say it has always been easy, that is not to say that there haven't been times where I have been so angry at God that I wished, for a moment, I could just walk away.  But once you have tasted the all encompassing grace and love of God there is just no going back.
I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the church.  I have seen the extremes.  I have been discipled by great men and women of God.  I have been hurt deeply by others ,claiming to be women and men of God, who used their influence to lead people astray.  A friend of mine says she has an unreasonable love for the church because only an unreasonable love could withstand all that she has seen.  I can't say it any better myself, so I will steal her quote: I have an unreasonable love for the church. Because of all I have seen and experienced, within my Christian walk, I also have a deep love for sound doctrine.  I believe the Bible, ALL OF IT, is the inspired, infallible Word of God.  Though I ,by no means, claim a full and complete understanding of it, I do believe that best way to deepen your relationship and understanding of God , is by reading and studying what He has to say.  And this leads me to the topic of the day.
 I am very concerned, actually beyond concerned, by a trend that is prevalent within Christians today.  This is not a commentary on any one particular church.  There are many sound Biblically sound churches out there.  This refers to the over arching Church.  The Big C church if you will.
II Timothy 4:3 says this "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." NASB
Over that past few weeks, my heart has been broken.  I have had several discussions in which people refuted Scripture using the words of their favorite author or speaker.  When asked to back up their stance Biblically, I am again given more pop theology with no Biblical reference. I have been told flat out that we don't need to know doctrine or even to know the Scripture because the love of Christ is ALL that matters.  Let me be clear right here and now.  Christ love, mercy and grace are the lynch pins of my soul.  They have saved my soul, surrounded me as the storms of life beat against me.  God's love is deeper than I can comprehend or imagine.  I am NOTHING save for the grace of God.
That being said it is imperative as Christian's that we know Scripture. The God of the entire universe, the God beyond time, The Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth, took the time to give us His inspired words on everything from how the earth came into being to how we should discipline our children.  Any question that we have about our lives is answered between Genesis and Revelation.  The Bible is more than a book.  It is the Word of God.  It will speak to you where you are at.  It will bring peace, healing, understanding, and yes, even conviction.
Hebrews 4:12 says " For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword.  It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart." NIV
  The scripture is also called the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17).  A sword is a weapon that takes training and practice to learn to use.  You don't go to sleep one night having never used a sword but thinking "Hmm I think I would like to be a master swordsman" and wake up the next day ready to cross swords with The Dread Pirate Roberts (sorry a nod to the Princess Bride was inevitable at some point of the blog...I can promise there will be others;)  The same is true of Scripture.  We have to take the time to study it, to meditate on it, to memorize it.  The Word of God is referred to as a  fire in the bones (Jeremiah 20:9), a seed (Mathew 13:3-8), and a mirror (James 1:22-25)....and these are just a few of the references to the way Scripture interacts with our daily lives!!
I want to close with one of my favorite passages of Scripture.
Isaiah 55:10-11
For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth 
and make it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower
and bread to the eater,
So Shall My Word that goes forth from My mouth; 
It shall not return to Me void
But it shall accomplish what I please,
 and it shall prosper the thing for which I sent it
Dear friends, it is not my intention to use this blog to be preachy or be judgmental but this has been burning like a fire within me for weeks.  You don't have to agree  with my interpretation of scripture but PLEASE find out for yourself why you don't.  Dig into the word.   Five minute devotionals, the book from your favorite Christian author or that quote from your favorite speaker can not replace the deepening of your relationship with God by studying His Words for yourself!!!  This is my prayer for all of us.  This is my hearts cry.  Thanks for reading through.  I love each and everyone of you.-Kristine

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Glimpse of Crabbing for Patience

I spent a large part of my childhood living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.   The Eastern Shore is a beautiful peninsula covered in marshland, on the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  Watermen fish the abundant waterways and farmers farm the fertile land.  Summer was a time to enjoy the sweet abundance of land and sea on the shore.  We enjoyed feasts of the sweetest sweet corn, the juiciest watermelons and the freshest blue crabs you can imagine.  In fact, some of my favorite memories are crabbing with my family off the bridge in a little town called French Towne.  My dad would check the tide schedule and the night before we would load up the old Town and Country station wagon with nets and long strings that my Dad had wrapped around X shaped lumber.  We would pack a picnic lunch and head out at dawn to catch the tide . There we would spend the day out in the sun, enjoying the salt water breeze and crabbing our hearts out.  I don't know if you have ever crabbed but it takes patience.  You tie bait (usually chicken necks ) to strings and then you tie the free end of the string to the bridge rails. You lower the bait into the water and then you wait and wait until you feel the slightest tug on the string.  Once you feel that tug, you slowly, smoothly pull the string up a mere fraction of an inch at time.  When you finally can see the crab just under the surface of the water you quickly swoop the net down and bring the crab up.  If you have a good day you come home with a bushel basket full of sweet crabs and have a crab feast that night.
Baby me with my mom enjoying the Chesapeake Bay
Today I brought the my boys to the park for a picnic and then swimming at our neighborhood pool.  As I watched them splashing about, playing their childhood water games, I was  reminded of the summers of my youth,  splashing in the ocean, picking strawberries in the field, and crabbing with my family.  Suddenly, I was thinking about the patience that was developed in me on those lazy summer days crabbing .  There were many times, in my impatience, that I would just jerk the string as soon as I felt a tug.  Invariably, the crab would be startled and let go of the bait.  I would then have to start the whole process all over again.  I learned the hard way that patience has its rewards.  Other times, I would be distracted and miss the tug.  I would rush over with the net but the moment had passed and the crab had moved on.
Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed by the number of things that my boys just don't seem to "get" no matter how many times we remind them.  I am impatient for them to mature in some basic areas.  It occurs to me that raising my boys is somewhat like those crabbing trips of my youth.  It takes great patience, attentiveness and  sometimes the lessons are lost all together and we have to start all over.  However if I'm patient and persistent, I will reap the sweet rewards of the work.  My best bet is to sit back, enjoy the breezes life sends my way and wait for those sweet tugs, those flighty teachable moments, that are so easily lost if I am inattentive or impatient.  
Friends, I hope you are enjoying the beginning blushes of summer as I am.  I pray that you are capturing your teachable moments and enjoying the refreshing breezes life is sending your way.  I know these are where I am going to focus myself this summer.  Thank you for taking time to read.  As always lots of love-Kristine

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Glimpse of Destruction Done Skiff Style

The sun has barely rubbed the sleep from it's eyes, had it's coffee and started its long work day.  Hubby and I are trying to hold onto those precious few extra minutes of sleep that come on Saturday mornings when you have small children.  7 am and we can not put off getting out of bed any longer.   I stumble down the stairs and start brewing that magic elixir of life and alertness.....coffee.  I turn as I'm filling the coffee pot and almost drop it.  I put the pot down and rub my sleepy eyes, surely my eyes are deceiving me.  I blink once, twice and look again.  This is the sight that greeted my still weary eyes.
Jamie is smiling broadly with a pair of scissors in his hands.  "Look Mom, I made the cat windows!!"
He is so proud of his creation.  I'm struggling between the need to cry and the desire to laugh.  I take the scissors and send Jamie upstairs before I loose it.  Then I call hubby downstairs and together we shake our heads and laugh, after a moment of pure frustration.  This is not the first thing Jamie has "creatively" redesigned and it won't be the last.  We call Jamie down and once again explain to him why he cannot destroy the furniture, even when he thinks its for a good cause.  Jamie really doesn't understand what the big fuss is all about.  After all, the cat needed windows in its favorite hiding place.  We take the scissors and throw them away.  New rule in Skiffdom, scissors are disposable tools.  We buy a pair when we need them and then THROW THEM AWAY!!  Just hide them you suggest.  There is no hiding place in our house that Jamie will not discover.  Believe me we have tried!

This incident took place a few years ago but it was a good example because I had photographic evidence;)  Autism and destructiveness often walk hand in hand.  People have judged us quite harshly for what seems to be undisciplined, unsupervised tsunami children running rampant around our home.  The reality is much more complex.  First and foremost, I must be clear here, not all of our children do this type of damage on a regular basis (well Paul does to his clothing but that's another story).  It is almost entirely all done by Jamie.  Secondly, Jamie really cannot control himself.  He does not get it no matter what discipline is imposed.  He honestly does not connect his actions to consequences (good or bad).  Thirdly, he is not unsupervised.  If anything we keep a pretty tight reign on Jamie because of just this kind of thing.  He is nine years old and he is limited to playing only in our back yard and inside our house unless I am right there within touching distance.  However, he is not my only child and he is FAST.....I mean track star fast.    He can outrun anyone in the family by A LOT.  He literally laps his next fastest brother.
Jamie is not intending destruction.  He is a creative soul and has hypo sensory issues.  This means he does not feel sensation the same way that most of us do :pain, heat, cold, just to name a few.  I have example after example where I have had to rescue him from himself.  Whether it is wandering outside in a short sleeved t-shit and jeans BAREFOOT on a 20 degree day ( I caught him in less than a minute and brought him back in.  All the while he was arguing that it wasn't cold at all.)  or not even crying after tripping on a stairs and splitting open his knee requiring stitches.  He kept pulling open the wound after the stitches were in and playing with it.  He is always searching for sensation.  Just this week he tore a phone book to shreds (yes they do still exist), finger painted with spaghetti sauce on my kitchen floor, finger painted the back of my house with mud, and  poured water on bubble wrap upstairs and jumped on it.  My carpet and I were NOT happy.   Jamie is a great imaginative kid,  he just has no concept of what he is doing.  In his mind, he didn't destroy a phone book he was making confetti and throwing a party for his stuffed animals.  The spaghetti sauce was just the perfect medium to express his inner Van Gough and seriously why not paint the back of the house with mud?!?  All of these things gave him the sensory input that he more than craves, he NEEDS.  We are trying to find ways to give him the sensory outlets he needs but his creativity does not like being limited to our simplistic fixes.  Playdough, art supplies, appropriate digging options, and lots of time in the pool or our garden tub (playing in water is a great sensory option for him) just seem to make him crave more "creatively" artistic sensory options.
We have adapted our lives more than most people can even fathom.  We no longer have dressers because Jamie loves to dump out the contents of the drawers  and build with them.  He then tries to climb the towers he builds, best case scenario he breaks the drawers, worst case scenario he breaks himself (both have happened).   Jamie has literally picked apart (with his fingers) 8 mattresses!!  We have finally found a solution to this one, we have bunk beds where the mattresses sit down inside the frame.  He has had the same mattress for going on two years!!!!!
This is not a post to cry woe is me.  Instead this is an attempt to describe what it is to live with an autistic child who is hypo sensitive.  This is our lives, this is the mundane every day for us.  I know there will be many of you who have the perfect parenting solution for this.  Believe me when I say we've tried it.  This has been going on for nine years.  If it has been suggested, written about, lectured about, or even thought about we have tried it.  I truly am not being arrogant, I'm just trying to express one of the many ways autism affects our daily lives.
My Jamie 
I love my Jamie.  I love his creativity.  I love his passion and his sweetness.  I love his love of all things musical.  I wouldn't trade him for anything, not even for a couch without windows. -Kristine

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