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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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Glimpse of a week in Skiffland



I've spent all weekend trying to compose a masterful, deep and insightful blog for you my loyal readers. However, I must be honest this week was not masterful, neither was it deep, nor was it insightful. This week was actually more of a let's just get through it and hope that everyone is standing and sane at the end of it all kind of weeks. This being said, I decided to give you a glimpse of Skiffland, at its best, through my FaceBook post this past week. Hold on to your hats folks, Crazy has just entered the building.

Sunday

"Sometimes I frustrate myself....like when I drive all the way down to Walmart only to discover I grabbed the wrong card before I left (not that such a thing actually happened to me today, 15 minutes ago or anything;)."
Really when I started the week off this way I should have known I was heading for a rough ride.

Later that night
"When I was a teenager I spent a year and half intensely studying British history, along with the history of Scotland and Ireland.....yes I was a nerd and no I had no life. However on the very rare occasion my misspent youth comes in handy. Like tonight when I watched a movie on the Stone of Destiny and actually could follow the plot line. The moral of the story is if you spend a long period of your youth dedicated to studying the history of other countries (I spent 2 years on Russian history) you may not be able to land a paying job but you too can be an informed movie watcher. The End"
Such self actualization should not come at 1 am....just saying.

Monday

"School days, school days....but first a quick pick of the house. While the cat was away, namely me busy blogging Sat and feeling crummy Sun, the mice of this house sure did play;)"
Oh poor me....I was suffering some serious delusions here. In defense of my delusional state this was PRE coffee.

Later after Women's Bible study
"I laughed until my head hurt tonight. I love when I am able to do that:)"
By the way thanks to the ladies at my Bible study! I think that impression I did of an out of control woman laughing so hard she had tears rolling down her cheeks may have saved me a trip to the funny farm later in the week.

Tuesday
"Today I offer a toast to Tuesday. May you be kinder than your brother Monday, smoother than your brother Wednesday and sweeter than your sister Saturday. I raise my mug (read gallon sized bucket of coffee;) to you"

Never again will I toast another day...just saying.

"Today I am renting out one over emotional ten year old boy with a real flair for the dramatic. He will dazzle and amaze you with such classics of the stage as: "You've Ruined My Life! (watch as I stomp up the stairs)" "I Hate Dishes and I Hate You" "There Is No Food In This House that I Like, I'll Just Go To My Room and Starve to Death" "All My Brothers Annoy Me and So Do You" and my personal favorite "I Don't Need To Do School Because I Don't Want To Have A Job...EVER" Yes for a limited time all these and more can be yours for the low, low price of FREE!!! Hurry now and we will include the bonus material of "My Life Sucks." and "You Love all My Brothers More than Me" at absolutely No Charge!!!"
Yup this about sums up my morning well.

By the end of the day
"They're coming to take me away he-he ho-ho."
They never did show up. all I can figure is they saw footage of me laughing at Monday night Bible study and decided I was too great a risk to them.

Wednesday
I didn't even bother with a morning post after the way Tuesday treated me after my kindly greeting.

Later in the afternoon
"We are taking a break midday here at Skiff Academy. They are cleaning their mess up in the playroom. I am taking a shower and making lunch....seems like this is a great division of the work load to me;)"

Not stated in this sweet little post is the reason we took that midday break was that momma needed a time out. After a full morning of all my guys melting down I was done. Time to refocus. Yay me for taking a shower instead of putting my kids in a box a shipping them to grandma. Yup I deserve a gold star for this.

"If I laugh a little too loudly during The Big Bang Theory, it's only because I can relate a little too much"

I think this says all that needs to be said. If you haven't watched the Big Bang Theory please do and then think how my husband said he doesn't understand why Sheldon is funny because to him Sheldon makes perfect sense.

Thursday
Again no morning toast....I learned a valuable, unforgettable lesson on Tuesday

"Today in Skiff corner I see a pile of clean spoons on the end table next to the sofa. Me: Jamie why are you dragging my spoons all over the house again?
Jamie: But they're new spoons and that makes them interesting.
Me: the reason we have new spoons is because you lost all the old spoons. I'm curious why do you like spoons so much?
Jamie: Because they are shiny and I can see my reflection in them. They make the sound all spoons make and I like the way they are smooth not rough like our other spoons ( our other spoons have a pattern on the handle). I love these glimpses into how my guys mind works. He is pretty cool."


This was a pretty cool moment in my week. I love all the cool lessons in life my kids teach me. Here I only take time to look at a spoon as I'm setting a table with it, eating with it, washing it or putting it away. Yet my son took the time to find beauty in what I barely notice. So many life lessons here.

Later in the day
"Two boys sent to their beds in time out, one boy sent to the bath to chill out, one on the computer for reward time, another on a computer for school time. Could someone please send me to naptime?"

A friend very kindly told me if I pouted well enough and complained loudly enough she would send me to bed for a nap. It was a nice gesture but no ap was in the cards for me.

Friday

3am Friday morning
"One Alex with a stomach bug. Poor little guy"

No commentary necessary. I'll let you use your imaginations here;)

Later in the day
"Alex is fine now. I'm not sure what he had but it was fast moving so I'll take it"

Yay for fast moving tummy bugs. If your going to get one this is the best kind to get.

Saturday

"I've got nothing folks. All my wit is used up. Stop by again tomorrow after I have had time to recharge it"

And that folks was my week as seen through my FaceBook post. I have to say it gives a pretty good picture of what went down here in Skiffland. I hope you got a good laugh out of our escapades. Here's hoping for a better week. Lot's of love-Kristine

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Glimpse of learning to forgive

This week has been quite hectic in the land of Skiff. I'm not going to go into details but I will say two of our school days I had nine kids. This was actually an awesome experience for us. The four extra I had are wonderful kids and they were a blessing to our family while they were here. Yet in between all hectic craziness of life I have found myself in a contemplative mood. A friend posted on Facebook asking how can you truly forgive if you can't forget. This has been one of those life lessons for me that was difficult. I gave my somewhat shortened answer (y'all know I am never truly short;) However throughout the week I have found myself going back to that conversation and remembering the life experiences that brought about my learning. Then last night I watched Wuthering Heights (the BBC version). For those of you who don't know Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte's novel of passions gone astray and a true lesson in the perils of unforgiveness. The story is based upon Catherine (known as Cathy) and our anti-hero Heathcliff (the ward her father took in as a child when he was found wandering the streets) and Cathy's brother Hindley. Hindley hates Heathcliff on sight and treats him terrible. However his reign of terror is short lived. He is sent away to boarding school, a common practice of the day, and Cathy and Heathcliff grow up wandering the moors together and are desperately in love by the time they come of age. Then the plot turns nasty. Cathy's father. Heathcliff's protector, dies leaving the estate to Hindley. Hindley strips Heathcliff of everything, sending him to live in the barn and beating him whenever the notion should strike. Heathcliff's hate and rage boil inside of him despite Cathy's pleas for him to forgive and choose love. I am not going to ruin the story for you. I will say if you read it or watch the movie be sure to have plenty of tissues nearby and know that this story does not tie itself into a nice pretty bow at the end. It is well worth the time to read the novel because the depth of the characters can never truly be portrayed upon the screen.
This blog is not my analysis of Wuthering Heights. Far greater minds than mine have done this way better than I will ever be able to. This blog is about forgiveness and the road that God has walked me down to learn the importance of it.
Not unlike our anti-hero/ villain Heathcliff I was once locked in a prison of unforgiveness and bitterness. I didn't know I was in prison, I felt justified wrapping myself tightly in my cloak of unforgiveness. I would say "Burn me once shame on you. Burn me twice shame on me" I felt protected behind these walls that I raised higher and higher with each passing year. I felt invulnerable.....and alone, terribly alone. Because the protective walls not only kept people out they also kept me locked inside, shriveling slowly away, each passing year stealing away more of my heart and compassion and replacing it with a hardened, lonely woman.
Not unlike Heathcliff, I also had genuine reasons for which to hold unforgiveness. As a young child I learned early on that the world was not a safe place, that people in places of trust could and would hurt you, and sometimes the only way to protect yourself was to distance yourself from pain by replacing vulnerability with bitterness and unforgiveness. Throughout my growing years this belief was only confirmed as more people hurt me. Eventually I went through my life looking for people to hurt me, the smallest infraction building upon the walls of bitterness and unforgivenss. Until I was encased in a fortress that no one else but me even knew existed. You see if you were to ask anyone who knew me back then how they would describe me the words bitter and unforgiving would never be on the list. I was a chameleon, able to hide the darkness in my heart from all those around me. Everyone felt so close to me, everyone found me to be the perfect confidante, everyone thought me to be loving and open. Yet no one really knew me. I held everyone off from my true self. To be open was to be vulnerable and I didn't do vulnerability. God, however saw the real me. The truly hurting, bitter, unforgiving, alone me and he in his compassion and mercy did not leave me to rot in the prison of my own design. No God set me free by battering down my prison walls and teaching me that true freedom comes through him.
I have spoken on this blog about my moving to upstate NY for Bible school. I even mentioned that when I moved there it was partly to escape some major hurt that I had experienced back home. I am not going to go into exactly what happened but I will say that the end result was many people who had known me for the majority of my life chose to believe lies and turned their backs on me. I was the subject of much gossip and shunned in many ways. A few friends defended me and stood up for me to their own detriment but for the most part I was abandoned by people I thought loved me. Years later the truth came to light but by then it no longer really mattered, too much time and life had passed under that particular bridge. I moved 500 miles away to a little Bible school, in a small town of upstate NY. This was God's demolition and construction zone in my heart, this is where the chains that bound me began to break, the walls the imprisoned me began to crumble and where the person God intended me to be began to be formed. I spent a month of Sundays on my face at the alter crying as if my heart was broken, because it was. I didn't even know why the tears spilled down my cheeks or where the gut wrenching sobs were coming from much of the time. I remember one of the Deans saw e one Sunday and she gathered me in a huge hug and said "Oh honey there is so much hurt inside of you. Just let God heal it all, cry all you need to cry. Know that you can trust him to carry all this for you. Know that he is rebuilding you." So I cried and sobbed and allowed God to begin a work in my heart that to this day I don't really understand but I do know after that month of Sundays I walked away from that alter with a huge weight lifted off my heart and cracks had started to form in my prison walls. I then met my husband, we've already talked about a lot of what occurred during our dating relationship. However, I did not go into one very important thing God used my husband as.....a battering ram to break open a huge section of the walls that imprisoned me. You see my husband was not swayed by emotion at all and saw right through my well versed chameleon act to the very heart of me. He did not miss that everyone trusted me but I trusted no one because he was not affected one iota by my patting and stroking of feelings (one of the ways I kept people at bay was to be the friend that always had an open door and a shoulder to cry on. I could make anyone feel better. I was the world's den mother;) Instead he analyzed me and saw I did not add up and one thing my husband can't stand is something that doesn't add up. So he was relentless in his pursuit of the true me. This infuriated me, this terrified me, this made me want to trust him and throw him off a very tall building all at once. He was an emotional bully much of the time and later on this would be very detrimental to our relationship, however the flip side of that coin is that there never would have been a relationship if he was not relentless.
Then God brought it all home after we got married. I spent years harboring bitterness and unforgiveness toward my husband, again a lot of it was justifiable. It is truly hard to let go of pain and hurt that we are entitled to. Somehow stroking that bitterness and unforgiveness can make us feel better about ourselves, more righteous, more right. I became harder and harder, a mere shell of the person I had used to be. By now I had already reinforced the walls that had been knocked open only a few years before. I began to dream of vengeance, how could I hurt those who had hurt me so badly. Let me tell you it is a scary place to get to when you realize just how evil your mind can become.
All my life I had heard the sermons on forgiveness and letting go. I had heard about how unforgiveness poisoned you, not the person you held it toward. I never truly believed it. How could unforgiveness hurt me, how could it poison my very soul? Then one morning I was washing dishes in my kitchen, a houseful of babies noisily carrying on and I was lost in my own unforgiving thoughts toward my husband, the reel of all the things he had said or done to me playing over and over again in my head. Suddenly the thought popped into my brain, an almost silent whisper "You're a smart girl. Car accidents happen all the time. Would it be so bizarre if his breaks went out on the way to work?" I dropped the dish I was washing and started to shake. I was terrified by my own malice. Right then and there I prayed, tears streaming down my face. I begged God to forgive me for my unforgiveness. I begged that he would teach me to forgive and forget. Then that still small voice came to me "Forgiveness is a choice. Not an emotion. You have to chose daily to forgive the ones who hurt you most. You have to daily chose not to dwell upon the hurtful things but to think of the good. Forgiveness is NOT forgetting, it is moving forward despite what's happened in the past. It is choosing to let go of your right to the pain. It is giving it to me when you want to clutch it so tightly. Forgiveness is an action, a daily discipline on your part." Let me tell you the next few years were hard, hard years for me. My husband will tell you he would hear me say aloud more than once "I have forgiven this. I chose to forgive, I will not dwell on it anymore." This is where the tires of my "faith" met the road of self discipline and capturing my every thought. This is the hard walking out stuff, not the touchy feely stuff we like to talk about as Christians.
I learned in this walk that there were people that I could forgive and not let back into my life. Being wise is not the same as holding unforgiveness. Some of the people of my past could still pose a danger to those I loved. I chose to forgive what they had done and walk in that freedom. I no longer tense when their name is said, I no longer wish them harm. However, the Bible also says to gentle as a dove and as wise as a serpent. Wisdom dictates that they cannot be a part of my life.
So dear friends this is the journey that I have been pondering this week. A hard journey but one that has set me free to enjoy the relationships God has placed in my life. I still have to make a conscious choice to forgive sometimes but it is so worth it. I pray each of you has been forgiven and has found forgiveness for others in your hearts. If this is a journey that is still a struggle for you please know I will be praying for you. If you need a friend to hear your struggle I am here. You can private email me at kristine.skiff@gmail.com. I love each and everyone of you. Thank you for walking my journey with me. Lots of love, Kristine

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bad Behavior or Disability

The end of semester was finally here!! To celebrate our success we all piled into the Skiffmobile and went to the Natitorium ( a neighboring towns indoor swim and gym facility). For nearly three hours my boys flew down water slides, lounged on the lazy river, had water battles at the water fort and swam in the lap pool. What a gloriously fun and exhausting afternoon. By the time we came home all my boys were wore out. After doing some last minute school revisions the boys and I piled back into the Skiffmobile to go to that glorious place of the golden arches.....well glorious for the kids at least. After this last bit of celebration the boys were headed to bed and I was going to relax with the hubs watching some brainless TV. Ahh, the glorious laziness of it all. But alas the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew as Robert Burns once penned.
Driving down the road, kids mouths munching happily away, my mouth gabbing even more happily away with my dearest friend I get the first text message, which I promptly ignore.....no one interrupts the precious few adult conversations I get. The phone then beeps with an incoming call, which again I ignore. The phone beeps again and with the sure dread of one who looks into their plans blowing up in their face I answer the call. It's my wonderful hubby, he has a flat and has left his spare tire in the garage (don't ask. I don't anymore;) . So back home I swing to grab a tire and hit the road again with tired, no longer happily eating boys.. to be truthful those happy mouths had started becoming quite whiny, especially the youngest of them all, Benny.
Here I must break to describe my wonderful youngest son for those of you who have not had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. Benny is as cute as a button, as sharp as a whip, as popular as a cheerleader, with a voice as shrill as a fire alarm. The more worked up Benny gets the higher and more piercingly shrill his voice becomes. It is now a well established saying in our small town to tell small whiny children "not to use their Benny voice" and it works. The said children immediately change their voice tone. This gives you a small glimpse into our Benny Bird. Now I have to be clear here. Benny really can't control this as he is getting worked up, when he's not worked up we are always telling him to use his "big boy voice".
Back to the story. So after 20 minutes or so I pull up to my husband who not only had a flat but had it on a toll road, which means there is only a very small shoulder and the traffic is rushing by us at around 80 miles an hour, shaking the van with their speed, the noise a consistent roar (this is maxing out an already over tired, stressed-out van full of spectrum kids, which are working each other up even more, which works them up even more......well you get the picture). So hubby grabs the spare from me only to remember why he had put it in the garage in the first place, it too is flat. To make this already too long story somewhat less long the end result is we were on the side of the road nearly an hour getting it all straightened out. My lovely, rare Benny Bird screamed nearly the entire time. By the time we got home I was ready to scream, which I couldn't do because any emotion from me at this point would only be adding gasoline to the fire.
After every one was sorted out I posted a funny update to my Facebook account. For the sake of accuracy I quote "Dear US government forget waterboarding. Just stick the terrorist in a van with Benny screaming at the top of his lungs for an hour. I swear after 15 minutes you will have any information you want, by thirty minutes they will be begging for merciful death, after an hour they will face a higher powers judgement." To be fair, I did not give the back story only this quick blurb. Those who know me best know that I take life with a huge dose of humor. It keeps me sane on days like the one I just recounted. Some people got it and laughed with me, others offered sincere questions and advice, and others responded with the generic, often heard "If that was my kids I'd just beat his a**" Now I'm used to this kind of judgement, it is the judgement that special needs parents face all the time. I don't even get all that worked up over it anymore. However this is my blog and thus it is my prerogative to address it here. I understand that many people view this as simply bad behavior that is being indulged. I also understand that children need discipline to grow into mature, responsible members of society. Anyone who is actually a part of our lives and sees the way we raise our kids will tell you that we do indeed discipline our children. They do not run around the world unsupervised, spoiled brat, heathens. However, when my son is in the middle of an autistic meltdown I will not just beat his a** however much those around me may wish it. I will give him the space and the the tools that he needs to deescalate. Having older children on the spectrum, I can tell you they will eventually learn to self moderate to a large extent. This takes time and patience, just like everything else with all children. However sometimes with spectrum children it takes a little more time and a little more patience.
Thanks for reading friends. I pray that you all have a fantastic week
Until next time, lots of love-Kristine

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Something New

Hi friends.  I don't know about for you but for me it has been great to get back into the swing of things here in Skiffdom.  With the new year I am making some changes here at Glimpses of Skiff.  I love this blog and the people it has connected me with.  I have had so much fun sharing our stories and hearing your feed back.  On occasion I have also enjoyed sharing some of the fictional stories  that go through my head.  I love having the freedom to do both.
It is my intention to keep Glimpses of Skiff true to its vision, which is to share "glimpses" into our lives here in Skiffland with our own brand of craziness.  In keeping with this vision I have decided to start a second blog dedicated to my fictional works.  It is called Glimpses of Fiction.  I am super excited to be able to birth this new creative "baby" while still continuing to bring you  quality posts here on Glimpses of Skiff.  I would love to have your feedback both here and on Glimpses of Fiction.  Writing is a part of my very soul and it is  amazing to me that so many of you enjoy reading my adventures.  I pray that this new year will provide many awesome adventures to us all.....just not TOO adventurous of adventures;)  Lots of love-Kristine Skiff http://glimpsesoffiction.blogspot.com/

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Glimpse of the Right Word

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 NIV

It has been a good week here in Skiffdom.  We are back on track, schooling away with a clean and organized house.  I decided to start the new year with a new devotional for the boys.  Several moths ago my good friend Tabitha lent me a devotional series called Family Times.  I couldn't make it work with the way our time was divided between public school and homeschooled kids.  Honestly there just wasn't a whole lot of "family time" as I was constantly running between the two schedules.   I made do with a quick reading of a chapter of the Gospels, a Psalm and a Proverb once a day with each school group.  It wasn't perfect but it was something.  God really laid on my heart that now was the time to start the new devotional series with the boys.  We had put our physical and our educational houses in order and now our spiritual house needed some work.

The study is broken down into several 4 week studies that each focus on one trait.  I started with respect.  In every house respect of authority can be an issue.  Once again autism tends to exasperate this.  Respect is based upon an ability to view the world outside ones self, to be able to understand the structure of relationships within the home (or school or office or just in society in general).  Autism at its very core is a communications disorder.  This makes understanding relationships on every level difficult, including one's relationship with authority.   Over coming this in our home has been very difficult.  This is one of the areas that having a partner on the spectrum is both a blessing and a detriment.  The blessing is that my husband understands the under lying problem when one of the boys is acting inappropriately toward authority and can communicate the problem  in  a way the boys can understand when I cannot get through.  The detriment comes when that behavior is towards him.  At that point the connection is broken because he cannot see past his own perspective......a blessing and a detriment. 

I must admit to being skeptical of this new study.  If years of training, explaining, researching, discipline, more researching, more explaining, more discipline, more training had not had much affect I really doubted that this little basic study was going to have any impact.  Simply out of obedience I started.
The first day the study material had me read the story of a boy who had misbehaved terribly when his class had a substitute teacher.  The story went onto explain that when he disrespected the substitute he had actually disrespected his teacher because the substitute was simply a proxy for her.  Thus whatever authority God has set in our lives is simply a substitute for God himself and when we disrespect them we are disrespecting God.  Now I have said variations of this to my children over and over again throughout the years but I have never used the word substitute.  That was they key that unlocked the whole thing for my boys.  A substitute teacher is a concrete concept they can understand thus making the whole concept concrete in their minds. The attitude shift was immediate and tangible within the house.  This is something that I love about the way my spectrum boys minds work.  Once a connection is made it is made.  There is no looking back, no second guessing.  It's just a done deal.  That's not to say there are not moments of will to be overcome but the very real, very basic disconnect has been overcome and the bridge has been built.  I am so very privileged that God allows me to be a part of this at time frustrating but incredibly rewarding, beautiful process.
If you had told me in January of 2011 that in one year I would be homeschooling all five of my boys I would have laughed out loud.  This journey not one that I ever pictured myself taking but I have to say that despite its difficulties and frustrations (and believe me there are plenty) I am finding myself incredibly thankful that God has placed on this road.  To be there and watch these amazing character changes happening, to see my boys learning and branching out had been a huge blessing to me.   I am so excited to share this journey with you, my dear friends. Lots of love, Kristine

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