Family Ties

I’ve said it enough, you are probably convinced, that hearing the word autism and your child’s name in the same sentence is devastating.  A gut punch that hurts.  It seems like a forever pain but it does ease up through the years.  

This past summer, I got this text from one of Jacob’s cousins:  I’m not sure if mom has told you about B having so much trouble in school and they thought he had dyslexia. So today we went for some testing. They said he is not dyslexic but possibly autistic. We have to go for further testing and see. I have cried for the past 2 hours.  

(Side note—I feel like this niece is half mine.  She is 5 weeks younger than my other son.  Once my sister commented that her daughter is so much like me.  She definitely has occupied a place in my heart for her whole life.  To know she is hurting makes me hurt, too.) 

My response:  Oh sweetie, I love you and wish I could hug you tight right now. He is going to be okay and so are y’all.  Your mom mentioned quite some time ago that school was a struggle for him but that was the extent of her comment. There are so many layers to autism and his may be more of a learning disability and on the high end of the spectrum. If that. Nothing I’ve seen with B screams autism but my exposure has mainly been with the non-verbal, severe end.  The testing center may or may not agree with what you were told today but they have great physicians who can point you in the right direction. Keep me posted. I am not in the know or part of any groups that would have relevant info for kids his age. I will be a listening ear if you’d like to talk or cry.  Oh, how I love you. God loves your family more. 

Three months later while we were out of state for a weekend getaway, I got a text from my sister:  N wanted me to text y’all to tell you that B has officially been diagnosed with autism.

Even though I knew it was a possibility, goodness it felt like another punch in the gut. We were hanging out with friends but my mind was far away. 

There were so many things that I quickly marked off as ‘nothing like Jacob’.  But the one thing that wouldn’t leave me is how a special needs child will always need their family more.  Sometimes a little more and sometimes, a lot.  A parent would do anything to save their child from pain, embarrassment, frustration, heartache.  That’s the part that weighs so heavy—we want to carry the burden for them. 

The blessing here is that this sweet boy has a really, REALLY wonderful family.   A brother with a heart bigger than Texas: 

Parents who will always fight for him and grandparents who will go the extra mile.  Great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins who are cheering him own in whatever he sets out to do.  And most importantly the love of God the Father. 

My niece shared this a couple of weeks ago:  This past year our B was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, and auditory processing disorder. He is smart as a whip but struggles academically. This has been a year of learning and understanding how his little brain works and functions. He is our special gift from God and we know HE has Mighty Plans for him! If you know B you know his smile is contagious, he is so funny and quick-witted. He loves tractors and can fix anything!! Our world is better with his beautiful soul!

Family ties born decades ago will always be there offering support and understanding—a strong, special bond. Our family tree has very deep roots that can weather the storms of autism.

Is it unusual to have autism in multiple members of a family?  Unfortunately, I personally know families who have more than one sibling affected.  What about first, second, third cousins?  I haven’t read enough to answer that.  There are genetic researchers and scientists on opposing sides of causes and cures. 

I do know this—God is not taken by surprise and has already put the right people in place for HIS purpose to be fulfilled in our families. Those people may be relatives or they may be friends that are so dear and near that they are ‘like’ family. We are both fortunate to have friends in that category. Just today I got a text from a friend. I read it out loud to my husband and said again, “we have the best friends”.

I want to be perfectly clear.  Would we have signed up for the autism club?  Honestly, no.  Now that we are members, do we want out?  No.  Do we wish life was easier for Jacob and precious B?  Absolutely, yes.  Are we thankful God chose us to be parents to these boys?  YES!  A million times.  YES!

This is my bottom line—autism in families does make them special.  They often stand out because they are different.  Different is good.  And by being transparent about our struggles, I hope it helps you embrace our differences and those you notice in others.  Ask questions, keep judgmental thoughts to yourself, extend a helping hand, be kind, try empathy instead of apathy. 

It’s tough for our boys when they realize they are not able to do something as expected.  Imagine how scary their world is when it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels altogether different from their perspective versus ours.  Applaud their bravery!

In this month of Autism Awareness, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to my great nephew. 

And by great, I sincerely mean GREAT!  

Age Appropriate

When Jacob was much, much younger I heard that phrase over and over again. 

Age appropriate, what does that mean?

And who decides what’s best if you are twelve or nineteen?

I know a ‘guideline’ is all it is.

But can really put a guilt trip on a parent

When you know the quiz.

“Don’t give him baby toys. He needs to learn to play appropriately.”

“It isn’t appropriate for you to carry him on your hip.  He can walk, let him.” 

“Don’t hold his hands while he walks beside you.  That won’t be appropriate when he is _____ years old.”

“Challenge him with age appropriate activities.”

Blah, blah, blah…….   And, I began to really, really resent it. 

Age appropriate refers to a developmental concept whereby certain activities may be deemed appropriate or inappropriate to a child’s “stage” or level of development. … Although every child develops in a unique way, all children are expected to interact with their environment at an ageappropriate level.

Everything about being a parent is tough and wonderful on the same day. But throwing ‘age appropriate’ at a parent who is already struggling to do everything in their power to help their child, is just hard.  And, for me, wasn’t helpful.  I wanted to say, “No Fair”!

It became less of an issue for me at some point.  I don’t know when I let it go, but it wasn’t serving me or Jacob well.  And, I’m pretty sure we are both happier for it. 

He loves Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger Neighborhood, Curious George, Arthur, and Paw Patrol. He also enjoys the Weather Channel and Disney Movies. He has a kazillion toys for kids of all ages. (Many are usually on the floor in his room.) He listens to Wee Sing, Baby Time, Silly Songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival, MercyMe and more. He watches Terrific Trips, Fun Learning, Cat in the Hat, Veggie Tales, etc. These are just some of the sources of entertainment for him. He is all about variety—wouldn’t you agree? And if it makes his day better, I’m all for it!!

This past Christmas, his brother’s family gave Jacob this toy:

Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube

Educational toy teaches how sounds combine to create 8 Mozart masterpieces

Includes harp, flute, French horn, piano, and violin instrument sounds

Orchestra button plays all instruments at once

Lights flash to the tempo of the instruments

Recommended for budding young composers of all ages

Made with soft, rounded corners, it’s easy and safe for baby to hold

I’m so glad they ignored that the packaging says something like designed for babies as young as 3 months old.  Jacob LOVES this toy.  And, I do, too.  Even on the louder volume, it isn’t deafening.  And it is beautiful music—of course, come on it’s Mozart!!  Plus it lights up.  Everything about it screams – JACOB! A huge win in the gift department!

Sunday as I was making tea for lunch, I pulled out an old Tupperware pitcher. Jacob spotted the lid. He had the best time playing with it. Check out the video and you’ll see it made the perfect toy top. Now I’m on the lookout for another one to paint some fun colors so he can spin to his heart’s content!

Honestly, it can be difficult to find things and experiences that really make him happy. When we do, we are all over it!

It was one thing to encourage toys and activities that met his developmental age but another all together to be told when he was a teenager that he shouldn’t have children’s toys meant for a two year old.

Our focus is on what is appropriate for Jacob and it’s really great when we find something that makes him smile! One of his favorites is for him and his daddy to have fun at bedtime no matter his age!

World Autism Awareness Day

Tomorrow, April 2, 2021 is the official day set aside to encourage more communication, to raise awareness, to strive to make the world a better place for those with autism and those that love and support them. I’ve also seen January and October as autism awareness months. Not sure which is correct but more is better, in my opinion.

Followers of this blog have been getting glimpses into our autism for over two years now. And you’ve responded in such kindness as you learned. Did you know that the first case documented by Johns Hopkins University was a 10 year old boy from Forest, Mississippi?  It’s been most interesting for us through the years because Forest was home to Jacob’s great grandparents and his grandparents still call it home. 

Don Triplett was institutionalized at 3 years old but a year later removed from the facility because his parents noted he was becoming more and more withdrawn.  The year was 1943 when Dr. Leo Kanner used the term, autism, to diagnose a social and emotional disorder.

In the blog post:  Autism Awareness, https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2019/04/04/autism-awareness/, I shared a hard story.  I thought today, I’d share a happy one.

Last week while Jacob was at his Day Program, I got a text from the manager: I have to tell you, Jacob has been such a character today. He’s been in a good mood all day.  Smiling and exploring and picking on us.  He even ‘hugged’ me and G earlier today. 

This text came about an hour before pick-up time.  I was especially happy to hear it because he had gotten up at 5:30 that morning!!  Yes. He. Did.  So much for wanting to sleep later because of the time change.  He was wide awake and ready to go 2 hours before our normal departure time.  I felt sure that early wake-up would lead to grumpiness and/or a long nap! 

Doesn’t this text make you happy, too?  When I saw the word ‘character’.  I thought, uh oh!  I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.  Obviously, I quickly discovered it was all good.

When we went to pick him up, this manager, was outside and proceeded to confirm Jacob’s great day.  A staff member walked up that I hadn’t met.  When I introduced myself, K said, I had heard about Jacob and couldn’t wait to meet him.  He didn’t disappoint and has been so much fun.  Then, J saw us and said, “Jacob has had the best day, he has done a funny dance I’ve never seen him do”.  Then G (the recipient of a hug earlier), made a point to tell us what a fun day. 

Autism is so many things. This chart is pretty accurate when it comes to how Jacob is affected by it.

But today, today is when autism made my heart smile.  Without words, he communicated clearly with the staff and we could go home talking about the GREAT day! 

Stack That

You know the part of the circus where a performer stacks cups? I’m quite certain that Jacob could do that. The kid loves to stack stuff. The more of a challenge to get the stack to remain in place, the more determined he is to see it through.

Take a cup and set it here. Grab an item that is near. See if you can balance that. Watch to see if it will go splat.

My toys make music, that is true. But it is fun to see what else they can do.

Whether it’s breakfast for me or a snack at 3:00. Take something I would eat or drink. Then balance it to make me think!

Random things are fun to stack. My mom says I have quite the knack.

But, don’t sign me up for a circus act. And, that is that!!

On the Third Day

Last week’s post was about Jacob returning to his day program after being out a year.  You can check it out here: https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2021/03/11/one-year-later/

History told me that the 2nd day could, more than likely, be difficult for him.  I was prepared for battle if you will, but it wasn’t necessary. 

We had decided on a transition of only attending 2-3 days a week at first so after Monday and Tuesday went great, we decided for him to go one more day.  Let him sleep in on Wednesday as he was obviously tired from this new routine. 

The new plan was he would return on Thursday, making it his third day back. 

I went in and woke him gently.  Had Alexa playing music he likes, opened the blinds, etc.  I returned to the kitchen giving him space and time to get up. 

Shortly afterward, he came in (with crooked pants).  I had some breakfast ready and went to open the refrigerator to grab him something to drink.  

Here’s where everyday life gets painfully real. All of a sudden, he went crazy on me.  In his trying to stop me from getting the juice, he grabbed a shelf off the door and gave it a yank.  And it went flying.  Yes. It. Did. You know how unexpected things can happen so quickly and yet be in slow motion.  That’s how this felt, plastic hitting the floor, breaking and pieces bouncing, shelf contents on the floor, and me frantic to keep Jacob from stepping on a sharp piece. 

Mike was outside but heard the commotion and came to my rescue.  There’s a saying ‘things went from bad to worse’.  Well on the third day, they started out at worse. 

Once the kitchen was back in order, I went to get Jacob’s clothes changed.  He stripped to his birthday suit.  And was determined to stay that way.  Anything I approached him with to wear, he snatched and tossed it across the room.  His dad intervened. Pretty sure we were both thinking it sure would be easier to let him stay home.  Except my determination wasn’t willing to let his behavior be the reason. 

I had to pull out what I feel is a last resort and it was a chill pill.  He was so rattled by then, it was the best way to give him some relief. I gave him half and waited for him to calm down.  Offered him breakfast multiple times but he refused. 

Go back with me an hour before I woke Jacob. I had read a devotional early that morning and it really spoke to me. Mainly because I thought it might be helpful to a friend. I sent it to her and we had a sweet text exchange. I had no idea how these words from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp were needed for me on that day:

Yes, your life is messy and hard, but that’s not a failure of the plan; it is the plan. It’s God working to complete what he’s begun in you.

Paul David Tripp

I had wanted so badly to not do anything that would cause Jacob to have a crummy start to his day.  I didn’t.  That is autism and bless his heart, it is how he deals.  How he communicates and I have to listen with my heart.  I had texted a few people asking for calming prayers.  He needed time and space to be able to do that. 

It often comes in the form of something we never would have chosen to go through if we were controlling the joystick.

Paul David Tripp

I thought about how brave he was to return at first so seamlessly. In all reality, I am fully aware there will always be hard days. Have had plenty and there will be plenty more.

He willingly got in the van a while later and willingly got out at the center.  I didn’t hear from the staff which was a good sign. 

I wasn’t prepared for battle on the third day.  But God was and gave us what we needed when it mattered.  

God is faithful; he will use the brokenness of the world that is your present address to complete the loving work of personal transformation that has begun.

Paul David Tripp

When we picked him up, he had had another good day.  I even got a handwritten note that said:  We are so happy to have Jacob back at the center.  We sure did miss him!

One Year Later

We are at the year mark since Jacob started staying home.  The virus had not shut down his day program yet.  But we had the time change on our hands so mornings were a struggle. 

Since Jacob was around 4 years old, he has been in various types of Special Education programs.  That means that during the last 37 years or so, there has been some structure to his weeks.  There were summers he didn’t have something every day, but few. 

If we’d been told in early 2020 that he would be home for the next 12 months, I would have wondered how we could possibly survive with our sanity intact.  In all seriousness, even knowing he is a homebody and so am I, it would have sent me into depression I feel sure. 

That’s one of the nice things about not knowing the future though, right?  At first, we took it a week at a time, then a month at a time.  And while there were some challenges, having him with us all the time worked great.  That time period taught me that we would be okay regardless.

We were hoping for him to return to his day program in the next month. I touched base with the manager and felt good about the answers I received to my questions plus the additional information shared. Returning to a familiar place should make him comfortable. Many of the same staff would be on campus plus some new folks for him to figure out and them to get to know him.

I had no idea how he’d feel about that. My guess, somewhat happy to be there the first day and then somewhat disappointed when he went back the next!  We would probably need to ease in and get back into a routine.  It may be that returning at the same pace he was at before would no longer suit him well.

Whatever his return entails, we are ready for him to have some time away from us and think he’ll enjoy getting out more each week. Even though he is in the anti-social category, being around others was bound to be positive.

We picked a day and notified the center that Jacob would be returning after his year’s sabbatical. They were prepared with some of his favorites in place and the key to the snack closet where it has always been so he could find it easily. (The boy loves that snack closet.)

Day 1: I woke Jacob and gave him time to slowly get moving.

Once it was time to get dressed, I told him where we were going. (We knew better than to mention it more than 1 hour prior to leaving because he would want us to repeat the sentence a jillion times!) He was super cooperative about getting dressed and seemed all ready to go.

Upon arrival at the center, he quickly got out of the car and walked up to the front door like a boss! Headed straight in, never looking back. My heart was in my throat. I felt like I was dropping off my kindergartener on their first day of school. A year. He’d been away a year. And he acted as he’d just been there the day before. We had texted several people asking for prayers. We saw the answer play out before us. And it was amazing.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65:24 NIV

Shortly after leaving him, I got a text: “So far he’s smiling and exploring.” How fantastic?!?! Now I was smiling, and I bet you are, too.

It was such an odd feeling. I had the day before me and couldn’t decide what to do – head to the grocery store, soak in the silence, go for a walk, read a book? All the above!

Jacob’s grandparents were recently able to attend a birthday lunch for a grandson which made them feel like they ‘had gotten out of jail’! While we’ve all been able to do some things and go some places, so much of our lives have been put on hold leaving us feeling isolated, even under house arrest. It was nice to have the freedom to do as I pleased without making sure someone had their eyes on Jacob.

Six hours later, I could not wait to pick him up. It was so nice to hear, “Jacob had a great day”! “He went everywhere looking in everything”, “I was so glad to see him.”

He may have been more ready than I was for him to start back. He was super chill when he got home (busy day wore him out) and enjoyed just listening to music:

Day 2: I woke him up with an hour to spare. Not a minute after walking out of his bedroom, I heard him slam his door. Uh oh! He was in a good mood, though, and was cooperative getting dressed. Until his shoes.

He snatched them throwing them in the closet and quickly shutting the door. Hmmmmmm……. back to his old shenanigans already. I was able to get his shoes on soon after and he ate a large breakfast and was ready to go again.

Once we got to the parking lot, one of the workers saw him and came over saying how very happy she had been to see him the day before. He got out without coaxing and again headed inside.

At pick-up time, we were met with a staff member giving us two thumbs up and saying, “Jacob had another great day!” “He explored more and opened every cabinet in the art room, pulling out all the books.”

I am happy to report that I was somewhat off in my second-day prediction! We didn’t see disappointment about returning which was another huge answer to prayer. If anything, he seemed eager to be back. Being content at home was such a blessing but the cooperation in him going back was phenomenal!

Thank you Lord for giving Jacob peace and a large portion of peace for us, too!

Pick Your Battles

There are a couple of things that Jacob does that I’m always trying to ‘fix’. 

I’ll start with crooked pants/shorts/underwear.  One of the first signs indicating he has been to use the bathroom is crooked clothes.  Sometimes it is so bad, he will come to get help.  Or bring extra underwear or shorts to replace the ill-fitting ones.  But very often, not bad but needs adjusting.  And he does not, I repeat DOES NOT, want me to straighten his clothing. 

Note, there aren’t many pictures of Mr. Crooked Pants – I’m too busy wanting to get him picture perfect! Shame on me! In the grand scheme of things, this is minor, right? But it looks uncomfortable, agree?

I am wondering if he takes after his daddy. Not sure if it was because he was the youngest child and nobody noticed him or if he didn’t care but in photos, he often looked disheveled. Seems looking ‘gooooooood’ wasn’t based on whether or not his clothing was straight!!

Some days I just can’t ignore and determine to fix his appearance.   And then I’m met with him grabbing my forearms and holding me at arm’s length away.  I need to walk away and let it go!  Unfortunately, it often becomes me wanting to win that silly battle. He doesn’t care—why should I? You’ll be happy to know that on the day I composed this blog, I let him wear crooked pajama bottoms all day. Yes. I. Did.

The other thing is wearing socks in the winter months.  Much of our house is ceramic tile.  It feels COLD to bare feet.  I am constantly putting socks back on my boy.  Because his feet will be very chilly to the touch. He has never, brought me socks needing help or wanting them back on.  And often when I’m trying to get socks on him, he makes it a test of my patience and endurance!!

I’m in the cold feet could lead to a cold, camp!  I read that virus doesn’t enter through your feet so having cold feet doesn’t make you sick.  I also read that if your feet are cold, your nose is and cannot fight germs as well.  And, that cold feet increase the likelihood of catching the flu. As with everything, information is conflicting; and I must choose which I’m going with.

Some days, my sole mission is to keep socks on him. Isn’t that one of my jobs as his mother to do everything to ward off cold and flu? As you can see, he’ll toss socks anywhere and everywhere! I will put socks back on his frosty feet multiple times a day. Not always easy but it’s a battle I haven’t surrendered yet.

I thought about instituting a policy – NO sock, NO service. But that didn’t seem fair since it would change with the season. Here it seems he is trying to appease me with one sock on and one-off.

Now that spring is here, maybe there will be a break in the sock battle.  I’m sure he is as tired of my demands as I am at keeping his feet warm!

Obviously, on the parental battle hill, neither of these things is of life-altering importance. Not rooted in anger, a misunderstanding, or even willful disobedience. One I think I can let slide and the other, I’m not so sure. It is comical that I could even call them battles, but they are to me.

Go Talk

A long time ago someone suggested a communication device for Jacob, called Go Talk. It was a simple tool, easy to carry around, had limited space but was a good start.

He used it a little but not a lot. I didn’t try to go back to find our pages of photos that went in the 9 squares.

Fast forward to late 2017, we heard of an updated version called Go Talk Now. It was software to be used on a device and offered almost endless possibilities. We decided to give it a try and set up the Home Page on an iPad dedicated to his use.

Jacob was very curious about it. Mainly because he could push a button and get a response. We customized it to suit his needs. (It also has a keyboard that could be added if he were interested in spelling out words.) For now, these are some of the pages on it. When he presses Can I have something to drink? on the Home Page, it goes to this screen.

Each button has a male voice saying either the words on that button or the name of the item.

So when he presses I’m hungry, it goes to this screen with four options:

Each button pressed, either takes him to another screen, or responds with the appropriate command.

‘I feel’ gives him these options:

Has he used the program appropriately? YES!! Does he use it daily for communication? No. Sometimes, he brings it to us and sometimes, he puts it away:

These are some of the other pages:

Does it bring him a great amount of pleasure? YES, indeed!

He will go to one of his favorite ‘pages’ and pick something to listen to while he’s eating. Such as Down on the Corner located on the Dance Songs page.

Shortly after we started using one at home, his Day Program purchased one for his use there. Again, not used all the time but is available for teaching and fun when he wants.

This is a really great one. The Friends button has photos of sitters and friends from church. He doesn’t get to see them often, but he can tap on their photo.

One of his favorites is the Family button on the Jacob’s Favorites page. Unfortunately, I haven’t taken advantage each time family members were in our home to have everyone on it, but there are some. It has a voice over, saying their names when he pushes their picture. Some then recorded something special for him—such as one of our granddaughters, simply said, “we love you Jacob!”

But the one he likes the most is what he hears when he presses this button:

Before it finishes saying Granny and Granddaddy, he pushes it a second time to hear Granny singing:

He thinks it’s the best song ever. I think he is right.

As you can see, Go Talk Now is a wonderful tool for him and a blessing that he enjoys it so very much.

What’s Love Got to Do with It

On February 18, 1978, my dad walked me down the aisle and gave me away. To the fella that just a few years before, he had determined was too old for me. I couldn’t dig up the cassette recording (yes, it was that long ago) of our wedding ceremony. But, our vows, went something like this:

Minister: “Do you, Mike, take Terri, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward as long as you both shall live?”
Mike: “I do.”
Minister: “Do you, Terri, take Mike, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward as long as you both shall live?”
Terri: “I do.”
Then, we each repeated the ring portion: “With this ring, I thee wed, and all my worldly goods I thee endow. In sickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, ’til death do us part.”

Having worked with over 800 brides before my retirement, I heard a lot, A LOT, of wedding ceremonies. Sometimes I would be pre-occupied with whether or not an attendant was about to faint, or the commotion stirred up by a flower girl or ring bearer. But there were many weddings that I was able to fully listen to the ceremony. Some were so beautiful, personal, and tender that my eyes would water. I remember once when the minister was telling the groom to pursue his bride every single day. To run after her and never let her wonder about his devotion. So many words of wisdom imparted on starry-eyed love birds. Words that were good reminders for me, as well.

There is so much more, SO MUCH MORE, to a wedding than the photographs, flowers, and food. While those contribute to the special memories, they are not what marriage is all about. I do not know the exact words we said but I do know that Mike and I made promises to God, with family and friends as witnesses, that we would be there for each other.

Just 17 short months after that day, Jacob was born. Seems that is when the journey began that would really put our vows, our promises to the test. I think it is safe to say we experienced better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health.

Every parent knows that dreams often change when it comes to raising a family. Mike had three siblings, I had two. I loved the idea of a large family. And then we heard words describing Jacob that made me rethink having four children.

With our wedding being just days after Valentine’s, those two special occasions sort of merge into one celebration.

As I’ve said before, Jacob isn’t fond of a big party. Too much of what some people feel is a good thing, is indeed, too much for him. But this year, he had the best Valentine’s Day and the week leading up to it, he has ever had. Without going anywhere. And it had very little to do with me and everything to do with you who have loved him in so many ways.

He got a package one day with a new shirt. And an early Valentine’s super fun pop-up card.

A few days later a friend was here and he was obviously happy to see her. He twirled while he ate cinnamon biscuits for breakfast. And danced the La Cucaracha while she joined in. Made for unexpected fun with someone besides parents.

On another day, he got 4 cards plus his Sunday School lesson. He enjoyed, absolutely enjoyed, every single one. He likes to compare the different stamps—a flag, an owl, a globe, he looks at his address and the return one.

Some cards are simple and some are elaborate, some have surprises inside, some are shiny and some a matte finish and they are all equally exciting. He will enjoy them until they have greasy fingerprints from a bologna sandwich, a chocolate smudge from candy, or spaghetti sauce from lunch and I have a feeling he will feel the love!

Jacob will not experience the love and commitment that comes from a spouse in marriage. He won’t know the love a parent has for a child. However, he knows the love of God. He has felt the love of family for his entire life. And, because of you, he experiences the love of friends near and far that bless him and us in beautiful ways.

We had no idea, NO IDEA, what our future held (who does?) when we repeated our vows, ate wedding cake, and scurried away from the church, amidst rice pellets, that winter day. But, we did have what we needed. A deep love. A love that comes from our faithful God. A love that has carried us through every season.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

There Is Love (The Wedding Song) sung for us by Bucky Owens

He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts.
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits here has caused Him to remain,
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name,
There is love. There is love.
Oh, a man shall leave his mother, and a woman leave her home.
They will travel on to where the two will be as one.
As it was in the beginning, is now until the end,
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again
And there is love. Oh, there’s love.
Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
For if loving is the answer then who’s the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?
Oh, there’s love. There is love.
He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts.
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is love. Oh, there is love.

Written by: Noel Stookey

Happy 43rd Anniversary Mr. Man!

Love, Pretty Bird

Excuse Me, Mam?

Jacob is unpredictable on some many levels. Even food, but typically he loves, LOVES, cheese toast. Occasionally, he will want to wait and eat it later but that is pretty rare.

Or eat part and then save a little for a snack:

I always make six pieces. Yes. Six. As long as I can remember, he folds the piece in half and takes a bite out of the middle first. Does that to all six pieces and then starts on the rest.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I made cheese toast on homemade sourdough bread and set the, now cool, pan on the counter. Went to his room and told him breakfast was ready. He hopped up and followed me into the kitchen.

He reached for a piece and started on it before I could even get a plate. No problem, who needs a plate? We’ve gotten to where, the pan is his plate when it comes to toast!

I opened the refrigerator to get juice and turned and saw this:

I could read his mind: ‘Excuse me, mam,’ ‘I didn’t order this.’

“But, it’s a favorite. You always like cheese toast.”

‘I took a bite, and it just isn’t what I’m hungry for.

“But sir, I made that for you and you like it any time of day. Morning, noon, or night.”

‘Not today. I don’t want it.’

“Okay, so what would you like for breakfast?”

‘What I really want is Chicken in a Biskit crackers.’

“And, that is what you can have sweet buddy!”

Some days, you just want to switch things up a bit. He was happy and so was I.