Hello, neglected blog. It’s been a while… I know we have that whole half-done post hanging between us and I also have some marking sitting on my side-desk screaming at me to get done, but some thoughts popped into my head that would like to come out.
Sitting here in my office I have a picture frame that has a few hundred pictures of the kids from 5-3 years ago. Yes, it should probably get updated, but that’s not why I’m writing. I happened to glance over and see this picture of the twins at 3 days old. For a year this was the telling picture, Elijah was pretty laid-back and Petra was the crying and colicky handful. What made me pause was how flipped the situation has become in the years since then with Elijah’s autism taking charge of our lives and Petra being more along for the ride. A few seconds later the next thought came, about how, lately, that’s not right either.
A couple days ago Elijah’s helper (L) from Autism Services came out (as she does once or twice a week for an hour) and I had to call Petra out of the playroom so they could focus on their tasks for the time they had to work. To Petra, having L come out is the same as having a playdate. She sees that Elijah gets to read and play games and do things that should be fun, and usually near the end Petra and Natalia will get to join in and have some fun too. I had to explain to Petra that having her up in the playroom, even though she promised to play by herself off to the side, would be a distraction for them. I told her that Elijah wasn’t playing, that he was working and that L was teaching him things he was having trouble with.
Petra said, “I know, it’s because sometimes Elijah acts like a little kid.”
My heart breaks and mends at once with this statement. It breaks because she realizes that Elijah is different from her, she knows that he isn’t quite normal, doesn’t act quite how he should. There have been many times in the last year where Erron and I have thought about how and when we would need to explain autism to Petra, and to Elijah. Not only do we want to protect Elijah from everyone else in the world, but there is also a part of me that wants to protect him from his sisters seeing that he is different in case they have trouble handling all that this entails.
The mending comes from that one magic word “sometimes”. Yes, Elijah acts like a little kid, does things that are erratic or has tantrums, but not nearly as often as he used to, and Petra sees him as more normal than abnormal.
Not only does she see it, but I do too. Autism is still something we don’t get a break from, it takes no vacations, it happens every day. But… it is less than it was 2 years ago when every day left Erron and I feeling defeated, like we had nothing left to give in the fight. We have spent tens of thousands on therapy, changed our lifestyle based on getting good and healing foods in everyone’s diet and made family the top priority in our lives and the results are wonderful.
Each one of our kids is a blessing and has love in their hearts for their siblings that they show each day. Elijah will quit his video game (that would normally cause him to have a fit) so that his sister can join in. Petra will move places during breakfast so that Natalia will stop her meltdown because she wants to sit in the middle spot. Natalia will fetch toys or diapers for Micah. Elijah will let Micah crawl on him instead of kicking him off or moving away. Petra will make everyone’s beds because she hears Erron or I complain about the mess upstairs. Natalia will give over her toy to Petra even though she wants to keep it because she sees that Petra wants it more. SO many examples I could put in, and the specifics don’t really matter, what matters is that everyone has good days or bad days and everyone else helps to get through the bad times, and to enjoy the good times. We fit, this family of ours, we give, we take, we may fight, but most of all we love.
It’s hard to put a feeling into words. Especially when that feeling is born out of such tumultuous times as these. But when I think about us as a whole it’s like the feeling of having a new baby fall asleep on your chest, just warmth and softness and love. I don’t know what the future will bring, but right now I am happy and have hope.
Before we moved to Chicago we had a bunch of local friends and family and while there were a bunch of expected visits there was also the occasional drop in. People would call, give maybe a 10 minute lead time and Erron and I would frantically get the worst of our mess tidied up. I’d say we are cleaner and messier at the same time now. We can’t let things go all to hell because of the kids, but the kids do sure make a clean house messy in a flash.
This morning while Erron and Elijah were in town I happened to be upstairs putting Micah down and my phone rang. It took me about 15 seconds to realize I was talking to Kelly M’s mom. We had seen them at Kelly’s daughter’s birthday a month ago and said if you’re ever driving by give us a call and stop by. Turns out they were driving by, and got my number just in time to call about stopping by. They had just passed our turn off the highway so were about 15 minutes away. Sure! Come on by! (Oh crap… I’ve got to get some stuff done…)
To be honest, when I go to a house I do give it a once over to see if it is clean or tidy or whatever, but usually that doesn’t really matter as I am there to visit with the people, not the house. I know this is probably the same for other people, but still there is that feeling that people will be judging you and you want to make that impression just a little better if you can. So I quickly got the dishes off the counter and gathered up the randomly strewn bits of kids clothes that happen to get shed during the day like a cat losing fur on a summer day. I ordered the shoes and swept the front room, I made sure the girls had pants and the table was cleared. It was a bit fun to have our first drop in visitors to the farm.
We had a great visit, they stayed about 6 hours and their granddaughters and our kids had a great time while we visited. It is always fun to show off the house as we feel so lucky to have found a place like this that suits our family so well.
Not a whole lot else to say except, if you’re ever driving by give us a call and I’ll do a 10 minute tidy for you too.
…this post may be, but the title actually refers to Erron’s grandmother, her Babby. There isn’t a person who I have met in this world who can compare to her. Some people are sweet, but it can be am empty sort of sweetness that doesn’t confer any type of caring, they are just people who are cheery or make you feel flattered. Babby was someone who made you feel loved, who made you feel special, who made you wish to share just a little bit of this love with others. As an in-law I never felt like I had to earn Babby’s love, it was just extended to me with a trust that you don’t find in people nowadays. For a woman who was (if I remember correctly) 4 foot 8 and about 70 pounds with osteoporosis that would lead to several broken hips and vertebrae she would grab a hold of you and squeeze you in an embrace that made your cares fade away.
Thinking of you with love, Babby. With sadness that I can’t spend another minute with you mixed with the peace of knowing that your are rejoicing in Heaven.
This is the first post of many, as the summer blog challenge works it’s way into full swing I am sure there will be good entries, bad entries, and random piles of garbage barely resembling entries, but that is the future and this is the present. Easiest thing to write would probably be an entry about the weekend, so let’s start with Friday. James, Janine and Nathan arrived on Wednesday and spent Thursday with family (and I went to work) so Friday could be considered the first “real” day of the Andersonia Long-Weekend Extravaganza. We headed out to Blackstrap Provincial Park, currently the closest beach to the lake we can see from our second floor windows. While there is a boat launch 1 km from out house you can’t swim there, and the beach being built at the little village 4km away isn’t done yet, so to the park (10km away) we went. The last time the Andersons went to the beach was in June, and while the day was warm enough the water was still quite cool and neither I, nor the kids, wanted to get more than knee deep into the water. What a difference 6ish weeks makes as the water was cool, but pleasant, if somewhat weedy. Natalia and James and Nathan spent a bunch of time digging and playing in the sand while Elijah and Petra and I first waded out, then swam out into the deeper water. Elijah and I almost made it out to the buoys (maybe 3 or 4 m away). He started to tire and needed to hang onto me, but since I couldn’t touch the bottom it wasn’t really very easy to support him, even with his lifejacket on. We swam back and decided that we would try again another day. We also played a fun game of 3-2-1-blastoff where I would toss him into the air and he would splash into the water getting completely submerged for a few seconds. It was lots of fun and he kept coming back for more. As it was a Friday it wasn’t as busy as I am sure it was for Saturday to Monday which was nice. When we went to play on the playground there were only 2 other little kids playing there and our kids could play on the equipment they wanted.
Well, Erron is out getting her picture ID done and the baby just woke up, so let’s call that a natural end to the post.
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on…
In a matter of hours, days or weeks Erron and I will welcome into our family another baby. Our family of five will become six. Four little ones at home, outnumbered by a factor of two when we are both home, and possibly a 4:1 onslaught when it comes time for one of us to take all the kids to get groceries or some other trip out of the house. Wow… this is a different place than I imagined myself 10 yeas ago. When I was imagining a family in my youth I figured there would be 2 kids, one always seemed wrong, like having one child with no siblings wasn’t giving them what they needed, the ability to be a brother or sister. So it was 2 that I imagined, because really, who has the time or energy or need for more? How naive I was, when Katie left our lives there was such a hole left in my heart that the hope for our family became not a house of one or two kids, but many. I find that my family is the most fulfilling thing in my life. If I won the lottery (if I played the lottery) I would like nothing better than to stay home with Erron and the kids. Some people couldn’t imagine such a thing, they would need some job, some thing, to take them away and give them space, but not me. There is such joy in playing with the kids, in helping them draw, play a game, read a story. Yes, there is strife when kids are sassy, uncooperative, selfish, moody… the list goes on. But every moment is useful, helping the kids find who they are and mold who they will become can only happen when forces are in opposition, when they learn that thinking for themselves is an essential life skill, just like learning that they need to cooperate and share and be polite.
New baby, how I look forward to your arrival. I haven’t had the time to anticipate you the way I did with Elijah and Petra, or with Natalia. Work keeps me busy, the kids keep me busy, the house keep me busy, and I am not so sure of where the time you need will come from, but I know it is there. I will find time and make time for you, just as I have for your brother and sisters. As much as I may be unhappy about it when the time comes, I do look forward to swaddling you around at 2 AM to help you fall asleep, because it will be a time for just you and I when the rest of the world melts away.
Come soon, little one, I can’t wait to meet you.
This evening I needed to run out to get a mini steam cleaner to replace the one we’ve been using for the last 5 or so years. It clogs, the brush has been broken and re-epoxied together and it is permanently stained in the waste tank from too many times being left full of wastewater. While at the store I decided to pick up a little treat for myself and Erron and I picked up a little Toblerone for me. Now a Toblerone isn’t something I usually buy, in fact it is probably something I buy less than once a year. I can say for certain that I have had more Toblerones given to me as gifts than I have purchased myself. Does anyone else have a food like this that brings up memories whenever they eat it?
When I was little we would spend Christmas with my Mom down in Calgary visiting my Oma and Opa, her parents. This was the whole of our Canadian family on my Mother’s side, but there was a Great Aunt and Uncle in Germany who used to send Tyler and I chocolates every Christmas, chocolates that you could not buy in Canada. One was Kinder chocolates (a yummier KitKat stick type of chocolate, not the cheaper egg shaped stuff) and the other was a Toblerone. Because we would each get one, and only one, to last the whole year deciding to eat one triangle of goodness was quite an ordeal. You wanted the chocolate to last longer, but it also was so good you were tempted to eat the whole thing at once. I would probably have it last a few weeks and I remember slowly savouring every piece. As the years went by Toblerones became something that you could get here, but it was still viewed as a special treat. After my Mom and Grandfather died my Oma would still put a Toblerone in our stockings for Christmas.
Sitting here, eating my Toblerone, the special taste evokes happy memories of spending time with my family as a child. I am glad that I haven’t ruined the taste by having them so often that it becomes something that has lost meaning.