Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Faith like a passenger


It's a little word with big meaning.

Especially during times when you don't feel God. Or your eyes are so focused on the day to day events in your life that you don't see Him. When you are facing struggles and feel alone. It's in these moments that your faith is truly tested.

There's been many times that I feel I failed the "faith test." Situations that I look back on with a heavy heart because I had a great opportunity to lean on my faith in the Lord and know that He would take care of me but instead chose the cheap way out. I chose to wallow in my pain, feel sorry for myself, and only see the down side to the situation.

But there are also those times I trusted Him and I leaned on Him. The times He carried me through the storm and made me a better person because I survived. And with each challenge my faith has grown. I see Him at work in my life and daily I have a choice to make. Am I putting my faith in You today Lord or am I going to try and do it on my own today. I don't always chose the best one, and those are usually the days I added 8 more grey hairs to my head and need a long hot bath at the end of the day. Those grey hairs are reminders in the morning as I brush my hair...."Choose Him today Cricket". He will get you to your desination on a much easier path than you will choose.

I once heard a story that paralled putting your faith in God and His perfect plan for your life. Pretend you are flying on a plane headed for San Francisco. If you have ever flown into San Francisco you know that as you desend all you see is water. As you look out your little circular passenger window you don't see the runway or the land that is coming. It appears as if you are about to crash right into the water. But the pilot is looking out his spacious, front view window and knows what is coming ahead. He knows exactly where and how to land the plane. You trust him because he's the pilot. God is our pilot in life. He knows exactly what is coming and what it will take to get you there safely. We only see life through out little circular eyes as the passenger in this thing called life. We can't see what is coming or how we will get there or what obstacles and struggles we will face. But we can have faith that God knows all this and He prepares us, He equips us, and He watches over us. The passenger knew he was destined for San Francisco but wasn't exactly sure the route, the speed the plane will fly, the altitude, or the amount of gas it will take. If you have the Lord in your heart you know where you are going. The details on how you will get there may be unclear but that's not important. What is important is that your ticket is purchased and the destination is set. Let Him pilot you there because He knows the perfect route!

Palmer Feed Store

Saturday we took the kids to Palmer Feed Store. This store has been in downtown Orlando since 1947. I've heard about it from several people and today we took the great adventure to this little whole in the wall store that carries everything under the sun. Of course the thing we were most excited about seeing was the chickens, ducks, rabbits, and other living things there for sale. Saying hi to the rabbitsThis had to be the funniest looking chicken I had ever seen! Dallas admiring the lovebirds
Asher petting the black rabbit
Boston hanging out with the pigeons

Of course we all wanted to buy some of the adorable chicks. I couldn't get a good picture of them because they were in a heater with a thick cage. We would absolutely love to have some chickens of our own, have fresh eggs and a new family pet. Backyard chickens has become very popular and we know several friends that have them. Maybe one day we will get chickens....but for today we just enjoyed petting and loving on all the fun animals at Palmer Feed Store!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yes, I have 4 kids

I love having 4 kids.

I love the reaction when someone asks how many kids I have and I respond 4....and I pick their bottom jaw off the floor.

I don't think 4 is a lot. I know lots of families with more than 4. And although going from 3 to 4 has been the hardest jump, it's been my most favorite. Don't get me's been crazy....insane....daily surviving sometimes, but there's also the joy of each unique child that is all yours. Their individual smiles, laughs, ways of loving, funny sayings. And it's fun to see just how different they each are and watch them interact with one another.

I had no idea how hard parenting was going to be. And I really had no clue how taxing 4 children going in different directions would be. But I wouldn't change it for the world! The craziness is part of the fun. And there are those days where everyone gets dressed on their own without me asking, they get their homework done quickly, there's no whining or crying and everyone gets along. And it's on those days that I gently sigh and smile at my life.

Then there are those time I'm dragging kids out of bed, someone's screaming because the other one is looking at them, Asher is whining because some food spilled and he can't stand a mess, Dallas is having one of his meltdowns, the baby is crying because she's teething and Boston is giving me an attitude about going over his spelling words. It's on these days the I sigh for a totally different reason. I sigh a DEEP sigh so I don't explode the inner monologue in my mind. And after I sigh (1, 2 or many times) I can sit back and look at the madness running around my house (and it's not even 7:30am) and it's amusing. 10 years from now I will wish I could be right back here at this moment. This moment where my kids need me to wipe up the spill they made, wipe their butt, or wipe the toothpaste they got all over their shirt.

And being a woman who's love language is Words of Affirmation I strive to hear "Wow you did a good job!" But when you are a mommy you probably aren't going to hear those words so often. And sometimes, even though you are trying your hardest to be the best mom you can be, and innocent bystander judges your parenting even though they don't know the situation. This happens to any parent but especially to those parents of children with Aspergers. But I try to remember that God sees it all. He sees the pee that I'm cleaning off the carpet when my 3 year old didn't make it to the potty in time. He sees the patience I exuded when my son is having a meltdown because he can't play a video game. He sees it all and He says "You've done a good job today Cricket." It's the unseen that matters. I exalt Him when I do these unseen things because this is where he wants me right now in my life. This is what's most important. THIS is my mission field! And He's teaching me that pride is no good. That I don't need other's approval or affirmation. All I need is Him. HE is enough.

So hold your head high mamas. You ARE doing an outstanding job. You are because you are trying. And HIS grace is sufficient to cover the areas you aren't so good in. Rest in Him and enjoy the precious little chicks that need you in the here and now.
(And you just can't help but laugh at this picture and Dallas face, Boston with his blank look, Asher clueless and Sydney more interested in my necklace. Hey - at least Sean and I are smiling! :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dallas field trip: Safety Village

Dallas' Kindergarten class has a field trip almost every month this year and boy is he excited! Today I went with him on his first one to Safety Village . We got to learn what you do if their is a fire and fire safety and also learned how to cross a sidewalk and what to do when you encounter a stranger. It was fun and educational and the kids had a great time. We finished it off with a picnic lunch and playtime at a playground. Dallas did awesome and it was so fun to experience this with him!

Here he is walking up to the house to teach about fire safety. It was bright so he was wearing his sunglasses to help sooth his eyes.The fireman talking to the kidsMy precious Dallas Learning how to crawl out of a house if there is a fire with smoke in the house

Crossing the street in Safety Village
At the playground
Mrs Holland's Kindergarten class of 2011

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dallas' teacher home visit

At the boys school they do home visits at the beginning of the year where they go to all the kids homes to get to know the kids and their families better. I'm so impressed with this and it just shows how much they care about the kids at this school.

Dallas was so excited about Mrs Holland coming last week. He was counting down the minutes, checking the door and listening for her car. She finallly got here and I'm not sure who was jumping up and down more, Dallas or our dog Dillard. He quickly whisked her in the house and lead her to his room to show her proudly his Star Wars themed room and point out all his favorite things about the room.

The kids all played on the patio while Sean and I got a chance to speak with her a little. She had some questions for us and and at the end of the questioning she said the Dallas was 100% a kinesthetic learner. We weren't too surprised with this.

But I got a little nervous about the year when we heard more details about his behavior in class this last week. The first 2 weeks he did awesome but now he's started having some issues in some areas. It tore at my heart. I know his heart is to behave his best. And you try your hardest to train your kids to do their best in school but you can't go with them to the class. I was so upset about it and was racking my brain, praying to the Lord, asking Him for a direction, a plan, a way to help him make better choices and think before reacting. That's when He reminded me about my ticket system that we use at home. There it was! It had been right in front of me all the time and I didn't see it. I emailed his teacher and asked her if we could incorporate the ticket system we use at home into his school day. He would get a ticket for behaving correctly at school during certain times and situations that he has a problem with. She loved the idea! This week has been amazing. He's come home everyday with 4 tickets and a great report from his teacher! That sleepless night spent worrying was fixed by a little rectangular, red piece of paper with the word "ticket" on it. Thank goodness for tickets!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Boston field trip: Pippi Longstocking musical

Today Boston went on his first field trip of the year and I wasn't able to go with him. They went to see Pippi Longstocking at the Rep Theatre. Of course this would have been a most perfect field trip given my theatre background but I'm still nursing and it makes it hard to leave her all day. But I know there will be lots of other field trips this year and I will make the most of those. At least he had a great time and talked about it all day!

Boston's teacher home visit

Tonight we had the privledge of having Boston's teacher and assistant teacher over to our house for a little while. I can't express how much I love this part of our school. How great is it that the teacher has the opportunity to connect with each of their students and the parents on this level. Boston was very proud to show her around. I had a great talk with them and feel so good about this year. And even with the eye issues that are going on in regards to his visual processing problem I feel like he's in the absolute best hands. His teacher is more than willing to work with him and is so gentle and kind to build up his confidence and make things challenging, yet encouraging for him. It's the perfect learning environment for him to excel in. His teacher has 3 boys herself and homeschooled for several years so in so many ways I feel like she understands our family well. I'm looking forward to watching him grow this year and finding ways to help him overcome the visual challenges that have been plagueing him so that he can take off in his learning like I know he wants too.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seeing the world threw Boston's eyes

Letters reversed. Horrible handwriting. Words reversed. A frustrated boy who wants so desperately to read and write like mom and dad. (So much so that he pretends just for fun.) But when it comes down to reading to me he gets so mad. Then he mentions the words keep moving on the page. They were floating. My brain jumped back years earlier to a seminar I sat in by Dianne Craft. And I remembered her talking about floating words. I quickly googled this and started searching and reading trying to find out if there's something I can do to help him. I spoke to his teacher and she mentioned that I should get him evaluated for visual processing disorder. I originally thought dyslexia. The specialist at the boys school referred us to a developmental optomologiest. After calling around and doing a little research on my own I soon realized that treatment for this kind of eye problem ranges in the thousands, like $5000.

Now I'm gonna jump on my soap box for a minute....I promise to come off in about 2.

What is a mom supposed to do that so desperately wants to help her son? Wants to help him so that he has the best learning environment. And if you know your son or daughter is having a problem and there is a solution wouldn't you want to do whatever you can to help them? But why oh why does it have to be SO EXPENSIVE!!! Really? I know it doesn't cost the doctor or therapist a lot of out of pocket expenses to offer this kind of therapy. And insurance doesn't cover it either. Which is another soap box I could skip over to. The testing alone costs $650 and that doesn't include anything but the diagnosis.

Lucky for us our vision insurance covers the first appointment (1 of 4 appts to diagnose him.) The doctor right away knew there was a problem. After several tests he said Boston has Convergence Insufficiency. Which means his eyes don't track together and have a hard time focusing. This is why the words float, and most likely he sees double a lot of times, which is why he does so many reversals. From here they want $650 to do the final 3 appts to figure out what therapy will work best for him.

Right now we are on hold. I'm trying to figure out if there is anything else we can do to help him before spending thousands. I'm working on getting him some colored overlays to put over what he's reading. This helps a lot of kids. We are starting to incorporate Brain Integration Therapy back into our daily life.
I'll keep you posted as to what helps over here and hopefully we can help other families facing similar problems.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whitman Family Menu

I plan a menu for our family every week (usually two weeks out so I can get the bulk of the shopping done every two weeks.) I used to have it on some scrap piece of paper and would make my shopping list according to the menu. The problem was that sometimes this little piece of paper with scribbled dinners written on it would go missing and I would be left with my memory, which after 4 kids is not something you want to rely on.

Being the Photoshop junkie that I am I designed our own beautiful Family menu, had it printed on at my photo printer shop and framed it with a regular 8x10 frame. Now I just write our menu on it with a dry erase marker each week.

You might notice the theme each day. We have a theme for each day of the week. This makes coming up with meals easier and its more fun for the family and there's some sort of consistency (which is always key when you have a child with Aspergers.)

Our themes are:
Monday: Italian
Tuesday: Crockpot (we have baseball practice that night and it makes it a lot easier)
Wednesday: Mexican
Thursday: Chicken
Friday: Family Favorites
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Breakfast 4 Dinner

I can't take the theme idea as my own. I got it from The Food Nanny and changed it around to fit the needs and tastes of our family.

If you don't feel like making your own just send me $15, your family name and the themes you want for your night (or I can take out the themes) and you will get your own framed Family Menu.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My awesome birthday present

Sean got me the best birthday present this year. It's a necklace with all my kids names on it. What a perfect present for me! Its made by
Lisa Leonard and she has so many beautiful and creative designs. Thank you babe for the creative, personalized, perfect gift!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dog friendly pick up line

It's 2:45. I open the door to the garage and Dillard bolts for the car. She knows what time it is. She's a smart dog. And she knows where I'm going. And she knows there's something special there just for her.

Mr Cole is standing in the heat of the Florida sun calling names on his walkie talkie. My car pulls up to him and Dillard bounds over me to the window, panting and wagging her tail as he reaches into his pocket. A bag of colorful dog bones comes out and Dillard inches closer to him. He carefully picks out a color and smiles as he hands her the extra special treat. It's a little gesture but it means the world to her.....and to me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shopping with Sydney

Goodbye baby car seat. My baby girl is fast! But it is nice to have her sitting up and looking around at the world around her. Today she rode big girl style at Aldi's grocery store. A little girl looked on, pushing her own baby doll in her baby girl stroller and I flashed forward a few years and saw my little Sydney pushing her own cart with a curly haired baby doll in it. And I's so fun having a little girl!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy birhday to me

Today is my 33rd birthday. I really 33 because I really feel like I'm still in my early 20's with a few kids in tow.

I had breakfast at Perkins with Sydney, Asher and my parents after I dropped the boys off at school. Last year on my birthday I got one of the greatest gifts ever, i found out a few days before my birthday that I was carring a baby girl in my belly! I was truly a joyous and special birthday. And this year I was blessed to be able to celebrate it with my healthy baby girl.

My baby girl and I
This is her first time sitting in her seat cover. The boys always had one that was red with primary colored animals on it. Of course sydneys is PINK and greenSuzanne came over and spent some time with me and then we went to lunch and my brother Wes joined us. Chevy's knows how to do birthdays right, with a BIG sombrero! My mom watched Asher for me this afternoon while I went to lunch and then I picked the big boys up and went to pick up Asher and he surprised me with a cookie cake that he made with Nena. It was very cute. He picked out all the decorations and insisted on the girls on top.
My boys blowing out the candles on my cake, over and over again Sean is taking me out to eat this weekend so I'll just keep celebrating all week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First baseball game

Tonight the boys had their first baseball game. They were so excited and so were we! Only downside is that they play at the same time on two different fields so I was running back and forth. The head coach for Dallas team wasn't able to be there tonight so the assistant coach had Sean pitch. Both boys did awesome. They hit amazing and were able to catch a few balls in the field and throw to 1st base. I was a proud mama
Boston in the outfield
Dallas in the outfieldDallas waiting to hitDallas up to bat!Daddy's pitchingWhat a happy boy he is running home!Boston on the far right with his team getting ready to hitBoston with a pat on the head by his coachBoston up to bat
Running the bases

Dallas up againAnd scoring again This was the amazing sunset we got to watch as we cheered on our little ball players! What a great way to spend a Friday night!

Lowes with the boys

This morning we took the boys to Lowes to
their Build and Grow workshop. The boys enjoyed making a pet leash holder. I was so impressed. It was our first time going here and they each got their own work bib, eye goggles, a certificate and a patch and the project was free as well. I would highly recommend doing this with your kids! We will most definitely be back. And our boys are oh so proud of their pet leash holders.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sleeping while eating

I went to pick up Asher from my parents house and my mom said he had fallen asleep 30 minutes before I got there while having lunch. That's one tired boy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sydney's first trip to the hair salon

Sydney went to the Hair Salon with me for the first time. I have gotten my hair cut by Jane since I was about 10 years old. She's the only person who truly knows how to cut my crazy, curly hair and does an amazing job at it. So it was especially exciting to introduce her to my baby girl!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Whitman Family Rules

I have been wanting to create our own Family Rules for a long time now. When I happened upon Pleated Poppy's Family Rules and saw exaxtly what I was looking for.

Instead of creating mine with paper and modpodge I did it digitally on the computer. I have an empty 24x36 frame that I'm going to use and it's been sent off to the printers. I can't wait to get it hung up!!!

Here's our rules:
Always tell the truth and keep your promises
Obey your parents without challenge, excuse or delay
Forgive easily and quickly
Work cheerfully and never give up
Encourage your siblings....share in their joy
Use your manners - Yes, please.....No, thank you
Husband - love your wife daily and Wife: always be by his side
No fussing, no whining
Sing silly, dance crazy, hug often, snuggle up, say I love you
Be on each others team
Be a blessing in this house and out of it
Use Nice words....Ignore dirty words
Too much TV is bad....Too much reading is good
Hands are for hugging not hitting
Bless your food, be grateful, eat together, clean up after yourself
Share everything expect bad ideas
Say your prayers....thank God for this family.

I copied many of the rules from Pleated Poppy's guest post and other examples and created a few of our own. It was hard to narrow down but I'm happy with the final product. Hope it inspires you. If you create one I would love to see it!