Let's face it. Fears are a part of life. But what do you do when you can't seem to overcome that fear? Or even talk about it?
Our son is eleven now and he's had a fear of puffer balls since he was three. You know what I'm talking about - those wiggly, spiny balls that can range from the size of a quarter to one as big as a basketball. They even come in different shapes and styles. Yep, those. I swear, you can find them in nearly EVERY STORE.
We don't really know what it is about them that's so scary. I remember he couldn't care less about them until one day we were in a sporting goods store waiting in line to check out. There was a bin full of large ones the size of a basketball and a couple of kids were playing with them. Without warning, our son started screaming and crying and trying to do everything he could to scramble out of the basket.
And that was it.
It put a serious restriction on his life!
That was the way he reacted every time he saw one. Sometimes, it even included leaping from baskets and running across a store while screaming bloody murder. It was bad, folks.
We couldn't go in a Mardel Christian Bookstore for years because they had those little toy displays right inside the door. There was always a puffer ball in one of the bins, and he knew it, too.
This is a boy who refused to look down the toy aisle at the grocery store for years. And a big toy store like Toys R Us? It caused anxiety you wouldn't believe. When it came time to do Christmas or birthday shopping for his little sister, we'd have to go down a toy aisle and bring back ideas or suggestions for him to approve or dismiss because he wasn't about to step foot down one himself.
When our daughter got old enough to understand what was going on, she would keep an eye out for the puffer balls and either hide them from her big brother's sight before he came down an aisle or warn us to steer clear of one.
It is completely heartbreaking to know your child is so afraid of something. And equally as heartbreaking when a speech impairment prevents him from telling you why. Did he have a nightmare about them that caused the whole phobia? Is it the way they look or move or both? We may never know.
But over the last eight months, we've been able to witness a very slow-moving miracle. At first, our son started watching YouTube videos about puffer balls. He'd talk about puffer balls with long spines versus short spines. Then, at his cousin's birthday party, they had little puffer bears with short spines in one of the rooms. While he screamed and covered them, by the end of the day, he was tentatively holding them. He couldn't stop talking about them for weeks afterwards.
We made a point of talking about puffer balls with little spines and how cute they are. He finally saw a picture online of a caterpillar with little spines and expressed an interest in it, saying, "It's not scary. It's cute." I asked if he'd like us to order one and he said he did. The day it came in, he was so nervous, he touched it with a single finger. But before long, he was holding it and petting it.
He now has a collection of puffers with short spines ranging from that caterpillar to a frog and even a pig.
But the biggest breakthrough - the one that had me in tears the most - was when we went to Mardel and he spotted the giant puffer balls with long spines down one of the aisles. We asked him if he'd like to go see him. He said yes. It took us a full five minutes to get down that aisle but in the end, he held one of them in his hands.
Our son, who had fought this phobia for years, was finally facing it.
He still gets nervous when going down toy aisles and he'll jump if he stumbles upon a puffer ball when he wasn't expecting it, but I think ninety percent of that fear is gone. I didn't realize how freeing it was to go through a store without keeping constant vigil and worrying our poor little boy was going to face that which terrified him most: A giant puffer ball.
My husband and I have both been unhappy with our weight, energy levels, and health for a while now. We've tried to get better about what we eat and we have made improvements in that area over the last few years. But we knew it would take a major change to our lifestyle that we just never quite implemented.
At the beginning of December, we decided we needed to do something and putting it off clearly wasn't getting us anywhere.
Time to Make a Change
This weekend, it will be four weeks since we made the commitment to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. We've got goals for ourselves in 2017 and we're well on our way to hitting those goals.
Personally, I'm counting calories each day (staying at 1,200 or less) and making a point to walk at least 3 miles. Some days, I walk as many as 5. They're almost always done inside while I'm reading or watching a TV program, but I'm getting them in! I'm also making some consistent progress towards my target weight.
Not Easy, But Worth It
We've eliminated sodas, most processed sugars, and bread from our diet. Was it easy? Not at all. In fact, the second week, I'm pretty sure I was in a perma-state of grumpiness.
But I almost immediately noticed my constant bloating was gone. The aching in my joints disappeared, too. Four weeks in, I feel SO much better. I've got more energy, I can think more clearly, and I'm enjoying the dried fruits, fresh veggies, and the meat we're eating. It takes less to fill me up and I don't finish my meal feeling heavy.
A nice side benefit? When we do get a small treat (like a cookie or some candy), it actually is a treat because we're only getting it once in a while.
I had a soda for the first time the other day, and I couldn't even drink it. It was so sweet, it was unpleasant. I was thrilled and the need to have another disappeared. Considering I wanted a Coke every day, this is a big accomplisment for me.
Why Am I Sharing This?
Getting healthy and losing weight was something we meant to do for years and just never got around to because it's inconvenient. We didn't make it a priority.
I think that's something that applies to all of us, and not just in the realm of losing weight. It's so easy to procrastinate our way through life, pushing things off until we forget about them.
I'm referring to everything from losing weight, writing that book you've always wanted to, learning how to knit, organizing your photo albums, or getting the education you need to pursue your dream job.
It's Not Too Late
I'm serious about this. It's never too late to stop procrastinating. One of the quotes that struck me the most was this: "A year from now, you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb.
Isn't that the truth? Sheesh, if I'd started focusing on my own health a year ago, I might be at my target weight now. If I'd kept up with my photo albums way back when, I wouldn't have fourteen years of catching up to do now (And yes, I just ordered the prints for the years 2002-2004).
We can't do everything, but we can do something.
And that's the key. I want to encourage you to choose one thing you've put on the back burner and make it a priority this year. Even baby steps forward are still progress. And if you start now, who knows how far you'll have gone in a year!
We drove just shy of two hours to see family for our Christmas celebration yesterday. We had a lot of fun visiting, laughing, eating, and opening gifts. We left just after seven last night. On the way home, a deer jumped out of the grass and ran across the road. There was nothing we could do to avoid it and we hit the buck with the driver's side, killing the poor thing instantly.
Unfortunately, it also caused a great deal of damage to our car. Thankfully, none of us was hurt, which was a huge blessing! And after speaking with the local sheriff's department, we were even able to drive the car the rest of the way home.
We take it in to get it evaluated on Tuesday and find out whether they can make repairs or not. There's a large dent in the driver's door and it looks like some kind of mechanical damage as well.
So while this is a big inconvenience, we're thankful the four of us made it through the accident unscathed. And I'm happy to report that this evening has been much less eventful. lol
I've crocheted a lot of things for our kids in the past, especially for Christmas. For our daughter, it's been everything from a stuffed horse with a matching hat, dress, and shoes to crochet cookies. So when she requested some supplies for one of her favorite stuffed animals, I couldn't wait to go yarn shopping.
Our daughter absolutely loves this stuffed dog. When you pet the dog's back, she will either bark or whine. I snuck the puppy out of her room while she was sleeping so I could take some pictures. The whole time I tried on her coat, she was barking. ha!
I ended up crocheting the puppy a coat, a matching bed and blanket, and some doggy bowls. I hope she likes them!
She also has a small crochet dress from the horse I made her three years ago. She's always wishing she had another dress that's a little bigger to use with other dolls or animals. So I made her one of those as well.
I can't wait for her to open the gift on Christmas!
I saw a video on Facebook last week and just had to give the craft a try. I've always loved snow globes. Combine one with a functioning holiday container? Yes, please!
This is the video I saw with instructions on how to make them: Smart School House.
I went to Hobby Lobby for the tallest jar in the photo. I had the others at home because I do a lot of canning. But you can find just about any size there. Then, I expected to have to look all over the store for the plastic ornament halves and was happy to find they were located on the same aisle. This time of the year, the fake snow was on the center aisle with the packaged Christmas crafts. The cute little figures are tiny ornaments and I cut the hanging loops off of them.
The little snow globe tops were super easy to make and a lot of fun! I put candy in the jars, which made them look even more festive.
We've been using them for three days and two out of the five came loose so we had to put new hotglue around the domes. This was after making sure we opened and closed them using the metal rings, not while holding the domes themselves.
So here's a couple of tips for you if you decide to make these yourself:
1. Because the domes did come loose on a couple of the jars, I've decided putting some hot glue under the bottom of the globes isn't enough. I'd go ahead and put another round along the bottom on the outside after it's been placed.
2. You'll have to cut the plastic hanging loops off the domes. You can see where they were, but just barely. Make sure you put that at the back of the snow scene.
Verdict: These are super cute and look great as part of the holiday decor. Plus, they're a pretty way to keep Christmas candy fresh. I'll update after a week or two and let you know if they hold up to regular use. Because trust me, with different kinds of M&Ms in there, they will be opened frequently every day. ;-)
My family went camping this weekend at a state park not far from our house. We went with the intention of staying for two nights. However, after all of the rain we'd gotten in the last few weeks, the number of bugs (including mosquitoes, flies, ants, and spiders) drove us home after camping for only one night.
We had a wonderful time, though! We went to the lake and stayed there for several hours. The kids enjoyed swimming, my husband went fishing and used his kayak. Meanwhile, I had a lot of fun watching all of them and taking a rare opportunity to play with my camera and take some photos.
I shoot with a Canon SL1. I usually rely on my 24mm 2.8 lens. But for this trip, I pulled out my 55-250mm lens for some close-up shots. With the kids in the water, I walked up and down the shore quietly in hopes of catching some photos of the wildlife that might otherwise go unnoticed. It was so much fun!
And, as you can see from the gallery below, there were a lot of frogs. They look large in the pictures, but the largest was approximately two inches long, and most were about an inch. We did see one snake (non-venomous) and I was too busy telling the kids to stay away from that area to take a photo of it. lol
This morning, before leaving the campground, I noticed the drops of dew on a field of grass. With the sun shining through them, it was too beautiful to not go back and take a few pictures.
I hope you enjoy going through the photos. I'm always amazed at God's creativity and beauty in our world!
Our son, X, is ten-years-old. He's a sweet boy who loves to give his family hugs. He's very protective of his little sister (S is 5-years-old) and always makes sure she's being taken care of. He normally doesn't like to be interrupted if he's focusing on something. But S can almost always ask him to help her reach something or set something up, and he rarely hesitates.
X has an amazing memory. The boy knows exactly where each and every movie is on our DVD shelf. He remembers the toys and songs he learned when he was two and where he was in the house at the time.
He enjoys helping me bake and cook. He likes to play outside, watch campfires in the backyard, and his favorite thing to do is swim.
X also has autism.
There are a variety of strengths and challenges that autism has brought into our lives. One of the more fascinating things is how he approaches his hobbies.
As a Baby
When X was a baby, he had a lot of toys he enjoyed. Most were ones he could spin, move back and forth, or put in some kind of an order. He crawled at a developmentally-appropriate time. But he had no desire to pull up or walk. When he was 10.5 months, we bought him this activity table. Do you see the alphabet printed on the bowl in the middle? As soon as he spotted the letters from a seated position, he pulled himself up for the first time. He was walking within a week or so after that. He often touched each letter in order with a single finger.
This was the beginning of his love of all things letters, numbers, and colors. He could order the alphabet correctly at the age of two, could accurately count to five at that point, and put anything with colors in the same color order.
Hobbies Changed with Age
X's hobbies changed through the years. He went through a period of time where he loved everything related to marbles or ball mazes. He'd spend literally two hours sending marbles down the chutes, watching to see where the paths took them.
He became interested in instruments. All instruments were great, but drums have become a favorite. We bought him his first junior drum set a little over two years ago and he's practically worn it out.
Have you seen the Animusic videos? Their most famous one, Pipe Dream, uses marbles to create music as they fall onto drums and different surfaces. X has set it up to where he drops marbles on different parts of his drum set to see what kinds of sounds they'd make.
Drums, Drums, Drums
Of all his hobbies, drums seem to be a long-term one. He's watched YouTube videos on how to properly set up his drum set. And the boy has some serious rhythm.
He tells us he wants to take drum lessons someday and when we ask what he wants to be when he grows up, he tells us "A drummer." Not just any drummer, though. He wants to be a drummer with the band TFK.
He's created drums out of Legos, plastic dishes, and just about anything else . He's also managed to collect drum sets ranging from electronic drums to miniature versions.
The Newest Hobby
When X received a LOGO Board Game as a gift from his uncle, aunt, and cousins, we had no idea he'd like it so much. He's always been fascinated with business logos, and this fueled that interest.
In the last year, he's saved his allowance and bought other versions of the game. These versions include The LOGO Board Game Second Edition, The LOGO Party Game, and both the travel and regular LOGO Board Game Drumond Edition.
He knows every card in those games. And each of them were bought for a reason. For example, The LOGO Board Game Drumond Edition is the only he has that includes the Shell Station logo.
There are way more LOGO Board Game versions out there than we knew. He has two more on his list to collect. He's planning on getting The LOGO Board Game Billionaire next month. And he's been searching for the German edition because it includes new logos in it (the Jumbo red elephant logo, specifically), and plans to get it in July.
We've got to hand it to him. When he has a hobby, he goes all in.
I've heard a lot of people refer to those with autism as having obsessions. And I can see where they might come to that conclusion. Don't get me wrong, they can have obsessions just like the rest of us. But most of the time, I think it's a matter of having a hobby and then putting all of their energy into learning everything they can about it.
That's exactly how X approaches his hobbies. I admire that about him. That's how someone eventually becomes an expert in their field: By focusing, learning all they can, and not giving up.
So he can continue to collect his LOGO Board Games and I'll happily listen to how excited he is to get the Billionaire edition next month (I'm certain he's told me all about it at least a dozen times this evening). I enjoy looking at the Shell Station or the Walkers card and talk about how neat it is, and compare the difference between it and other cards. Because this is what's important to him right now and he cares enough to share his interests with us.
Guess what? We located the German edition on eBay and ordered it tonight (it may take a month or more to get here). It may be his hobby, but come on! The game is coming directly from Germany. You've got to admit, that's pretty cool.
My family was on vacation the first week of May. We had a great time! We took the kids to the Dallas World Aquarium, spent a few days at Great Wolf Lodge, and later visited our local zoo. I think we're still all trying to get back to normal again after having such a wonderful time together!
I took a lot of pictures of some of the amazing animals we saw. I thought I'd share a few of them with you all. Thanks for looking! :-)
This last weekend was a full one! Saturday was my birthday. There's a local zoo that we have a member pass for. They recently got in two new jaguars and so my family and I thought we'd go and see if we could get a peek at them. They're still acclimating and remained hidden, but we enjoyed looking at some of the other animals and then having a picnic lunch.
After that, we went to see the movie Zootopia. The kids have been laughing at the commercials for months. You know how a lot of movies will put every funny part in the commercial so you go to see the movie and it's like you've already seen it all? That's not the case with this one. There are a lot of great parts that the commercials don't even hint at. It's fantastic!
I got a new chair for my desk. Trust me, this was needed badly and it's already done a lot for my back. I joked with my husband that I was tempted to roll it into the living room when we watch TV, it's that awesome. LOL
I also finished the first draft of my new book last night. I don't yet have a title for it, but it's the first in my new series called Reinventing Family. I'm so excited about this book and I can't wait to share more with you all soon! I'm taking a break from it today but will start the editing process tomorrow. When will it be released, you ask? Some time in May! :-D
All in all, it was a wonderful, busy, productive weekend!
It's a gorgeous day so we thought we'd take the family and go walk around the zoo. The sunshine warmed everything up perfectly and nearly all the animals were active. I think it was one of my favorite visits. Seeing all of these beautiful animals always reminds me of what an amazing imagination our God has!
I also got to play around with my fairly new Canon 55-250 lens while we were there. So I thought I'd share some of my favorite images. Enjoy! :-)