What Color Helmets?!

Last night we watched part of the North Carolina – Virginia Tech game.  Aaron likes to know who is playing, what color they’re wearing, and who I’m “voting for.”  The details have to be sorted out bit by bit before he can settle down to watch the game.

He was organizing the facts of last night’s game as soon as he sat down, got his blanket over his legs, his water bottle fixed, his Skittles opened, his bowl positioned just right………………all this process takes awhile.  He watched the game for a minute and then said, “So who is this V-Tech anyway?”  I explained V-Tech.

Remember that Aaron is color blind.  We watched a couple more minutes before he said, “So North Carolina has the pink helmets, right?” 

HaHaHa!!!  Pink helmets!  I’m very glad that we got that straightened out.  Carolina Pink just doesn’t quite seem the same somehow!

Pieces……..

We had a beautiful fall day yesterday, one of many.  Aaron and I even took Jackson for a walk when he got home from Paradigm.  But last night as we sat in the family room, Aaron said, “Mom, the temperature outside is 47!  It was 55 awhile ago!”

Yes, it was getting colder and Aaron was ever aware of that, as always.  This morning he wanted to know why it was so cold.  “Mom, it’s 42 outside now!”

I rarely need to check the thermometer when Aaron’s around, by the way.

We had some snow that fell today.  None of it stuck but for awhile it was very pretty coming down and blowing around.  Aaron burst in the door at the end of the day and said, “Mom!!!  I saw pieces of snow falling today!” 

I’m sure we’ll see many more pieces of snow before the winter is over.  And Aaron will have a commentary for each of those events, I am sure.  And the temperature.

Lessons From the Ladybugs

The last time I was outside doing any serious work in my flower beds, a few weeks ago, I looked down and saw a familiar friend on the brick that surrounds the flowers. There she (or he?) was – a ladybug! All through the spring and summer, whenever I’ve been outside working in the gardens, I confront more than flowers, vegetables, and weeds. There are also a huge variety of bugs and critters to deal with as I water and weed. Nearly all of them are not welcome in my world, even the ones that I know are doing a valuable job. I swat the flies and mosquitoes; dodge the bees; run from the snakes; shake off the box elder bugs and ants; gasp at the spiders; and generally try hard to avoid all the other flying and crawling bugs that come my way.

However, my reaction to a ladybug is totally different than any of the other insects and various creatures that I encounter. When I see a ladybug, I am unaffected by fear. I don’t mind if she crawls up my arm or is near my hand as I grab a plant. Ladybugs make me smile, not scream. Sometimes I even talk to them – and hope that no one sees me talking in the garden! I know they do a valuable job for us gardeners as they eat aphids – hundreds and hundreds of aphids. When I see multitudes of ladybugs on my okra, for instance, I just work around them and urge them to keep up the good work! They’re a help to me, an encouragement, and I refer to them as my friends in my gardens. They are indeed my little buddies!

Ladybugs remind me of my human friends in this life. God has blessed me with many ladybug friends along the way! As Gary and I made many military moves, we also made many friends in every place that we lived. The gardens of my life have been lit up with the friends that God has allowed me to make. How special and precious they all are to me! I think back to various events, both happy and sad, and remember the friends that stood by me. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times…..” I have found that to be so true when it comes to true friends. Friends have gone through the ups and downs of life with me as we’ve laughed, cried, prayed, planned, and grown together. Even the miles don’t separate true friends.

Life has also held the unwanted experiences of disappointment and hurt, sometimes even from those that we thought were friends. One of the most painful experiences in life is the rejection or betrayal from those that we thought were friends. We want to run from it, as we would run from a snake or a bee, but the sting and bite still happens and the hurt is very raw. During those times, our ladybug friends are even more precious. Proverbs 27:9 says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad; so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” I am forever grateful to the friends in my life who have held me up and held me accountable; who have not only comforted but who have counseled me during those rough times; who have quoted scripture to me and prayed for me; and who have cautioned me not to sin in my attitudes during the stinging periods of life. Sweet ladybug friends, both near and far. Some are family and some are not, but all are dear and valuable ladybug friends that I treasure. Truly I thank God for each one!

Words

I never tire of Aaron’s unusual use of language.  Well, some of his use of language I can do without – but I’m referring to the unique way that he expresses himself that is often hilarious or insightful.  At other times, there are words that we use that he doesn’t understand or sayings that he takes literally.  This is common for those with Asperger’s. 

This morning I mentioned something about “flubbing up” and Aaron said, “Flub?  What is flub?”  That word does sound funny, doesn’t it?  He thought so!  I asked him what he thought “flub” referred to and he said, “It sounds like something to do with water.”  It really does! 

Right after that conversation, he saw Jackson laying on our couch and said, “Mom, Jackson’s all twirled on the couch.”  Twirled on the couch…………here’s a picture of our twirling Jackson this morning.

People who heard that Jackson was “twirling” today would have quite a unique image of our Great Dane, wouldn’t they?  I like Aaron’s use of language, though, when he makes these observations.  It’s refreshing to use our language in various ways that we normally would never think of. 

Just think of all the times I’ve been twirling on the couch and didn’t even know it!

The Temperature – Who CARES?!

As you know, Aaron talks about the weather a lot.  Several times over the past few days he’s looked at his handy, dandy clock that he carries around – the one that has the indoor and outdoor temperatures – and informed me of the temperature outside.  That’s so routine that I hardly bat an eye. 

Today he saw the clouds coming in and wanted to know if it was going to rain.  I knew what I needed to do, so instead of dragging it out I just went ahead and asked, “Aaron, do you want me to look at the radar?”   And of course he eagerly said, “Yes!”  This is one reason that I really like my tablet that Gary got me for my birthday.  It’s easy to grab it, pull up the AccuWeather radar, and make Aaron happy. 

Nope, Aaron, no rain nearby right now.  I think it’s going to stay dry.  Then he wants to discuss if I’m glad it’s not going to rain – or do I want it to rain – when do I think it will rain – am I SURE it’s not going to rain – do I think it’ll rain later………….

If I was a meteorologist, Aaron and I would just love these conversations.  I’m not a meteorologist.  I love weather, too………….just not as much as Aaron.

And not like last night.  I went to bed a little earlier than I usually do, before Gary came up, and was laying there all relaxed and just dozing off……………….when my door burst open like someone was going to tell me that the house was on fire!!!

“MOM!!!!!!  Do you think it’s REALLY 53 outside?!!”

Oh, good grief!  YesAaronit’s53andgotobed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Oh, OK,”  he said.   And off the thumped up the hall, somehow satisfied to have asked the question and totally unconcerned that he scared me to death and woke me up. 

Is there a dial 1-800-WEATHER that he could call?

Shopping

Aaron loves, loves, loves to shop.  That is, he loves to shop at stores that HE likes.  Those would be stores that have DVDs, computer games, candy, and snack foods.  Not necessarily in that order.  He does NOT like clothing stores or hardware stores, in particular.  Sometimes on a day when he’s home he’ll hear one of us getting ready to leave and he’ll thunder downstairs, asking if he can go, too.  If we tell him that we’re going to Lowes, for instance, he’ll dejectedly say, “Oh……….never mind.” 

The other day his group was out shopping and later that evening Aaron said, “Mom, today we went to Michaels.  That store is full of crafts, right?” 

Yes, Aaron, Michaels is full of crafts.

“Well, it’s not my favorite store.”

I knew it wouldn’t be, Aaron.

“Mom, do you like Michaels?”
Yes, Aaron, I like Michaels. 

“Mom, what do you like about Michaels?”

Well, I like the crafts and the decorations.

Later, he wanted to talk about Michaels again.  “Mom, I really didn’t like Michaels.  It smells like art and perfume!!”

I had to laugh.  That’s a very accurate description, really.  Art and perfume! 

Neither of those are Aaron’s favorites, so no wonder he doesn’t care for Michaels!  I think the next time I’m going shopping and need some alone time, I’ll plan a stop at Michaels so he’ll decide to stay at home! 

The Birthday

Aaron had a big day yesterday.  He loves the attention; he loves the food; he loves the presents.  I think he got plenty of each!  He came home from Paradigm talking about the chocolate cupcakes.  “Mom, the chocolate cupcakes had that…………you know……………that chocolate syrup stuff on top!”  Icing, Aaron?  “Yeah, yeah, it was icing!” 

Gary got home from work and we all drove up to meet some of his Paradigm staff at Cracker Barrel.  Years ago Aaron saw a billboard for, of all places, Hooters…………..and so he was curious about it and one day asked if we could go to Hooters to eat.  We cautiously explained why that wouldn’t be happening.  On our way up to Cracker Barrel, he said, “So we can’t go eat at Hoots, right?”  Nope – no eating at Hoots, Aaron. 

We had a great time at Cracker Barrel.  It’s always nice to be joined by Andrea. 

The Paradigm friends are amazing.  They understand and love Aaron so much.  Thank you to Krysten, Courtney, and Cody for celebrating Aaron’s birthday with us.  Courtney actually is busy pursuing her degree now and isn’t working at Paradigm, and so we miss her and were happy to see her again.

At home once again, Aaron opened his presents.  Notice that he brought down his clock.  He always, always must have his clock!

And see the Swiss Army knife that he MUST use when opening gifts.  So far no major injuries to himself or to furniture.  We watch closely.

He was so full that the Apple Pie will wait to be eaten for breakfast today.  All in all, a great day for Aaron and for the rest of us.  Hyper, happy Aaron! 

Birthday!!

Today is the BIG DAY!!!  It’s Aaron’s birthday.  He is 27 years old today.  Wow!  He’s been on the countdown for days.  I’ve heard these statements for quite awhile now: 

“Mom, my birthday is coming!”

“Mom, it’s almost my birthday!”

“Mom, my birthday is 4 days away!”

“Mom, my birthday is 3 days away!”

“Mom, did you know my birthday is November the 8th?”
And yesterday:  “Mom, today is November the 7th!”

So today’s the day!  He wasn’t as excited as I thought he’d be this morning.  Often he doesn’t show his excitement when the event is actually here.  It’s as if the anticipation is more meaningful than the actual day.  But that’s because Aaron has a hard time expressing how he really feels.  All the well wishes, hugs, and happiness on our part almost embarrasses him.  Yet he – and we – would never want to ignore his day.  We understand how he handles all the attention and we just go along with it, trying to help him roll with the flow of his special day. 

I fixed him one of his favorites for breakfast – pancakes, of course.  Maybe you can see in the picture that along with his fork, he also has a knife and spoon.  He ALWAYS has those utensils when he eats, and if I don’t put them out he will go and get them.  It doesn’t matter if he’s eating soup – he WILL have a knife and fork there.  And sometimes more than one!  Also the toothpicks and the napkins that he makes sure are there before he eats.  Routine, routine!

He’s intrigued by the new tablecloth that Andrea bought.  We played Skip-Bo on it the other night.  It was a little awkward but it worked, although Aaron kept smoothing out the wrinkles, saying, “Mom, I can’t get these lumps out!”  And so as he ate this morning he referred to the pretty tablecloth as “that soft spread thing.” 

He gets to eat at his restaurant of choice tonight, and that will be Cracker Barrel.  He decided that several months ago.  Several of his friends (staff) from Paradigm are joining us, as well as Andrea.  It should be fun!  Then back home for Apple Pie – he always prefers Apple Pie over cake for his birthday.  And presents, of course.  Then the day will be done, in Aaron’s mind.  It’ll be time for him to walk away, go up to his room, put away his gifts and get on with life as Aaron knows it. 

Aaron with our old birthday sign that the kids made for Gary years ago.  We always hang it up on our birthdays!

Another year older.  Another year of life with Aaron – in his world and in his way.  Unique and fascinating.  Sometimes frustrating.  Always coming back to love. 

MORE Football!

Our weekend football games with Aaron continue to be………………well, educational in a strange sort of way.  He certainly keeps us alert and aware of football aspects that we usually never notice. 

Here’s a typical picture of Aaron as he settles in for the game.  If I get a little chilly and throw my fuzzy blanket over my legs, I have to say that our family room resembles a nursing home.  No comments from my well meaning (yeah, right!) family and friends.

This past Saturday we watched the LSU – Alabama game.  Aaron always asks, “Mom, so what team are you voting for?”  I told him that I was voting for Alabama.  He figures out, then, which team is which.  “Mom, Alabama is wearing the red hats, right?”   Yes, Aaron, the red HELMETS.  And he replies, “OK, they’re wearing the red hats.”   Whatever.

Aaron is very fascinated with the cheerleaders, and not for the reason that you would think a 27 year old young man would be fascinated with cheerleaders.  He just thinks that male cheerleaders are quite unusual.  He never thought of guys being cheerleaders.  “Mom, why are there boy cheerleaders?”   Well, Aaron, boy cheerleaders are usually called yell leaders, I believe.  “Yeah, so why do they have boy cheerleaders?”  Sigh.  Aaron, male yell leaders can hold up the pyramids better because they’re strong.  And they yell loud, too. 

Later the television camera panned over to do a quick shot of the girls standing on the boy’s shoulders.  “Look, Mom!!  The teenage cheerleader boys have to catch the teenage cheerleader girls so they don’t fall on the ground!”  He’s getting it.  I decided not to even talk about the age thing yet.  One concept at a time.

He loves watching the refs and trying to figure out their hand signals.  You have to take my word for it – his imitation of the hand signals is pretty hilarious.  And his comment at one point was, “Mom, that ref in his jail shirt has an “R” on his shirt!”  To Aaron, refs always have and always will wear jail shirts.  I guess he thinks they all have a rap sheet, too.  My apologies to the refs who may read this.

Coaches fascinate him.  He likes watching their expressions and seeing how they react to various decisions of the refs in their jail shirts.  This time he noticed their headgear.  “Mom, why does the chief of the team have those microphones?” 

He’s having a harder time figuring out the 4 quarters, but he’s doing better.  “Mom, is the halftime before the number 3 or the number 2?”   And as he started getting tired, especially when the team in the red hats that we voted for was losing, he said, “Mom, the 4th round is the last one, right?”

And toward the end of this game, he noticed the band swaying back and forth as they played their peppy song.  “Mom, how come on football teams they need singers like that?!”  Singers?  Did I miss something? 

I’m sure Aaron will help me figure it out during the next game that we watch! 

The Earthquake

Last night we had the unexpected experience of having an earthquake here in good old Kansas.  We knew that there had been some earthquakes and aftershocks in Oklahoma over the past few days, especially on Saturday.  It was nearly 11:00 last night when we felt the earthquake here.  I was in the bathroom and was amazed at how shaky it was up on our upper level.  The shower doors were rattling and the whole house seemed to be moving.  It was a very helpless feeling!

Aaron was sitting up in his bed, reading like he does before he turns his light off.  The first thing I heard after the shaking stopped was, “Mom!  Mom!”  So I went into his bedroom and he wanted to know what had just happened.  I told him that we had an earthquake and he looked at me, speechless for a moment.  That’s a first!  He was truly dumbfounded at this news.  Aaron has read about earthquakes; he’s seen them on movies; and he’s talked about them over and over again.  But he never dreamed that he’d actually experience one! 

He hopped out of bed then and followed me downstairs to talk to Gary.  “Dad!  We had an earthquake!”  And so we talked about it together, and looked on the news on TV, and fed all that info to Aaron so he could file it away – to talk about over and over and over.  He was really unnerved by it last night and kept saying, “So……..will we get hit?”  I told him that we just did get hit.  “No, I mean will we get HIT?”  I finally figured out that he wanted to know if we would have a big earthquake, so I explained that we don’t know that and how we can’t look for an earthquake like we can look for a thunderstorm on radar.  He also wanted to know where the earthquake came from and I told him it was centered in Oklahoma – and so then his question was, “Did Oklahoma get hit?” 

It was interesting to follow his train of thought, and it was sad to see how scared he really was.  I knew he was a little reluctant to turn off his light and go to bed, but I assured him that God was with us.  God knew what would happen and He was in charge.  Aaron agreed with that and finally we were all able to settle down for the night. 

The earthquake will be something he’ll talk about a lot over the next few days.  This afternoon he said, “Mom, today are we gonna have another earthquake feeling?”  And then later, when our neighbor and his son came to our door to sell Boy Scout popcorn, Aaron popped out the door and told the dad, “Hey, we had an earthquake last night!  Did you feel it?  Were you in the earthquake?” 

So get ready, Paradigm staff and anyone else who crosses Aaron’s path over the next few days.  The earthquake is Aaron’s new favorite, exciting topic!  He hasn’t even talked about his upcoming birthday yet today!  There’s still time, though. 

And like Aaron says, I do hope we don’t have another earthquake feeling!!