Planted For Purpose

I visited a local nursery a few months ago to buy vegetable plants for our garden.  I took Aaron with me, hoping that he would enjoy seeing the various goodies that we were going to plant in our garden.  But Aaron had eyes for one thing only – sunflowers!

“MOM!!” he exclaimed as I stood at the counter to pay, “can I get some sunflowers?” 

I turned to see him with the packet of sunflower seeds already in hand, so I agreed.  He watched carefully as the cashier scanned the small package, all the while talking excitedly to her about how we were going to grow SUNFLOWERS!!

We decided to plant the little seeds between our house and our neighbor’s house, near her raised garden beds.  This way, their children could also enjoy the sunflowers.  Amanda loved the idea, so one afternoon Gary dug the holes…I handed three seeds to Aaron to plant in each hole…and Aaron bent over to place them in the ground.  We covered them up and went about our day.

Aaron wanted those sunflowers to be growing the next day but growing takes time.  Growing takes lots of patience.  One day, though, we saw the tiny shoots emerging from the ground!  Aaron was SO excited!  Over the next weeks we watched each little bitty plant become more and more established.  They grew!

But not into the huge sunflowers that we have had in the past.  These seem to be smaller sunflowers, or maybe they are responding to the harsh heat and the dry weather we have had.

Then one day, Amanda texted me with some exciting news.  We had a bloom!  Later, Aaron and I walked out to the row of sunflowers and sure enough, there was one bloom.

I noticed something that day.  The pretty sunflower that had been the first to bloom was the smallest of the others in that row.  Its flower wasn’t large and impressive like ones you typically see in Kansas fields. 

Yet the happiness that our little blooming sunflower gave all of us was huge!

Sometimes I feel like my life is that of the small sunflower.  Others are living more impressive lives similar to the taller sunflowers that stood on each side of our shorter plant…lives, quite honestly, that I thought I might have.

But God has taken that measly sunflower that bloomed first and has used it to reinforce a lesson I know well in my head but don’t often practice in my heart.

Yesterday God gave me a verse that says it perfectly, as only God can:

        “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose…” (Proverbs 16:4)

God has planted me where I am for a purpose.

And more importantly, God has planted Aaron in my life for a purpose as well. 

If I believe in God’s sovereignty…and I do…then I must also believe that every area of my life is sovereignly planned with purpose by Him.

My idea of great purpose is usually not God’s idea.

Yet God’s idea is always best and right.  Not always easy or even fulfilling on many days…but always best.

I can live a life that shines for God as I care for Aaron, or I can live a stunted life of anger and questions and comparisons to others.

I can see Aaron as a weight that keeps me down, or I can see Aaron as a means of experiencing God’s joy.

I can bloom or I can wither.

And here’s the catch.  Often no one…NO one…sees my bloom.  I feel like my life has no purpose.

But God clearly says that He has made everything for its own purpose.

I am to bloom brightly for Him, not so that my bloom will necessarily be seen and admired by others but so that I will grow in grace and be more like Christ.

So, little sunflower, I am thankful that you were planted where you were.  I’m thankful for yet another lesson that God planted in my heart using the least of these.

May I live a faithful life no matter how small I think it might be.

I’m The Uncle!

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”  (Psalm 139:13-14)

Aaron and I were eating lunch out when I received this sonogram picture from our daughter, Andrea.  I showed it to Aaron right away, a huge smile on my face.  He stared at it for a few seconds.

“What is it?” he finally asked.

“This is your niece or nephew,” I told him.

Aaron stared at the picture again.

“It’s too small!” he said. 

I just smiled, still in awe over this amazing view of the miracle taking place in Andrea’s womb.  I have, like you, seen hundreds of these sonogram shots but this one took my breath away.  Isn’t it just amazing that when the baby is yours, as in this is MY grandchild, then the picture takes on a whole new depth and meaning?

It’s another miracle of God, this love that He puts in our hearts for our own flesh and blood.

There in the restaurant as we crunched on chips and salsa, I pointed out to Aaron the baby’s head and torso and the beginnings of his little body. 

Several days later in the grocery store, Aaron and I saw a friend.  Aaron quickly launched right into what was still fresh on his mind.

“I saw the stomach picture of my sister and I didn’t know what it was!” he excitedly said. 

I saw the look of confusion on our friend’s face, so I quickly explained about the stomach picture!

Aaron rarely gets family relationships correct.  Not too long ago, before we knew that Andrea was pregnant, he had an observation.

“I wish Andrea was pregnant.  Then we could all be Granddads.”  😊

But now Aaron knows a few things.  For awhile this is what he would say to anyone who was fortunate enough to be near him or to anyone that I stopped to chat with.

“My sister is having a baby and I’m the UNCLE and we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl because it’s too little!!”

But now…NOW…we know that Andrea and Kyle are having a baby BOY!!

Aaron’s rote phrase has changed.

“My sister is having a baby and I’m the UNCLE and it’s a boy and he’s the NEPHEW!!” 

Then Aaron often adds that he is scared to be The Uncle and that he’s not sure he wants a baby boy.  We assure him that all he needs to do as The Uncle is to play with and love his nephew. 

Time to insert the first Baby Bump picture!  Andrea asked Kyle if she looked pregnant or if she looked like she had just eaten too many donuts.  😊

Aaron has obsessed about changing the baby’s diaper.  The nurse at his day group actually brought a baby doll in and taught Aaron how to change a diaper.  Aaron tells us all that he passed the diaper test!  Now we tease him about being the main diaper changer, so maybe this is why he’s scared to be The Uncle.  😊 

But really, we have all been very surprised and touched by how excited Aaron is about this new baby business.  A recent example happened just a few days ago.  The background is that Andrea has been very sick with this pregnancy, having a hard time finding food that will stay down.  One weekend she felt like biscuits would taste good.  She and Kyle bought a can and of the eight biscuits, she ate seven!

Kyle didn’t waste any time in buying more biscuits…many more biscuits!  He stacked them on their counter, and we laughed and laughed when we got this picture.

As Aaron and I were picking up a few groceries the other day, he suddenly started briskly walking toward the biscuits in the cooler. 

“Mom!!” he declared, “I want to buy some biscuits to send to Andrea!” 

It was the sweetest thing for him to want to do that.  I explained that we can’t mail biscuits but that we would buy her some on our next visit. 

 Aaron continually infuses our lives with his own very special way of life and his own unique view of our world. 

We often stand beside him either smiling or laughing or explaining to others or doing damage control from the things he says.

But all this wonderful baby business and Aaron’s way of dealing with such a huge life change for us has, as always, offered another view into the complex and compelling world as Aaron sees it. 

Baby Boy is growing!

And so are we, with Aaron coming along as always.    

A Ruined Heart

I’ve written before about the special relationship Aaron has with Carl, one of our Meals on Wheels clients.  Carl has taken a special liking to Aaron and loves to give him things.  Sometimes Carl will even give me a small gift like a flower from his yard, or a picture. 

Carl loves to see Aaron’s delight and Aaron loves BEING delighted.  Carl asked me once if he was doing too much.   I told him that he doesn’t need to give Aaron things every week.   Yet most weeks Carl does have a little something for Aaron.

Today Aaron took a bag of dog treats that he wanted to give to Lucky, Carl’s dog.  I love it when Aaron wants to do the giving, so I agreed.  When we got to Carl’s house, he invited us in so that Aaron could give Lucky her treat.  Feeble old Lucky hobbled over to Aaron and happily took the dog bone from Aaron’s hand.  Aaron handed the bag of treats to Carl, happy as he could be that Lucky liked the bone and that he could give her more.

I could tell that Carl didn’t have anything for Aaron, and that was perfectly fine.  But then Carl reached down beside his chair and picked up a shopping bag in which was a can of Maxwell House Coffee.  He asked me if we like coffee and then wanted me to take the bag.

I did not want him to give me that coffee so I thanked him but said no.  I told him that I had just bought coffee, which was true, and that he needed to keep his coffee. 

Surprisingly, Aaron was quiet during our exchange.  He and I left, but as we walked to the car Aaron spoke very quietly to me.

“You ruined his heart,” Aaron softly said.

Wow.

That almost stopped me in my tracks.

Aaron kept saying that to me over and over as we made our last two deliveries and then headed to lunch.  We talked a lot about it and I believe that Aaron understands why I did not take the coffee. 

But still, Aaron felt so bad that Carl wanted to give us something and I said no.  Aaron wasn’t concerned about the fact that he didn’t get any gift today.

No.  He was worried about Carl’s heart…about hurting Carl’s feelings.

He knows that giving a gift is a good thing for the giver more than the one doing the getting.

I’m pretty blown away by that perception on Aaron’s part.

Blown away by the very insightful way that Aaron verbalized his thoughts.

Aaron loves to give things away, but I never realized that he has empathy and understanding toward others who are doing the giving.

He knows that the joy he feels when giving is also felt by others who are giving to him.

I can also see that the kindness of Carl…and of others like him in Aaron’s life…is causing kindness to blossom in Aaron.

Sometimes Aaron can be the very opposite of kind, quite honestly.  We talked some about how his words can ruin hearts.  But whatever is going on with Aaron and with his words and behaviors, I hope that I will pause and remember Aaron’s words.

You ruined his heart.

May that never be what I do to anyone, and especially not to this special son that God has given to us. 

A Good Place with Each Other

Aaron has a very special friend at his day group, Paradigm.  Her name is Victoria.  From the time Victoria first started attending Paradigm, she and Aaron just hit it off.  They became fast friends. 

Developing and maintaining relationships can be very tricky and difficult for Aaron.  We understand Aaron better than anyone does but even with us he can be full of relational surprises.  The tone of our voice…a particular hand motion…not following in his rigid demands…   There are so many ways that Aaron can suddenly become upset and angry with those of us who know him best.  Imagine the pitfalls of combining all the special needs and personalities in his day group!

But there is something very real and incredibly sweet about his relationship with Victoria.  She squeals and jumps with delight when he walks into Paradigm.  She misses him terribly when he isn’t there. 

And Aaron…well, Aaron (as far as we know!) tolerates her noises because he sees how much she cares for him.  He even shows empathy when a storm comes and Victoria is very scared, or when she is sad about something. 

Who can explain love? 

One thing I do know is that all of us, on whatever level we operate, want and need to be loved.

Aaron is an open book as he attempts to analyze and understand his feelings for Victoria.

One day, after an altercation with someone at Paradigm, Aaron was pondering Victoria’s reaction to that person.

“Mom, Victoria told N not to bother her boyfriend.  Am I the boyfriend?”

Another time, as he talked to me about Victoria, he revealed more of his thoughts.

“Mom, would she be happy for me to tell her I think she’s a girlfriend?”

Gary and I have tried over the years to stress the relationship of friendship rather than boyfriend/girlfriend.  But no attempts on our part to redirect his thinking on this can squelch the feelings in his heart. 

“Mom,” he commented one day, “Victoria and I seem to match each other.”

Who can argue with that? 

Then one day came this nugget of hilarious wisdom.

“Mom, every time I burp, Victoria laughs at me.  And when I make the farting noise like this, Victoria makes it too.  I think we’re right for each other!”

Love is a many splendored thing, right?  😊

Recently, our friend Barb from Paradigm sent some pictures she took as she walked with Aaron and Victoria to the popcorn shop nearby.  As Barb said, this was so genuine and sweet.

I cried when I looked at them. 

And I thought of another comment that Aaron had made about their relationship.

“Mom, can you tell that Victoria and I have a good place with each other?”

Yes, Aaron. 

And I think it’s a very good place to be.

A Donut With a Side of Autism

Yesterday our friend, Karlea, tagged me in a FB post from our nearby donut shop.  Paradise Donuts was reminding all their customers that it was National Donut Day, and that they were giving everyone a FREE donut.  Karlea just knew that Aaron would love stopping in for a donut.  Soon I was explaining National Donut Day to Aaron, asking him if he wanted to stop on our way to his day group for a donut.  YAY!!

NOT yay.

I must backtrack a bit to explain.  Nearly every day at Paradigm (Aaron’s day group), Antoine or another staff will take Aaron to the nearby QuikTrip.  I send money with Aaron, and he is able to buy something to eat and drink.  He absolutely loves this small outing.  His QuikTrip visit is ingrained into his routine now.

Back to yesterday.

Me:  Aaron, today is National Donut Day.  Paradise Donuts is giving away a free donut to everyone that comes in.  Would you like to stop there on our way to Paradigm?  We can get a free donut!

Aaron:  No.

Me:  What?  You don’t want a donut?  A FREE donut?!

Aaron (a little more emphatically):  No!

Me:  Why don’t you want a donut?

Aaron:  I want to go to QuikTrip.

Me:  I’m still sending money and you can still go to QuikTrip.

Aaron:  I like Antoine taking me to QuikTrip for food.

Me:  Antoine will still take you to QuikTrip for food. 

Aaron:  I like QuikTrip food, NOT a donut!

Me:  But you like donuts.  Just a few days ago you were happy that we stopped to get donuts.

Aaron:  I like Antoine taking me to QuikTrip more than you taking me for a donut!

These conversations usually lead to personal insults as Aaron attempts to drive home the fact that on Paradigm days…almost always…QuikTrip is what he does and where he goes for food and fun. 

Nothing will deter him from his routine. 

Not even a donut.

Not with Mom.

I dropped it like a hot donut and took Aaron to Paradigm.

Later, when I picked Aaron up, he told me about his day.

Aaron:  Mom, they had donuts at Paradigm for donut day.

Me:  Oh, that’s fun!  Did you eat one?

Aaron:  No.

Me:  You didn’t eat a donut?!

Aaron:  No.

Me:  Why not?!

Aaron:  I didn’t want one.  I wanted to go to QuikTrip.

I decided to just drop it.  Aaron didn’t see me shaking my head.

After a few moments of silence:

Aaron:  Antoine took me to QuikTrip!

Me:  Good!  What did you buy today?

Aaron:  I bought two donuts.

There are not enough letter combinations in the English alphabet for me to form enough words to voice what I was thinking and feeling and wanting to say at that moment.

Just as well.

Laughter is far better than lectures during these times.

BUT I WANT A DONUT!!!!!

UNCLE Aaron!!

We got the BEST news on Sunday night. I had been talking to our daughter, Andrea, for over two hours. We were winding things down when she asked if I would go get Gary…that she and Kyle had something to show him on Facetime…and I just assumed it was something they wanted him to see about the big door installation they had worked on when we were there last month.

We were soon chatting when Andrea said they had a picture to show us, which she then texted to me and Gary. Here is the totally adorable picture she sent:

And oh my goodness, the surprise was real! I whooped and hollered, and we laughed and I cried and it was so wonderful!! Our first grandchild!!

We got our son, Andrew, on Facetime and his reaction was equally fun.

We wondered about when to tell Aaron. For the longest time he has asked Andrea when she is going to have a baby. I have told him not to ask that question because it’s personal, but none of that matters to Aaron one bit. He has continued to ask anyway, and she always handles it with humor and patience.

Soon we heard him coming loudly down the stairs. He was surprised to see everyone on the phone screen. I knew this would be the time to tell him.

“Aaron,” I said, “guess what? Andrea is going to have a baby!”

He grinned a huge grin. Then he bent over at his waist and rubbed his hands quickly together while he laughed and laughed. He was thrilled! His reaction tickled us all to pieces.

“You’re going to be Uncle Aaron!!” we told him.

He laughed again as he absorbed that news.

“Andrea!!” he exclaimed, “does that mean you’re going to be fat?”

Andrea was her gracious self while I reminded Aaron for the umpteenth time that you do NOT say a pregnant woman is fat…that she is pregnant, not fat.

Can you tell this isn’t the first time he has made that comment?

Yesterday, Aaron and I were at our neighbor’s house. Suddenly Aaron leaned in to say something to Amanda while he softly rubbed his hands together.

“My sister has a baby in her stomach,” he slowly began, as if in awe. “And the baby is too little to tell if it’s a boy or a girl.”

He spoke softly, not with the exuberance of the night before. It was as if he was sharing the most amazing fact…which it really is.

It was so precious and sweet. Amanda’s face was beaming, as was mine, and Aaron knew that he had shared something very special as he saw our reactions.

And we knew, as we saw his look of wonder and heard the same in his soft voice, that Aaron was getting it.

“Aaron,” Amanda said, “you’re going to be an uncle!”

“I’ll be an uncle!!” he repeated.

Uncle Aaron!

I like the ring of it…and I think Aaron does, too.

Aaron’s Note

I have another funny note story to share.

When we were in Houston last month with our daughter and son-in-law, we also got to see our other son, Andrew.  He was in town because there was an NHRA drag race there, and he works on one of the teams.  

Andrew was able to come over to Kyle and Andrea’s one evening for supper.  While he was there, Aaron ran inside and came back with something for Andrew.  It was a pack of Juicy Fruit gum.  Random, I know, but Aaron loves giving things away and this is what he grabbed for his brother. 

This past Monday morning we got a text from Andrew.  He was getting ready to leave for the track in Richmond.  He sent this picture:

“Tell Aaron I’ve been chewing his Juicy Fruit every morning when I leave for the track.  I’m almost out.  Guess he needs to send more.”  😊

Aaron jumped on that in a flash.  He pulled out his three-pack of unopened Juicy Fruit gum and said he wanted to send that to Andrew.

“Mom,” he directed, “you put it in a box, and I’ll sign a note.”

The plan was made!

I got the box, placed the gum inside, and gave Aaron a piece of paper for him to write his note. 

This is what I later found. 

How I laughed!  But not in front of Aaron. 

Remember my last blog about the note he wrote to Cody?  Here was another note, this one to his brother, and this one also flat and factual with nothing personal added.  Nothing endearing.  Not even a “Love, Aaron” to be found.

Yet this note IS very endearing because it is so very Aaron.  I could have dictated to Aaron what to say, but then it wouldn’t be Aaron’s words from Aaron’s heart and Aaron’s unique ways. 

And those unique ways are what make Aaron endearing in his own right. 

Believe me, there are plenty of times that Aaron’s words and ways are anything but endearing.  But these moments that are totally Aaron are moments that make us smile and make us thankful that we can share in his very special ways.   

What’s In Your Shoe?

Aaron has developed a special relationship with the nurse practitioner at his day group.  Megan is gentle and kind with Aaron.  She listens to his endless talking and shows interest in his latest interest…interests that are more like obsessions on Aaron’s part.

Right now, Aaron is all about space and planets and galaxies and moons and stars and the sun and YouTube videos about all of these and more.

Megan has told her son, Cody, about Aaron and shares with him some of the space “facts” that Aaron so happily shares.  Cody has written Aaron three notes, thanking Aaron for sharing what he’s learned and for telling him about the YouTube videos he should watch.  It’s really very sweet.

Aaron LOVES these personal notes.  The first note made it home with Aaron, and he happily shared it with us. 

The second note, however, was somehow lost.  Aaron thinks it must have fallen out of his pocket.  He was very sad to have lost that note.

Two days ago, after I picked Aaron up from his day group, our van started over-heating.  Gary met us and took the van to the shop while I followed in his truck.  In all the excitement, Aaron forgot to mention that he had another note from Cody.

 Aaron and I sat in the waiting room at the shop while Gary talked to the manager.  Suddenly, Aaron took off his shoe.

“Aaron,” I said, “don’t take off your shoes in here.  Wait until we get home.”

“But Mom,” he answered, “I wanted to show you this.”

He reached into his shoe and then handed me a damp folded piece of paper, which I wanted to hand back.  Yuck!  😊

“Cody wrote me another note, so I put it in my shoe because I didn’t want to lose it!” Aaron explained.

I read the note while Aaron broadly grinned.  Once again, Cody was thanking Aaron for sharing info about Saturn and the beautiful rings.  I finished reading, and then Aaron refolded the note before putting it back in his shoe for the ride home. 

Aaron talked and talked about that note as we went about our evening.  So, I finally told Aaron that he should write a note back to Cody.  He thought about this for awhile and then went to his room.  Before long, he handed me his note that he had written.  Now it was my turn to grin broadly.

Look at the first planet.  Mercenary!  😊 😊

But even funnier is the fact that his note is just full of facts.  Nothing personal at all. 

This is SO Aaron! 

When he talks to his brother or sister on the phone, this is exactly what he does.  He never ever asks them how they are doing or what is going on in their lives.  He instantly launches into his latest book or game or movie.  He loves facts and information and trivia.

It’s why he loves reading his Handy Answer Books on different subjects but has never liked stories that involve dialogue and relationships.

This element of autism is exhibited in every area of Aaron’s life.  When he and I went to pick up our van yesterday, Aaron immediately started telling the employee there all about Saturn.  I finished paying just as Aaron decided to move on to Venus, but I ushered him out the door as I told him that on our next visit he could give the Venus lecture.  I noticed the huge grin on the face of the waiting customer as we left. 

Tomorrow Aaron will take Cody’s note to Megan.  We are putting the note in an envelope.  I don’t think an envelope will fit into Aaron’s shoe.  I hope not, for Cody’s sake.

I’m sure his mom has a pair of latex gloves he can wear, though.  😊

Little Huge Gifts For Mom

Last night Aaron and I were headed downstairs to watch a couple shows before bed.  This is our nighttime ritual.  He gathered his blanket, his drink, his new bag of cheese cubes, and his empty bowl in which his cheese cubes would soon be poured. 

Speaking of ritual, Aaron’s life is full of those.  Something as simple as putting his blanket over his outstretched legs requires the ottoman to be just right, his legs on the ottoman while still wearing his slippers AND slipper socks, and then the blanket shaken several times to get out as many wrinkles as possible and to be in just the perfect position to then be pulled up over his legs and onto his lap.  I always cringe when he realizes he has forgotten something because the blanket is thrown back, and the process must be repeated. All of this must occur before we start watching our program. 

Sigh.

After he was sufficiently settled last night, he opened his bag of sharp cheddar cheese cubes and poured them into his bowl.  Aaron will not eat out of the bag.  He must have a bowl for everything, including a bowl for chip crumbs…croissant flakes, as he calls them…the crackers he doesn’t like in his Chex Mix…his Red Hots…peanut shells…  The list is endless. 

Soon our show was on and Aaron was allowed, in his mind, to begin eating his cheese cubes…but only after the opening song was finished.  One does not actually start eating, my friends, until the program has actually begun. 

The store only had sharp cheddar cheese cubes when we went to buy them.  Aaron usually gets mild cheddar.

“So do you like those sharp cheddar cheese cubes, Aaron?” I asked.

“YEAH!!” he declared happily.  “They’re GOOD!”

Soon, without saying a word, he reached over and placed this lone cheese cube beside me.  It was his gift to me.

I’ll be honest.  Sometimes eating food that Aaron has handled can be a challenge for me.  I know where those hands of his may have been.  I see how he puts food into his mouth with those same fingers that are now on the food he wants to give me. 

But how could I say no to this little gift that came straight from his heart?

To Aaron, this little cheese cube comprised a huge gift for Mom.

“Awwww, Aaron, thank you!” I told him as I looked down at the little cheese cube. 

“Oh, Lord, please protect me,” I also added silently as I ate the cheese.   😊

Aaron rubbed his hands together and gave his guttural chuckle as I ate the cheese. 

He was even happier to give me that gift than I was to receive it.

What a small little thing a cube of cheese is!  But what a huge deal it was to Aaron to give it and to watch me receive it with thankfulness.

This long-term mothering of Aaron is full of those sorts of gifts, but often if I’m not careful I don’t see them as such.

I never planned to be actively mothering at this age.  I read that I am considered “elderly” now, though I don’t feel that way.  Yet numbers on paper say that I am.

How can I be this age and still going from morning to night mothering my grown child? 

But here I am, by God’s doing…and may I not ever forget that.  God has led me to this path, and I must trust Him as I walk each step. 

On this Mother’s Day I want to give to each of you who are still fully mothering in your older years a word of love and encouragement.  Whether you are mothering your own child or children, or your grandchildren, please know that your work is not unnoticed by God.  We honor Him by caring for the ones He has given us.

May we see each small milestone…each smile…every hug…and so many other small huge gifts as what they really are.

Gifts from God. 

Through our tears, our fears, our frustrations, our exhaustion, our envy of other’s lives…whatever we are going through – may we not miss those beautiful and small huge gifts around us from our children every day.

Go buy a bag of cheese cubes and have a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Another Trip to Texas

Two weeks ago today we were travelling down to Texas to see our kids.  Our “kid” Aaron went with us, somewhat compliantly until the morning we left.  The reality of actually leaving the house and his room and all his things was too much for him to handle gracefully. 

All during the packing process I encouraged him to downsize what he took.  For instance, I told him to take the one Handy Answer book he was reading…not five.  He won’t read five books in the next three years.  That’s because he will ONLY read at night before bed, a few pages, and nothing so far has ever changed that reality for him.  He agreed to this deal, but as I was putting something in one of his bags, I uncovered two extra Handy Answer books that he had hidden from me under some clothes.  I removed them, saying nothing.  He put them back, saying nothing.  HaHa!  We finally agreed on taking one extra book, which of course was never opened. 

We also let him use his money to buy a Nintendo game he had wanted.  He bought it two days before we left, but the game was in our possession until he walked into Kyle and Andrea’s house in Texas.  Call it bribery if you want, but we call it another of our clever survival tips for traveling with an autistic child.  Survival for us even more than Aaron.

Other than dragging Aaron kicking and screaming out of the house on the morning we left…not literally, but almost…he did great on this trip.  I’ll start my photo dump now. 

Happy Aaron blowing his straw wrapper on me at Quik Trip. 

Spending Easter morning at church with Kyle and Andrea.  A huge blessing!

Then giving Aaron the basket that Andrea made for him.  Sweet sister!

He helped Kyle gather sticks before their new fence was installed the next day.  Kyle is great about getting Aaron involved with activities. 

He fed the dogs every chance he got!

Our big outing was to NASA.  He was having a slow day physically and mentally, but he loves telling everyone about that day.

Our son, Andrew, was in town for an NHRA race.  He got to come over for dinner one night.  What a joy to have us all together, even briefly.

Gary, Andrea, and I went to the race on Saturday while Kyle stayed home with Aaron.

And on Sunday, their Monster Energy team won!!  Sadly, we were unable to be there that day.  ☹

I love the love that Andrea, Kyle, and Andrew show to Aaron.  I wish I had a picture of Kyle trying to teach Aaron to do push-ups while we were at the track. Or one of him the night we arrived giving Aaron the special game he bought him.  😊

The week was packed with much more, but I’ll end this now with a funny story:

Background:  For years my family has had fun with my association with cows, as in cow Patty.  I also go by Moo as much as Mom.  😂

On our way to Houston, we stopped at our favorite tourist center/rest stop in Oklahoma City.  Aaron was ecstatic that Gary told him he could buy me a little stuffed cow.

Aaron decided to explain his purchase to the clerk at the cash register.

Loudly.

“I’m buying this for my mom because she’s a COW!!”

I explained as best I could.

Then she pointed me to a bag of candy.

Cow Patties.  😂😂😂

Thanks for reading!  Have a wonderful weekend!