Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What happened?

Kks talks up a storm these days. Her expressive language gains complexity each day, offering her observations and interpretations of the world. I have longed to learn more about what goes on in her mind--about what thing occupy her thoughts. For so long, we had little if any idea. Even more exciting, kks tells us in simple terms what happened in the past tense. The kids work on this in school. We work on this with things recently spoken--we want to know, "what happened?" Kks' daycare provider yesterday asked "what did you have for lunch?" Kks answered: "Chips. Juice. Ice Cream (she forgot the turkey sandwich, but 3 out of 4 causes jubilation in this household)."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Every little thing

A second child has taught me to appreciate the small, daily joys of parenting and childhood. My wife and I are not easily panic stricken, nor are we hypochondriacs. However, I feel calmer as a parent this time around. I find myself savoring certain moments. I tend to shovel my food in--my parents often said to me at meal time "you're eating like you're going to a fire!" I think I parented KKS at times like I was going to a fire. Her younger sister, AAS has slowed me down.

Two moments to recently savor:

1. KKS this morning greeted me with a question "What's up, Daddy?" Not really her style. Maybe it is her style, and I'm learning more about it.

2. Last night as I was futzing about the house, I notice KKS reading to AAS. She wasn't trying to drag her around by the arm or yank on her three month old limbs, only recreating what we have emphasized lately in reading.

I want to share more of the small, savory moments, especially as KKS opens more of her world to us through verbal communication. I shall savor those moments all the more.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Everyone is honey

Kks has grown quite attached to her speech therapist. She calls her "honey," though that isn't particularly special these days. Everyone receives the name honey. Near Christmas, the speech therapist shared that she was going back to Washington for an early Christmas celebration--had to be on call on the 25th. Lots of shared lingo about Pacific Northwest life. When she announced the Washington trip, kks chimed in with the tag line from the University of Washington fight song "Bow Down To Washington." Her ST is a U Dub alum, so she was thrilled. Kks Great Granddad is no longer with us, but as a loyal U Dub Alum himself, hopefully he learned of this singing somewhere in the afterlife, he would have been proud.

Lacking visualization of the two child parenting life, the last 3 months surprised my workload--quadrupled! I lost my will to write--I hope to recover the gift of observation of these two little girls in my house. I look forward to give this gift to kks someday, the joy of her presence, the pleasure of watching her learn and grow. Maybe we can talk about it over a cup of tea with honey.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Laundry reveals how my life changed October 23, 2006.

I can now complete a full load of pink laundry.

Kks welcomed a sister into the world at 10:32 pm on October 23rd. She wasn't entirely sure how to interpret the mad dash to get to the hospital...only the end result for kks was a slumber party at her baby sitters' home.

After growing up in a household with two brothers, I can only imagine what it was like for my poor mother. Where was the gender solidarity? No wonder she imported little girls.

Some expressed disappointment for me that a boy didn't join our family. No one needs to project disappointment. Kks is an excited big sister, and my wife and I are team parents with two beautiful children. God blesses us richly. As I write I carry AAS (kks' sister) close to my chest in a Baby Bjorn.

I couldn't be more thankful or happy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Music awakens the soul

What qualities of a song moves us to a connection with the Holy?

I have no idea what moves kks to like or sing a particular song. She picks up a variety of songs, with no real rhyme or reason to what she likes. A list of what she has picked up off the radio, my ipod, school, television, etc.

California-Phantom Planet
Havin' A Ball (Together)--The Partridge Family
I Woke Up In Love This Morning--The Partridge Family
Come On Get Happy--The Partridge Family
Mary Mack--Ella Jenkins
Jingle Bells--Barenaked Ladies
A Boat Like Gideon Brown--Great Big Sea

The first Partidge Family song that kks latched on to was in the presence of my father as we drove through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan over Labor Day weekend. We listened to the 70's pop station on the satellite radio, within a minute of the song's beginning, she was singing "I Woke Up In Love This Morning." We now sing the song as a house favorite. Joy abounds in the melodies that please a girl's brain.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Living in the mystery

Events of the past 6-8 weeks stack to the point my reflections seem insufficient. The weight of uncertainty concerning the future of kks reached oppressive levels in early August. I like to think I live a life of flexibility, but i believe everyone needs to live with some level of certainty. With kks we held many questions. Autism? Aspberger's? Would she be involved in Special Education the rest of her life? Would her health and development regress? What will be the portrait of her childhood? We knew that kks was more than her diagnosis could ever be, but how shall we order our lives? Our struggles with kks relate as much to her inability to deal with uncertainty as much as ours. With great anticipation, we traveled to the Twin Cities, not only to learn more about our daughter; we could also gain respite in a place that feels like a home to us. We know something of the rhythm of life in the Twin Cities, we went to a place of comfort.

Our family was more than pleased about the level of care at the University of Minnesota. Over two days we were not able to move out of mystery. We have only learned a way to live in the mystery of kks' development. Living in the Protestant Midwest, I have learned that congregational life has little time for the mystery of God. The hidden and mysterious God is often lost in the utilitarian understanding of "God's plan" for my/your life. Our life with God overflows with the mysterious. The mystery of God will not be obstructed, but the Protestant/Utilitarian church obsesses about what it "gets done." I am amazed how much I have swirled in that vortex believing that furious activity is the outstretched arm of God. God has created something in our daughter whom we know well, but the gift of her life is also a mystery.

The basics of what we have learned:

1. Kks has several autistic behaviors.
2. Kks also has several behaviors contrary to any pattern of Autism or Aspberger's
3. Kks' condition lies in the nebulous nether regions of the Autism Spectrum known as Pervasive Development Disorder: Not Otherwise Specified (aka PDD-NOS).
4. Speech therapy, behavior therapy and social structure are critical to her development in the next few years.
5. The University of Minnesota will continue to monitor her progress. She needs multiple points of observation before a solid cognitive evaluation can be formulated. The love and structure she receives at home and the Church/community, and therapies she receives from various health care professionals and educators offer kks the best opportunity for healthy development. The doctors intuit that kks will not live with Autism the rest of her life, but she is at significant risk for learning disorders that cannot be identified without further observation.

Kks is now settling into a routine that seems good for all of us. Kks knows more of what is coming on a daily basis in her world. We know that we have a long road ahead of us, but we can more gracefully live in the mystery of God. Some days are harder than others. I like living in a place of hope.

I will do my best to keep you posted on what it's like to live in our section of the mystery.


Monday, July 31, 2006

my new personal trainer

Occasionally, kks takes an interest in my workout habits. Mostly she wants to play with the treadmill, the weights, or the funky abdominal apparatus. Today she took on a new role.

Gesturing toward the ez curl bar she said, "Okay, here, play with this."

I completed a set of 10 curls.

"Okay, here, play with this," she said pointing to the dumbbells.

To think I would have ever spent money on a personal trainer. Kks will help me just fine...

Kks is becoming more in touch with her inner boss. The dog does not always cooperate...this new sibling live with high expectations.