Singing Before Bed

Isaiah loves singing and cuddling, so we snuggled into his bed last night to sing for a few minutes before turning out the lights for sleep. My mom came in while we were singing and pulled out a camera, so we have a video of it. I thought it would be fun to share.

Singing Isaiah's favorite song: ''God's Not Dead'' by Newsboys

My Dog, A Special Friend

When I was 15, our family dog, Zach, a funny looking mutt, died suddenly of cancer. I had trained him and showed him in 4-H. He was my best friend. We had been preparing to go to the state fair dog show when he got sick. I ended up going to the state fair alone. When we got Zach, my dad was less than enthusiastic. He doesn’t really like dogs. Well… He didn’t before Zach. He got Zach from some people at our church because my mom had seen him and fallen in love and it was about her birthday. Zach became a huge, important part of my family. Even my dad loved him and enjoyed time with him. When Zach died, my dad said we would never own another dog. Never. He couldn’t deal with the thought of getting attached and losing another.

Zach

Me and Zach

Well, after seven years as dog owners, DJ and I just couldn’t imagine living without a dog! We begged and pleaded. Promised we’d do alllll the work that comes with dog ownership. We kept getting the same answer, “never again”. One day, we decided to try a new approach. My dad is a pastor. We decided to use that to our advantage. What pastor would refuse to pray about anything? We made a deal with him. He was to pray about getting a dog, then, whatever the answer, we’d drop it. He agreed, promising the answer would still be “no”.

A couple weeks later, my dad gathered us in front of the computer (the desktop was the only one with internet ) and pulled up some puppy pictures. He told us we’d be meeting the breeder the next day and bringing home a puppy. As thrilled as we were to be getting a puppy, both DJ and I felt a little ripped off. I wanted a boxer and he wanted a Jack Russell terrier. My dad had chosen neither. In fact, he’d chosen a breed we knew nothing about! A corgi. The only thing we knew about them was that I’d seen them in the Thanksgiving dog show.

Baby Max

Little bundle of energy and fur

Turns out, after hearing our plea to pray, my dad did just that–and started dreaming about a corgi. My mom teases him that it’s because he has British roots and the queen has corgis. (He tends to be fascinated by anything involving British royalty. ) Beyond the dreams, none of us could figure out why he chose a corgi, but a dog is a dog. We met the breeder and came home with a bundle of energy. Within a couple days, he’d received the name Maxwell Edward. My dad wanted Edward because it’s a British royal name. My mom said that was way too big for such a little ball of fluff that would never grow beyond 30 pounds. She likes giving dogs middle names for when they’re in trouble, so Edward became a middle name. This bundle of energy is commonly known as Max.

Baby Max

It sleeps!

Jump forward four years from meeting Max. Isaiah is three and diagnosed with SPD. He is likely somewhere on the autism spectrum. Our lives are full of meltdowns and stimming. Max is still here. Old enough to behave like a mature dog for the first time in his life. He also has a canine sibling, the “furball” Dusty. Dusty is a fireball and always in trouble. We love him anyway. Max plays hard for short periods, then goes back to his adult “duties”. Max is proving to be the best thing in the world for Isaiah. He’s calm when Isaiah is absolutely losing it. He lets Isaiah pet him backwards, play with his ears, put toys on him, snuggle too close and give lots of kisses. When he’s tired of it, he moans and walks away.

Doggies

World's most patient dog

Today, I shared a picture of a very teary, post-meltdown Isaiah grinning at Max, who’s sitting just in front of him on an SPD page. A number of parents posted about their corgis and how amazing they are with their SPD kids. Looking back, maybe the choice of corgi wasn’t so random after all. God knew we’d have this quirky little SPD boy who needs a very special dog. He knew how great corgis are for SPD kids. He knew that Max has an amazing personality (the vote for Max over the other puppies was unanimous, something that never happens in my family). I am so insanely grateful that my dad listened to our pleading and God’s messages in his dreams and contacted Max’s breeder. Max has made all our lives happier, but he has completely changed Isaiah’s from what it would be without this furry rock in his life.

Corgi Magic

Isaiah and Max, after Isaiah's meltdown

Mini Vacation!

I was on spring break last week, so we decided to do a mini vacation. We stayed pretty close to home, but there’s plenty to see here, so it was tons of fun. Isaiah had been to some of the places we visited, but he doesn’t remember his first visit. We had three days of fun adventures.

Day 1:

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum
I’ve been to this museum several times because it’s free and really interesting. Of course, I love history and Sgt. Floyd is a big part of the local history. The museum is in a riverboat, right off of the Missouri river. It was an instant hit with Isaiah because it was a boat. There’s tons of cool Lewis and Clark stuff inside and quite a few models of different types of boats and various activities that used to take place on the river. The top level of the riverboat is still set up as it was when it was in use, with the captain’s quarters and other rooms. At the very top, the navigation equipment is all set up for kids to play with. They can even ring the bell. Of course, that was a huge hit with Isaiah!

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

Looking at a boat model

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

Checking out the captain's quarters

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

Ringing the bell

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

''Phone's ringing...''

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

''It's for you!''

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
This museum is set up for kids. When you arrive, each kid is given a passport to fill in along the way. First, they get to pick what position they’d like to have on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Isaiah wanted to be a soldier, so he stamped his passport as a sergeant. There are lots of things in the same room where kids can try parts of each person’s job, like standing guard or identifying animal tracks. The next part forms a circle around the first room. It takes you through Sgt. Floyd’s time in the area, starting with him getting sick. There’s a huge scene of his burial with life-sized talking Lewis and Clark models. That part freaked Isaiah out pretty badly. The rest of the room has a scene showing those on the expedition examining “strange” animals and plants to learn about them. It has some stuffed animals there, too. My favorite part is the life-sized Seaman looking at a prairie dog. He barks and cocks his head as the prairie dog moves in its cage.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Pictures aren't allowed in the interpretive center, so this is all I have from there

Dorothy Peacut Nature Center
This is one of Isaiah’s favorite places to go. They have lots of kid friendly activities inside and great trails to walk outside. It was too cold to go outside while we were there this time, but that didn’t keep Isaiah from having a blast inside. He played with the animal furs, went into the underground prairie tunnel and looked out through the badger-cam, admired various animals in the room and played with all the activities.

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

Animal footprint stamping

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

Operating the badger-cam

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

''I wearing it!''

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

''A baby reindeer!''

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

This is one of Isaiah's favorite exhibits

Bald Eagles
When we got home, my dad told us that a coworker had told him about some bald eagles in the area. We loaded up in the car and headed out to see them. There are about 300 bald eagles about forty minutes from our house! A little over half of them are juvenile, so quite a few didn’t have the distinctive white heads. We couldn’t get nearly as close as we would have liked, but we took pictures of what we could see. Isaiah thought those were pretty amazing, too. None of us had realized until now that bald eagles migrate through here every year. Now that we know, we’ll be waiting for them next year!

Keelboat Visitor Center

Mature bald eagle

Bald Eagles

Juvenile bald eagle

Bald Eagles

The eagles winked at me

Bald Eagles

All the birds in the tree behind this juvenile are eagles. All the trees were full of eagles!

Day 2:

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge
Since there were so many eagles here, I decided to check the most recent numbers at DeSoto Bend. Their numbers from almost a week before reflected the number of eagles we’d seen the night before, as well as huge numbers of other birds, so we decided to stop there on our way to visit my grandmother. We went into the visitor center, where there were almost no birds to be seen. We did, however, spot two pelicans on the water. Unfortunately, they were too far away to get a picture. After hanging out there for a while, we started following roads around the refuge, looking for signs of birds. At one spot, we parked in a lot and I got out to take some pictures. I could see a juvenile bald eagle in a tree and was hoping he’d move closer. I gave up after a few minutes because he wasn’t showing any intention of moving. As I turned to get into the van, an adult bald eagle flew over, less than ten feet above my head! He’d caught a fish on the lake and was headed up to a tree branch when I saw him. We followed him to where he landed and I got some nice pictures of him enjoying his dinner.

Keelboat Visitor Center

Geese that we spotted on the way to DeSoto

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge

Seagull

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge

The bald eagle with his dinner (you can see the fish in his talons)

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful bald eagle

After the adventure with our bald eagle friend, we headed back inside the visitor center to let Isaiah look at the exhibits. There are some kids’ areas that have things to touch that Isaiah really loved. He got to touch furs, feathers and deer antlers. The antlers were his favorite. He put one on his head and said he was a reindeer!

Fun at DeSoto

Eaglet practicing flapping his wings

Fun at DeSoto

Isaiah's ''wingspan'' is almost the same as a red-tailed hawk

Fun at DeSoto

My little ''reindeer''

Fun at DeSoto

Somewhere in all my mom's pictures, there's one just like this of me

Day 3:

Henry Doorly Zoo
When you live this close to the best zoo in the nation, you don’t want to pass up any opportunities to check it out. Besides, the lion cubs are getting bigger and are so fun to see! Isaiah voted to go in the jungle this time, so that was where we started. We went through the top part of the jungle (the canopy), where Isaiah was thrilled to be on eye level with some fruit bats. The monkeys and gibbons bothered him because they’re so loud, so we had to move passed them pretty quickly. He loved the birds, tamarins and otters, though.

Zoo Adventures

Playful otter

Zoo Adventures

Hippo! And he's actually on land for once!

Zoo Adventures

The cutest monkey in the jungle

After the jungle, Isaiah wanted to visit the sharks, so we headed for the aquarium. We hit it just right because the penguins were not only in the water, but actively playing with visitors. They would come flying up against the glass and stare at whoever was closest them before rushing away, only to come right back. Then we went to see the shark tunnel. Isaiah was sad that the rays weren’t sliding down the sides of the tunnel, but got over it quickly when he spotted a sea turtle. It was resting in a corner, but when Isaiah walked up, it lifted its head to watch him. Isaiah says the turtle is his new friend.

Zoo Adventures

Riding a sea turtle

Zoo Adventures

''Touching'' a fish

Zoo Adventures

Playful, friendly penguin

Zoo Adventures

Isaiah's sea turtle friend

Of course, no trip to the zoo is complete without stopping to see the lion cubs. We got there as they were settling in for a nap, but they were still as adorable as ever. They’re doing some work on the outdoor lion enclosure, so the mama lion was having trouble going to sleep. Every time something happened outside, she’d jump up to make sure her babies were safe. One of the cubs decided within minutes that it had to have been long enough that he could get up now. Of course, the answer from the adult lions was “absolutely not!” We went around and visited all the other cats before going back to the jungle for a few minutes on the way out.

Zoo Adventures

Cub pile!

Zoo Adventures

Beautiful Mama

Zoo Adventures

''I'm awake! What do you mean it's not time yet? I was asleep! See? Please let me get up now?!

Wow, that was a busy few days! And so much fun! I took hundreds of pictures, so I can’t possibly share them all here. Feel free to check out the rest on Flickr.

And now, back to the regularly programmed school week…

Family Christmas

Finally, everyone is well enough to be in the same room. We got together yesterday evening for supper and gifts.

We had lots of fun, spending time together and opening gifts. I loved watching everyone open the gifts we’d picked and see the excitement on their faces. Everyone was so excited. I think everyone got gifts they will love for a long time. I know Isaiah and I are enjoying our gifts.

Christmas with Family

All the cousins

Christmas with Family

Two very happy One Direction fans

Christmas with Family

Trying to guess what's inside their gifts

Christmas with Family

A great picture of Gram

I have lots of pictures and want to share them all, so feel free to check them out here.

Family Christmas–A Little Late

Finally, everyone is well enough to be in the same room. We got together yesterday evening for supper and gifts.

We had lots of fun, spending time together and opening gifts. I loved watching everyone open the gifts we’d picked and see the excitement on their faces. Everyone was so excited. I think everyone got gifts they will love for a long time. I know Isaiah and I are enjoying our gifts.

Christmas with Family

They seem pretty happy with their One Direction posters

Christmas with Family

Everybody freeze! We have to try this right now

Christmas with Family

Felt food!

Christmas with Family

Trying to guess their gifts

I have lots of pictures and want to share them all, so feel free to check them out here.

Due to the outrageous amount of spam targeting this post (to the tune of 100 per day, while other posts get one or two), I am closing the comments.

Christmas

Our Christmas celebrations started on Christmas Eve and went on through Christmas day. We still have a big family celebration coming up on New Years, too. The never ending holiday? At least it’s fun!

Christmas Eve

DJ gave Isaiah his gifts on Christmas Eve so he’d have some time to enjoy them before even more gifts were put in front of him. Besides that, what fun is it to give a Santa toy when the holiday is essentially over? DJ decided to get the Little People “Night Before Christmas” set for Isaiah because he would cheer and tell us about Santa every time we passed it in the store. Needless to say, Isaiah was beyond thrilled to open it. He even slept with Santa and one of the reindeer that night.

Christmas Eve

Santa's sleigh flying through the house

DJ also found a really cool Toy Story 3 play set for Isaiah. It has a few characters and the set from the garbage dump to play with. Isaiah loves the claw that can pick things up and drop them somewhere else. Once he figured out how to use it, he was set.

Christmas Eve

Enjoying the Toy Story set

I decided to let Isaiah open one gift from me on Christmas Eve, too. I had gotten him some Thomas the Tank slippers and thought he’d like to wear them the next morning. I was right. He wanted to sleep in them, too.

Christmas Eve

Very proud of his slippers

Before we headed for bed, Isaiah and I read the Christmas story together. Thomas ended up joining us because my lap is warm, but he wasn’t a fan of sharing with Isaiah and the book. Isaiah was happy to read the story and talk about baby Jesus. He was so excited about it being Jesus’ birthday the next day. I love watching his excitement over Jesus.

Christmas Day

Reading together

When we got to bedtime, Isaiah insisted he needed to watch for Santa. Now, we’ve made it very clear, repeatedly, that Santa is a game. No one has made any effort to hide the Santa antics at our house. I mean, Isaiah stuffed my mom’s stocking with me. He knows. But he wanted to see Santa, anyway. It took a while to convince him that he wouldn’t be able to wait up to see Santa. (Thank you NORAD for informing him that Santa was still in Ohio an hour passed bedtime!)

Christmas Morning

On Christmas morning, Isaiah was the last to wake up. He was finally stirring (with help) and ready to dig into his stocking a little after nine. He came out of the bedroom hoping to find his elf in who knows what kind of mischief and found presents instead. It didn’t take long for him to start tearing into the stocking and finding all sorts of treasures. We had to take lots of breaks to try out the toys he found inside.

Christmas Day

A cool car-shaped chewy toy--tastes yummy!

Once the stocking was empty, Isaiah assumed gifts were done and settled in to play with what he’d already opened. We got some breakfast in him and my mom made coffee for the adults who wanted it, while he was happily entertained. Somehow, even though he was sitting right beside his other presents, he had no idea they were there!

Christmas Day

Back to the Toy Story play set

When Isaiah suddenly noticed the other presents, his face lit up and he wanted to know if he could open those, too. Soon, he was tearing into presents. After he opened the first, DJ picked it up to start pulling it out of the packaging. Isaiah was thrilled because by the time he’d opened the second gift, the first was ready to play with. We took lots of breaks to play with gifts before opening others.

Christmas Day

Testing toys

One of the toys Isaiah got was a cash register. He loves shopping, cooking and caring for his pets and babies, so I thought he’d enjoy it. He was so excited about it and wanted to use it immediately! Every gift he opened after the cash register had to be scanned and paid for before it could be opened. When he was asked how much the gifts cost, he’d announce “ten dollar!” Thankfully, some of them where nowhere near that much, considering them were things like stickers.

Christmas Day

Scanning gifts

We had a very busy, fun-filled day. All the time and effort that went into getting everything ready was well worth it and Isaiah had a blast. He wants to play with everything and loves the new toys. Most have made their way to his play room, but he’s free to bring them to the living room any time.

Christmas Day

He really loved all the cool dress-up accessories

My mom took Isaiah to Claires (at my suggestion) to pick my gift. I figured he’d find a set of earrings for a decent price there and he’d have fun picking a cool design. He had other plans. He did buy me some horse earrings, but he also found a hot pink headband with eyes on it. He insisted that I needed it more than anything else in the entire store. He likes wearing it, too.

For more Christmas pictures, check out my Flickr album.

Kathy

When I was little, I had a doll. She went everywhere with me and I took good (for a toddler) care of her. I rocked her to sleep, nursed her, burped her, learned how to swaddle her… I named her Kathy, after my favorite character on Barney. I had other dolls, too. Like Michael and Luci and Tina. Yup. I liked Barney. A lot.

Playing with Kathy

Hugs for Kathy

A while ago, I was going through boxes looking for something and came across my doll. I pulled her out and did what I could to clean her up and she’s been sitting in my room ever since. At some point, Isaiah spotted her and I told him he could play with her for a while if he was gentle. He latched onto her and has been taking her everywhere with him ever since.

Playing with Kathy

Posing with Kathy

Playing with Kathy

Taking Kathy shopping in my old cart

Out of concern for my elderly doll, I ordered a similar doll off eBay for Isaiah. He named his new doll “my Kathy” and now calls my doll “Mama’s Kathy”. My doll is getting a bit of a rest, though he still plays with her some. He adores his own doll and has been trying to learn “Me and My Teddy” to sing with her.

"My Kathy"

Isaiah's new doll

The Two Kathys

The two dolls together

An Old Video of Max

I was talking to a friend about talking corgis and thought of this video of Max from 2009. He has different sounds with different meanings. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, he’ll carry on an entire conversation with someone. This video is Max and my mom discussing various things in his life. He had quite a lot to say about it!

**FYI, Max really does adore his vet. She’s the best ever! All our pets do great with her and only Gracie, who’s slightly crazy anyway, gets at all stressed about seeing her. Even Isaiah likes going to the vet.

Dancing Boy

Isaiah asked for music last night, so I turned on my iPod. The first song was upbeat and perfect for jumping around and being silly. The next one that came on was a slow-paced worship song. Isaiah didn’t miss a beat. He just found creative ways to dance with the much slower rhythm. He danced for about half an hour before I told him he really needed to get to bed.