Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tired Muscles and Tanned Faces

Finally, the kids have both finished school for the summer.

Zach has graduated from High School, and is excited for

summer school to start in a few weeks and Lily is relishing

the summer ahead of fun including Valley Fair, JAM Camp

and spending time with her friends. I always look forward to

summer, not only because of the warm weather and the ability

to swim every day, but because everything slows down a bit.

No longer concerned about getting up at the crack of dawn

each day to get the kids off to school and get ready for work,

I am able to rest a bit each morning, actually savor a cup of

hot coffee and put together a day that everyone will enjoy. I

am able to decrease my summer hours spent with clients

and focus more on having fun.

  

  We recently finished a bunch of home repairs and updates

including painting 1/2 of our walls, garage doors, garage trim

and shutters. We will be patient until next month and then possibly

replace the carpet on our main floor and then paint 3 of the 4

bedrooms. Later this summer, our backyard fence will be installed 

and modifications made to enable a suite creation for Zach for his

long term at home living needs. Still quite a bit to be done, but we

are thrilled to have a peaceful month or so with nothing to focus on

in our home. (We have lived here almost 19 years and these updates

are needed!)


  Both of our kids work on a summer curriculum that is only meant

to keep their minds working during the summer months. Not hours

a day, and they are both usually done in about an hour to an hour

an half. Zach's focus is usually everyday math skills and vocabulary

and Lily's is reading comprehension and math. Sure they complain

sometimes about doing work in the summer, but then there are the

days where a new concept is grasped or a conversation about a

heavy and important subject matter takes place because of the

reading that was accomplished that day. When I see my daughter's

eyes light up after having an edifying conversation and realizing she

did understand a text and is ready to write about it and put into her

own words. Those are the times I know it is worth it.

  

  But how do we spend most of our days? We walk and swim and

enjoy popsicles on the deck. We explore new trails, find new thrift

shops and tackle home projects that are long overdue. We travel to

meet friends and family and relax lakeside until the mosquitoes

drive us indoors. We enjoy s'mores from the bonfire, tending to

vegetable and flower gardens, and playing fetch with our

beloved dog, Murray. We drive ridiculous distances to try new

restaurants and pack up the golf clubs to head to the driving

range. But mostly, we enjoy being home. The pool and the deck

have become an extension of our home and we are grateful to

be able to take advantage of them.


  The part of summer that I enjoy most is spending time with friends

and family. During Covid-19, I felt as if there was a permeating sense

of loss. Loss of close friendships, the ability to see and spend time with

family and friends and go to all the places and do all the things that we

usually do during the summer months. I missed seeing people's faces

and hugging them heart to heart. This summer has already shown me

that there is so much hope on the horizon. Plans to spend time with

treasured friends. And sometimes, those plans really don't include

anything at all. Just the idea that time has been set aside to enjoy

each other's company and catch up face-to-face, thrills my heart.

Sharing a meal of delicious foods and beverages and laughing

together is something that I will never take for granted again. And

to see my children enjoying the company of their peers and acting

like children, fills this mom's heart. 


  Yes, we will all travel a bit this summer. But most of the time, you

can find us here at home or spending time with friends in the local

community. Doing the things we love. The things we have missed

doing. The things that we enjoy as a family. I pray that each of you

reading this, finds something to do this summer that you maybe

haven't done in awhile. A trek up a mountain that was once too

steep to climb. The exploration of an abandoned but never forgotten

property. Early morning fishing with grandchildren and being able to

teach each young child how to bait a hook. Rediscovering your love

of poolside reading. May we all sleep well with tired muscles and

tanned faces at the end of each summer day.



Graduation 2021


When a senior graduates from high school, conversations and congratulations occur about the awards they have won, the teams they have played on, and the scholarships that have been granted for higher education. Excited by a bright future, parents, family and friends congratulate and celebrate all that is to come. Friends circle the wagons and enjoy their last days together before a summer of jobs and planning and eventually moving on to adulthood occurs.  

But what about the students that have just barely crossed the finish line? And the students that have struggled and toiled and felt it might not happen? The students that won't be getting a job or moving on to college or additional higher education? Those graduates also deserve all of the encouragement, kindness and well wishes. 

Our 18 year old son Zach has Autism. He is graduating this week from the Autism In Motion program at his high school in Minnesota. Zach can speak, have his needs met and adores school. However, he will never drive a car, hold a typical job, go to college or marry. Zach is funny and silly, has an infectious smile, loves heart to heart hugs, his dog Murray and his family and friends.  He also loves the idea of graduating. 

Zach will continue this fall in the STAR Program for the next three years. The program focuses on job skills, on the job training, personal care, kitchen skills, social skills, communication skills, money math skills and community interactions. Zach is so excited to know that two of his graduating classmates will be seen everyday. He is sad to leave his teachers and helpers and younger friends at his school, but states, "I am getting so old", and finds graduating pretty amazing.

Zach will continue living with us as for long as possible. We are in the process of modifying our home to create a large suite for him where he can spread out and continue to grow and explore new hobbies. He is a fantastic artist and needs additional room for art supplies and paper storage and artistic creation displays. This summer, he is looking forward to playing with his dog, traveling to meet friends at Lake of the Ozarks and going to Madden's Resort to play some golf in August. He is excited to swim and go to the driving range and spend a weekend at Grandma's cabin. His summer is well planned and much anticipated. 

As his parents, we won't be preparing to pack him up and say goodbye as summer comes to a close, but we will be in full on summer fun mode. Seeking out new trails and beaches, discovering new coffee shops, running after ice cream trucks, and finding ways to stay cool in the sun as the pool beckons us numerous times each day. We will take all the small things that produce much joy and savor each moment.

Surround those kids that have IEP's. Love on the graduates who will start working full-time to help support their families. And always be at the ready to provide an encouraging word for the one that will tackle adulthood full on starting the day after they graduate. 

Congratulations to the High School Graduating Class of 2021! You have done well, and I as a parent, a friend and an advocate are so very proud of all that you have accomplished.  Well done. Well done. Well done. 




 

Brass Knuckles

         I love telling stories. I also love retelling stories that aren't mine. Stories that have been shared with me. Stories overhear...