SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mr. Comeback

We've all thoroughly enjoyed the stories that Bryce brings home from his hours of dealing with the public as a cashier at our local Menards store. People are funny. Bryce is funny. Put them together with his comedic telling of the tales and it's downright entertaining.

Last week he came home with a story that beat all others, hands-down. Better than breaking up a fight in the check-out line. Better than the woman who sent employees running and searching for 15-minutes so she could save $.06 (yes, as in 6-cents). Better than a customer demanding the head cashier come find cough drops.

Here's the story:

A gentleman came through Bryce's line with his items and when the total rang up the man asked, "Don't I get a discount?"

Bryce, understandably, looked a bit confused and asked, "Um, what kind of discount?"

The man just repeated, "A discount, don't I get a discount?"

Bryce politely queried, "You mean like a senior citizen's discount?"

"Oh, so you think I look old, huh?" the man countered.

Bryce just laughed and said, "Well, not necessarily, but I know that some stores do that so I figured that's what you meant. But we don't have a senior discount."

The man just handed Bryce his driver's license and let him inspect the identification. Bryce took it, looked down, and saw the name John Menard on the ID. John Menard, as in the 74-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire from Eau Claire who founded the Menards chain, which Bryce had learned about in the training video just 3 weeks prior.

Bryce knows how to think on his feet and this was no exception. He glanced up at the man, looked down at the card, and made a show of studying it. Then he looked up again with an expression of a dawning understanding and said, "Oh, I see, so you DO want a senior discount."

I think Mr. Menard's day was made.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The March of Time

So, where does the time go?

It goes from taking vacations with your family to passing on family trips in favor of jobs and basketball.

It goes from running to show Mom a salamander or yelling, "Hey, watch me!" to running out the door with a, "See ya!"

It goes from playing with the brothers in the backyard to road trips with them across the country.

It goes from 'dorky' to 'cool'.

It goes from visiting siblings in college to taking off for your own university experience.

It goes from sitting in the co-pilot's seat to taking off on your own.

It goes from getting your humorous comments put in the family "Funny Book"--
"I feel sorry for this song (last one in the hymnal), no one ever picks it."

"Oh! Dana would love that (passing a horse farm)! She could clean stalls."

"Finally! (his 7th birthday) I'll bet you're excited too. To have a boy since he was zero already 7-years-old!"

"If Hawaii sunk, would they take a star off the flag?

"I was going to sleep with my sunglasses on last night. I wanted to see if I'd have weird dreams when it was really dark."

To writing thoughtful and insightful college papers.

It goes from asking, "Will you go to prom?" to "Will you marry me?"
She said yes (to both), and the March of Time goes on to a whole new tune.

Congratulations Shane and Claire!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Special Needs, Special Love

Several years ago my friend Mary Silverberg got the idea to write a book featuring 10 women living with a child, children, or grandchildren with special needs that could be used to encourage others as they navigate the course of life with a child with special needs. I was asked to be one of the contributors and thoroughly enjoyed the months long project of reliving Gabe's story through words.

Mary wasn't able to find a publisher for the book, but she still wanted to make the stories available to others. She finally decided on using a blog format and highlighting the individual writers one at a time, spacing out the chapters of their part of the book.

I have enjoyed reading through the first two journeys and entering into the different aspects of the trials these women faced. This week, it was Gabe's turn to have his story told. There are 10 parts in all, and they've all been posted to the blog. If you want to read some indepth insights to our first few years with Gabe, as well as be blessed by the stories of the other women I invite you to log into Special Needs, Special Love at

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Saddest Day

For almost six months we had this beautiful girl in our home. Neon was an AFS student from Thailand who needed a new family last February and we got to be that family. She was not only beautiful on the outside with her infectious smile and graceful mannerisms. But her patience, kindness, sense of humor, melodious laugh, and willingness to be a part of our family and lives in every way completely won over our hearts. She was only with us for four days when she asked if she could call me "Mom".

Neon spent time where we were. If I was in the kitchen she was there talking and helping wash and cut vegetables, if I was in the garden she was talking with me and weeding by my side. If someone had a ballgame she was in the stands with us. If we sat down for a movie and popcorn she was curled on the couch, too. Neon never seemed to be pressing her own agenda, but fully living as a member of the family. She found ways to connect with each person, show interest in their lives, and help lift their spirits. She loved Gabe and had more patience with him than just about anyone I've ever seen. Of course, she had her own friends and activities. She kept the details logged on her space on the calendar and would remind me, "Mom, I'm going to Minocqua with friends today," or "Catherine is picking me up tomorrow at 12:00", or "my art club is over at 4:00, can you pick me up?". In her calendar space on June 30 she wrote, "The saddest day".

Neon didn't have an enormous circle of friends, but the small group she had was close and real. The tears shed upon their good-byes were not manufactured. And when we waved at her through the bus windows yesterday neither were mine. Yesterday, she was very sad. But tomorrow she'll be happy again and Thailand will be a little better off as it welcomes home one of it's true jewels.