Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Prince Among Men

Austin is our first born. We had him when we were very young and silly, but happy. He he grew and developed like any healthy boy should. His brothers followed very soon after that.

When he was not quite two years old, I noticed he wasn't doing things he used to be able to do and there were some words he used to be able to say and didn't anymore. I could tell there was something different about him. Many people around me would say things like, "He's just fine" or "There's nothing wrong with him" or "Maybe you just need to...". He was my first and I was young and naive. I didn't know what to do so I just kept doing my best.

He started preschool at Kiddie Kollege. After a few months Ms. Beverly talked to me about how he didn't sit still or listen. She handed me an article about ADHD and suggested I go see my pediatrician. I made an appointment, took Austin and explained what the teacher said. He suggested we put him on Ritalin... my 3 year old! That was the last time we went to that doctor.

I moved him to a different preschool the next year. He did OK. I continued to wonder what was wrong. I shared my concerns with his teacher. She handled him well. I read everything I could about ADD and ADHD but it just didn't feel right. I treated him just like any other preschooler. He was expected to do his chores, be kind to his brothers and listen to his parents. We had communication issues. He had a hard time expressing what he wanted to say and I had a hard time getting him to listen to what I was saying. We did a lot of "Austin, look at my eyes when I talk to you" and "Austin, show me what you need."

Then Austin started Kindergarten. His teacher was an angel straight from heaven! She loved him no mater what he was like. She worked with his strengths and ignored his weaknesses. We started building a new house so at Christmas break we moved and Austin landed in a kindergarten class with a teacher that was old and mean. She didn't like dealing with him and disciplined him harshly. Austin, who potty trained fairly easily and hadn't had an accident since, started wetting the bed and having nightmares. And he didn't want to go to school. I pulled him out of school and taught him his ABC's on my own. Shortly after that, I decided to attend a meeting for parents with children with ADD and ADHD. I wanted to know what these parents were doing and what I could learn from them. They all talked about one particular specialist in Salt Lake City and how wonderful he was. I decided to take Austin to see him. We made the appointment and they told us to expect to be there for most of the day for different types of tests. The doctor was with Austin for about an hour when he came out and told me, "Your son does NOT have ADHD. I am pretty sure he has Autism. Let's finish the tests today. I will send you home with some questionnaires for his teachers. We will compile it all and send you our report." When people started learning the diagnosis, they asked me how I was feeling about it. I was just so relieved to have a diagnosis I felt great. It was such a weight off my shoulders.

I went back to his old school so I could have the angel teacher fill out the questionnaire. She was so happy to see us! I explained what was going on and she told me that she suspected as much. She also told us that Austin's desk was just the same as it was the last time he was there and she would love to have him back in her class. She talked to the principal and TOLD him Austin would be coming back. To this day I get teary eyed when I think of what she did for us and especially Austin. I will never forget her. Needless to say, he thrived in her class. No more nightmares, no more accidents.

We moved him back to our local elementary school for first grade. He adjusted well. His teachers loved him, the kids knew he was different and took advantage of that. Especially the ones that were in his special classes with him. I think they were just doing what they could to feel better about themselves. Junior High was no better, at least in his resource classes, and I worried if he would ever have any friends that would love him the way we loved him. I wondered if others would notice the sweet and lovable Austin that his teachers knew. Deep down he has such a good spirit. He just wants to help people and do what is right. He wants others to feel that way too. He really hates it when he knows others are breaking rules and he especially hates it when he hears swear words at school. But despite all of that and how he was treated by those few bad apples, he knew he wanted to do something to help others.

So in junior high, he started holding the front door open for the kids coning to school. He sometimes got upset if we were a little late and arrived after the bus because he missed out on holding the door open for those kids. A few of the kids noticed and got to know him from that.

Then he started high school.

Something magical happens when kids around here go to high school. They finally start to figure out whatever they were trying to figure out in junior high. Maybe it is because they find more people that have their same interests and they feel more accepted. Maybe it is because they have finished going through that awkward stage and feel more comfortable in their own skin. Maybe the raging hormones aren't raging so much. Whatever it is, they seem to clam down a bit and notice others more. At least I have noticed that with my teenagers. 13, 14 and 15 have been hard but by the time they are 16 I don't really want to strangle them as much!

Austin is now a senior at Syracuse High School. He continues to hold the door for the others at school and has since he started there. When I am around him at the school and around town, I can tell that the kids know who he is and seem to like him. I had no idea how much until this week.

I got a phone call from him while I was in Las Vegas visiting my sister's family. His communication skills are still being worked on but mostly understood what he was trying to tell me. He had been nominated for Homecoming Royalty! He was given a letter with all the things he would be doing the next week for Homecoming week. They were learning a song to sing at the Friday assembly, he would be in the parade, he found a date to take to the dance and the King would be announced at the football game the Friday of that week. I couldn't believe it and I was so excited for him.

The highlight of this week was riding on the float in the parade on Thursday. We made some signs to hold while he passed by and we yelled really loud. He was able to keep one of the big white balloons from the float decorations. It is still floating around our house!

Friday was a big day. First there was an assembly at school. That was the first time I realized how well liked Austin is at his school. When the royalty was announced and they came out onto the stage, Austin got the biggest cheer from the crowd. I was stunned! Later that night at the game, I was able to escort him onto the field at halftime for the announcement of the king, queen, first and second attendants. I was so nervous/excited for him all day. Here we are standing at mid-field when they introduced all the kids that were nominated. The roar of the crowd was deafening! I am glad Jim snapped this picture before the tears started falling. I was a wreck! To hear the kids cheer like that was music to a mother's heart.

Then the big moment was upon us. They had announced the second attendants and were about to announce the first. I could barely breathe. When they said his name for first attnedant I was so proud! He gave me a quick hug and went to stand up front with the beautiful girl that was also named first attendant. The boy that was king is a boy that is from our neighborhood. He is a great kid and I really like him. The only thing Austin heard was "first" so according to him, he was the winner.

So the next night was the dance. Kyle and his friends again rallied around Austin to make sure he had a date. This sweet girl was his date. I so appreciate her and her willingness to be such a good sport.

Here is part of the group that went together. Kyle on the left with his girlfriend and Austin on the right. They met three other couples for dinner and went to the dance together. They all ended up in our basement theater to watch a movie. From what I can tell, it was a wonderful evening for everyone!

There have been a lot of great memories in the last 17 and a half years with Austin but this week is going to be up there toward the top. It has been fun and busy but totally worth all the struggles. We don't know what the future holds for Austin. What we know is that we love him and we are tremendously proud of the things he has accomplished. We know that it will be our responsibility to live good enough in this life so that we can be with him in the next. We know he has already secured his place in heaven.

Plus, there's always Prom King.........

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Jim works in the IT department of his company. He works with some of the most knowledgeable "computer geeks" I know.

One of them thinks he's super funny (which he is, but not this time) and he hacked into my blog! He changed Jim's shirt from a BYU shirt to a U of U shirt in the last blog post.

So, sorry to those of you that are on the email list. You are getting that blog post twice because I had to go in and replace the picture.

I didn't mention in that blog post, and I probably should now, that as much as Jim likes watching BYU football, he also likes keeping up with Ute football. He is "Switzerland" when it comes to the whole in-state rivalry. Passionate about sport, not a crazy my-team-is-better-than-your-team fanatic.

So, Hacker, I know who you are. And I could "out" you here on my blog and all over Facebook. But I choose not to. I, too, will be "Switzerland".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rise and Shout, the Barbers are Out!

Last weekend, after my visit to Vegas, Jim and I hurried home because we had people coming over to our house that night. It was the opening weekend for College Football and the BYU Cougars were playing.

When I married Jim, I knew he was a sports fan. Shortly after meeting his family (one girl, and SIX boys!) I knew that sports, and competition in general, was deeply ingrained in most of the family rituals. I did the math and this is how it turned out:


But not all football is created equal. They do love the NFL but they REALLY love watching BYU Football!!!

So, for the opening game we had most of the brothers (and a nephew or two) over at our house watching the Cougars in the theater. Here are just a couple of thing I love about watching the Barber Boys watching BYU Football together:
  • Their "outfits" usually match - I think there is enough BYU clothing in the family that all 40 of us could take a family picture together and be wearing something with a Y on it!
  • The cheering wakes babies - There have been countless times when something great has happened in a game that has either woken a sleeping baby or just scared them so bad they burst into tears.
  • It promotes family togetherness - It is hard to get men to bond but it seams that if they are passionate about SOMETHING, even if it is college football, they will have meaningful conversations, get together often and like each other more.

Plus, I love being the hostess. I love to make yummy food to share. I especially love to hear people tell me how yummy the food is. that happens less and less with my own family so I have to bring in extended family to hear the praises.

So, there are some bright sides to football season starting. The priorities shift a little with the changing seasons but there are also opportunities that open up now that the weather is cooling off. And as I post this, I can hear Jim down in the theater hollering at me to come down and sit with him. There's a game on...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweet Ava

A couple of weeks ago, my sweet niece, Ava Rose, turned eight years old. That is a special time for kids who grow up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That is when it is time to get baptized! We are all so proud that she made the choice to become an official member of the church!

I was able to go down and stay with Craig and the kiddos for a few days before. It was so nice to be there and just spend time with them. I helped out around the house a little while they were at work and school. I was able to walk the girls to school and help them with hair and homework. It was nice to be able to reconnect with them after not seeing them for a couple of months. Ava is the best parts of my sister, Lisa. Her beautiful face and her love for life and everyone around her reminds me so much of what I miss about my sister.

Jim came down a few days later for the baptism and we were able to drive home together, just the two of us. It was a very quick trip for him but it was so nice to be able to spend that time in the car with him, no kids, no noise, just great conversation and an In-N-Out Burger.

It was really hard for me to leave but there are so many people who love, pray for and care for that family. It was nice to meet Chloe and Ava' s friends. They are all such cute girls! I know they are in good hands. I know there are people in the neighborhood and at church who look out for them.

And if knowing that is not enough, I know that I am welcome to go and visit anytime I want!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Traffic Jam in Adam's Canyon

Labor day. No school and no work. Kyle and Jordann (his friend-that-is-a-girl) wanted to do something. I'm not sure if it was Kyle's idea or Jim's idea but someone thought it would be a great day for a hike up to the waterfall in Adam's Canyon. And it was. The day started out a little chilly and breezy, just right for being outside. The forecast was for the high temperature to be in the high 70's to low 80's. (have I ever mentioned how much I love fall in Utah? I think I have!) The bad part about it being the perfect day for a hike is that lots and lots of other people noticed it also. There were SOOOO many people on the trail. Jim and the boys have been up there several times. He said he has never seen it that busy, ever! Monday was my first time all the way up to the waterfall. When we got to the the top there were about 8-10 groups up there taking pictures and having lunch. We found a place to sit and tried our best to enjoy what we had packed for our lunch.

You need to know something about me before I go on. It bothers me when people don't watch what their kids are doing. I have tried to teach my kids to be aware of their surroundings and be respectful to others around them. I don't want them to be those loud or obnoxious kids that make you wonder who their parents are. I understand that little girls like to scream and little boys like to run and jump. But there needs to be a level of respect to those you are sharing public space with. A few little screams from a little girl is not as bad as letting her scream at will. Boys running and throwing rocks is fine as long as they aren't hurting or bothering anyone else. Kids have natural tenancies, parents are there to keep them in check!

That being said, it would have been a perfectly relaxing half hour or so up at the waterfall except for that one group. The one with the boy waving sticks around like swords, throwing rocks all over, running around and between other groups, and with dogs off their leashes. To top it all off, they were all being supervised by the dad that yelled idle threats with a booming voice but never got up off his seat to do anything about it. The dogs kept coming over and sniffing my lunch and the boy finally hit someone with his stick sword.

We were able to take a few pictures. We forgot the camera but I had my phone. Good thing it takes OK pictures.

This is me keeping an eye on what my son is doing. I don't think he was bothering anyone else in the vicinity.

When we had enough, we started back down the trail. I think there may have been more people on the trail on our way down! All in all, it was a great way to spend time with Kyle and Jordann on a lovely almost-fall day.

* * * * *

Now as a side note, sorry if it sounds like I am a bit grumpy as I write this, it's probably because I am. Grumpy that my body is still recovering from that hike that should have been no big deal. I feel REALLY bad for my husband who has to put up with me and my "condition". He is Mr. Adventure. He loves to get out and do fun things. I love to also but it just takes so much out of me now. I am fine when I go for my daily walk. In fact, I could walk all day long. I love walking. But I used to love running. I used to be able to do lots of things I can't do anymore. Well, I can, but I pay for it later. If my heart rate gets too high I get dizzy. If I push myself too hard I need extra time to recover. Poor Jim had to wait for me several times along the trail and that was super frustrating for me. But not for him. He was so patient. I should be more patient with myself but I remember all the things I used to be able to do. I don't like feeling like an 80 year old when my body isn't even 40 yet. When we got home from our hike, I showered and laid down to rest for a bit. I fell asleep for four hours! I got up and made dinner, then I went back to bed and slept all night! There are a lot of times I avoid doing things because I know it will wipe me out. Most days I am just grateful my family is so helpful and that things aren't worse than they are. But sometimes, especially when I want to keep up with Mr. Adventure, I get frustrated with what my body is going through knowing that it most likely will not get better and slowly get worse.