Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Letting Go. . .or not

Last night, I was driving home from school, when the song my brother wrote for my grandma just after she passed came on.  I may have gotten a little blubbery.  The 9th anniversary of her death just went by.

I was living in San Luis Obispo when Grandma died.  She'd been in and out of the hospital frequently for weeks (and, less frequently, for months before that).  The last time I'd seen her--about three months previous--it was already apparent that her body was beginning to give up.  I was in very frequent contact with my mom, usually talking to her about twice a week, to keep tabs on Grandma's condition. I got the feeling that Mom was having a hard time telling me just how bad it was, so finally one night, I just asked point-blank if I needed to come home.  Mom said she thought that was best, and when I asked when, she replied, "Tomorrow."

It took a little longer than that, but about 36 hours after that phone call, I walked into my Grandma's hospital room back in Montana.  She was beyond being able to talk or interact much, but when she heard my name, she raised her head a little and her face brightened.  She said my name and when I reached for her hand, she squeezed mine in return.  She knew I'd come home to see her--that was what I needed to know.  I spent a lot of time in her hospital room for the next 3 days, and then (how could it seem sudden, when she was 88 years old and had been in the hospital for weeks?) she was gone.

The timing of her death in my life was hard for me to accept.  I was 20, I had just had my first baby a few months earlier, was trying to put my husband through grad school, and the thought of it all was sometimes a bit overwhelming and intimidating.  Sometimes I felt like I was a child just pretending to be an adult.  And as I watched my Grandma slip away from this world, it sometimes felt like God was saying, "Yep, you're an adult.  I'm gonna prove it by taking your childhood away."  So much of my childhood, so much of who I was, was wrapped up in my Grandma, that it did feel like I was not only losing her, but losing a huge chunk of my life--of my self.

Losing her made me more grateful than ever to believe in the Gospel, in the plan of salvation, in eternal families.  A few nights after she died, she visited me in my dreams.  She sat down and had a conversation with me, and answered some questions that had plagued me, gave me some assurances I needed, and then told me she needed to get back to work.  I've no doubt that she really was there with me, speaking to me.  It reassured me that separation was only temporary, that in truth I had lost nothing, and I have felt her often since then.  It has made every other separation since that time easier to bear.

I've thought about that a lot the last couple of years:  several of my friends (friends my age) have lost one of their parents over the last couple of years, and my heart breaks for them.  I cringe a little inside every time I hear my mom refer to herself as old, or talk about retirement, or someone I know ends up in the hospital due to age-related illness and I realize that they're only a few years older than her.  I'm not even ready for my mom to be old, and they've had to let go of their parents.  The thought of saying good-bye--even temporarily--to either of my parents is an overwhelming one to me.  One friend who lost her mom was one of my best friends the entire time we were growing up, I spent hours and days in their home, and I find myself thinking about her and her mom nearly as often as I think of my mom.  It gives me a slighter better appreciation of what my mom must've gone through, losing her dad at 18.  It all just makes me heartsick to think about too long.

But then I remember how often I feel Grandma Lettie's presence, and I remind myself that the separation is merely temporary, and probably not as severe as it sometimes feels to us on this side of the veil.  I'm sure that Gaye is watching Max grow up and helping him along, I'm sure she's over Hayley's shoulder more often than anyone would guess.  I'm sure Cynthia's dad is still there, watching over his large and good family, comforting them, protecting them.  I'm sure Fei's mom is still there, guiding her, smiling over her daughter's achievements.

Letting go is much less difficult when we have reason to trust that it is not forever. I am continually thankful for that.

Monday, November 18, 2013


The other night, the youngest two were watching some Netflix while the older two and I finished cleaning up.  When their show ended, Kylie asked if they could watch Tinkerbell.  I said no, and was about to say that they could watch it if they cleaned up first, but she immediately started to pout, so I just told her to turn the TV off and informed her she was done with TV or movies for the night because of her attitude.

With angry, watery eyes and a big fat bottom lip, Kylie shouted, "I didn't want to watch it! I don't believe in fairies!! I especially don't believe in Tinkerbell!!!"

She was so mad at me, she killed Tinkerbell.  On PURPOSE.  We'll have to keep an eye on that one's temper.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I never thought you were a fool
But darling, look at you.
You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight
'Cause tears are going nowhere

You are such a fool
To worry like you do 
I know it's tough
And you can never get enough
Of what you don't really need now

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it
Oh love, look at you now
You've got yourself stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it
Oh lord look at you now
You've got yourself stuck in a moment 
And you cant get out of it

This song (which I somehow always forget about until I hear it again) popped up on my iPod while I was driving home from class the other day, and it struck so perfectly with a conversation that I'd had the day before with a dear friend, and I just thought, "Truth, Bono.  Nailed this one."

Sometimes, you're having problems because you're holding onto problems that aren't your problems any more, and doing so is creating more problems for you and others around you.  In other words, sometimes the only way to solve a problem is to buck up, grow up, take responsibility for yourself and then get over it. 

Seriously.  Let it go.  When you stop being angry and bitter about things that are beyond your control, you give yourself room to see the beauty and blessings all around you, and to realize just how much is in your control.   Sometimes, you think you're mad about problems others have created, when in fact, it is your anger and bitterness that are causing the problems, or at least hugely exacerbating them.  Stop being angry about what you didn't get, especially when you have all the things you really need, and a lot of beautiful blessings beside.  Only you can get you unstuck.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Kylie: Mommy, I had a nightmare.

Me: I'm sorry, baby. What was your nightmare?

Kylie: It was with Strawberry Shortcake and us. There was a bad guy called the Pie Man and he was mean and we had to follow his orders.

Me: We did?

Kylie: Well, everybody else did, but we didn't. We didn't follow his mean orders.

That's my little Kylie Bear--tender-hearted, bold soul.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sacrament Meeting Talk-Gratitude

I’d like to begin by asking a few questions:  Have you thanked anyone today? If so, did you feel genuine gratitude toward that person, or were you merely being reflexively polite?  If you haven’t thanked anyone today, is there something that you could’ve thanked someone for that you failed to notice in the moment?  Have you prayed today? What have you thanked your Heavenly Father for today.

There’s an old saying that it isn’t happy people who are thankful, but rather it is thankful people who are happy, and I sincerely believe that is true.  I believe gratitude is one of the first and most vital steps in a virtuous and happy life.  How do we become more grateful?  What should we be grateful for?

I think all of us could easily list a dozen or so things that we are thankful for.  Our lives are filled with blessings large and small, and though sometimes the smaller ones are easiest to miss, they can be just as important.  But today, I’d like to speak about some of the “biggest” things we should be grateful for.  To that end, I’ll be using some stories that aren’t the ones that usually come to mind when we think of gratitude, but please bear with me, I promise I have a point, and I will try to make it as clearly as possible.

In the New Testament, we read about a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years, who pressed her way through a thronging crowd to touch the Savior’s robe, certain that this act would heal her.  Under Mosaic Law, a woman with an issue of blood was considered unclean, and had to undergo ritual cleansing in order to participate in routine life again, as would anyone she came in contact with during her confinement—they would also be considered unclean.  If she had had a husband, its likely he would have divorced her, as she would’ve been unable to care for him or any children without them also being considered unclean.  It was unlikely that she would’ve been allowed to attend any worship services, much less the temple, for all of those years.  She probably lived somewhat apart from the rest of society—an outcast in her pain.  Financially, she was completely broke from seeking treatments that did not work, and to top it all off she was essentially, and agonizingly slowly, bleeding to death.

So for this woman to reach out to touch the Savior was not just an act of faith, it was a very bold one.  When the Savior sensed power going out of him and turned to figure out who was responsible, she was afraid to come forward because she knew that many would see this act as her making this man unclean, for her own selfish purposes and there could be stiff consequences for that, especially for a man they believed to holy.  But the Lord did not rebuke her.  He turned to her and said, addressing her lovingly, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of they plague.”  And she was.  From that hour, she was whole. Her entire life would’ve changed.

The Lord did not put her away because of her weakness.  He recognized her bold faith in reaching out to him to be healed.  When others may spurn or criticize or lose patience with us because of our weaknesses, the Lord instead reaches out to heal and comfort us.  In the most recent General Conference, Elder Scott said, “When the Lord speaks of weakness, it is always with mercy.”   How often do we feel and express our gratitude to the Lord for that marvelous gift?    How often do we thank him for offering freely his power to heal us, especially when all other types of healing fail and we are utterly spent?  How often do we thank him for those simple words, “Go in peace. . .be whole” when he speaks them to our broken hearts?  Through the Atonement, all personal plagues—whatever form they may take in us as individuals—can be healed.  How often do we thank the Lord for his mercy and comfort in our weaknesses?  In Ether we read, “I give unto men weaknesses that they may be humble. . .my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me. . .have faith in me, then will I make weak things strong unto them.”  When was the last time you grumbled at your weaknesses?  When was the last time you thanked the Lord for the opportunity to lean on and better know his strength, in order to build your own?

Next, I’d like to talk about Jonah.  Jonah gets a bad rap—as well he should—for running away.  But let’s have some compassion for Jonah:  Nineveh was not an easy mission call.  The people were quite wicked, and he wasn’t optimistic about being successful there.  So Jonah directly disobeyed a commandment from the Lord and got on a ship going the opposite direction.  How often have we done that?  Ignored the Lord’s clear standards and commandments, and, for one reason or another, run the other way? When a terrible tempest arose and it looked like everyone on his ship was going to die, Jonah finally revealed himself.  His shipmates were quite frightened when Jonah explained to them what was going on.  He told them that God would probably be appeased and leave them be if they threw him overboard.    They didn’t seem to hesitate with carrying out that plan.  Instead of being lost to the sea, however, Jonah was swallowed by a whale.  Its easy, in retrospect and knowing how the story ends, to see that as an act of mercy.  But I submit that it may not have initially appeared that way to Jonah.  Instead of a quick and relatively painless death in the waves, it probably now seemed likely that he would instead suffer a slow, painful starvation inside a whale, where it must’ve been utterly dark and lonely.  Jonah described his ordeal by saying, “The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped around my head.”

Jonah didn’t immediately recognize the mercy of having been stopped in his tracks. It merely seemed he’d been thrust into a dark, lonely punishment.  How often do we fail to recognize the Lord’s mercy when we have been rebellious, because we are still too prideful to recognize that when we were on the wrong road, a somewhat imposed “stupor of progress”, if you will, was an act of grace?  There are times when we feel that those around us have thrown us overboard because we made some bad decisions, and that we are being punished by dark loneliness. The Lord let Jonah sit inside that whale for a few days not just to save his life, but to save his soul.  Alone in the darkness, Jonah started to do something he probably hadn’t been doing nearly enough of:  he prayed.  And in praying, he found hope: “I am cast out of thy sight,” he said, “yet I will look again toward the holy temple. . .When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord.”  Jonah’s life was spared, his spirit was renewed, and he was able to fulfill his assignment.  Not only that, the Lord blessed him with a great deal of success in Nineveh—the city and its people made a remarkable change.  That is grace.  In mercy, we find that we don’t get what we justly deserve.  In the Lord’s grace, we find that not only do we not get the punishment we deserved, but in fact he gives us another chance to do it right, and then another, and another, and rewards us for those efforts.  How often do we thank him for that grace?  How often do we show gratitude for it by extending that same mercy and grace to those who trespass against us? Repentance is an act of humility, and it ought to also be a reverent expression of gratitude, for Lord’s tremendous grace for mistakes big and small.  We should be grateful when the Lord puts impediments in our way that make it harder to do the wrong thing, and we should be extraordinarily thankful for his mercy and grace we have persisted in doing the wrong thing anyway.  When we are in the darkness, when we are consumed by the pain of sin, when our souls “faint within us”, we ought to follow Jonah’s example and pray, “remember the Lord, look toward the holy temple” and express our gratitude for the Lord’s mercy.

Finally, I’d like to talk about the people of Alma.  There is no doubt that their circumstances were difficult:  they were slaves, horribly mistreated by those who held them in bondage.  They cried to the Lord in their afflictions, and he offered these simple but powerful words of peace:  “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort. . .I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.  And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, even that ye cannot feel them upon your backs. . .that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. . .the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”

It is not coincidental that one of the crowning characteristics of both faith and gratitude is cheerfulness.   The three are inseparable.  As we develop more faith in our Father in Heaven and in Jesus Christ, we are better able to see all the things that they do for us, and become more grateful.  And as we feel more gratitude, our ability to trust in a loving Father and a selfless, redeeming Christ increases. 

The Lord kept his promise to the people of Alma and delivered them from bondage, but that deliverance did not come right away.  In the mean time, they felt the strength of the Lord literally helping to carrying their burdens and make them lighter, so they were able to cheerfully carry on, trusting that one day the Lord would fulfill his promise and set them free.  They were grateful and happy, even in their trial.

That is the same promise that the Lord makes to each of us—if we will live obediently and patiently, someday the burdens will be lifted entirely, but in the mean time, he will help us to bear them so that they aren’t so heavy.  For that, we should be continually grateful.  As we exercise faith in God, we will more readily see His hand in our lives, and be more grateful for all that he does for us.  We will come to know him not as some distant figure, but as a loving, attentive Father who is deeply invested in our progress and happiness, and we will feel more gratitude for the many opportunities he provides for improvement and learning, and for the many blessings—large and small—that he showers down on us.  In turn, we will more consistently see those around us as brothers and sisters, and more readily recognize our common Father reflected in their countenances and actions, and we will be more grateful for them and all that they do and are.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said, “There is one commandment that we may unwittingly violate almost more than any other. . .and that is the commandment the Savior gave to be of good cheer.  We’re supposed to hope, we’re supposed to be believing, we’re supposed to know it’ll get better.  It will get better, it does get better. ‘These things,’ he said, ‘I have told you that ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.’  The victory has already been won. . .He is the light at the end of the tunnel.  I have great hope.”

I bear my testimony that as we come to believe in the Savior, in his Atonement, and the grace, mercy, and hope inherent therein, we will feel more grateful for every moment of our lives, for every tender act of love and little blessing along the way.  And because we are grateful, we will be happy.  The best way to show that gratitude is to model our lives after the Savior’s as best we can:  serving others and showing to them the most patience, mercy, cheerfulness and kindness we can possibly muster.  Elder Neal A Maxwell once said, “When, for a moment, we find ourselves not being stretched on a particular cross, we ought to be at the foot of someone else’s, full of empathy and proferring spiritual replenishment.  On the straight, narrow path which leads to our little Calvarys, one does not hear the serious traveler exclaiming, ‘Look, no hands!’”

Or as Elder Holland said in a recent General Conference, “Be kind, and be grateful God is kind.  It is a happy way to live.”


I let the house we're living in right now affect the way I feel way too much.  Its hard not to--the kids' bedrooms overlap with ours (with no doors between in some cases); we have very little furniture, but its hard to justify getting any more, since I don't know where we'd put it; the wall paper is ripped and dirty and full of holes (and some of it was very ugly to begin with), as is the carpet.  Its really hard to put anything away, since there aren't really any closets; the back yard is almost non-existent and a total mess (and that's after dozens of hours of work); it seems like something is breaking or leaking at least once a month, and everything looks worn down and junky the way things do when they are quite old and there's been no serious upkeep for a lot of years.

But the heater is going, so its nice and warm, and the kids are all playing happily (and quietly) on the floor while Christmas music plays and the stew in the crockpot fills the whole house with delicious smells.  Right now, it doesn't seem so bad.  Not bad at all, actually.

I'm not in any way organizationally, financially or physically ready for Christmas.  But I'm ready for Christmas season.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Belated Gratitude

Two years ago today, on a quiet, dark Sunday morning, the girls and I piled into our little Honda Accord with my mom, Dylan buckled into the front seat of my parents' Dodge Caravan with my twin brother, and with all the most vital possessions we could fit into those two vehicles, we headed to Montana.  Doug would follow us a couple of weeks later after finishing the very last of the donate/sell/stash-in-storage sorting of our remaining possessions and cleaning out our house, locking it and leaving for the last time.

By the time we left California, I was, admittedly, angry, hurt, frustrated and depressed.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  Intellectually and spiritually I knew better, of course--that we had been where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to be doing, but that was never a guarantee that things would go the way they "should"--but my emotions were having trouble getting on board with that knowledge.  It didn't help that, though not intending to run away, we had very few options left and didn't know what we were headed toward, so it felt a bit like running away.  It was hard for it not to look like we just fled when things got tough.  There were no job offers in Montana, no friends, no home.  As far as we could tell from online searching, there was little in the way of job prospects.  Doug was leaving the valley he grew up in for a place where he knew few people.  The kids were leaving all their friends, and many of Doug's family members that they adored.  They would have to start new schools, and say goodbye to the only home they'd known.  When we bought our house, Keilana wasn't quite 2 1/2 and Dylan wasn't even one yet.  Doug and I would miss our family terribly, too, as well as the most incredible group of friends and ward family that anyone could ask for.  All we knew about coming to Montana was that it was full of loving family, too, and that it was Montana--beautiful, relatively remote, perhaps offering a possibility of refuge for a time: a soft place to land after a lot of hard falls.  It took many more frustrating, depressing months before finally finding a job, but find one we did, only 2 hours away from the place we now called home, and in the state I have always loved above all others.  That was truly a tender mercy.

That's where I was for a long time: grateful, but disappointed.  Grateful, but frustrated.  Grateful, but tired.

I haven't had the privilege of going back to California or seeing those friends (and some of those family members) in the 2 years since that Sunday morning.  But Keilana and Doug have managed to make one trip back.  Thanks to that, I had a rather marvelous experience a few months ago.  Keilana was chatting with me while I prepared dinner.  Somehow, she got to talking about her trip to California with her dad, telling me that they had stopped to see our house.  "Remember the tomatoes that we planted?"

"They're still growing, they looked really healthy.  Daddy and I peaked through the gate and the window at the patio. It looked just like when we left.  And we went through the bushes to the side window so we could see the living room.  It looked the same, too.  We could see the island in the kitchen.  Remember all the cookies we used to make at the island?"  I realized at that point that I had nearly stopped chopping.  I did remember.  So clearly.  I remembered making batch after batch of sugar cookies with my toddlers and preschoolers.

I remembered watching Kylie take her first steps in the corner of that living room over by the TV, and Keira doing her first scooting in the same place.

I remember hours upon hours spent nursing my babies in the rocking chair that sat in front of that window.  I remember the delight with which my little ones planted their first tomato plants out on the patio, and the many hours we spent out there, running through the sprinkler, drawing chalk masterpieces and blowing bubbles with Clayton and Claire.

I could already feel myself getting emotional, and Keilana kept going, "Remember how we used to all play on your bed in your big room?"  I remember so many wrestling matches and so many hours of snuggling and cuddling in that room.

"Remember when we used to go to the Meiks for playdates with Abby, when we'd play in their big yard?"  I remembered a half a dozen she wasn't even present for, afternoons spent chatting with Angie and Emily while our little girls wandered about the house or the backyard, happily entertaining each other, our little three amigos--a blonde, a redhead and a brunette, all with the bluest of blue eyes.

"Remember when we used to go to the beach? And sometimes take Yaya when she came to visit?"

"And how we'd stay at Grandpa Barnes' beach house with Mimi?  Remember how Kylie would eat the sand?"  I remembered all of that, and little Keilana running down Cayucos Peir in her swimsuit and suddenly, looking down, exclaiming, "Hey! The ocean's under there!" and dropping right where she was, pressing her little face against the planks of the pier, bum in the air, to see the ocean beneath her.

I remember coaxing a cautious Dylan into the ocean waves, and pushing Kylie on the swings at the beach, and listening to them all giggle ferociously when we'd feed the sea lions.

"Remember how we used to go to McDermont every Friday and play in the bounce houses and the arcade, and then get slushies on the way home?  And how we used to go buy tamales at the street fair for dinner? And sometimes, if I was good, you'd get me Takis or a churro?"  McDermont, which I sometimes resented for dominating so much of our lives and then having the audacity to be across the street from our house, which I now miss so much.  My babies spent so many happy hours there.

At this point, I wasn't even trying to chop because the tears were clouding my vision, but she kept going.

"I remember when I got to stay at Sethy's house.  Sethy's mom is so much fun.  And Sister Ashcraft, she was the best Primary teacher. I miss having Family Home Evening with the Ashcrafts."

"I miss Jacelyn, too.  And Payton.  Payton's my best friend. Do you remember when she made cookies with us?"

I do, kiddo.  Until that moment, I don't think I had realized just how much Keilana remembered of our life there.  And all the many stresses and frustrations and losses that we dealt with weren't even on her radar.  Those were entirely happy years for her.  And suddenly, I was awash in gratitude.  Not gratitude tempered by stress, or frustration, or grief, or fatigue.  Just pure, joyful, soaring gratitude for the years we spent there.  They were joyful years.  They were the years I brought my babies home and watched them learn to crawl and talk and make cookies.  I was a good mother during those years: reading lots and lots of books, doing little crafts, making cookies and cakes and teaching them songs and teaching them to pray and taking them to the park and on walks--nearly every day--and making the very best of friends.  Those were wonderful, wonderful years.  For the first year and a half or more after we left, thinking about the house, and consequently the loss of the house, was a source of anxiety and frustration for me.  Keilana transformed it.  Without entirely meaning to, she reminded me of what a joyful little house it was, always bursting with laughter and play and extra kids.  The friends that came to visit us when we were in that house are some of the kindest, most generous, and fun people I have every known.  The hours we spent reading books and wrestling on the floor and doing Spanish homework are some of my very best memories.

And I remember double dates and birthday parties  and baby showers and conversations that went on too long into the night and cards and meals and gifts.  I remember trips to the temple and phone calls of encouragement at crucial moments.  I remember visiting teaching moments and Priesthood blessings that strengthened my faith in a Celestial world and a loving Father.  Not everything went the way we wanted it to.  We all made mistakes.  Lots of them.  But ultimately, the people we fell in love with during that joyful time in life were all souls who were committed to the truth that you will find your greatest joy in life in serving others, and that by serving, you might help others find joy as well.  In our own little way, we were trying to build Zion and, even if it didn't happen in the ways that we expected, I certainly think the Lord blessed us with much fruit of that righteous goal in spite of our flaws and missteps.

Those years taught me so well what it means to love with true Christlike love.  I was served so selflessly by those around me.  I was asked to step outside myself more--sometimes in a language not my own. I was asked to be patient when it would've been easy to be short. I was asked to forgive when it would've been easy to hold a grudge.  I was taught to let go when I wanted desperately to hold on. I was taught how to have compassion when judgment or condemnation would've been much easier.  I was taught to be grateful when it would've been easy to be angry. I was taught how to find more when I felt like I had nothing left to give, and then to give that part of myself happily.

The things we went through together--deaths, births, sealings, trials and triumphs--taught me about who I was, and who I want to be, and helped bring me a lot closer to bridging the gap between the two.  How could I possibly be anything but overwhelmingly, unfailingly grateful for that?

I think that's why certain memories remain so clear--so that the Spirit can use them to remind us who we are capable of being, and how joyful it is when we reach for that Divine potential.  As Thanksgiving approaches, I can think of no better way to show my gratitude to God than to stretch a little further, stand a little taller and be a little better.  He's already shown me how, and filled my life with many worthy examples.  The best way to show gratitude is to be and do good.    Because I have been given much, I too must give. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

I may have mentioned this.. .

but I love this guy, 
and his endless imagination.
A couple of weeks ago, Dylan came home from school on a Friday afternoon and explained that their work in the mines had been hard that week, but they'd made a lot of progress.  However, Calvin had had to fire Isaiah (names changed to protect my bad memory), because he wasn't actually doing any mining, he was just playing around in the dirt with his Lego guys, and it was putting everyone behind schedule.

You see, there's a slight hill at the edge of the playground, just before the fence.  Dylan and most of his friends had been "mining" (I'm not sure what they were mining, I just assumed copper) by digging tunnels back as far as they could, just big enough for their Lego men to "work" in.  They worked consistently at every recess for a couple of weeks.

He's wonderfully creative and imaginative, and always has been.  When he was very little, several of his compulsions, physical sensitivities, and anxieties, combined with his lack of language and interaction with others, concerned us for a time.  Turns out, his inner world is so rich, he just didn't need to interact a lot until he developed enough language to effectively include other people in it.

But, its not all roses.  Notice the dark bags under his eyes in the photo?  He has trouble shutting off his imagination long enough to go to sleep, so the poor little guy is always tired.  Hopefully, over the next few years, he'll learn to balance his rich imagination with his need for rest.