Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday: Attempting 'Normal'


One of the first things I notice is the dog’s water bowl is bone dry. 

Being gone for three weeks and leaving my family to “run the show” while I’m away wouldn’t have been easy if it had been for anyone else but Grandma.  Within 24 hours of learning she was in too much pain for our weekly phone call, I was packed and on my way….traveling over 1200 miles while reminding myself to have faith that God would watch over my family….praying that at least the most important tasks from day to day would be accomplished.

 

After being home for a day and a half, I’m still spending my time busy with the little things that haven't been done because it simply doesn’t occur to others to do them.  Wiping down the ledge around the bathroom vanity, the back splash behind the stove, covering up the blemishes on our used couch with blankets, opening the windows to let in fresh air in the morning, emptying the lint from the dryer…..

And then I see the things that were “on my list” before my daily life was interrupted….a pile of blankets still waiting to be washed, papers still needing to be filed and clothes still waiting to be hung back up in the closet.   

I sit down and began open 21+ days of mail that was carefully stacked and awaiting my return.

I thought it would be easier being home.

I think about all the phone calls, texts and emails I should be making to people who want “updates”... but I can’t bring myself to do it.  I don’t have good news.  I’m just exhausted and I don’t know how to be positive anymore.  And I don’t want to tell the truth over and over.  It’s emotionally draining to rehash, and even though I know everyone is just being caring and thoughtful….I can’t bring myself to do it.  There is too much to do….to catch up on and life didn’t wait for me. It kept going.....and I have to jump right back on this ride, like it’s all in the past and I can get right back to normal; like I’m the same person I always was and I fixed everything and all is well.

The truth is, things are worse than ever and I didn’t fix one  stinking thing.

Now I am home, and have promised to run both households as best I can.  Grandma is still in extreme pain and has no one to consistently care for her so she remains afraid and overwhelmed with worry. 

The people I was counting on to “step up” and “do the right thing”….didn’t and aren’t.

* * *

The first thing I did when I got home was give the dog a bath and wash the pile of blankets from my bed she had been sleeping on in a matted mess on the floor  while I was gone.  It was apparent from the smell, she hadn’t been getting her medicine to treat her systemic yeast infection and that couldn't wait until morning. 

Next, I took a shower.  A nice, hot shower using my own soap and shampoo that don’t have all the chemicals that make me itch and swollen and sick.  You wouldn’t think using a handheld shower head mounted to the side of a tub to rinse off would be that different than a typical shower…..but it really is. 

 

Then I checked my kid’s pill cases, and I see that there are some days they missed their vitamins and supplements….one of which is for their thyroid and can cause a lot of health problem if it’s missed.  I check all the bottles and notice many are empty and I start a list for when I go into town the next day.  This reminds me that I had to cancel an appointment with Tristen’s doctor while I was gone, and I have an email with a list of lab work and additional supplements he needs to be on to help support his unique genetics.  I wonder how I am going to pay for all of it, after spending so much money while I was away.

 

 

 

Whenever Grandma asked me how my family was doing without me, I always smiled and told her they were doing “great”.  They really were.  Josh worked so hard to get the grocery shopping done every Wednesday after work and make dinner every night and smoothies almost every day.  Tanner worked 3 or 4 nights a week and Josh would take him and pick him up.  They made home-made dog food for our sick dog.  Whenever I talked to them, they were happy and positive and doing well.  I was very grateful for that.

I didn’t tell her my worries.  I wished Josh took the boys to church.  I didn’t tell her I was missing out on going with Tanner to a summer overnight activity with his friends when I agreed to stay 10 more days.  I didn’t tell her it was killing me inside to see her in excruciating pain on a constant basis and some days I didn’t know how I would survive it.  Because it’s Grandma.  My favorite person.  And she would do it for me.  I owed her that and more.

 

 

My emotions are still too raw to go deep into detail today.  Although my husband and kids promised me a few days to relax and recuperate when I got home, there is too much to be done. I pay most of our bills on the first of the month and the additional responsibility to care for Grandma’s finances adds to my ever expanding “list”.  Life goes on.   It doesn’t wait for trials and struggles to pass and give you time to catch your breath. They exist and so do you simultaneously. So instead of holding tight, gritting my teeth and waiting for this craziness to end….I have to keep moving.  I have to keep living, and doing and being.  One moment at a time.  And after I survive it….I will conquer the next moment.  Until then, I will survive on silver linings an faith in a merciful God who loves his children.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Special Love Letter on Valentine's Day


When I started out on the autism journey, I didn't really feel "alone" like most people do.  Doctors, therapists and teachers were my new friends and the appointments kept me busy.  The need for socialization outside of that circle didn't occur to me.    Being an introvert, I experienced life a little differently.



Meeting another mom of a child with autism didn't happen until Tristen was about 3.  The unspoken understanding was profound and so precious. However, military families move away, and we lost touch during those pre-Facebook years.

When Tristen was about 7 we moved from GA and continued to move often.  Each move meant getting acquainted with new teachers, therapists, aides and doctors.  With my drive to help my son make the most progress possible, I remained distracted from the idea of a community who was facing the same trials becoming a support system.

The summer before Tristen would start 10th grade we made our final move to Texas.  This move would be different from all the others because I would be teaching my boys from home.  But what I wasn't prepared for, was the quick decline and dramatic change in my health and well-being.

Looking back now, I can guess at what the main contributing factors were. Extreme stress causes all kinds of havoc on the body. I had some deep depression and dark moments where I felt like I could literally not move my body from the extreme exhaustion.  Then, came the fear of driving and leaving the house.  Finally, my memory became so deteriorated, I could not remember my kid's ages, birthdays, or at times, names.  I was so scared because although these symptoms seemed to ebb and flow, I had undertaken a huge responsibility to teach my children at home and I couldn't let them down.

During those depths of desperation and despair, is when I started reading a lot.  Not just Facebook posts, but blogs too...the stuff I always wished I had time to read when I was a  mom working full time.

When I read a blog on the Thinking Mom's Revolution page about essential oils, and how one particular oil, Frankincense, helped significantly with cognition, I started to weep.  I felt this fact was an indirect message from God, leading me back to the land of the living.  I ordered some immediately.

That was the very beginning.  The beginning of healing for myself and the start of a powerful friendship; one I never realized I needed. It was my first experience being a part of a community who was not only going through what I went through as an autism parent, but believed in the same things I did on how to help heal his body and brain.  What a euphoric feeling to not be alone.....even when I never realized how lonely I was!

During my recovery, I was asked to be a part of a group called TeamTMR.....a group of women like me who wanted to share a story of reality and hope, working together to raise money to give grants to other families with children on the spectrum.  Without hesitation, I agreed wholeheartedly.

Following The Thinking Mom's gave me so much more than just a chance to be a co-author in a published book.  They taught me more about researching and healing our bodies in a safe and natural way.  The Thinking Mom's taught me how to be strong, brave, and stand up for what I believe in, no matter who says you are wrong. They taught me to never give up.  The Thinking Mom's taught me about sisterhood, and how precious and necessary it is.  Now I know, that when I am down or feeling like giving up, someone else is in my corner, being strong for me in that moment, because they have been there before, and they know I will be there for them when the time comes.

So this is my love letter to The Thinking Mom's Revolution....Will you be mine this Valentine's?

Buy our book today and share the stories of hope from this group of ferociously brilliant, determined and loving women.  This second edition comes with updates from your favorite Team members. You don't have to have a child with autism to appreciate it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

An Autism Mom’s Confession: I'm Coming Out


 
 
 

 

               The past few months my family went through an adjustment period.  My oldest son graduated High School, and  we put into place a home-based program  to further his education and growth as an adult on the autism spectrum. The transition was our main focus so much of life was put on hold.  It was a lot of work remodeling to make our vision a reality, but it ended up a success. 
 
 Now that Tristen is settled in his self-led schedule based program, I am able to continue to homeschool my youngest child, and continue to be available for support and redirection as needed.  Now that the transition period was over, I am thinking about the next milestone. In a year and a half, my youngest child will also be a High School Graduate.
 



 

                When I was in the thralls of motherhood, with little children needing constant care and supervision, I used to dream of my life when my kids were grown. I imagined all the things I could do while in that stage of life, like getting a degree and having my own hobbies.  My dreams became bigger and bigger as time went on….a master’s degree, medical school, starting my own business….the sky was the limit.

 Back then I supposed that Tristen would always live with us at home; but what was in question was the degree of assistance and supervision he would need on a daily basis.  What services would be available for him?  Would there be trustworthy care available?  Could he be left alone for short periods of time?

 
And here I find myself, today, with the reality of the situation and it is a sobering one. Tristen has made progress in leaps and bounds, but he is not yet at a place of total independence.  He has ups and downs in which his autism seems more severe some weeks than other weeks.  Often times, months will go by, where I think “He is really overcoming his obstacles,” and then seemingly out of the blue we are surprised by his lack of coping with change or being in tune in “our” world.  During those episodes, he tends to have less of an understanding of where his body is in space (which I refer to him as “a bull in a china shop”).  He is too much in his own world to keep himself safe in his environment, rushing from one end of the house to the other, often times breaking things and hurting himself in the process.  So, as far as fulfilling some of my dreams and life-long passions, much continues to be put on hold so I can care for him properly.
 
 
This is our reality, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have hope for the future.  We will continue to search for ways for his body and mind to heal, and I am confident progress will be made and I will be able to achieve my dreams of so long ago.


But as for now, I needed to find something where I can contribute to my household and give more income to put towards giving my kids the best future possible, while still upholding my maternal responsibilities.



               Then I tried Keto//OS pure ketones energy drink and my whole world changed.  (You can read bout my chronic health issues at greenbeangirl34.blogspot.net)  I felt almost super human using non-jittery energy to clean my house, do laundry and make dinner for my family.....all in a happy cheerful mood!
 
 
At this point, I didn't know much about the product except it was gluten and dairy free and it promised energy.  Never could I have expected such dramatic results.  It was the answer I had been looking for to a better functioning self.
 
From that point on, I had some ups and downs, trying the different products and figuring out just how this stuff worked and why.  I wanted to know how to get the full effect and get my money's worth.  I soon found my sweet spot with a Charged Chocolate Swirl and 100 oz. of water every day.  And when you feel good, you want to tell everyone about it!
 
 
But, my preconceived notions about becoming a promoter loomed in the back of my mind holding me back.
 
 I fought the idea for as long as I could, but in the end, I took the path, after much thought and sincere prayer, that I never thought I would take:  I joined network marketing.

 

                If you have read this far, I hope you will continue on to hear me out, before you write me off as your friend.  You see, I felt the same way as many of you when being approached by my friends who had joined a company to sell something, whether it cleaning products or make up or books or whatever….I always wondered if their friendship and kindness was real, or if all they saw when they looked at me was a potential customer.  I never questioned their love of their own product or the want to earn money for their families.  But the idea of me trying to “sell” things to my friends and family, made me feel pretty uncomfortable.  I didn’t want anyone thinking of me as being insincere or trying to use them for my own personal gain.

                So here is my personal mission statement:  I am your friend regardless of your opinion of the product I am selling.  I will value you and be sincere whether or not you order any products from me....it's that simple.

                I can promise you is this as well:  I am going to tell my truth.  The good, bad, and the ugly of this product as I see it.  I will not lie to you for a sale because my integrity is worth more than that.

                When something impacts you the way this simple energy drink has impacted my life, you can’t help but tell people about it.  They notice the changes in you, and you are happy to share why you are feeling and looking  better. And if you are interested and want to try ketones through my website, that is awesome.  If you don't, no hard feelings.  So hopefully, if ketones doesn't work out for you, you won't hold it against me personally.
 
 In my personal life, I’ve been telling people about vitamins, supplements and therapies for chronic illness and autism for the past 10 years. This is just a way for me to do the same thing but try to earn money to support my family while I do it. Why should I feel guilty?

                So  I decided this is my “coming out” story….a secret I have about how I’ve chosen to live and conduct my life.  I’ve kept this secret the past few weeks because of the stigma around MLMs and I want my family and friends to know the truth, and hopefully be supportive of me and my life choices.

 For more information on my business, click here   and save 20% off through January 31st
 
 

 
 

 

                      

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gory details or the Highlights? Do you really know what's going on in an autism home?

How do you explain life with autism?

Do you give all the gory details?

The trips to the ER....Embarrassing moments in public...Poop?

Most of us Autism Moms live our lives talking about the highlights.  It keeps us going.  Maybe that's what you've heard.....all the cute heart warming things our kids do.

Do people really get what goes on in our lives?

At some level, I would expect most people to have empathy.  Hearing the details of our lives can be uncomfortable, but I would hope for true listening and thoughtfulness.  Maybe even putting themselves in our shoes for a moment....and then realizing those moments make up a lifetime.

I'm not looking for sympathy.  I have a very real sense of how extremely blessed I am.  When Tristen was first diagnosed, I decided right then and there that we were going to do the hard work teaching him how to be in this world despite his aversion to it.  Because of this mindset, we were able to overcome the hardest part of his autism by about age 4.  The "hard parts" for us consisted of meltdowns, bolting, trying to jump out of moving vehicles, constant fevers and vomiting, little to no verbal communication, hurting others and getting used to new places, new things, new people and changes in schedule.

Dad teaching Tristen to use the markers to color instead of lining them up  and repeatedly dropping them be hind the desk.


Now that he is 18, I can look back and see continual progress in his ability to function in this world, especially since starting the gluten casein free diet and biomedical treatment when he was 9 years old.
Tristen is a joy I would never trade who gave my life peace and perspective. 

That is my outlook everyday, so if you meet me on the street or out and about, I will always reply positively that I am doing well.

Keeping life in perspective gets me through the tough days. 

Thousands of parents have children with autism with life threatening seizures, head-bang or bite/pinch themselves and others.  Some parents can't handle them as they grow bigger and stronger and have to trust them to strangers.  That heartbreak has to be unbearable. 

Feces smeared on the walls....a life time of diapers....never hearing "I love you".....

It's too much, so these details tend to fall on deaf ears.

I want people to know that life with autism is good and bad.  It will give you the greatest joy and he deepest heartaches.  You will be exhausted and fulfilled sometimes in the same day.

It. is. not. easy.

And it can change from day to day....week to week.

My sweet Tristen, who has come so far, is back-sliding.  He needs to get back to a biomedical doctor who will do the right tests on him to find out why.  I suspect PANDAS/PANS or a strep infection in his gut.  It's hard for him to focus and stay out of his head long enough to follow directions.  He is almost 6" and 160 lbs. and he spends a lot of time running from one side of the house to the other, spinning and jumping and injuring himself badly because he isn't paying attention to where he is going.

The doctors and tests he needs are not covered by insurance, nor are they anywhere close.

When I do open up and tell someone outside of the autism community something that has happened in our lives, I can tell I make them uncomfortable.  I get that it is hard to imagine.  I guess I'm just looking for some acknowledgement. 

Besides the responsibilities of wife and mother and teacher (because I homeschool) and church responsibilities, I have this very real and overwhelming aspect to my life.  My son has autism.  He doesn't have the challenges of many.  But I have this responsibility to keep him healthy and functional for the rest of my life.  That is a huge weight that others don't recognize.

So I ask, that if you know someone whose life is affected by autism, take a moment to really think about the life they lead.  We don't want pity. We want understanding.  And we want this epidemic to end.




Monday, June 6, 2016

18 and Autistic: Preparing for Life Post High School

For the past 9 years we have been using biomedical and homeopathic treatments as we traveled down the road to recovery. 

Recovery from Autism, to me, means that he is indistinguishable from his peers.

Tristen still has far to go on the road, but we have come very far, and as he graduates high school and moves on to the next chapter of his life, we are celebrating his accomplishments, recognizing the tremendous effort it took to overcome so many challenges.



We look on the future with continuing hope.  We are both grateful to leave the pressures of school-life behind and begin adulthood with an excitement of things to come. Learning doesn't stop just because you are not in school. Everyone should be a life-long-learner.  This is the motto we have adopted as we made plans for the next stage in life.

Because Autism is such a spectrum disorder, no two people are the same.  The ideas we have in place for Tristen will not work for everyone.

The limitations we face come from our environment.....the lack of appropriate programs and services in our area, not to mention we have only lived in this small town for 3 years.  With 90% of people with disabilities being sexually abused during their lifetime, we are not eager to encourage his involvement with people we do not know.

Currently, we are renting a home with an advertised "mother-in-law unit" on the property.  It has it's own water and air conditioning, bathroom and washer and dryer hookup.  Because it was once a one-car garage, it is set up studio-like with an open floor plan and there is no kitchen sink, refrigerator or stove.

Our first steps will be to remodel this room (with permission from the owner of course), to add a kitchen island, recessed lighting to give him much needed light, and some cosmetic repairs.  We also need to replace the window and doors so they are more energy efficient. Some of this will be paid for by the owner and some is our responsibility.

We want this apartment designed to give Tristen the best chance at being as independent as possible.
Using a schedule to direct his daily tasks is the foundation to making this a reality.  Because he has been using a schedule since he was two and relies on it and is comforted by it, Tristen will be able to be mostly independent AND productive.

Tristen will be doing his own cooking for breakfast and lunch.  For dinner, one night a week, he will prepare a meal for our family with little help, just supervision.  The other nights of the week, he will be a part of the meal preparation providing him the opportunity to learn a variety of culinary skills.  Eating dinner together as a family gives him a consistent form of social interaction as well as allowing us to check on his health and well-being.  Plus, we just love to be together as a family!

Sundays we will all continue to attend church.  Sunday afternoons, Tristen will visit members to make sure they are doing well.

Monday nights, we will have family night, where he will come to our house and practice party etiquette.  We will have treats and play games.

Tuesday nights, Tristen will attend a church scripture discussion class with his peers.

Friday afternoons, he will volunteer at the local Bountiful Baskets program unloading the truck, carrying heavy boxes and sorting fruit and vegetables.

Saturdays mornings in the summer will be for mowing the lawn and doing other yard work.

Tristen's daily routine will include the following:  Showering, shaving, exercise, scripture study, IonCleanse by AMD detoxing footbaths, brain teasers and puzzles, book reading, creative writing, journal entries, meal making and eating, and gardening, feeding and caring for his cat and doing household chores.

Once a week routines are as follows:  Grocery shopping, laundry and the library.  (I will also do a deep clean of his apartment once a week)

Once a month, we will plan an educational outing and a just for fun outing.

To fill in our afternoons, we will look into the following options:
-swimming
-gardening
-art classes
-karate lessons
-volunteering at the humane society
-community functions for young adults in our church
-community functions for autistic adults
-creating crafts to sell at Polly's Place
-opportunities to work from home for the autism community

My boy has a plan for a well-rounded future full of fun and learning!  I am excited to have a place for us to start as well, and the flexibility to expand as he learns and grows!

If you would like to help us get Tristen's apartment furnished you can check out his college registry at target.com  and search "Tristen Davidson" or find us on PayPal using Meadow.Davidson@gmail.com

*UPDATE!  We are desperately trying to encourage Tristen's independence by completing remodeling on his apartment and supplying him with the essentials needed to carry out this plan.  Despite doing our best, we are running into some snags trying to make this happen. Please if you can send a few dollars towards this project or send a household item from his registry, I know we can make his dreams come true!  Thank you so much!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Mom, tomorrow I won't be a kid anymore...."



When I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time, a calm peace rested in my heart, and I knew in that instant, that I was meant to be his mother.  All the chaos, confusion and sadness, that had been my life up until that point, melted away, and I knew, without a doubt, that God had given me the greatest gift in all the world. 

I never wanted to be a mother.  Spending most of my life until that point babysitting, I had thought it was time for me to be me....to do things without the worry of taking care of others. 

It turns out, being a mother is much more than just being responsible for other humans- making sure they are happy, safe, fed and rested.  Those were just "things to do".  Motherhood is really about love.  You do those "things" out of an immeasurable desire....not just because they are necessary.

I didn't look into my son's eyes and wonder what he would grow to become.  Actually, I wondered what I would become.  I wondered if I could be a good mother, reminiscing on the mother's who I had known and influenced me in a positive way.  Could I really be a "good mother"?

Being a mother is the most important thing to be, I decided.  And I was going to give it my everything, no matter how hard it was or what obstacles were put in my way.  This precious child God had put into my life deserved the best of me.  He deserved happiness and unconditional love.

That's when I decided who I was.

I was Tristen's mom.

Tristen turns 18 tomorrow.

When I was 15, I saw in my future a college far away from home and a professional career.  I would live alone in the woods and people would refer to me as "the Crazy Cat Lady".

Three years later, I knew my destiny was to be a mother, but I had no idea the challenges ahead or where we would be in less than 2 decades.

This son of mine has taught me more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined.

Patience.
Unconditional Love.
True Kindness.
What it looks like to have a pure heart.
Faith. 
Understanding.
Loyalty.
Forgiveness.
He has shown me the power of prayer.
Laughter.
The light of Christ shines through him.
Honesty, despite consequences.
Dedication.
Perseverance.

So today, as I think about the boy I have raised, and the man he is about to become, I don't feel sad that he isn't off to college next fall.  He may not have a girlfriend or be able to drive a car, but MY SON has amazing qualities that most people spend a life-time aspiring to. 

And while we prepare for the next steps in his life, I have no doubt he will continue in greatness.  He is not tempted by the devil as most of us are.  Tristen clings to righteousness, going forward in faith.

Really, what more can a mother ask for?




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Mom, thank you for the greatest gift of all..."


I think my favorite part about homeschooling my kids is the time we are able to spend chatting about really important things.  Our conversations are not sparked out of anger or exasperation....we talk about "life" as we live it. 

I like to find teachable moments whenever I can.

Every Wednesday is payday so I go into Wichita to buy groceries.  Tanner had some money left from Christmas, and decided he wanted to look at GameStop.  So after lunch, the boys and I headed into town.  Going "shopping" together is not something we usually do, as they are just happy to let me pick out new shoes or jeans for them when they need them.


Tanner found the used game for a good price, and was very happy to know he would have some money left over. Across the room he spotted a plush-toy that he informed me was rare, and another plush for his collection that was on clearance for under $3.00.  The look on his face was priceless! He had saved his money until he was sure of what he wanted to buy, found it at a good price, and still had enough for two other toys to add to the collection he had been carefully building for years.

On the way home, I told him I was proud of the choices he was making, how he was careful about how he spent his money and how he took care of his things.

At a very young age, my boys were always careful with their toys.  They did not throw them or leave them outside or treat them roughly.  As they grew older, they took care of their movies...then DVD's....then electronics and games.  I never felt like I bought them a gift they wouldn't take care of or didn't deserve.  I also never bought them a toy or game "just because".  Gifts only came on holidays or birthdays for our family.

We were lucky to live near Columbus, GA from 2000 to 2006 because at that time I seemed to find the best deals on toys.  Every spring, all the stores in the city would price their toys at real discounts (remember when clearance really meant more than a dollar off?)  I would get the boys each a gift for their birthdays and holidays for the whole year (and for my nieces and nephews) and save a substantial amount of money.  I could have spent more on them, but I didn't.  One modest gift for each occasion was enough....and because of the early shopping, I was able to get them good quality toys, too. 

Taking a huge garbage bag and cleaning broken toys and trash out of my kid's rooms was never needed.  Items in their possession rarely broke.  Their rooms stayed clean. 

Now Tanner is about to be 16 and Tristen is about to be 18, and when you've been taking care of your possessions, and only buy things that are really truly wanted, it is easy to accumulate a lot.  Moving often helped us to weed out the toys they outgrew them.  With tears ( only mom's) we said 'good-bye' to Bob the Builder, Blue's Clue's, Dora, Care Bears and Veggie Tales.  (I kept all the Thomas trains for myself). 

Tristen and Tanner know how blessed they are to have as much as they do, and they show this by not only being respectful of their things, but also by sharing with others.  Often times, they will use their birthday or Christmas money to buy each other a gift, just to see the smile on their face.  We continue to keep our gift-giving very minimal to ensure they are meaningful.  And since my kids take care of what they have, end up having a lot in the end. 

Just because they have a lot, doesn't mean I will stop buying them appropriate gifts.  I don't believe they should be punished, and have to get rid of their things they have cared for, just because of the sheer volume.

Their rooms stay spotless.  They do their chores every day with out being asked.  They are respectful and love their family.


I don't care who thinks they are spoiled.

Neither of my teenagers own a functioning cell phone.  They don't have tablets or Ipads.  Tanner has a savings account to buy his own computer.

Tanner asked his dad if he could have one of his old game systems for a birthday gift this year.

I don't believe for a moment my kids are spoiled. Very blessed, but not spoiled.


***

I'm not a perfect mother.  My kids mostly had this personality trait on their own.  I nurtured it.  

I wanted to take the time to explain to them how proud I was of them, for being careful, kind,  conscientious, appreciative and respectful.  So, I told them all I mentioned above.

"Wow....I never knew that."
"What didn't you know, Tristen."
"I never remembered I was so good to my trains."
"You were.  It makes me very happy."

We unloaded the groceries and talked about dinner and our evening plans.

Tristen stopped.  "Mom, thank you for the greatest gift of all.  Teaching me responsibility".

"Thank you, Tristen, for being so willing to learn."