Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Short Video from This Afternoon at Our House

Today, Adam was making marks with a stick in the sandbox and saying something important for each one. Here is a video of his nuggets of wisdom and some footage of Levi & Addie enjoying themselves today.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, This Post is Worth 22,000 Words!

Levi is feeling better, but I have been too tired to post much lately.

I set aside today for ME. They boys are being taken care of elsewhere, and my time here at the computer will be followed by a nice long nap! A mama's got to take care of herself in order to keep taking care of everyone else.

Here are lots of pics for you. Pardon any repeats from Facebook.

The other day, I was changing Levi's diaper, and Addie (the one year old I take care of during the day) ran out of puffies. Adam stepped in to help and poured all the rest out onto her tray.

Addie says, "I think I love you."

Adam says, "Right back at ya, Sweetheart!"

Winking with his left eye

And with the right

Adam & the slinky weren't getting along
Levi at therapy

Anyone else think he needs to add some sit-ups to the routine! Ha ha ha!

Adam dumped this basket of animals out while Levi was doing therapy & sorted all the animals. Love it!

Levi was playing alone in the kitchen and made this little creation! So cool!

This is what my day usually looks like. I enjoy watching these 3 explore and play and love providing an environment that promotes learning.

We went for a walk a few weeks ago and saw that a neighbor was throwing out a sand and water table her grandchildren used to play with. It was covered in a thick layer of tree sap and mold. It took 3 days and an entire can of WD-40 to get it cleaned, but it was well worth it...

Addie just bonked him on the head with her pretend frying pan.
He has a great pouty face!

One of his OT goals is twisting his wrist to pour. Nice work, buddy!

Levi & I went to see Keli at work one day last week. I love these pictures of the two of them together. Keli works an hour from home & Miles was at child care, so we didn't get to see him this time.

I love both of their expressions here! Levi was letting out a loud, raspy, "BAAAA!"

Sitting at Keli's desk. He thinks he's the boss!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just for Laughs

Levi had another bout of croup & difficulty breathing last night. I am running on about 2 hours of sleep but feel remarkably well.

My heart has been a little tender lately, and I have been feeling like it wouldn't take much for my tears to start flowing. My friend's little boy is having some new Down syndrome related health issues to deal with, and I've been hurting for her. I have also been reading the book, Bloom, which I almost entirely stopped reading because it brought me back to places I didn't want to be and feelings I didn't want to feel again. (I did finish it last night while snuggled up with Levi on the bed in the ER, and I am glad I did finish it. I especially loved the ending.)

Anyhoo, I feel like laughing, and these two commercials have absolutely cracked me up lately. I hope you enjoy them half as much as I do!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Being Part of Something Beautiful

"If this is my story,
 If this is my song,
 Then I want to be part of something beautiful.
 If this is my journey,
 Then show me your road.
 Wherever you lead me in this world,
 I want to go."
("My Story" by Addison Road)

I am so thankful for being a part of something beautiful. Watching Levi play has been such a treat lately. He has started cruising (taking steps while holding on to furniture), too!

I have been working so hard to get video of Adam's pretend play, but he keeps catching me & stops! Wish me luck! 

Levi & Adam are enjoying a popular book!

They are also enjoying each other!

Have a wonderful week. Work to enjoy whatever journey you are on. Make it something beautiful.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Tidbit: How to Relate When You Can't Relate: Some Tips for Connecting with Parents That Have Children with Special Needs

Have you ever wanted to be supportive to someone but didn't know what to say? I had a friend carry a baby in her womb that she knew wouldn't live. A close friend of mine is currently going through a divorce. When a friend goes through a trying time, I know they need my encouragement and support. Unfortunately, there have been times I felt inadequate as a friend because I just didn't know what to say. I wanted so badly to relate. I wanted to be there for my friends, but how could any of my feeble words encourage someone walking a road that I have never walked?

Here are a few things that I recommend if you want to relate to someone that has a child with a special need but haven't been through the same experiences.

1.) Ask questions. 
I really like it when people ask me questions about Levi. Want to know when we expect him to walk or if he'll grow out of his breathing difficulties? Just ask. Several people have! I like that they are not afraid to ask, and I enjoy the opportunity to teach someone something new. It gives me a chance to be an advocate for my little boy.

2.) Interact with the child.
It sounds silly now, but when he was first born, I worried that people would be afraid of Levi. It means a lot to me when people want to interact with him. I love it when people come over to say hello and give him high-fives when we walk into the church building. When he gets older, he may not have speech that is easily understood. If that is the case, it will mean even more when people make an effort to interact with him.

3.) Be there.
Sometimes you don't need to say a word. Just listen. Be around just the same as you've always been. I have had people overdo it with positive predictions of Levi's future, and that is just not necessary. We don't exactly know what his future holds, and that is perfectly okay.

4.) Get involved.
Simply standing behind Levi's banner at the Buddy Walk has been one the best ways our friends and family have supported us. Very few words were spoken on the day of Levi's first Buddy Walk, but everyone there spoke volumes. Through their very presence, people were saying, "We are here for you. We may not understand what's ahead, but we are right beside you." I get choked up just thinking about it.

My brother is now coaching a Challenger League baseball team for kids with all types of special needs. We've had people give books and toys to help Levi work on his therapy goals. You may even want to do some research on the special need. After the Buddy Walk, a family at church told me they looked at some information online to help educate one of their children that was asking questions about Down syndrome.

A friend at church about ran me over this Sunday to find out if I had read Kelle Hampton's book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, which just came out. The book is a mother's story about having a daughter with Down syndrome and all the beauty it brought. My friend said that after reading the book, she feels like she can understand me better and has a better understanding of Down syndrome. She even told me she was kind of jealous of me for having Levi. (Which is not the first time I've been told that!)

While it means a lot to have friends that also have children with Down syndrome that can truly relate, I have also been blessed with friends that have been comfortable enough to step out of their comfort zones and make an effort to support us even though they aren't in "the club." I am so grateful for the way our family and friends support us. Thank all of you for the multitude of ways you love our family. We are truly blessed!

And because I don't like writing a post without including a picture...
I was walking through the kitchen last night and was surprised to see what Levi decided to do with his time. Pretty cool, Dude!

So, those of you readers that have children with special needs, what advice would you add? I'd love to get some discussion going in the comment section.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Friday the 13th Full of Doubles

Doubles can be good. As in double rainbows and double stuf Oreos. Then there's the bad kind of doubles, like double chins. This week, I didn't just have one sick boy, I had two...double trouble. We found out Monday that Adam had bronchitis, and Levi had a double ear infection.

Then Wes & I started feeling bad. I ran a fever for about 2 days this week. It was like a double header. We got through getting the boys taken care of then it was time for game two: taking care of ourselves (kind of like the stomach flu we had last month).

All I had planned for today was to drive to Iowa for a child care training ( we go...another one of her crazy travel stories...). I ended up leaving much later than planned because I had to make a lengthy phone call about getting my wedding ring insured because, sure enough, another diamond fell out! I did a double take yesterday when I looked down and saw something missing! So this morning, I took my beloved ring to be repaired and appraised and ended up leaving much later than I planned.

I stopped for a relaxing dinner at Ruby Tuesday's around 5 pm and started reviewing my PowerPoint and notes for tomorrow. PowerPoint kept "encountering errors" and shutting down. Not a good feeling when I have 117 people to present to tomorrow! I used the GPS to find a Best Buy and was told I needed to uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Office. The problem was that my copy of Microsoft Office happened to be 8 hours away! To solve the problem, I had to double my copies of Microsoft Office by purchasing a new one!  Two hours and $191 later, I was able to get back on the road.

I am not superstitious, but I am thankful Friday the 13th doesn't come along very often! I am glad to safely be in my hotel room (and no, I'm not staying at a DoubleTree).

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Levi Spent the Morning in the Hospital

He has been congested for a few days and started that croupy cough again last night. I gave him a breathing treatment every 4 hours and was up with him all night, praying for the wisdom to make good decisions, taking him to the porch to breathe the cold air, checking his chest for distress, and rocking, cradling, and loving with all my might. Wes took him to the ER this morning, and he is doing much, much better.

But Levi's illness is not what I want to remember about today.

I want to remember the way he giggled as he watched his mama & daddy kiss goodbye this morning, and how we did it over and over to hear that sweet raspy giggle again and again. I want to remember the way my eyes met my soul-mate's after each kiss as we laughed. I want to remember the deep gratitude I felt towards my husband I packed up the diaper bag and he calmly carted our boy off for another trip to the Emergency Room.

I want to remember watching Adam proudly fly a kite with his daddy.

I want to remember my mother-in-law dropping her plans for the day to come be with us.

I want to remember going on a walk with Adam and filling his Easter basket with these.
I fondly remember spending time gathering coffee cans full of these "helicopters" with my brother and throwing them into the air, watching them happily twirl as they cascaded to the ground. It was fun introducing the magic to Adam today. Delightful...then and now.

I want to remember that I am blessed, that there is more good than bad, and that God is good.

Proverbs 17:22 "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Am One of Those People

I had an interesting moment today. I was getting everyone buckled in the car after Levi's OT session, and there was a family walking into the same building. The mother was carrying her sweet daughter, who happens to have Down syndrome. I know this family and really enjoy visiting with the mother, but this little girl, I haven't seen much. I just stared at her...adoring her. You see, I am one of those of those people that stare at people with Down syndrome...always have...always will. I stare with interest, with fascination, with wonder.

For some reason, the first couple of weeks after Levi was born, I didn't remember it. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe it was the worry I had over his health. But ever since I was a child, I have been enchanted by people with Down syndrome. I used to think, as a parent, I could do that. I could handle that. I wonder if God will give me a child with Down syndrome, because I'd be totally okay with that.

So here I am, adoring this beautiful little girl with almond eyes. I was captivated like usual, and got lost in the moment. I was thinking about how cool she was. Thinking, "Hey, I wonder if..." Then I laughed and thought, "Oh, wait!!"

I am so glad this boy is ours.

Today, at his occupational therapy session, Levi stacked blocks. Physical therapy strengthens gross motor skills, like crawling & walking, while occupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills.
Adam & Addison had a great time, too!

Adam is drawing people with arms and legs now! I love to have him tell me about the picture and write down what he says word for word. How cute is this? I was impressed at how well he placed the stickers to complete the picture.
Here is something else I transcribed for him this week...his first sympathy card. He wanted to make a card for his grandparents, who's cat, Winston, passed away. Their dog is named B.J. just to give you the background needed to understand his thoughts.
While we were at the park the other day, Adam rode his tricycle. He needed a little help getting up a hill. I put the stroller right behind him and gave him the extra boost he needed. Little brother thought he was a big help!

"Yeh, I'm the man, alright."

Now big brother gives little brother a push!

I gave Adam permission to look at a dog, and the owner was very trusting. She let Adam hold the leash. It was only a matter of seconds before they both were all tangled up!

I love Adam's expression here..."Hmmm...."

I appreciate you taking the time to click your way over here and read my thoughts. If you haven't signed up to be a follower yet, you can click "join this site" on the sidebar. You can also follow via facebook or email. I LOVE comments. It makes it worth the effort when I know you are reading & are interested enough to give feedback.

And to those of you that I only know through the blogging world. Thank you!! I love following your blogs (and need to improve on my commenting skills). It means the world to me that we have become friends because we have sought each other out, and your interest in my family deeply touches my heart.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tuesday Tidbit: Teachable Moments

Look at the light on the floor in the following picture. What do you see?
Teachable Moments
The other day at the grocery store, this woman stopped her shopping, put her nose up, looked at Adam and asked, "Shouldn't he be in school? How old is he?" I was super-irritated, but I tried to be nice by answering a few questions and kept walking.

Yesterday, I took Adam out to ride his tricycle and splash in the puddles. A neighbor that was just making conversation asked me if Adam was in school. She didn't seem judgmental, but my mind automatically went buzzing, "Does she think I'm a bad mom? Why does she think he should be in school?" I told her that he is only three and is not in school but that I work with him a lot at home. I beamed and said, "He is starting to read already." She quickly replied, "Well, I just let my children be kids and allowed them to enjoy their childhoods."

While I do work with Adam, it is not to unrealistically push him or take away his childhood. I believe in teachable moments...those unplanned opportunities that arise, giving an ideal chance to teach and share insight with children. When Adam is playing and tells me that "Tammi and tulip have the same beginning sound" we sit down and talk about beginning sounds. When he asked me how water got into the clouds, we talked about God's amazing creation, and I did a lesson on the water cycle in the kitchen with the teapot.

Children are born with inquiring minds, and they want to know. Adam's "why's" and "how's" inspire me to be in awe of the world around me. His questions and thoughts make me think and give me fresh perspectives on life. I am thankful every day that he is not in school and that I am able to spend these precious days with him, taking advantage of those teachable moments.

Keep your eyes out for moments you can use to teach your children. You don't have to homeschool. You don't have to be a stay-at-home mom. All you have to do is take advantage of those moments that pop up throughout the day. Ask questions about what they see. Point out colors and shapes. Count things. Discuss how people treat each other in different situations and talk about the kindness you want to see in your child. Demonstrate kindness in your actions. They truly are sponges. Don't miss a moment! You may not have have lesson plans or a grade-book, but you are the most important teacher your child will ever have.