Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raising Boys

Have you noticed those nifty tabs along the top of the blog?  I feel so savvy for figuring out how to put those up there (it's actually pretty easy), and have had fun as I begin to fill them with (hopefully) very useful information.

There is one tab along the top that is missing.  It is the tab called "Raising Boys."  A subject of which I feel I must be on my way to becoming an expert.  But that is just the thing.  Raising boys baffles me.

Their behavior.  Their energy.  Their way of communicating.


Those who know Humboldt County, California know it's a liberal area, especially Arcata.  I attended Humboldt State University, a liberal college.  My experience here is that there is a strong tendency to group male and female, boys and girls all together as far as behavior and interests go.  But, I will tell you what, even in this area where it is not okay by any means to stereotype a person based on gender, I have heard time and again a mother of a boy relate that it is... different.  Raising a boy in many ways different than raising a girl.

And this is where I am stuck in my parenting journey.

First, I'm not a man (gasp!).  I had a sister, not a brother.  I freely admit to hoping for girls each time we were pregnant.  Why?  Well, to be honest, the way boys play is a little disturbing to me.  I don't know what to make of it.  And Calvin, well he is at the age where his play, his way of communicating, his approach to exploring his world is starting to make me wonder if I am supposed to discipline him and discourage him from using forceful language like "I'm going to jab you!"  Or, is it okay to just play along and feign death as he wields his imaginary sword?


He is an absolutely beautiful boy, our Calvin David.  Just this afternoon he leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mom, I love being your child."  And the girl, sister, daughter, mom, and woman that I am wishes he would be that caring little bearer of endearment all the time.  But he is that one minute, and the next he is whacking his toy guitar on the bed after a solo rock concert as hard as he can just to test his strength.  Of course, the guitar will bounce off the surface of the mattress and smash him squarely in the forehead.  He will again be reduced to a cuddly mess of a boy, tears wet on his cheeks.  He needs his mama.

And that is the enigma.  Who am I to this boy?  What is he exactly?  Do I stifle his sense of adventure to say, "Oh, we don't jump from lofty heights in this house to test our strength lest we get hurt"?  Or do I let him (it looks like fun), and figure those couches weren't going to last forever anyways.


My sister and I were active, romp all around children.  My parents added on to their house to expand the area in which we had to flip and cartwheel, so I realize the activity is not just a boy thing.  But I remember being more calculated.  More safety aware.  The boys... it seems they are all "Do" and the think part comes later.  They are forceful.  Every body slam, every foot race, is an experiment in their own strength.  It's as if they are satisfying a deep need.

So, for now, I try to teach these boys that there is a time and a place.  Inside is a place to practice self control.  Oh to teach a 3 year old on a rainy day self control!  The key word really is try.  Outside is the place where amazing feats of strength are to be enacted.

I aim for the delicate balance of incredible patience and absolute consistence.  The wisdom to know which is appropriate and when.  I am happy at the end of the day if I actually did let my actions yell, er, speak louder than words.

And, I seek out the advice of experienced parents of active, brilliant boys.  What is a mother to do?

(No really, what is a mother to do?  Stories, book recommendations, links to posts about boys very welcome.  I will add them to a Raising Boys tab at the top as I collect and enjoy them.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Converstation Between Brothers

A little conversation we had in the van yesterday.

Charlie:  Where's Daddy?

Mommy:  He's working in Blue Lake with Grandpa.

Charlie:  Ohhhhhh!  Boo-ake!!!!  I see.

Calvin:  No Charlie.  It's not Boo-ake.  It's Bwue Wake.

Charlie:  Ohhh.  I see.  Boo-ake.

Calvin:  No Charlie!  Not Boo-ake!  It's Bwue Wake.

Charlie:  No.  Boo-ake.

Calvin:  Charlie!  It's NOT Boo-ake!  Say Bwue. Wake. !!

Charlie:  Boo-ake!

Calvin:  Bwue Wake!  Bwue Wake!  Charlie!

Charlie:  Oh.  I see.  Boo-ake!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Babies with Down Syndrome: Health Issues

When a new parent has a baby they probably have prepared for the experience by purchasing a baby book that talks about general baby care, common childhood illnesses, first aid.  What is not included in the baby book is a list of serious medical conditions and what the chances are that baby will have them.  It's a good thing too, or we might all parent with a lot more anxiety.

Our brand new to the world Charlie.

When a baby is born with Down Syndrome, however, it is important that parents are aware of the medical issues that commonly affect babies with Down Syndrome.  So, we are given sheets by our pediatricians that explain each medical condition of which we need to look out for, the symptoms, the tests or treatments, and also, the percent chance that our child could have the condition.  Then we Google it.  We read the books.  We get anxious and we wonder if we can do this.  So, what is it like?

Medical issues that may affect babies and children with Down Syndrome are: Heart Defects, Gastrointestinal issues, Respiratory problems, Vision issues, Hearing impairment/issues, Thyroid problems, Orthopedic problems, dental problems, Leukemia, Weight issues, Seizures.  Wow.  That is a laundry list, isn't it?  Some of these, like heart defects (45%) and thyroid issues (13 to 54%) are more likely, while others, like leukemia (1%) and seizures (6-8%) are less common.  These figures are from the popular book Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parent's Guide, which I recommend for a comprehensive list and information.

Our newborn baby Charlie, before we knew he had Down Syndrome.  Look how big his belly is!  He still has a "Budda Belly" as we call it.  It is not fat, it is due to low muscle tone.  This means his muscles are very loose when not flexed so they don't hold his tummy in very well.  Some babies with Down Syndrome may have medical issues involving their digestive systems that could cause their bellies to be distended like this, so it is very important to have a distended belly checked into.

For Ray and I, knowing each potential medical issue and having a rudimentary understanding of the symptom sets, lead to some anxiety in Charlie's baby years.  There were more than a couple times where I began to work myself up, convincing myself that a set of symptoms was leading to something far more serious than the simple cold that it was.  Most of the time, my fears were unfounded.

Of course, we did deal with some of these medical issues:

Charlie deals with respiratory issues.  "Baby's first cold" at 3 months for Charlie turned into a serious bout of Bronchiolitis that earned him a life flight to UCSF medical center and a week in the PICU.  His case was serious because he would stop breathing every time he cried.  It was believed this was due to his having "floppy airways" (technically called trachea malacia), that, and a partially collapsed lung.  He healed beautifully in the end. 

Charlie in the PICU at UCSF Medical Center.

The bronchiolitis was our most serious and scary respiratory illness experience by far.  Charlie does tend to have asthma when he is ill, but as he grows the asthma is not as big of a deal.  When he was a baby it meant giving him nebulizer treatments at home, and the occasional trip to the ER for more powerful drugs.

Charlie had reflux (think "excessive spit-up") as a baby and toddler.  I think of all the medical issues that can come along with Down Syndrome, this one was the biggest deal for us.  The acid reflux wore away the lining of Charlie's esophagus lending to poor sleep, and a long delay in him learning to eat due to pain.  After we began treatment with medication for the acid reflux at age 15 months, he immediately began to sleep through the night, and after 6 weeks for his esophagus to heal he began to eat.  Reflux seems quite common in Down Syndrome from my experience as a parent getting to know other parents.

One of our first attempts to feed Charlie.  He used to take a bite or two, and then cry and cry.  We finally began treatment for reflux at 15 months, and after the erosion in his esophagus healed he began to enjoy food very much.

Finally, Charlie had hearing issues.  Moderate sensorineural hearing loss, which is less common in Down Syndrome than a conductive hearing loss that is due to fluid in the ears.  Charlie no longer has hearing loss.  And, in fact, despite having tiny little ear canals as is common in children with Down Syndrome, Charlie has never had an ear infection.  Actually, Charlie has only had one round of antibiotics in his 5 years of life.  Not too many "typical" children can claim that!  Pretty healthy boy we have here.

This picture shows baby Charlie wearing his hearing aids.  He had hearing aids from age 5 moths to 15 moths when we discovered during a routine hearing test that he had gained normal hearing.

So, Syndrome refers to a group or collection of symptoms that when they occur together make up a condition, like Down Syndrome.  Any child can be hearing impaired or have almond shaped eyes, but when several symptoms or conditions common to Down Syndrome occur at once, it sort of tips a doctor off that Down Syndrome may be the cause.  Charlie neither has or is doomed to have all the different medical issues related to Down Syndrome, and some children will have more issues and some may be perfectly healthy.

A child who has more medical conditions is not "more affected" by Down Syndrome.  Down Syndrome is something that you either have or don't have by the presence of a third 21st chromosome, and it is expressed differently in every person.  A person with Down Syndrome who has many medical conditions will not necessarily be a person with more cognitive delay, and vise versa.  This is the same for the physical features.  A person who has Down Syndrome but does not "look like it" will not be less affected cognitively or medically.

It is just sort of a mixed bag.

So much more that a set of symptoms.  Every little extra that comes with Charlie's care is worth it to me.

So, what was it like?  First, Charlie was our first child.   We didn't really have any point of reference for how things may be different.  Second, Charlie is so much more than a set of symptoms or complications, so we did all that we needed to do for him medically with gladness.  We naturally wanted the best possible health for our child, and it seemed no chore to pursue that.  I think I was a lot more vigilant about Charlie's health than I have been with our other babies.  I was very organized out of necessity--we had a lot of check-ups and appointments.  Charlie is actually a very healthy little boy, and once we got past the baby years, it seemed life really settled down medically as we have a sense of what is and is not going to be an issue for him. 

As always, I welcome questions and comments.  I realize the medical side of Down Syndrome can sound intimidating, and I am willing to help answer questions about what it is like to care for a baby with extra needs.  Also, please check out the links in the Down Syndrome Resources Tab above, especially Downsyn.com Forum where you can search for other parent's posts about certain concerns and topics, and ask questions from parents who have been in your shoes.  There is no reason to be on this journey alone.  Be encouraged!

**I just wanted to share that this post was written with the company of one very affectionate five year old boy sitting upon my lap.  A five year old boy who has been trying to convince me to put his favorite computer game on this entire time.  My five year old Charlie, Down Syndrome and all, who is so clever.  Who plays computer games.  Who chats with me while I blog.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Comforting Hymn

Each of our boys has their own special lullaby. We did not plan that, it is just what happened.

Charlie's lullaby is Silent Night.

Calvin's lullaby is a also a Hymn, Be Thou My Vision.

But this story is about Miles' song.

When I was a child, I had a special way of dealing with anxiety. A way that involved darkness, layers of starlight, the sharp shadows of pine needles. And Hymns. 


I grew up in a little mountain town called Truckee, in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Our house was in a sparsely populated neighborhood where most of the homes on our street were cabins, uninhabited most of the year. There were no street lights. The air was thin at 6000 feet elevation, so you can imagine what the sky looked like at night.

It was beautiful. The deepest navy, filled with bright stars. Beyond the bright ones were faint ones. Layers and layers of starlight.

Below the sky was a mountain range, just a black silhouette in the distance. Our house stood among tall pines that would sway back and forth during a storm, but on the starry nights--the dark, sparkly nights--the motionless pines framed the sky above in needled fringe.

I would sit on my bed at night and look out my window at the stars and sing softly.  To me, the very act of singing hymns out into the night was like enacting a Holy kind of protection I could count on. It gave me peace in the dark and the silence on nights when my mind would begin to race. Three Hymns in particular: Holy, Holy Holy, Lord You Are Beautiful, As the Deer.


Some have read the story of Miles birth. It didn't go so well. It was traumatic for me, and it was traumatic for him. We were separated for some hours afterward, always with people or machinery between us. Miles was in a pitiful condition, having a hard time breathing, a hard time settling down. He was frantic.

After a few hours of trying to settle him and figure out what was wrong, trying to get him to breath well and simultaneously planning his transport to a NICU, our pediatrician decided to do something unusual for the situation. She decided to bring me into the nursery, and let Miles nurse... To see if a mama's touch could settle him. Soothe him enough to take a deep breath.

I was wheeled in, not doing so great myself, running a high fever and, you know, just given birth. My baby was plucked off the warming table, tubes and wires following in a tangled mess, and gently placed in my arms. I looked deeply into his face.  I hadn't yet seen it but from the side. He continued to scream and grunt. And at a time where he so needed comfort, and also I, a song came to me.

As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee.

 
Miles calmed immediately, and nursed as if it was the first drink he had taken after a long journey through a desert.

The song came over and over. Raymond and I sat and took in our new son, our son who was now quiet and still, save for his hungry gulps. We stared at the monitors hooked to his body, and watched his pulse calm down, his oxygen levels slowly rise. The nurse turned off the light in the nursery, and we continued to sit in the shadows nursing amidst the beeps of monitors, watching our baby settle into his life.

That is how Miles got his song.  His lullaby.  And, while I don't care to go through trauma like we did that night ever again, the whole thing is worth it to me for that moment in the cold, quiet hospital nursery.


Even now, when Miles is unsettled the song comes and does its work like a miracle. A miracle for us both. He is calmed. I am calmed. He listens and remembers those first moment of being reunited with his mommy, those moments where stress and fear left his body. Maybe he does not know what it means, or why he suddenly feels well and whole and fine.  He just knows all is okay again.

When I sing it, I am reminded of the cold metal daybed against my arms, the stars over the house, the way the needles on the trees seem to point like fingers to the sky, the feeling of what it is to have the hand of God come to me as a child.

And the very promise of peace.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Diagnosis Down Syndrome: Settling In.

The first thing given to you as a parent of a child with Down Syndrome is probably a book. A dear little book called Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parent's Guide. I still have my copy, and have had the good fortune of loaning it out once, and hope I may be able to again.

It is a thorough book addressing all the important medical and developmental things of which a parent of a baby with Down Syndrome should be aware.

I remember getting the book. It was given to me by Charlie's infant teacher for the hearing impaired during the painful three weeks in which we awaited his diagnosis of Down Syndrome.


I will not give this book a poor review. It is very helpful, and perhaps most importantly it has pictures. I lived for pictures of other babies and children with Down Syndrome when we were starting out on this journey.

The book, as I said is thorough, and good information. But when I loan it out, or recommend it to a new parent I give a caveat: Read it second, not first. The book touches briefly on the emotional impact of receiving a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but mostly deals with all the extra health, developmental, and even educational stuff that comes in the Down Syndrome package. What I really needed at the outset, though, was reassurance, real life examples of families doing this Down Syndrome thing. I needed full color, large, beautiful photographs of babies with Down Syndrome doing "non-Down Syndrome-y" things... What ever that was.


You may remember my reaction on the phone with the doctor when he told me Charlie had Down Syndrome. "Now What?" I didn't mean it like, "Now-what-do-I-do-because-my -life-is-over?" It was just what came out of my mouth, but after reading Babies with Down Syndrome, I guess I expected the doctor to answer with a list of tests and check-ups and instructions. When he simply answered "Keep doing what you have been doing," well, it was that moment--about the second minute of Down Syndrome having entered my life--that I realized there was more to this journey than a baby with a series of extra needs, illness, and a list of "can't do's". Mostly, there was just a baby. The same little baby I'd loved and raised for the past 11 weeks.

Oh, I didn't stop reading books or doing Internet research. That is just not my nature. But I did begin to believe our life could be normal. We settled in, we did regular things like grocery shop with Charlie in a sling. I went to mommies groups. We passed him around at church, and dressed him up cute as we could. We didn't let ourselves be any less proud.

This is me doing "normal" baby things with my sweet baby boy. Taking him for a walk in our fav Ergo Carrier.

Now when I meet, in real life or over the net, a new parent of a baby with Down Syndrome I recommend books that have come out more recently like Gifts, or I give addresses of websites like Band of Angels. I recommend Woodbine House publishers, and also Internet support groups like Downsyn.com.

There is an entire movement, an campaign called More Alike than Different, and while I sometime scoff at the idea when I look over at Charlie as we are loading the kids into the van after a shopping trip, only to see him licking the door of the car next to us, in the overall scheme of things, from babyhood on, it is true. Our son with Down Syndrome, and indeed our entire family experience, is More Alike than Different.

More here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Diagnosis Down Syndrome: What it's Like

Typically babies are diagnosed with Down Syndrome before they are born--as early as the first trimester--or, at birth or shortly after. Our family story is a little unusual because our doctor did not suspect Charlie had Down Syndrome until he was 2 months old. In fact, Charlie's first diagnosis as a baby was moderate sensorineural hearing loss. Or, a loss of hearing that was permanent, and required him to wear hearing aids. Charlie, of course, no longer has a hearing loss, and in retrospect it is believed his hearing loss, and subsequent recovery, may have been due to a delay in maturation of his brain response to auditory stimuli. That or prayer.

Newborn Charlie.


The following are excerpts of my own journal entries, and reflections as I read back on them, written during the period of time when we were first dealing with Charlie's diagnosis of hearing loss and up through Charlie's diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  A snippet of what it was like for us to go through the process of receiving a Down Syndrome diagnosis at almost 3 months of age.  More of our family story of raising a baby with Down Syndrome can be found in the posts listed here.

***

February 9, 2006
Charlie, this has been so hard--not knowing the severity of your hearing loss. Having to wait and reschedule the tests and speculate. We've tried many little "tests" of our own.

I want to know that everything will be okay. That you can hear me when I sing to you. I want you to hear your daddy's guitar when he plays for you in the evenings. All this time, even before you were born, we sang, we played, we spoke to you. Have you heard us?

Reflection:  Raymond is a musician.  Music is hugely important to me, as well.  We naturally had many expectations for how musical our child would be.  We were told hearing aids would help him hear speech, but we worried so much about how it would affect his ability to enjoy and participate in music.


March 7, 2006
Why is this happening? With each new issue that comes up I feel as if I am being torn away from Charlie's heart. That my ability to connect, and affect, and understand him is shaken. Please, please let my little boy be okay. Please let him be of normal intelligence and development.

Reflection:  I never intended to have so many prefabricated dreams for the life of my child.  As we discovered and uncovered more issues, it felt like all that I had expected just came crashing down.  All I was left with was pieces of the dreams I had made for our baby.  I didn't know how to relate to him now that he wasn't who I thought he was. 


March 12, 2006
Today I dreamed of a funeral. It feels as if a Down Syndrome diagnosis will steal away forever the baby I thought we had, even from before he was born.  I don't want this.

Reflection:  The wait was an incredibly painful time.  Charlie is named for Raymond's Grandfather, Charles.  A name that has been passed down for generations.  In one dark moment I thought we had wasted an important family name on our imperfect child.  A child who would never go on to have a family of his own.  Raymond says the same thought occurred to him.

Charlie learned to smile in those three weeks of waiting.

March 16, 2006
Tomorrow is the day we hope to learn the results of the karyoptype. I am so afraid. Intuitively I know that if Charlie has Down Syndrome, we will eventually settle in to that reality and it will seem normal, but my heart does not believe that yet. Even if he does not have Down Syndrome, he is still hearing impaired and will have to wear hearing aids.

Reflection:  Photographs of babies with Down Syndrome were so vital to helping me through the wait.  I peered over them intently.  I can remember one photo of the sweetest little baby boy with big round cheeks and a button nose just like Charlie's.  He was smiling, and I remember thinking if Charlie would look and smile as sweetly as that baby, then just maybe I could do this.


March 28, 2006
I got the call from Charlie's doctor today. He said the results came back positive for Trisomy 21. I asked the doctor "Now what?" It was the only thing that came to me at the time. He responded to just keep doing what we are doing. And that was it.  Charlie has Down Syndrome.

Reflection:  Finally receiving the phone call... it was hard.  I cried.  But mostly I was glad to know, and move forward.  It was kind of like, "Okay, I guess I know who you are now.  It wasn't who I was expecting, but I love you the same.  Let's get to know one another.  Let's move forward and learn about Down Syndrome."  There were still so many emotions to wade through, so many things to sort out in my head.  But there was no longer the agony of everything I knew or thought to be true hanging in the air above me.  Now I had a reality I could work with.

More here.


My First Mother's Day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Having a Baby with Down Syndrome: What it's Like.

March is a "Downsy" kind of month around here.

First, World Down Syndrome Day is coming up on Monday, 3/21. Get it? 3/21. That is, 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, which is what results in Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21. Ya. Probably only parents who have children with Down Syndrome get that one. But it's clever, I think. And, we love to celebrate Down Syndrome around here, so why not one more day of awareness.


5 day old Charlie.

Second, March is the month in which received the news that Charlie has Down Syndrome. Yep, 5 years ago this month. March 28, 2006, to be exact.

I'll be honest, that month was a painful time for us. Charlie was 2 months old. We were dealing with the fact that he was hearing impaired, and were having our first meetings with an infant teacher for the deaf and other early intervention services for children with special needs.

Not yet 2 months old. Not yet aware of his possible diagnosis.

I was at Charlie's 2 month appointment when his pediatrician began asking some questions that seemed to come out of left field to me. A line of questioning that ended in the gentle suggestion that Charlie may have Down Syndrome, and genetic testing should be in order.

Our lives changed forever that day. A new world of awareness aroused in our hearts.

It took three weeks before the results of the genetic test, called a karyotype, were ready. It was those three weeks while we waited that were so painful to us as we cared for our baby day after day, wondering if he was who we thought he was.


"Does he, or doesn't he?"


In those weeks I scoured the Internet for information on Down Syndrome, for lists of the signs. I was particularly drawn to the pictures of babies with Down Syndrome. I studied them closely to compare each feature with my baby. Could he have it? Could my baby have Down Syndrome?

Of course, we all know what happened. Charlie has Down Syndrome. And honestly, once we knew, we set the pain aside as best we could, and moved on in love for our boy. There was adjustment, and moments of anxiety, and wondering what the future would be, but not the pain of the wondering.

I must have read about 6 books on Down Syndrome that first month after his official diagnosis. Here I have him playing with rolled towels under him to support his arms and help him bring his hands to mid-line. I become not only his mom and biggest advocate, but his round the clock developmental therapist.

So, in honor of the month of March, our family's own personal Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and also in honor of 3/21 World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, I will post a series about what life is like with a baby with Down Syndrome. And I promise to post LOTS of pictures of our sweet little guy along the way.

More here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Big 1/3!

Yesterday our sweet baby Miles hit the 1/3-of-a-year old mark.



I can't believe how quickly 4 months can pass




When you are in the midst of loving a new-to-the-world person.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Calvin is 3!

Today my funny, amazing, clever, industrious little Calvin David turned 3!

Dear Calvin,

Wow! You are 3!

Calvin, you are amazing. I just can't imagine our lives with out you.



I am so proud of you, Calvin. You are such a smart little person, so curious. I just know that you will have a profound effect on the world. I pray each day that God will give us the wisdom to parent and guide you in the way that you should go.



I am so privileged to be your mom. To hang out with you day after day. To eavesdrop on your play, and enjoy your interests. You have taught me so much about machinery, trains, and monster trucks.

I love you so much, sweety little boy. Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mommy

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami: We are all Okay.

Got an e-mail from my aunt wanting to know how we faired with the tsunami that hit us this morning here on the North Coast of California. We faired just fine. In fact, Arcata is cushioned from the ocean side by many cow pastures, so it was business as usual. Mostly.

School was canceled, and some businesses remained closed through the day. Coastal areas were evacuated.

There was a little damage here and there. There was devastation of a harbor an hour north in Crescent City, a town suseptable to tsunami. Thankfully they were very prepared, but I do think there were a couple fatalities.

As I told my aunt, we are VERY prepared for tsunami here. This is after the tsunami in Indonesia. The public is well educated, there are many systems in place to warn people (sirens, reverse 911 calls, radio, TV), maps that show where the tsunami areas are, and signs that tell you when you are entering or exiting a tsunami hazard zone.

If you are interested in learning more about how the Northern California Coast did with today's tsunami, check out KHUM's website. scroll down the page to see images and video.

My heart is mostly concerned with the devastation and distruction in Japan. And, I would sincerely ask for your prayers for the Grace family who are missionaries and friends of Ray's Family. The live in Sendai.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bits of Life and Feeling Content

I don't always post as regularly as I'd like. This little blog is so dear to me. It is the record of my journey as a mother. The evidence of my boys childhoods. Some kids get beautiful scrap books, my boys have a blog!

So much has been going on lately. I am so thankful for all the business. Our life is often chaotic, and by the time we have set each of our boys in their beds at the end of the day and kissed them each on their little heads, we close their door and flop on the couch in exhaustion. We look at each other like "did we just do that?" It takes almost constant motion and endless creativity to parent this age.

Have I ever said that I never knew the difference between a snowplow and a back-hoe until it became so vital to my role as a mother to two (perhaps three) mechanically impressed boys. We don't just pick up toys at the end of the day, we move them as if we are fork-lifts, cranes, and bulldozers. We are loud, and we talk in robotic voices as our machine arms lift the toys to their places on the shelf.



Calvin has been peeing in the potty this week. Some much welcomed, and maybe needed, progress from my last post. He has been taking himself, so long as we tell him not to. Yes. That's right. We say things like, "gee, I bet Calvin can't go to the potty by himself. I bet he can't push those pants down and sit on the potty. Nope! I bet he can't." So, I guess we figure things out like this as we go along, and whaaalaa! Progress is made.

***

We went to church today, and I was so blessed. We have the most amazing church. A family style, community oriented church where believer and seeker both feel comfortable to fellowship and be in the presence of Sweet Jesus. Seriously. If you are local to us, please come sometime. The more there are, the sweeter it is.

I was able to sing with Raymond for worship this morning, and if felt so good. Of course there is a never ending supply nurturing women in our church to hold Miles and look after the boys so I am able to do such a thing. I love all those who love our family.



The boys love church. They have the most darling friends. I am so blessed by all the little girls who come to church (not many boys right now). Two little girls in particular are such a salve to my soul. They play with Charlie. It has not occurred to either of them that his differentness is in anyway a hindrance to their games. Sometimes it is difficult for other children to feel automatically comfortable, so I find myself intervening in the play to explain Charlie, or help guide him in what is going on. These two little girls simply play with him. In part it works because they love to pretend to be animals, and Charlie is so great at that.

***

Our neighbors brought home made cookies over as we were picnicking on our lawn this afternoon. It is so special to live in a small little neighborhood with so many beautiful people on either side of the drive. Beautiful.



And this afternoon I am alternating between getting in some storytelling, and also snuggling a warm baby boy on my bed. I just feel content.
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