Friday, July 27, 2012

First Day, Last Day

Today was Charlie's very last day of school at his beloved Special Education school he has attended since his third birthday, three and a half years ago.

Here he is, newly three!  Miles wears these clothes, he was so small.

And today, our big boy, six and a half.

He was in such a great mood this morning.  As soon as this pic was snapped, he thrust his hand in the air yelling "Super Bunny!" and took off running for his last preschool bus ride...  and then totally ate in in the driveway.  Poor guy.  No matter, he recovered swiftly and had a fantastic last day.  Thank you to the summer school teacher and staff and bus drivers!  He had a great time.  Oh, and...  Good job to my buddy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Would you like some toast with your butter?

The other day, in hopes of sneaking a quick shower, I set the kids up with Daddy's ipod to watch train videos for a few minutes.

What was Miles actually doing?

Oh, just eating a stick of butter in the kitchen.

Which begs the question...

How much money in butter would I need to spend...

to get a nice, warm, uninterupted shower every day?

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Charlie's Graduation

God changed the path of our lives completely the day that Charlie was conceived.  Our lives have taken a very different shape from our original ideas of grad school and ministry.  Launched in a totally different path as his little life sprang forth inside my womb... unbeknownst to us... different and unique from the first spark of life... 47 chromosomes... a world opening up to us at that moment that we had no idea we wanted... needed.  A gift.  But we did not yet know it then.

Plans changed quickly for us when, during finals week as I prepared to walk in graduation, I discovered I was pregnant.  We were dumbstruck.  We told no one.  As we sat in the airport with my parents getting ready to fly to Hawaii to watch my sister walk in her graduation, I stole away to a bookstore and bought a book on pregnancy.  I read it secretly on our trip.  I craved beef jerky.  I felt sick.  We still did not yet know the gift this boy would be to us.

When Charlie was born he was so soft and small.  He had a button nose, and big round cheeks.  The nurses gushed over how cute he was... and really, how often are freshly born babies that cute?  He was adorable.  He was strong and healthy.  A blessing.  But still we did not yet know... the nurses did not know... the doctor did not yet know.  No one knew about the gift just yet.

So when did we know?  Technically, we received his Down Syndrome diagnosis when he was just shy of three months old.  Detected at his two month check-up we waited an agonizing three weeks to receive blood test results.  For three weeks we looked on Down Syndrome as a huge blow.  We told just a handful of people, and we prayed and prayed and prayed for Charlie to be 'normal'.

But you know what?  God knows.  He knows what is best.  He intends good things for the lives of those who love Him.  He knows, and a one minute conversation with Charlie's doctor over the phone changed our world forever.  I remember I was laying in bed with Charlie as he napped when the phone range.  I answered immediately, having carried the phone with me everywhere I went for three weeks.   The doctor gently told me the results, "He has Down Syndrome", and just like that, nothing was ever the same.

I couldn't be more grateful for that very simple, understated moment, laying in bed beside my new baby.  And somehow here we are 6 years later with a vibrant, beautiful, inspiring boy.  A boy who made everything change.  A boy who still changes our lives as we consider his special needs and alter our family path to meet those needs.  You know what?  I'll just say it... we've sacrificed a lot for this child.  This is not easy, and we've had to alter the way we live our lives to accommodate this blessing.  Somehow, these alterations, though sometimes painful for a moment, are wonderful and remind me the path God is setting before us is up to Him... and He is Awesome.  So, we are thankful for our struggles.  We really are.  And we are thankful for the triumphs we reach, and the way our simple little life stretches out before us so dense with blessing.

Charlie amazes me daily.   His character is one we can all aspire too.  He is compassionate and tender.  He is in-tune with other people and what is going on around him.  He knows how to have a good time.  With learning academic kinds of stuff... he really struggles.  Letters, numbers, colors, shapes, they are just abstract concepts to him.  But he's got the important stuff down pat... Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and, er, well, we're working on self control.   Charlie is an excellent family member, community member, a beautiful child of God.  A blessing to anyone who gets the chance to spend time with him.

I am so proud of him.  I am proud of the ways that God is able to use him in the lives of others.  I am amazed at the ways that our family has been gifted with relationship with all kinds of beautiful people through what the world would say are Charlie's weaknesses.  I am so proud of him as he leaves behind a wonderful chapter of his life with the culmination of preschool, and moves forward into something new... a new school, new opportunities to be a gift and light, a wonderful blessing to others, just as he is to us; and indeed, new opportunities to learn and be blessed by his community.  I am excited as the Lord shows us, footstep by footstep, the unique path He has us on as a family.

You know, as I wrap this bunch of wonderings up, this is what I think:

I think that when you have a child like Charlie, a child different enough that you are forced to make major adjustments to your personal intentions for your life... I think at some point in your parenting journey, you will finally find your only decent choice is to simply surrender to the path.  God is in control of our lives... we can fight it, or we can willingly submit.  I think the sooner we get to the willingly submitting part, well, that is when these gifts in odd little packages really begin to flower.  When you will look back on your former self, look back at the strange little moments in your life where you felt everything would fall to pieces, and long to speak the words to yourself that you now know from experience...

You can trust Him... He's got this.  It may seem contrary to what is good, but it's not.  It really is good.  Oh, and... Everything is going to be alright.

You know, there is nothing you can do to ensure you get the life you want or plan for.  So trust Him.  Surrender to those unexpected changes, and enjoy the gifts you are given.  The ones you never knew you needed.  The ones you never would have recognized.  This is Charlie's gift to our family.  Not obvious.  Not easy.  And yet, not matched by anything the world itself could offer.

Thank you, Charlie.  And Congratulations!  We are so very proud of all your accomplishments.  We eagerly look toward the future with you as we embark on new things together.
With All Our Love and Deepest Affection, 
Your Mommy and Daddy.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First Hair Cut

Some babies hair comes in on top first, like a little mohawk.  Charlie's hair grew that way.

Other babies have hardly any hair, save for a few long strands down the back.  Calvin's hair grew that way.

Other babies know what's up and just go for the full on mullet.  Classic American Hockey Hair.  That's Miles.  The cutest little mullet you ever did see.

But every baby needs a hair-cut sometime, and Miles sweet little curls have been growing out for a while now.  His little mullet morphed from a sweet little pile of curls at the nape of his neck to sort of a long, straight flap with a curl at the end.  Finally, a few days ago he awoke with particularly crazy hair that resembled Wayne Gretzke a little too much for me.  Ya, time to cut the flap.

Lil' Wayne.

Well, last night we did it.  Popped a movie in our little DVD player thingy, and set to work.  He was a gem.  In fact, he did the best of the three boys as we proceeded with assembly-line hair cuts at the kitchen table (really, if you have a boy, bring him on haircut night and sit him on the bench with the others... I will Flowbee his hair and not even notice he is there... conversely, stay away with your little girls on that night.).


It came out great!  A neat, tidy little cut that makes him look mighty handsome.  A gentle right of passage... a physical cue that this little guy is not a baby anymore. 

Miles Benjamin, look at you.  You are another little trooper in our rank of little boys.  Many more big things coming for you my sweet.  How about your own bed in the boys room next?

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