Friday, September 27, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers Amid Our Traveling Disaster

"Oh!  Heavens to Betsy!"  What does that truly mean anyway?  I don't know how to reword it in a way that makes sense, but one thing I do know is that I've used the phrase more this week than I have in my entire life.  It's kind of like the expression, "For Pete's sake!"  Sometimes I wonder if only my family says that, because I have an Uncle Pete, or if others know it's a definable & normal kind of exclamation.
For the first time in 3 years, Mitch and I took our little family on a vacation.  In the past we've traveled with extended family, or attended reunions, but this time, it was just me & Mitch, braving the bright, big world, with our 3 kids, 3 car seats, and 7 bags. We set out to Washington D.C. and bunked up at my sister's house to visit her cute family for her birthday, our anniversary, and to take Mitch & the kids to see the Nation's capitol for the first time ever.  It was an AMAZING trip, and one that I HOPE Tyson and Emmett will have memories of for the rest of their lives. Everything was perfect.  It reminded us how proud we are to be Americans. It made us so happy to reflect on the significance the Founding Fathers and be in a historic place with our little family.  But for whatever reason, the Universe decided to jinx our final hours!  After church, Tyson started feeling queasy.  He actually threw up at a gas station on the way to the Lincoln memorial.  We let him sit in the stroller and still saw the site, took some family pictures, and then said our good-byes to Mike & Erin.  We were aiming to be at the airport 2 hours early. 
First of all, if you've ever driven in DC, you will know that the streets make no sense whatsoever.  There are traffic lights on every block, one way streets on steroids, and a plethora of pedestrians. People tend to treat traffic laws as suggestions and there's nothing convenient about the driving in a city that was designed for walking.  That's when Tyson had to throw up again.  We pulled over, let him hurl, cleaned it up, and got on the road again.  The puking set us back a little, but I started praying and thought we were going to be okay--we would still be an hour and a half early.  Then Emmett started squirming and announced, "I need to pee!"  Of course he did.  Why wouldn't he need to go at that exact second?  We tried to make him hold it for a while but in no time at all, he started freaking out in his car seat, "Look at me!!!  I'm doing the potty dance!!!!"  Finally we found a CVS.  Mitch pulled over. I unbuckled Emmett, and we RAN inside.  Every CVS I've ever been to has had a public restroom, but not this one!  I finally asked an associate if they could help us out, because my 4 year old was going to have an accident. She kindly led us to the scary part of the store to use the Employees ONLY bathroom.  The GPS re-routed us back through the city, and Mitch & I started trading nervous glances.  All we could do was drive, and drive, and drive, and think, "Why didn't we choose the Ronald Reagan airport?" 
Minutes felt like years and my eyes were glued to the "estimated arrival time" on the GPS screen.  I was jumping with joy when we pulled in 4 minutes earlier than predicted to the Budget car rental return section of the airport.  We explained our situation that we had a sick kid and were getting worried about making our flight, and they said, "No problem!  We'll have one of our drivers take you in your vehicle straight to the terminal you need to be at."  That's when I really believed we were going to make it in time.  It would be cutting it close, but we still had an hour and 5 minutes to work with, and we no longer had to unload the kids and luggage before the terminal, so I was grateful, and thought we would really make our flight.
As we rode with the Budget driver, we came to a security gate. 

The Security man smiled and waved our driver on.  Driving across the threshold, the arm of the gate suddenly came down onto the hood of our minivan, and the spikes came up.  In Tyson's words, "And we could hear a hissing noise through the windows and metal of the car!  The air from the tires was hissing out, and 3 of the 4 tires were sliced!"  I was in complete and udder dismay.  "Are you serious?  Is this really happening?"  The reality was completely UNBELIEVABLE.  Now we had to unload our kids and luggage from the car onto the CURB OF THE ROAD.  Emmett had to go to the bathroom AGAIN (fortunately there were bushes this time), and Mitch ran to flag down a shuttle.

Imagine this tire 3x--I was in a hurry to make my flight, so I didn't take pictures of all them.  The driver and the Security guy were in as much shock as we were, but we didn't have time to freak out, yet.  We had to get a shuttle to stop in our awkward location & and load up our luggage.  When it pulled up, I put Miles in first.  A gentle German man named Olaf could tell we were in distress, and he kindly reached for my baby's hand to help him stay put while we loaded our belongings in a hurry. I got an immediate lump in my throat--such a small gesture went a long way for me. 

Sadly, the nails in the tires became the nails in our flight-coffin.  Everything went downhill from there.  Perhaps we were on the downhill, anyway:

  • The shuttle wouldn't drop us off at the terminal.  We could only be dropped off at the furthest place from where we needed to check in.
  • The extra time from the tire fiasco, and the 5 mile hike to check in made us a couple minutes too late to check our bags.
  • We paid $3 to use a cart to push our STUFF through the airport, just to find out 20 yards later that we weren't allowed to take the cart through security.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
  • A lady who worked at the airport realized we looked ridiculous and took us a different way trying to save us time, but I PROMISE the line she took us to was LONGER than the one we were already in.
  • Our bags had to be double checked at security, because we had Gatorade in one.
  • Just when I thought we were going to make it to the gate with 10 minutes to spare, we had to travel up 3 separate elevators because the Dulles airport layout doesn't make sense, and THEN we still had to take a fancy shuttle car to take us to THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AIRPORT.  We walked up to our gate at EXACTLY 5:00pm, but it was too late. 
There was nothing left to do, so we let the boys watch our plane fly away.

We met another man (named Jen) who ran up a minute after we did--he missed the same flight--it was supposed to be his connecting flight from Denmark to AZ, and he was lucky enough to be in Customs for 1 hr 40 min.  He couldn't believe it, either.  We spent about an hour next to this man & chatted as we both tried to figure out how to get to AZ.

At customer service, Mitchell found the only flight with 4 seats to AZ at a different airport the next morning, so we took it, and thanks to United Airlines for waiving the fees to re-route the flight for us on our extremely unfortunate day.  We decided to load up our things, and make the TREK back out of the airport--the same ridiculous way we came--all the way back to the Budget car rental place to see if they would give us a deal on a car for the next 12 hours.  We were tired, and hungry, and our kids were going crazy in the airport.  As reality sank in for my 3 year old, he started cry, "I WANT TO GO HOME!  I NEED TO GET ON A PLANE RIGHT NOW!"  We just laughed, because it was exactly how we felt, too.

I was holding it all together VERY well.  I knew we could do it--just one foot in front of the other, right?  I was ignoring the fact that our MOUNTAIN of luggage and car seats, let alone the gaggle of kids we had, made us look like SPECTACLES.  In the very moment we began to walk away, Tyson hurled all over the carpet AND MY LEG!  In my efforts to find a plastic bag, he nailed me TWICE, and finally on the 3rd heave, I caught the vomit in a bag and LOST the facade!  I was half laughing, half crying.  It was over.  I was a mess! I couldn't try to pretend it was all okay. 

And that's when it all started to get better.

In the middle of my breakdown, even though my son was still throwing up on me, the sweetest stranger I've ever met, named Shirley, came and hugged me.  She was probably in her 60's and told me she has 3 kids who are grown and moved away.  She & her husband were coming home from a trip to Europe.  She said to me, "Dear, just remember, someday you're going to look back at this and think it was an adventure."  And then her husband, Brit, walked over to comfort us, too.  He got our minds off our own misery by telling us of his recent traveling disaster in Prague.  Then he looked at us with our crazy kids and said, "At least you don't have 6."  I hugged them good-bye and thanked them for their kindness. 

My husband looked like a turtle with the way he jimmy-rigged one of the car seats to stay on his back on top of the backpack he was wearing.  As we walked away, another kind stranger, probably in his early twenties, named Ryan, offered to help us on his own accord.  He said, "I have 3 hours to burn, so let me help you."  He picked up the bags we couldn't carry and helped us to the airport shuttle.  We told him how much his kindness meant to us, and Mitch shared our crazy turn of events as we walked.  Ryan exclaimed, "I've never heard of that happening before!"  I was like, "Me, neither!" 
We rode the shuttle, and when we got off, another stranger (probably in his 40's), named Ellis, offered to carry our bags to wherever we needed to go.  My son, Emmett was still crying about wanting to go home, and then he saw Dunkin Donuts, and wanted to stop, but we just had to keep forging on, so Ellis pulled out a package of peanut butter crackers to give to us.

We went to Budget, where they gave us a deal on another van for 10 hours, laughed about the situation with the Security guard, and only 6 1/2 hours after we said good-bye to Mike & Erin, we were back on their doorstep hoping we could have a place to stay for the night.  Haha!  Another unbelievable event happened--they were traveling to Cabo the next morning, and would you believe it? Our re-routed flight was the SAME EXACT FLIGHT they had!  We even got to sit next to them on the plane, now that's unbelievable, and it was such a huge blessing.  It was also hilarious to watch my nephew Hudson tease Miles.  He's so funny--he likes to wave things in front of Miles' face and then pull them away.  We all ate lunch together at a layover in Houston, and then said good-bye to Mike, Erin, & Hudson.

On our next flight, a flight attendant, named Tisha, listened to our sob story. Another flight attendant, named Sarah gave the boys cookies.  They were so warm & delicious, and this time I shed some tears of joy that they would reach out to us.  Exactly one week prior to that flight home, there had been a shooting in the DC Navy yard, and all I could think was, "What a horrible, and scary world we live in."  But on Monday, as we had stranger after stranger reaching out to help us on our way home, all I could think was, "There is so much good in this world!  It's all around us."  And I was so grateful to be alive; I felt so uplifted.  I also felt inspired, because while we started out the trip with the motive to honor & revere the Great Americans of the past, it was so refreshing to see modern day Americans displaying greatness in action--even though two of the people we met were of international origin, I felt like they fit in with the melting pot of Great Americans, and that this wonderful place connected us.

Last, but not least, a friendly, and very tall man, named Tim, offered to help us with our bags getting off the flight.  He told us that he & his wife had 4 kids in 5 years.  YIKES!  We actually didn't need his help with bags at that moment, because fortunately our bags and car seats were checked on the plane, but he made a point to help us at the Baggage Claim, and he helped us pile up our things on the curb outside the terminal, where my mom came to get us. 

Life was good.  I've never been so grateful to fly over the flat lands of Arizona, and see the ugly brown carpet at Sky Harbor airport.  Driving home was a relief--no GPS was necessary.  It was a great trip--we were blessed with family to help us, and when we weren't near family, strangers stepped in.  Even though we lost our sanity at times, I'm so grateful we didn't lose our kids anywhere on our adventures and I'm so grateful for the kind people who reached out to us that day--I can still see their faces.  I am so grateful that through all of this we were able to meet and learn from the examples of Olaf, Jen, Shirley & Brit, Ryan, Ellis, Tisha, Sarah, & Tim.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Star Student

On September 13th, we were invited to be special guests in Tyson's 1st grade classroom. He was the STAR STUDENT. As his guests of honor, we told the class facts about our son, and read his favorite book to everyone.

Of course it was also a Spirit Day, and Tyson was wearing his Backyard Safari/Bug Vest for Career Day--it was perfect, because he wanted to show the class his vest anyway, it was a reflection of WHO he is, AND (at this point) being a nature explorer is what he wants to do for the rest of his life. He told me he wants to make a discovery someday. He's so cute.

Naturally, the book he wanted us to read was The Spiderwick Chronicles--a 5 book series that Mitch has been reading to the boys each night.  According to Murphey's Law, Mitch happened to open up to the most boring chapter of the entire series to share with the 1st grade class.  Most of the students sat open mouthed with blank expressions until Tyson lightened the mood by miming the characters as Mitch read about them.  Then the class really got laughing, and the chapter became interesting, thanks to Tyson's funny faces.

The funny faces began to spiral out of control, however, when Tyson couldn't turn them off during the question and answer portion.  I was in agony waiting for the 4th & final hand to be picked.  I realized Tyson was in the spotlight, he didn't really know how to handle it, and I couldn't really save him or talk to him about it until it was over.  I thought Tyson was embarrassed by so much attention & his public speaking of sorts so he made silly faces to deal with the spotlight.  Mitch thinks that Tyson was simply trying to make his friends laugh, because he can & it works.  All I know is that this is a stage of child development we've never been to before with a child.  It's a new adventure, and if I don't accept that my son is suffering from a diagnosable ailment called "CHILDHOOD", I'll end up checking myself into a psychiatric ward for obsessing over the unanswerable questions of what is and isn't normal for a 6 year old, and before I know it, he'll be grown up.  I've determined after our hilarious 20 minutes with Tyson and his class, that even though he seems to be the ONLY one in the class who relishes stories about fantastical, invisible, creatures, and although he seems to be the ONLY one who is obsessed with catching snakes, lizards, and bugs, that most likely ALL 1st graders have some sort of love or passion that makes them quirky in their own little ways.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Silly Boyz

Tyson usually does a great job being a friend...unless he's around a GIRL his same age.  I have a darling piano student, named Katie, who is exactly the same age & in the same grade as Tyson.  She's also brilliant for a six year old, she's talented, and makes me laugh with her little quirky phrases.  We've had a couple play dates together, and last weekend Tyson had some quality time with her while her mom (my friend, Rhi) was working on moving. I could tell that something about Katie's adorable little self just GRATED on Tyson's nerves.  WHY?  Is it just because she's a GIRL?   I absolutely love this chica, and part of me secretly wishes she were my own little, pixie-of-a-princess sort of daughter.  But after seeing the Jekyll side of Mr. Tyson's Hyde, I realize that (for now) having only boys in our home is the only way to keep his sanity.

Last weekend's jabs towards Katie:

"We would like you more if you were more like a MAN!"
Katie was shocked that Tyson & Emmett would say such a thing, and I- told her to tell them back that she'd like them a lot more if they were more like a girl.  She just smiled.

Later, we were driving home with Katie.  I picked up the boys from G'ma & G'pa Borden's, and Katie happened to see a sign about a news station on the drive.  "Oh! That reminds me," she shared.  "I got to go on a tour of ABC 15!"  Tyson rolled his eyes, completely UNIMPRESSED and retorted, "DUH!  EVERYONE knows their ABC's!"  We tried to explain to him that it was a news channel on the TV, but he was still on his soapbox: "There are so many more letters, and you're just stuck on the 1st three." 

I've never seen Tyson act like this before.  I felt like a broken record all evening telling him to use a nicer tone of voice, and to be friendly.  I guess there's a first for everything--even an exposure to the true meaning of "cooties".

Emmett likes to one-up people.  Yesterday, we were driving past the Gilbert Temple at night time & it was all lit up and gorgeous. 
I said, "I'm the first one to see the Angel Moroni!" 
Tyson piped up, "Me, two!" 
Emmett yelled, "Me infinity!!!!" 
Because Miles is so young, in many ways I expect him to not understand certain things, but kids never cease to amaze me.  Every morning, I drop Tyson off at school, and Emmett is sometimes sad--like on the first day of school, his head dropped and said he missed Tyson.  Miles could care less; he's usually just along for the ride.  But that's probably because he gets to go everywhere Emmett goes.  Well, the other day I took Emmett to a little kid class & dropped him off, and Miles immediately started squawking & trying to get out of his car seat to follow Emmett, because he wanted to go, too.  It seriously broke my heart, but it was also so sweet that he was sad to be away from his big brother. 
Little brothers are little friends to the end.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grateful for the Struggle

My baby, Miles, is so darling and fun.  In many ways he's been allowed to do things that I would have never let my older two kids do at this age--such as climb the play set ladder and go down the slide all on his own.  Because he has 2 older brothers to keep up with, his gross-motor skills have been off the charts.  Also unlike his older brothers, he has not been overly verbal.  Tyson knew 200+ words by the time he was 2, and was technically reading (basic CVC words) BEFORE he turned 3.  Emmett was also ahead of the game, and could do what Tyson did shortly after he was 3.  Miles is not quite that way. It's so funny to be a parent sometimes, because just when you think you know what you're doing, you realize your next kid is totally different and you have to learn how to be a parent all over again, and suddenly you feel like you've never been a parent before, because it feels NEW.  And it is.  I had to learn how to be a parent to Tyson.  I'm still learning how to be an effective parent with Emmett with his entirely different personality and temperament. And now we have Miles, who in comparison to my other kids' benchmarks, seems to have a speech delay.

It's been a different sort of experience to face this. I was waiting and expecting all of the benchmark stages that I was used to, but he didn't babble when babies normally do.  He doesn't like me to sing and sing him to sleep like my other kids did.  He wants to lay down in his bed in a quiet, dark room, instead (and I do believe this has affected his language development).  When it comes to communication, he just hasn't said much.  At first I thought that maybe it's because he isn't a little-man of many words, and maybe it's because he has 2 older brothers talking for him.  But then I realized that he wasn't actually using the majority of the words he has learned in the past.  He seems to learn a word and use it for a while, and then the word disappears completely.  So, as a teacher, I've been concerned about his retention.  I brought it up to the pediatrician, and he said Miles needed to be using between 3-6 words to be in the "normal" range for his age group. We were hard-pressed to find three, but I FINALLY found them.  He was USING the words "this, dog, and done" consistently.  But it'd been at least 6 months since he had used other words he'd learned before.  He used to say 'amen' at the end of blessings on the food, and he'd said 'Jesus' during the Easter Pageant, and 'mom', and 'dad', and 'oh', but for whatever reason he wouldn't use them anymore, or even try to imitate words like that back to me, and I found it concerning.  If he wanted something, he kind of even quit pointing and would just scream, "AAAAHHHH!"  The doctor asked me a few other age-appropriate questions and he said he didn't think Miles would actually qualify for help through the Early Intervention Program (since we were able to find 3 words), but since he was borderline, he'd recommend me for a screening just in case.   And that's when my heart sunk. 

I wasn't afraid of the Early Intervention Program, because my friend, Rachel, has walked this path with her son, Ty.  I have been amazed at the progress I've seen in Ty.  Because of Rachel's dedication to fighting for her son, and because of her full utilization of the program, the results took her son from having an autistic label to being main-streamed & label-free by Kindergarten (INCREDIBLE!!!).  It was an exhausting road, and they had an intense schedule, but the difference in Ty was NIGHT an DAY from the beginning until the end.  So, I knew that if Miles needed this program in any way, even if it was just for a speech delay, that I was doing the right thingBut, I also felt sad.  Whether or not Miles' development seems "fine" compared to other kids who have more severe difficulties, he was still not where HE needed to be.  And no one really wants that for their kid.  No one wants to see their kids struggle on basic levels, and I was concerned about how to help him catch up, and how his future might be in school--was this a glimpse of what 12 years of school will be like for him--fighting to keep up with the normal averages?  I wondered.  To fight my twinge of sadness, my fears, and worries, I told myself that it was "okay", and I took the optimistic route waiting for the Early Intervention appointment.
Later that very same day, my neighbors had a trial of their own.  Their son & daughter-in-law were in a roll over accident.  Time moved in slow motion for them, and everyone who followed their story.  They had a difficult phone call from their son, Jordan, who was helping their other son Caleb & his new bride, Kristen, move out of state.  They were on the road, in the middle of nowhere, when Jordan saw their vehicle flipping about 7 times behind him.  He had to turn around to get back to them, and the scene was not pretty.  The jaws of life were used on the vehicle, Kristen's leg had been through the windshield, and Caleb had to be put on a stretcher to go to the hospital.  From the phone call, to the hospital experience, no one knew for sure if Caleb & Kristen were going to be okay
My neighbors were able to fly out of state quickly--but they spent the whole plane ride not knowing if their kids would still be alive.  When I heard what my neighbors were going through, I immediately knew how comparatively small our speech-delay trial with Miles is.  I have my baby still in my arms, and who cares if he needs some extra help learning and retaining his words?  It's something we can work on together, there's so many resources to help out there, and in the end, having a struggle just means we're alive!  My heart went out to Trey and Janel, and what they might be feeling--wondering if it was going to be all over for their son & daughter-in-law.  The hopes, the dreams, the good days, the bad days, the family trips, the time together, the day-in-day-out STRUGGLE that we all go through: Was it going to be over for them?  We all prayed it wouldn't be.  For several days we followed them closely on facebook, and they let me use these pictures.  I'm glad, because I felt the Spirit when I saw their smiling faces from the hospital. 

Between the both of them, there were cuts & lacerations, a concussion, a bruised lung, broken bones, and other physical, not to mention emotional trauma, but they were smiling & happy to be alive.

My neighbors were all so inspiring throughout the ordeal.  They posted prayers and testimonies on facebook recognizing God's hand in their life, and shared personal faith-building moments.  Some of the experiences they shared reminded me of a favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon:
1 Nephi 1:20: "...But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
I did a search for the phrase "tender mercies of the Lord" in the Bible, and found these ones:

Psalms 40:11

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy loving kindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

Psalms 145:9

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Psalms 69:16

Hear me, O Lord; for thy loving kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies..

Now for another story.  I found out a week ago that my best friend who calls to check up on me every day has skin cancer.  Fortunately it's not melanoma, but it's still cancer & nothing to mess with.  Also, fortunately, it was cut out of her collar bone not even 24 hours after she had the biopsy results.  It was a treatment that blind-sighted her, and when it happened, the doctor told her he was "barbecuing" her skin.  She thought it was gross and weird, but told him, "Well, Doc, as long as you don't pull out the Teriyaki sauce, we'll be okay."  Bahahahaha!  Anyway, as for the inspiring part of this story, she had been nervous and stressed about the confirmed cancerous spot on her skin, and also the other spots that weren't biopsied, but that need to be.  The treatments hurt, and some of the spots are in noticeable places.  As all of these concerns filled her mind, she heard a competition on the radio, so she decided to call.  Would you believe that she happened to be the 9th caller, and she won the Ben & Jerry's Prize Pack?  When the DJ answered the call she said she couldn't believe it and that it was the best news she'd heard all day.  The DJ said, "Uh-oh, ice cream is good, but not THAT good.  What's your day been like?"  So she told him about her cancer results, and her concerns about how it will affect the way she looks and her future, and the DJ basically told her, "We're here for you.  Remember that you're beautiful no matter what!"  He also told her that he was glad she won this prize pack because maybe it could help "make a bitter day sweet", and to keep them updated on how she was doing. 
You cannot tell me all of that was a coincidence.  Her sequence of events winning the prize pack and encountering the friendship of strangers at a much needed moment was without a doubt a tender mercy of the Lord.
So, I'm going to practice what my neighbors & friends' stories have reminded me to do.  I am going to list the tender mercies I have seen on this learning experience with Miles.
  • It's a blessing that Miles is able to talk, period.  We have other family and friends whose kids are dealing with severe delays or disabilities, and our struggles are minimal compared to the burdens those sweet children must carry.
  • It's a blessing that I have friends who have forged the Early Intervention Path so I wouldn't be afraid of it.
  • Even though the church Nursery age is 18 months, because I was called to be a Nursery teacher, I have been able to take Miles in with me.  So every week for the last 9 months, he's been exposed to singing time, lesson time, coloring time, and learning interactions with friends...I believe the Lord blessed me with this calling to help my son, especially because at the time I was given the assignment, I had been completely unaware Miles would need more interactions like this to help his learning & development.  Here I thought I was serving the Lord by fulfilling an assignment, and really it was benefitting me.  :)  That's how the Lord works, though.  Like my dad says, "You can NEVER one-up the Lord."  No matter what you do to serve Him, He always blesses you in return, and you can never truly repay the debt, because the Lord sends such bounteous blessings.
  •  I wanted to buy the Signing Time DVD set, but they're not on clearance anywhere, and there are no real discounts Online.  The sets are still about $150+.  But our Early Intervention Coordinator loaned us her own personal set for a couple months, and Miles LOVES them.  I'm amazed at the way his efforts to communicate FLOURISH when we watch Signing Time.  Sometimes he tries to sign, or he giggles--like the other day, he was laughing at the sign for penguin--he gets that the person looks like the penguin and he thinks it's funny.  What's crazy to me is that when we do Signing Time, he usually doesn't sign back, but he tries to talk more, and he's getting better every day.  I think he learns differently than my other kids and he needs the visual/tactile/movement sorts of activities to really solidify his learning. 
His 1st screening showed that he qualified for further evaluation in 3 areas - including Communication, Social, & Fine Motor Skills.  After the first meeting where we realized that he wasn't doing some normally age-appropriate things, such as interacting with himself in the mirror, and being able to follow commands--like getting something from the other room, we started working on those skills.  Who would have thought that sitting in front of a mirror is a learning activity?  But my other kids LOVED the mirror, and Miles had previously cared less.  He'd point sometimes, but now that I've made an effort to give him quality "reflection" time, he'll smack the glass and smile at himself and coo, and act like a kid should in front of a mirror.  We also started practicing giving him simple tasks to complete.  I now make a point to have him throw his diaper away now when I change it.    After the 1st time, I thought he would have the skill in the bag.  But then the next time he did a circle around the island, and another time he walked to the trash and away from it with the diaper in his hand.  One day he threw the diaper away and I was so proud of him.  Five minutes later I gave him a blanket to hold, and this is what happened: 

So we're still working on that skill.  :) He's so cute!  At any rate, Miles made it through 3 stages of the process, but didn't actually qualify for further services or therapies.  Even though I thought I was doing okay with the tests and meetings to help him, I felt lighter & relived all of last week once I knew we didn't have to continue the process.  I feel like I have had a glimpse into what other parents in this situation experience--even though it's nice to have programs available to help your kids, it's not easy, and I have an increased love towards parents whose kids are severely behind in any area.  It has reminded me that we need to reach out and love them and their kids more than we already think we do.

The word "qualify" is such a juxtaposition, because you don't want your child to have to qualify, but at the same time, if it's what they need, you hope they will qualify.  In some ways it is a relief that he didn't qualify for more, because it shows he's already made some noticeable progress in the last month.  In other ways it feels more like a burden/responsibility that he didn't qualify, because I am aware that we definitely need to keep working with him on a more focused level if we're going to continue to see him improve with his communication & retain what he's learned.  All in all, I'm happy with the progress he's making, but I'm still waiting for him to hit one more benchmark.

Miles is almost a year and a half old, and I'm still waiting for him to say my name.   My older kids were saying Mom & Dad when they were 7 or 8 months old.  Miles started really using "Dad" last week, and is getting really skilled at any words that uses a /d/ sound .  But, I want to hear him say "Mom!", and I don't just want him to do it once and forget how to say it for 6 more months.  I want him to say my name every day.

I wonder if that's how God feels about us.  Maybe that's why we're supposed to pray every day.   Our Father in Heaven doesn't want us to cry about things and do everything on our own in this life.  He wants us to call His name--turn to Him, need HIM--because He's THERE for us, and He'll do anything he can for us.  His arms are always open, but He needs us to show Him that we know where the blessings came from.  Maybe because we're His children, He needs us as much as we need Him.  He doesn't want us to call His name and forget about Him for 6 months.  He wants us, needs us truly, faithfully, every day.

And so the challenge now is to remember this lesson when I'm in the heart of any other struggle that will come my way.  I want my Heavenly Father to know that I'm grateful for the struggles that bring me closer to Him.  I know it's a blessing to be here learning & growing.  Every day is a gift to be alive and to be with those I love, and with God's help any struggle we're ever given will eventually bring us joy.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More Kid-isms

  • A couple weeks ago, Emmett was talking to me about jewelry at a store.  When I held up a turtle necklace to look at it, he blurted out, "I didn't see that one comin'!"

  • It's becoming increasingly evident to me that males in general cannot MULTI-TASK.  Lucky me--I'm the only multi-tasker in the household.  For example, the other day it was Tyson's turn to unload the dishwasher.  Because I was in the kitchen with him, I decided to spend our time working together as quality time.  Making conversation as I helped him with the dishes, I asked, "How was your day at school."  He promptly responded with, "Wait a minute, please!  I'm doing the dishes first, then we can talk."

  • Recently, we were having a family night lesson on the Book of Mormon story about Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life.  Before we explained anything, Tyson became pensive and said, "Wait.  So, the building is Satan; the tree is Jesus.  The rod is the Holy Spirit, and the ground they're on is like the Earth."  I loved his immediate scriptural comparisons to life in the way he sees it.  He's so smart!  I have often felt in the last few years like he's an old soul in a little boy's body.

  • Miles hasn't been saying very many words.  If we're lucky, though, we'll catch him saying my favorite word-approximation ever for "I love you."  I've never been able to catch it on film, but he will pound his mouth twice for two "ah" syllables (imagine the same way kids smack their open mouth when they pretend to be an Indian), and then he says "ooooo".  It's kind of like he's blowing kisses and saying the words at the same time, but hitting his mouth helps him separate the first two words.   "Ah-ah-oooo" means "I love you" from Miles--my sweet, baby boy.