I took this video before Christmas and thought I'd share it. (You'll have to ignore the sideways filming--I'm still learning about videoing with my 7D!) I still wish I could capture him in full dance mode. He gets so distracted by me and the electronics that the dancing goes by the wayside. But you will still enjoy:
As per tradition, we began our Christmas Eve with the candlelight service at our church. It is always such a special service . . . the calm before the storm, so to speak. And definitely the moment we reflect on the true reason behind the season of Christmas, Jesus' birth. Thank you, Lord, for your gift.
And then, the chaos begins! The kids just almost burst during dinner they are so excited about the presents! They can't get through with their food fast enough. The first order of business is always The Passing Out of the Presents. The craziness of "where are you sitting?" "whose present is this?" "what name does that say?" just about wears a body out!
But of course, their energy is full-steam ahead when they are finally given the all-clear to open their gifts.
Jackson is at that stage when he opens a gift and wants to play with that one right then. Forget opening up the others!
Even amid the chaos, it's exciting watching them be surprised and so thankful they finally received "Just What I Always Wanted."
Christmas morning was such a blessing. We actually slept in because Clayton had a rough night with his legs hurting. But when Jackson finally discovered the tent that Santa had left in the living room, there was no keeping Clayton in bed. Neither one of them knew what to think of it until Daddy got in there and showed them the ropes. After that, they didn't want to come out! So they opened most of their gifts from inside the tent!
We took our time with the opening of the gifts. This year was different. Clayton is older. He understands more this year what's happening at Christmas. Talks about Santa (you know . . . "where's Santa's truck at?"). And Jackson is just so special for us. This year it was like watching us from the outside---a magical feeling came over me. Finally feeling as if we've arrived at a place that many of our peers have been at for years. It felt good. Brian and I discussed it at the end of our long day and we both knew this year was unique. Thank you, Lord, forTHIS gift as well.
Santa left "spy glasses" in the boys' stockings--Jackson liked wearing them around but had to keep his head tilted in order to keep them on!
More stocking stuffers:
And of course, helping Daddy:
He got meticulous:
Daddy's turn to spy:
I've never declared it before, and neither has Brian, but Christmas 2010 has definitely been the Best. Christmas. Ever. for our family!
Yesterday, we began our Christmas celebration with my Dad's family at my Grandparents' house. We always have this gathering a week early, but usually on Sunday. But in the last few years, that has coincided with our church Christmas program, so I was glad when my Grandmother moved it to Saturday. We were able to eat and relax without having to rush off to get ready for choir.
Patterns seem to be emerging at this particular gathering of people. The kids keep the house hopping and there is never a dull moment. They play hard the entire time.
But of course, they have begun taking technology breaks. And Jackson is no different. Taylor was giving him a lesson on an iPhone app (maybe Angry Birds?) and he was taking it very seriously.
There is always music in the house since every child has to lay their hands on the piano at least once!
And my brother walks around serenading everyone with his latest song.
Almost always, a lot of wrestling happens--just all-around rough housing. It's amazing no one gets hurt!
And then the chaos of the presents begins:
It's hard for Clayton to concentrate with all the commotion, but he did manage to help me open up most of his gifts this year.
Jackson liked showing off his new pajamas:
Mom told me he started shaking with excitement when he realized this dog was under the wrapping paper. I wish we had had the video camera out!
In the end, I usually beg everyone to let me take their picture just once. I only get a few takers each year.
Jackson with his Aunt Nicole:
My cousin Stephanie, with my niece, Heidi:
Stephanie, with Clayton and my niece, Taylor.
Clayton put me off as usual!
I was so glad my parents agreed to a picture this year:
Now we just look forward to next weekend and the continuation of the Christmas activities!
I almost always take Clayton to choir practice, but I avoid taking Jackson at all costs. Who can actually practice while chasing him?! At any rate, I had them both tonight because Brian was out of town. Clayton sat with my mom and sang his little heart out and Jackson decided to put on a show for everyone else. He danced pretty much the entire practice and did a lot of serious singing into the microphone. (Yes, even he knows my choir music!) I didn't think to record him with my phone until he was almost out of gas, but I still managed to capture some booty shakin'. Hope you enjoy and remember: this was at 8:30 at night, when he is supposedly "tired." Helps you imagine my days with him here at home!
This is when the devil likes to attack me the most.
I don't know if it's the scenery, the songs on the radio, or the stillness of the boys in the back, or maybe a combination of it all; but lately when I'm driving I find myself walking down memory lane and also having small panic attacks about Clayton's future. What if he gets really sick again? What if his quality of life goes to nil? What if I outlive him?! It's all I can do to hide the tears from Clayton who is in tune to my every emotional vibe.
As soon as we get to where we are going, the hustle of life shakes the melancholy away and I scold myself for thinking such dark thoughts about the "what ifs." I'm reminded of one of the video sessions that Beth Moore did for our recent Bible Study. She talked a lot about fear and worrying about "what if this happened?" "what if that happened?" With the "this" and "that" being our worst fears coming to pass. And in the end she stopped and reminded me [us] that if my worst fear did happen, you know what I would do?
I would kick.
I would scream.
I would cry out WHY?!!!!
I would shut myself off from the world.
I would be mad as hell.
I would pick myself up off the ground and
Haven't I already done it once? I've lived through the nightmare of every parent and I'm STILL HERE! STILL LIVING and STILL SURVIVING. Through God's strength alone have I made it this far. So I don't know why I'm spending massive amounts of energy agonizing over gloom and doom that might not even come to pass. Why not just enjoy the fact that Clayton is doing awesome on THIS day?! And why not live THIS DAY to its maximum?!
Lord, help me to shake the devil off my back when he finds my weakness in these moments.
I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13
Yesterday was the kids' Christmas program at church. We always look forward to this time of year because Clayton loves the music so much. Not that he actually sings when he gets on stage. There are way too many other interesting things to watch and singing usually takes a back seat to watching the audience.
We went to practice on Saturday and as usual, Clayton was all for being on stage. I wondered how Jackson would do. I didn't worry too much because he is up on the stage when I practice all the time, so it's not like it was new territory for him. And even though the little kids were last to practice, tired, and hungry, he jumped up there like a trooper and felt right at home while most of the other kids screamed and cried. I thought I had another natural born performer on my hands.
Fast forward to Sunday morning and all was well.
He marched up the steps with his star (that was his only job: HOLD THE STAR).
He found his spot.
And then he found me.
In the audience.
Way too far from him.
He was not a happy camper!! I just laughed and waved (I was on the front row and plenty close in my opinion!). I don't think he liked the fact that I just kept on snapping pictures and didn't make one move for him. I knew he was a big boy and could handle it, I just hoped it didn't take long for him to realize it. He finally got some sympathy from my friend Holly who stayed with him for the rest of the time. He even held on to his star for a little bit.
But then he said "to heck with the star, what are all those people doing out there?!"
Next up was Clayton's group. The theme of the show was time travel and Clayton's class dressed up as if they were in the '50s. We slicked back his hair and put on the shades . . .
The second grade boys were supposed to be singing around this microphone but Clayton laughed and waved at people, another boy made faces at the audience the whole time, and the other two just stood there. So much for a "doo-wap" ensemble!
After it was all said and done, every class got their chance to take a bow and Clayton looked glad to have one more chance in front of the audience.
I know I look like a goof out in the audience at these things. I mean, it's just a little ole' Christmas pageant. But I literally smile THE. WHOLE. TIME. My cheeks hurt afterwards because I've had a permanent grin on my face! BEAMING with pride, as they say!
**Still don't have my Christmas decorations up--I'm thinking that's at the top of my to-do list this weekend. I've been putting it off since I'm sure Jackson will have happy hands.
**I did actually start my Christmas shopping this week (yes, I always put off the shopping!).
**Clayton's highlight of the week was going to eat sushi with Daddy today. He has talked about it non-stop and was so emotional when their little field trip ended.
**Went bowling today and as usual, Clayton scored high!
**Clayton was having some "checking out" moments this week after our long day Tuesday. Met with our neurology nurse practioner and we decided to be proactive and up his seizure meds. He'll have another EEG once we reach the new dose. Spent the whole day Wednesday sick to my stomach--just worrying about and praying for his little brain.
**We'll spend this weekend preparing for and attending Clayton and Jackson's Christmas program at church. Jackson on stage should be interesting!
Every week seems busy, but these last couple of days seemed to have been stepped up a notch. We had the Homeschoolers' Christmas Party yesterday at our church and since I was in charge, I had my hands full! And even though it was chaotic from my perspective, everyone enjoyed themselves greatly.
We went caroling at the nursing home (we interuppted Glamour Shots in the activity room--who knew they did Glamour Shots in the nursing home?!) The kids in our group were great about approaching the residents. They had all made cards and seemed very proud to spread the good cheer of Christmas. After caroling, we played a good game of relay, had a scavenger hunt, and exchanged ornaments. It was a jam-packed afternoon! Jackson, for his part, mainly just walked around and ate junk food while I coordinated the party. Thankfully, there were plenty of little girls around ready to mother him to death in my absence. Clayton seems to be making "friends" in his own way. The other kids are doing better and better about just including him on their own instead of me asking or reminding them. I can't say any actual bonding is happening yet, but at least it's a start.
After I got the party wrapped up, I rushed to my grandparents' church so I could sing for their Christmas party. I haven't had much of a voice this week, so I was glad when I managed to hit all the notes without a scratch in my voice. I just wish that unfortunate event with the CD hadn't happened (for me to know and for you to just wonder what went wrong!).
Today, we get to go to our fourth doctor's appointment in a week. Why do Clayton's check ups always crop up together on the calendar? And why don't I ever think to get them changed to the same day? Oh yeah! It's because I hate being at that hospital even long enough for one appointment in a day, much less two! I have to spread my time out there or I'd go ballistic sitting in those waiting rooms!
Can you tell he is about to fall asleep in this picture? He had had enough of picture taking on this afternoon . . . luckily he held out in order for us to get a family photo done!
Where do I start with how much Jackson is changing? He literally discovers new things each day! By far, he spends most of his time these days walking around asking "wherediditgo?" and "dereitis!" (Hoping I get a video of this soon!) He is still into dancing and snapping with any music and literally starts the happy dance when I get his favorite snack out. He is starting to "help" with Clayton. On his own, he went and got kleenex and came and wiped Clayton's nose the other night. Clayton thought it was hilairious! He even took it upon himself to help me with the other end of things with the wipees--he couldn't get that I really didn't want his help with that task!
He still loves anything electronic, but in the end no matter what the object is, it becomes a phone for him. He walks around talking to somebody--I'm thinking he's watched his daddy way too much!
The climbing has only gotten worse . . . he is on the kitchen table before I know it, and has even made it to the the kitchen counters. If there isn't a way to get higher, he just moves his toys and Clayton's chair until he has a homemade ladder. He knows how to open the dishwasher and I battle this CONSTANTLY. So wishing I had a lock on my dishwasher door!
He is still going to sleep great with our new routine, but he prefers the toddler bed over the crib. (My kids just must be allergic to cribs!) I don't care which bed he chooses, just as long as he sleeps!
In general, I spend most days thinking "what activity can we do that will expend the most energy out of Jackson?" His preferred activity is a good old-fashioned wrestling match! Whoever is in the floor gets tackled non-stop by Jackson and the rougher you play, the happier he is. All boy, he is!
Today is my mom's birthday, so it's only appropriate to flashback to one of her first pictures with Clayton! I'm especially hoping these birthday wishes make her day since she is unfortunately dealing with a bout of shingles--UGH! Her last week hasn't been that great, so I'm hoping today things start looking better for her.
It seems I blog a lot about perspective, but only because the word describes a lot of what my feelings and emotions are based on these days. I guess we all make those "I'm thankful for . . ." lists each year. And while most often the items on the list rarely change, I think sometimes they are rearranged. Of course I'm thankful for my material posessions this year. We have been blessed above and beyond with so many things we simply want. But I have to say the following non-things are at the top of my list this year:
1. MEDICAL ADVANCES: I love my Clayton so much. I hated seeing him so sick this summer. THANK YOU, LORD for allowing his healing through the work of doctors, nurses, and modern medicine. This summer made me realize (again) just how precious Clayton's life was and how each day with him is an AWESOME GIFT to be enjoyed and LIVED!
And on a much smaller scale, thank you, Lord, for the field of Urology and a urologist who works on Thanksgiving weekend. Brian has been battling a kidney stone for over a week, and finally had it removed by the doctor this morning. And while his pain isn't completely over, at least that blasted stone is out and Brian can get on with his life! It's been interesting seeing him go near stir-crazy from battling this thing all week.
2. ACTION-JACKSON: How sweet it is to have this ball of energy running around the house! (Sometimes exhausting and annoying, but still very sweet!) Thank you, Lord, for giving this beautiful boy to us! He is simply amazing to watch. Tiny miracles each day that remind us never to take normal for granted.
3. MY PARENTS: How many times this year alone have my parents dropped what they are doing just to help us out in a time of crisis?? (We seem to have too many of these!) Not to mention their countless hours of babysitting throughout Clayton's life. It doesn't matter what I need of them or from them, my mom and dad always come through for me. Thank you, Lord for my parents, who make AWESOME grandparents!
4. MY BROTHER AND SISTER-N-LAW: This summer, Josh and Nicole helped us out big time when Clayton was in the hospital (Josh was in Memphis the moment I asked and Nicole kept Jackson when my parents needed a break). And this past week, they were there again in our crisis. When Brian went to the E.R., Nicole was happy to drive into town and pick up Jackson for me. Josh was on call all week to take Brian to the doctor. I was so glad I didn't have to worry about Jackson and definitely glad Josh was willing to get up in the middle of the night if need be! Thank you, Lord for family!
Like I said, these things are always on my list. But this year they seem especially important and at the top for sure.
As I'm sure most of you know, Clayton was forced out of our bed became a big boy when I was pregnant and started learning to sleep on his own. He is still on that journey it seems, since one of us has to lay with him each night until he actually does go to sleep. I love my babies, and I want nothing more to cuddle and hold them each night. I feel like they are only small once, and I need to soak up that time of holding them since they are sure to outgrow it sooner or later. BUT, that being said, Brian and I found ourselves each night spending a majority of our evening time getting someone to sleep instead of putting our kids to bed and then going about our business like most parents usually do. We're just suckers I guess.
And while we've still got a long row to hoe with Clayton, I was determined not to get into the same rut with Jackson. And we started out doing well. When he was an infant, he slept most of the night in his crib and the only problem we had was him waking up Clayton if he did cry at night. But as he got older, he started wanting to snack all night--and this was well after he was weaned from the breast. He had weaned himself off the pacifier early, so I guess his bottle (and eventually sippy cup) became his pacifier. And to keep things quiet on that side of the house, I would bring him to our bed around 3 or 4 in the morning. He seemed to get lots of rest, but it was at the expense of me and Brian. He sleeps like a worm in hot ashes and spent most of his time in the bed doing gator rolls and beating us with his feet.
I was pretty nonchalant about the milk at night thing until I had an epiphany when I read about "bottle rot." I wasn't about to let his pretty little baby teeth get ruined just because I was a weakling when it came to bedtime routines! So I immediately replaced the milk with water, but I wasn't so great at forcing him to sleep in his bed all night. I still let him beat up on me each morning. Doesn't make for a great way to wake up!
I got more serious at this point. Teeth brushing every night, two/three books each night, bedtime prayers and of course I would lay with him in the toddler bed until he went to sleep and then put him in the crib. (Sound familiar?) Even though it still wasn't good that I was staying in there until he was asleep, it worked fine until we went on vacation. When we came back, bedtime routine went wild! He absolutely refused to go to sleep unless he was laying in Momma's bed. (For some reason his eyes closed right up on Momma's pillow). So here I was again, spending all this time each night trying to get my child to sleep! Two weeks ago, I told Brian I had had enough and I was finally going to get tough. And you know what? IT WORKED. Oh, he cried the first night (worst 10 minutes I've had in a long time!). But the second night he cried maybe five minutes. And the third? Not a peep. This week his habit has been not to cry but after about ten minutes of being in bed, he calls me:
I go in there, lay him back down, and then I don't hear another peep until deep in the night. And when I go back in then, I keep him in his room. ::patting myself on the back:: It's amazing how different I feel each night. One burden lifted! And I have some of my time back!
Now. If we could only get Clayton on the bandwagon, we'll be homefree!
When Clayton was in the NICU, I let a lot of things slide, including the upkeep of my hair. Not only was I caught up in taking care of a sick baby, I wasn't all that happy with the girl who had been doing my hair for a couple of years. But alas, I am a "rut" person, and stuck with her anyway. I finally got desperate enough to ask a friend who did her hair and she recommended Chasity. I haven't looked back since.
When it came time for Clayton's first haircut, I was worried to death about how it would go. I shouldn't have worried. Chasity has been a true Godsend when it comes to Clayton. She has gone above and beyond the call of a "hairdresser." Twice she has come to the house when Clayton was too sick to leave but still needed his hair cut. Who does that these days??? She is extremely patient with him, doesn't get in a hurry or force him to "deal" with the haircut. She is awesome at dealing with his sensory issues and gagging spells caused by the hair, and puts up with his endless questions and most imperative (he thinks) needs:
"What is that?" (asks this no less than 100 times)
"What kind of shampoo?"
"What kind of clippers?"
"What kind of towel?"
"Where'd Chasity get those?"
"What's Chasity doing?"
"I can't like it" (referring to the spray bottle, the clippers, the wax for momma's eyebrows)
"I need towel"
"Put me by the window"
"Where's the truck going?"
Clayton and I get our haircut in the evenings since Jackson came along (tried it during the day with Jackson and Clayton DID NOT like him intruding on his time at "Chasity's work!") And even though she's tired and looking forward to going home, she doesn't mind at all when Clayton needs a break or needs to inspect her tools before she uses them.
Brian and I figured out a long time ago that we would have to surround ourselves with people who accepted Clayton and people who didn't mind making accomodations for him.
Chasity is one of those people.
And she's like the rest of us--under Clayton's spell. What he says, she does. He usually bosses her over to the window for his haircut so that he can watch the traffic. And when the traffic dies down, he has to turn around to see what everyone else in the shop is doing.
**I have to stop here and give a shout out to Laz and Leslie who work at the shop and also dote on Clayton's every whim. Even if it means driving their vehicles around an extra block just so Clayton can wave at them and check out their rides.**
I'm so glad I get to call Chasity our friend as well as Most Awesome Hairdresser Ever.
And as Clayton says, "Thank you, Chasity . . . for my hair."
Haircuts are a big deal around our house. Chasity has been cutting my hair for seven years and she is the ONLY one who has ever cut Clayton's hair (besides the neurosurgeons, of course). It used to be that Clayton was the one who most looked forward to going to "Chasity's work," but I'm thinking Jackson's becoming fond of the place himself.
I did hold him during his first haircut, but from the second one on, he's been a big boy and has been sitting in the chair all by himself. Granted, he does get a little restless.
And sometimes needs a toy or two to keep him busy. . .
But for the most part, he's a patient little fellow who enjoys the attention he gets from Chasity (and everyone else in the shop for that matter).
My boys love Chasity. I'm pretty sure she loves them right back since she kinda spoils them. =)
(Notice the usual "I'm ignoring you, Mom" look??? I think I'll try to get that same look from Clayton when he gets his haircut this week).