Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Other Bicyclist

We had another avid biker with us at last Friday's event.   
He was supposed to stay with the preschool group, but somehow kept showing up at the stations meant for the big kids.
He was thrilled when my friend let him try out the "balance bike" for toddlers.  
I think I might know what needs to be in Santa's sack of toys this Christmas.  :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bike Rodeo

Friday morning our homeschooling group had our first ever "Bike Rodeo."  The owners of the local bike shop are actually members of our group, and they, along with the bicycling advocacy group of our town,  hosted this "safety skills" event for all our our kids.  I wasn't sure how Clayton would fit into this picture, but we loaded up his bike and showed up ready to go.  It turned out fabulous!  (Photo disclaimer:  ignore Brian's lovely work attire!)

The kids were each checked in and given a card with a list of stations to visit, with tasks to complete at each station.  The first station involved a safety inspection of Clayton's bike and helmet--I'm happy to say that except for low tires, Clayton's bike passed inspection.  :)

The next station involved learning to do a "power start," and then stopping at a stop sign.  Clayton didn't exactly get off to a power start, but he did pedal almost the whole way by himself and stopped right at the stop sign.  He was too excited at this first station--I think it finally dawned on him that he was getting to REALLY participate in this event!

The next station involved weaving through tennis balls and avoiding obstacles.  With a little help, he was able to pass with flying colors!
The other stations were all about learning to watch for traffic and avoiding the bigger obstacles.  One station was called "Demon Driveway," which most know describes our driveway to a tee . . . he learned to look left and right and even learned the hand signals for turning left and right.  
Clayton was all smiles all morning.  Each time we've mentioned the Bike Rodeo since, he simply says, "DO AGAIN!"  Brian and I were elated that he was able to fully engage in this activity.  No sitting on the sidelines this time!  It was wonderful!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Parade: Behind the Scenes

The annual Fair Parade was this past Tuesday and as usual, there was plenty of hustle and bustle in downtown.  I've never taken Clayton to the parade simply because I think it would be sensory overload for him.  The sirens at the beginning plus the big crowds would probably unnerve him, which would in turn send me into a tizzy!  So instead of enjoying the actual parade, we went for a little behind the scenes action.  Ms.  Toby invited Clayton to come visit her and her crew in the park while they waited with their horses and did all their preparations for judging.  

Clayton and Jackson both were excited and nervous being around all the horses, wagons, and trucks.  One minute they were laughing and living it up, and the next they were crying!  I had to hold Jackson the entire time, but I was determined to get some pics of Clayton interacting with Ms. Toby and Ms. Christina (who he rides with most of the time).  
Toby didn't know it, but she was doing some sensory therapy when she asked Clayton to help her with her makeup.  It was a struggle to get him to work with the brush and loose powder, but he only gagged once and even managed to get one side of her face done.  :)

He was a happy boy when Christina showed up.  And even though she had lots to do in a short amount of time, she let Clayton take a short ride anyway.  It's little things like this that make me put stars by her name in my book!
 It was hard to concentrate on the horse though, with so many trucks and trailers to watch . . .
Hmmm . . . maybe someday Clayton will be able to ride alongside them in the parade--wouldn't that be cool?!
He'll need to work on this part though: 
If he's on the horse very long by himself, he starts to do "the lean!"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

37/52 Momentous Moment

Baby Steps

Jackson harasses Katie relentlessly.  The only reason she even pays any attention to him is because she usually gets bites of his snacks, as he leaves a trail when eating.  But other than that, she doesn't have the time of day for him.  Doesn't stop him from trying though!  He is constantly trailing behind her, hugging on her, hitting, and grabbing, totally oblivious to her growls.  So last weekend when she let him sit close and even touch her for a couple of minutes, it was definitely a MOMENTOUS MOMENT!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wade in the Water

My friend Karen said something the other day that resonated with me.  She was referring to how different people deal with tragedy and trauma each in their own way.  

"Some people need to wade through it and some need to find a bridge."

I'm definitely a wader. 

Splash, splash.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Little Bit of Fishing

We went to a birthday party on Sunday where everyone fished.  Great and refreshing idea for a kid's party!  It's just too bad it turned hot again--those fish weren't biting at all.  Still, it gave Clayton a chance to try his hand at holding the pole on his own and even reeling in the line with a bit of help.

As usual, his attention was more than divided--the trucks and cars driving made it hard for him to concentrate on catching any fish.
Jackson stayed still for about two minutes.  Long enough to reel in the line one time.  He didn't seem too interested in fishing as a leisure activity!

Monday, September 12, 2011

36/52 A Thirst For Knowledge

Anytime, Anywhere

One of the best aspects of homeschooling is the freedom to "school" in any setting, at any given time.  Since I've had trouble keeping Clayton focused while Jackson is around, I have to steal away the moments when Jackson is otherwise occupied and use them to Clayton's educational advantage.  This means schooling on a crazy schedule for now, but whatever works, right?  

This photo was taken on Saturday.  We had been camped out in the garage watching the traffic at Clayton's request.  When Jackson went down for a nap, I took the moment and ran.  Out came the books and teaching materials!  And in this case, those materials included a book about trains---Clayton is fascinated by trains these days and it only makes sense to explore all aspects about them for his first unit study of the year!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Shooting Towards a Purpose

The first time I was introduced to the world of photography (the world of shooting in "manual" mode, that is), Brian was behind the camera.  He was a film shooter of course, and he had me intrigued with the options of stepping into the creative side of photography.  During that summer of 1996, he tried his best to explain the ins and outs of the exposure triangle, but I suppose my love sickness got in the way of me actually taking all the information in . . . so although I continued to use his fancy SLR cameras, I had no idea what I was really doing with them, nor did I realize the potential of shooting manually.  

Fast forward to August 2003.  The night Shawn was dying.  Thankfully, I had quickly gotten into the habit of carrying our camera and rolls of film every trip into the NICU, and I had it that night.  We snapped photos of the last hours with our son in what would otherwise be known as horrible lighting and photographic conditions.  It didn't matter--we wanted to freeze those moments in time so that we could have them forever.  The importance of us having our camera with us that night really hit home when we were taking care of Shawn after he actually passed.  The nurse urged us to enjoy these moments and take as many photos as we wanted, both for our sake and for Clayton's in the future.  She offered the use of the NICU camera and my mouth dropped open.  It was a polaroid.  

Let me repeat.

In the year 2003, all they had to offer parents who had suddenly lost their child was a polaroid camera.

Can you imagine if the only pictures you had of your child were one or two snapshots taken with a polaroid camera?

Some of those infant deaths happen so quickly (we luckily had a few hours to prepare), that many parents don't have a chance to use anything other than what is available at the hospital.  It really bothered me that many parents walked away with just these couple of snapshots of their sweet baby.

In the months afterward, it bugged me to no end that our pictures of Shawn after death (the only ones that show his face without the ventilator tubing) showed the discolorations brought on by the infection and many medications that were injected into him.  Moreover, I regret every. single. day. not taking photos of him at the funeral home when all of that had been removed and his precious body was just that of a beautiful baby.  

It was in 2005 that I started scrapbooking, and I became immersed in the world of memory keeping.  I was exposed to mother after mother who not only created beautiful art with paper, but took some pretty inspiring photos of their children to boot.  I started getting just a bit more serious about my pictures.  We bought our first digital camera and I went to town snapping photos.  It was also around this time that I became aware of the national organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.  At the time, they had no members in Arkansas and I had the fleeting thought that maybe one day I could perform that service for parents who had or would suffer infant loss.  But I knew that I was no where near good enough to volunteer. It was just a seed of an idea that was planted in my mind.  

In 2009, I decided, in my usual fashion, that anything worth doing is worth doing right.  We upgraded our camera and I was determined to learn all there was to know about shooting manually.  I've learned so much over the past two years--constant study and practice has continued to help me improve my photos.  The cool thing is, I've just touched the tip of the iceberg!  The world of possibilities is endless when it comes to creating beautiful photos.  And as my skills have improved, that little kernel of an idea--of helping NILMDTS--has begun to sprout.  

It was just last week that I was reminded of how much I want to help parents in this way.  I learned of two infant deaths, one stillbirth and one just hours old.  Oh, how I wish I could have been there to document the few hours these families had with their angels!  Not only document it, but document it with more than just snapshots--document it with beautiful family photos that would truly be timeless!

I have such a long way to go.  A lot to learn about shooting in low lights and becoming confident enough in myself to offer my services.  Not to mention being emotionally ready for the onslaught of memories I would relive each time I shot one of these sessions.  But in my mind, I keep thinking what's wrong with a few tears and remembering such a special time in our life . . .  especially if it means I'm capturing that special moment for another family?  

So it is with this as one of my goals I continue to push myself.  Push towards becoming better and better with using my camera as my tool--my tool to capture priceless memories for not only the living, but the dying as well.  

And who knows? Maybe you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion . . . Esther 4:14b

Saturday, September 03, 2011

35/52 Lazy


It's not that I'm lazy per se, but these stacks of papers on my desk always seem to fall to the bottom of the to-do list . . . eventually I get fed up with the clutter and put it all in its place; but about half the time, this is exactly what my desk looks like.  Not very attractive, I know!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Photo Friday

Well, I'm moving right along in my adventures in photography and this week I had the opportunity to shoot photos of this beautiful young lady!  Abby was a perfect model and I could tell she was enjoying the experience as much as I was . . . maybe we'll get to do it again soon!  
Didn't take long for her inner supermodel to start shining through!

When she changed into her cheer clothes, I started having flashbacks to my many years of cheering.  When she started to actually do a cheer, I just laughed inside--I'm sure my entire family remembers "fondly" me cheering constantly, no matter the time or location!

Unfortunately, by the time we moved downtown, we were quickly running out of light.  I was able to snap this gem before it was completely dark though . . . so glad we didn't quit before I was able to capture her like this!