Saturday, January 29, 2011

4/52 Soothing Repetition


This week's theme for Project52 had me a little stumped (or maybe my creativity level was just at zero this week?).  At any rate, there are many "routines" in our life, but one of the most soothing is our reading.  Both boys love being read to, and reading to them is one of my greatest pleasures as a parent.  It's part of our nighttime ritual, and of course they both have favorites.  It's wonderful to see their love for books and stories grow each day. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Improving Skills

We've had concentrated driving lessons each day this week.  And each day, Clayton shows small improvements in his ability to focus on and manipulate the power chair correctly.  The last couple of days have actually been warmer and I've been able to take him outside for extended periods of time.  Jackson and I just do our own thing as much as possible and let Clayton have the reins.  And you know where he spends the majority of his time?  Driving up and over the curbs in everyone's driveways.  There's just something about a bump in the road that gets that boy's attention.  Today he had a breakthrough and actually went driving down the street (he finally noticed there was a big world out there!).  Jackson and I tagged along which was easy since he went so slow--you know, stopping at every driveway to run up over the curb!  Having the chair at home has made a world of difference in his concentration.  He's not so willy-nilly in his driving now and you can see that he is deliberate in his movements of the joystick.  The learning curve is great, but I'm confident he'll achieve mastery!
Now . . . . if we could only get a sidecar with this thing!! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Lot of Testing, Just a Little Driving

We've had a loaner power chair since last Thursday, and boy has it been an adventure!  Several crashes and near little brother misses have kept Brian and me on our toes.  After the excitement wore off, though, Clayton did start concentrating more while driving the chair around the obstacle course the house.  But since the sun was actually shining on Saturday, we jumped at the chance to get Clayton outside in some wider spaces with the chair.
There is no doubt Clayton knows how to drive the chair.  He just drives it where he isn't supposed to!  I would normally not care if he went in the yard, but with all the melting snow, he was leaving ruts everywhere and the wheels were covered in mud.  He also LOVES going in the neighbors' rocks.  (He does this with his bike too).  He was just destined to be a rock climber I guess.  We spent the whole time outside begging him to drive and when he finally did it was straight into a mailbox or the rocks. (on purpose because there was lots of laughter).

The only other issue we had was he would stop and tell us where he wanted to go.  "Help me."  This is why we want him to get a power chair and feel this freedom--we don't want him to get so dependent on us that he thinks he needs us right there even in a power chair. 

I really think that outside is good because of the space but bad because of the distractions.  Neighbors were outside, Jackson was playing, the dogs were running, and there were about a bazillion cars on our otherwise quiet street (they all came out in droves that day!).  It's a work in progress, but he's going to get it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Dad!

We hope you had a good one--we love you!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

3/52 Shades of Gray

Empty Pews

This week's theme for Project52 was "Shades of Gray."  And since gray gives me a melancholy feeling so much of the time, I decided to photograph the old sanctuary at our church.  The building is old and almost unusable, but the sanctuary is still so beautiful in that old church way--it's wonderful that we have outgrown it, but sad that these old pews see little use these days. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Right Where I Should Be

It all started with singing on the junior high cheerleading bus while we traveled to ballgames.  "You need to be a singer!"  "You should go to Nashville, I'll be your manager!"  "You should go on Star Search!" (That statement dates me for sure!)  My friends and I just knew I could be famous someday if given the chance, but I never pursued singing for real.
And when I finally came out of my shell as an adult and started singing in front of real live audiences, the first words out of my dad's mouth were "she needs to cut a record." (And that statement really dates him!)  Then when Brian and I started playing and singing with the band, Brian and Charlie just knew I could make some "real money" if I'd just push a little harder, pursue a little bit more.  Brian is still dreaming about the day we'll be traveling on my tour.  Not me.  I love singing.  And almost any kind of music will do, as long as I can feel the song in my heart.  But when I think about a life of trying to "make it big," I can't imagine handing my mom duties over to anyone else.  I look at my babies and never in a million years could I have a nanny or babysitter be in charge of their care the majority of the time!  This is how I know I'm right where I should be.  Taking care of and loving my babies like no one else could.

Is it hard some days?  You bet.  But I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Wasn't that long ago,
when I was skipping to school with a lunchbox,
pigtails in my hair.
Where did the time go?
One minute I'm playing in the sandbox,
how'd I get to here from there?

Making lunches and folding clothes,
it's not the most glamorous life I know.
But I've got so much more that most!

I'm not famous, but my kids think I'm a star!
I'm not rich, but I've made a million memories so far.
I'm not a model, but my man thinks I could be . . .
I may not be from royalty, but in these four walls, I'm a queen.

I had it all planned . . .
 first I'd make it big in Nashville,
then take Hollywood by storm.
But it was in God's Hands,
'cause there were three little lives that would need me
to one day be their Mom . . .

I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Those movie stars don't have everything.
I know I'm right where I wanna be.

I'm not famous, but my kids think I'm a star!
I'm not rich, but I've made a million memories so far.
I'm not a model, but my man thinks I could be . . .
I may not be from royalty, but in these four walls, I'm a queen.
                              ~"These Four Walls" by Sara Evans

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is That What I Think It Is?

Could that be the look of love Clayton is giving his brother???

I'm thinking it just might be . . . he has even managed to give Jackson a few kisses over the last week.  This older brother thing might be growing on him!

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the DNA

No one showed him.

No one told him.
He just picked up the drill and went to work on his car. 
Totally.  Completely.  Definitely.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2/52: Illustrate a Song

Give Me More Time
(George Strait)

That farm has been in my family going on a hundred years
We pulled through hard times before with blood, sweat and tears
Give me more time
I need more time

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Song on His Heart

Brian hasn't done much playing of the guitar since Jackson's been mobile.  Mainly because Jackson starts digging through the guitar case, turning the amp on and off, and otherwise causing chaos while we all try to enjoy a tune.  But since Jackson has discovered Clayton's little guitar, Brian decided he would give him a lesson on Sunday.  Brian set him up with a strap and he was good to go.  And instead of a first guitar lesson, we got a one man show!

Now, I don't care who you are . . . that's cute right there!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Boy and his iPad

On his birthday and on Christmas, we always struggle with finding The Perfect Gift for Clayton.  And we're not the only ones--family members are always asking what to get him for special occassions.  He is so limited physically that we're often stumped.  There's no denying he loves technology.  Loves our desktop and loves his therapists' laptops.  We've tried different modifications for a mouse, but they never seem to work quite right and we're always scared to death he'll do something crazy and the computer will go crashing. 
But when the iPad came on the market, it got our attention.  Here was a piece of technology that didn't use a mouse--you just needed your finger to work it.  Perfect for Clayton!  We decided to take the plunge and get him one for his birthday last August, and we haven't regretted one single dollar we spent on it.  We put all of his music from his iPod on it, we add apps as we find them, and he even has a couple of videos on it.  He absolutely LOVES it.  He is completely spastic with it, and it doesn't crash and burn.  He listens to the first verse of a song, stops that, moves to an app, stays on that app for maybe 10 seconds, then exits out of that and moves to another app, then it's back to another song.  You know why it's great?  It's Something He Can Do on His Own.  Most toys he needs help with, most games he needs help with, the computer he needs help with.  With the iPad he just starts tapping and stays busy forever.  Let me rephrase.  He stays busy forever as long as Jackson isn't around.  Jackson's got a taste for technology as well and harasses Clayton to no end when he has the iPad out.  They are getting better at taking turns, but I'm determined to teach Jackson that in the end it belongs to Clayton.   (**Sidenote:  Yes, Jackson is a climber.  I'm hoping it won't be the death of me)
Clayton is really craving independence these days.  Wants to do many things without the help of Momma and Daddy, without us even around.  And who can blame him?  He's dependent on us for 99% of his tasks--it has to get old.  I'm so glad this nifty technology gives him that feeling of going out on his own. 

Snow Day

We had a couple of inches of snow fall Sunday night, and while I know for my friends in the north that's nothing, we have to make due with what we get!  We decided to take a trip out to my brother's so he could pull the boys around on the "sled."  (Term used very loosely!)  It was Jackson's first time to get out in the snow.  He didn't mind standing in it, but he didn't really like the whole sled idea.  He ended up playing inside most of the time we were there.
Clayton, on the other hand, was all about Josh pulling him around.  It was pretty chilly out there, especially with the wind blowing in his face, but he would have stayed outside all afternoon if we had let him. 

When we got back home, the boys and I crashed for our afternoon naps.  It felt good to stay snuggled up inside.  Unfortunately, Clayton woke up with a ton of drainage and lots of gagging, so we spent the night dealing with that.  Just goes to show again that he doesn't have much reserve strength to lean on. 
So just to be on the safe side, he'll stay home from therapy today.  But on a good note, it'll give us just the right amount of time to catch up on our school lesson that we would have done yesterday!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pray Early, Pray Often, Pray With Others

Early last week, when I realized Jackson was sick for real, I started whispering short prayers.  Lord, please let it skip Clayton.  Lord, please protect Clayton.  Lord, just get rid of this bug already!  But they were just silent, personal prayers, and I didn't voice any concerns to the prayer warriors in our lives.  After all, it was just a little stomach bug.  But how easily I forget that a stomach bug just isn't a stomach bug for Clayton.  Any typical childhood illness always throws him for a loop.  (Evidence:  the last stomach virus he had landed us in the E.R. since after a couple of weeks he still couldn't take his normal feeding schedule). 

At any rate, when I discovered Clayton was running fever late Thursday evening, I tried not to panic.  Just a temp of 99 usually has him almost comatose.  It's so hard to watch Clayton with just a little fever!  He just doesn't have any reserves to fall back on, and his little body just gives out so fast.  Thankfully, with the increase in seizure medicine, he didn't act near as out of it as he usually does.  But I didn't want to take any chances.  I immediately texted Brian who was in a meeting at church.  I told him that although things were technically fine, the prayer warriors needed to start praying that any complications would be warded off.  The group at church prayed for Clayton.  Other friends prayed.  And I prayed.  And you know what?  Besides a rough Friday and Saturday evening (his normal amounts of food were just too much for him to handle), he only ran fever that one time!  Thank you, Lord!

I've told the people in our church that I hope they don't get tired of me always asking for prayer for Clayton.  They always assure me it's a privilege.  I don't want to be thought of as an alarmist, but darn it, it works!  I think God honored that act of faith Thursday night.  I knew there was a great gathering of praying people, so I just took it and ran with it--why not ask them to petition for Clayton?  And the earlier we get started, the earlier we might see the results!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

1/52: Something Around the House

As I mentioned before, I've decided to join a Project52 group for the year.  I love taking pictures, but the one thing I struggle with is being creative with my photography.  I am such a Type A personality (i.e., only one way to do things), that I often struggle with thinking outside the box.  I'm hoping this challenge will push me to look for different perspectives.  The theme for this first week in 2011 was "something around the house."  At first, I did the predictable:  I took a picture of something ordinary, with no real thought.  Then after browsing my photos, I decided to rethink the theme.  This sorter is one of the manipulatives we received with our new curriculum.  I decided the colors would make an interesting shot.  It's not technically perfect, but it's a totally different perspective than I would normally have!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

It's been kind of a do-nothing week around here.  I finally got my Christmas decorations down (with Jackson "helping").  They still aren't completely put up . . . sitting out in the garage waiting for Brian's help getting them in the attic.  Brian will also have to work on the tree for me too.  Every single year, I fight the tree, trying to get it back in that darn box.  I never can get the job done.  Guess I'm not good at space planning. 

I wrote out a to-do list a mile long and I'm slowly getting things marked off.  A bunch of random things that needed to be caught up since Christmas was our main focus these last few weeks.  I didn't think I had enough on my plate, so I decided to take on a Project52 photography challenge.  One photo a week, following a weekly theme.  I didn't think I could handle a 365 day challenge, so I started small with a weekly photo.  I'll be sharing those here I'm sure. 

Our church is busy this time of year.  Upward Basketball starts next week and Brian and I always help in the concession stand (he's the cook, I take the money!).  We also start a church-wide Daniel Fast next week.  Our church did this as a corporate fast last year as well.  I didn't do an all out Daniel Fast, but I did fast from sweets and meats for 21 days.  Surprised myself that I could go that long without chocolate.  I'm contemplating how I will fast this year.  I have been so focused on food over the holidays that I'm having to deprogram my brain on Things to Do Besides Eat Junk. 

Over the holidays, I ordered new curriculum from My Father's World.  We were in a rut with our school routine and something needed to change for my sanity.  When we first started homeschooling, I didn't mind creating all the "material" myself.  But with Jackson around I simply don't have time.  I just need everything laid out for me.  1. Do this.  2. Teach that., etc., etc.  So far, I've like what we've done and Clayton seems to be on board with it too.

Jackson was supposed to start gymnastics this week but he's been sick.  I don't think the gym would appreciate us showing up our first week and giving everyone a stomach bug!  Hopefully he'll be in full-swing for next week's class. 

That's about all I got for the moment.  I'll try to come up with something more interesting for my next post!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Good Start

A good start to a new year.  What more can a woman ask for?! 

For over the last seven years, Brian and I have put our marriage second to taking care of Clayton.  Not because we wanted to, it's just what you do when you have a child with so many needs and issues.  It's a miracle we've survived throughout all the turmoil of losing one child and dealing with the near-death issues of another.  It has not been easy, definitely no cakewalk.  And I'm sure there are bumps around the corner; but for now, we are making concentrated efforts at making time for just the two of us.  Even if that just means staying up late to talk after Clayton FINALLY goes to sleep.

A sure sign that we're doing better at this is the fact that we actually spent a night away, ALONE, on New Year's Eve.  We've made a just a couple of trips on church retreats with other couples over the years, but we've not once done anything overnight all. by. ourselves. since Shawn and Clayton were born.  GASP! 

It was only one night, but we didn't care!  It felt good to have time to focus on each other without the distractions little ones bring.  I could look at Brian and actually have time to remember the reasons I fell in love with him way back in the Summer of '96.  We never knew we'd go dancing in the mine fields when we met each other that year, and I wouldn't have wanted any other dance partner . . . so here's to rediscovering the roots of our relationship and here's to more time together in the year of 2011.