Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Yesterday was another day of hippotherapy, and I think Clayton finally found his stride.  In previous sessions, he didn't hardly utter a word to Christina but on this day he was talking her ear off and singing most of the time.  I was super proud of him when he was able to sit on the horse by himself.  And as you can see, he was quite proud of himself as well! 

Two main advantages to Clayton sitting on a horse:  stretching those legs out and strengthening his trunk muscles.  To help with the latter, Christina rides by these poles and then has him reach out to touch them.  The goal is for him to do this without her help to stabilize him.  I love that he is getting these new interventions on his strength because I don't even think he realizes it's "therapy."

I can't wait to see what's in store for him next!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

12/52 From the Jewelry Box

As soon as I read this week's theme, I knew exactly what I would take a picture of: my Pandora charm bracelet. (Too bad it took me until yesterday to actually get the photo taken!) I really wanted to take a photo of the bracelet on my hand, but I wear it on my right wrist and try as I might (even with the tripod's help), I couldn't manage snapping a picture of my wrist while also keeping things in focus, etc.

For My Boys

Since Jackson came along, I've been wanting a piece of "mom jewelry" that had my boys' names or initials on them.  And while I still may do something like that, Brian took the initiative to get this bracelet for me for my birthday last year.  I picked out all of the charms based on birthstones.  The red charms represent Brian's birthstone:  Garnet.  The green charms are for Shawn and Clayton--their birthstone is a Peridot.  And the charm in the middle is for Jackson, who's stone is a Pearl.

Love wearing this . . . my heart on my sleeve I guess you could say . . . 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Overlooks, For Now . . .

With the onset of spring in Arkansas, we have begun our habit of small road trips to take in The Natural State.  Now, Brian and I are not rugged, outdoorsy, hiker types by any stretch of the imagination, but we do enjoy a stroll through nature every once in a while.  (After all, we met in the most happenin' "natural" place in North America:  Yellowstone National Park!)  

When Clayton was little, the fact that he wasn't ambulatory never even crossed our minds.  We (and when I say "we" I mean Brian mostly) usually just carried him on a trail or wherever the rugged terrain took us.  But as he has grown, it has simply become impossible for us to carry him for any distance.  Which is frustrating because also as he has grown older, we want him to see more and more of the outdoors!  

In the couple of years before Jackson was born, we kept our road trips to just that:  on the road.  We all just looked out from the car and the scenery was kept at that.  But now that Jackson is a part of our family, the whole dynamic has changed.  Jackson wants to be outdoors and he wants to explore!  

On a recent trip to a state park, Jackson was raring to go, but there was absolutely no way to get Clayton through the pathways the park had created.  We saw family after family taking off down the trail, enjoying a walk through nature.  And yes, I was jealous.  These are the activities I want to do with my children!  (How many times have  I seen a suggested activity on a school lesson include a "nature walk??")  

So far I've only been able to locate two parks in our state with wheelchair friendly trails.  I so wish this number were greater!  (And I'm not wishing for a paved trail, just some packed gravel would be sufficient!)  But until we dig up more options, I've decided we'll have to hold onto two rays of hope:  1) his power chair (when we get it) will be equipped to tackle much more than his manual chair 2) I've noticed several parks offer horseback riding on the trails, which is doable if Clayton improves his endurance on a horse.  I'm so banking on this second one as that brainstorm came to me after following a link about our state parks that a friend sent me.     
As I proofread this I'm wondering why I'm even whining about such a thing?!  I saw a child at clinic today who had no clue of his surroundings.  Be thankful, self!  Be thankful your child can take in his world and accept God's beauty around him!

**After chastising myself for complaining, I decided to go ahead and include my original post because it is a perfect example of how a special needs parent digests the realities, and often limits, for their child.  Yet perspective kicks in and you remember to thank Him daily for the gifts that have been given . . .

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can't Get Enough

I lost Jackson yesterday afternoon.  I figured I'd find him making a mess or all around trouble, but instead I found him sitting in the window letting the wind blow through his hair. 
Such a sweet moment, to find him still and thoughtful, soaking up the breeze.  Just goes to show that whether we're inside or out these last few days, we are loving this weather.  Thank you, Lord for plentiful sunshine and moderate temperatures!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Left High and Dry

1. Sunny and warm day: CHECK.
2. Childcare for baby brother: CHECK.
3. MWAC (Mom With A Camera) armed and ready to shoot: CHECK.

Conditions were perfect.  But then NO teacher and NO horse.  Not so perfect.  The teacher failed to mention last week that they would be closed for Spring Break this week.  (And I only figured it out after calling to listen to the recorded message).  Would have been a good piece of information to let us in on before we went through the trouble of attending, don't ya think?? 
Clayton didn't find all the time a waste.  He held himself in this position for at least ten minutes which is a major feat for Clayton!  (Guess he decided to work on his trunk muscles without the horse!)  And of course he found the time to turn and watch the cars pass on the highway.  So not a completely wasted trip . . .

But I will say that I did have a small rant in my head about "government" schools.  It irks me to no end that society's "schedule" is basically ruled by the schools' schedule.  Maybe some of us don't want to go by that calendar and think the third week in March is a perfectly good time to go horseback riding.

Just a small climb up on the homeschooling soapbox . . .

Saturday, March 19, 2011

11/52 Darks and Lights

Got Static?

Okay, so I didn't stick with the theme of "Lights and Darks" this week . . . I had plenty of ideas, but wasn't motivated to get out and capture.  Instead, I was taking pics of Jackson and Clayton getting to enjoy some time outside.  These last couple of days have been absolutely gorgeous, so for us, this photo definitely represents week 11 of 2011!

Friday, March 18, 2011

If It Was Up to Them

They'd choose Home Depot over Lowe's every day of the week.  Something about that orange car and steering wheel makes these things the coolest shopping carts ever!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Looking Back, I See His Face

I just finished my new favorite book a few days ago.  I wish I'd finished it sooner--I wanted to devour it the day it arrived in the mail, but motherhood duties called and so I was forced to take time reading it through.  I think I'll read it again with a pen and highlighter for notes in the margins! 
One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are was written by Ann Voskamp who blogs at http://www.aholyexperience.com/.  I first heard of her blog and book from other moms at Five In a Row, and was intrigued by her unique prose and perspective.

So many passages in the book spoke to me.  I had too many "A-HA!" moments to even count!  Not to mention the thoughts of "I wish I could share this part with so-and-so . . ."  But by far the following passage spoke loudest to me.  It had me thinking "did the Lord have her write that just for little ole' me?"  In fact, I wanted to share so much of the passage that I had trouble cutting it down for this blogpost!  I tried to include enough to provide context, but stopped at typing out the entire chapter!  Read and then look back.

Look back to see His face . . .

Remember and give thanks? For what? What if remembering doesn’t kindle gratitude? What if remembering just leaves third-degree burns?

The words sear. I know their voices and I remember their faces and the sun spills from window glass, slants gold across steering wheel. Eyes on the road, yellow line dashing like a line on hold, I wait, just wait. In the wait, memories blister. And in the still, Spirit comes and He whispers a name.

And I see a world through His lens: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV).

He gave us Jesus. Jesus! Gave Him up for us all. If we have only one memory, isn’t this one enough? Why is this the memory I most often take for granted? He cut open the flesh of the God-Man and let the blood. He washed our grime with the bloody grace. He drove the iron ore through His own vein. Doesn’t that memory alone suffice? Need there be anything more? If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?

If trust must be earned, hasn’t God unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on the raw wounds, the thorns pressed into the brow, your name on the cracked lips? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right? He’s already given the incomprehensible.

Christ our Crossbeam.

The counting of blessings is ultimately summed up in One.

All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember. To know how we can count on God, we count graces, but ultimately there is really only One.

And the radical wonder of it stuns me happy, hushes me still: it’s all Christ. Every moment, every event, every happening. It’s all in Christ and in Christ we are always safe and “how will He not also . . .?”

When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ’s safe arms, true bridge, and not into hopelessness. It is safe to trust!

We can be too weak to go on because His strength is made perfect in utter brokenness and nail-pierced hands help up. It is safe to trust!

We can give thanks in everything because there’s a good God leading, working all things into good. It is safe to trust!

The million bridges behind us may seem flattened to the earthly eye, but all bridges ultimately hold, fastened by nails.
It is safe to trust.

Each bridge I need cross, from one moment to moment the next, is wholly safe, each leading me deeper into Him and closer to Home.

And I hear that hurting voice again, her and me and all those aching voices I have known and they still cry: There are moments that as sure as I bruise don’t feel like good things have been given. What of all the memories where Christ seems absent? When the bridge shakes and heaves, when “how will He not also?” reads more like “He will not.”


Trauma’s storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie.

I draw all the hurting voices close and I touch their scars with a whisper: sometimes we don’t fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good—until we have the perspective of years.

In time, years, dust settles.

In memory, ages, God emerges.

The when we look back, we see God’s back.

Wasn’t that too His way with Moses? “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back” (Exodus 33:22-23 NIV).

Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting the earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look.

Then we look back and see His back.

I look in my rearview mirror. The bridge I cross on the way to the chapel has fallen behind hills. I can still see, in memory, the river’s winding light, mirror on moving water.

God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors.

And I’ve an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God’s back in the rearview mirror.

Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven—that kind of distance.

Then to turn, and see His face.

Thank you, Ann, for reminding me that some of our hardest moments and battles have also been the most precious and beautiful when viewed from this side.  We should consider ourselves blessed.  The Lord has chosen to shower us with His glory in many a sweet, sweet moment.   

Saturday, March 12, 2011

10/52 Childhood Toy

Take Flight

I took a very broad interpretation of this week's theme . . . We've had a lot going on this week and I wasn't able to fully concentrate on getting a creative photo of one of the boys' toys or one of my own from growing up.  I chose instead to stop by the park that we visited often when I was a little girl.  They have a mini-amusement park there and I decided these rides were definitely representative of "childhood" in general. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Got Lashes?

(photo~August 2004)
Everyone has always noticed Clayton's long, thick eyelashes.  When he was a baby, his eyes were always the first thing people commented on:  their pretty blue, the lashes, and how he was taking everything in.  Over time, Clayton finally "grew into" his lashes and while still long, they weren't the first, most obvious thing people saw.  And with the addition of glasses, they are sometimes hidden (even though he has a tough time keeping his lashes off of his glasses!).  But when I saw this picture I took Friday, I realized that he still has some long mammy-jammy eyelashes he can flutter around!
As I kept perusing through pictures, this one jumped out at me immediately:
(Not taking away from the cuteness of their closeness in this pic), but I opened this pic up and BOOM!  Jackson's lashes just popped out at me!  I guess I don't notice his as much in person since they are blonder than Clayton's.  He seriously looks like he could be doing a mascara commercial in this pic!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Lesson in Sharing?

Since having Jackson, I've become more in tuned to what toys are *the* toys to have.  Apparently, these "cozy coupes" are at the top of the list of every toddler.  Every time we are around one, I can't keep Jackson out of them.  It was no different when he saw that Tucker had one.  Only problem?  Tucker was feeling a bit territorial about his stuff !  Most of the day was spent trying to teach them to SHARE the toys.  Neither one of them was getting the drift--they insisted on squeezing in together.   

Of course, they kept getting stuck.  They'd whine and complain because they couldn't move and needed rescued.  And immediately after the rescue, they'd both jump right back in for the next go 'round!
Luckily, Allison and I didn't have to fight the battle all day long.  They finally gave in and took turns--but it wasn't because they actually wanted to.  I think they were just worn down from all that wrestling in such a tight space!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Hey to Tay

(photo:  June 2007)
When Clayton's speech finally took off, one thing lagged far behind:  the word "YES."  He subsituted "HEY!" for "YES" forever.  We thought he'd never actually make the transition, but somewhere along the way, he finally started answering with "yes."  He still had to use his version of the word:  "wep!"  More recently, he's almost gotten it perfect with "wes."  And of course we're happy with that since a boy with no front teeth can't exactly get it all right!
Enter Jackson.  Little brother has decided on his own version of the affirmative.  "Tay" (with a slight head nod) is Jackson's answer to all things yes.  And after several weeks (or has it been months?) of listening to us chuckle over Jackson's verbage, Clayton has decided that answering with "tay" gets him a lot of laughs as well.  At first I thought he would only do it a couple of times.   However, he's noticed this word game gets everyone's attention.  So for now, it seems that both of my children have adopted this "TAY" as their answer for the affirmative!       

Saturday, March 05, 2011

9/52 Express Yourself

With this week's theme, I figured I would get a snapshot of Jackson throwing one of his little fits he is learning to perfect, but my camera never seemed to be handy during those moments. 
Please? Help!

Instead, I think the look on his face in this snapshot is pretty darn expressive.  He was more than put out with Tucker who insisted on pushing him while he was in the car.  His eyes are just begging Allison to get Tucker out of the way!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

There Are Moments . . .

 . . . when he is actually still.

Even contemplative . . .

But it doesn't last long.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Finally Getting Started

In 2009, Clayton attended a birthday party and was able to ride a horse for the first time.  He was one happy guy on that horse and we promised ourselves we would get him involved in hippotherapy.  But that was also the year I was pregnant with Jackson, so fitting in another therapy session moved to the bottom of the list of things to do.

We had another round of riding at another birthday party this past weekend, and I immediately jumped on it.  Hippotherapy could work wonders for Clayton's trunk control and his hips.  I didn't want to waste another minute "planning on it." 
Soooo, Clayton starts with his first horseback riding "lesson" on Monday!  He's already asked me about twenty times today when he is going to ride the horse.  (There is no waiting in Clayton's world--everything happens RIGHT NOW).  Hopefully, we can keep him at bay with the simple "wait until Monday" answer, but it's going to be a long few days to keep his mind on other things!