Saturday, December 17, 2011

Believer

Last week, we went on a train ride.  Santa visited our car.  Isaac, although nervous, was willing to give Santa a hug.  What did he want for Christmas?  A candy cane.  (See his hand).  Dreams really do come true.  Even if you're skeptical like Isaac.

Enjoy your weekend and make merry and bright...

-Christa

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

nothing but wonderful

"OH MY GOSH, MOM!"

Smiling at the sink, I look over at Isaac.  His face is smooshed against the cold kitchen window, glancing out at the white driveway and backyard.  "CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  IT'S SNOW!"  I can believe it.  And yes, I see it.

To me, snow can be a blessing, and it can be a challenge.  It is a chance to cuddle up with a cozy blanket, some coffee, and loved ones around.  It means having to get up an extra 15 minutes early so I have time to bundle up my sons to get them off to school in time.  It means more work, more time spent.  Beauty and time on the couch always costs something, though...so I take the snow with a grain of salt (and sprinkle a few actual cupfuls on my walkway to melt the rest).

To Isaac, it's nothing but wonderful.  He sees the miraculous white powder floating from the sky.  He watches it cover the ground and thinks about all those snowflakes accumulating so he can make snow balls, snow men, and other snow creations.  (I know this, because I can see it in his eyes.)

I take the opportunity to get some practical wisdom in, as I usually do.  "Isaac," I say, wiping my hands on the dish cloth and grabbing my cup of coffee.  "Did you know that all that snow is made of lots and lots and LOTS of teeny-tiny snowflakes?  Snowflakes that are all different and float down and land on top of each other?"  He looks at me and raises his eye brows in an exaggerated fashion.  "Mom.  That.  Is.  So.  AWESOME."  I purse my lips together to stifle a laugh.  "I know!"  He turns to smoosh an excited face against the window again.  It is silent.  We watch the snow together.

I look at those billions of flakes and think of their uniqueness.  I look at my son, and I think of his excitement, his joy, his passion about the things (like snow) that so many of us have lost, forgotten, or just chose to dislike because of it's inconvenience or it's difficulty.  The snow brings a new season.

This is the season when the quiet comes, the snow brings a peaceful hush to creation, and we can listen.  We can watch.  We can see how even in the seasons we may not enjoy or respect, we can always...always, find a reason to be thankful for it.   A reason to rejoice.  Because in the middle of all that discomfort and dislike is growth...happening under the surface, behind the scenes, and come spring...we will see the miracle that took place in the quiet cold.  Underground, underneath, and all around.

This season for Isaac has been just that.  Beneath the struggles and the chill of the unknown has come amazing growth...and unlike the seasons I know, HIS season has just started to flourish.  So, with the snow...for me...for Isaac...comes nothing but wonderful.

And yes, I believe it:  I can see it.  And I am amazed.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

letters and numbers and words...oh my!

Isaac reading Dr. Suess's ABC's at 22 months (notice speech delay doesn't inhibit the reading)


Hyperlexia: The precocious ability to read words without prior training in learning to read typically before the age of 5.  First named and scientifically described in 1967, it can be viewed as a superability in which word recognition ability goes far above expected levels of skill. Some hyperlexics, however, have trouble understanding speech.


Hello, Isaac.  


For some reason, this term hasn't come into the picture until now, and honestly, it's a dead ringer when it comes to Isaac's passions and quirks.  


This past week I went to an Open House at the Julie Billiart School in Beachwood.  As I listened to the principal there describe the history of the school, the programs used to teach math, reading, science, etc.  I was caught by an answer to a question another parent posed:  "How do you handle children who on are the spectrum who have very advanced reading abilities?"  The principle nodded.  "Well, yes, we have children who display hyperlexia here, so we screen and test to see their comprehension in comparison to their rote reading level, then we go from there to determine the best path of learning..."


It was like a lightbulb went off in my head.  I wrote the term down on my notes, determined to study it more at home.  


Every medical journal article, every entry, every part of this Hyperlexia was like someone had taken Isaac into a room for a couple of hours, observed him and wrote the definition.  



"Despite hyperlexic children's precocious reading ability, they may struggle to communicate. Often, hyperlexic children will have a precocious ability to read but will learn to speak only by rote and heavy repetition, and may also have difficulty learning the rules of language from examples or from trial and error, which may result in social problems. Their language may develop using echolalia, often repeating words and sentences. Often, the child has a large vocabulary and can identify many objects and pictures, but cannot put their language skills to good use. Spontaneous language is lacking and their pragmatic speech is delayed. Hyperlexic children often struggle with Who? What? Where? Why? and How? questions. Between the ages of 4 and 5 years old, many children make great strides in communicating.
The social skills of a child with hyperlexia often lag tremendously. Hyperlexic children often have far less interest in playing with other children than do their peers."



As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, or child with ANY type of dealy, having one more way to help describe your child is a gift.  There is a way you can identify with them; another way you can say to yourself, "my child is truly amazing."  Plus, you have a way to help the child grow and learn, using this understanding of what they deal with.  I'm pumped.  


I downloaded a few old movies of Isaac when he was a baby, a toddler...watching him play with letters hours out of the day...watching him read books by himself in his crib...reading stories back to me that we read through together once...watching him recite 1-10 in Spanish, then German...then Mandarin...it makes sense. 


They say autism is like a puzzle, and each child is just another piece of the big picture.  I'm loving that I found just another puzzle piece for Isaac today--another brilliant and beautiful piece.  


What a treasure.  



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

favorite booty

I feel like a pirate. 

After accompanying Bumble Bee (of the Transformers kind) and a Super Puppy (complete with cape and ears) on a night of door-to-door solicitations for candy on October 31st...I have confiscated the booty.  

No, I'm not THAT mean.  

I have hidden the treasure in a safe place, only to be tapped into when healthy portions of dinner have been consumed, and/or when deserving behavior or exceptional attitudes have been displayed.  (This includes Mommy pirate working out, and earning 2 of her faves:  3 Musketeers miniatures...ARGHH.)

But, being a mommy pirate means my children have inevitably inherited pirate genes.  

"Mom...where's the candy?"  Ethan asks me at dinner last night after his plate was literally licked clean.  

I smirked and raised my eye brows in a challenge of wills.  (Some pirates have been known to use pistols or brandish swords...I use my wits).  

Isaac chimes in.  "Mom, can I have some candy too?"  (His plate not clean AT ALL.)

"Well," I begin, folding my hands together under my chin, "it's in a safe place."  

Both boys give me looks as if to say, "hey...wait a minute...."  

Ethan does what he does best.  He whispers to Isaac to hunt for the candy while I'm cleaning up the dishes.  

"Aha!"  I spin and look at them at the table.  (I'm milking this for all it's worth, folks).  "No hunting for the candy...you'll never find it anyway..." I say this but I'm not so sure.  When my sons work together to find something, they are a formidable force.  

I manage to get them to trust me.  I will give them choices of candy for a treat, only if they let me keep the hiding place secret.  Deal, they say.  We shake on it.  

I sit with them and savor the moment as they savor their sweets.

No need to walk the plank.  There's peace among the ranks...for now.  

As much fun as it was to dress up on that chilly night, it is much more fun to use the candy gathered to teach lessons.  To trust Mom, to eat your dinner, and to remember than sometimes, it's the little things that are the sweetest treasures.

Ethan and Isaac are two of my faves.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

worth a thousand words

As I was pulling out the contents of Isaac's backpack today, I found an art project.

Two large, simple pieces of baby blue colored construction paper, stapled at the top...a square had been cut out of the middle with the phrases on either side of a sketched face of Isaac (made by himself):  I thought I would draw a picture of me, but then I got lonely, you see...

I flipped it open at the stapled hinges, and found this:
A Family Portrait....by Booder
It was perfect.  It had humor:  Dan's glasses and big smile ("Mom, I made Daddy's glasses on, and a BIG mouth!") It had some interesting placement:  Note, Ethan in the top corner...maybe in a time out?  And I had to notice how small my head was compared to everyone else.  Also, my hair.  Oh dear...this must be why I keep it short.  It gets a bit crazy now and then, and Isaac captured it at its "morning look."

Interpreting the world through the family is something I forget my children need to do, and it is so important to provide that environment to allow them to thrive.  We don't always smile, we don't always have perfect hair...but that's what gives us reason to be glad.  We have one another to go through those rough spots with. I love, love, LOVE that Isaac gets this...

And reminded me that his pictures are worth more than his words sometimes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Surprise endings

This morning I needed a little inspiration.

Years ago, when Dan and I were freshly married, immersed in finding out our roles in the church body, and learning about how we better ourselves as one and not just two; we attended a conference.  A speaker, teacher, and author (one of my all time favorites) Dr. Dan Allender led a session on Character vs. Character. In other words, how has your past and present contributed to the person God created you to be in that story of day to day.   It was life changing.  I still listen to the recording of the session every now and again to get fresh eyes.  

I tuned my I-Pod onto the recording from 2003.  I was taken back to the auditorium, the words smashing into my brain with fervency--yes, tragedy, emergency, beauty, joy, it has all added up to a part of who I am, and what story I was created to tell.  Little did I know then, that at that conference, 9 months later our story would change--our first son, Ethan was born. 

Of course, Isaac's chapter started 3 years later, and my storybook was flowing smoothly...

But then the difficult news came.  My little boy wasn't like everyone else. 

I pause the I-Pod for a minute...remembering that day of testing and analysis.  Remembering all the moments that led up to that point where I knew the story wasn't going to be anything like what I had expected or hoped...

And then...I press play, and listen to Dr. Allender:

"God is our author...He is our authority...and he is writing your life today.  You're not a finished story.  You are a character in God's story because He is authoring you.  As a character, as a face, as a name, you are distinct from all others.  All before you and all after you.  There is no one, no one, NO ONE, ever to be like you in the whole history of humanity...You were created to reveal something about God that no one on the face of the earth will do the way YOU were meant to do." 

I wonder if that conference I attended years before Isaac was even imagined, was truly meant for him.  

I trust in a God who does not make mistakes, and whose timeline is perfect, even if it doesn't seem like it to me.  I have a story that tells about His faithfulness and His purpose for me.  Isaac was one of those wonderful surprise endings to a chapter that seemed hopeless.  

But the story goes on, and life continues.  I am purposing to seek out more of God today, taking comfort in His perfect story for Isaac...for Ethan...for my husband, Dan...and for myself.  I pray you do the same. 

The plot thickens...





Wednesday, October 5, 2011

guilty

I believe in justice.

Isaac makes it easy for me to determine how to deliver that justice.  He is one of the most honest children I know.  Perhaps I am biased, since I was quite the manipulative and creative storyteller when it came time to answer the question, "what happened here?"  When Isaac gets asked this question, he takes a moment, searches my eyes with his steely blue ones and leaves me with the challenge of determining a punishment for the crime.  Usually, his truthful answer lessens the blow.

Like the other morning, as I was coming down stairs...I hear a drawer close and feet scrambling into the dining room.  With a serious look (trying not to smirk) I looked at Isaac's face...
I ask:  "What happened here?" motioning at the kitchen drawer and cookie crumbs on the counter.  Isaac lifts his blondish-brown eyebrows, gives me his best stymied "Little Rascals" face and answers.  "I ate a cookie, Mommy."

I never would have guessed.

In those moments, justice is swift.  It is sure and definite.  There was a crime and it is fit for a punishment.  There was a lengthy time out, and no more cookies or treats that day.  He was totally bummed.

As for other moments of guilt...the one who needs to learn the lesson is not as definite...

Such as the time the other day when I discovered, somehow, my little Mr. Technology had managed to charge $100 to Mommy's Facebook account by buying coins for online games.  Yes.  One hundred dollars, folks.

Those aren't just cookie crumbs.

As I struggled in that moment in realization...I found myself asking no one in particular..."What happened here?"  And I stammered and stuttered for an answer. There were no set rules as to what buttons could be pressed.  Isaac didn't know what he was doing, and I had no idea what he was capable of accomplishing.  In this case, I believe the one to receive the guilt would be me. I sat down with Isaac and set some rules about the computer.  He accepted them.  Now, we have rules where once there were none. 

Responsibility means being truthful with yourself, and the truth is, we ALL need grace.  Grace is an easy thing to come by when we have the wisdom to say, "I need it as much as the next person does."  In the end, being just oftentimes means letting grace override our desire to see someone punished for the very same crime we ourselves commit.

Isaac's chocolatey-smile reminds me that innocent mistakes happen, and when we are honest with the situation and demonstrate grace and forgiveness to ourselves and those who may have caused it, we can know better for next time.

Justice served. 

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

touching

"hands are for touching"
  It is 11:45 on a Wednesday, and I am standing at the front door.  A school bus pulls up slowly and let's out its air brakes.  The sound is like a gunshot triggering a race, and after carefully...methodically going down the steps, Isaac's shoes hit the pavement. He's like a racehorse out of the derby gates, and my arms are the finish line. 

We head inside, and as usual, Isaac heads straight for his cars.  I open his backpack, asking him about his day.  "Who did you play with at school?"  "What did you have for snack today?"  As I try and pry answers from him, I pull a few papers from his bag.  Exaggerating my excitement (which, honestly, isn't exaggerating at all) I open a page of a little book he's made.  "Oh my!  This is AMAZING! Whose hand is THIS?"  Isaac smiles and takes the book from me; "Mom, that's MY hand!" 

It's a little booklet he's made about the 5 senses.  The first page is a painted imprint of his hand.  "Hands are for touching" is written below.  We flip through the rough construction paper pages together.  Eyes are for seeing, ears are for listening...

After we browse his creation, he goes back to playing with his cars.  I am left to look at the hand print on the first page once again. 

Hands aren't the only thing made for touching.  In a way, Isaac possesses a 6th sense, one that cannot be colored, or rudimentarily placed with construction paper cut outs in a booklet.  It is in the way he looks me in the eye, because I know it was an impossibility.  It is the way he picks up his toys, because the task seemed out of reach.  It is the way he gives a hug--with his whole being.  It is the way he says "I love you, Mommy," like he's been saying it his whole life...even though I would cry and pray days on end to simply hear those words.  It is the sense that goes beyond description and into the miraculous. 

Hands are for touching, yes, and Isaac has done just that.  He's touched me straight to the heart.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9 minutes of chaos and catharsis...

It's another dark morning.  I'm woken to small warm hands on my face and hot breath in my ear:  "Mommy, is it morning, or night?"  My 4 3/4 year old alarm clock.  I can't help but smirk, even if every ounce of energy that wasn't replenished from my lack of sleep is telling me it's 6:30 and I shouldn't be smiling about getting up so early. 

But, I do.  And I'm glad. 

I'm running the Hladky fun-factory while Dan's away in Asia on business (visiting not-so-fun factories...I know he misses ours as much as we miss him.)  Originally, this was a 2 week trip...which has now turned into 3 weeks...Needless to say, I'm missing my right-hand-man.  Lots.

I'm still in my cozy bed, covered by my quilt, and now, one little arm and one little leg belonging to my alarm clock--draped over my side and wiggling.  "Isaac, can you just be still for a little bit?"  Silence, and stillness, then, movement again.  "But, but...but, Mom...I like to move." 


In the midst of chaos are moments like these with my sons.  Isaac just happened to be my reminder...the one who pulled the plug to my emotional drain.  I have to let it out.  I have to express need, express frustration, express impossibilities to myself, and even to (gulp) my children. 

"Isaac, honey," I move his legs off of me, "Mommy misses Daddy very much, and she didn't sleep well."  I try and look into his eyes in the moonlit room, and he gets so close we're nose-to-nose.  "I just need some rest." 

Serious and snuggling into the covers with me:  "Mommy, I'll just rest with you." 

Sometimes the rest we think we need in the middle of chaos isn't what we need at all. 

In those 9 minutes from when I hit the snooze bar to when the radio came on again, I found a small piece of heaven.  Isaac lay as still as is possible for his busy, lanky frame...and I closed my eyes and thanked God for a boy who could remind me to be still and know who's in charge yet again. 

I feel better now. 
My little alarm clock, 2 1/2 years old



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unknown

I don't like the unknown. 

There are those who enjoy risk: leaps-of-faith, whitewater rafting (that's another blog entirely...)  Not I.  I am a familiar, routine, welcome-home sort of gal.  So, when I met, fell in love with, and joined hearts with a man who was not only my polar opposite on this personality spectrum, but whose picture was found next to the definition of "adventure," I figured a bit would rub off on me.  Thus, I have learned how to take last minute change of plans in stride; anticipate the unanticipated.  And when my risk-taking husband and I had children (an adventure in and of itself), I resigned myself to the fact that unknowns are simply a part of existence. 

Isaac came home with a fever last week after preschool.  I didn't think anything of it, since there was a cold virus going around.  We spent the day drinking apple juice out of blue crazy straws, and cuddling on the couch.  When the weekend arrived, the promise of a busy and bouncy Isaac once again came into view.  A low grade fever wasn't stopping him from playing and giggling as usual. 

Then Sunday came.  Enter the unknown...

I was awoken to a crying child crawling on my bedroom floor (usually, Isaac crawls into bed with me and cuddles for a few minutes--it's so much better than an alarm.)  Instead of cuddling, there was confusion.  "What's wrong honey?"  I asked in a sleepy stupor.  "My legs hurt" was Isaac's response between bouts of tears.  For my tough little boy to cry and say something hurts means it really REALLY must hurt.  I tried to help him stand up.  He couldn't.  It was like I was trying to help a baby fawn walk for the first time.  Wobbly and weak, Isaac moved with me to the bathroom as I carried him under his arms. 

I thought he slept funny.  Thought he might have a cramp.  Thought he might have pinched a nerve.  But I couldn't determine for sure...and then panic set in.  Why couldn't he walk on his own? 

After an hour or so...after praying, researching, and prodding my little boys flimsy legs, he started walking again.  The best way to describe his stiff movements would be to imagine what Pinocchio would look like as a wooden puppet.  At church, I questioned friends and family about it:  Have him checked as soon as possible, they said.  So I did. 

Monday morning, in the doctor's office, Isaac sat happily on the exam table.  He had woken up with stiff joints again...which reminded me of a 90 year old man with arthritis...but he was able to walk a little better than the day before.  This gave me hope that the sleepless night before had been in vain, and my Booder boy would be better sooner than later. 

The prognosis was Toxic Synovitis.  I had never heard of such a thing before, but I was glad we had some answers.  There would be no long term danger, and Isaac would be up and around as normal in a couple of days. 

As I watched my once-hobbling boy ride his scooter again, I had to be thankful for the unknown.  The unknown pushes us deeper in finding answers.  It gives us the fuel to continue believing in something bigger than ourselves--for with the unknown comes a need to trust...a need for faith.  In my life, that faith is in God.  A God who knows what I don't, and a God who challenges me to believe in Him daily, and to lean not on my own understanding. I am confident that as Isaac and I grow, our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father and "things unseen" will only give our adventure in this life that much more meaning. 





Monday, September 5, 2011

Like a rock

A small boy.  A big rock.  Obstacles.

This weekend as we explored the hills of Ohio as a family, I explored more than just nature.

As we climbed hundreds of rocks steps and paths deep into the gorges of Hocking Hills State Park, our eyes absorbed amazing creation;  natural formations out of rock, amphitheater style caves with sandstone beaches as floors.  There were trickling waterfalls, giant rock formations that looked like the Sphinx, and hills that seemed impossible to pass.  It was all a little surreal and truthfully...sweaty.

It was a balmy 90 degrees during most of our hilly hikes.  The weather was just another discomfort to our journey.  We knew we wanted to see more, explore more, and climb to the top...then back down to the riverbed.  Isaac was a trooper.  Most small children we passed were moving slowly, dragging their feet, asking for water...Isaac led the way, looking back hardly ever.  He kept us busy rushing to grab him by the back of the shirt at a steep edge.  But, I was more proud at his fearless tenacity.  He kept us pressing on.  Despite the obstacles.

To top off our adventure, we took a family zipline course.  Strapping in our harnasses, we set out to battle with a literal obstacle course of wires, ropes, carabiners, bridges and swings, all suspended in the air.

I have never ever seen a more focused Isaac as when he faced those challenges.  Never have I been more self-conscious of my own inability to freely give all to my task.  And never have I been more amazed too watch.

I have said it once, and I will say it again.  My son is a miracle.

Maybe it was because we were in nature--awesome creation upon awesome creation--that is why this all stood out like it had been highlighted in neon yellow.  Isaac was the awesome cherry creation on the very top of a glorious sundae of inspiration. 

I watched my son climb across those tightropes, never taking his eyes off of the next goal--the platform at the end.  I watched as he scaled 100's of stone steps, uneven, and wide even for adult sized legs, not looking back.  I listened, after having conquered the obstacles, as he freely shouted as he and our guide zipped down a final 500 feet of line over a lake and a field:  "THIIIIIISSS    ISSSSS   AWESOMMMMEEE!!!!!"

Yes, Isaac, it was.  And so are you.

Isaac and I at Old Man's Cave

Ready for action!  Show me those ziplining muscles!

Exploring with big bro Ethan



Friday, September 2, 2011

Party-in-a-bag

There are approximately 42 Matchbox and/or Hot Wheels vehicles scattered on my kitchen table.  A small firehouse from a village play set sits in the midst of them.  These little cars look like they have made a holy journey to a mecca of sorts...they circle the firehouse awaiting a command from Isaac.  He sits above them, perched and ready to begin...

"Welcome."  I hear Isaac say in a calm, steady voice.  I turn my head to see what he's up to. He continues..."Welcome.  TO THE PARTY!!!!"  His little legs begin to swing with excitement as he lifts each car and makes them do a little dance of joy, accompanied with a different voice.  A silver 4x4 has a deep timbre and says, "YAHOO!"  A tiny yellow hatchback says with a high pitched squeal, "Yippee!!!"  I watch in awe, smiling, as each car or vehicle expresses their happiness at this Firehouse Party Isaac is throwing. 

After his celebration, Isaac turns around on the kitchen bench and asks me.  "Can I bring the party to Hocking Hills?"  I almost spit out my coffee with a laugh.  He has no idea how hilarious that sounds. 

This is our first time to Hocking Hills.  It's going to be a laid back, explorational, and hopefully relaxing weekend with my husband's side of the family.  It's also going to be a weekend away with my hubby before he heads out the day after we get back, for Hong Kong and China once again.  I'm picturing a weekend full of shorts and t-shirts, no make-up, bonfires at a state park, and maybe some shopping or hiking.  Isaac...is picturing a party.  A BIG one.

I hug him and tell him how much he makes me happy.  "Mommy, can I bring my cars?"  I tell him yes.  He decides to take them all, and proceeds to pour them into his suitcase.  "Let's pick a few to take, okay?"  I assure him the party will be just as fun with a few as it will with a bazillion. 

This weekend is about quality, not quantity.  I know once we get there, Isaac will appreciate that kind of a party.  I will too.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yellow Bus

Isaac is at our back door.  His breakfast sits on the table, honey nut cheerios getting soggier by the second.  A bowl of sliced bananas waits patiently next to the bobbing O's.  "Mom!  Is it time now?"

It's his first day back to school, and he's excited.  I'm so glad.  I'm even more glad that he's ready to ride the bus again.

After a traumatic experience for Isaac last winter, and his regular bus driver had to take a leave of absence due to illness, the change was too much for him to handle.  Too many new faces too frequently threw him for a loop.  He refused to ride the bus to school, so I had to drive him each morning. Of course I tried different tactics to try and get him to ride in the mornings, even going so far as to physically putting him, kicking and screaming, onto the bus and watching his face contort and cry through the bus window as it drove away.  Uh-uh.  No way was I going to do that again.  For as much as I wanted Isaac to be willing to do what I wanted him to do, I had to realize that losing a battle didn't mean giving up the war.

  As a mom of a child (with or without delays) you willingly have to make the conscious decision that your days are no longer about what is best for you.  It's about what is best for your child.

I drove Isaac to school for the rest of the school year.  He had no problems riding the bus home (which was so strange for me to understand) so we worked with what he was willing to do and tried a new tactic this school  year.

Isaac's wonderful preschool teacher created a "Social Story" book for him.  This is a story, personalized for Isaac, that he can read to himself to get mentally prepared for riding the bus again.  It included pictures to help him connect places with actions, familiar with the unfamiliar.  It gives him a context for what will happen when he gets ready to ride the bus again.

As we stand in the driveway, Isaac with his jacket and backpack, bopping excitedly up and down looking for that big yellow bus...I will be ready for more stories to come.  Battles, come what may....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summertime...and the livin' was easy....

It's been awhile...but the while has been full of wonder...

Our family returned to Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina in July to splash and sun ourselves for 10 days.  Isaac was able to fly on a plane again, which is oftentimes the highlight of the adventure.  His best in-flight moment was actually during take-off when he announced to the entire plane, "5-4-3-2-1....BLASTOFF!!!!!" as we left the tarmac. 

Isaac's part fish, we discovered.  He puts on his arm floaties and off he goes, content to kick and swim all over the pool.  Swim toys?  You can keep 'em.  He just wanted to jump in, be thrown in or a combination of both.  We have yet to get him to remember to close his mouth though.  Every night we had to change the sheets of the beachhouse bed he slept in because he literally soaked through the Pull Ups with how much pool water he consumed.  Still, as happy as a clam...and usually as submerged as one...

One of the wonderful things we experienced with Isaac this year was FREEDOM.  We were able to see more, do more, and allow him a bit more room to explore. 

In the mornings, we'd sit on the porch with binoculars and look for dolphins feeding in the calm, glassy, surf.  When we'd walk along the shore in the early evening, we'd say, "run...go ahead Isaac, run til you can't run anymore!"  And he would.  Hot, sweaty, red faced, and a smile miles wide.  At the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, he felt a real stingray, watched otters swim (faster than even Isaac could). He embraced it all like we did.

In Raleigh, where we stayed downtown for 2 nights after our beach trip, we enjoyed the free museums and the amazingly affordable and fantastic Marbles Kids Museum. We walked around the city as a family, had some genuine southern BBQ, and let someone make our beds and clean up after me for a change (gosh, I love hotels...especially the ones with "pillow menus":  HEAVENLY.) 

I watched as my son touched, tasted and discovered his way through most of our vacation--shells, sand, salt water, pool water, restaurants, museums, memories. 

It was a summer full of livin'...and Isaac did it well. 



Saturday, July 9, 2011

look and listen

"Mom!"  I'm putting bagels out on a platter for our annual 4th of July party.  "MOM!"  The voice is louder, if that's even possible.  And excited. 

"Yes, Booder" I ask, without looking at him.  He stands at my hip until I look at him.  (Practice what you preach, right Mom?)  "Is today July?"  "Yes, today is July 4th."  He opens his mouth wide and raises his eyebrows into an extreme position.  "Is it the PARADE today?"  I smile.  "Yep!"  A loud roar of approval comes from his being and he disappears outside to tell Daddy. 

The parade is a big deal.  Lots of friends and family come to celebrate Independence Day with breakfast on the front porch, a great parade that passes our house with oodles of candy, and yes...loud cars and trucks, fire engines and emergency vehicles all blaring sirens and honking horns.   

When he was younger, I would try and give him doses of the excitement--let him taste a little here and there, because after all, who doesn't love a parade?  Isaac didn't.  And I had to accept that.  While all the kids were out jumping and shouting for candy, Isaac was content to sit away and just watch.  Cautious.  Which is a word that hardly exists in his vocabulary. 

Each year, he gets a bit more daring.  He sits on the curb, perched close to the action.  He covers his ears when things get too loud, but he stays put, watching the cars, listening to the sounds.  He gets a close view of the action, and sits to watch the entire hour long parade.  He is still cautious...but he is enjoying. 

There is a healthy amount of fear, but it's not keeping him from experiencing a wonderful tradition, and making a great memory.

Each year has become a celebration of more than just our nation's freedom--it's a celebration of Isaac's freedom to enjoy the experience, to look and listen...and come out of his shell a bit more.

Cue the fireworks. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rambo, Snuggle, and baked beans

The last 48 hours seem a blur.  That's probably because, due to my lack of sleep and over-abundance of concern, I had to focus on just getting through.  This is my "Mommy mode" when my children get sick. 

Isaac managed to get himself a small sinus infection that brought along a viral friend.  Not fun.  103.4 fevers in the middle of the night and day, that nasty bug has been wreaking havoc on my little guy's belly and body as a whole. 

My control issues didn't start as a parent, they were there a long time prior.  I have worked very hard on defining myself based on who I am, and not what I can or cannot do.  But when my smiley, goofy little boy turns into a pale, pile of pain...control freak Christa jumps out of her skin and comes to life. 

Don't mess with my kids, fool. 

I arm myself with cleaning products while making sure Isaac is comfortable and drinking liquids...I fly here, I flit there, I throw a load of Isaac's bedsheets and clothes in with color-safe bleach on the hot water cycle (just to give me peace-of-mind that I'm the Rambo of germ killing).  I've got this. 

Until I sit by my son on the couch, flip his pillow to the "cold side," and look into his eyes.  They're red and fevered.  He begins to cry.  And so do I. 

After we cuddle for a minute, and I let my Rambo side slip away in place of my Snuggle bear softness, the empathy fills my heart.  Wow.  Being a mom requires so many emotions.  I've got this. 

Then, he says it.  With a small, wavering voice, he turns to me from watching a commercial on TV and says, "I want some Bush's baked beans."  Rambo...no....Snuggle?  Definitely not...

"You want some Bush's baked beans?" I repeat with a chuckle.  "I don't think that's good for your tummy right now, sweetheart." 

Fast forward 5 hours, and my once fevered boy is hopping around the kitchen, eating some dinner for the first time in 2 days, and asking me to exercise with him.  Oh, Isaac, you have no idea how much you've exercised my emotions in the past couple of days. 

You keep my heart fit.  We've got this. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Moon rocks and other potential things...

The air is muggy, but warm.  Small swarms of bugs that float like clouds hover around above the moving water.  A couple of crickets are having a "sing off" not far from the rocky shore, while lightning bugs shine spotlights on their summer evening stage.  A trip to the river with my guys. 

Isaac is drawn to the water.  He always has been, and this, like most opposing forces, can be bad and good.  Good, because he is willing to adventure a bit more than the average child.  Bad, because, well...where there's adventure, one would hope there would be a healthy amount of fear...but Isaac usually has none.

As we skim the ground for skipping stones, I watch my sons hard at work.  Ethan, like his Dad, is slow and methodical--calculating each rock for it's diameter, perhaps forming a ratio between mass and velocity for maximum skipability.  Then, there's Isaac.  Oh, Isaac.  No care goes into the stone of choice--except that it must be heavier than it appears, dirtier than most, and completely buried beneath smaller, less superior, stones.  (AKA, a boulder)

I watch my 4 1/2 year old hoist his back into lifting a rock like a Norwegian on an ESPN Strongman competition.  Cheeks puff out, muscles flex, and knees bow as he hauls it to the edge of the water.

He launches it.  2 inches in front of him, barely making it into the water and hardly clearing his flip flopped toes.

"Whoa!"  Is all I hear him say.

He keeps up this rigorous routine until he has literally altered the flow of the river by the massive amounts of earth he has moved.  This boy doesn't let anything stop him.

This is why I love him so.

This boy sees a big rock, hidden beneath dirt, thought too big and clumsy to skip...and he digs it up, and sends it for the ride of it's life.  He doesn't see the difference between possible and impossible.  He is the literal, physical definition of potential. 

"Mommy, look!"  I maneuver over to him, and he holds out a fist.  "I found the moon!"

Keep it up, Booder, and you'll have the world in your hand too. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Logan

I never thought I would loose sleep over Isaac starting something like Vacation Bible School.  But I have.

Sunday night, I woke up three times, and each time, my eyelids would flip open like pop can tops.  I would think about how he would do in the large auditorium with screaming, excited children...and flash back to just last year when the noise was impossible for him to take when we would drop Ethan off with his teammates.  Don't worry, Christa...he'll be fine...he's come a long way...

But have I?

The wonderful people at Parkside Church who run this amazing program for kids did everything possible to help Isaac adjust.  When I registered the boys, and indicated Isaac's delays, they called me and personally asked what they could do to help him with transitions.  (I can't tell you how wonderful that made me feel...just to hear someone ask what they can do for Isaac...it's like my brain can take a huge sigh of relief).  "Would Isaac do better with a special helper?"  I could feel my eye brows furrow at the term "special helper," but after thinking for a moment, I said, "You know what, it would probably help give him a point of reference when he does get overwhelmed." 

This special helper's name, I was told, is Logan.

When Isaac and Logan met, they couldn't have been more opposite.  Logan is a tall, glasses wearing, sweet tempered and soft spoken young high school freshman.  At first, I thought the match wouldn't work.  How would this mild mannered kid keep Isaac focused?  Turns out, they were a perfect fit. 

This was the second full day of VBS for the kids, and Isaac has Logan as a buddy.  They run errands together, just to help Isaac get refocused for a team activity or a longer sit-down-and-focus time.  Logan talked to Isaac like every other child, and without being loud or obnoxious, he has gained Isaac's trust with softness and kindness.  He didn't mind that Isaac's normal tone of voice is louder than most--he spoke with an even level sound and it helped Isaac reign himself in.   I even watched as Isaac played with Logan in the classroom (okay, I snuck a peek or two) while the other kids ran and conversed...Isaac was content for time alone with his big new friend.  I made a mental note of this:  Isaac will need one trustworthy, soft-spoken, kind and gentle best friend as opposed to lots and lots of acquaintances like his big brother, Ethan.  This is how Isaac will thrive in a big world.

Thanks, Logan, for being an example of friendship to Isaac, and for giving me just one view of how Isaac will thrive in the years to come.

I can sleep peacefully tonight. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

White Meatballs!

I'm not a risk taker.  I believe this is why God blessed me with boys.  I am forced to think outside of my box, and, lately, challenge myself to try more than ever to Carpe Diem.

Today was haircut day.  My boys love going because the place has cool cars to sit in, movies and games to watch and play, and best of all? A free skeeball and free throw machine, train table, and Legos (just to name a few) when they're done!  We make a morning of it.  I tend to Isaac as he struggles with the sound and feel of the "ticklers" (this is the fun name we've given to the hair clippers, hoping it will help ease his sensory issues).  He's a champ, only getting figgity at the end.  This boy deserves a treat, I tell him!

I decide to take the boys to Dunkin Donuts.  I haven't had my coffee yet, and a coupon in my purse for a free one determines this to be the place.  We never have donuts.  They are a rarity.  So, when we walk into the shop, the smell of fried bread covered with sugar hits our noses like a tidal wave of deliciousness.  Isaac curiously eyes up the place...

Ethan opts for jelly filled, and Isaac, still unsure says, "I don't like it."  As a mom...this is my dilemma.  How do I consciously ENCOURAGE my child to eat a donut?  Thinking out of the box...it's about trying something new, and for Isaac, it's a life lesson learned.  So...I continue pushing the donut.  He goes to sit at the table and I decide for him.  3 Munchin donuts rolled in powdered sugar will do the trick.  I'm sure of it.

As we sit to partake, Isaac eyes up the bag with his treat inside.  Ethan devours his jelly filled edible pillow of delight, and Isaac...well, this one holds the donut hole in his hand and loudly proclaims:  "I LOVE WHITE MEATBALLS, MOM!"

Ethan and I burst out laughing and watch in both horror and pleasure as Isaac takes a savory bite...and another...and is wiping feverishly at the powdered sugar coating his little lips with delight...he wants another one, Mommy.

I can't always say we'll go to Dunkin Donuts more often.  Because it wasn't about the "white meatballs."  It was about trying something new.  Enjoying a change.  Savoring the moment.

Literally.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

oh goodness gracious...

We all have our phrases.  You know, the "mommy phrase" you unconsciously say when things go off...mine is:  "Oh goodness gracious..."  (Yes, I know, it doesn't sound AT ALL ominous, but trust me, it is.)  And yesterday was a phrase day...

Isaac was unusually restless.  He's a busy body to begin with, but I'm not sure it was the box of Skittles he had at a friend's birthday party the night before,a late night coupled with no nap, perhaps my forgetting to give him his vitamins the past 2 days...who knows what the equation was...it was a hot mess.  He and I were both hot messes. 

He couldn't focus or play with one thing for more than 5 minutes.  He was making repetitive noises constantly, and stimming more than usual. He had accidents in his shorts all day, until I ran out of different ways to explain why going potty in our pants isn't acceptable.  His eye contact was nill to zip.  I found myself counting down the minutes until bed time...goodness gracious....

There it was. The phrase that came to mind the most when I was feeling out of sorts, and watching my son separate from his usual self.  And I had to think about what I was really saying...what it really meant. 

Gracious.  Grace.  Goodness.  All of the above...

God was trying to speak to me, and I wasn't listening. 

I decided to take Isaac out to the store with me.  He usually does very well there, and it actually gives him a chance to do tasks with me and accomplish something.  He wouldn't stop making spitting sounds.  There we were, strolling the aisles of the grocery store, and I whispered to myself as I watched Isaac flap his hands and shake his head..."goodness...gracious...please...." 

My prayer.  My phrase.  Daily.

Of course, the day was difficult.  There will always be those days.  The wonderful thing is grace doesn't have a calendar, it isn't picky or choosy about when and where it can soothe the soul--remind a person that it's alright if you can't do it alone.  My God's grace is sufficient for me.  He is my El Shaddai, my All Sufficient One.  And in my day with Isaac, I was reminded of His name and His grace.  His goodness.  My need for Him at all times.

Isaac is a gift to me.  A trying, frustrating, beautiful, miraculous gift that I open each day and see more of God's Holy Spirit pour through...if only I will listen. 

 
       His goodness and grace speak loud and clear. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Facts of Life

Just call me Blair.  Actually, truth be told, I'm more like Jo.   

No matter who you call me, I'll take the good, and take the bad.  And today had it's bad.

It was a wonderful start to a Sunday morning.  The boys slept in, thanks to this dreary, rainy weather.  Who wouldn't want to stay under the warm down comforter on a day like that?  I did.  It was heavenly.  I rejoiced that I was able to rest up for my morning teaching the pre-school class at Southpoint, my church home.  I love teaching the little ones.  Plus, it gives me a chance to see how Isaac is interacting in a classroom setting, get some pointers and tips for/from his teachers at school if I have questions, and generally, be a visual presence for him. 

All was great.  He sat through our class lesson, video, skit, puppet show.  Answered questions asked of him.  Played and shared with friends.  He even shared a little snippet of his day yesterday with them:  "I rode on my scooter, friends!"  I was very proud of the morning. 

Lunch time was a treat.  I made myself and the boys baked chicken and some salad.  Isaac won't eat baked chicken, but he will eat hot dogs.  I get the uncured organic all beef ones, and he only eats one or two a week at most.  He ate one and a bowl of orange bell pepper and yogurt ranch dip.  I was very proud of the afternoon. 

And then I forget. 

I forget the good days aren't because of me.  I can help them be positive, and look at them in a light that will put a spin on success...but it's not because I did anything super special.  I'm a mom of a kid with a few special needs.  But....like I said....sometimes on the good days, it's easy to forget.

Something triggers my sweet boy into a panicky, blubbering mess.  I run down to the kitchen to grab my coffee while the boys are upstairs in the bath, when I hear feet in my bedroom.  I rush back up and Isaac, wet and dripping, comes around the corner.  "Isaac Josef!  What are you doing?" I ask loudly.  That something...that trigger?  That was me.  All me. 

He immediately puts his hands up to his face and squeezes his eyes shut.  He is crying so hard, I cannot get him to breathe.  "Isaac..." I whisper in his ear as I hold him to me.  "I'm sorry, it's okay..." I let out a deep sigh, partly because I know this is going to take time and patience, both of which I'm running short on as of late, and partly because I feel like a total failure. 

Hyperventilation...rubbing his face over and over, (he doesn't like the feeling of the tears on his cheeks, I've discovered) making spitting noises at me when I ask him what's wrong, stomping his feet and making gutteral noises--and even lashing out and hitting me once when I tried to get him to look at me.  Emotions combined with a difficulty in communicating.  I pick him up and just hold him.  Ethan is sad too.  As I try and calm two crying children, I wonder what happened to the good today? 

This is life.  How many times have I wanted to grunt and stomp my feet?  I just know better. Isaac needed a moment of comfort, rather than a moment of instruction.  There is a fine line, and I was tight roping it. 

After calming Isaac down, getting him into jammies, and cuddling with him on the couch, things were better.  I thanked God with a deep, heavy breath as I tucked him in. 

The good is there so when the bad comes (and, yes, it DOES come) you can pause and be thankful.  The bad doesn't last forever, and more than naught, we find more good through the bad. 

Isaac and Mommy, 2008
Isaac will learn.  I will be patient and graceful.  He will ALWAYS know he is loved. By me, by his brother, by his father...and by the Creator who made him "fearfully and wonderfully." 

THAT, friends, is a fact of life. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A few of my favorite things...

With Dan gone on business for 2 weeks, I have mentally, physically, and spiritually prepped for his trip away.  Being a mom is hard, but being mom AND dad, that's the hardest.  And impossible.

I woke this morning (far too early, mind you) to two little hands pressed gently on my cheeks.  Isaac's face was the first thing I saw.  He smiled.  I grunted.  You get the picture.

He ran off to play, and I rolled over.  I needed a reality check.  What would I do if those little hands and that precious face weren't around?  Waking up to that is one of my favorite things, even if it is early on a Saturday.

I mentally jotted down a list of faves:

1.  Listening to my children laughing.  Best.  By far.
2.  Being randomly told "I love you Momma."  (melt)
3.  Watching my kids stop and pray before eating, without being told.  Conversation with God=priceless.
4.  Being the "Tickle Monster" and playing "sock missiles" in the living room.  (Socks are okay to throw--they're soft.)
5.  Listening to them read to each other.
6.  Experiencing joys of discovering something new or unexpected.  Like the robin's nest in our garage.
7.  Watching them sleep
8.  Seeing their Daddy in them.
9. Cuddling.  It's a drug, I swear.
10.  Being able to be home and watch them grow.  And eat.  And eat more.  Gosh, do they eat....
My very first in many "early" mornings with my sons...
So many more, too many to count.  Saturday mornings without sleeping in?  I'm okay with that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stories

I used to think the bathroom meant privacy.  As a mom, there is no such thing.

"Moooooooommmmmyyyy!"  I vaguely can make out the faint voice of Isaac, calling from his bed.  I stick my head out of the shower curtain in my master bathroom.  "Mommy will be there in just one second, buddy!"  Honestly, if there were a Guiness World Record for the world's fastest shower taker, I'd hold first place.  I quickly dry off with lightning speed, throw on my lounge pants and the "Guys and Dolls" T-shirt I still have from my Junior year of high school--slightly huffing and puffing, I plop next to Isaac's bed.  He smiles.  "Do you have on your jammies, Mommy?"  "Yes I do."  And he sighs, slithering deeper under his blanket. 

He has already prepared a selection of stories for me to read and usher him off into dreamland.

I have always read stories to my sons.  I grew up with a wonderful Mother who gave me the same gift as a child.  I fell in love with books, fell in love with the library.  This creative and slightly introverted girl grew a voracious appetite for all things literary.  It's wonderful to share this love with my children, and to watch them delve with their eyes and ears into stories.  But sometimes, it's the life story that has the greatest characters and the most beautiful endings.

As I tuck Isaac in, turn off his light and pray for him, I leave his room a little melancholy.  In a good way.  (See, us melancholy introverts, we APPRECIATE this stuff.)  It's more of a reflective moment...

10 years ago, doctors told me I might not be able to bear children.

I had been struggling with life and dealing with reality.  There had been tremendous loss and inexplicable tragedy.  Many people deal with these things.  Many people bury their hurt, grief, fear, anger...and roots of bitterness and regret burrow into their souls, weaving destructive paths through their minds and hearts.  This is what happened to me, and the consequences became external.  By trying to hide that which I couldn't fix or heal by myself...I had allowed depression to distort my view of myself.  I had tried to end my life when I couldn't control or hide the roots from poking through.

I'm standing in the hallway, gazing into the shadowy room of my son.  He is sleeping soundly already.   I allow my mind to continue remembering...

Depression had given way to an eating disorder as I struggled to maintain some semblance of control in my life.  Hospitalized and enrolled in out-patient therapy for anorexia, I will never forget the first session with my doctor.  "Christa, if you don't allow yourself some room to fail, you're looking at some serious consequences..."  I dropped my head down and listened as he flipped through some papers and let out a deep sigh.  "You're getting married, right?"  I nod my head yes.  "Do you want to have children?"  I look up and with the most sincere heart I say, "Yes."  His lips form a hard line.  "Well, you've done damage to your body in ways that may not allow that to happen."

"Mom?"  I turn around and see a semi-toothless grin on Ethan's sweet face.  "Can you tuck me in too?"  I pull him to me.  "Of course...brush your teeth yet?"  He runs into the bathroom and I run back to a memory...

After hearing the doctor's warning, something clicked in me.  The desire to be a mother was so deep and so strong, I knew I had to change.  I prayed to God that He would give me the strength to heal and truly see who I was meant to be.  I worked then I cried and I rediscovered truth.  I burned, I healed, I opened the scab of fear.  He was there to patch me up again and push me on.  He was, and is, my Heavenly Father. He is the type of parent I wanted to, and still hope to be more like. 

"Okay, I brushed my teeth, Mom."  Ethan and I walk into his room, and I watch him climb into his bed.  We read a story, we pray a prayer.  We say goodnight.  "I love you, Mom."  "I love you too, bubby."

I stand in the hallway again, looking into the rooms of my peaceful sons.  Both, unique in their own ways.  Both, destined to be something.  Both, gifts and challenges.  Mostly, they are the tangible fulfillment of a promise that my healing would create new life, new growth in the place of bitter roots.  They are constant reminders that God has never left me and will keep working on and through me, no matter what life's stories bring.  And one day, when I tell them this story, I will praise God for the wisdom they have to understand that NO story and NO life goes without promise. 

What a Mother's Day.  10 years in the making.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cats & Dogs

Isaac is standing in the kitchen, his favorite navy blue and orange motocross t-shirt on, and a pair of sports themed briefs.

"Mommy!  I'm ready to go!"

I raise one corner of my mouth and raise my eyebrows?  "Really?  I think you forgot a few things..."  Coffee in hand, I tickle his belly with my other free one, and take his wiggling hand.  "Let's get some pants on.  It's chilly today, and it's raining cats and dogs!"  The idiom slips off my tongue before I could catch myself.

I squinted my eyes and waited for the impending response...

Isaac turns his head to look up at me, amazingly without getting whiplash, and bounds up the stairs to his bedroom.  I hear his heavy feet pound towards the window.

As I enter the room behind him, I see Isaac's long, skinny legs (just like his Daddy) with extra wide feet up on his tiptoes; palms and nose pressed simultaneously to a now foggy window.  His voice is loud and excited.

"I don't see them Mommy!  Where are they?"

He is referring to the cats and dogs.

Talking with Isaac is an adventure.  Things that we take for granted that people understand aren't always as easy for Isaac to grasp.  I have to be careful with the way I explain situations or events, because with this little boy, specifics and concrete ideas are essential to his understanding.  It doesn't mean I can't ever use a phrase like "it's raining cats and dogs," it just means I have to explain the context.  I make sure he gets the picture that he won't ever be hit on the head by a German Shepherd while he's walking to the van in the rain. 

As I kneel beside him, I wipe the window that has been made opaque by little puffs of hot 4 year old breath.  "There aren't cats and dogs out there,"  I backtrack.  "It's just a saying.  It means it's raining very hard, and very heavy...and there's LOTS of rain."

"Yeah..." he responds.  I watch his eyes process as the rain pounds the porch roof outside.  When I'm confident the information has soaked in, I smile and turn to get him some jeans. 

"LOOK!" He says all of a sudden.  To my surprise, our elderly neighbor, two houses down on the left, is walking her dog.  "It IS raining dogs, Mommy!  And a lady!"  His little mouth makes a large oval shape "WOW!" and he bounces up and down like he just won the lottery.

I decide not to explain anymore.  I kneel next to him and we watch the big old dog walk in the rain.

No beating around the bush--I love this kid.
And for a moment, I catch a glimpse of Isaac's thoughts.  They're bright, imaginative, and happy; just a drop in the bucket with all the other moments he's given--a piece of cake.  Something an idiom could never explain.  
 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Into the wind...

Isaac and I head outside, our feet shod in flip-flops.  He is looking down and trying to walk.  The novelty of his shoes and foot-freedom is distracting.  I don't blame him.  This has been a long time coming. 

"Mommy, it smells good!"  He takes a deep breath, and so do I.  We exaggerate a deep inhale and release with a big sigh, throwing our arms wide.  There is nothing like filling your lungs with fresh air.  "Do you want to ride your scooter and go for a walk?"  I ask him (already knowing the answer...)  "YEEEEESSSS!!  I LOVE going for a walk, Mom!"  Like a bullet shot, he's in the garage retrieving the red and silver scooter that used to belong to Ethan.  It is Isaac's favorite thing to do outside.  Ride....and ride some more. 

We head off down the sidewalk.  There are buds bursting on the dogwoods down our street.  Wind is rippling the neighbors' grassy lawns.  It's the only time of year when dirt smells delectable; moist, semi-sweet, and alive.  Isaac is more than alive...he's flying.  Literally, he's flying down the sidewalk and around the corner.  I jog to catch up. 

We see some storm clouds ahead and decide to turn around.  "Why are we going backwards, Mommy?"  I point to the sky and tell him about the rain.  He looks at it me as if to say, "So what?" 

Heading the opposite way means more wind.  The air pushes at us, making us squint our eyes and take deep, short breaths.  Isaac's creamy light brown hair is rippling like the grass.  "Mommy, it's windy!"  I hear a loud laugh as he speeds up and yells, "WHEEEEEEE!"  I think, this must be what a bird would say if she could talk.  If we could hear them zipping through the sky, there would be a constant roar of "WHEEE'S." Isaac, my little bird. 

Small droplets fall as we arrive.  Into the wind we went, and against the wind we pushed.  And we'll keep pushing and flying.  As far and as high as we can go. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Shake your groove thang, baby

"Do it like this, Isaac!"  Ethan is trying to explain to his brother how to shake his hips.  Through giggles and guffaws, the two shake their money makers...or at least Isaac tries to.  Dan and I sit on the couch, stifling laughs as we acknowledge simultaneously the obvious:  Isaac cannot move his bottom half in a different direction than the top. 

I know movement isn't always easy for Isaac.  When we have spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen, I encourage Isaac to dance.  It helps him with his spatial awareness--knowing where your arms and legs and feet go and how they move is often something we take for granted.  He stands still and makes strange faces instead.  Once in awhile he'll move, mostly making abrupt drops to the floor and flapping his arms.  It's quite avant-garde.  
I love that even though this "getting down" stuff is hard for Isaac, he still tries.  He laughs at himself, and he laughs at his brother.  He is genuinely enjoying the embarrassment.  He isn't taking himself too seriously:  a lesson I need to remember now and again. 

How Isaac roles, circa, 2008
Not trying is overrated.  Giving it your all, even if you look silly or don't get it right the first time--now THAT'S how to live. 

Shake your groove thang, baby boy. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Driving Mr. Isaac

It's Spring Break for Booder.

Daddy surprised him by taking the day off to spend with him.  They've been playing cars, doing puzzles, and vegging on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  The conversations and glances have been sparse, but it's about the quality time today.  They are both getting full tanks.

And speaking of full tanks, this upcoming month, Daddy and Mommy are planning on getting a new family vehicle.  It's been an adventure to say the least.  Yesterday we took the boys up to a few car lots by our house (we live a few minutes from something in our area called the "auto mile"--dealerships of every kind in a one mile expanse--it's like a candy shop for big kids)  Everything was closed, and that's how we like it.  No hassles, no salespeople, and the boys were able to give us their opinions as we walked around as a family.

We found a few top choices.  (Ethan picked a metallic blue sporty looking Volvo and told us, "Mom, we could fit if we squeezed in...")  As Dan and I discussed options, thought through fuel economy, and got real with downsizing, Isaac was simply enjoying the view from the backseat of a Subaru Forester.  I found myself watching him in the rear view mirror of our test vehicle.  I realized, the scenery wasn't anything new (we were only a few minutes from our home) but it was from a new perspective.   

It's amazing what a fresh perspective can do, isn't it?  When we have seen something the same way for so long, it only takes another look to see it in a different way; to appreciate it with new eyes.

Let's RIDE.
We didn't make a concrete decision on a new vehicle today, but we definitely got some great ideas and narrowed down our choices.  As for Isaac, I think he'll enjoy testing some more "perspectives" in the weeks ahead.  As long as there's a booster seat and a juice box involved.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My little green BFF

He's small.  He's green.  He's not a dinosaur...not a dragon.  A little stuffed friend Isaac can't let go of.  He calls him Yoshi. 

My kids have never been attached to much.  They've never had blankies or animals that they've HAD to have.  For some reason, lately, Yoshi has become more than an attachment.  He's become a best friend.

The little creature isn't much to look at, his little neck already worn out from all the hugs and playtime.  Isaac enjoys regaling his little pal with stories of his day when he gets home from school.  "Yoshi, what did YOU do at school today?"  He often plays make-believe with this green guy, involving him in everything from construction site challenges to adventures with other stuffed animals in his big brother Ethan's room, making the little high pitched voice.  I have learned to use Yoshi's friendship with Isaac as a motivational tool when it's time to do his work tasks.  When he does something correctly, he gets a hug and kiss from Yoshi.  I've never seen a child more proud.

He tried to take Yoshi into the bath with him saying "Yoshi needs to get clean too!"  (We put him through the wash instead.)  Isaac likes to make sure Yoshi is tucked into a soft blanket on his bookshelf at night before bed.  He has to make sure Yoshi's big bulging eyes are looking at him in his own bed before I turn out the light (and Isaac is always smiling at him when I do this.) 

I'm not sure what it is about this Yoshi character that draws Isaac so much.  He simply adores him--no matter what he looks like, feels like, or how lifeless he is.  His love and friendship IS the life in Yoshi. 

The creativity and adoration I see with Isaac's little BFF amazes me daily.  I can only hope that one day a real, living, breathing, boy or girl will let Isaac be that same level of committed friend I see him as now. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shout, shout, let it all out!

Once in a great while, there is an outburst.  An unexpected display of emotion: Overflowing, spewing out like a volcano, covering the scene like a heavy cloud of ash. 

Yesterday it happened. 

Maybe a combination of Dan traveling and being gone this week along with a change in the time and phasing out an afternoon nap...it's all been a little stressful for everyone.  I tend to bury my stress, and carry it directly in the muscles on my shoulders (seriously, you should FEEL these knots...).  Isaac tends to let it all out at once. 

The boys and I were in the kitchen.  We had just picked Ethan up from school and Isaac went to the refrigerator.  We're working on asking before taking, but Isaac is trying to be independent and forgets.  After all, he's thirsty.  It makes sense:  go get juice and pour it yourself.  But, learning to ask and be willing to hear "no, not right now" is something he doesn't want to do or hear.  So he skips asking altogether.

In a second, I see him in the corner of my eye and I quietly say, "Isaac, no juice right now, buddy.  You just had a juice box."  Like a firecracker, he grabs the shelf on the inside door of the fridge to slam it shut.  He rips the shelf guard off and out pours glass bottles of condiments.  We watch in slow motion as they tumble and slam and break on the floor.

I immediately respond negatively.  Not to the spill, but to his attitude in response to me telling him no.  But, he doesn't get this.  "Isaac, no!  Mommy said No!"  He puts his hands to his face, sobbing. Hyperventilating starts as I clean up the mess asking him to help.  He screams in my face, with the little breath he has, at the top of his lungs at an octave that physically stings my ear drums.    At this point, Ethan joins in.  He is frustrated at Isaac's crying.  He marches upstairs crying, saying, "I don't like when he DOES that!"  This makes Isaac even more disturbed.  He greatly dislikes when Ethan is emotional.  It's like they feed off of one another. 

I am shocked.  Isaac keeps screaming and hyperventilating as I wipe his face from tears.  I softly speak to him, hold him in my arms.  He screams and grits his teeth while burying his hot, red face in my shoulder.  What went wrong, I think to myself?  I was just trying to instruct my child...and it has blow up, literally, in my face.  What comes to mind at that moment was a phrase I heard at my study of King David's life from the Old Testament..."We are all one catastrophe away from losing it..."  How true that is. 

After awhile, calming commenced (after I talked with both boys and held them and made silly faces).  I'm not sure what went on in Isaac's mind, but it's obvious he was unable to tell me what was wrong or how he felt.  I was left in the aftermath to dissect the situation...

Ultimately, I determined this:  We all have rough days and moments of incapacitating frustration; and sometimes it's just better to get it out.  I wish I could scream whenever the moment got to be too much, or when I don't get the answer I want to hear. I'm an adult, and I've trained myself to hold my emotions at bay--keeping them hidden until I deem the "proper" time; writing feverishly in my journal, punching my pillow, or crying out to God while I play at the piano.  Isaac has no guard, no filter when it comes to dealing with emotion and expressing it.  THIS is the way he knows how to deal.  THIS is the way he gets it out, and I'd rather him get it out than keep it in or ignore his feelings completely.

Volcanoes happen.  Outbursts are a fact of life.  My job is to let peace rule, even through instruction and discipline.  It's a fine line, and sometimes I won't always get it right.  But I keep trying, keep praying for grace and strength, and preparing my mind and heart for the explosion.

Psalm 119:71  It was good that I had to suffer in order to learn your laws
Psalm 119:76  Now let your unfailing love comfort me...

 What a promise...what a result. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Paper Jellyfish

Today, Isaac brought home a jellyfish.

Not a real one, per se, but a handmade purple and yellow and blue jellyfish.  He was so proud of his creation. 

As we looked at his construction paper and crepe creature, we talked about other animals that live in the sea (this is the topic in his preschool class).  "And the whales have a blowhole on top of their head!"  He said while lightly bouncing on his tiptoes, one foot, back to the other...very gracefully.  I look at him and smile.  "What if the whale sneezes?  He's gonna need a really BIG tissue to blow his nose!"  More tiptoeing, more laughing.

Isaac started running up and down our long kitchen, watching the crepe tentacles on his jellyfish flutter behind him.  I watched and started thinking about how much this boy and his jellyfish have in common. 

Jellyfish are mysterious, yet, you can literally see right through them. Some have the most amazing colors on earth and are absolutely unique. You can't help but watch them, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of shear awe. I found myself doing that very thing to Isaac just then;  the colors of his world are brilliant and inspiring.  

Jellyfish don't have much of an ability to swim far on their own strength.  They rely on the currents of the oceans and waters they live in to help them get from place to place.  Isaac needs the currents of love and support of those around him to help him get where he's destined to go. 

Of course, jellyfish can sting.  Their marks can be a painful reminder that they mean business.  Of course, Isaac doesn't sting, but the challenge of helping others to see the brilliant colors that I see in him, or to help him move from one place to the next can leave a painful stripe on our psyches.  I'm still glad he has a knowledge of self-preservation from the likes of those who may not respect what or who he is.  That's what I'm hoping to continue to reinforce. 

Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know this full well." 

This is truth.  Isaac is made wonderfully, and I am in awe of him.  I can watch as he spins in circles, laughing with that paper jellyfish, but I know full well that nothing else that God designed compares to my son.  Just as Isaac was so excited to show me his creation this afternoon, I like to picture Isaac's Creator just as excited to remind me of my son's beauty.  He is unique, he is purposed, and he is just right.  And it's so good to be reminded...