Thursday, March 11, 2010

School Daze

Homework Assignment:
Write five sentences about events in your life.

I was born in Guatemala. When I was born, my first birthday was Feb 15th. When I was 4 years old I had preschool with my sister Tate. Now I'm 8 I do not have school with Tate. Maybe next time when I have kids they will go to the same school.

sigh. I hope so, Tboy, I hope so.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Tgirl started soccer again this past Sunday. She plays through Abilitations, a company started by her former Physical Therapist, Miss T.R. as we call her. She played a year or so ago, in their inaugural season. They we took a break, but we thought it would be good for her to play again. (Can I just take a minute to say - there are some awesome activities for special kids these days. Tgirl can play soccer, baseball, swim, you name it. As hard as this is, raising a child like her, I am thankful that we have her in a time when there are so many doors open for her.)

TR has know Tgirl since before she was 18 months old, when she first started therapy sessions. PT was her first, then Speech, then OT (occupational therapy). I say Miss TR taught her to walk, my husband says it was his constant walking around the house holding her fingers. It was probably a mix. I know I said the other day that the happy, cute events you think you will remember for ever fade from memory, but the horrible things stay forever. But then when I started thinking about how long we have know Miss TR, I realized that one of the happiest days of our lives with Tgirl, is etched crystal clear in my mind. The day she took her first steps. She was 22 months old.

It had been a difficult time trying to get Tgirl to walk. I think at 12 months, she wasn't even really sitting up. Most days in therapy she would just work on standing up and balancing. I remember her learning to "cruise" holding on to a bench, and then twist her torso to transition to another bench. Week after week. Then she could walk behind a push toy. But still, no independent steps no matter what we did. Then, finally, one February day, it happened. Tgirl was wearing black knit pants - like leggings, but looser. She had a on a pink and white and sparkly silver striped turtleneck shirt. Her pant legs were rolled up almost to her knees so that we could see her feet and so she was in no danger of getting tangled up in her pant legs. Tgirl stood in the middle of the room, arms bent at the elbows, her hands near her shoulders, pointing out - like bird wings - for balance. I stood behind her a few steps and Miss TR stood a few steps in front of her with the bubbles. Then, Miss TR blew some bubbles and Tgirl leaned towards them and then WALKED to those bubbles. Three, maybe four steps, but steps all the same. "OH MY GOD!!! SHE WALKED!!! SHE WALKED!!!!! GO TGIRL!!!!" We screamed and clapped, I think I shed a tear or two. Miss TR says she has seen so many first steps, and it never ever gets old. I believe her.

Now, she plays soccer, running around the field.

And is happy after scoring a goal.

You know what is great about special needs soccer - you can even play with your hands if you want - it's all good for Tgirl.

So, here's to soccer, and here's to Miss TR, and here's to first steps, whenever they are taken. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tboy - did you eat my candy? No Mom.

I am sitting here after a very busy morning, trying to refocus myself for what could be a stressful afternoon. Of course, I should be preparing for my meeting, but instead I am surfing, eating lunch (yes, I know - very bad to eat in front of the computer!) and trying to just give my brain a rest.

I ate a nice salad, a few (too many crackers) and then glanced up over my laptop screen, to the bag of chocolates sitting there. Dark chocolate squares filled with caramel. The bag says "rich chocolate, luscious filling". Really - who wouldn't be tempted with the words "luscious filling" staring them in the face??? Of course I had some (two, really, just two). I am a *bit* surprised that they are still there, though, sitting as they are generally out in the open. The last time I had candy in my office, it was found, even though it was well hidden.

It is a Christmas tradition here to put chocolates in the kids' stockings - chocolate bells, Reese's bells, if it is bell-shaped and chocolate, in it goes. The first year, it was all Tboy could do not to eat them all and forget about the presents and Tgirl ate them wrapper and all. That's my girl - don't let the fact that you can't open the wrapper deter you from a chocolate fix! I put way more in their stockings than any reasonable parent would let their children eat. So, after breakfast each Christmas morning I empty the stockings and put the candy into one bag and put the bag up in a cabinet. Unfortunately, some years my husband eats them all before I have had my fill.

This year, I wised up. Not only did I hide them from the kids, I hid them from my husband. At least, I did put them somewhere where he wouldn't look straight away - inside a bag, tucked away in the closet in my office. There they sat, most of them safe in their little cocoon, a couple of them taken each day. One day, I noticed that they seemed to be disappearing at a much more rapid rate than I would have expected. At first, I brushed it off thinking that we hadn't had as many left over as I thought. Then I went after my husband who said "I didn't even know they were there." But mostly, as long as there were still some left when I went looking, I was happy enough.

Fast forward a few more days. "Tboy - go feed Eli". The cat food is kept in the same closet as the chocolate. He was up there a long time. I went to investigate. There stood a little boy, caught, literally with his hand in the chocolate bag! TBOY!!!! Are you eating my candy!???!!! "No Mom". Tboy, I can see you chewing! "Well, maybe just one" Only one? "Yes - really Mom!" Well, don't eat anymore! "Okay Okay". He goes into his room. I came in a few minutes later, catching him chocolate-handed, unwrapping and eating another. I pat him down; his pockets are a treasure trove of candy. I take them away - Do NOT eat my candy!! "Okay Mom!" Have you done this before? "No Mom". What do you think? Do you believe that?

For weeks, I found those little candy wrappers in his room. I think I found one last week. Wrappers in the trash, in the closet, in the drawers, under his bed, in the corners of his room. I can only imagine that he had been secretly taking a several every day and eating them, hidden away in his closet. Perhaps, even stashing some away for another day.

Now, how has he missed the candy bag on my desk? Maybe because it's hidden in plain sight? Maybe he thinks it's coffee? Who knows, but I am glad he has missed it. Because when/if he finds it, he's going to make a huge mess of that luscious filling.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Prayer

Dear Lord, please give me the grace to parent the children I have not the children I think I have.

Monday, March 1, 2010

We Call Them Gerolsteiners

Here is what we are having for dinner:

We call them Gerolsteiners. Yes, I know that is really bottled water. They are really Desperised Bierocks, a recipe that I cut out of the paper years and years ago. We couldn't pronounce the name so we came up with this one.Why? I have no idea.

File it away with the scores of other things that I *swore* I would remember and have since forgotten. Like some of the really cute songs we used to sing to/about the kids. We had one for their nap time, back when they were babies, sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island. I wish I remembered the words. It started out something like "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful nap," and that is all I remember. The ending was "My sister she just laughed at me, and sucked her little thumb, sucked her little thumb". I am sure there was something funny in the middle, but is gone with time. I even remember my husband saying we should write down the lyrics so we would remember them when the kids were older. But no, I was so sure I would never ever forget that little song, I never did.

Why is it that it seems the happy little memories you think you will remember forever fade from memory and the horrible icky things you would much rather forget stay with you forever?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where are the Well-Behaved Children?

This past week, I received an e-mail from the mom of one of Tgirl's classmates asking me for some advice regarding one of her children - a middle-schooler. I don't have a middle-schooler. And I don't have well-behaved children. But she thought I would have some advice or insight into her situation

I did give her some things that we do, what we try to have work for us, books we read, etc. But I also let her know one key fact - that every family has issues. I have been learning that myself lately. Because most of the time I imagine other siblings embracing their special brother or sister (or their typical sibling for that matter) and life is just rosy all the time. It is easy to sit inside your family bubble (and if you have a special needs child, that bubble can be very small and confining at times) and think that everyone else has it so together, isn't struggling, has perfect children while you struggle to make it through the day, get your kids to school without them killing each other or whatever. Guess what - *everyone* has something going on in their family - it's just that nobody talks about it. Even if things are fine this week, there was a time last week when chaos ruled. I've learned that talking to 'typical' families, and I've learned that talking to Holland families. Although in the latter case, the issues do seem more acute. What drives the issues with the other sibling in a family like mine? I believe it is a mix of personality inherent to the child and the stress-filled dynamic that the special one brings. There is no getting around that second point. That dynamic makes it mark on every single member of the family every single day. The baseline level of life stress is just higher. The joy is much sweeter, though, which is evidence of God's grace for us because otherwise we might never make it.

The day I wrote back to the mom, it was generally going well in our bubble. Tgirl hadn't been sleeping well, but she was holding it together. Tboy's attitude had taken a couple of days off and the prior afternoon he had slowly, but confidently, worked his way through his math homework, which is a constant struggle for him. No sooner had I written back to the mom then I had to go pick Tgirl up from school *2.5 hours early* because her behavior was so bad and disruptive her teacher thought it would be better if she left for the day. And what was going on at our house at 5:30pm that same day? Tboy, who had started on his homework at 3:30, was *still* in his room crying and having a tantrum over it. Then he had a tantrum because he didn't get the toy he wanted, which I had been holding back until he did his homework without crying.

I was never going to admit that this type of stuff goes on in our house, but it does and it is a fact of life, and this is supposed to be about the good and the bad of our lives with Tgirl. But I will add this post-script. Tboy had his meltdown on a Thursday, which means the next day was Friday - a day with no homework if you are a second-grader. He came home from school and asked to do extra homework so that he could prove he could do it without crying and earn his toy. I gave him a small writing assignment. Which he did, beautifully, carefully, and coherently. Turtwig - meet Tboy.