Archive of ‘gratitude’ category

Never underestimate me, mama

Lying in bed with Evan tonight- (for the first time in a long time because of my injuries), I found myself feeling guilty.  I kept trying to engage Evan in conversation. 

M- “I heard you were practicing for kindergarten graduation. That is so exciting.”

E-“Hi, mommy! How are you? How are you? How are you?”

M-“You get to go up on stage and sing songs.  I wonder what songs you get to sing.”

(using declarative sentences instead of constantly questioning him is hard work, but it has come more naturally with time)

E-“V Tech alphabet train, the chug a lug song!”

M-“Hmmm….I don’t know that song, where did you see the alphabet train?

E-“V Tech, V Tech. Hi mommy! How are you?”

This is where the guilt crept in. The guilt because I was feeling dejected.  Dejected that I couldn’t get Evan to have a reciprocal conversation with me.  Just yesterday I had a conversation with Melody that lasted about 6 or so exchanges before she tired of me. 

And what did I feel? a hint of guilt…because I wish I could talk to Evan that way.

I wish he would WANT to talk to me that way. 

But maybe he does. 

Or maybe more accurately, maybe he is.

He is talking to me the way he needs and wants to. It just doesn’t fit my communication mold.

Right before I got up to let him go to sleep, I started singing,

“Lullaby, and good night.. little Evan….”

The next line as you know is “sleep tightttt”

Evan interjected, “wake uppppppp” and he sat up.

My guilt turned into a wave of warmth. 

This kid. Just when I think he isn’t paying one bit of attention to me.  He changes the lyrics in the song to communicate to me that “No mommy, I do not want to go to bed right now, stop trying to distract me.”

I am constantly telling people that there is much more than meets the eye with Evan.  Sometimes I just need a little kick in the pants to remember that myself.

 

 

 

 

Rain dancing.

“Life isn’t about surviving the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -Unknown author

Mother’s Day 2017 was yesterday.  My mama stopped by and gave me a bracelet with that quote on it. 

Rain dancing.

We’re not touristy at all. (after hospital stay)

I didn’t realize until I read the bracelet that I have gotten pretty good at rain dancing.  I know that in general I am a glass half full person.  It is just who I am.  I can’t dwell on the difficult or the Hard for too long. Sometimes that isn’t the healthiest choice but I’m working on it.

One of the last photos I took before the accident.

Sometimes it catches up to me.

Sometimes I watch others get frustrated, angry, sad, infuriated; and I feel myself get frustrated because when do I get a turn to feel that way? But that is my choice. I am trying to learn to allow some anger, some sadness, some frustration into my emotional arsenal. 

But rain dancing. That I can do.

But I don’t realize I am doing it until later.

In front of a volcanic crater lake. NBD.

So we went to Iceland. My outdoorsy, mountain loving, traffic hating, lovable hunk of a husband talked me into a week long trip in the most sparsely populated country in Europe.  And I was so glad, and continue to be glad that we went.  #icelandisstillnice

For the ten of you who read my blog who aren’t family and friends- here is a brief synopsis of what happened on Day 5 of our trip.

We had reservations to take an one hour horse back tour with a guide across the countryside of Iceland.  Our son receives hippotherapy twice a month and I have always loved horses.  Todd had never ridden and knew it would be special for me so we booked it.  We dressed in these huge rubber trousers that were similar to what fireman wear, and we set off on our beautiful thick-coated horses with our young but experienced guide.  About 5 min into the trip, we both commented how well trained the horses were, how easy they were to ride, and how much fun it was.  We all stayed in a nice line – the guide, then me, then Todd.  The guide asked if we minded doing a slight trot with the horses and of course we said sure, so we trotted a bit.  It was fun but when we slowed down, I could feel a difference in my horse.

He wanted to keep trotting. He was very close to the guide’s horse and if I tried to pull the reins back, he tussled a bit with me.  We stopped to take pictures and then my horse started walking off to the side a bit. I tried to lead him back over, and for a split second it seemed like he was going to obey but then something just changed.

No loud sounds, no strange movements by me, the horse just started to run.  My first instinct was not to use a calming voice like she had suggested because of course I was startled and frightened. But then I remembered and I tried to use the techniques she suggested.

Terribly unflattering photo of my first time sitting up in a chair at the hospital

He wasn’t having it.

He took off like a shot and the rest is history.

History that changed me.

History that brought on more rain dancing.

What followed was a six night hospital stay at one of the two hospitals in Iceland, in the beautiful town of Akureyi.

I received/suffered/endured (not sure what the right wording is) five fractured ribs, a punctured lung with a pneumothorax, and a broken sacrum.

Five broken bones that cannot be put in casts. Cannot be set. And the sacral bone is what I make contact with, every time I sit down. 

View from my hospital room

It was scary. I’m not gonna lie. Lying on the ground after being thrown from the horse, coughing up blood. I couldn’t turn either way because my broken bones are on opposite sides of my body.

It was scary. 

But I knew I would be okay. Something kept me calm. Something told me that it wasn’t going to be fun, but it was going to be okay.

The handsome Icelandic EMTs who sat with me in the ambulance, telling me how much time was left until we got the hospital, they told me it would be okay.

The nurses who greeted me, who sat beside me in the ER while they tried to figure out what was broken, and how serious everything was. They kept me calm. They talked to me like everything was okay.

They know how to rain dance.

Helga, the young nurse from a nearby town in Iceland who had attended nursing school in Chicago. She gave me a foot massage and chatted with me about every day things, just to keep my mind off the pain.  She helped me brush my teeth and wash my face myself for the first time after being hurt.

She knows how to rain dance.

Skyping from far far away…

“Take a car ride to Iceland?” said Evan one night when we Skyped. My heart broke but there was also a part of me that felt such joy that my little guy missed me so much and wanted us home. We have worked so hard on keeping him engaged and connected to us- and he really missed his Mommy and Daddy. 

It was very hard to dance in the rain when I thought about my kids from my hospital bed- but my friends and loved ones kept texting, emailing, calling, sending cute little videos so I could hear their voice and see their smiling face. (I’m looking at you Talia!) In times of strife, you really do realize the love and light in your life. 

And then we finally came home. After a 5 hour car ride to Reykjavik and a six hour flight home, we came home to a clean home, and sleeping, very loved on children. Thank you Mimi, Pappy, Gran, and GrandRich!

Chilling with my girl

For the past 2.5 weeks, I have been setting up shop in my bed, regularly icing my fractures, trying to stay comfortable, and walking around when I can.  I went from a wheelchair to a standing high walker, to crutches, to a slight limp.

Rain dancing was really hard the first week I was home when I couldn’t sleep because the pain was so intense. When I had to get an elevated toilet seat because I couldn’t bend over at all. When my son only wanted to climb on my lap and no one else’s so his behavior became erratic and he acted out. 

But somehow we got through it. And one day I looked to my left and both kids were in bed with me. Melody in the crook of my arm and Evan lying next to her.  He looked up at me and said, “Hi mommy! Can I go in Mommy and Daddy’s room? Can I cuddle you?”

He asks questions that he already knows the answer to as a way to communicate and stay engaged with me.

It hit me all at once. Without realizing it, I had been enjoying my time with both kids immensely. Take out the responsibility of keeping up with housework, teaching, and all that was left was a focus on my recovery and the time spent with family.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t do the dishes or walk down the basement steps to do the laundry. I hated not being able to take the kids were they needed to be.

Enter rain dancing.

All that was expected of me was a focus on my healing and when I felt well enough to sit with the kids in bed- this awesome thing happened. They both figured out ways to spend time with me in bed.

Evan reading with his head in my lap (ribs protected by a pillow)

Mother’s Day music time

Just last night, Melody snuggled up next to Evan and just said to herself, “I love you, Evan.” and closed her eyes and smiled. 

Those moments are hard to catch when I am caught up in cleaning up after the kids at night, making lunches, laundry, and my mind is 153 different places.

I want to remember this.

I want to remember what it feels like to just focus on family. Just focus on the kids, my husband, my mom.  Whomever is with me at the time.

I know that will become difficult all over again when I go back to work in a few weeks and more responsibility is back on my shoulders. But I do hope that I can remember what it felt like to dance through the raindrops these past few weeks.

**Update:

after writing this earlier today- Evan had a seizure, after having one last night. He had four in one day last week.  I felt myself tense up all over. The worry is back, the concern over if we are medicating him correctly. The neurologist is talking about more aggressive meds, new tests….

Rain dancing is really really hard when these things crop up.

Just being real.

But tonight Evan put his head on my stomach and listened to the digestive sounds it was making and we had a huge laugh about it. I used to do that with my mom growing up, and it cracked me up. He likes to play with the word and pretend to say the ch sound at the end so he kept giggling and saying, “stomach (with the ch digraph sound)” and then “how are you?” with a big grin on his face.

I’m going to think about the stom-itch sounds instead of the seizures.

At least for a little while.

 

 

Though She Be But Little…….

I pray she will continue to be fierce.

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So far, our Melody has been sassy, strong, outspoken, happy, did I mention strong?

Two years ago today, I posted this.

My world was broken. My heart was sore.  My soul felt very depleted. I was sure that our chances of having a sibling for Evan were extremely slim if not gone.

Over time I came to accept that, and embrace the family of three that we had become.  But there was always a little voice inside that whispered, “a sibling would be so good. for everyone.”

Fast forward to the present. We have a thriving almost seven month old little lady.  She makes her presence known and her development is one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed.  Because of how hard Evan had to fight for each milestone, it just blows me away how rapidly things are happening for Melody.  I am torn on a daily basis between shouting how excited I am from the rooftops, or feeling compelled to compare this experience with Evan’s first year with each new developmental leap she makes.  I am so glad we had our children in the order we did. Evan’s experience was completely his and his alone.  I had nothing to compare it to, so I didn’t feel the delays as heavily as I might have, if he had an older sibling.

I felt my eyes sting with tears the other night.  I was reflecting on how I prayed nightly while pregnant with Melody. I prayed that Evan’s sister would fiercely love and defend him.  That he would be her hero and they would be good for each other.

Even though she now takes things away from him and she loves to yank his hair, you can see adoration in her eyes.  I hold her up to look at his school picture before he gets home from school and she giggles and kicks her legs all around in excitement.

Melody has her whole life ahead to decide who she is, and who she wants to become . But for now, I will revel in their relationship.

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2016, “yes please”

Well hello there.

Yes, I’m still alive. Barely kicking but alive. And well.

One day old baby girl and her mama

One day old baby girl and her mama

Seriously though, we did it. We had a second baby. A daughter. Boy do I love saying that.

No complications at birth, no digestive issues as of yet, no cardiologist visits, no red flags. Relief at every corner. We know that isn’t a permanent feeling but I’ll take it.

Melody has showed us from day one that she is HERE and she needs to be heard.

Evan and "Pipes"

Evan and “Pipes”

First time brother meets sister

First time brother meets sister

I keep saying, “She is going to give us a run for our money,” and Todd said so truthfully back to me, “I’m counting on it.”

Which is so incredibly true.  I would be lying if I said my truest, most real hopes and dreams for Melody include her being able to watch out for her big brother.  Being able to stick up for him, model skills and language that he can’t learn from us, and most of all, love him with a fierceness only she could.

I often feel guilt thinking those things because the last thing I want to do is put pressure on a little girl who isn’t even four months yet.  I want her to grow into her own person and figure out what and who it is that SHE wants to love, support, and be a part of.

But then I see her gazing at Evan.  Watching his every move. Smiling at his laugh.  Studying his actions.  And slowly Evan is returning that gaze.  Most of the time we have to prompt him to talk about her or acknowledge her presence.  Except for when she is hiccupping.

He LOVES that. He will imitate her and say “Silly!”

But the other day I was in the kitchen getting his dinner ready.  Melody was in the exersaucer and Evan was playing with the music on the front. (go figure).  They were in the living room, out of my direct sight.

All of a sudden I hear, “Hi Melody!”

My heart soared.  Just typing it brings tears to my eyes.  He wanted to connect with her, just because. And he did it with words. Such a small two words for most people but for us…

HUGE.

He has adopted the phrase “yes, please,” after everything he asks for these days.  I didn’t teach it to him in that exact way, but it has stuck.

Thus, I say, “2016……yes, please.”

We’re ready.

Siblings, a dream that became a reality

Siblings, a dream that became a reality

 

Acceptance

Baby girl....I'm ready to meet you.

Baby girl….I’m ready to meet you.

39 weeks tomorrow.  I woke up today with a weird sort of peace and calm.  And that has been hard to find in the last month or so.  With the heat of the summer, daily bouts of contractions, Evan’s CHOP overnight stay, some potty training regression, anxieties about the baby/transitional period to come- it has just been a different last 5 weeks than it was before Evan was born.  I think back to that last month before his birth (where I took entirely too long of a maternity leave before he was born) I took long walks each day, bounced on my yoga ball, wrote my unborn baby letters, I read baby blogs at length, and just was so wide eyed and excited in general.  I didn’t have a lot of false labor, and the weather was kind to me.  I just re-read this blog I wrote the night before Evan was born, 5-26-2011, and I smiled at my naivete.

I also re-read this entry that I wrote to all the different mamas that I have been in the last 4 years. Dear Mama

Phew. No wonder I am feeling so differently this time. It has been a wild ride the last five years since we lost my Dad and found out we were pregnant with a future Evan.

This guy made me a mama….

One thing that I do not handle well is uncertainty.  It’s not in my DNA to find peace in the unknown, or to accept that I do not have control over everything.  But….I have been working REALLY hard at it for a long time.  Just because it is hard for me, doesn’t mean I can’t try.  So this morning, I wake up, feeling a little more at peace, and very very VERY ready to meet this little girl.  I also am striving to find acceptance of the unknown.  Not knowing who she will be.  Not knowing if she will also have special needs or developmental delays, or the like.  Not knowing if the labor will last 2 days, 2 hours, or 30 min. Will she love her brother with all her heart? Will Evan be able to break away from his toys and music to love her right back?  Can I sit in the quiet moments with this little girl and breathe deep knowing that no matter what happens…..It WILL be okay.

Because when I read back to Evan’s diagnosis story. I remember those fears, those questions, those unknowns that were suffocating, blanketing, all encompassing.  And I sit here, over three years later, with another child in my belly- and it HAS been okay.  Evan is potty trained (going through a little regression but we’re on it), he’s going to school full time, he is loved by classmates and teachers alike, he runs up to me when he sees me after a day of school saying mommy, mommy! He is starting to read sight words, climbing into his car seat himself, finally spitting after he brushes his teeth! And we are about to have another  child after sending two babies to Heaven.

I still don’t know what will come in the next day, week, year, decade.  And that is not easy for me. I’d love it if God would just send me a little date planner and let me know when each milestone will happen, when she’ll sleep through the night, when Todd and I can go out on a date again (where I don’t feel like I am going to fall asleep after two min), when Evan will be invited on his first official school playdate…….

But that’s not how it works.

Instead we all plow through our days and lives doing the best we can as things happen.  The amazing, the excruciating, the beautiful, and the mundane.

Acceptance.

Grace.

Letting Go…….

I AM getting better at all of those. And I won’t quit until I’m no longer on this planet. Because this is all worth it.

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Can’t wait to add a new one with Baby Sister. Stay tuned!

 

We’re Engaged!

Well, we’re married….the engagement happened a good 7 years ago. But it will make sense shortly.

Sorry friends, the whole plan to write one post a week sort of evaporated a long time ago, didn’t it?

Sigh….

But I know you understand.  This working mom thing, is no joke. As I have mentioned before..here and here.

Too busy doing things like this.

Just too busy doing things like this.

But that being said, things are going really really really well.

Evan is loving school. And I think school is loving Evan. (at least that is what they want us to believe to keep us quiet…. 🙂 ) just kidding….sort of.

Seriously, he is just one of those kids that NEEDS school. He thrives on it. Thrives on the interaction, the structure, the constant activity.  Lordy be, the constant need for activity.

“Does he nap?”

“He must be EXHAUSTED when he gets home from school the way he goes goes goes all day!”

Yup. If I had a nickel for every time I heard one of those… Nope, hasn’t napped on a regular basis since he was about two. And when he gets home from school, he is still raring to go. In a more overstimulated-body-is-tired-but-mind-wants-to-keep-moving kind of a way.

But his teachers get him. I was so worried that they wouldn’t. That with the other kids, the two different classrooms, that it would be hard for Evan. Well Pshaw says Evan.

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As usual Mom, I got this!

We had some worries in late August about Evan’s engagement with his peers and the adults in his life. If I am being honest, I was worried that the bubbly, overly social side that we had become quite fond of and accustomed to- was staring to dissipate.  During the summer, his attention span had become much shorter, and his interest in objects had increased while his interest in socializing and engaging with folks seemed to have lost its luster.

I don’t think we even realized it was happening until we received some key advice from a very well regarded doctor who is one of the few experts in Williams Syndrome.  She noticed it right away and encouraged us to go in a different direction with Evan, instead of worrying about any academics or even the fine motor school prep stuff- pour all our efforts into making Evan remember how rewarding it can be to engage with his peers and family.

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My heart was SO full.

I remember feeling kind of lost, like maybe this was just our new reality with Evan. That it would have to be okay if he didn’t want to play with me or even just be with me without being “taught” to do so.

I needed to slow my roll, as my very dear friend Talia would say.  Because it is now November, and I barely even think about it anymore.  Evan will bring toys to me, just because. JUST BECAUSE.  I mean….it’s hard to explain why that is so huge unless you know what it feels like to never have your child do that. He only would bring me things because he needed something or because he wanted me to manipulate the toy in some way.  But now he just wants to share.  He calls for me from the playroom. From his crib. From the front door when I leave in the morning. He asks for me when I am not here. These are all things he was not doing this summer.  He will come over and say “Hi mommy!” and look at me with those eyes and I just melt.

These eyes.

These eyes.

This morning in church, he sat to my left in his stroller. Munching on some veggie straws. I do long for the day when we can have him sit in one of the chairs with us but for now, if we want to participate in any part of the service where Evan is there, the stroller it is.  Two of his favorite songs opened up the service.

“Be Thou My Vision” and “How Great is our God.” I stayed seated while the congregation stood and sang in his direction because I wanted to see if he would sing with me. Instead, he stared at me with those eyes. His eyes twinkled with joy. He would squint every few lines and giggle at the memory of a song we sang when he was just an infant. But for almost every last word of each song, he locked right on my eyes and wouldn’t let go.  I almost broke down in tears because I was so happy.  He wasn’t watching my mouth because he liked the sounds (which he known to do). He was looking at his mama.

Engagement.

Connection.

Things that can’t exactly be taught. But they can be fostered. And foster, gosh darn it, we will continue to do.  Because it is what keeps my tank full. And hopefully, Evan’s as well.

Full. To the brim.

Full. To the brim.

 

 

I didn’t sign up for this-My Messy Beautiful

I loved Punky Brewster growing up.

Punky Brewster

Who wouldn’t want to be as cool as this chick?

So much so that I would wear a bandana tied around my knee and I wished my name was Soleil or Moon more than once. One particular episode remains emblazoned in my mind. The “Very Special Episode” surrounding the exclusive club, The Chiclets. Click HERE to see them in all their scrunch sock glory. You can watch the first minute or so to get the idea.  The Chiclets were this “totally awesome” group of stylish sixth graders that Punky was dying to be a part of.  Turns out that they are “like totally” into drugs. Specifically “grass, a few uppers, and some nose candy.” Pretty sure  I had no clue what any of that was when I was eight years old.  Of course, Punky decides that she does NOT need to be a Chiclet and that she is much better off following Nancy’s Reagan’s advice and creating a “Just Say No” club.

I may or may not have created a similar club with my best friend on the second grade playground that met over by the see saws.

Erin and Charlene second grade

(around 1986) I was probably wearing this awesome floral romper as well.

Clubs. Secret societies. Exclusive groups with super cool people in them.

We have all wanted to be a part of one at some point in our lives.

As an adult I have realized that I have been thrust into several of these clubs without my permission.  Hoodwinked you might say.

The sudden loss of a parent club

The parent of a child with special needs club

The multiple miscarriages club

I don’t think a super cool gal like Emily with her charm necklace and pastel sweater came up to me when I turned 30 and said, “Hey, Erin, wouldn’t it be great if you joined our club? You know, the one where all the members have lost a parent before they could become a grandparent to your children? Do you want to join the club where all the members have suffered more than one miscarriage?”

I think I would have remembered that.

So here I am.  A member of several clubs.  Ones I would never have asked for membership.

But something crazy has happened.  The messy, beautiful person I am today, would not be nearly as messy, and nearly as beautiful if not for being a member of these clubs.  And not just because of the circumstances that led to my membership.  Not because I lost my father without warning almost 4 years ago.  Not because I have lost two babies before I could even meet them and hold them in my arms.  Not because I am the proud mother of a little boy with Williams Syndrome

Happy mower

President of my club

Because of the INCREDIBLE club members I have been so privileged to meet.  Because of the women who have become my friends. My sisters. My guides through this brutiful life. I would never have started blogging if it weren’t for my membership.  I would never have met some of the most amazing women who I can reach out to any time of day or night and I know they will “get it.” I don’t have to explain what it feels like to wake up in a sweat because I dreamt about my father again.  I don’t have to feel guilty when I message one of them to tell them I am feeling super overwhelmed by the prospect of Evan starting preschool with his school district peers.

I laugh with them.  I cry with them. I spit nails of anger with them.

They somehow know me without needing to have been in my life for years and years.  Some I have never even met in person.  Some I did meet and it felt like they were a member of my Just Say No club on the playground in second grade.

I would never have met them if I had not gone through some of the most painful, difficult, and life changing events of my life.

Just this weekend I had the absolute privilege of attending a brunch for mothers of children with Williams Syndrome. It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air for 4 hours.  I laughed, I cried, I listened and I shared.   We have had Evan’s diagnosis for almost two years now, and there were some mothers with very newly diagnosed infants at home.  I could see the fear, the pain, the hope in their eyes.  And for once, I actually felt I could speak from experience and maybe even ease their worry a little.

Because of the pain, the struggle, the worry I have felt, I can support others who are going through similar experiences.  One sweet mama told me that my blog actually helped her see a future for her daughter, helped her to see past the colicky, sleepless nights that are her everyday right now.  Tears immediately came to my eyes.

BOOM.  Kairos.

There it was, the reason I started blogging. To help others who might need a voice, who might need to feel less alone. And to think that might actually be happening? Phew.

Thank goodness Emily in all her pastel scrunchy glory did not ask me to become a member of any of these clubs. Because I would have just said no.

(see what I did there?)

Sometimes we do not get asked. And we feel very angry about that.

Ahem….We meaning me of course……but maybe you are angry too?  and that is more than okay, it is right and totally warranted. But I am just so glad that I can pull myself out of that murky angry place and realize that other women need to hear that it CAN be okay.  You CAN lose a parent and wake up one day and realize it is not the first thing you think of. You CAN raise a child with special needs and see joy and beauty time and time again.  Miscarriages do happen and they suck big time but you are NOT alone. There are so many women who have walked your path and would love to walk it with you. Or kick rocks. Or drink wine, whatever works.

I have plenty of women who did all of those things with me, and continue to.

I’m glad they are in my club. Maybe you are too?

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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My Gift This Year

9 Month birthday

9 months

Scrolling back through pictures of Evan in his first year, my heart hurts a little. It hurts for a number of reasons.  It hurts because I can see the features that indicated he had Williams Syndrome. The blue sparkly eyes, the wide and flat nasal bridge. The memory of his floppy limbs.  At the time I had no idea. Evan was over a year before we received his diagnosis.

Knoebels 2011 049

4 months

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “what does it matter now?”  Truly, it doesn’t. And 92% of time, (I did extensive research to get that percentage) I do not look at the words Williams Syndrome and feel anything negative. In fact, most of the time I see it as a true gift. That my son has this rare condition that causes him to have extreme empathy and compassion. It causes him to smile all day long. It causes him to sing at the top of his long and care very little who hears it. I can drop him off at preschool and there is no crying. He toddles away from me happily and forgets I’m there.

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It hurts because I see my father’s rosy cheeks and ear to ear grin in Evan’s chubby baby face.

It hurts because I can remember the difficult time I had post-partum and how I longed to see the beauty in motherhood.

It hurts because I know my little boy is growing up. I know he will enter the public school system soon. That our first meeting with the child study team in our school district is just days away.

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Halloween 2012 17 months

It hurts as I recall the first time Evan was evaluated by the early intervention team. How my stomach lurched each time they asked Evan to complete a task and he would just look at them expectantly, hoping they would play with him but not completing the expected task. Not knowing that he was being tested.

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Please Touch Museum March 2013

Then the hurt turns to a knot in my stomach. A knot of joy intertwined with struggle, intertwined with pride, intertwined with wonder.

My, how far Evan has come.  From this little floppy baby who could stare at a spinning wheel for a half hour straight. From this bouncing bean who loved to leap in his jumper exersaucer. From this eager boy who wanted to communicate with us so badly but could barely get out the word “more” for the longest time.

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Our little Jerry Lee 11 months

This past weekend, I woke up late (glorious glorious thing that was) at my in laws house to find everyone else up and playing in their living room.  Evan saw me, stopped the game he was playing, smiled a huge smile, came over and sat in my lap. He gazed up at me and just very confidently said, “Mama.” First time ever. Not the first time he said “Mama,” but the first time he spontaneously did so, without anyone pointing at me or prompting him. I can remember months and months ago saying to a friend, “I just can’t wait until he greets me and says my name in excitement.” It happened!!

The following night from his crib he whispered, “Ahhh you,” “Fo-eb-a”which translates to “I love you, forever.”

All on his own.

My Christmas gift has already been unwrapped.  And it’s a gift i can unwrap every day.  So blessed.

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Not Rocket Science

toddler singing

budding rock star

It’s no secret that I over-think things. You don’t have to be my oldest and closest confidante to know that I over-analyze until I’m blue. Just read a few blog posts.

I try my darndest to err on the positive side of things, looking at the glass as half full.  But that glass can tip dangerously to the side sometimes, and the water falls out drop by drop. And with it, my positive attitude.

I set my alarm 20 min ahead, I lay out my outfit, empty the dishwasher the night before. I line up the many bags I take to to work and to drop off Evan at school. Evan is sleeping soundly, and I close my eyes for a peaceful night’s rest.

The glass is half full, looking plentiful and teeming with water.

Overnight I lie awake listening to the sounds of my dog absentmindedly licking her paws, my husband snoring, and Evan talking in his sleep. My alarm goes off and I realize I have only slept about 3 hours total. I realize Evan’s best cup is in the backseat of the van, and I forgot it was my brother in law’s birthday, and shoot, I didn’t get more Walmart brand generic Pediasure on the way home from work the day before. I run around trying to get ready but I get distracted about six different times because my energy level is so depleted from no sleep. The glass starts to tip to the side.

Drip. Drip.

I drop Evan off at school, and I realize it was “Wear Brown” day and he is in orange. I write a hastily scrawled note to Evan’s teacher to let her know that he has physical therapy that day at school. “Should have told them that earlier in the week so they could have prepared….” I think to myself. I run out the door to get in the car because I have a meeting at work that I am already 5 minutes late for and I haven’t even left Evan’s school.

Drip. Drip.

After fumbling through my 43 different keys on my key chain to find he one that opens the school door, I run to the meeting. My administrator is already speaking and there are no chairs. I kneel on the floor to avoid looking conspicuous which ends up making me stick out all the more.

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Head, Shoulders…knees and…

Drip. Drip.

I try to save face by blaming my lateness on traffic, and a wardrobe malfunction with my son. Which is partially true but ends up sounding very pathetic and false when I spit it out.

Three of my students come in from morning recess complaining of someone “butting in front of them” in line. One will not let this go, interrupting me repeatedly to say how unfair it is that he would lose his place in line because of someone else making a poor choice.  My cell phone rings entirely too loudly on my desk, it is one of Evan’s therapists asking about a schedule change or the insurance company seeking missing paperwork I needed for possible reimbursement. I think about answering, but decide not to because the pledge of allegiance begins on the loudspeaker. I feel guilty for not answering. I would have felt guilty FOR answering.

Drip. Drip.

But then there is this:

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Our light. Our heart. The boy who can sing the same refrain to a song for an hour straight, putting different spins on the tune and intonation.

The boy who could barely pull himself up when lying in your lap a year ago, and now can do 20 sit ups on the exercise ball.

The boy who will say “I love you” (a very cute approximation anyway) if you just lean over him in his crib for an extra 15 seconds without saying a word. Letting him take his time to respond.

It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to know why this guy was born.

To know why Evan is in our lives.

The glass never empties all the way.

Drops fall out but they find their way back in.

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That’s What Christmas is All About, Charlie Brown.

I don’t often delve into religion and spirituality on this blog. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t actively avoided it.However, I am a Christian, and I have definitely mentioned that fact. I am not ashamed, embarrassed or trying to hide my beliefs.
I have shared the awesome church experiences I have had in my adulthood and how it led to my becoming a Christian.
My understanding of God and the Bible is rudimentary at best, but I know what I believe. I just struggle with feeling like what I believe is the only way. And that is fodder for another blog entry.

Anyhoo….back to Charlie Brown. So Peanut’s A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a staple in my life since I was very little.  I try to watch it yearly.  Hearing Linus say, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” is a comforting and reassuring phrase to me.

Apparently it is to my son as well.

book nook(This is not A Charlie Brown Christmas, just an picture example of how happy Evan is to read by himself)

Last year after Christmas I bought the book version that has several music and sound buttons on the side that coincide with the story.  Each one plays a different tune or lines from the story.  This book did not make the holiday boxes because I bought it in January. Instead it lives in Evan’s toy box but lately it has been living on the play room floor where Evan can access it with ease. I was in the kitchen preparing food recently when I overheard the Linus speech ringing throughout our house.  Not once, but twice, and then a third time. I entered the play room to find Evan gazing at the book and listening intently.  As soon as Linus finished the speech, he would push it again.

And again.

Evan could sit by himself and listen to that speech over and over again. He likes to lay down next to the book and listen. And this was not just a one day thing. He goes back to it day after day.  He could push the music buttons over and over, or listen to all the different ones but he is choosing not to. He wants to hear Linus over and over.

Now hearing the speech has a whole different meaning to me. But the feeling of comfort is the same.

Thank you Charles Schulz.

 

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