Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The 1%

99% of the time, when it comes to Benny, I really try to look at the glass half-full. Considering the battle that Ben waged for his life, I am just filled to the brim with gratitude to even have Ben in our family. The miracle of having Ben on this earth at all is not lost on me. I pray day and night, thanking Heavenly Father in earnest, for the gift that it is to be Ben's mom. Aside from the miraculous circumstances that have enabled Ben to be with us, I just plain like the kid. He is a very special little boy. Like I said, 99% of the time, he is just an absolute joy to be around. He literally exudes light and brightens the spirits of all those with whom he comes into contact. He is pure. He is loving. He makes me believe in miracles. I love him.

But, boy, that 1% can be a doozy. As a sidenote, I would never want to publish anything that may become embarassing to my children in the future or that may be interpreted as a put-down against them, so my thoughts are shared here to further credit Ben's great strength and ability--that despite some of his/our challenges, he continues to persevere and amaze me with his accomplishments. This past week, the impact of that 1%--those moments where the challenges of raising a special needs child causes deep pain, where it usually only brings great joy--has felt very heavy on my heart.

In addition to the daily minor battles that I encounter with Ben (which have a very real cumulative draining effect), including: carrying him (all 40+ lbs of him) to/from the store/church/building to minimize his hyper-sensory reaction to cold and wind, engaging in a battle of wills at each mealtime to encourage him to eat anything besides dry cereal and crackers, singing the ABCs while we bathe or brush teeth to soothe him through the difficult sensory stimulation, picking up endless trails of q-tips, legos, puzzle peices, cups, toilet paper bits, dominos, or any other object that Ben finds comfort in hoarding and collecting, or of course the daily regimen of therapy interventions, and the list goes on...an on....there have been a few incidents this past week in particular that have caused me to hug Benny a little tighter and whisper, as I do everyday, "you have an infinite potential " in his ear before bed.

Just one example, this morning a very sweet, very honest, neighbor girl came over to play with Max. She was at our house all of ten minutes, when, referring to Ben, she asked me, "why is he still a baby?" I think deep down I knew what she was really asking, but I tried to deflect acknowledging the meaning of her question by responding casually that, "Ben isn't a baby, he's almost three!" Her rejoinder left me raw: "I know, but why is he still like a baby?" Gulp. Swallow. Blink. The best I could come up with, "Benny is just the way he is!" The little girl seemed satisfied with my vague answer and joined Max in play, but I felt as though an unintentional knife had been plunged deep into my heart. This episode follows a rather dismal developmental assessment of Ben, a growing stress towards Ben's nearing entry into district preschool, and a period of difficult behavior issues with Ben.

Rewind.........mere moments after our neurologist apologectically shared the news with us that our five-week-old son had suffered a major stroke and that his future would likely be full of challenge, I remember being asked (as a gesture of comfort I'm sure) whether I would love my son any less if he didn't play on the baseball team. Utterly devastated at what I felt was the crushing of my child's potential, I responded that, of course I would love Ben fiercely regardless of his abilities--but I would HURT deeply for him if he wasn't able to do/participate/enjoy all of the activities and experiences that I want for him as his mother. With the simple question of a four-year-old neighbor girl, I felt I was brought right back to that day in the PICU, uncertain what the future holds for my child and stung at the suggestion that this world might not give him just as much as it gives everyone else.

I'm strong. My faith is strong. I don't forget for a moment how lucky I am to have Ben and how much he contributes to our family every single day. I am so abundantly blessed and feel ungrateful to complain about my silly struggles when others bear so much. I wouldn't trade it for anything. But, I also want to recognize that sometimes this road has its bumps and sometimes it still hurts.

Although my heart feels a little hurt today, once again imagining my son NOT playing on the baseball team, I know that the 1% is what makes my journey mothering Ben....beautiful. I will love that boy with everything that I am, and never stop whispering in his ear that he DOES have an infinite potential, regardless of where our road together leads.

I love you, Benny. Always and Forever. No Matter What.

Monday, February 18, 2013

And He's Off!

Joey has been on the verge of crawling for the past couple of weeks. I've felt so anxious to help my little chicky break out of his shell, but I waited patiently for this special day--TODAY--when Joey finally figured out how to crawl all by himself! It's just the cutest thing to watch my little peanut on all-fours, with his chubby little hands and tiny up-turned feet, crawl across the floor, chasing down a trail of dropped fruit loops.

Hank's Pet Rock Project

I may eat my words in a few years when I am helping the boys with late night book reports, science fair experiements, and diaramas, but I really do enjoy working with Hank on his homework, especially his creative assignments. Last week Hank's class made "pet rocks" and then his teacher gave the students the assignment to make a habitat for their pet rocks. Hank came up with the idea to make his pet rock into an astronaut landing on the moon. Hank and I had fun brainstorming ideas for the design of the habitat, creating the artwork to decorate it, and assembling the habitat together. I did help Hank with some of the logistics like hanging the rocket ship in place using yarn and hot glue and printing the title to go on top of the box, but Hank did all of the coloring and artwork himself. I think its an "A+" pet rock habitat!

Monday Funday!

Hank had the day off of school today for President's Day, so I took the boys to play at Planet Play, a family fun center nearby. As an extra special treat, Aaron took a quick break from work and met us at the fun center, which happens to be just down the street from his office, for some go-karting and mini-bowling. As with most family venues here in Utah, it was crawling with families, i.e. long lines and long waits for all of the attractions, but the boys still had a really good time. Afterwards, we took our sack lunches to Aaron's work for an office picnic.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Day

Lucky for me, the boys are easily impressed because my attempts at making Valentine's Day special this year were hardly Martha Stewart worthy. While the boys were sleeping, I left a trail of hearts, inscribed with little love messages from Dad, beginning at their bedroom and leading downstairs to the kitchen table. The boys thought their breakfast of pink, heart-shaped pancakes was pretty fancy served on a red tablecloth and "fine China" from the Dollar Store:)

Max helped me make delicious sugar cookies that we delivered to a few neighbors and surprised Aaron with at the office.
I had planned to make a fancy, very involved meal for dinner, but after tackling the giant mess in the kitchen created by the sugar cookie baking, I was worn out. And so, we enjoyed a romantic, gourmet, fancy dinner of Cocoa Puffs. It really is the thought that counts, right?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Two of my little Valentine's Heartbreakers:

Big Boy Haircut

When the home-teacher asked me the name of my daughter, referring to Joey who was sitting on the floor in a onesie, Aaron decided it was time to cut Joey's moppy hair. Although I was in agreement that Joey could use a trim, I actually took the faux pas as a compliment. I think Joey is a darling, pretty-faced little boy--he only looks cuter with his new big-boy haircut!

Things I'm Loving About Joey Right Now:
- Joey is working on pushing through his second little bottom tooth. I love that little smile with those two tiny little pearly white teeth just barely showing through his gums.
- Joey still hasn't quite figured out yet how to crawl, but it's almost magical watching him play on the floor. He is making so many new connections and discoveries--he's bound to start crawling, if only by accident, with as hard as he's trying to get himself in motion.
- So far, Joey is a great little eater and will sample most anything from my plate. Bananas and yogurt are his favorites. However, he has learned how to purse his lips tight together and pull his mouth right up under his nose to reject anything he is offered that he doesn't care for. That little face just kills me.
- As  far as toys go, Joey hasn't shown much of a preference for any certain thing. He just thinks that I'm the best! He would rather be held and carried while I go about my chores than just about anything else. He doesn't let me put him down unless it's with a bottle. He will settle for dad, but only if I'm out of sight. Ha! How does that feel to be second favorite for once, Aaron?
- Joey isn't big on laughing and giggling, but he does do some crazy flapping. When he gets excited, Joey will flap his arms and legs in sync up and down as fast as he can.

Holding Out

I threw in the towel on getting Ben to eat anything besides cereal and crackers a long time ago so I was flabbergasted when he just up and ate a slice of Costco pizza like it was nothing. Ben's diet is a very complicated and frustrating issue--his severe sensory issues prevent him from eating anything that isn't crunchy in texture. Ben will gag at the mere touch of certain food and will throw anything offered to him that isn't to his liking. We've been working on getting Ben to simply tolerate keeping food on his plate for the past three feeding therapy sessions, so you can understand my confusion/surprise/excitement when he ate a peice of pizza. Oh Benny, I can't wait until you discover all of the other yummy things just waiting to be eaten!

Parent-Teacher Conference

The other night at Hank's parent-teacher conference, Hank's teacher, Mrs. Chipman, basically confirmed what I already knew: Hank is a pretty special kid. Mrs. Chipman reviewed Hank's portfolio with us--aced quizzes, thoughtful assignments, and a perfect '5s' in all categories assessment. Hank is reading above grade level and is the best math student in his class (however, he could use a little more attention to penmanship). Mrs. Chipman said that Hank is one of her favorite students. Really, I swear, I'm not making this stuff up! Mrs. Chipman also said that Hank is so well-liked by his classmates that during partner reading she has to set a timer so that everyone gets a turn to be Hank's partner. I couldn't be more proud of my Hanky-boy.