Monday, September 30, 2013

Meeting R2D2

Caleb has the best PT in the world. She knew the boys (mostly Benjamin) have a new found love of all things Star Wars and R2D2 is Benjamin's favorite character. Ms. Vicki got her hands on a real R2D2 (mini-size of course) and brought him for one of her visits with Caleb. The boys (mostly Benjamin) were besides themselves over it.

He smiled almost the entire time.


R2D2 got lots and lots of hugs. I even heard "I love you" a couple of times.

Absolute wonder. This may be my most favorite picture ever.

He couldn't get enough of this little droid.

Caleb wasn't quite as enamored as Benjamin was...he did however, enjoy standing next to R2D2.




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Giving Courage

en·cour·age

verb
  1. 1.
    give support, confidence, or hope to (someone).

I recently met a fellow SB mom, a mom that I didn't know, a mom that I had never met...but she knew me and Caleb and Benjamin and Glenn. She knew all of us and all about our family because of this blog. It turns out that she has followed my blog for years. She has mostly been a silent reader, as I suspect many of my readers are. As we chatted she told me how much my blog has meant to her. She has a precious, almost 3 year old daughter with SB. She told me that my blog has encouraged her countless times over the years. Her daughter has had a few bumps in the road and my blog, my posts, my Caleb, my family, has meant something to her during those rough times. I've encouraged her. Caleb has encouraged her.

I remember hearing a pastor say once that to encourage someone means to actually give them courage. To give courage to someone. That's a big deal. I had never thought of it that way and it has always stuck with me. To know that this blog has actually given someone courage is remarkable.

The words this fellow SB mom shared with me, about how I had encouraged her, actually encouraged me. I started thinking about this wonderful online family I have. I started thinking about all the blogs I follow and how much their stories mean to me. I know Caleb encourages others but I've also been encouraged by so many people myself. And then I got to thinking about how seldom I let these people know that they have encouraged me. I read so many blogs, and most of the time I just read and move on. I don't take the time to comment even when the post spoke to my heart or meant something to me at the time. I don't make enough of an effort to message a friend on facebook to let them know that they mean something to me. I don't always take the time to comment on their posts. I should.

The words, the heartfelt "thank you", that came from that fellow SB mom really stuck with me. I've decided to make more of an effort to let people know when they have encouraged me. I'm going to take the time to comment on blog posts and facebook status'. I'm going to make more of an effort to email people that encourage me even when they don't realize they have.

I'm going to challenge all of you to do the same. Take the time to let someone know they have encouraged you. If someone has given you courage then you need to let them know. Take the time to comment on that blog post that really meant something to you. It only takes a minute to leave a comment or send a message.

Your "thank you" to the person who encouraged you will most likely encourage them. Without a doubt, I was encouraged by my new friend's words. I'm so thankful she took the time to approach me and let me know what this blog has meant to her. She blessed me. And now I'm going to bless someone else.

If someone has given you courage, let them know. You'll be giving them courage by doing so.


Monday, September 23, 2013

About Benjamin

Sometimes I worry that Benjamin takes a backseat to all of the attention that Caleb gets...and Caleb gets a fair amount of attention. So much of our lives revolve around Caleb and his doctor appointments, his medical needs, his adaptive sports events, his wheelchair basketball, and Benjamin is often along for the ride. I think Benjamin is still young enough that going to all of "Caleb's things" doesn't bother him much. Most of the the things we do and the events we go to are fun for Benjamin too...but we go because of Caleb. And now that I am homeschooling Caleb, Benjamin isn't getting all of that mommy time that he got when he had me all to himself. I've noticed that blog posts about Caleb get a lot of hits. Pics of Caleb on Facebook get a lot of "likes" and comments. So I've come to realize that a lot of attention is paid to Caleb.  Okay so maybe that isn't a new realization, I've known it for quite sometime. Someone wanted to take a pic of Caleb at an event the other day and Benjamin pretty much forced his way into the pic. I think he just wanted to be included...or maybe he was just being a stinker. :) I don't ever want Benjamin to feel like he is less or not as important. He is such a precious presence in our life and he adds so much to our family. He adds life and personality and energy everywhere he goes. There are so many things that I love about Benjamin and I wanted to share a few of them here.

Benjamin plays as a profession. Seriously, the kid is the master at playing. I love that about him. I love that he will hang out in the schoolroom with Caleb and I (while Caleb does his work) and just play. He's so busy and so fun. 

I am doing a low key, hodge podge, PreK curriculum with Benjamin. I tried to pick a lot of hands on activities for him because that is how he learns best.

Everything has the potential to be a gun. He took some foam alphabet letters (letters f and b) and turned them into guns. He ran around the house shooting everything. Sound effects like you wouldn't believe. I swear he doesn't watch violent shows. I think a love of guns, missiles, and all things explosive are just born into most boys.

My most favorite thing about Benjamin is something that he doesn't even realize he is doing. Benjamin has taught his big brother how to play. Pretend play does not and has never come easily to Caleb. It's just not his thing, but it is Benjamin's thing. Having both boys home (thanks to homeschooling) has led to Benjamin actually teaching Caleb how to play, how to pretend, how to imagine. It's been remarkable to watch. Benjamin just pulls Caleb into his play and it is making a world of difference. It has been such a blessing to see.

Benjamin is becoming a Wii player. He loves Mario Kart and Monster Jam.

He is a professional thumb-sucker. But only the left thumb, the right doesn't taste nearly as good.

His primary love language is physical touch. He has always been a toucher. If he is playing on the floor he makes sure to have his foot touching someone or he will literally climb over my lap while he plays. I've see him reach out and play with Caleb's ear while they were watching t.v. together. He has a blanket that he loves and rubs. When we eat at the table he pulls his chair as close to mine as possible. If I sit on the couch, I can pretty much guarantee that he will climb into my lap within 10 seconds. He is known to ask: "Mom, will you cuddle with me? I need some cuddle time." I make it a point to give him cuddle time on the couch every morning because he just craves that physical touch.

Physical touch.

Despite never having seen a single Star Wars movie and with no prior knowledge, he loves Star Wars. Last week he picked out 4 books about the subject at the library. He now knows many of the characters, who's good and who's not, and the names of the ships they fly. He also loves "Transformers". Obviously he can't watch the movies but the original cartoon from the 80's is on Netflix and he loves it. He also loves "Transformers Rescue Bots".

I stopped putting him down for a nap when summer started because that extra rest was keeping him from going to bed at night. Most days he makes it through just fine but sometimes he crashes on the couch (or floor). Love this sweet sleeping boy. At night after I tuck him in he always stops me with a question before I can leave the room. The questions vary every night but here are a few examples of the kinds of questions I get asked on a nightly basis.

Why do we have doors?
Is the sun a big ball of fire?
Why do we put paint on the walls?
Why do we need lights?
Can I transform?
Why do we need walls?
How fast can a Blue Angel jet fly?

He's awesome. He's my most favorite 4 year old.




Friday, September 20, 2013

6 Questions

I was given the "6 Questions" challenge by a fellow SB momma over at "A Girl Named Charlie"...she was giving the challenge by Mary Evelyn over at "What do you do dear?"...she was given the challenge by someone else....and so on. It's like a blog-o-sphere chain letter or something. I'm pretty sure you have to take the "6 Questions" challenge or the entire internet will explode. I can't be responsible for that so I'm playing along.

Here's the questions:

1. Is this how you imagined your life to be?
Well it depends. Did I imagine myself married with children? Yes. Did I ever imagine myself with a child with Spina Bifida? No. I guess no one ever imagines that. That's the sort of thing you don't plan for or expect. Did I ever imagine that I would be a homeschooling momma of 2 boys. Ha! No, I did not. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be transforming our playroom into a schoolroom, that I would spend countless hours researching curriculum, that I would develop an obsession with my laminator...well, I wouldn't have believed them. And yet here I am. And I love it.

2. What's your drink of choice when out with girlfriends?
This question makes me giggle for several reasons. First, I very rarely go out with girlfriends (rarely meaning almost never). Maybe I should do that more often. Any girlfriends want to hang out soon!? Second, this question makes me giggle because I'm assuming the "drink of choice" means alcohol of some kind. And I don't drink alcohol. At all. To give you an idea of how long it has been since I had a "drink of choice", here's how I would have answered that question many years ago: Zima with lime (Skittles or Jolly ranchers were yummy too).

Do they even make Zima anymore? Yep, that's how long it's been. My drink of choice today is Coffee. I love coffee. Coffee gets me out of the bed in the morning. Coffee makes me smile. Coffee, coffee, coffee. It is my one addiction. Well, coffee and my laminator.

3. Name something that you have learned about yourself that has surprised you.
Oh, that's a good question. Honestly I've learned so much about myself in the last 8+ years. So much of that is due to Caleb and this journey called Spina Bifida. But just being a mom has taught me so much about myself. I'm surprised by how good of a mom I am. Now I don't say that to brag or to suggest that I have it all figured out...because I do not. Not even close. I mess up all the time. I fail daily. But I'm such a better mom than I ever thought I would be. I honestly didn't know how much I was capable of. I didn't know I could love these little people so much. I didn't know I could be an advocate. I didn't know that I could face really difficult trials and make it through. I didn't know I could be a teacher. I'm surprised by it. I'm a good mom.

4. What hobbies do you have that you don't mention on your blog?

Hmmm...I kinda go through hobby phases. I used to love to scrapbook but I eventually found that spending several hours and lots of $$$ on one scrapbook page wasn't as relaxing as it used to be. I used to love to journal. I started keeping a journal when I was in 6th grade and by the time I was an adult, I had about a dozen completed journals. I pretty much recorded every second of my life in those books. This blog has taken the place of scrapbooking and journaling. Now I'm in the tedious process of printing this blog out into book form, year by year. I used to feel bad about not keeping the boy's baby books up to date and then I realized that every moment of their life is recorded here!

5. How do your blog come about?
I started this blog in November of 2006. Here is my very first post. Really it was Glenn's idea for me to start a blog. I didn't even know what a blog was and I thought he was silly for suggesting it. I didn't think anyone would read it but I figured it would be a good way for family to keep up to date on the happenings of Caleb (who was a year old at the time). Now here we are, almost 7 years later and quickly closing in on the 800th post! I never dreamed this blog would grow like it has. I didn't realize how much this little space would mean to me. This blog has brought countless people into my life. I have a very large SB family because of this blog. What a blessing!

6. If money were no question, I'd purchase....?
A droid. Like the kind in Star Wars. Benjamin is really into Star Wars right now and I have read several books on the subject so that might be the reason droid comes to mind. But seriously, I would want a droid. A multi-talented droid. I want one that will brave Walmart on a Saturday to get all the groceries we need for the week, and then go to Target to pick up the yogurt I like (because Target is the only store that has it), and then go to Kroger because they have a good gluten free section and we need some GF bread. Then I want the droid to plan the menu and prepare all the meals. My least favorite part of my role as wife and mom is menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. I want a droid to do all of that. You might ask, "Why a droid? Why not just get a personal shopper and chef?". Sure, I could do that but if money is no question then wouldn't a droid be way cooler.

That was fun! Now it is my turn to tag a couple of folks and challenge them to answer 6 of the following questions on their blog. Hey Heather and Jennifer, if you are reading this...I challenge you...you gals haven't blogged in a while, this will get you started!

Pick 6 to answer for yourself:
1. Is this how you imagined your life would be?
2. Name one good deed you did that went unseen.
3. What’s your drink of choice when out with girlfriends?
4. How did your blog come about?
5. Name something you’ve learned about yourself that has surprised you.
6. What hobbies do you have that you don’t mention on your blog?
7. What do you love about yourself?
8. If money were no question, I’d purchase…
9. What’s your biggest struggle in life?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Walk-n-Roll 2013

This past weekend was our annual "Walk-n-Roll" benefiting the Spina Bifida Association of North Texas. This is a huge fundraiser for the organization and we love being a part of it. Thanks to "Wheelie Awesome" t-shirt sales and donations, we raised $1184.87. A big thank you to all of you that helped us reach that amount. Here are some pics from the event.

A fellow SB mom took this fantastic pic of me and my boys. Love it.

We teamed up with our buddy Bryce and his family to form our "Wheelie Awesome" team!

Benjamin kissing his balloon. I think he loves it.

It is only a 1/2 mile course so the event itself is pretty short. Afterwards we get to have some fun in the sun and cool off in the lake. It was super hot that day.

Caleb spent most of the afternoon underwater. This is mind boggling to me considering last summer he was terrified of putting his head in the water. Who is this kid?

While Bubba was underwater, Benjamin spent most of his time in the shallow area playing with the sand. 

Benjamin in the sand, Bubba underwater. That pretty much sums up their day.


Busy boy.

Caleb eventually made his way to the shore and spent some time in the sand.


Benjamin had a wet sand flinging fight with Grandpa Joel. The child was filthy. 

Scooping up more ammunition. He had a blast.

We had a great day. Thank you again to everyone who donated.


Friday, September 06, 2013

Homeschool....Our first week

I survived the first week of homeschool! Yay me! Technically our first week was kinda relaxed as we eased into it but it was still a good first week. Here is a quick glimpse into our very first week of homeschool.

A major perk of homeschooling is that your very first day of school can involve a Zoo education class on "Radical Reptiles".

The class was for older kids so Benjamin and I checked out the zoo while Bubba learned about reptiles.


Our zoo has a brand new baby elephant. So cute.


Benjamin was more interested in the m&m machine than the animals. I'm sorry, but I refuse to pay $2 for a bag of m&m's. That's ridiculous. Next time I'll just sneak some candy in my purse.


Cooling off in the misters. It was pretty hot.

Caleb loved the zoo education class and he can't wait to go again next month where he will learn about Amphibians. He even picked out a book at the library about amphibians so he can be ready for class.

My favorite thing about homeschooling so far is the relaxed mornings. I had grown so weary of the public school schedule. It's so refreshing to not have to drag a tired Caleb out of bed, or rush him through breakfast because we have to head out the door. Our mornings are just so relaxed now. If he wants to read about Vikings in his underwear....he can. If he wants to spend a few minutes watching an earwig crawl across the floor and then make said earwig a home with dead leaves in a plastic container...he can. I managed to make it educational by having Caleb look up some facts about earwigs and then write about it in his nature journal. 
Our pet earwig. It really is the perfect pet. No noise. No mess. No problem.

I think Caleb's favorite part of the week was a homeschool p.e. class.

I wanted to sign Caleb up because he loved p.e. in public school and since he is still not super crazy about this whole homeschooling thing, I want to give him as many opportunities as I can to do things that are really fun for him. This homeschool p.e. class is right down the road and is offered once a week. It seemed like a great activity for him but when I contacted the p.e. coach, he seemed very hesitant about Caleb (ya know, the whole wheelchair thing). He asked me not to sign Caleb up until we had been to one class. I'm guessing Caleb is probably the first kid on wheels that has ever come to this class and the coach was likely unsure how it would work. I knew Caleb was capable, but the coach didn't. Well he does now. Caleb rolled right in and participated fully the entire time. Yes the kids can run faster than he can roll but he gave it everything he had. He played hard and he had a blast. The coach came up to me after the class and was already talking about ways he can modify some things so that Caleb can continue to participate. So we will be signing Caleb up. 

Our first week of school included a science experiment. A hit with both boys.

I am using My Father's World for Caleb's curriculum. There is a heavy emphasis on reading real books and that is why I picked it. Caleb loves to read and is a very good reader. I like that this curriculum is well planned and organized, that helps me greatly. It follows a Monday-Thursday plan with Friday open for nature studies, catch-up work, field trips, whatever. I am also supplementing math and language arts because MFW doesn't cover those subjects. I plan to pull Benjamin into the lessons as much as possible.

One of the things that helped encourage me to make this homeschooling detour, was knowing that there was a strong local community of homeschoolers. There are field trips, family events, and weekly park playdates.
Feeding the turtles during one of the park playdates. The boys meet someone new almost every week. It's been great.

Those dark spots in the water are turtles. There are a ton of them and they come a swimmin' when we start throwing the bread in.

Today we celebrated a successful first week of homeschooling by eating donuts.

I'm happy to have the first week done. It was a nice relaxed week as we eased into a schedule (sorta) and started getting used to the curriculum and the routine. Next week will be a bit more involved as we begin to pull in more subjects. I'm really excited about this journey. I'm not so naive to think that homeschooling will be all lollipops and rainbows. I know there will be days that I want to run into the street searching for any available school bus to take both boys away. I know it will be hard. But I'm still excited. I'm happy to have both of my boys home. I'm happy to have this time with them. I don't think I realized how much stress and anxiety the public school routine was causing our family until now. I know I feel more relaxed. I don't intend to blog about every second of our homeschooling journey but since this blog is my scrapbook and journal, I will share bits and pieces here and there.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

B-Ball Season has begun!

For us, the end of summer means the beginning of basketball season! Caleb was so excited to get his brand new sports chair out on the court. As soon as he got into the gym he took off to see how fast his shiny new chair could go. 

Working on his shooting. He is still pretty far away from making a basket (even with the 8 foot goals). The older kids (age 10 and up) seem to do a better job at getting the ball in. It just takes time and lots of practice.


Dribbling.

Stretching it out before a long 2 hour practice.

It's hard work folks. Coach Michelle doesn't mess around. These kids give it all they have during those early Saturday morning practices. We are so blessed to have this wonderful team. Caleb really loves it.

This next picture isn't really related to basketball although the following injury did occur in the storage room at the gym. I wasn't there when it happened but the story I was told involved an old canoe and Caleb falling on his face.

Yikes.

I admit I got pretty queasy when Glenn brought Caleb home and I saw the gash on his chin. It was pretty deep and did require a few stitches. I joked that Caleb hit a major milestone yesterday, his first set of stitches that weren't a result of major surgery.


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