Boys

Thursday, October 17, 2013

IT'S FALL!!


First off, I am sorry I have not been posting as regularly as I had planned. Been a crazy few weeks around here. Nonetheless, I am back! So, where to begin...

It's FALL! I love fall (aside from the collection of coats that end up at school/daycare at the end of a week. Need a coat in the morning, not in the afternoon and not in the habit of remember to grab it!) with the crisp cool air, warm days, and chilly nights. The beauty that surrounds us is breathtaking.

This fall I found myself in a teaching moment with my two boys. My youngest, Jace (4), asked me about the varying trees. Why did some still have green leaves, others had colorful leaves, and why some had no leaves? I could have just told him it was due to the season changing and the weather getting colder. But, I didn't. My creative mind when to work and my son got a lesson in life.

I explained to him that the trees are going through their circle of life. He stared at me with a 'what?' face and then proceeded to ask me "where is the circle in the trees mommy?" Okay, let's take a step back.

Me: "This is the time of year that the trees drop their leaves to prepare for winter."
Jace: "Will I lose my hair?"
Me: "No son, but great analogy."
Jace: "What's anollogeee?"
Me: "A comparison...but, we will get back to that one later. So, the trees are losing their leaves because the leaves cannot live in the very cold winter. The leave die and fall off. In the spring, new leaves will grow."
Jace: "The tree is DYING (very dramatically)?"
Me: "No, the tree is not dying, it's just shedding it's leaves to make room for the new leaves in the spring. The leaves that fall provide a covering for the ground and make great piles for you to jump in to." - He giggled! "The trees that are still green over here (pointing) will eventually start to look like the tree over here (pointing to a tree with some change). Before long, a majority of the trees will look like this one (pointing at a tree with no leaves). See...the leaves have grown up. They are moving away from home now and making families of their own. In the spring the tree will have new 'baby' leaves. Those leaves will grow into big beautiful green leaves that provide shade and protection from the sun. As the weather gets cooler, the leaves are getting older, and in the fall, they are all grown up and move away."
Jace: "Kinda like kids go to college?"
Me: "Yes, but they do not come back. New leaves are born. Those leaves will eventually leaf the tree as well. This is the circle of life babe."
Jace: "So when I am big will I fall off."
Me: "No, but you will eventually move out and just come to visit."
Jace: "I don't want to move out, EVER!."
Me: "You have many, many, many falls before you are moving out."
Jace: "Okay....let's say good-bye to these leaves and wait for the baby leaves to be born. Can I get some ice cream now."

Okay, so it wasn't an in-depth philosophical approach to the circle of life - but, I think he got it, at least to an understanding of a 4 year old.

Aside from the constant dosing of allergy medications and the lost coats at school (see above) we enjoy fall time. We spend a LOT of time outside and love embracing the beauty. Our favorite - leaf piles! We use the blower (don't judge...who wants to spend time raking when a blower will do the job just as good) and pile up all the leaves. Then....1, 2, 3...JUMP! The boys laugh and giggle. They toss leaves around and bury themselves. We hide toys in the leaves and have 'treasure hunts' and make leaf-angels.

In the photos you see here I caught my boys playing in the leaves by themselves. They had no idea I was watching from the window and not a clue I was snapping photos. The innocence that is caught in their eyes and expressions in the photo above is priceless. Two brothers forming a bond over leaves. Two brothers that are enjoying nature and embracing the beauty around them. Two boys - my boys, full of love, laughter, and FUN!

Joyfully,

Their Mom

Do you see anyone? (Clay buried himself in leaves)
"Ahhh...what a great place to relax!" (Jace)




Monday, September 30, 2013

A Letter Every Mother Should Write to Her Son

As I looked at this photo of my youngest and me above thoughts began to swirl in my head. Wondering what he will be when he grows up? What will his children look like? Will he still be a mama's boy? What kind of husband will he be?

I have these thoughts about BOTH my boys. The constant pondering of how they will grow into responsible loving young men. They may only be 4 and 10 right now, but it is NEVER to early to share with them the following letter. I felt compelled to share this letter after reading it myself. My boys are the future....I want to enstill the best values in them as possible. It begins with this...

Dear Son,
Dating is a tricky thing and doing it right is difficult. But it is honestly, the most important thing you will ever do. Because how you date will dictate who you date. And who you date will become your wife. And who your wife is will determine your future family and so forth and so on. So date wisely.
Here are a few expectations I have for you when it comes to dating:
1. Always ask a girl on a date. Straight forward & direct. AND always ask in person. If that just isn’t possible then ask over the phone. Never, I mean never, ask a girl on a date through a text, instant message, or email.
2. Always take a girl out on a date. None of this “let’s hang out at my place & watch a movie” nonsense. I expect you to pick her up & take her somewhere. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate or immensely creative. Sometimes the best dates are simple, like a picnic in the park. You should always make sure you take her to a place you know she will feel comfortable & enjoy.
3. Open the car door for your date. Open all doors for your date.
4. Pay for your date. No questions asked. Your father & I will make sure you always have money for your dates. Do not ever split the bill.
5. Walk to the door to pick up your date. Never text from the car, or worse yet, HONK! And always walk your date to the door at the end of the night.
6. Use your good senses when it comes to kissing. Don’t kiss every girl, but don’t be afraid to kiss the right girl.
7. Listen to your date. The best dates involve getting to know the other person so take your date somewhere that will allow you to talk. Ask her questions & share insight about yourself. The purpose of dating is to find someone you could spend your future with. So the longer you date a person, the more you should get to know her.
8. Always make your intentions clear. If you aren’t clicking with a girl then end it. Don’t string her along. It may hurt her for a minute but she will appreciate your honesty. And if you are feeling a connection then let her know. A girl loves clarity. It will make the whole dating process easier if you follow this one simple rule.
9. Date around, but only seriously date one girl at a time. Once you’ve found a girl you are interested in and going exclusive with, be faithful to her. Always, always be faithful. If you decide things aren’t working out or you meet someone else you’d like to get to know, refer back to rule #8.
10. Be physical. The right way! Hold hands, put your arm around her shoulders or eventually her waist, kiss her head, put your hand on her knee, these sweet gestures speak volumes & make a woman feel cared for. Going too far physically only confuses the relationship & it can never be undone.
11. Handle her heart with care. Women are strong, but they are also delicate. Don’t ruin that. Do not be responsible for hardening a woman’s heart.
12. Get to know her family & friends and let your family & friends get to know her. Especially Me.
13. When the time comes, tell her you love her, a lot. In fact, tell her all sorts of nice things. Everyone deserves to be complimented.
14. Serve her. Not like a waiter. Perform acts of service for her; make her breakfast, take out her trash, offer her your jacket when she’s cold, you get the point.
15. Surprise her. Again, a little can go a long way. Just stick with small surprises. Bring her a case of her favorite soda, pick her flowers, or show up at her work for a surprise lunch date.
16. Never underestimate the power of the written word. As nice as it is to hear good things, it’s even better to have them written down so you can reference back to them. You should write letters or notes to your love often.
17. When the time is right & you’ve found that special someone, get down on one knee & ask her those 4 special words.
I love you now, forever and always. And know that someday, I’ll love her too.
Love, Mom

Joyfully, 
Their Mom

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My oldest, Clayton


Two blogs in one day! I have not yet posted much about my oldest son, Clayton, as since I have started the blog he has not been with me. His father and I are divorced and he is with his dad 3 out of 4 days during the week, with this past week being much longer due to my school schedule.

So - as I was going through my photos and came across this, I just had to post.

This photo shows Clay's personality so well (we bought those 'sunglasses' in Chicago on this day, he insisted on wearing them all day, everyday for about a week!). He is so full of life yet goofy, and cuddly and loving all at the same time. He goes about his life so carefree. He doesn't care what others think of him and he takes time to enjoy life so much. He is my true inspiration!

Clay is not only my inspiration becasue of his personality, but, because he has to overcome many obstacles everyday. Clayton has been poked and prodded since he was just under the age of 2 (he got to the point of crying ANYTIME he seen ANYONE in a white coat). Why? Becasue after his first word, 'mama' and 'Cak-er' (cracker) he stopped talking. He also drolled heavily and gagged on baby food. He didn't walk until he was 14 months old and was EXTREMELY strong (he was doing chin-ups at the kitchen table long before he could walk).

He has been in Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy since the age of 2 and has been in the community school districts special education program since he was 3. He has had more medical tests, blood draws, and specialists visits in his short life than normal people have in a lifetime.

We have been down the road of Autism, Aspergers, and Mental Retardation...just to name a few. After 6 long and agonizing years we finally got the official diagnosis by insisting on an MRI and CT scan at the University of Iowa through the neurology department. Let me first state that as a mother, you KNOW when there is something not right with your child. His pediatrician kept telling me to wait until he is 2 or, he is just developing a little slower. Well....I went above and beyond and contacted specialists myself. He got to the UIHC and to thearpy WITHOUT any referrals from his doc. Why? Because I demanded it and advocated for my child.

So, the diagnosis: Worster Drought Syndrome. (http://www.specialeducationalneeds.co.uk/worster-drought-syndrome-wds-2.html)

I found this out when the neurologist informed me my son had a cyst on his brain between the two hemispheres which impaired the fibers connecting our two hemispheres from connecting in that specific location. He will live with this cyst forever - would do more harm than good to remove it, and it should not grow. He has been hospitalized once for a seisure that is suspected from this cyst. When I found him unresponsive in his room, it was the scariest day of my life. When they say you can lift a car off your child with pur adrenaline, they were not joking. I scooped him up (deadweight and all), buckled him in the car and speed to the ER. We were not put in the waiting room, we were rushed back to a room and a crash cart was brought in. I wish this on NO parent!

We also discovered (at UIHC appointment) that he has WDS because his father and I passed both carried a recessive gene to the disorder. Talk about guilt!

Worster Drought is also known as 'Congential Suprabulbar Paresis'. WDS is a rare form, but recoqnized, form of Cerebral Palsy which affects the bulbar muscles. It causes problems with a child's mouth and tounge. Clay is unable to lateralize his tongue, so, communication is very difficult. I can have a much clearer and understandable conversation with my 4-year old than I can with my 10-year old. Those who are not close with Clay, may not understand him at all.

The symptoms are feeding difficulties (remember he used to gag when eating), toungue movements (unable to lateralize or stick out far in Clay's case), Arm and leg incoordination (he received occupational therapy due to lack of coordination and fine motor skills), Severe speech delays and persistent drooling (he had to wear a bib, and I had to change it twice a day, until he was 3 due to drooling). These are just the symptoms Clay has - there are more.

Children with WDS often have learning difficulties, emotional difficulties, and behavioral difficulties (all of which Clay has). They can also be diagnosed with Dyspraxia (hard to carry out smooth and coordinated movements, Clay has this as well although to a unnoticable degree). Kids with WDS can also have ADHD (yep, Clay has it).

Clay is on a cocktail of medications that help to control his hyperactivity, behavior, and emotional issues that I wish he didn't have to take. We have considered taking him off medicine, but, that is a disservice to him. He can't focus and tends to get in trouble at school and peers avoid him because of his behavior. Hopefully, one day, we can limit the medication by other methods that have yet to be discovered.

If you were to cross Clay on the street, you would not think anything of him. He looks like any other ordinary child. You would not know there was anything different with him, unless and until you tried to talk to him. Due to his anxiety he tends to have a few ticks that rotate from time to time. He will play with his fingers rapidly and when he gets excited while playing he will yell over and over. He absolutely HATES the feel of jeans and some other forms of fabric on his skin (tags must be removed) and will only wear a certain type of pant. He hears every sound going on in a single area as though it is the dominate sound in the situation.

Imagine for a moment, you are having coffee with a friend at a coffee shop and you are conversing. You occassionally get distracted by the sound of the coffee machine, door opening, or someone droping a spoon. You may also overhear the soft whispers of conversation around you. All the while you are not paying attention to the feel of your clothes or texture of the table in which you are resting your hands.
You are focused on your friend and everything else is just happening in the background.

Now, let's take a look at it from Clayton's perspective. That coffee pot that is brewing coffee is so loud it hurts his ears. The door that rings everytime a customer comes in pierces his ears. The multiple conversations are like screaming matches in his head. The spoon that fell, will be so loud he may jump. The clothes on his body, he feels every fiber and he hates it. That texture on the table - it irritates him under his arms. All of this - ALL of it is going on at the same exact time while he is trying to focus on his friends conversation. This would make ANYONE anxious and irritable. I can only imagine what goes on in his head daily.

He inspires me to never give up and to keep going. If he can make it through every day with all he has to endure appearing as though he is a normal functioning member of society (meaning no one can tell he is going through this) tells me that I can handle anything. I do not have the difficulties he has (although I would take them in a moment if I knew it would 'cure' him). Whenever a struggle comes my way, I think of Clay and how he has to struggle every moment of every day. I pull up my big girl panties and trudge forward not allowing myself to give-up. Why? Becasue my son CAN'T give up, he doesn't have the option...this is his life.

Although his father and I are divorced, we co-parent very well and advocate for our child. We are involved in school and have set-up resources for him to assist in his education. We do not allow him to use his disability as a crutch. He has to try and order his own food at a restaurant, even if that means pointing to the item. When someone says hi to him that he knows, instead of shying and hiding behind one of us, we make him say respond. This may seem cruel but social skills are hugely affected with WDS.

I concern myself with bullying and how I will handle it when he enters middle school. Right now, he is very popular and the kids love to be around him. Like I said, he radiates positive energy and is full of life and fun to be around. However, his mentality and speech are behind his peers, eventually I am afraid they will move on and Clay will be a target for bullies. I stand before all of you readers and confirm to you that if anyone bullies my son, I will NOT turn a blind eye. I will be at that school, location, parents house, whatever...the moment I find out it is happening.

Clay is very intune with my emotions. He knows when I am sad without me even showing the emotion. He is the first to ask me if I am okay and offer a hug and kiss if he senses I am out of sorts. I will do everything in my power to protect him from the ways of the world.

There are days it is difficult. There are days I have had to call his dad because I needed a break. There are days I cry and ask God why Clay was born with this condition. In the end, Clay has a purpose. It may be to teach me patience (patience is NOT my forte). It may be to show others how you can continue to be positive and enjoy life despite the obstacles in your path. It may very well be becasue the Lord KNEW Clay was strong enough to carry this life and be an inspiration to others. For me, he has achieved that.

No one can tell us if or when he will improve. I may never have a clear conversation with my son. If I don't understand something, he will draw it (he has become quite the artist). What I do know is that my son has the biggest heart, a heroic soul, and is one of the most loving, full of life kids I have ever met (and I am not being biased).

So, the next time you see a child throwing a tantrum at a store, restaurant, or movie theatre and you are annoyed or curse under your breath sayin 'can't she handle her child' or your child points and asks you why that person is different, or you see a stressed parent who looks like they are exhausted and defeated. Don't walk away! Don't judge! You never know what their life entails. Just becasue everyone 'looks' normal does not mean that they are. It does not mean they don't have an abundance of struggles they face every day. It does not mean that parent can't handle their child, it may simply mean she chose her battle and let him win because it was the better of two evil. It could also mean that she is just exhausted...exhausted at constantly medicating her child and trying to keep him in line 100% of the time to appease those around her. The day that child has an outburst during the plot of your movie or throws a tantrum while you are trying to enjoy your date....just think, maybe it was that day she decided to let her child be A CHILD, to be himself...without medication or without constantly being disciplined and put in line. That day could be the one day that child is experiencing freedom from the vices that limit his true self.

Clay, you are a true inspiration. Don't let anyone ever tell you differently. Remember I will never judge you for anything. You can talk to me about anything, you may disagree with my reaction but I am your mother and have your best interest at heart. Your home is a safe haven, a place for you to be yourself and unlock the chains you struggle with. If someone ever hurts you physically or by words....look them in the eye and smile. Show them your love for life the WAY YOU ARE. If you are hit first for something you did not initiate, you have my permission to hit back. Protect yourself, but, you better come home with a damn good reason on why you had to react in such a manner. I won't judge you or discipline you for defending yourself or your family, but, I never want to hear of you being the initiater. Also, just because I think it is okay for you to hit back - please remember, it is the last resort.

I am proud of you buddy!

Love you,
Mom

Joyfully,
Their Mom


2013 Harvest Moon








If you did not get a chance to see and capture the 2013 Harvest Moon on September 18, 2013 you missed a beautiful view!

My 4 year-old, Jace, and I went outside to experience this beautiful event together. He looked and said 'BEAUTIFUL' then quickly turned away and started playing with his Freesbie trying to get it caught in the tree! I tried my best to get him to enjoy the sight much longer with me, but, a 4-year old's attention span is not the greatest when your looking at a stationary object with no remote control attached or fast moving motions. So, as he continued to toss the freesbie talking with the neighbor watering her tomatoes I sat on my lawn and captured the moon it one of it's most beautiful states. It was 99% illuminated and the sky was perfect for viewing.

After about 30 minutes of camping out on my lawn staring in awe I decided it was time to get the little one in for his bath. Of course, this included chasing him around the yard bartering with him to get him in the house. after a promise of not 1, but 2 cookies we finally got in the house with little to no resistance.

I filled the tub and Jace climbed in. Within a few minutes I hear tremendous laughter and splashing. What I find when I re-enter the bathroom can only be described as something a 100% boy would do. He likes to play with shaving cream in the tub, so he gets a can of his own every other week. Our motto on this is "When it's gone, it's gone!" Well....he didn't care about this motto last night.

I enter the bathroom and he has the shaving cream can horizontal with the spout up. You can imagine what this may have looked like. Shaving cream is shooting up in the air atleast 3 feet and he is laughing thinking it is the coolest thing ever. I am standing there shaking my head looking at my flooded bathroom and shaving cream EVERYWHERE! It was in this moment that I could have done 1 of 2 things.

1. I could have disciplined him for making such a mess and crushed his creative soul and experience of the world through a child's eyes. Or, and what I did do,

2. Laugh, throw a towel on the floor to soak up the water, and joined in the fun.

We painted the shower walls with shaving cream and created 'shaving cream volcanoes' with the can. We shared an everlasting memory that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life!

I did not caputre photos as I am not a believer of photographing my children after a certain age in the tub, plus, this little guy is very demanding when it comes to his privacy (mom or dad must face the wall in a public restroom while he does his business...do NOT look at him, you'll hear it from him if you do!).

I got a glimpse of the wrold through my child's eye. I am often up into the wee hours of the morning catching up on work and homework often letting life pass me by. It was a fresh of breath air to see what it would look like to stop and enjoy life. My innocent son didn't care about the mess or the fear he may get in trouble. He merely took the time to enjoy life and have fun while doing it. Such an awesome thing to witness.

We witness these events in our children everyday, but do we really comprehend the moment. We often sigh, yell, discipline, or grit our teeth in frustration as we are left the clean the mess. Now, after really opening my eyes and enjoying the world from my son's eyes, I vow to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy life, and be as silly as possible with my son as he grows.

Of course we cannot do this all the time. Children need to learn right from wrong and when it is appropriate to forgo all the rules - but, I challenge you to make an effort once a day when you catch your child doing something that you may otherwise be frustrated with or have an instant reaction to shame them for it - STOP! Smile and join in. I guarantee you will relive your youth from your child's eyes AND, you may just get a different view of life we often don't save time for as busy parents.

Joyfully,

Their Mother

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Home Decor

 
Does this scene look familiar? This my friends, is my living room. I have been overrun by car tracks, garages, and stray cars strewn about. This surely was not the d├ęcor I had imagined as I shopped for fall decorations this weekend. As you can see....I didn't get any fall decorations AND that large multi-level parking garage in the photo is the reason I didn't get said decorations.

I happily traded in my desire for some cute pumpkins, wreaths, and beautiful (yet breakable) figurines to stage around my home to make it feel more like 'fall' so Jace could get home to tear into the box and play with his new garage.

I had NO idea how large this thing was. I mean...it was a $25.00 toy from Wal-Mart in a normal sized box you could carry with one hand. Once we put it together we thought we were going to have to build an addition to the house to store the darn thing.

So, now instead of pumpkins (that would likely get stabbed with toy airplanes and Kinects), I have this large garage sitting oh-so-perfectly in the living room. Instead of a nice wreath (likely would have been used to throw baseballs, footballs, and darts through) I have a 6 foot car ramp. And, instead of beautiful fall figurines (who's kidding...they would have been broken within 1 day of being set out), I have stray cars around my house that I am bound to break a hip on when I step on one and go skating across the kitchen floor!

So, in my wonderful world of parenting boys I have succumbed to the realization that until they are about 16, they own the home decorating. So, for now...the boys are I will race these cars around the house like the Indy 500!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The two boys and me (the mom) that started this all...

Well, here we are. I am the one sandwiched between these two handsome little men. Clay (in the blue) and Jace (in the purple) are the two most important men in my life. These two little guys are my inspiration, joy, happiness, and reason for existence. Did I forget to tell you they are also the reason for my love of chaos (only because I had to either learn to enjoy it or tear my hair out), stains in my light tan carpet, and the reason I stubbed my toe because one forgot to pick up his car track before bed? Oh, and have you ever stumbled to the bathroom half asleep in the middle of the night only to step barefoot on a Lego? I have...it is NOT fun! Yep...here they are, making their grand debut to all of you. My two sons. That is us....just two boys and their mom!
 
This blog will be filled with happy, sad, funny, disgusting, and possibly boring things ranging from my son's first homerun to cleaning out my oldest mouth because he ate a piece of dog poop when he was two (yes, I just gagged thinking of that memory...still). You may shed some tears, laugh, or sigh as you read along. The goal of this blog is not to simply fabricate a story for one's simple enjoyment (because my stories will not be fabricated), but, to share my experience, memory, and love for the two little men in my life that mean the absolute most to me.
 
Don't worry...I won't keep it all mushy and act as though I have the perfect children. Boys are disgusting...trust me, I have two...and the things I have seen, heard, and pretended NOT to notice are yet to be shared...but, my hope is that through my experiences of playing with trucks in the dirt, running to baseball only to sprint to swim lessons while doing homework in the car, and trying to teach them how to aim when they pee, will help you or someone you know take a deep breath and count to 10 when they stop in that moment, daydream of what it would be like to have that perfect little girl in her frilly pink dress standing oh-so-perfectly in front of you as you tighten her hair bow, as you are on your way to wipe yet another booger off the wall. Trust me, I know...don't hide it...I've been there too. Girls surely can't be this destructive and gross, right?
 
So, with that, I leave my first post with the following homework...oh yeah, did I forget to mention there was homework? Oh...don't leave...it's not that difficult! :)
The next time you are painting your nails to get ready for the weekend wedding you were invited to and your son asks you to play in the sandbox with him, instead of telling him he has to wait for your nails to completely dry, dig in...create a new look with those 'beachy' fingers. Go to that wedding or event, as is, and when someone comments on your manicure (good or bad) stop and catch your emotion, before you even answer. I can almost guarantee you that you will have a smile start across your face as you look down and see the smudged, sand logged, not so perfect paint job because it will take you back to that very moment...that precious moment you didn't make your child wait and you ran off to play with him as though you too couldn't wait to dig into the community cat box!
 
Think about it...then, write that memory down. Place it in a sealed envelope with the date and address it to simply 'My son'. Put this away, in a box, and upon his graduation, or marriage, or whenever your choose....give him this box of memories. It will be one of the best things you can ever give. Memories...ones caught in the moment now treasured as you remember them, vividly, for him to read and possibly revisit himself as he scans your cursive.
 
Joyfully,
Their Mom