Saturday, May 30, 2015

Family Photos

We wanted to get pictures of Isaac for his baptism invitations but with our new level of chaos, we never managed to make it out to Mesa for pictures at the temple. Instead we did it outside the Phoenix temple in the chapel next to it. Grumpy as I was at the stress of not meeting all the demands, it turned out to be a pretty good morning. We got some nice shots of Isaac and some of each of us. While they are amateur at best with no photo touch ups, the teamwork of two adults can manage alright with four kids!

These two have become the best of friends, it's one of the most natural shots and it warms my soul!
A true Isaac shot!
This one is sweet too, Isaac was picking flowers for me!
I adore this crazy family of ours!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Being Brave

Keila has had a rough go of things the last year or two. We recently took some assessments and found out she has been having anxiety attacks often. She hating leaving home or not having one of us there with her and it was affecting her socially and academically at preschool.
It's hard to explain to people who don't deal with anxiety. All fear, logical or illogical have a life of their own and can be amplified until they seem too vast to control. All we can do is retreat and cope which is only a shell of who we really are.

We've worked hard with a counselor to help her understand how her thoughts and actions can make these fears grow. Her teachers have learned to know when she's withdrawing and helped make small daily goals to move out of her comfort zone. It's made a difference, the child that once hid in the corner with books and never smiled or looked people in the eye has opened up. Peers and other parents have noticed too and the following pictures from the end of school year really show it.
Our egg drop experiment.
For the summer we are working on her fears of swimming the full 25 m and performing in front of others. Hopefully this will help bridge next year where it will be a new school, new faces and teachers. It's a big change for a little one and off and on I hear her say to herself, "I can do it, I can be brave!" Right now it's just a mantra, but one day she'll know it to be true. I love this little girl with all my heart!
Keila and Mrs. Crabb

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Turning Eight?!

I can't believe my first little man will be turning eight. It seems like it was only yesterday when he arrived, thrusting Kent and I into the amazing adventure of parenthood. He is ever the bright and enthusiastic soul and I'm so grateful to have him in our lives.
He has matured so much in this last year. it shows in how he interacts with his siblings, taking time to keep Leora entertained and happy, playing with Eli on a level he can understand and showing a generosity of character to Keila when it would be so much easier simply to be unkind. He is starting to take responsibility for his choices and the consequences that come with it. It makes me proud when he owns his own choices and you see him glow a little when he knows it.
This particular birthday has great significance as Isaac has chosen to be baptize in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I've watched him grow in sensitivity to the Spirit and it makes me happy to see him truly want to make the promises of standing as a witness of God and keeping his commandments.
Being a first born child I've often reflected how hard parents can be on that child, simply because we are new at everything with them. I'd like to say we weren't that way with Isaac but I'm afraid we're not. We love him though and I'm m particularly grateful for his forgiving nature, his kind heart. He's is such a bright young man and with his tender soul he makes me proud. Love you bud!

Friday, May 8, 2015

It's Not the Word

There has been a campaign called 'Spread the Word to End the Word'. As a mother with a child with Down Syndrome I was thrilled about the campaign. Just to be absolutely clear, this is a campaign against the R- word or 'retard'. I shudder when I hear the word, whether in jest or in reference to an atypical individual.

But over time I felt a measure of discouragement. You see, it not so much the word itself that I wish to see end, it's so much more. Language is a constantly evolving thing. A classic example is the word 'gay' for which I highly doubt the younger generation knows it's original meaning. How the word is used, the tone, the context always says even more than the word itself.
Little man signing 'eat' as he waits for his birthday cupcake.

There was a debate on a Facebook page about a joke posted about a teen who called someone 'special needs' because he felt her behavior was strange or silly. While the R-word was not used, it could have easily been placed in the sentence. The reaction from many parents of children with special needs was a little primal - mama bear come to cuff the head off anyone who harms her child and understandably so. What hurt was the offensiveness was still present although the words had changed. What we really want to stop is the thoughtless comments, the joking at another persons expense, the unkind ways we talk with or to others.

I'm well aware there are some who would say I am over sensitive to this because of my experiences. Others may argue that all labels should stop, including ones such as special needs. After all, the beginings of 'retard' were for much the same purpose. The irony in that statement is that it is those labels that have brought me the greater family and friends that I cherish. We understand each other because of our similar experiences. With that label I was able to know I wasn't alone in this experience of parenting a atypical child. On the other hand, it also serves to divide, mark off my child from the others and make those differences more pronounced. It can make us more alone. It's all in the context, the tone.

Perhaps what we really need is a campaign to simply be more kind, more thoughtful.

I know it doesn't have the same ring to it as other campaigns. It isn't even new, it's what our parent, grandparents, etc have taught for generations and perhaps there's a reason for that - we just aren't there yet. I do think we are better now that past generations, more aware of racism, there is more inclusion and exposure to others who are different. There is progress. But there is room for growth.

I want you to know I am by no means perfect (just ask my husband - I have a sharp tongue that he has unfortunately been on the receiving end of). I just know that before I had my children I saw things with such a limited view. At times I have been unkind, intentional or unintentional, and I regret those times. Not just because it tears others down, but also because it made me less human. I am grateful to those who gave me a measure of mercy and kindly corrected me. So now when offensive things come, I try to show that same generosity.

We are all learning, we learn together because of each other. I humbly suggest that when pain and offense comes, (because let's be honest, it's not a matter of if offense comes, but when) take a deep breath and swallow the bitterness. Remember our own ignorance not so long ago. Proudly share what we have learned and step back to let exposure, time and experience teach. To those on the receiving end,if we come off harsh please know we simply love someone who's future we fear for, especially If that someone lacks the means to speak for themselves. We are all children of God, we all have worth. It's not in the words we use but so much more the intention. May we strive to lift more often than we cut down.

I love this little guy with all my heart!