Being Known and Being Missed

IMG_5296As we entered the building, there were greetings and cheers.

“Hi, Chloe!”

“Chloe!”

“Yay! There’s Chloe!”

Everyone was happy to see her. And she ate it all up. She waved at her friends and her fans alike as we entered into the cheer gym for the first day of practice for a new season.

What a great feeling to enter a place and be greeted by name by friends who love you and have missed you.

I’m so glad that Chloe has that feeling of acceptance and friendship in several different settings. At school each morning, she’s greeted energetically by sweet friends. At church, folks are glad to see her and greet her by name. And at cheerleading each week, when she enters, the room erupts with excitement.

Chloe over the years has gained confidence and awareness and the mutual respect of greeting others (usually, anyway!). She will look their way or wave or say Hi.

Friendship. Relationships. Being known. Being appreciated. Being missed when you’re not there. Being loved. Being seen and noticed.

Yes, Chloe matters to people. And nearly as exciting: those people matter to Chloe. J

Never Give Up

My girl is persistent. Thankfully.

She tries to tell me things. I nearly always know what she’s saying. But now and then, I just miss it.

Sometimes she gives me more than one chance to get her message. Other times, if I miss it, then too bad so sad for me.

Chloe, age 12 (and a half!), is mostly nonverbal. But she is quite a communicator. She gets her point across usually — especially if you’re “listening.”

Recently Chloe tried to tell me something for about 7 days in a row. Each time, I responded in a way that was NOT satisfying to her. But she was determined for me to understand…because she would greatly benefit from my understanding.

You see, Chloe has a love affair with stuffed dogs, especially dogs that have batteries and make noise. She owns a half dozen varieties of the My Pal Scout dog. She loves them and often gets them all going at one time, making them say their  phrases together in unison. She also often googles “My Pal Scout” on YouTube and watches reviews of Scout and his female counterpart, Violet (of whom she also has several varieties).

For days, Chloe would squeeze the belly of her My Pal Scout and vocalize to get my attention. Each time I responded with, “Scout’s belly doesn’t do anything. You just push his 2 hands and his 2 feet.”

And each time she would squeeze his belly again, not satisfied with my answer.

Then she would try again later that day or the next day. Each time I answered that Scout’s belly isn’t a button.

The day that Chloe said she wanted to go shopping with 2 of her cousins and me, I knew she had something up her sleeve because she is not one to volunteer to run errands. She much prefers the privacy of her own bedroom to going out and about. She grabbed her Scout as we headed out to the car.

Once in the car, she vocalized to get my attention and proceeded to squeeze Scout’s belly. I responded with my usual, “Scout’s belly doesn’t do anything. You have to squeeze his hands or his feet.” This time I added, “Some toys have bellies that you squeeze, but Scout just has his hands and his feet.”

Chloe then made a heart sign over her own belly and looked at me expectantly. This caused me to focus in a little harder.

“Is there a Scout with a heart?” I asked.

“Yes,” she nodded.

It was then I realized that Chloe must have seen a later-version of Scout on a YouTube toy review that has a belly that you push. Or maybe a heart that lights up or something. “And you want to buy it at the store?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she nodded again, surely relieved that her mama was finally catching on.

“And THAT’s why you wanted to come shopping with us?” I smiled at her.

“Yes,” she nodded triumphantly.

I was glad I had figured out what she had been saying, but I doubted the accuracy of our communication. The parts I had understood were a belly to push and a heart, but LeapFrog wouldn’t put hearts on the belly of a dog. Maybe you push the belly and the heart lights up or something?? I wasn’t sure. But she had clearly placed the heart sign on her own belly. She was probably not paying attention to what she was doing.

A bit later, we arrived at the LeapFrog aisle of Toys ‘R Us and lo and behold right there front and center was a Scout dog with hearts on his belly. She grabbed Scout and pressed his belly. He immediately sang a happy song in response.

A very happy Chloe held Scout tight as we made our way to the front of the store to check out. She had seen this very Scout on YouTube and had very clearly shown me that he had a belly that you push and that belly had hearts on it!

And now a happy girl owned it!

In case you ever wonder, just know that persistence pays off. As does patience. As does shopping with the girls every now and then.

Welcome to the family, New Scout!

Mourning Loss

Three weeks ago, our little lives on this humongous planet were altered forever. Three weeks ago today, my dad had a massive stroke. And we were forced to say “Goodbye” to an amazing man — way earlier than we ever imagined.

My dad. You know him as Papa, and he’s a major commenter on this blog. He’s my greatest fan, and always has been. He and my mom have been my cheerleaders, my supporters, my encouragers, my friends. If you’re interested in getting to know him, choose a post on this blog and peruse the comments. You’ll learn quickly how much he adored me and how much he adored Chloe and my boys and my whole family. He was passionate. His comments here always made me smile and made me stand a little taller.

Emotions have always been difficult for Chloe. She has made improvements in recent years and has learned to enjoy some happy emotions of her own and of others. But she still tries to hide from anyone’s strong emotions. They are just too much to process. I think she feels them in a crazy exaggerated way, more than you and me.

She quickly grasped the fact that her Papa was in Heaven; in fact, she sweetly flew one of her stuffed dogs up in the air to show me that she knew where Papa was. Probably she doesn’t really understand the finality of death — but I don’t think I really do either. Maybe we just accept the finality a little bit at a time, and then when we are ready for it…a little bit more.

After joining lots of friends and extended family at Mimi’s house the first day following my dad’s death, Chloe had had enough. While she didn’t experience anyone having a big ol’ ugly cry in front of her, the emotion was clear to her. There was activity, there was laughter, there were tears, there was sadness, there was rejoicing, there were hugs… It was a lot for a little girl who stands ready to explode with emotion even in an everyday situation.

The next day she made it clear to me that she did NOT want to go back to Mimi’s house. She banged and banged and banged her little hand on the floor and signed and yelled, “Home! Home! Home! Home!” I allowed her to stay at home and grieve in her own way. For 2 days she asked to stay at home and in her room where it was quiet and peaceful and predictable…but where she was still very aware of Papa’s passing and of everyone’s emotions, including her own.

Then the next couple of days, she needed to be with the family as we offered visitation for friends and then celebrated my dad’s life the following day (another post for another day!!). A good friend of mine came and accompanied Chloe for those 2 big events, and Chloe did beautifully. To most observers, it appeared that Chloe wasn’t paying attention and was in her own world, but on several occasions, she proved otherwise — she listened, heard, and understood every word spoken.

In the weeks following the service, my mom’s house has been a revolving door for loved ones and friends who have taken good care of us during a very difficult time. And I somehow forgot to be sure that Chloe’s emotional needs were met. We were on the go and at my mom’s house and entertaining and shopping and playing games and loving on family day and night. I dragged Chloe with me nearly everyday without thinking much about it. But finally (thankfully) I realized that I was pushing her way beyond her limits, and she was very, very stressed out.

I slowed our pace and tried to make her (and Zippy who didn’t seem to be quite as stressed) needs my number one priority as I should have done all along. She has remained very fragile and stressed ever since. I think she’s improving and recovering, but I allowed her stress level to get high, and she needs time to rest and recover. I feel terribly about it, but I’m trying to fix it.

I may never know exactly the emotions my girl felt or feels today about her Papa’s death. And as I said, I’m not even sure of my own emotions in all of this. But it has been an important reminder that I need to remember that my little family has limits that need to always be respected. It must be my priority to protect and care for my family at all times — especially in times of great need like we’ve had these past 3 weeks.

I vow to do a better job at it–even in the midst of my own pain– as a mom must do.

Dad would surely leave a comment below telling me not to be so hard on myself…that I did a great job, considering…that he’s thankful for me and so proud of the mother I am. He would type it in all caps and use lots of exclamation points. He would probably remind me how good God is and how special my family is. He would tell me that loves me and possibly quote a scripture or a worship song for good measure. It was just his way.

I’ll consider his comment posted and approved. :)

Thanks for your constant approval and praise, Dad. We love you and miss you terribly.  <3

 

Papa <3

 

Self-Taught

My girl. Full of surprises always.

Yesterday, she was whistling. Wait, what? Whistling? I’ve never heard you whistle!

Exactly.

My girl taught herself to whistle. And I’m one proud mama.

We continue to fight against Chloe’s body regressing and getting tighter and weaker. It seems she loses more skill in walking and sitting and getting around each week. We feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, but we continue to fight it, determined not to give up until we’re completely defeated by it.

Yet, in the midst of what appears to be regression, my girl gains a skill. A coveted skill! A skill her brother very much wishes he had! In fact, last night each time Chloe would whistle, Zippy would yell at her to stop! because he was so jealous of her.

Yes. My girl gained a new skill — one that she taught herself to do.

Hahahaha! I love it!

And I’m encouraging her to show it off!!

Whistle a sweet tune, sweet girl! I love that you write your own music in this journey that we’re on together!

Happy New Year!

It’s minute one of a new year.

12:01AM

January 1

2014

No resolutions — it’s just groundwork for failure.

No word of the year — having to narrow down to just one word makes me shoot too high and miss the mark after a week or so.

But I do have a few thoughts as I enter this new year.

My mission in 2014:

  • Extend grace.
  • Do a little each day.
  • Recognize miracles.
  • Choose happiness.
  • Be someone’s light.

Sounds like the recipe for a good year of contentment. Bring it on.

 

2013

We are 12 hours away from beginning a new year. For those who have followed this blog for long know that I love love love new beginnings. A fresh start. A clean slate. A beautiful new canvas to add color to…to add life to…and to add purpose to.

2014 is fast approaching. But before jumping right into that new beginning, I’ve been thinking about what 2013 was for me.

12 months. One year. 365 days. That seems like such a loooong time when you think about it. But then again, it seems like a fleeting moment when you really think about it. Those moments. Those lessons. Those blessings. Now they’re all just a sweet memory that leaves a sweet, sweet taste in my mouth. …and then there are others that make my eyes water with the sourness and bitterness. Yes, a yearful of stuff to ponder.

In 2013, I grew in thankfulness for my children and in their uniquenesses. The love I feel for them sometimes feels like a punch in the gut and takes my breath away. The tears spill out as I consider my love for them. They each truly have my whole heart and being. Motherhood is not like anything I ever imagined. I have been so proud of each of them this year! They are so amazing! The best in the world, hands down!

I learned more of my weakness in 2013. There are times when I am so determined and so stubborn that it fools me into thinking I’m strong and capable. But I have really learned the deep truth that I am a weakling…a tiny little incapable weakling. Thankfully I serve a big God who makes me strong, but I am nothing at all without Him. Just a weak, nothing, little girl. And this year I realized that over and over and over as I realized I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do and had to step out of some commitments. I realized it as I have watched Chloe’s body regress and worked my tail off to make it stop — but I can’t. I’m nothing. I realized my weakness as I went back to work very part-time this fall and felt the extent of the toll that working just-that-little-bit takes on me and my high-maintenance family.

In 2013 I discovered that happiness is a choice and a deliberate decision. Happiness isn’t something that just happens naturally in certain circumstances. It’s a choice. It’s a choice that I can choose even when things are really stinky and depressing and hard. And happiness is something that can get you out of bed in the morning. It can help you laugh at things that could otherwise ruin your day in an instant. It can remind you to look on the bright side even though it’s the darkness that is so glaringly obvious. Happiness is a choice. And life is a whole lot more livable when I choose it.

In 2013, I learned that in order to have a friend, I have to be a friend. Friendship takes effort — deliberate effort. And while there are times when other important things in life must trump the efforts of friendship, the truth is friendship is very important and must be nurtured. Friendship is water for the soul. And I have become very thirsty.

And in 2013, I was shocked by the smallness of our world. Getting acquainted for the first time with my half brother and his sweet family who live across the globe forced this world I’m standing on to shrink up in an instant. Messaging, texting, calling, and chatting face-to-face on the computer screen with them made Earth tiny. (2013 = tiny Earth)

However, with the shrinking world, I also felt my heart nudged in the opposite direction, too, as 2 of my nephews and one of my brothers scattered from Texas to follow their dreams/journeys. To have nearly always lived within 15 minutes’ drive of everyone and then to be scattered across the world is such an odd thing. It leads me to desire more connection with my family while there’s still time. (Sound morbid? Don’t mean it for it to. It has just made my heart oddly tender.)

So as those who know me can maybe sense, 2013 was strangely emotional for me. Since I don’t do well with emotion, it has been an odd one. One in which I am having to re-evaluate and figure things out. I don’t know…maybe I’m finally growing up and having grown up thoughts and feelings….

2013 was not the year I expected. But 2013 has grown me hugely (in more than one sense of the word, unfortunately!!! hahaha). Seriously, it really has. Maybe I have more questions than answers for the first time in my life. I’m waaaaay more thoughtful/introspective than ever — and it really sorta weirds me out.

2013, thanks for all you taught me and brought me. I think we did okay together. See ya. Putting ya in the books.

Image credit: http://www.backgroundsy.com

Thankful, yes.

So, I know yesterday was Thanksgiving, and everyone wrote their thankfulness posts yesterday and have moved onto Christmas. But I’m a day late. Please let me indulge in a thankfulness post a few hours tardy.

I like Thanksgiving. It is a very important holiday for us to gather with our family and love on them and say a few things that we probably should say more often during the year: I love you. I’m thankful for you. I’m glad you are in my life. I’m grateful for our relationship and for your friendship. Etc.

Besides hanging with some of our favorite people, eating some of our favorite foods that are reserved only for that Thursday celebration in November, we just sit around and watch TV or play games. (I mean besides the slaving in the kitchen before and after the meal.) And besides, the food is fantastic!

And Thanksgiving is just a great time to count our blessings and name them one by one!

While I won’t be able to name them one by one because I think it would make my blog explode from the length of the post, I will tell a few things that I listed this year — in no particular order.

thankful

I am thankful for my children. Each one of them are incredibly hard workers, persistent and determined in their own areas. They have all 3 accomplished great things — unexpected things. All 3 of my children have a heart for God and love to worship Him; they love to listen for His voice and believe the things He says to them. And each of my kids have completely, 100% stolen my heart forever and always — they cause me happy tears and a full heart nearly everyday. They are truly my gifts!

I am thankful for Paul. He goes to work everyday to support his family. His family causes more stress and difficult decisions than most families do, and he keeps on keeping on. He recognizes and deals with each of our quirks and loves us anyway. He enjoys life and has passions in life that he follows and makes a priority. He is the smartest person I know and nearly always has his nose in a book.

I am thankful for Paul’s family. His parents, still married after more than 50 years, enjoy their children and their grandchildren. They have a big house and love to have it filled with their family and friends. Paul’s family likes to have fun, and laugh, and play games.

I am thankful for my family. My parents love their children and grandchildren and are filled with pride and thankfulness for our relationships and successes. My parents have been married for 50 years and have passed down quite a legacy of faithfulness and commitment and purpose to me and my brothers. I love to gather with them and my sis-in-law and my nephews and niece. Our family who gets along and enjoys each other is so unusual this day and age, and I’m thankful for it.

I’m thankful for my house and my neighborhood. I love to be in the 4 walls of my house. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There’s space for everyone and love in every room. It’s a place of making memories for my family. Our neighborhood is racially diverse and is a great mix of ages. We even have a little lake and walking trail that is a lovely place to be. It’s a great place to live.

I’m thankful for my church. My kids have great friends there and have learned to have a personal relationship with Jesus. My boys have had mentors who have helped grow them up in the things of God. They have learned to worship God passionately and to use their gifts for the Lord.

I am thankful for my kids’ teachers and schools. Elliot has opportunities that he excels at, Zippy has some teachers who he has bonded with, and Chloe’s team of teachers have been amazing. When you entrust your children to a group of people for 7 hours everyday, it’s so important to know that good things are happening for those 7 hours! It is NOT something that our family takes for granted since we have experienced it both ways.

I am thankful for the sounds my children make when they practice their instruments! I LOVE IT! I wish they practiced for hours everyday so I could listen more and more! Elliot on the marimba, snare, and bells; Zippy on the violin; and Chloe on the cello. Keep on making music!

And this year for the first time, I have someone else to be thankful for. A couple of months ago I connected with my long-lost half brother. He is 9 years older than me. I’ve always known about him but never met him. His daughter reached out to our family on facebook, and we’ve been chatting and getting to know each other for the last six weeks or so. My brother has been married to a lovely woman for 25 years and has 2 wonderful daughters, age 23 and 10. So just like that, I gained a brother, a sister-in-law, and 2 nieces! What fun! And what an amazing gift to receive right before the holidays!

Yes, my heart is full of thankfulness. Can’t you see why?? That is quite the list!

And now we enter into Christmastime! So joyful! Bring it on!

Photo credit: http://www.abortioneers.blogspot.com
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