Archive for December, 2011

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 in Pictures

Remembering the year fondly . . . .


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Almost Out

Our bed tent saga continues. Just when we think we have Chloe safely contained in her bed, she finds a way to escape. We have used the Nickel Bed Tent for several months, repairing its holes and rips as we go. Chloe is so bound and determined to fight her way out. It sometimes cracks me up . . . it sometimes makes me want to cry. But it always keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure.

Here’s a funny little video of her attempted escape a while back. Seems she got half way out of her tent, but couldn’t get the rest of the way out. Nor could she get herself back in. Funny stuff. But, of course, it could also have been dangerous. That’s why we are on quite the quest to find a safe sleeping solution for Chloe.

Meanwhile, enjoy a comical video at her expense! LOL!


A Word for 2012

While I am not a jump-on-the-bandwagon type girl, I am jumping on the bandwagon.  While I am not one to join in on the latest thing, I’m joining in on this latest thing.  While I am usually one to watch others follow along while I just roll my eyes, this time I am following along.

I’m joining up.  I’m doing it.  Even though everyone else is doing it.

I am picking a word for 2012!

A theme.  A goal.  A focus.  One that I can revisit often during the year, reminding myself to keep up the action and the meaning of the word.  One that I can share with you throughout the year and share how I am doing with my word and with my focus.

I’ve been doing some thinking . . . some reflecting . . . and I have my word.  I have chosen my word for 2012.

Check back January 1st for the big reveal . . . . and meanwhile, why don’t you join me in picking a word for 2012.  It’ll be fun — everyone’s doing it!!  🙂

Pretty Brown Baby

Being a transracial family is sometimes a funny thing. It is sometimes a tricky thing. It is nearly always a beautiful, fun thing. And it is certainly something we always celebrate!

Zippy likes to be able to ask me who is the cutest black boy in the world, knowing I will say him. I can’t say he’s the cutest boy in the world if Paul or Elliot are listening, but I can always say that he is cutest black boy in the world.

Recently Zach and I read a book of poetry together. He had to read a poetry book for a school project.  We chose a book that we already owned but had never read completely. It is called Make a Joyful Sound: Poems for Children by African American Poets. It had a variety of poems — some about different shades of skin, some about famous African Americans, some about pride and freedom, and some about African culture.

But Zippy has a favorite poem from that book that he asks me to recite to him each night at bedtime.  And he also insists that I touch and rub his soft little face while I say it to him.

Pretty brown baby

Fat and fine.

Love you. Love you.

All the time.


Make A Joyful Sound (pob)

Chloe’s Chef

Chloe has difficulty chewing and swallowing and lacks motor planning and coordination for eating food.  She eats only pureed food.  To make sure Chloe receives the nutrition she needs, she eats baby food oatmeal mixed with Pediasure for her meals often.  She will also eat table food that has been blended.

At home, she doesn’t often eat the food that we eat; she just says, “No,” and waits for the oatmeal and Pediasure.  We are still hoping that she will eat more and more of the foods that we eat.  At school, she eats a school lunch.  It depends what is served for lunch whether she eats much of it or not.  Some days she eats most of it; other days she doesn’t eat it at all.

An aide at school, Mr. D, blends her lunch for her each day.  I loved a conversation that I had with him one day during Chloe’s lunch time.  He told me that he blends her lunch and looks forward to choosing how and what to blend and deciding which things to blend together, etc.  He said that he enjoys cooking and that he considers himself Chloe’s personal chef!  How cute is that?  Instead of dreading the messy job of blending the food and cleaning the blender, he looks forward to it and considers it an honor to do so.  He enjoys it.  And takes pride in it.  When it’s blended, he critiques the texture and then watches to see how well Chloe eats it.  It makes me smile to know that someone enjoys serving my child.

Our conversation also included his talking about how he loves to see what the kids know.  Even those who at first glance seem not to be grasping a concept, he loves to realize that they do, indeed, know.  He talked about how so many of the kids simply communicate differently, and he realized that so many times it is just up to us to figure out how to support the kids so that they will show us what they know. 

It was encouraging to talk to him.  Our conversation was filled with hope, passion, and a fresh energy for supporting children with disabilities.  I pray that his mind remains fresh and exciting and that he keeps on supporting children who benefit from it.

Ten years and Two days ago . . .

(This post is a day late since I spent the day sick in bed yesterday.  Sorry, baby girl.)

WARNING!!!!  CHILD BIRTH STORY TO FOLLOW!!!  But I think it’s rated G.

Four score and seven years ago . . . .

Oops.  No, that’s not right.

Ten years and two days ago, Christmas day 2001, we spent a fun day celebrating in our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Elliot was barely 2 years old, and Zippy was a mere 7 months old.  My parents and one of my brothers came to spend Christmas with us since we couldn’t travel — I was due to have my baby girl any day now.  I was very much, very big with child.  In fact, I was in labor for a good part of the afternoon and evening.  Nothing real big, but I could tell things were happening.

The funny thing about being due right around Christmas is that you don’t know if 2001 is going to be the baby’s first Christmas or if 2002 will be the baby’s first Christmas.  Those 1st Christmas outfits either need to be newborn size or 12 month size.  The 1st Christmas ornaments either need to say 2001 or 2002.  Tricky.  It was Zippy’s first Christmas, and I guess the way it all ended up, he didn’t have to share the day with his baby sister.

My brother and my parents went to their hotel sometime in the evening.  We put the kids to bed and went to bed. I woke sometime in the middle of the night and knew the time was close.  I woke Paul and told him I was going to take a shower –how vain!– and then we needed to go to the hospital.  When I had Elliot 2 years earlier, it was a very fast delivery, and I assumed this one would be similar.

After my shower, I called my parents and told them it was time.  They headed back to our house to stay with the boys.  They were staying close by.  And the hospital was very close by, too.  Closeness was ideal since we were actually in the middle of a blizzard.  Yes!  Lots of snow and wind to drive through.  My girl was going to be born in the middle of a blizzard!  She had missed Christmas, but was making it just in time for her first snow!

My parents arrived, and my sweet dad wanted to hold hands and pray for me and the baby before we left.  What he didn’t understand was that I had planned this thing down to the wire, and I didn’t schedule time for prayer!  I told him he’d better make it a quick one or that they’d have to do it without me!

We arrived at the hospital barely in time for me to get my epidural.  As soon as we were a little bit settled, the doc came in to administer the epidural and asked Paul to leave the room for it.  It’s always unsettling to be asked to leave the room when someone you love is about to have something done, but this doc didn’t want anyone in there for the epidural.

While receiving the epidural, I felt a pain that was very unfamiliar — it was big and hurt and felt just weird.  I told the doc so.  Right in the middle of receiving the epidural — you know the hold-your-breath-and don’t-move-a muscle part?– the pain intensified, and my water broke.  Wow.  What an embarrassing mess.

Immediately the attending doctor noticed that there was meconium in the water.  Laymen’s terms:  the baby had pooped and was possibly breathing the poop, which isn’t ideal.  Bummer Number One.

When the epidural was done, they laid me back down to check me, and surprise!  The baby was crowning. . . .well, no . . . not exactly . . . that’s not a crown. . . . that’s really more of a tiny little baby butt. . . . she’s breech.  Bummer Number Two.

Unfortunately about that time, I started shaking uncontrolably — a common reaction to receiving an epidural, but it looks and feels ridiculous.  I was shaking so badly I feared that I might just quake right off the bed onto the floor!  Bummer Number Three.

Remember Paul . . . out in the hall, waiting?  Yeah, he came in the room at the same exact time that the emergency team came in.  So picture this:  Your young wife shaking with amazing convulsions surrounded by teams of docs and nurses and a tiny little incubator and tiny little stretcher . . . the room filled with excited movement and preparation.  Things looked serious and scary.  Yeah, Bummer Number Four.  Poor guy.

I tried to look natural through my convulsions, smiling and reassuring my poor husband that everything was really better than it looked.  I could tell he was in a panic.

“It’s just a funny reaction to the epidural.  I’m totally fine.  And they just learned that the baby is breech so they brought in the NICU team to be here incase it’s needed.  And they’re all here and ready in case I need to have an emergency c-section.  It’s totally fine.  I promise.”  <smile.  shake.  shake.  hold on to the bed for dear life so as not to shake onto the floor.>

The doctor gave us a choice of doing a c-section or going about as planned.  I opted for keeping on keeping on since I had a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old at home — not the optimal time to be recovering from surgery.  Let’s do this thing.

So we did.  After only a very short time, the baby came out butt first.  Then her little legs.  Then her body and shoulders.  And then her precious little head.

She didn’t have the best of scores when she was born, but she was okay.  Seems like they took her away maybe because they couldn’t get her temp to rise.  I don’t remember much about those details because I was still laboring like crazy.  For some reason (I’ll spare you the details because they don’t matter, and I don’t really know them, and I have a terrible memory to boot!) my body wasn’t cooperating.  It was going on and on like I still had some major delivery to make or something.  The contractions were absurdly painful.  And the doctors had to give me medicine to continue my contractions to try to get the rest of my body to start recovering and behaving.  So I lay there for another hour or so contracting and in so much pain!  Ugh.  Not my best hour.

My precious husband came in the room holding a little baby burrito with a little hat on her head.  “What are we going to name her?” he asked in a sweet whisper.

“Get her out of here and quit asking me questions!” was my rational, loving response.  Yeah, I told you it wasn’t my best hour.

I think it was in that hour that Paul named the precious burrito Chloe Annette, a name we had talked about and agreed on earlier.

Seems like I yelled at Paul a few more times and let the doctor have it a couple of times, too.  I guess I needed someone else to join me in my misery.

Finally, things started to calm down and I was able to start recovering.  And I allowed Paul and Baby Chloe to come back in the room.

I held that little bundle and looked at her sweet, pink face.  And she looked just like my father-in-law!  Seriously!  The nurses were telling me it was time to nurse her, and I couldn’t get my father-in-law’s face out of my mind!!!  Funny!  And a wee bit awkward.

Once I got over the additional hour of excrutiating pain and got over the whole father-in-law thing, I was able to completely and totally fall in love with my new baby girl.

What a precious angel!  My Snow Angel — born in the middle of a blizzard 5 hours after Christmas.  What a perfect gift!

I can’t believe she’s 10 years old!  Wow!  Time sure flies when you’re having fun!

Happy Birthday, Chloe!

Merry Christmas!

Today, Christmas Eve, we are busy cooking and doing chores.  Everyone had their lists.  And we are all nearly done with our lists and very near to the Christmas festivities beginning!

Christmas music is playing.

There is certainly excitement and expectancy in the air!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

I pray that you experience joy, laughter, peace, comfort, grace, and love this Christmas!

Including Samuel

As most of you know, it is important to our family that Chloe be included in life, in society, at church, and at school just as typical children — those without any disability — are included in life.  While it may sound like an easy thing, the truth is that being included in life, in society, at church, and at school is something that a lot of people do not have.  If you are living life without a disability,  the truth is that you probably just take it for granted that you and your children are included in life.  A privilege?  A right?  I believe it is a right that everyone should have — everyone with and without a disability.  I believe it’s Chloe’s right to be included.

It has been called the last civil rights issue — people with disabilities fighting for their rights to a life of value.  And I believe that it is true.  People with disabilities unfortunately often have to fight for their right to be included in life.  Our family knows this issue quite closely.  We live this issue everyday, actually.  It is an important issue, an important fight.  And it’s worth fighting for.

Paul and I recently gathered with fellow parents of children with disabilities and others who love someone with a disability and watched the documentary Including Samuel.  It was my 2nd time to see it.  It is a powerful video.  It is eye-opening and challenging.  It is thought-provoking, to be sure.  If you’ve never seen the film, I highly recommend your finding a copy and watching it.  It really sheds an honest light on inclusion in schools — its challenges, its rewards, the importance of doing it right.  Paul wrote a review of Including Samuel on his movie review blog, and he said I could share it here.  Enjoy!

Last week I attended a screening of Including Samuel with Kelly and Elliot.  It was shown at a local elementary school and moderated by our friend Jennifer, who has attended ARDs with Kelly and assisted her tirelessly with paperwork and ARD preparation.  Including Samuel addresses the challenges of including children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms, a topic that is near and dear to us as we have struggled to get Chloe placed at school.

Samuel is the son of photojournalist and filmmaker Dan Habib.  When Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, he was forced to face the issue of inclusion, a topic about which he hadn’t thought much about before.  Habib follows Samuel’s progress, as we see Samuel interacting with his peers at school and participating in the regular education classroom.  The Habibs are fortunate to live near a school whose philosophy of full inclusion accommodates students of varying levels of disability in a single classroom.

Samuel interacts with typical classmates.

Besides Samuel, we meet hip-hop artist Keith Jones, an inspiring adult with cerebral palsy who has not let his disability prevent him from a full life, including working as a music producer, marrying and having children, and functioning independently.  He says the best thing to have happened to him was to be placed in regular education classes, not segregated classes.  Other individuals featured in the film illustrate the clear benefits of full inclusion for both the disabled and their typical peers.

Keith Jones–one inspiring guy!

Habib doesn’t try to sugar coat the difficulties that arise with inclusion.  In teacher interviews, we see the range of opinions and emotions, from Samuel’s teacher, who believes that full inclusion is the best way for all  children to learn, regardless of speech or mobility problems, to the mainstream teacher who tearfully describes the challenges of reaching both the superbly gifted and the profoundly disabled at the same time.  As one teacher points out, however, the danger of creating separate classrooms for disabled children is that if there is a separate classroom, it will be used, needed or not.

Given our experience with schools which have not practiced inclusion, this quote hit way too close to home: “Inclusion is an easy thing to do poorly.  When we do it poorly, we become convinced that it cannot work.”  Even when one parent or one teacher promotes inclusion, a simplistic approach of placing a child with disabilities in a mainstream classroom without adequate support or appropriate modifications can lead to failure.  I fear that in many schools, poor execution has led to suspicion or outright rejection of full inclusion.

While Including Samuel does not provide all the answers, the film does a great service by raising lots of questions, and, most importantly, raising the possibility that full inclusion can and does work.

A Poem for Daddy

I’m sure if I asked for a response from those of you who are parents of a child with a psychological or mental health type of disability, I would find that Paul and I are not alone at feeling at a total loss sometimes of how to deal with our precious boy who struggles with it.  While I pray constantly for me to have more patience and more grace for him, the truth is that sometimes I fall quite short of being the kind of mom that I think Zippy needs.  The truth is that life with him is just plain hard sometimes.  And he would agree that life is just plain hard with him sometimes.  We, of course, love our life with him and are committed and honored to live it with him, but it is hard.

One day this week, Paul and Zippy had a tough night.  Zippy was out of line . . . out of control would be the more honest description, and Paul was beside himself with frustration and helplessness.  The night would not go down as the best of memories for either of them.  I still don’t know the details of what all transpired, as they were both too upset to even discuss it with me, but it was obvious that they were both glad the night was behind them.

Zach struggles with anger and with a mood disorder and with an anxiety disorder that often wreak havoc in our home.  But he is so much more than those labels!  He is so much better than those labels!  We are faced with the challenge of helping Zach to control and cope and tame those labels as much as possible so that he can become the man that God created him to be.  He is truly a blessing to our family and to all who meet him!

The day after his terrible night, Zippy presented me with a piece of paper and asked me to put it somewhere that Dad would find it.  It was a poem that Zippy had written especially for his Daddy.  It was his apology — his apology for the pain that he had caused.  While Zippy’s behaviors are oftentimes out of his control, he does own up to the fact that he has some things to make right.  He knows his behaviors affect other people, and tries to make it right after he’s exploded.  The poem is a treasure, and is a picture of the sweet boy that Zippy was really created to be.  It is a peek into his precious heart — a heart that is loving and caring and sensitive and true!

To say I’m sorry

I love you more than strawberry and sweet cakes.  I love you more than cold Root Beer.  I love you Dad so chocolatey.  I spell Dad L-O-V-E.

From: Zippy

To: Dad


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