The Adoration of the Christ Child

The Adoration of the Christ Child
See if you can spot why I like this image

Everything in its Right Place

A blog about disability, life, parenting, and learning what it means to live well in this world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Can't I Learn?

Today I had some friends over for dinner, to keep me and the kids company since Brian is away (just for the day). It was a great idea, and I really love the ideas of hospitality and community in general, but inevitably somewhere along the way I begin to regret the decision as Adam begins to express his Adam-ness in the midst of the chaos.

Why is it that I never learn my lesson? When I change the routine at all, let alone bring new people into that changed routine, Adam is going to go wild. He will throw things, push children, spill drinks, lash out, cry when disciplined and in general occupy all of my time and brain space. I know this will happen, and I still do it.
I go through the same stages of grief every time--anger and disappointment that Adam acts the way he does, guilt for being angry with him, back to anger that he never learns no matter how "well" I try to teach him, back to guilt that I never try hard enough to teach him that I think about it, there are really ever only two stages of grief in my experience with Adam!

In part it's for my own sanity, to have other adults around to talk to. I also want Adam to learn to be with other people well, and there is only one way to do that. I know that Caleb and Agnes and I need a life and need to be with other people, and so does Adam. In theory it will help me through a difficult night, though in practice the night becomes more difficult at the same time. I feel isolated enough in my life with Adam that sometimes it's my breath of air to break out of the mold...but it's not really relaxing that I have to gulp that air quickly while chasing Adam around and shouting at him is it?

I guess if I could learn anything it would be how to react better, how to help Adam along and not sweat the inconvenient cups of apple juice on the floor or friend's child crying in the corner, rubbing his head where the toy car just bounced off of it. Tonight I at least learned that strapping him into his chair for dinner a few minutes early saved me a few minutes of stress. I learned that I still at some levels don't know Adam at all, and that bothers me enough to keep trying, even if it means engaging in nights like tonight to see where we are at.

Though it will be a few months until the next one, I assure you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I've always tried to observe Lent, by taking something on or giving something up. It's a practice I've kept since college days, learned from the church I went to which at that time was called Disciples' Church. Some years were "better" than others, if you can describe it that way. This year was a new experience entirely, one which I am so grateful for and the timing of which can only be considered a gift from God.

Three days before Lent started Agnes Sophia Rose joined our family. That means that by Ash Wednesday we were all properly exhausted and the normal family routine was in tatters. I had thought that this year I would give Lent a miss, mostly because I had had so little time and energy to think about it properly. However, it slowly dawned on me that the reality of our new life, my tiredness and grumpiness and feeling completely out of control in every way--physically, emotionally, mentally--without any reserves at all, this was exactly the meaning of Lent.

If we are to identify with the suffering and sacrifice of Christ, then what better way than to take on the fullness of caring for and giving to a new person? All that Agnes requires, as well as the two other children I've been blessed to have, is the life, love and sustenance that Jesus died to give to us. Every last minute of sleep I've lost and pined for is the sleep He forsook in the garden while He prayed. Every cry I've soothed and not known how to soothe is the cries to Him of us in our sin. Anything I've ever given up is nothing compared to giving your whole life up to such a blessed and yet wholly demanding calling like a new child. And nothing at all compared to giving yourself up for humanity like Jesus.

I have had rare moments to myself, very few showers, only a handful of meals where I wasn't holding a baby or helping a child to eat, scant bursts of anything resembling exercise, late and interrupted nights and countless sentences left unfinished in the last seven weeks. But now as Agnes is growing, settling into a routine and becoming a person before my very eyes, I am so grateful for these weeks of learning to love her and to love giving to her in a way I didn't know before.

Today was a celebration for me of being resurrected from the darkest, loneliest and emptiest places of life. I've been there before--Adam had his heart operation just before Easter seven years ago, and it was on Good Friday that he was at his lowest place and we wondered if he would live at all. It was also that day that we found out he had Down Syndrome, which was placed in perspective alongside the prospect that our beloved son might not live. I know in my head that light comes out of the darkness, that Christ meets us where we are completely bottomed out. But this year was a chance for my heart and soul to learn the same and to see those early weeks of having a new baby not as torture but as the gift they are waiting to become.

Happy Easter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Flower girl

Couldn't resist--thanks to Beth Levan Lyle for the flower and Jesus for making such a beautiful baby girl to wear it!!

The Holiday Report

They say timing is everything, and that is certainly the case with the last two weeks of our lives, also known as spring break.

When Caleb got up on the Wednesday morning before school got out covered in spots, I knew that we had finally come face to face with the dreaded Chicken Pox. It wasn't as bad as I had expected, but still knocked him down a bit. However, he was well enough by the weekend when Opa joined the party, and our happy seven-some got to spend a few warm days out and about in Aberdeenshire at various parks and cafes. We had a great week, and sadly bade goodbye to Oma and Opa on Saturday at lunchtime, ready to embark on life as a new family of five. We headed first to the park, and then came home for dinner.

At bath time we saw Adam's first spots. It seemed pretty mild, so much so that we all went to church on Sunday morning like usual. By evening, though, his fever had come on and we spent the next two days with the works, watching spots come out like fireflies (see below)

Whew, that was bad. But despite the redness of some of the spots it's been a pretty classic case too, and a trip to the doctor on Thursday morning relieved my worries about infection. He gave us some antiseptic lotion to use and Adam is pretty much over it now. Though midway through a trip to the country with our friends I saw a spot on Agnes, so the poor soul has had to go through the whole thing too! Her case was so mild I wouldn't have known she had it but for the few spots, and she is also over it too. I can't say how grateful I am for the timing of all three kids having the pox over the holidays--I really feel now like we are starting fresh, ready for school tomorrow and bursting with (some!) renewed energy.

We also enjoyed a visit from our lovely friend Andrew Cameron and his son Thomas last week. They were good enough to tolerate our spots, sniffles and general grumpiness, and we all enjoyed some nice outings and good food together. Thomas and Caleb had grand fun playing, and the boys (minus Adam) got to see Urqhuart Castle and Loch Ness on Tuesday. Caleb loved the fact that he stayed up till 10pm, and I loved the walk through the Botanical gardens that Adam and Agnes and I did in the sun and the quiet evening we had together instead.

And now I will head to bed and await my little lamb waking...I tried my first night of sleep training and failed miserably, but it's still early days. Gina Ford, here I come (again)!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The 5 week blur

I can't believe it's been five weeks since Agnes was born!! The time goes so fast, and of course I think I'll be able to sit down and write little bits for the blog here and there, but that would require a minute to actually sit and write!

The long and short of it is that things are good. Little Agnes is growing well and quickly, filling out her first baby sleepers and developing those soft little rolls around the face and neck that everyone loves to pinch. She has a bit of newborn acne, and we have figured out (mercifully quickly this time, compared to Caleb) that she is sensitive to dairy products that I eat and drink, so I'm trying to avoid dairy and help her little gut not to be so gassy (and our nights not to be so short!)

Also in the last five weeks...Adam finished at Mile End and will start at Woodlands, his new special needs school, after the holidays (one more week). He has had two mornings there and is already showing that it's a much better environment for him. He's coming on in using signs and communicating, and starting to show a pretty strong independent streak! We're still grateful for Mr Tumble, and of course all the sunny weather to spend hours at the park.

We've also had a visit from the Chicken Pox fairy for Caleb, though his case only lasted a week. Adam started showing his spots tonight, not 5 hours after my parents left for home of course! It seems to be pretty mild so far, so we're hopeful for a quick recovery as well.

My parents left to go home this afternoon, and while I'm so thankful for all their help to our family for five weeks, I know it's the right time for us to begin learning how to live as a five-some and do it ourselves. The first afternoon and evening were ok, so here's to a few more of those! Of course if you don't hear from me for a while you will know why! :)