June 26, 2008

The Sandtraps

Sand in their hair,
Sand in their toes.
Sand in their cracks,
Sand up their nose.

I decided that the kids and I needed a super field trip, so I decided to take them all to the beach for the day. The weather was GORGEOUS, and as much as I was hauling and chasing, I never even got hot! It was interesting to see Bridger's reaction to it all. I brought his booster to support him upright and give my arms a rest when we were under our cabana. I first put him down in it so I could lube up all the others with sunscreen and he became completely disturbed. Being a little hypersensitive to texture, he didn't want his feet to touch the sand, so he stuck his feet straight out so they wouldn't come into contact with it. Then, after Lance took his turn with the sunscreen bottle, he decided to "help" Bridger like the sand by piling it onto the seat tray. Oh dear, super distress. Now he had to stick his hands straight out too so they wouldn't touch it either. We were all cracking up!

Little Bear with his "distressed limbs"

I didn't want to cause him too much trauma so early in the day, so we aborted the sand and went down to the water with the others. Because of his visual challenges, he has compensated with super acute hearing. I walked up to the ocean just as the first big wave came crashing. He just about launched out of my arms. He immediately put his arms in his signature "distress mode" over his ears, and there they remained for many hours. Near the end of the day he finally put his arms down and listened to the calming(?) sounds of the ocean.

Still distressed

*side note*
pictured above and below is one of my most favorite things, my waterproof baby carrier. LOVE IT! I wish I had discovered it babies ago.

What Bear loved the most was the "Sandy Sea Monster" (Sadie) running back and forth from the ocean giving him hugs and doing silly sand dances. Sadie, hands down, won the sand trap contest - the gist of the trap contest being: who can have the most sand trapped in/on their body at one time. Amazingly enough, she had the contest in the bag within about 10 minutes of even getting on the beach.

Sadie: "Momma, which hand has the sand in it?"

Me: "Hmm," I thought, "is there really a wrong answer in this game?"

Lance loved to "wipe-out" and it is a relief now that he finally has the ability to find his footing again after he wipes out. His first fight with a large wave cost him one of his aqua socks. There was quite a bit of sadness over that, until I showed him the hundreds of bare feet that were all around us, and then he realized that maybe he could go on.

Midway through the day we went back to the car to regroup, de-sand, have some lunch and tube-feed Bear. Then we headed back to our prime ocean spot for a few more hours of fun in the sun. After we finished at the beach, we de-sanded (again), put Bear in his stroller and cruised the boardwalk where we got sprinkle ice cream cones which dripped all over the kids as they thoroughly enjoyed each bite. The critics review of the day. . .

A definite two-thumbs up!

June 23, 2008

Open for Business

The "mom store" is officially open for business. Thanks to the creative idea of my fabulous friend, Jen, the kids are getting a great lesson in economics. We have assigned a "mom buck" value to dozens of household tasks and activities and they are busy running around earning their money.

Eating your dinner - 1 mom buck
Eating your dinner without complaining - 3 mom bucks
Brushing your teeth without being asked - 1 mom buck
Practicing the piano - 7 mom bucks
Entertaining Bridger while I shower - 8 mom bucks
Workbook pages - 2 mom bucks

Reading a book, jumping jacks, random acts of kindness, washing windows, setting the table. . .

You name it, it has a value. The normal chores do not get included in the buck count, as Eva now parrots, "That's just part of being in the family."

Most of the merchandise came from the hidden stashes of secret gifts and prizes I had hidden around the house, and I added some dollar stuff from Target. Even a new box of pink and purple straws is a coveted product on the shelves. Lance created the signage for the store and the girls created the product displays. And the currency. . .

That is why it is called a mom buck:) There are about 100 mom bucks in circulation at any given moment. When I really want them to do a big task, I have to throw out the occasional "20 mom buck incentive", and, realizing I do not have enough cash flow, I have to run to the "mint" and print off some more currency.
Their purchasing strategies have surprised me. Lance is counting his bucks up and saving up for the big ticket items. Eva has nickeled and dimed herself for the quickest purchase she can make, at this rate she will never be able to buy the Webkinz. Sadie is buying all of the items she knows that she is competing with Eva for, leaving her beloved Strawberry Shortcake purchases until the end, knowing that Eva will never buy those.
It has been open for a week and it has worked fabulously well. The kids are even coming to me and asking me what else they can clean. After I pick my jaw up off the floor, I assign them another task, a mom buck value, and off they go!

June 18, 2008

Divide and Conquer

I love this grocery store! I have had an aversion to grocery shopping for the past several months since Bridger cannot sit in a cart and is too big for the carriers. Our physical therapist recently made an adapted cart support for him. With the exception of the dozens of bewildered stares I get when I use it, it has been so wonderful. Today, I just wanted to cuddle and hold him while I shopped, so I delegated my duties down the ranks. The kids have an absolute ball. They all get a free cookie when they enter the store and then they are off to do mom's shopping. I walk down the aisles and tell them what items to put in. Depending on what they like and don't like, they negotiate amongst themselves who has to put what in their cart (i.e. Lance will not put the lettuce in his cart, Sadie takes the lettuce only if Lance will put the medicine in his, etc.) They each get to put one mystery item in their carts that I pretend I didn't see. Typical to all of their personalities, Lance chooses the first thing he sees on the first shelf in aisle 1, Eva carefully evaluates each item before making her selection at the midpoint, and Sadie is off in la-la-land until the end of the shopping and she quickly panics and chooses whatever she sees on the way to the checkout. They all pull up to the conveyor belt and unload their own groceries, the checker loads their carts back up and they push it to the car and unload it themselves into the back of the car. What a crack-up! Did you ever think that grocery shopping could be categorized as fun and relaxing!!! Now if they would only get a job. . .

June 17, 2008

What Makes a Dad

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... Dad
~ Author Unknown

We love you!

June 11, 2008

The Mathematics of Motherhood

My life as a mom is entirely rooted in algebra. Here is the simple formula:

a= how much it cost

b= how much energy the activity requires of me

c= how much fun the kids have doing it

d= how much time it fills in the day

e= how much clean-up is involved at the end

a-e are rated on a scale of -10 through +10, 10 being a two-thumbs up rating and a -10 being a grumbling mom.
The rule of the formula is that x has to be a positive number.
That explains the love/hate relationship I have with Play-Doh. It fits the formula.
9 (it's cheap) + 0 (requires average energy of me) + 8 (the kids love it) + 10 (they play with it for 2 hours at a time) + -10 (I HATE cleaning it up) = 17 (see, unfortunately, I can't turn it down)

Sandboxes come in with about the same numbers. Same thing with the pool, although it ranks -10 for mom's energy and clean up time, it leans to the right with a +10 for time, fun and cheap. We just tried Hersheypark with the kids. Disappointing as it may be, it doesn't fit. Expensive, high parental energy requirement and the kids pooped out so quickly that x= (-) Popsicles on a sunny day were an extreme negative until I found something wonderful. . .

Now popsicles come out in the + again.

So there you have it, the motive behind everything I do as a mom. When I find things that fit the formula, I'll pass them onto to you moms out there. Here is the latest thing the kids did today that passed my math test:

Even the simplest of activities can be "formula worthy". I grabbed three of those free Auto-Mart magazines as I was leaving the grocery store the other day. I drew a "road" on butcher paper and gave each of the kids a pair of scissors and a glue stick and away they went snipping "traffic" out of the magazine to glue on their road. Amazing. It fit the formula gloriously.

10 (free) + 10 (required practically nothing of me) + 9 (the kids loved it) + 9 (it took them over an hour) + 9 (hardly any clean-up)=

Can you believe something as silly as this gets a 47!

June 06, 2008

Some Therapy a Day Keeps the Doctor Away. . .

Well, at least we hope. This week we've only had 2 medical appointments. Last week we had our all time low of only 1 appointment. We have averaged four a week since October, not including the four hospital stays since February. We thought we could give you a little glimpse of what is involved.

Bridger's latest achievement, standing with his new "tot stander"! Our awesome physical therapist is massaging his back to stimulate his back muscles. This is the precursor for a walker for him.

Bridger in his corner chair. This chair is great because is supports his upper body and allows his head a place to rest against when he can no longer support his neck, but gives him a wonderful opportunity to work his fine motor skills. He is amazing to watch! He has a plan that he wants to accomplish and he works his muscles so hard to execute that plan.

Lance is feeding Bridger his "dinner". The kids have earned their honorary nursing certificates and love to be involved in the process. They are his biggest champions, fans and advocates.

G-tube fed little ones often have severe reflux. Bridger is no exception so he sleeps propped on this wedge pillow to counter the nightly reflux.

This is his modified bath seat. He was so cute when he bathed upright for the first time. He could see his toes finally and couldn't stop staring at them. He just kept wiggling his big toe up and down and making little splashing in the water while humming. He always hums when he enjoys what he is doing:)

This is Bridger's medical stroller. Lots of trunk support is important to avoid secondary postural problems.

This is just a glimpse of our special world. We have a modified high chair, a modified car seat, special bike seat harness, mats and balls, etc. etc. etc. We see neurologists, ophthalmologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, gastrointestinal specialists, physical medicine pediatricians, developmental pediatrics, geneticists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, vision therapists and not to leave out visits with our good ol' pediatrician. We have been blessed by the talents of the most amazing doctors and therapists ever!

My therapy. . .

Honestly, stress eating works. I know I can't do it forever, but for the past couple months it has worked and has felt quite good;)

When people see what is involved in my life they often tell me how lucky Bridger is to have us as devoted parents. I smile and nod in passing. What I wish I could explain to them is that I am the lucky one. Bridger has changed our life in a way that nothing else ever could. He has softened my heart to know compassion and empathy in a way that I never felt. He has made me see what is important and enabled me to really let go of the trivial. If you want to see the greatest examples of unconditional love, I have them in the form of a 6, 4 and 3 year old. He has helped me to dream new dreams for my children. I would wish this upon anyone.

June 03, 2008

Freckle Juice

We just finished reading. . .

We had our own experiment to make freckle juice. The experiment consisted of mom finding every fruity or sugary item in the pantry that we could mix into a cocktail and actually drink. I ended up with a variety of sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, several flavors of kool-aid juice jugs, strawberries, lemon juice and lollipops to stir it all up.

Sounds disgusting, I know, but it was amazing how into their concoctions the kids got. The best part was that Alan came home from work during the middle of all of this. Hearing what the kids were doing he ran upstairs and put make-up "freckles" on his face. He came down and pretended to drink some before the kids noticed him. As they looked up and saw his face their jaws dropped and they all became speechless, looking slightly frightened. OH NO! Their freckle juice had worked! Dad washed his freckles off just like Andrew Marcus had and you could tell that was on their mind for the next few hours because at bedtime they timidly asked if that had really happened. I told them our little joke, which they didn't see the full humor in given the scare it but them through. Hey, Alan and I have to do some things around here to keep it fun for us too:)

Bottoms up!