Sunday, December 9, 2012

Home For The Holidays

A little late to the party, but we made it!  

Elise was hospitalized for 6 days last week (I will be writing about that whole adventure soon), and I felt a little bummed that we hadn’t yet put up our Christmas tree and decorations.  Days went by, and as I enjoyed everyone else’s Christmas posts on Facebook, it helped me to look forward to going home and getting our Christmas on!  

Without fail, I always seem to build these family traditions up to be more than what they end up being.  I picture the boys working together on homemade ornaments, Christmas music playing in the background, conversations of Santa and Jesus, and Elise relaxing nearby in new red and green holiday pajamas.  

Instead... the boys irritate the snot out of each other as I try to keep my "sweet" voice from becoming my "growling" voice.  Someone turns up the Chipmunks Christmas songs and puts them on repeat (help me!).  Our talk mainly consists of... "Crap! The cookies are burning!", and "If you break one more ornament...!"  Finally, Elise ends up peeing in her new holiday pajamas, resulting in stripping her bed and changing her into pjs that aren't even remotely "Christmasy".

Oh, well... We still manage to have a great time each year, and how boring would it be if everything did go just as planned?

This is the first year that we made homemade ornaments.  These are paint swirl ornament balls.  Easy for Lane, Ty, and most importantly, Mama!

We also made some pretty glitter ornaments.  Also super easy, but beautiful. 


Later that night, Patch the Elf got into the ornaments and made one himself.  This is as creative as I get with the whole elf thing.  

 Ty insists on me wearing these antlers around the house.  I have accidentally gone out in them to check my mail or get in my car to leave.  Thank goodness for the bells on them that remind me to take them off. 

Only a few more years left that both of my boys will enjoy Christmas books being read to them.  Who am I kidding?  I will probably force Lane to sit through these Christmas books way past his natural threshold.  Thank goodness he still likes them as of now!

This is the non-burned batch.  Lane was way more interested in the cookies than decorating the tree…  I can’t say that I blame him!

Ty, on the other hand, was thrilled to help decorate the tree.  It’s fun watching this stage all over again so many years after experiencing it with Lane.  

Ty has grown very attached to this Santa hat.  I'm waiting for him to ask to wear it to church!

 Random picture of Elise waiting for the bus one morning last week.  I thought she looked cute in her glittery shoes and silver bow.  

My mom took some pictures of Elise and me after we finished decorating.  



Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Girl in the Window

There is nothing better than putting on my tennis shoes and iPod to head out for my nightly walk.  This is quickly becoming something that I look forward to each day.  With downloaded Podcasts of my favorite talk radio shows, it serves as a time for me to decompress and work on toning my legs and backside at the same time.  I’ve always preferred walking to running, and cannot even begin to relate to the popular running trends, complete with flashy outfits, water bottle belts, and neon shoes.

(I’m not just making fun… I’m probably just envious of those who can run 10 yards without getting winded!)

Walking to me is more of a time to expend some energy and get out my occasional frustrations while feeding my brain with something other than Team Oomi Zoomi.  I’d like to say that I pray and sing songs to Jesus, but I typically don’t.  When I have that mindset, I tend to walk slowly which completely negates the purpose of my going in the first place.

With the sun fallen, and only the street lamps and hints of the moon to shed dim light onto my path, I am able to peer into people’s living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and lives.  I smile at the family eating dinner around their kitchen table.  I see the fathers who watch the game and mothers who are working at their computer, their faces illuminated in the night.   I can see them, but they do not see me.  I hear babies’ cries, and backyard laughter, reminding me of how many stories one small neighborhood can hold.  

As I round the corner onto my street, heading down the home stretch, I notice an uncovered window with curtains pulled aside.  It is the most interesting and enticing of them all.  It is the window of a young girl’s room.  I slow down to get a better look, as if peering into some alternate world that I have always wanted to visit.  Night after night, it is the only room in this house that is on display.  Door closed...light on… bed neatly made.  Her room is beautiful, complete with white furniture, a colorful bedspread, and endless toys just waiting to be played with.  

A few nights ago, just as I was beginning to wonder if the little girl that belonged to this wonderful room even existed, there she was, kneeling beside her bed playing with Barbie dolls.  My feet slowed; my heart raced.  It was a moment not to be shared by anyone else besides me, a mama with a little girl of her own, never to know her in this way.  

Where her dresser held stuffed animals and a cute alarm clock, Elise’s holds her medication and feeding tube supplies.

With her toy chest filled with the latest “girly” toys, Elise’s is brimming over with baby toys that vibrate and light up.  

Beside her bed lay her Barbie collection, where in Elise’s room we keep her leg, arm, and foot braces.  

A dollhouse and art desk take the place of Elise’s therapy chair and standing frame.  

This little girl is dressing her dolls and using her imagination, while mine lay in her bed, unable to hear, see, or even get up.

What a perfect time to wallow in self-pity and focus on what will never be for my daughter or for me as her mother.  Pacing in front of her window with tears welling up inside, I then and there decided instead to enjoy the moment.  Watch her as if she were a gift, given to me by my Father, who knows how to grab my attention when he wants to talk to me. 

This little girl’s window may give me a glimpse into my own human desires, but  there’s no window that exists in my neighborhood or yours, that could give us a look into what is truly important.  Giving thanks for what we have.  No matter what your circumstances in life are, I’m betting they are accompanied by a long list of things to be thankful for.  Big, little, obvious, or not…they are there.  

I could gaze into this girl’s window for days at a time, and never be able to tell you anything about her life.  I don’t know if she is loved or emotionally neglected.  She could be happy, sad, healthy, or sick.  Staring in from the outside leaves out so many important details.  Coveting what looks desirable doesn’t take into account the real story.  We can get so caught up in looking into the windows and rooms of everyone else’s lives, that we fail to recognize God’s blessings in our own.  It is far more productive to simply concentrate on what you do have and what you have been given.   

It makes me wonder what people walking by Elise’s open window see.  Do they see a room filled with sadness and despair, saturated in broken dreams and hopes that will never be reached?    Or do they see a room brimming with the devotion and affection that we have for Elise?  I hope that they see a little girl who is adored, prayed over, and the object of unconditional loveHer room is her refuge, a place to rest, and a spot set up just for her and what she needs.  It is a room given to us by God, just the right fit for Elise.  

My 4-year-old son, Ty, has a favorite set of books that introduce each story as looking into a “Word Window”.  I have chosen my personal “Word Window” as the Holy Bible.  That’s where I want to stop and pace a little, looking through it to find my desires and stop to thank God for my life, as is.  Even when I don’t feel it, I say it...and then in turn, I feel it.  Crazy how it works that way!

Tonight I passed by that same window, and for the first time the curtains were closed.  After walking on several more yards and reaching my own house, I turned to see inside my daughter’s window, open and bright.  What I saw confirmed what God has been telling me all of these years.  No matter what anyone else has that I don’t, whether by hard work or just sheer luck, being grateful and appreciating the life offered to me is the ultimate giving of thanks.     

What do people see when they look in your open window? (Metaphorically, of course.  I don’t want to endorse peeping toms!)  I’m not proposing that we all play “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands”, completely ignoring the pains that have made themselves at home in our lives.  I’m merely suggesting that we try different perspectives when it comes to a hurt, annoyance, or disappointment.  What if we all stopped, looked into our own windows, and designed a room worthy to be viewed from the outside?  I’ll try it if you will…

John 14:2
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Mine and Hers

Me on my bed as a little girl.  I loved my room, and spent many hours playing by myself and with friends there.

Elise on her bed.  It goes up and down like a hospital bed, and best of all, it vibrates!  She also spends many hours in her room.  Instead of playing by herself or with friends, she relies on Mama, Daddy, and therapists to keep her busy and occupied.  
I am thankful for the stranger who gave us $100 toward her bed we found at an estate sale.  

Elise’s bedroom.  She gets the master in whatever house we are living in.  She needs the extra space for her equipment, therapy mat, and enormous light box.  
I am thankful for the accessibility to equipment for kids like Elise who cannot sit or stand on their own. 

Her toy buckets.  We use these to hold her feeding supplies, therapy and sensory toys, and any baby/toddler toys that she may like.  
I am thankful for g-tube feeding supplies and cool toys and switches that are available.   

Elise’s dresser, where I keep her medication, earrings, and pacifiers.  I need to get her a new dresser as she is still using Lane’s from when he was a baby.  I am aware that tigers, zebras, and lions do not match her girly decor!
I am thankful for Elise's medication.  Without it, life would be very different.  

Chris made a board to go across the bed to keep her from falling out.  The lights on the ceiling are for her to look at when she lies awake at night.  She is blind, but will gaze at lights.  

I am thankful for her lift system above her bed, that helps us to transfer her in and out of the bathtub, saving our backs!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Quick Halloween Follow-Up...

Halloween this year went off without a hitch.  Ty was our much anticipated Tin Man.  Lane was a NASA Commander/Astronaut, and Elise was Betsy Ross 

(in honor of the election). 

His costume was worn 6 years ago by his big brother, Lane.  We kept it in the attic, just waiting for Ty’s turn.  We were EXTREMELY worried about weather or not Ty would actually put on the Tin Man.  Not only did he put it on, he rocked it!  

He walked exactly like the Tin Man all night. Not because he was acting. The suit made him walk that way!

Getting Ty ready in the parking lot.  Thank goodness for “Curious George” on the iPhone!

He was a trooper while getting painted up.  Last year he was green.  This year he’s silver.  I wonder what next year will bring!

Tin Man Ty won the costume contest at Scare on the Square in McKinney, Tx.  We live in Allen, but have always wanted to go there on Halloween.  It was great!

He even made the newspaper!

PawPaw came with us.  He was a BIG help!

Elise looked beautiful in her patriotic costume. She is supposed to be Betsy Ross, but I think she just looked like she was proud to be an American! 

Lane posing for a picture.  Can you spot the elusive Spiderman making his way up the sign?

Leaving "Scare on the Square", and heading to the neighborhood to load up on some CANDY!!!

After returning home to our neighborhood, Ty decided to change into his pirate costume and became “The Silver Pirate”.  

GiGi came over to Trick-or-Treat in our neighborhood.

Elise may not be able to speak, but she still has a voice!

Elise zonked out immediately after we returned home... It's tiring looking cute and collecting candy all night.

As Ty told me the day after Halloween, “Let’s take all of our Halloween decorations down.  It’s Turkey Time!!!”  So be it…

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow...

My mom gave us some new Halloween decorations for our yard that just happened to correctly depict each member of my family...

Chris is a big, square-headed pumpkin sporting a happy but slightly alarming smile... Check.  

I look sleep deprived and anxious... Check.  

Lane looks quiet and shy...Check.  

Elise looks a little dazed with happiness mixed in... Check. 

And, Ty is quirky and ready to make us laugh... Check. 

Well done, GiGi, for randomly picking decorations that so accurately capture the essence of the Haden family.  

The following are pics of last Halloween.  We love homemade costumes for the boys, though I usually buy something for Elise.  Last Halloween, I posted pics from the past few years here, if you would like to check them out.  There are some good ones!

Lane went as the Monopoly Man.  I got the idea from a costume I saw at Target.  I figured I could create one of my own!  A $2 hat, hair spray paint, a fake mustache, a pillowcase, and some Monopoly cards.  It worked out well!

Ty went as Oscar the Grouch.  It was super simple (easy for me to say, since my husband made it!)   Yarn, a pail, green body paint, fake eyebrows.  That was it!  

He used the bottom of the pail that he cut off for the hat.  He glued a drawer handle on the top to make it look like a trash can top.  

Ty tolerated his costume all night. He wasn't "grouchy" at all! He was focused on the candy.

The boys with GiGi before hitting the streets.

Elise wore a leopard dress and ears.

She was exhausted by the end of the night!

This Year...

Ty started getting into it early in September by trying on masks wherever we went.  

OK, maybe it wasn’t just Ty...

2 Romneys and an Obama.  

 Halloween Fun... 

Since Ty is the youngest, he seems to be the most excited about Halloween. 

He decorated a pumpkin to take to Preschool this week.  Since he will be the Tin Man this year, we thought this was fitting!

Forget fairies, witches, and princesses… Elise is going as Betsy Ross this year in honor of the election!  OK, so this is obviously a benefit of having a little girl that can’t tell me no about this kind of stuff.  She'll look very patriotic...

Natural Costumes...

 Last year, right in time for Halloween, I ran into a door, (No need to call an abuse hotline.  I literally just ran into a door), and ended up looking like a monster for many, many weeks with stitches and deep bruising.  I will spare you the pics of the white of my eye filled with blood.  Gross. 

Speaking of gross, a few weeks ago, Lane managed to impale his thumb with a screwdriver. (No need to call CPS.  He was trying to pry open an old camera and his hand slipped).   

Now, that could have been part of a great costume! 

BTW - Lane is 10-years-old now, and has informed me that this will be his last year to dress up.  Fine… I still have many years to go with Ty and Elise!

 Miss Elise’s new Halloween shirt and socks to wear to school.  I wish she could enjoy these clothes as much as I do! 

Time To Carve!

Lane, Ty, and friend, Andrew, cleaning out the pumpkin.


 Elise relaxing in her swing on the back porch as her brothers prepared the pumpkin.

 Workin’ hard with Daddy...

Meanwhile... Ty’s Tree Progression

 “Look, Mama, I climbed the tree!”

“I just realized how high I am… GET ME DOWN!”

 “OK, you said if I could smile through my tears for one more picture, you would get me… Cheese… now help!”

Why spend a ton of money on Halloween decorations?  All we need is a spider web, a big spider, and our address in plain view.  Pretty scary, huh? 

Carmel Apples...

I took one of these last year, and remember it being just as difficult to get a good pic of all 3 kids.  Lately, all Elise wants to do it chew and suck on her hands, interfering with her cute clothes.  Oh well, this is the best I could get.  I love pics with all 3 of my kids in them.  We don’t have all that many.  

Everyone have a safe and Happy Halloween!!!

The finished product!