Reality Check

Well it happened. I knew it would sooner or later (obviously, I'd hoped it'd be later), but Peyton had a run-in with some playground bullies yesterday at school. As I walked in to pick Peyton up after school there was the principal...she'd clearly been waiting for me. She pulled me in to the office and explained the situation. Apparently there were these two girls that Peyton has taken a liking to. The principal wasn't exactly sure if Peyton was playing with them or if she was wanting to play with them, but as Peyton's para watched from a short distance these two girls decided they didn't want to play with Peyton. Rather than simply saying to her, "We're all done playing with you" or, "We're playing with someone else", they decided a better option was to line up side-by-side and shove Peyton to the ground. The para witnessed it all and said it wasn't an accident and was obviously intentional. She went running over to see if Peyton was okay (which she was) and she heard Peyton saying to the girls, "You need to say sorry - that's not nice!" in a sad voice as she laid on the ground (Yay, Peyton, for sticking up for yourself verbally!). The girls were escorted inside to the principal's office and the incident was dealt with. They were also walked down to Peyton's classroom later on in the day where they pulled Peyton out in the hallway so the girls could apologize. Overall, the situation was dealt with extremely well. But it still made my heart ache hearing about it...and the "mama bear" in me initially wanted to go find those little twerps and set them straight (yes, I know they're only kindergarteners).

As I drove Peyton to therapy after school we talked a little bit and our conversation went something like this:

Me: So how was your day at school?
Peyton: Good.
Me: Did you learn anything fun?
Peyton: I don't know...maybe something.
Me: Did you get to play with friends today?
Peyton: Yes, some friends not nice to me.
Me: Uh oh, what happened?
Peyton: I wanna play tag with Lexi.
Me: Then what happened?
Peyton: She say she no wanna play with me...she pushed me down. I was sad.
Me: What did you do then?
Peyton: I be sad.
Me: Did anyone help you?
Peyton: Miss Jayne help me stand up and find more friends.
Me: What happened to Lexi?
Peyton: She go in time out - can't play outside.
Me: So what did you do at recess after that happened?
Peyton: I play in the snow...wanna play with more friends.
Me: Did anything else happen at school?
Peyton: Lexi say "Sorry" in the hallway. I was sad. She not being nice to me.
Me: Well, she just made a bad choice...I'm sure she's a nice girl.
Peyton: No wanna fall down again.
Me: I know. If that happens again you just make sure and tell a teacher, okay?
Peyton: I was mad, too.
Me: Well, that's okay to feel sad and mad if someone does something mean to you. But do you ever push them back?
Peyton: No. Wanna be a nice friend. I play with Lexi again?
Me: We'll see...

After our conversation I think I was even more upset than when the principal first told me about it. Hearing Peyton talk about it just made it a lot more "real". And I'm sure some of you who are reading this may be thinking, "Oh brother, every kid gets pushed down at one time or another...this really isn't that big of a deal". Most "typical" kids don't have to listen to the little comments day-in and day-out like, "she talks like a baby" or, "why can't she talk right?" or, "you can't go to school because you can't talk", and they don't have people gawking at them everywhere they go because of how they talk or how they react when they get excited about something (yes, I realize Peyton has no volume control...she's stuck on LOUD)...and I know I'm probably way more sensitive about the comments and the stares than Peyton is. I've come to realize that's just part of being different, unfortunately. So the ignorant comments and stares (from both kids and adults), I can handle...or I should say, I'm learning to handle, but when someone is downright mean, that's a little different. So I'm really trying to NOT make this a big deal and to make this more of a learning experience both for Peyton and myself.

As I said earlier, when I first heard about the situation I wanted to go find those little snot-faced brats and give them a good chewing out. But the more I've thought about it and have talked with Peyton about it (which we've tried to not make a big deal about - we just wanted her to know it's okay to talk about things like this if something happens at school), my mindset has turned from being angry at these kids to realizing being angry isn't going to solve anything...what I should really be doing is praying for these girls so that this type of situation doesn't happen again. Who knows, this could be God's way of teaching these girls that they need to think before they act...and if they were indeed being cruel to Peyton because they didn't want to play with her, maybe they need to take the time to get to know someone before automatically writing them off. Wow, deep for kindergarteners, I know, but still, I'll be praying for these girls and for Peyton that she'll be spared of potential situations like this in the future...and more importantly, that I'll give grace to the offenders the next time something happens. Funny how God uses such a wide variety of situations to teach us things. Love you, Peyton, and I'm proud of you for not getting upset and reacting inappropriately towards those girls! You're a very, very special girl!!

Merry Christmas . . . I need therapy

For some reason I have this thing where I just CAN'T bring myself to pay money for Christmas cards...pre-designed Christmas cards, that is. Call me crazy, but I just can't. This year I even have a $100 gift certificate for Tiny Prints that I won off a blog and I just could NOT bring myself to pay for a design. Probably because I've had this idea in my head for our family Christmas card since like June. And even when I DO see a cute design on a website I still have this little voice in my head saying "You can't pay that much per card when you could design your OWN!!!". Ridiculous, I know. Anyway, I finally got my idea all polished up and put together this afternoon, so Merry Christmas from the Libbys...enjoy our custom-designed card. LOL!!

READING!!!

Well, once again, I've been forced to eat my words. Several months ago as Chad and I were talking about Peyton entering a mainstream all-day kindergarten class we were talking about what reasonable expectations were for Peyton given her disability. I distinctly remember saying, "Well, I certainly don't think reading will come during kindergarten for her...it didn't for me!". *GULP!* Just ate those words...Peyton has been coming home with little books to read for homework a couple of times per week. At first she was excited about doing her homework, but then the novelty wore off. She fought doing homework unless it was on her terms, which was a bit frustrating. But then the past week or so she's really been wanting to work on her homework. Last night she did AWESOME reading her book!!! Watching her made me want to jump up and down screaming "WAY TO GO, PEYTON & YAY GOD!!!!" (and THANK YOU to all the teachers/paras/therapists/family/friends who have helped her get to this point!!). I realize this is just the beginning of what, realistically, will be a long road through school, but we're gonna take every chance we can to celebrate each step Peyton takes...even if it seems small and insignificant to some people. Keep up the GREAT work Peyton - we love you!!

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(Sorry about Carson's added "bathroom noises")

Beautiful

This morning I overheard Carson say to Peyton "You're so beautiful!" as she came walking downstairs in her mismatched outfit she'd put on. I smiled and was once again reminded just how thankful I am for my two little sweeties. Then a friend sent me a link to a video this morning, and of course, I bawled thinking back to Carson's comment this morning...crazy how God ties things together like this. Yesterday I was talking with my friend Amy about how the world often views having a child with special needs as a "burden", when in fact, it's such a blessing because God uses them to teach us SO many things that we otherwise would have overlooked or missed out on. Some food for thought - Enjoy!

A Day in the Life of Peyton

Some of you have probably heard me talk about how Peyton's not always the most forthcoming about what she did at school...typically we find out what her day was like by her re-enacting the day as she's playing. Well last night I caught pretty much her WHOLE day on video - from Mrs. Ward (Kindergarten teacher), to Mr. Rothweiler (Adaptive Phy. Ed. Teacher), to Mrs. Hathaway (Music Teacher), to Mr. Fischer (Phy. Ed. Teacher), to Mrs. Welker (Special Ed Teacher), then back to Mrs. Ward during free choice time before getting on the bus, arriving home after dropping her friend Will off at home (she "drives him home" on the bus) and then being Grandma Julie making mac 'n cheese for dinner. Gotta love it! Anytime she's "in charge" she comes alive, so enjoy these clips...hopefully you can make out some of what she's saying (and hopefully my giggling isn't too distracting...oh, and her 'lil plumbers crack - guess those pants are a bit too big still).


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An Eye Opener

Last night I caught the end of one of my new favorite shows, Parenthood. One of the reasons I love this show so much is because a couple of the main characters have an autistic son, and I feel like the writers do an amazing job showing "real-life" situations relating to challenges parents/families face. Well last night's episode showed Adam & Krista (parents to Max, who has Asperger's - a "high functioning" form of Autism) trying to fit in time for a date. Things kept coming up and they worked through one roadblock after another. At one point Krista said as they were discussing when they could get away just the two of them, "Oh my gosh, we're going to become a statistic!!". They finally scheduled a time to go out to dinner just the two of them, but then the "date" ended up in an awkward situation at the restaurant where they ended up sharing a table with people they ran in to and were seated right next to (turned out to be Adam's sister and a guy she was out with who works for Adam - awkward). Not exactly the "alone time" they were looking for and desperately needed. The next evening they had an extended family celebration for their daughter who had been elected to the Student Council and after they ate dinner realized, "SHOOT, we forgot the cake!". So Krista & Adam ran to the store to pick up the cake...the show ended with a shot of the two of them sitting parked alongside a neighborhood street laughing, eating the cake - just the two of them. I couldn't help but smile seeing that. It wasn't a romantic setting that most people would envision for a "date", but for them it was perfect - some time to reconnect and laugh together. Made me realize how fortunate Chad and I are to have so many wonderful friends and family who are willing to help out so the two of us are able to have some time to catch up and not feel like we're each living our own separate lives over the course of each busy week. And it was also a great reminder to not wait around for the perfect setting to enjoy some time together...even if it's sitting in the backyard around the campfire just the two of us or sitting on the couch in a stupor after the kids are in bed. Make the most of it!

Making the Connection

Last night as I was reading bible stories with Carson at bedtime we were talking about Moses. Carson asked why Moses didn't talk. I was a little confused because it hadn't mentioned anything in the story we'd read about that, and then he said "Cause Mom, that story I heard at church said Aaron talked for Moses". I always knew he was a smart little thing, but I guess it surprised me that he remembered a detail like that from who knows how long ago. We talked a bit and I explained that God sent Aaron with Moses to help him because Moses sometimes had a hard time using his words and speaking so people could understand him. Carson piped up, "Kind of like Peyton...but I help her like Aaron helped Moses". I sat there trying to process the range of emotions I was feeling...and trying even harder to hold back my tears. Initially my heart sank that Carson finally had come to realize (or was at least verbalizing) that Peyton was "different" than most other kids. We've always talked to him about how everyone learns at different times and that Peyton is "still learning to talk". As much as my heart ached hearing Carson acknowledge Peyton's speech difficulties, I have to say I was so proud to see him make the connection between the bible story he'd heard and him helping Peyton. We had a wonderful conversation about how God doesn't care how well you can talk or how tall you are or whether or not you're good at sports, what He cares about is what's in your heart. And we also had a great talk about being a good friend to others because that's the best way for them to see that you have Jesus in your heart. As Carson drifted off to sleep he said to me, "Mom, I'm glad I have Jesus in my heart and I'm going to tell my friend Brady he can have Jesus in HIS heart, too". Just another "proud mama" moment...love you little buddy!

Tasty Thursdays – Easy Baked Mac 'n Cheese

Well folks, I'm sure you're all SHOCKED, but I'm going to attempt to throw up a few more "Tasty Thursday" recipes. Can't promise it'll be every week, but in an effort to get myself better organized in the cooking department, I'm setting up my recipes (existing and new ones I come across) in this fun recipe card format that I (and you!!) can print out and throw in my handy dandy cookbook binder that has slots for recipe cards. Good stuff!

Here's an old family favorite - I grew up on this stuff!! Don't be afraid to experiment with different kinds of cheeses. Some of the best pans I've made of this recipe was when I frantically raided the fridge for whatever kind of cheese I could find. Enjoy!

(Click on the image and it'll blow it up into a larger file that you can then copy over to your desktop)




The First Week

Well, Peyton is LOVING kindergarten and has been coming home full of things to share with us. Usually she's pretty tight lipped about her day, but after the first day of kindergarten she talked the ENTIRE 25 minute car ride to therapy. She told me about going in the gym with Mr. Fischer (The P.E. teacher) and "jumping". She told me about going in "the little gym" to eat lunch, and about some friends having "hot lunch". Then she told me she didn't need her snack because it was Holly's birthday and they sang Happy Birthday to her. She also told me about seeing some of her other friends from last year's preschool class in the hallway. I sat there wishing so desperately that I some sort of hidden camera feature in the car so that I could've been recording all of this. The funniest part was the way she was talking - like she was a old pro with this school thing. She kept using phrases like "Well, I think so" and "Um, yeah, then we did..." and "Let me think...".

Yesterday Peyton came home and instantly tore into her backpack to show me her stuff she'd brought home. I happened to have the camera close by so I recorded her showing off what she'd done at school. She "read" me two stories, like she was the teacher and I was a student. :) Then all last night she was "Mrs. Ward" and I kept hearing her saying things like "Okay, class time for gym" or "Now it's time for lunch - grab your lunch bags". We had to remind her this morning before we left for school that when she's at school she's PEYTON, not Mrs. Ward. Hopefully she remembers that and doesn't take over Mrs. Ward's class!!

Oh, and Peyton also told me, "I have a new Grandma on the bus. She has hearing aids. She's old. Her name is Linda." The bus Peyton rides is driven by an older lady and then there's a para that rides with the kids who is even older...Peyton's in heaven and wants to ride the bus "every day all day with my Grandma" she told me. Love it.

I think it's safe to say kindergarten is a big hit!!


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Torn

That's how I'm feeling tonight thinking about my sweet 'lil Peyton girl starting kindergarten. I thought I was all prepared for this, but obviously, I'm not completely. I thought I had "one up" on all the other moms of kindergartners because exactly 3 years ago I'd been almost physically ill thinking about dropping off my non-verbal special needs 3-year-old at the Early Childhood Special Ed Preschool for 4 half-days per week. How would she be able to communicate? How would anyone know if she needed something? How would she do getting around the classroom & playground since she had only been walking for a couple of months? How would anyone ever figure her out? How could I ship her off to a bunch of strangers who hadn't really even met her? Those were the thoughts I struggled with on the eve of Labor Day 2007. I very vividly remember crying myself to sleep that night after letting these thoughts get the best of me. The next morning I dropped her off and held it together until I got back out to the car...then I sat and bawled. You hear the stereotypical stories about moms who drop their babies off at school for their first day of kindergarten (or ECSE in my case) and how difficult it is, well, throw in a handful of special needs to the mix and boy howdy, you've got the makings of a MAJOR CryFest.





















I've been thinking about how this is all going to play out for the past few days and finally today I started thinking back to that first day when I dropped Peyton off for ECSE preschool. She didn't cry. She wasn't clingy. She didn't even look back for me when I turned to leave the room. She sat there taking it all in. New people, new sounds, new smells, new schedules, new opportunities. Remembering back to that first day really started to change my view on the first day of kindergarten. Yes, I'm sure I'll shed a tear or two, but probably not for the same reasons all the other moms will be. My tears will be tears of joy and of pride seeing my baby, who we were told was developmentally equivalent to approximately a 10-12 month old on her first day of ESCE preschool, walking in to a mainstream all-day kindergarten classroom. Wow, she's come SO far. I can't even explain how incredible it is to see her personality, her sweet spirit, her witt, and her amazing mind all coming out after years of therapy and lots of work here at home. From day one I could always tell when I looked in to her eyes that she was a bright little sweetheart, and to see her finally able to express everything that's been bottled up inside for so long just makes me want to jump up and down with excitement!!

My prayer as Peyton starts kindergarten is that others will take the time to realize what a treasure she is and what amazing things she has to offer. I pray that her peers will be accepting of her little quirks. I pray that her teacher, Mrs. Ward, and the classroom para professional will be able to quickly relate to Peyton and understand her speech. I pray that she will also "get" Peyton just as the two ECSE teachers Peyton had were able to. I pray that Peyton will be able to stay focused and engaged in a classroom full of kids. I pray that Chad and I will have wisdom working with the staff to ensure we're doing everything we can to help Peyton be successful. And most importantly, I pray that others will see the light of Jesus shine through Peyton.

Have a great first day of school everyone!!

Did you REALLY just ask me that question???

As the kids would say, "Three more sleeps" until vacation. Everyone's been asking, "Wow, what are you guys going to do for a whole week?". So I'd just like to address that question since inquiring minds want to know.

Hmmm, let me see...whatever shall I do with myself for a week in Mexico:

NOT get up multiple times in the night with my restless children who have lost their stuffed animal, have a wet pull-up, or need to go potty

NOT drive to and wait around for 4 therapy appointments

NOT get up 5+ times during a meal to get someone something...only to finally sit down to cold food and an empty table

NOT break up fights between my children numerous times a day

NOT barricade myself in my office so I can make a phone call to a client

NOT start my workday at 9:00pm

NOT ask "Who has to go potty?"

NOT frantically try to meet client's often unrealistic deadlines (But I DO love you, clients)

NOT do laundry

NOT rush out the door in a frenzy as we attempt to get to church on time

NOT cook

NOT clean (Disclaimer: Chad helps clean, so I can't completely complain about this one)

NOT wipe little behinds...or mouths & noses for that matter

NOT chase around a 4-year-old who somehow always seems to FORGET that he has to wear pajamas at bedtime, which usually ends in hysterics - you'd think I was torturing him

NOT get up at 6:00am because someone's hungry after not wanting to eat their dinner

NOT worry about what bills are due (Note to self: Make sure all bills are set up to be paid before we leave on Saturday)

NOT feed the dog, let her out & pick up her presents she's left us in the yard

NOT sort junk mail

NOT get out of the shower with only one leg shaved because crisis-intervention is needed

NOT feel disgusted & depressed about my horrendously messy office

NOT look at the clock every 10 seconds wondering where I'm supposed to be

NOT respond to email/facebook/text messages/voicemail

NOT feel married to my computer

NOT sing the same bedtime songs I have for the past 6 years

NOT read bedtime stories, namely Brown Bear, Brown Bear and any and all Dora The Explorer books

NOT grocery shop

NOT watch any kids shows or listen to kids music (Farewell Wiggles...for a week anyway)

NOT feel guilty that I don't have more time to keep up with friends & family (You all know I still love you, right??)

NOT eat hot dogs, corn dogs, macaroni & cheese, and peanut butter & jelly (THANK GOD!!! BRING ON THE REAL ADULT FOOD!!!)

NOT be on any sort of schedule

NOT sit in traffic on 94

NOT worry about wearing "kid friendly" clothes (I know what you're all thinking...that's not what I meant - we're talking sundresses, skirts, etc. that aren't usually real conducive to "kid outings")

NOT have to take Chad clothes at work due to a "wardrobe malfunction" (okay, okay, this only happened a few times)

NOT push kids on the swing at the park

NOT listen to someone complaining about what I made for dinner

NOT get interrupted every 2 seconds when I try to talk to Chad about something

NOT fish goodies & toys out from under the fridge or the stove for the kids

NOT run in a panic after Evel Knievel as he speeds away on his bike into an intersection

NOT chase kids around Target

NOT brush our wooly mammoth dog

NOT set up my "mobile office" at the park, therapy waiting room, ball park, etc.

NOT take phone calls from clients at all hours of the day & night (Again, I DO love you, clients)

NOT help Mr. Libby with any homework/school projects (proofing papers)

NOT skip meals because there simply isn't enough time in the day to make sure everyone else is taken care of

NOT say "You're going to lose privileges if you do that! It's your choice."

NOT try to find a babysitter

NOT feel like my husband is a complete stranger

Hopefully that gives you a little insight as to what our week will be like! :)

More than likely, getting away will make us both realize even more than usual just how blessed we are with the life God has given us! VIVA MEXICO!!!!!

A Whole New Level of "Sweetness"

After an action-packed 4th of July weekend, Carson came down with some sort of strange bug...probably from ingesting too much lake water, but who knows. We came back from Chad's sister & her husband's cabin Monday afternoon, then the kids spent most of Tuesday with Grandma & Papa Libby while I attempted to catch up on some work. That evening we had a highly nutritious meal of Dominoes pizza for dinner with Grandma & Papa. Carson didn't seem to be real hungry, but he was convinced to eat most of his pizza so he could have a popsicle for dessert. The rest of the evening he just lounged around and I didn't really think anything of it after our crazy weekend - I just figured he was tired. Well he zonked out on the bed at Grandma's house while watching TV, and as I scooped him up to take him home I noticed he felt really warm. We took him home and I brought him right up in to the bathroom to take his temperature. He was sitting on the counter and, of course, Peyton wanted to be right in the middle of all the action, so she chose the toilet in THAT bathroom to use as she got ready for bed. So imagine this - Carson on the counter top, myself digging in the cupboard looking for the thermometer, and Peyton sitting on the throne yelling "Daddy, I'm done!" - then in walked Chad. You can probably guess what happened next. Yep, Carson projectile vomited all over everyone...and all over the entire bathroom. Yum. Pizza, popsicle and who knows what all over the 4 of us...and Peyton saying "Ewwwwwww! That's YUCKY!! GROSS, GROSS, GROSS!!". Chad and I devised a plan of attack for dealing with the disaster area and within a half hour everything was cleaned up, the kids were bathed and we had the good 'ol air mattress set up in our bedroom for Carson to sleep on. By this time he was so tired he crawled up in to bed and wanted the lights turned out. Peyton on the other hand was all wound up. She kept talking about Carson being sick and how it was "Yucky" when she was going potty and he got sick - she was completely flipped out. Chad was doing everything he could to get her to calm down, but to no avail. Then all of the sudden Peyton goes in to her bedroom and comes back holding a picture of her friend Carter. This picture is one that Carter and his Mom sent to Peyton last winter when she was sick - it's a picture of Carter holding a sign that says "I hope you feel better soon Peyton! Love, Carter". She absolutely ADORES this picture and I've actually had to print out several copies of it because she's worn the others out from carrying it around with her. Peyton took the picture and laid it on top of Carson's tummy and said "This will make you feel better - Carter says 'hope you feel better now'". It was all I could do to not burst in to tears watching her sweet little self so worried about her brother and offering her beloved picture to him so that he'd feel better. Chad and I stood there smiling at each other, both with tears in our eyes after witnessing such a genuine and heartfelt gesture. Peyton finally did settle down and Carson settled in for a good nights rest, too...with his picture of Carter holding his sign right next to him on the air mattress.

Jockey Peyton

Well, I know I've been bad about keeping all 4 of my readers up to date with what's going on, but there's just SO much going on these days!! Peyton is almost ready to head down to Canterbury Downs now after her 4th session of therapeutic riding - she's LOVING it!! It's amazing to watch her on her horse (who's named "Bay") - she looks like an old pro. They've started working with her using the reins and she's been doing very well. Each session as we're driving away, Peyton says "Wanna go back. Need to ride Bay more.". I'm excited to see how she continues to improve as the months progress!!













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There's Always A Plan...

Have you ever had a situation where you think you know what you're in for, but then *BAM*, out of no where God turns it in to something completely different than what you expected? That happened to me today.

This morning we headed over to Victory Riders for Peyton's first therapeutic riding session. We'd gone out over the weekend and purchased a helmet, I had filled out the necessary paperwork and also had our pediatrician fill out the form she needed to...we were all set. When we entered the horse arena Peyton got a little quiet and was taking everything in. Her riding partner arrived and we met her for the first time. What a perfect fit - Peyton's partner is a very sweet 23-year-old young lady with Downs Syndrome named Allison. As Allison walked in the door Peyton started jumping up and down yelling "Hope's here!!" and went running over to say hi. We have a niece who Peyton ADORES who also has Downs, so how perfect that Peyton has been paired up with Allison, who is the spitting image of her cousin she loves so much!

As they began the session I sat with Allison's mom on the viewing deck. We talked briefly about our kids and then sat quietly to watch the girls ride. Peyton was pretty hesitant to get on her horse, but the lead therapist and owner, Shelly, helped her get up on the horse and then they were off. Earlier in the morning I'd glanced at my planner and was going down the list of "places to be" today and had walked in to the therapy session with Peyton in sort of a fog...almost with the feeling of "okay, here we go...another therapy appointment". Sure, I knew this was a great opportunity for Peyton, but I had NO idea what this half hour would do for ME.

Peyton's therapists walked her around the arena for a couple of laps to get her used to the feeling of being up on the horse. Then they played a game of "follow the leader" with Allison as the leader - Peyton loved that! Then they stopped the horse in the middle of the arena and I saw Shelly say something...Peyton bowed her head and folded her hands. Shelly and the other 2 volunteers also bowed their heads and I could faintly hear a bit of their prayer. They prayed for God to bless Peyton in everything she did all the way from the top of her head (then they touched her helmet) to the bottom of her toes (then they touched her toes). As I sat there listening, I got tears in my eyes watching, and I was reminded once again just how incredibly blessed we are that God has placed so many tremendous people in our path who care so much for Peyton - even these strangers we'd just met seemed to have a sincere desire to see God bless her and work in her life. I can't even describe how humbling that was to watch. I'm sure Allison's mom thought I was a basketcase as I sat there wiping my eyes long after Peyton had closed the prayer with her signature overly enthusiastic "AMEN!", but boy, oh boy, did that ever touch my heart. So a situation I went into thinking I knew exactly what to expect turned out to be one that brought me to tears and helped me once again to see exactly what God knew I needed to see...that He has a plan and has very specifically laid out every detail in every situation we encounter. Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes this morning when I was feeling tired, overwhelmed and, just plain weary of the life You chose for me.




Perspective

This evening Peyton and I got to attend a super fun birthday party with a bunch of Peyton's friends. We all met up at Jo-Ann Fabrics and had a craft party in one of the classrooms - complete with pizza, cupcakes and lots of little girly giggles. While the party was a lot of fun, it was one of those times where the fact that Peyton is different pretty much slapped me right in the face. Tonight was definitely a reality check, especially as we're gearing up for Peyton to be placed in a mainstream classroom in the fall for kindergarten. I couldn't help but notice some of the looks Peyton got from girls who haven't spent much time with her. All of the girls were absolute sweethearts and they weren't doing anything wrong - they were just being curious kids, wondering why Peyton acts differently than all the other kids. I know I should just be able to ignore the looks after six years, but man, some days it just really eats away at me. Like I said, none of the girls did anything wrong or said anything, they just looked. Some stared. Others took quick glances up from their projects every time Peyton squealed with excitement. And as usual, I just kept right on helping Peyton, talking to her saying things like "Isn't this exciting, Peyton?!?" and "Wow, Peyton, are you having fun?!?" in an attempt to subtly let the girls know that this was a REALLY big thing for Peyton and she shows her excitement differently than most almost-six year old girls do.

We did some really fun crafts, the first of which was painting treasure boxes. Oh boy. Painting. So, of course, Peyton was more interested in finger painting on the table than painting a tiny little wooden box. All the other girls sat there working intently on decorating their boxes with specific patterns, some with stripes, others with polka dots. And then there was Peyton - happily attempting to mix all her paints together and making a hand print on the table, then shouting "Mom, look - my hand!". More stares...and rightfully so. The directions of keeping the paint on the paint trays and off the table that the Jo-Ann Fabrics employee who was leading our party had given were not being followed by Peyton. But thankfully, the party leader quickly recognized that Peyton needed a little more attention than the other girls did, and she was absolutely wonderful. She went out of her way to tell Peyton how beautiful her painting on the treasure box was. Peyton stopped what she was doing, looked up and said "Thank you. You the teacher?". I couldn't help but smile.

The next craft we did was making beaded bracelets - every little girl's DREAM project, right? They all oohed and aahed as the lady told them what we'd be doing next. Peyton didn't respond...until the lady came walking in from the other room with a ginormous container of beads. Peyton literally SCREECHED in excitement and yelled "BEANS!!!!!!!". Yep. Here we go. One of Peyton's absolute FAVORITE things to do is play in any kind of sensory bin/table. At school the first place she goes is the sensory bins. At Grandma's house she has a cake pan full of dried pinto beans that she loves to sift through for hours. At Target the highlight of our shopping experience for her is playing in the water at the drinking fountains. The girl just LOVES anything sensory. So the party leader was trying to explain to the girls that they needed to count out about 25 beads in order to make their bracelets. Well Peyton was so extremely excited about the "beans" being set down right in front of her that she was seriously YELLING, "I HAVE BEANS!!!!!!" and running her hands through all the beads, dumping them all over the table and on to the floor - right as the lady had specifically asked that the girls be extra careful to NOT spill beads on the floor. To me this was funny because Peyton was having SO much fun (and I was planning to clean the beads up that she had spilled). But to all of the other girls it was puzzling. Again, the party helper did a wonderful job complimenting Peyton on her bracelet that she made. Okay, really I made most of it - Peyton strung 2 beads then went back to playing with the "beans".

The last craft project we did was decorating our own cupcakes. Oh dear. Multiple tubes of ooey, gooey frosting in various staining colors just waiting for Peyton to squeeze all over everything. I asked Peyton if I could help her, but she insisted on doing it herself - so I let her. As she squeezed half the tube of purple on her cupcake I told her she did a good job and needed to make sure she saved some for the other girls. Then she saw the sprinkles. Before I could stop her, she stood up, grabbed them and began shaking them everywhere while she hollered out "It's a shaky egg!!", the lyrics from one of her music therapy songs in which they use shakers. And of course the lid to the sprinkles was not on tight so sprinkles flew everywhere around the room - on the floor, in my hair, across the table onto the counter...everywhere. Again, more stares. The party helper had specifically told the girls NOT to touch the sprinkles until everyone was done putting on their icing. I was a little flustered and tried to clean up some of the sprinkles, but once again, the party helper was great - she kept her cool and said, "Okay girls, it looks like Peyton started us off with the sprinkles - who else is ready for theirs?" as if it was no big deal. I secretly wanted to go over and give the lady a hug.

Once we'd finished our crafts and eaten our cupcakes it was time to open presents. Peyton was very excited for her friend to open her gift. The whole drive in to the party Peyton had been saying from the back seat, "I'm gonna give a clue for my present - it's green". She'd picked out a pretty green dress that she insisted her friend would like. Well Peyton's gift ended up being the last one that was opened, so the whole time Peyton's yelling "Where's my gift?", "You wanna open MY gift?". More stares. I kept reassuring her that her gift was coming up soon. Then it came - her friend was reaching for our gift and Peyton stood up out of her chair and yelled "OPEN IT!!!!!!!!!! IT'S GREEN!!!!", and began jumping up and down enthusiastically. Stares. Then the gifts were all opened and all the girls were gathered around the birthday girl, admiring her Littlest Pet Shop toy she'd gotten...all the girls except for Peyton, who was happily playing with the pile of tissue paper left over from all the gift bags.

*Sigh*


There's just no getting around it. Peyton is different. She'll probably never fit into a category people consider normal. I thought I was okay with that - and that I'd gone through my so-called grieving process in an attempt to come to grips with all of this. But like I've read on so many special needs blogs, here I was right in the middle of another stage of the grieving process. Not that I was having a pity party for myself, but instead my heart just ached and longed for everyone else in the world to see what a unique and special girl Peyton is. Sure, she doesn't always have the "right" response to situations, and, sure, she sometimes does things completely unexpected, but she's still a little girl just like all the other little girls that sat around the table with her tonight. She has SO much to offer people if they could just take a step back and give her the benefit of the doubt. Don't mind my the "mom" in me talking here...just needed to get that out there.

As the party wrapped up, the other girls' parents came to pick them up. They all beamed as they took their special crafts over to show their parents what they'd created. I stuck around and helped clean up a bit as the last of the girls left. Peyton was walking around the room talking loudly and randomly singing songs. As I was pulling down streamers and balloons, I turned and saw the party helper walk over to Peyton. She leaned down to Peyton's level and told her she had a surprise for Peyton. She told Peyton to hold out her hand. Peyton looked up at her, smiled, and held out her hand. The lady dropped several shiny beads in to Peyton's hand and told her they were something special she could take home with her to put in her treasure box. Peyton kept smiling and said, "Thank you for having us!". The lady smiled warmly and told her, "Thank YOU for coming - you made my night, Peyton". I kept cleaning up, but couldn't help feel more at peace with how the evening had gone after seeing, that, despite the fact I felt as though we stuck out like a sore thumb, God had used Peyton to touch the heart of this stranger.

Perspective. That was the word that God placed on my heart as I kept running through my head how the evening had played out. I held back tears laying next to Peyton as I tucked her in to bed after she whispered "I wuv you Mommy". I need to keep everything in perspective. I need to realize that God knew EXACTLY what He was doing when He made Peyton. He knew she'd have the ability to make an impact on complete strangers simply by her joyous spirit. He knew she'd love "beans". He knew she'd love music. He knew she'd have a genuine compassion for others. He knew she'd have a quirky, silly sense of humor. He knew she'd love macaroni and cheese. He knew she'd have an incredible ability to remember people's birthdays. He knew she'd be viewed by others as different. But that's how He intended Peyton to be. Different.

Psalm 139:13-16

"For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be"



Graduation

Well, last Thursday was Peyton's graduation party from RiteCare Language Clinic. It's hard to believe we've been there for TWO years already. Wow, time sure does fly!! I cannot even believe the progress Peyton has made since we started there. The first time we went for a session, Andrea - the therapist we started with, could hardly get Peyton to produce ANY words at all. And the ones Peyton could say were VERY difficult to understand...even for us - her parents. Over time Peyton became more comfortable with being at RiteCare and came to really enjoy her visits. We were sad to see Andrea leave, but couldn't have asked for a better replacement - Kristy. It's been SO amazing to see how God has placed the PERFECT people in Peyton's life to work with her. Kristy has been wonderful for Peyton. She knows how to get Peyton to work and has a gentle firmness about her that is exactly what Peyton needs. So, without further ado, here are some pictures of Peyton's last day at RiteCare...with her buddy, Otis, too. Thank you so much Andrea & Kristy (and all the other therapists/teachers/paras who have helped Peyton)!!!







Homework

This week at preschool Peyton's teacher started something new - sending home "homework backpacks" with little activities to do. Peyton thought the fact she had homework was SO COOL!! She came home, ripped in to her backpack and told me "Need to do my homework!". Each night this week she's come home wanting to "do her homework" and last night she was able to work with Daddy on her homework. They were learning about different types of patterns and she did really well with it! Both Chad and I were impressed with how long she sat there and worked. Carson sat in, of course, and loved it as well. As a reward for doing such a great job on her homework, we made chocolate chips cookies once all the homework was done...and Peyton even wanted to help use the mixer (which up to this point she's been a bit scared of). Fun times in Libbyland!!









Happy Birthday Matea!!!

Today my sweet little niece, Matea, turns 2!! The kids absolutely ADORE her and we've been talking about how her birthday was coming up right after Christmas. Well Peyton was all worked up about wanting to "sing happy birthday song" to Matea, so here you have it, folks!

We hope you have a GREAT birthday, Matea!! We'll have to find a time to get together and celebrate!! We love you and can't wait to see you again soon!! XXOO

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The Singing Queen

Well, it's January. Christmas has come and gone, the holiday craziness has settled down a bit, and now it's time to share a couple of things from Christmas '09.

This was the first Christmas where Chad and I really had to think hard about what to get the kids. Up to this point it's been pretty easy to come up with a ton of things. We wanted to make sure we weren't buying things just to buy something, and after a lot of brainstorming we found the perfect gift - CD boomboxes for the kids rooms. If you haven't figured it out by now, music is a HUGE part of our every day life here in Libbyland. Probably the biggest thing that motivates Peyton with her speech is music, so really, it was a no-brainer. We did some searching around on-line and found one for Carson right away (can't go wrong with anything "Cars" these days). Finding one for Peyton was a bit more of a challenge, but after several days of searching, I found it - the motherload of all boomboxes...at least for Peyton. It didn't really matter what "theme" it was (Disney Princess), but it had a MICROPHONE with it. Lord Almighty, this product was MEANT for Peyton!!!

Another present we picked up for Peyton was a robe. The girl is OBSESSED with wearing my robe. So I found one in her favorite color and figured it might be a hit. Christmas morning we opened gifts with the kids. Peyton opened her robe first. She hadn't even fully opened it yet when she jumped up, started stripping her clothes off and was yelling "I wanna wear it!". So she opened the rest of her presents in her robe. Nothing else. Just her robe. Apparently the robe was a good choice. Once presents were opened we busted out the boomboxes and got them all set up in the kids rooms. Peyton spent most of Christmas break in her room, in her robe, singing with her new boombox/microphone.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years! Hard to believe another holiday season has come and gone!

Here are a couple of videos of the kids singing and then a picture of Peyton in all her glory - wearing her robe and holding her microphone before her very first performance Christmas morning. :)

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Oh Boy.















I had a bit of an awkward moment with Carson this evening. Into the bathroom he walked holding something up and he says to me with all of his 3-year-old insight, "Mom, I know this goes in your butt". Ummm, okay, you've got my attention...I turned to look at him and he's holding a tampon (don't worry...still in the wrapper). Yep, awkward. It was all I could go to keep a straight face because he thought he was SO stinkin' SMART! I just asked him if I could see it and told him they were "only for girls", to which he replied, "Yeah, only girls put those in their butts". Aye, aye, aye...and just think, he's only 3!!!

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