Thursday, January 27, 2011

True Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... (I Cor. 13:4-8)

It's been pretty rare, but every once in awhile I've gotten a comment from someone that goes something like this, "I could never do what you're doing."*

I know it's meant as a compliment.  The person saying these words is trying to tell me that I'm doing a good job with my child.  They're commenting on my strength and trying to let me know that they look up to me. They're letting me know that they see that sometimes my life is hard, which is a nice thing to acknowledge.

The underlying message, though, is clear: "Your life looks like it must be horrible. I'm so glad I'm not you."

It's such a strange comment to me. What's the alternative to "doing what I'm doing"? Give away a child who isn't our society's definition of perfect (even though he's perfect in my eyes)? Emotionally distance myself? Give up on trying to develop my child to be the best person he could possibly be? To me, those aren't options.

The truth is, you could do what I'm doing. You could and you least I hope you would for your child's sake. If your child got into a car accident and were forever altered, would you abandon them? Or would you step up and try to help them recover? Our situation isn't any different, except for the timing of the injury.

There is a really sad trend in our society in which we think love is conditional, that it's something we have no control over. This is more common in romantic relationships where you might hear one person proclaim with a shrug of the shoulder, "I just fell out of love with him/her." When have we stopped taking responsibility for our emotions? Love is a choice, not just a feeling. This is especially true when a couple decides to get married. Does anyone even listen to their vows anymore? In sickness and in heath. Good times and bad. Not...well, I guess I'll stay with this person until I'm just not feeling it anymore.**

Does this carry over into parenthood too? Can we only love a "perfect" child? I would hope not, as you're going to have an incredibly hard time finding one to love!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that true love is unconditional. True love is loving someone as God would love someone.

If you want to see an example of true love, watch the following clip. It's been floating around facebook, so you've maybe already seen it. If you're a diehard American Idol fan, then you've definitely already seen it.

Grab your kleenex.

This is what true love looks like, people.


A couple of disclaimers:
*I'm not picking on anyone here with the "I couldn't do what you're doing" comment. I can't remember the last time someone said that to me or even who it was (it's no one that reads this blog as I wouldn't feel comfortable writing about it if it were), nor am I really offended my the comment.  I'm just trying to make a point about the underlying message in such a comment.

**I'm not making a judgement call on anyone for having gotten a divorce. Please know that I understand that sometimes there just isn't any other choice. Again, I'm just trying to make a point about the nature of love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Football with Dad

Elijah doesn't really watch TV.  I think it's because of the visual complexity. Sometimes, though, we can get him to sit with us on the couch for a short amount of time.
We were watching the Packer/Bears game this past weekend and Elijah was very entertained by us shouting, "Touchdown!"
Having snacks helps too. 
I think we have a football fan in the making. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

He Prays

Every night, when we sit down to supper* we say a prayer together as a family.

For awhile, prayers made Elijah cry.  I'm not sure why, but I think it was because any way you slice it - we were delaying his eating.

But now? He's consistently bowing his head while we pray. I know, because I always peek to see what he's doing.

When we say, "Amen" he lifts his head and smiles the biggest smile - probably because he knows it's time to eat. Either way, it's nice to have him participate with us more.  He's taking part, noticing social customs, wanting to do what we do and wanting to please us.

He prays.

And I do too.


*Dear Grandpa John, I edited this to read supper instead of dinner just for you. You're welcome.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Project Six+ Years in the Making

Ever since Andy and I got married, I've wanted to paint an accent wall in our bedroom a dark red.

We lived in an apartment for our first few years of marriage and I never wanted to do the work of painting just to have to paint it back white when we moved.

We bought our house when I was about six months pregnant. Painting our bedroom was about the last thing on my mind, despite the fact that our walls were a light pink. Neither of us were crazy about pink walls.

And then Elijah was born and we haven't exactly lead a life in which decorating our house was a high priority.

A month ago, we finally picked out colors and bought paint...and procrastinated.
Last Sunday I painted. Finally.  This Sunday, I'm going to finish it all as it still needs some touching-up.
That pink swatch in the middle? That's what the paint looks like when really wet (the hot pinkness scared me a little).

Soon my red wall will be complete.  It's about time.

You know what this means? Our life has calmed down enough that we're making more time for things like painting. It's definitely a good thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I mentioned how much Elijah has been changing lately, but I wanted to give some specific examples...
Example One: Elijah knows when he's in trouble.

Elijah loves to listen to music. We moved a small boom-box to our living room (the room he also does his ABA therapy) so that he could easily request to listen to his music. Elijah is a climber and for some reason he likes to climb on our couch and try to get above his boom-box. Apparently the sound is better up there.

I'm not really fond of the climbing, but he is a billy-goat after all.

Not many disciplinary techniques have worked for Elijah, but one we have used is counting down from three. If he hasn't stopped by one, we stop the behavior for him.  It usually works.

One night Elijah was standing precariously on the couch, so Andy started counting, "Three, two..." Elijah quickly got off of the couch and ran away crying as if his feelings were hurt. Andy and I looked at each other curiously.  We'd never seen that reaction from Elijah before.

A minute later and Elijah apparently forgot that he's not supposed to climb on the couch.  So, again Andy started counting and again Elijah got down, ran away, and started to cry.  It was very obvious that he knew he was in trouble and he was upset that he was getting reprimanded.

It may not sound like much, but to us this reaction is phenomenal.  Elijah is much more in tune to our tone of voice.  That's pretty amazing for a kid who used to laugh at me when I got upset (he was responding to a change in my temperament, but wasn't understanding what the change in my emotion meant).

These days, I can simply say his name in that you're-in-trouble-tone-of-voice. "Elijah James!" I'll say (yes, I'm one of those moms who say the middle name when he's in trouble) and he knows he's in trouble. Does he always listen to me and do what I want him to? No, he is a three-year-old. The point is that he knows when he's in trouble. That's a big deal.

Example Two: Elijah is so much more aware of our presence.

I used to be able to watch Elijah's ABA therapy without him really noticing. These days if I walk in the room, he looks at me. Sometimes he looks at me when he I'm sitting across the room at the dining room table and he's in the living room in therapy.  That's pretty phenomenal. I certainly can't get away with as much which is definitely a good thing.
Example Three: Elijah is continuing to expand his communication skills.

Elijah will grab our hand to bring us places and to ask for help (to turn on a toy for example). He's also learned how to pull things toward himself (to tell us he wants something) or push things away (to tell us "no thank you").

Bonus: He's been screeching a lot lately.  While it hurts my ears, it's awesome to hear him experiment with his voice.

Example Four: Elijah is sharing with us.

Elijah is constantly grabbing my hand throughout the day and evening to bring me places. Even more amazing is that sometimes he doesn't really bring me anywhere. I have to conclude he just wants me to be with him.  For example, he'll bring me into the living room where music is playing, let go of my hand and start jumping around. He wants me to dance with him!  When I clap my hands and start dancing too, he gets so excited.  He just wants to be with us sometimes. His requests are getting more complex.

A lot of little (BIG) changes in Eli. He never ceases to amaze us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Working

Knowing what the right thing to do for your child is definitely difficult. This is true for any child, but especially when your child has special needs.  Not only do you need to think about all of the typical issues that go along with being a parent, but you need to consider all of the therapies - alternative and standard - that promise to help your child.  Some will and some won't and you really won't know what will help unless you try.

ABA isn't really an alternative therapy, per se, but it definitely has its critics.  That can make it difficult to determine what to do for our child - and feel good about it. Is it right or wrong to subject our child to several hours of therapy per week? Honestly, I wasn't so sure at first.

Now I'm sure.

It's working.  Elijah is looking at us more, referencing us for affirmation, sharing his world with us, and overall more aware of his surroundings. It's an amazing thing to have your child look you in the eyes... Amazing.
I know I haven't been the most consistent blogger lately, which is something I'd like to change.  I enjoy writing about living here in Elijahland so much, but when I get out of the routine of writing it's hard to get back into it. I sit at my computer with so many thoughts and without the ability to write it all down. It's like my brain is too full. I intend to write more often.

You'll hold me to it, won't you?

Friday, January 14, 2011


Everyone used to say that Elijah looked like me.

The older he gets, though, the more I hear people say, "He looks just like Andy."
Indeed, he does.

Oh, how I love them both.

Also, on a side note, doesn't Eli's hair look ultra-cute in this photo? :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Underwater Adventures

I've been wanting to take our little man to the Underwater Adventures at the Mall of America for a couple of years. A little over a week ago we were finally able to go.
Dan, Eden and Darlene to the left; Andy and Eli (in a stroller) to the right
Eli's Uncle Dan, Aunt Darlene, and Cousin Eden joined us and we all set off to explore a world under the water.
Looking at a shark
Elijah wasn't thrilled about the experience. We got extra snuggles and he had a meltdown in the middle of the tunnel.
Probably more interested in his reflection here
Eden and Dan
Overall, I'm definitely glad we were able to expose Elijah to such a different experience. Even though he was definitely overwhelmed, he was exposed to something completely different than he's ever experienced - and that's always a good thing. Overall, it was a really fun day.
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