Thursday, September 29, 2011

All By Myself!

Today is a record breaking day at our house.  Wesley ate his breakfast and lunch ALL BY HIMSELF!!!  For breakfast he gobbled up Golden Grahams and half of a sliced banana.  (I say gobbled.  Actually, he painstakingly picked up each piece of food individually and took his sweet time finishing his breakfast.  I think it probably took him 45 minutes to eat.  Gobbled is only accurate in that he was attentive to his food and actively seeking to get it into his mouth the entire time.)  He even surprised me by doing his very best to use his pincer grasp when eating his banana.  Of course at times he had to fall back to the fist grab to get those slimy pieces into his mouth, but overall he did a fantastic job.

Then I decided to test his new found independence by giving him a lunch he could also feed himself - just to see if he would do it.  Sure enough, he happily fed himself a cut up hot dog, grapes, and pretzels.

I am aware that we still have a long way to go before we get a handle on using our utensils properly, but this is a HUGE step for Wesley.  Wesley has been an over-stuffer from the very beginning, and it is only in the past month that we have been able safely give him a bowl of crackers or pretzels without fearing that he would choke himself.  As well as over-stuffing when it comes to crackers, Wesley has also been uninterested in self-feeding anything else.  So for now, if Wesley wants to eat his meals one bite at a time using his fingers, I will happily oblige.

I must also state that this is a big answer to prayer.  I have been praying since we found out we were expecting another baby that Wesley would be willing and able to self-feed by the time the baby was born.  It seemed an overwhelming task to prepare meals for everyone and care for and nurse the baby while also feeding Wesley every single bite of every single meal.

Join me in thanking the Lord for doing a work in Wesley's body and mind, both enabling him to self-feed and giving him the desire to do so!  He has reminded me again today that He does hear each and every one of my prayers, and He answers them in His perfect timing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Perfect Snack

It looks like we've found the perfect snack.

Not only does Wesley love Goldfish, but he actually enjoys practicing his pincer grasp as he reaches into the bag and pulls out the fishies one at a time.

I am very impressed with his lack of greed.  He never comes out with a handful, preferring instead to concentrate carefully on getting just one.

Of course, this doesn't mean that he couldn't polish off an entire bag in one sitting.  In fact, given the opportunity, he'd be delighted!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Displaying God's Grace

As I mentioned in my last post, Wesley has become quite demanding in the past few weeks. In addition to his demands, he has increasingly expressed his frustration with being re-directed or told "no" by hitting us in the face, pulling our hair, or throwing his glasses.

Last Friday I reached the bottom of my rope.  During a difficult experience in a store that afternoon, Wesley expressed his displeasure with being held by repeatedly hitting me in the face and pulling my hair out of its hairband.  When we left, I set Wesley down to hold my hand as we walked to the car.  I was aware that he was not happy with the situation by the way that he was throwing himself around as we walked.  But with the distractions of watching for cars and talking with Zach, I was not cognizant of how he chose to express his anger until we reached the car.  As I lifted him into his carseat, I immediately took note of what was missing - his glasses!  Grumbling filled my heart as I pulled Wesley back out of his carseat and grabbed Zach's hand so we could make our way back across the parking lot in search of the missing accessory.  At the other end of the lot, dollar signs immediately crossed my mind as I saw his frames bent in multiple directions and one of his lenses awkwardly sitting nearby.

At this moment, I was amazed at how quickly anger at my child could rise up in my heart.  In truth, it had been rising since he was ripping my hair out minutes before, but at this second, my anger toward Wesley boiled over.  I am ashamed to say that as I collected the pieces, I yelled at my precious son, harshly reminding him to NEVER throw his glasses. The look of shock and fear in his eyes will haunt me forever.  Then I marched the boys back to the car and stormily buckled Wesley back into his seat.

As I closed my door and started the car, the Lord began to nudge my heart.  He reminded me of the countless times that I have sinned against Him, and how it is only because of His grace that I have not been utterly destroyed by the wrath of God that I fully and completely deserve. Because of Jesus, all I have known is grace.  And because of Jesus, I ought to bestow upon my son the same grace that has been shown to me.  Instead of responding to my son's disobedience and anger by yelling at him, I have the opportunity to show my son a picture of who God is through Jesus by responding to him in a way that he does not deserve.  By showing him grace, I am reflecting my Savior and the grace given to me at the cross where Jesus atoned for each and every one of my sins.

Yes, Wesley disobeyed me when he threw his glasses, and yes, he needs a mom who will faithfully train and discipline him in the way of righteousness.  But I pray that God will also help me to be a mom who responds graciously to his sin and displays for him the grace of God as shown at the cross of Jesus.  May he see Jesus when he looks at me, and may God use that in his heart to lead him to repentance.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asking With Confidence

Wesley may already be two-and-a-half, but in the past month he has officially entered the terrible twos.  Wow!  This child has a will!  He knows what he wants, and he is quite demanding that everyone cater to his every wish.  More than that, he NEVER forgets.  No matter how many times we attempt to distract him from something he cannot have, he keeps going back and requesting it.

In the midst of this, Mike has reminded me that Wesley is the perfect picture of how we should bring our requests to God.  Wesley comes to us fully expecting that we will provide for all of his needs and wants.  He doesn't timidly make his requests, expecting the answer to be no, and he never gives up asking.  If our response is "no", or "first this, and then you may have it", he will keep pulling at our hands and saying "dits" (this) until he gets what he wants.  Wesley knows that we are his parents, and he fully trusts us to give him all good things.  There is no doubt in his mind that if he asks, he will receive.

Isn't this exactly how we should make our requests known to the Lord?  We ought to approach the throne of grace with confidence, making our requests known to God and believing that He will never withhold any good thing from His children.  Just as we love our children, so God also loves us with a steadfast love that is beyond anything we could ever comprehend.  So instead of attempting to walk through our days in our own strength, let us seek the Lord's help throughout our days, asking Him to provide for ALL of our needs, both the great and the small.  For just as Mike and I delight in helping Wesley when he asks us for help, even when his request is a small thing like opening the velcro on a bag, so the Lord also delights in giving His children good gifts.

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"  Matthew 7:11

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Lord Will Remember

Zach and I enjoyed a special moment together this afternoon.  Out of the blue, he informed me that one of his classmates made fun of his name today.  He did not seem at all fazed by it; he spoke of it as if he were passing along a tidbit of information.  But it gave me the opportunity to share with him the story of how Mommy and Daddy chose his name and how special it is to us.

I explained to Zach that before he was born, Mommy and Daddy had a baby girl, but that she died while she was still in Mommy's tummy.  It was so sweet to see Zach's questioning and concerned look as he asked why she had died.  His innocent question was such a reminder to me that the question of why there is specific pain in the world is a timeless one that will never be understood in full on this earth.

After Grace died, we prayed and prayed that God would give us another baby, and the Lord remembered us.  He heard our prayers and answered our petitions, giving us a precious baby boy.  We named him Zachary, which means "The Lord will remember", or "God has remembered".

Every time I call out Zach's name, I am reminded that the Lord did remember us.  He heard our cries to Him and in His lovingkindness and mercy toward us chose to bless us with another precious child.

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him." 
1 Samuel 1:27

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life Is A Vapor

As part of my Bible reading plan this year, I am currently reading through the book of Ecclesiastes.  I have read this book of the Bible before, but this time my perspective as a mom of a son with special needs has significantly impacted how I have responded to each passage.

Now, when I read Solomon's statement that "all is vanity (a vapor)", I agree with him in a way that I never did before. The pleasures and joys of this life truly are a vapor.  They will one day pass away.  The ESV Study Bible puts it beautifully when it says, "The fact that all is vanity (a vapor) should drive people to take refuge in God, whose work endures forever and who is a rock for those who take shelter in him."

One particular passage that God has opened my eyes to see in a new light is Ecclesiastes 2:14-16.  I know that it refers to the foolish and the wise, but as I read it I thought of Wesley.  It seems to me that this verse would equally apply to people with and without disabilities.
"The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.  And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.  Then I said in my heart, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also.  Why then have I been so very wise?"  And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.  For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten.  How the wise dies just like the fool!"
The ESV Study Bible explains that "wisdom, though infinitely better than folly, does not grant immortality to those who possess it:  the same event (death) happens to both the wise and the foolish.  To make matters still worse, even the wise are typically forgotten after their death and receive no enduring remembrance by others."  The same applies to disabilities. Whether God has created a person with many areas of gifting or with a disability, in the end that person will face death.  All of their successes in this life (or lack thereof) will be forgotten on earth and meaningless in light of eternity.

The only thing that will matter when we face death is whether or not we trusted in Jesus as our Savior while on earth.  Just as the treasures and accomplishments that I store up here on earth will be meaningless on that day, so also the lack of treasures and accomplishments that Wesley is able to store up will be equally meaningless.  It may seem disheartening to many that the wise and the foolish face the same fate, but to me these verses are of great comfort. While on this earth Wesley will never have many grand achievements, in the end the same thing will happen to him as will happen to me.  Our lives here are just a vapor, but our hope is in the promise of the forgiveness of our sins and an eternity with our Savior as children of God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Cross - My Present Glory

"My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn.  I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn.  I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross; but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my thorn.  Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain.  Show me that my tears have made my rainbows."

George Matheson (blind preacher of Scotland)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Operation Bunk Bed

After much anticipation, our latest project arrived mid-afternoon last Friday.  Zach watched with eager expectation as the delivery-men assembled it, which led me to believe that at least one of our boys would make the transition well.

Transitioning Wesley out of his crib and into a big boy bed was not a decision we made lightly. In addition to the normal concern that parents have of whether or not their child will stay in bed, we were also concerned with Wesley's general safety.  Wesley still doesn't grasp the general concepts of fear or safety, which means that falling head first over the guardrail, or not watching placement of his body and sitting down off of the bed, resulting in falling into the ladder, are not events that would surprise us in the least.

Also, unlike most children who transition from a crib to a bed, Wesley does not understand what is happening to him or why.  This is not an exciting event for him where he gets to be a big boy and share a room with his brother.  He is unaware of why we would ever remove him from the comfortable confines of his crib.  Over the past two and a half years, his crib has become his comfort zone, where he can unwind after a long day of sensory overstimulation. And now, without any warning, his place of comfort has been removed.

As a result, we decided to take it slow.  Wesley is still sleeping overnight in his crib, while we use nap time to train him to sleep in his bed.  In the meantime, Zach is napping in our room and enjoying every moment of sleeping on the top bunk at night.  To help with the transition, during nap time we lay down on the floor next to the bunk bed to monitor Wesley and make sure he doesn't stand up, jump while holding onto the guard rail, climb out of bed, or fall in some way, shape or form.  Until today, one of us also stayed in his room as he slept, to make sure he did not stand up or climb out of bed after waking up.  After three days of him waking up and just sitting up and crying until we retrieved him from his bed, I put the baby monitor in their room today and am ready to make a run for it as soon as I hear him cry out.

So far the transition has gone much better than we expected.  Below is the breakdown of our experience so far:

Day 1:  Wesley learns that Mama means business!  He cried for thirty minutes while sitting, sucking his thumb, and holding his comfort burp cloth.  Then, he lay down and fell asleep. After forty-five minutes, he bumped into his guard rail, woke up, and cried for another twenty minutes before Mama determined he was not going to fall asleep again and just got him up. Wesley never attempted to get out of the bed on his own.  Overall, we considered day 1 a success.

Day 2:  Wesley finds Daddy's soft spot.  After crying for an hour, Wesley broke Daddy's heart, and Daddy got him up.

Day 3:  Wesley naps spectacularly!  Wesley cried for ten minutes or so, and then lay down and slept for two hours.  Upon waking up, he sat up, sucked his thumb, cried, and waited for me to get him up.

Day 4:  Wesley learns that when Mama says "no", she means it!  Wesley insisted on jumping while holding on to his guardrail and standing up to poke at the posts on the bunk bed.  For thirty minutes, he would stand up, I would say "no", lay him back down again, and then he would stand up again.  Finally, he was so frustrated with me that he cried angrily, lay down to suck his thumb and comfort himself, and fell asleep.  Again, he slept for two hours and sat up and cried for me when he woke up.  This time though, he stood up next to the rail when I went to pull him out of bed.  We'll have to work on that.

Day 5:  Exhaustion leads to success!  We got home from a doctor's appointment at three o'clock, so after one reminder to not jump, Wesley lay down, sucked his thumb, and fell asleep.  He did learn, though, that if you lie perpendicular to the bed rail with your legs up in the air and then roll over to where the bed rail ends, it is very difficult to get back on the bed again.  Thankfully he figured it out himself without my needing to get involved.  So far, two-and-a-half hours later, he's still sleeping....

While we still have a long way to go and a lot of things to work out before we'll be ready to transition Wesley to the bed overnight, we are currently very encouraged with how well the transition is going.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Look At Me Go!

This morning was one of those mornings.  I saw it coming a mile away, but unfortunately there was no way to avoid the tornado of wrath headed in my direction.

Wesley has had a very difficult time adjusting to Zach being back at school, which has resulted in many tearful and mopey mornings around here.  Any time Wesley is required to do anything he considers unpleasant while Zach is gone, it tends to tip him over the edge.  Which brings us to this morning, when Wesley decided to throw a gigantic temper tantrum after returning from dropping Zach off at preschool, because I DARED to change his poopy diaper while his best friend was gone and unable to entertain him.  Poor boy was so furious that he continue to kick and scream through the first half hour of physical therapy.

By God's mercy, Wesley had a change of heart half way through therapy after angrily marching upstairs to get his comfort burp cloth.  From then on, he was such a sweet little delight.  We have been working on riding his ride-on toy for months now, and today it finally clicked for him!  As he grasped all of the intricate details of the motor plan required to maneuver his ride-on toy around the house, his joyful laugh was music to my ears.

Check out this video of my boy so proudly navigating his way across the room!