Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tales from the Vault - The Rock

Tales from the Vault is a feature where I bring back some of my favourite posts from the archived blog. All text from the original posts has been left completely unedited; however, where I think context is required it's been added.



In light of our earthquake last night, I was reminded of this post I originally wrote in October 2013. The funny thing is, this actual earthquake happened exactly at the time I have imaged a hundred earthquakes before - while lying in bed trying to fall asleep.  Although this was the strongest quake I have felt, we are all totally fine. It did serve as a stark reminder a long overdue revisit of the earthquake safety plan is required.

--------------

We live on a rock. A big, old rock in the Pacific Ocean - better known as Vancouver Island. Most of the time it's great living on an island. That is, until I think about "the big one" coming and our island seems awfully small and - for lack of a better word - delicate.

If I listen to the people who are very smart about those kinds of things, they tell me that an earthquake is coming imminently. Not just any earthquake - the be all end all kind of earthquake that's going to leave Vancouver Island as scraps on the ocean floor. Gulp. Not a good visual.

We have little quakes here all the time that generally go unnoticed. I'll read the status updates on facebook and be glad that yet again, I didn't feel it. Thank goodness, because I feel fake earthquakes all the time. Lying in bed at night is the worst. You know that state where you're almost asleep so you're totally out of it, yet still awake at the same time? Well never fail if Jordan moves the wrong way and shakes the bed even just a little bit, I sit straight up in terror. I'm sure it's a pre-shock.

Wait, what? There's no such thing as a pre-shock? That's why earthquakes are so devastating - because they give you no warning whatsoever? Clearly I'm thinking of an after-shock. Oh great, now I'm even more worried than before. Thanks a lot.

So I try not to listen to those very smart people who know about earthquakes. It's not that I don't believe them and know the danger that it entails, it's that giving it too much thought makes me nervous. Morbidly, irrationally nervous.

And I know an earthquake is terrifying for anyone, let alone those of us that live along a major fault line. But you know what is especially terrifying? An earthquake (or any disaster for that matter) that could trap your child.

Ok ya, you get that worry too? Fair enough. But here's the kicker: how about a disaster that could trap your child that can't move himself? That invokes full on terror in me.

So in an effort to feel a bit of control over the situation, every few months we discuss our safety plan with Rio - fire, earthquake, whatever - how we protect ourselves, what we do, and where we go. And every time, after Rio has given us all of the appropriate answers, she finishes with the question: What about Asher?

Her question breaks my heart. Not only because I hate that she too has that worry, but because I really don't know. What about Asher? What if he is trapped somewhere that you can only crawl out of because of so much rubble? What if the only escape is climbing up and out through a window? What if it's as simple as needing to hide under the bed to keep himself protected? He can't do any of those things himself and that scares the living *beep* out of me. My sister assures me Nolan will grab him by the ankles and haul him out of anywhere, but I can't be sure.

So, because I already have enough to worry about, I just don't think about it. I know that we have a safety plan in place and I need to have confidence that we will get Asher (and the other two for that matter) out of any sort of disastrous situation.

And in the mean time, I hope and pray that this rock we call home remains stable and in its place for a few more million years.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dear Santa, A Little Late

Well Santa,

I kind of dropped the ball this year. Writing a letter to you after Christmas defeats the purpose doesn't it? You'd think so, but not if you need for nothing, and only have things to be thankful for.

2015 has been a huge year for us and wanting or needing anything were very low on my priority list.
This year brought us our first full year in our "new" house, full of lots of finishing touches (and lots more to come). It brought Jordan and I each a new job and we were each given opportunities we could not have dreamt would be presented to us. It brought three funny, creative, bright kids another year lots of happiness. And it brought us all lots of love, happiness and health.

So Santa, although you did bring the kids exactly what they asked for, along with bringing the grownups the perfect print to go above our long empty mantle, it's not the gifts I'm thankful for, so much as all of the multitude of blessings in our lives. Family, friends, security, safety, and health are not things we take for granted - nor is how far our lives have come since I wrote our first letter to you in 2009.

Happy New Year, and here's hoping 2016 brings us so much happiness.

Love the Trousdells

ps - for previous years' letters click here and here.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tough

It's been so so so busy lately I have completely neglected the blog. I hope to make up for that over Christmas. But in the mean time, a small tidbit...

Today I was at the doctor (for myself, not the kids) and when we were talking about the boys, he was reminding himself that both boys had CP. When I confirmed that they did he answered "Wow, that must be tough".

That made me pause...because I realized I don't like hearing my life being described as tough. Happy, fulfilling, stressful, challenging - all yes. But "tough" has negative conotations to me. I know he didn't mean it to offend me - he said it to be empathetic. But it made realize how far I have come mentally. Instead of melting into a puddle of tears and "yes it is tough" like I might have a few years ago (or like I truthfully sometimes think in the privacy of my own home on a bad day), my first instinct was to think: "Tough? No, not really".

Suck it, tough. This is a happy life.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dear Santa

Oh the CUTE!





(inside)


(outside)


Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Best

I hear the clomp clomp of brick feet. I wish I could say "pitter patter of little feet" but for anyone who's heard Nolan walk or seen his feet, you know my description is more accurate.

The door creaks open and I hear "Mama, Asher needs you".  I look at the clock - 4:00 am.

I walk Nolan back to bed as he tells me Asher needs to pee.

I go into their bedroom, grab Asher, go through the production that is taking him to the bathroom, and then tuck them both back in. I whisper to Nolan that he is the best brother in the entire world.

Just as I'm falling back to sleep, I hear the same creak of the door and the same little "Mama? Asher needs you again". I pick my sleepy boy up and carry him back down the hall, amazed by how heavy he is but how natural carrying him still feels after all this time. I worry about what Asher could need this time.

"I need my stuffy", Asher says.

"You need WHAT?" I reply sharply.

"Baby rhino. I need him now".

I dig around in the dark and when I can't find it, I cover Nolan's eyes and turn Asher's bedside light on  to retrieve the stuffy. When I get them both tucked back in I remind Asher that a middle of the night stuffy hunt is not an acceptable reason to get his brother, not to mention his mom, out of bed.

When I'm kissing them good night for the third time, the clock now reads 4:30. Once again I tell Nolan "you really are the best brother ever" before shutting the door, not hearing from them again until morning.

These boys of mine - they fight. OH BOY DO THEY FIGHT. Asher often sports scratches that look like they came from a tiger and I'm sure he is permanently missing clumps of hair. On the other hand, Asher's sharp tongue often has a similar but unseen effect on Nolan's psyche. Sometimes it really astounds me how mean they can be to each other. And then, just like that, they're not. They're loving and holding hands and giggling like each is the funniest person on the planet.


I know any siblings can have a relationship like this - in fact Rio has a similar one with each of the boys. But there is something special about these two boys who have been fighting - in all manner of ways - side by side since birth. They really are the best. And I really hope they always remember just how important they are to each other.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Love Letter to Tegan and Sara

Dear Tegan and Sara,

This is Asher. You're looking at your number one fan.


He is 6 years old, also an identical twin, lives in Victoria, and adores you both. I repeat: adorrrrrrres you both. His favourite song? "All of them". He's got Heartthrob memorized from beginning to end.

In case you missed it in the first photo, here's a closer look at the shirt Asher is wearing:



Yup: I heart Tegan and Sara. Asher recently got t-shirt making supplies for his birthday, and with no hesitation, this is the shirt he wanted to make. Actually I take that back - first he insisted his dad draw the album cover of Heartthrob. When we explained felts on a t-shirt wouldn't really do it justice, Asher settled on this. Although he has difficulty with his fine motor skills, he designed the shirt telling us exactly where to place everything. And then he colored it himself with love. Obviously - look at all those hearts! He was the talk of his classroom when he wore that today, let me tell you.

Although we explained to Asher that his dream of marrying you both is not possible for a variety of reasons, the flame is still burning strong in his heart. So on the one in a bazillion chance you read this, I thought I'd introduce you to him since he's a pretty cool cat. I can all but guarantee you'd be pretty stoked to be his friend. Asher has been through a lot in his short life but man can he light up a room. And not to mention that voice when he's singing your songs is pretty deadly cute.

We look forward to your next album...and tour. Coming to Vancouver? We'll be there.

Lots of love and admiration,
Asher and his mom
xoxox

Monday, November 16, 2015

Not the Compliment I Was Looking For

I told Asher he couldn't play iPad and he wasn't happy with me. As I walked out of the room I heard him mutter under his breath "she's the worst". I went back in and asked him about it, and while he first denied it, he eventually tearfully said "I said it by accident". I then explained to him that I am not actually the worst, I am in fact the best, by virtue of being the only mother he has. So instead of just saying sorry to me, he had to say something nice to me.

You know what he came up with? It's a good one. Hold onto your hats, folks...

"You're great at doing laundry".

Wow Asher. Quite the compliment. Of all the possible compliments I was fishing for like "You give the best hugs" or "I like your singing" or I even would have settled for "You're wearing a nice dress" this is what he came up with. Apparently I fold a mean shirt.

Motherhood, man. Certainly not about the glory, is it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tales from the Vault: It's Ok

Tales from the Vault is a feature where I bring back some of my favourite posts from the archived blog. All text from the original posts has been left completely unedited; however, where I think context is required it's been added.



Today is remembrance day, and while reflecting on all the sacrifices our Canadian military has made to keep us safe and free, I am doing my own kind of remembering. This blog post was shared 5 years ago today, on November 11, 2010. I had infant twins who were thick in the throes of therapy already, not to mention their endless appointments care of their prematurity. I was a stay at home mom, newly finished mat leave, trying to work out that this was my new reality. To say I was looking for ways to feel "ok" with life was a pretty big understatement. I love how I captured it here. Seems so simple now.


*****


Moments when I tell myself "It's ok" rarely happen. I am not good at cutting myself any slack or giving myself the benefit of the doubt. I have a Type A personality and am a perfectionist. If I can't do something right, I don't like to do it at all. All of these things have probably contributed to my successes with my family, my education and my career, but they haven't done me any favours in the self acceptance department.

Now that I am a stay at home mom, nothing is ever good enough. I have fantasies of what my life should look like and I'm having troubles reconciling those fantasies with reality. I should do more crafts with my daughter. I should do more physio with my infant twins. We should all exercise more. I should have a cleaner house. I should stop cleaning my house so much and spend more time with my kids. I should cook more. I should rely on my husband less. And so on and so forth, the list is endless. 

The other night I was alone with the kids while my husband was at work. I was frantically trying to prepare dinner for all three of them when my daughter piped up and said we should have a picnic dinner. I calmly told her that it was too cold and dark outside to have a picnic, and went back to making dinner, only half paying attention to her. "No mommy, a picnic dinner inside. In the living room". I sighed, looked at the clock to see the minutes quickly ticking away, and realized that my dinner was falling apart. And then, just as I was about to tell her no, I thought "Why not? What could it hurt?" 

This burst of spontaneity was so out of character for me. I couldn't believe the words had come out of my own mouth so I moved quickly before I could talk myself out of it. I fed her exhausted brothers and put them to bed - one less distraction. I took our picnic blanket and laid it out on the living room floor. Then, although it was easier to just carry the items in to the living room a few at a time, I decided to use our picnic tray and load everything up, just as I would if we were going to the backyard. 

Our living room picnic dinner was set and my daughter's eyes lit up with excitement. We sat on the floor, exactly where she had instructed us each to sit, eating side by side. The boys were asleep and no chores needed to be immediately attended to so I could focus only on her. For the life of me could not remember when I had last been able to do that. She started rolling around on the floor with food in her mouth so I told her to stop. She looked at me with a sheepish grin and I started to laugh, letting her go. We were having a picnic after all, what was the harm in letting her roll around?

After dinner I was in no hurry to clean up. We sat on the floor for almost two hours playing games and doing puzzles before finally I had to cut the party short and get her ready for bed. I think I was sadder than she was that it was over. 

As I was putting her to sleep we talked about our favourite part of the day, as we do every night. On some nights I am really grasping because it seems like we haven't done anything fun. One time I told her my favourite part of the day was when she helped me fold laundry. How pathetic is that? But tonight, I couldn't come up with just one, I had many to choose from - our picnic, our walk home from preschool, baking muffins. It was a good day, a really good day. I may not be a perfect mom, but today my daughter thought I was a pretty great one.

For once, if only for a fleeting moment, I thought "It's ok".

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Firefly GoTo Seat


Remember the UpSee and the PlayPak that I’ve raved about from our friends at Firefly? Well they’re at it again with another fantastic product! I introduce to you the new and improved GoTo Seat!

I will start by saying that just like their other products, the craftsmanship is beautiful. They chose durable, comfortable fabric, and attention to detail is clearly paid on everything from the strength of the seams and fasteners, to the ease of assembly. They've made it really easy to remove components for washing, and all of the straps, lateral supports, and head support are adjustable. 

The chair comes in colour choices of pink/purple, bright blue/dark blue, or yellow/orange, and two sizes. Additionally it comes with a choice of standard or advanced head rest, depending on the amount of head support needed.



The chair itself is multi-purpose and can be used outside of the home – in my opinion one of the greatest features for us special needs parents who always seem to have our arms full of equipment! It can be used either strapped on a regular dining chair to allow your child to sit and eat or play at a table, or in the seat compartment of a shopping cart for those kids who can't sit safely without toppling over while shopping. I wish this existed when Asher was a wee one who could still fit in the cart - you have no idea how hard it is to shop with a toddler who can't sit and this could have made that so much easier!

Additionally, a floor attachment with two tilt options can be purchased to safely allow the child to sit independently and play on the floor. If you’re looking for an easy way to have your child supported while long-sitting and giving their legs a natural stretch, this is what you’re looking for! They're safe, and supported, allowing for independent play.



This chair is fantastic. It has some really great features, and is made by a company I completely stand behind and support. However…

You know that awkward breakup line where you say “It’s not you…it’s me”, but you don't actually mean it, you're just letting the other person down easily? Well this time I’m saying it, and unfortunately I mean it. 

“GoTo Seat - it’s not you, it’s Asher”. 

Sigh. I wish this wasn't the case. This lovely chair that I had such high hopes for just doesn’t work for Asher. I’d be remiss if I wasn’t honest, so here’s why:

Strapped to a chair – I really hoped for this one as an alternative to sitting in his wheelchair all the time at the table. He asked a while back to sit in a regular chair, so I’d hoped this was an option. Unfortunately though, Asher has come to rely heavily on having his feet strapped down in his wheelchair because when his tone kicks in his legs really become involved. So Asher sat comfortably for a few minutes but then when he started working too hard he repeatedly knocked his knees on the table when his legs started moving uncontrollably. Ouch! Darn fluctuating tone. Doesn’t he look cute though?! You can see how comfy he is when he's actually "just sitting there".


Then we tried it seated on the floor – I had hopes for this one too. Asher doesn’t spend a ton of time playing on the floor, but when he does he’s either in his childrite chair, which he topples out of on occasion, or his playpak, which I need to be near for support. I had hoped the GoTo Seat would allow him to play safely strapped in. Asher at his active and inquisitive age, however, felt too strapped in. I realized that the upside to him being able to fall out of his childrite chair is that he’s also able to lean way out of it and move himself around a lot – something he really enjoys and a reason why he rarely wears his chest straps in his wheelchair either. Although chest straps in any chair could benefit Asher, he really doesn't like wearing them. So seated on the floor was a no-go too.

So ya, that’s the bad news. This wonderful, well made, super safe and supportive chair doesn’t work for Asher. If he were younger, I would’ve tried harder to make it work, but now that he is a big 6 year old man with his own opinions about what he likes, I really need to respect his opinion. For him, this chair wasn't quite it. But oh did I want it to work out!

BUT, never fear - this story has a happy ending! Because even though the chair may not work for Asher, I can pretty much guarantee that it will work for other kids. And you know how I’m going to test that theory? I’m going to donate this beautiful chair to our early intervention therapy team and their equipment loan library. That means multiple other children and families can benefit from trying out this chair, and if it works, even consider purchasing one of their own. I am so happy to be able to share this wonderful chair with multiple other therapists and families that I know will make good use of it. I know from seeing it firsthand what a life changing piece of equipment this could be for many families.

If you think this chair might be a good fit for your child, please, check it out here. And a big thanks to Firefly for trusting Asher's and my opinions of your products!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Little Monsters!

Six years ago, two frighteningly small and frail babies were born.

Six years later, two frightening little ghouls amaze and inspire us every day.


We had such a fun day, celebrating the boys with their friends from school with a halloween party*. Then of course, rounded out a crazy day with some neighborhood trick-or-treating. The boys could not have asked for a more fun day.

Today will be more quiet, just celebrating the two awesome little men we have in our lives. Asher and Nolan you bless us, and everyone around you, just by being you. Happy 6th birthday sweet boys!




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dead Computers and Facebook


Well I'm even more absent on the blog than usual because our iMac died recently and I really don't like to post from the iPad or my phone, as I'm doing now. When our new Mac arrives next week I will make my best effort to give a good update!

In the mean time, I continue to post semi-regularly on Facebook. If you go to Facebook.com/trousdellfive you can follow us there. Even if you don't have a Facebook account you can still look at the page, just not comment.
A Halloween birthday party is in the works so the sharing of photos will start soon...





Speaking of Halloween, what a scary monster - this is what happens when I leave them on their own!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

And So It Begins

Always. Every off-season for about the past five years it's happened - I swear off the Canucks.

It's not immediate. I make it through the playoffs, usually which they've exited long before.

I make it through the draft.

And then I make it through free agent frenzy. All still very interested, with my finger on the pulse of what my Canucks are doing.

But then hockey goes quiet for the summer, and I take time to evaluate.

I evaluate how much mental energy I spend cheering for a team - the same team I've cheered for for 40 years now - and wonder what good it's doing me.

Yes, at times they cause me joy. Great joy. Wizardous Sedinery is like nothing else. But they cause me heartache. Oh man, do they cause me heartache.

So every summer I pretty confidently say to myself "I'm going to try taking this season off. Not follow them so closely. Just step back a little". Every year Jordan laughs at this suggestion. And every year I get defensive, telling him if he were a fan for his entire life, not just the past decade, he would understand.

And I hold onto this stance right up to training camp. I don't follow it. I don't know much about our prospects, and I don't care. And then pre-season starts. And they lose. And they're playing with a bunch of players I don't know about and don't care about. And they lose a few more. And I truly believe I have made the right decision to step back.

And then pre-season winds up and I'm faced with the "real" team. And without realizing, I find myself back on Twitter, following my "Hockey, yo!" list full of players and commentators quite closely. And then I start hitting up Canucks.com pretty regularly. And then, I start talking to Jordan about hockey. All the time.

And that's when I realize it's all over. These off season plans to step back were just a pipe dream. I am a real fan, not one that jumps on and off the bandwagon. Through and through I have followed this team, and will apparently continue to. And like I blame my father before me, one day my kids too will blame their parents for instilling a love of this team in them. Apparently it can't be helped.

So here we are, just hours before puck drop. And apparently we are all quite ready for the season to begin. Hockey is very serious business.



(although maybe Asher didn't get the memo?)

Damn you Canucks. In the iconic words of Michael Corleone: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in". 

***

Update Oct 8: They won their season opener 5-1. I probably made the right choice.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September Wrap Up

Well let's start with the important part, shall we? Please, watch this:



Do you know that care of all of you generous people we are sitting at almost $5900?!

You are amazing! You not only threw money at us (sometimes very large amounts), but you threw your support at us. Which is really what meant the most.

This Steptember was a tougher go than last time, I will admit. Sitting at a desk job vs. running after your toddler twins is a whole different ball game. This time around I would work all day, get the kids from school, take them to activities, deal with dinner, make lunches, do showers and bed time, fold laundry, and finish up any other household chores. I'd finally get to sit down around 9 pm. Except I didn't get to sit down. I'd do laps of my living room, sometimes for up to 90 minutes, to get my steps in. Because despite being busy as heck all day, all that "running around" really didn't equal a lot of literal running around.

So to everyone who understood how hard it was (for all four of us moms) to get those steps in we truly appreciate your support. I've said it several times and will continue to say it: Your pledge, no matter how big or how small, was validation. Validation that you believed in what we were doing. Validation that you know that living with CP has some extra challenges. Validation that we are surrounded by good, loving, generous people. So a million thank yous.

For the small group of you that I wasn't able to give a personal thank you to, I apologize, but sometimes it wasn't possible. If you donated with no name displayed, I had no way to know who you were and couldn't thank you personally. If you donated with only a first name, I didn't know who you were and couldn't thank you personally. If I knew who you were but had no way to contact you (like email or Facebook) I couldn't thank you personally. But that doesn't mean I don't thank you with all my heart. The CP association of BC thanks you. My children thank you. Our hearts are full.

And just in case you're reading this and regretting not having donated, it's your lucky day to get some extra karma points - donations can continue through October right here. 

Thank you to all of you. And thank you, Steptember, for being over!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What I Was Going to Say

I had this great blog post all written in my head. It went a little something like this:

"Parents! Here's a fun little quiz for you. I'm going to ask you some questions, and for every one you say yes, I challenge you to pledge me 50 cents towards Steptember!"

Then I would have listed a bunch questions like...

"Can your child roll themselves over in bed in the middle of the night, without you having to get up, sometimes multiple times, to do so for them?"

"Can your child go to the toilet on their own, without being carried there and placed on a special seat by an adult?"

"Can your child grab their own glass when they're thirsty at dinner, reach over and pick up their dropped fork, or eat without worrying about how many time they're going to knock their plate over?"

And so on and so forth. You see my plan was to ask you all sorts of questions covering all of the mundanities of life that you get to take for granted with your kids. Questions to which you would consistently answer yes...but my answer for Asher would be no across the board.

Great idea, right? Way to get the point across how different Asher's life is from your child's isn't it? Maybe it would be the final tug at the old heart strings to get you to dig deep and donate, if you haven't already. But then I set out to write it and the words weren't coming. How was this possible? It was so perfectly written in my head.

And then it hit me. Pointing out all the things Asher isn't able to do is not where I focus my energy. Comparing either of the boys to other kids is not helpful. Celebrating what they can do is my forte. Even for the sake of donations to my cause, anything contrary to that feels like I'm selling out. If you don't already realize the differences between my family and yours....well....almost 6 years in I don't think one blog post is going to change that. I'm not willing to drive that point home, no matter how many donations it could yield. Not my style, so I'm glad my writer's block helped me remember that.

So I'll do what I do best and tell you just how amazing Asher and Nolan are. That will not change if I raise another $50 or $10,000 or nothing more at all. They are amazing, full stop. Aside from what we try to do to spread awareness for them, they advocate for themselves every day by just being the inspiring little people they are. Instead of focusing on their differences, I'll continue to remind you just how enriched their lives are.


Thank you sooo much to everyone who has donated over these past three weeks. It really means the world to us. And to everyone who hasn't - you still have one week. Please, click here to donate. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This is 40

I'm writing this post on the eve of my 40th birthday. My last day as a thirty-something. By the time most of you read this, I will be the dreaded 40. I can't say I'm happy about it, I won't lie. Being born to a 40 year old mom at a time it was definitely not en vogue to have a baby in your 40s, I spent my entire childhood hearing - and believing - that 40 was old. So cut me some slack.


That said, I'm strangely ok with it. Because upon turning 40 I can reflect on where I am and the person I've become in the past decade. And I'm more that ok with that. I'm kind of good with it actually.

At 40, I know that I am a better person than I was at 30. Way better than I was at 20. I'm smarter, more fulfilled, more enriched, and more enlightened to all of the things that really matter in the world.

At 40, I like myself way more than I did at 30. For way too many reasons to list here.

At 40, my marriage is in many ways better than it's ever been. I completely adore my husband and could not imagine a better partner to go through life with.

At 40, I can look back on the past decade and know I crushed it. I mean, the 30s are a time of transition for most of us. A fantastic decade full of possibilities, but also one full of challenges. My thirties, like many peoples', involved starting a family, advancing my career, becoming a home owner, becoming a landlord, and trying to balance it all. But throw in prematurity/CP/cancer/loss of a baby, and I've overcome a few more challenges than I expected when I looked ahead at my future. In fact it's been by far the most challenging decade of my life - and God help me if it isn't the most challenging one I have to experience again. But here I am at the end of it, all the stronger for it.

At 40, I still feel like I have my finger somewhat on the pulse. I still like good music, relevant TV shows and age appropriate fashion. I'd like to think I'm reasonably hip for 40. Although yes, I do realize that usage of the term "hip" negates the cool-factor significantly. I'm trying here.

At 40, I know I'm not the best mom in the world - by a longshot. Most times I realize it's ok to do my best. I still have an insane amount of "mom guilt" like we all do, but I look at my kids and realize that they are some of the most amazing little creatures on the planet, so I'm willing to take a tiny bit of credit for that. And they're all smart so I have full confidence they will get good jobs with benefits and a psychologist will be able to help them through any emotional damage I cause them along the way.

At 40, I know that when I turn 50 I will laugh at the fact that I thought 40 was old. Just like my 40 year old self is laughing at my 30 year old self for the same reason. But I know it's all about perspective and I hope that at 50 I will feel even better about myself than I do now.

At 40, I realize I am a survivor, not a victim. I think that is the best lesson of all.

So I celebrate 40, reflecting on this beautiful life I lead and the beautiful people that make it all matter...


...no matter how O-L-D I am.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Steptember: Half Way

We are exactly half way through our Steptember challenge, and more than half way to our fundraising goal. To everyone who has already donated, I thank you immensely. Your generous, supportive hearts have really touched us. All four of us have exceeded a 10,000/day step count and many days have had to come up with some creative ways of getting our steps in because we're all busy moms. But we've gotten it done, that's the important part. And so have you, so thank you.

To any of you who haven't donated yet, I ask that you remember why we're doing this. Yes, we are raising money for the CPABC. It is a great cause that supports our family and others with CP in British Columbia. But aside from fundraising for them, I have more selfish and personal motives.

I, as with anything I do to advocate for CP, am raising awareness for what it is like to live with CP. My boys have a rich, happy, and wonderful life. But their little lives come with many more challenges than most people's. And can I just put it out there and say their parents' lives come with many more challenges than most people's? I am not discounting the fact that we are happy. In fact, someone very intuitive recently told me that there is much more happiness than sadness in my house. And she was definitely right. But it wasn't always like that. This family has had to work hard to overcome a lot of things, both physical and emotional, relating to prematurity and CP. And we've also had to work hard to make a choice to not let CP stop the boys, or us. We take pride in everything we've overcome, and feel empowered by it. But at the end of the day, it is still work. In an already busy life with three kids, we still have to fit in therapy and doctors and equipment and procedures. And much more exhaustingly - we have to worry about things that parents of typical kids don't have to worry about. More stress. More finances. Just more.

So by donating, you're not only showing monetary support, you are showing that you understand what my family goes through every day. Think of it like this...

Next time you get upset with your young child and say "Don't you dare run away from me", know that I will never have the luxury of saying that to my boys. There are many things people take for granted that my boys will never be able to do. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, I'm trying to make you understand that this is their reality.

Remember where these two started...


And where they are now.


Through a lot of hard work, love, and support - from people like you.

A $10 donation is easy, and says so much.  Please, click here to donate.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

STEPTEMBER!

Remember the "World CP Challenge" we did in 2012? Well, now it's re-named Steptember, and team TWIN PEAKS is at it again.

As a reminder, here's how it works...

I intend to take on the challenge of completing a minimum of 10,000 steps per day from tomorrow, September 2, until September 29th, raising funds for Cerebral Palsy - specifically for the CP association of British Columbia.

Do you know that last time YOU helped our team raise an INCREDIBLE $7400?!! Well we're asking you to open your hearts, and your wallets, to support not only my beautiful boys, but everyone in BC living with CP. This year I am joined again by my sister Diana, friend Leanne, and our new team member - my friend Rachelle. We ladies are ready to rock this. Because we did so well last time, we've set our initial goal at $5000! Huge, I know, but I'm hoping we'll even surpass it.

So here's the thing. You know that CP affects every aspect of our life, every day. Our boys are not defined by their CP, but it is a big part of their very existence. They are happy, healthy, and loved above all, but their disability does give them extra challenges that they will face every day for the rest of their lives.


As I take my 10,000 steps per day I don't need to be reminded that I should not take my steps for granted. Can I ask you to do the same? Many people with CP cannot walk independently, or at least without assistance. One of my boys requires the use of a wheelchair full time, and the other needs to put effort into every step he takes. We are lucky that those are the only disabilities they face. People living with CP can have a variety of other complications. Please take a moment to think about that, and cherish all the effort-free movements you are able to make. Get up, walk around, grab a glass of water. None of those things are easy for my boys.

So are you ready to donate? Are you ready to make a difference? Please, do this for Asher and Nolan. They are old enough this year to understand the challenge. They know they live with CP. They know they need therapy, equipment, and technology other kids don't need. We can share with them how all of YOU are making a difference to THEM. Asher knows the CPABC just gave him money for a brand new iPad for Grade 1, to make his school work easier, so he understands how this is directly helping him. So although you aren't donating directly to us, you are donating to vital funds that can, and do, help families just like us every day. Access to the right equipment and services is essential, as is helping to fund research projects that will make improvements in the way that cerebral palsy is diagnosed and treated.

Go for it, you know you want to. Any amount you contribute would make a huge difference. To me, to those two loves of my life, and to everyone living with CP.

YOU CAN DONATE TO MY FUNDRAISING PAGE BY CLICKING HERE! 

I know you want to run off and make a donation, so I won't keep you much longer - just a few final and important notes about making a donation:
  1. You will get a tax receipt for any donation of $10 or above.
  2. I would personally prefer if you didn't do an "offline donation" (by sending them a cheque) because then I won't know about your donation until they receive it and it's processed. If you don't want/aren't able to enter your credit card on line, please send me the cheque/e-transfer/cash and I will do it for you. Either way the tax receipt will go in your name and you will get credit for the donation.
  3. If you're having trouble making a donation, let me know and I'll help.
  4. You should get a confirmation of your donation. If you don't, it hasn't gone through.
  5. I suggest you donate immediately. Because I'm going to bug people for 28 days and it's going to get suuuuuper annoying. If you do it right away, you can then promptly ignore the hounding I will do for the rest of the month.
Thanks friends. Your support is appreciated more than you know. The Fitbit is on. The sneaks have been dusted off. This'll be significantly more challenging to get my steps in this year now that I'm working, but I'm up for it. You've been unbelievably generous in the past. Do you have it in you to do it again?


Monday, August 31, 2015

Tales from the Vault - World CP Challenge

Tales from the Vault is a feature where I bring back some of my favourite posts from the archived blog. All text from the original posts has been left completely unedited; however, where I think context is required it's been added.



This one's brought back from October 2012. Why would I be brining this post back? I'll give you a hint: you'll be hearing a lot more about this over the coming 4 weeks :) By the way - read right to the end for two of the cutest boys ever!

-----

The World CP Challenge is over and for our team, was a complete success.

We took 1,418,536 steps.

We raised $7427 dollars. SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! To think I was scared to make our initial goal of $2000. Unbelievable.

We finished 1st in Canada for fundraising.

We finished 2nd in the world in our division of 1082 teams and 4th of 2002 teams over all.

Most importantly - we spread CP awareness every day.

Will this money we raised ever directly affect Asher and Nolan? I can't say for sure, but that's not the point. If it can help someone else living with CP, or can aid in research that will help make CP more preventable, then in my opinion, our fundraising will have been a success.

Because this was not about raising money for Asher and Nolan specifically, nor was it about finding a cure for CP. Do I think CP can actually be "cured"? Well I'm not sure. The answer to that lies far outside of CP specifically, and under the general question of "can brain injuries be reversed?". One day, I hope so.

But I do think that more imminently prenatal and neonatal care will improve more than it already has. To compare neonatology 50 years ago to now, it is staggering how many advances have been made. Not long ago, babies born as young as Asher and Nolan were considered a miscarriage, and now more times than not those babies go on to lead thriving lives. So if medicine has advanced that much in caring for tiny babies, I have no doubt that it will keep advancing to a place where they can prevent many of the brain injuries that happen to babies either in utero or shortly after birth. If some of the money we raised goes into that, I will be thrilled.

The greatest part of this challenge, for me, has been how much I have been talking about CP, and hopefully, how much each of you who have supported us have been learning about it too. I don't want people to judge my boys, or pity them. I just want them to be given a fair chance at all of the opportunities the rest of us have. I don't think that's too much to ask.

So now, some thank yous. Firstly and most importantly Auntie Di and Leanne. Without your steps and your fundraising, we couldn't have done this. Thank you for loving our kids as much as you do, walking every day, and hounding your friends and family for money. Awkward, I know, especially when they're not your own kids. We appreciate it immensely.

And then to you who donated, all I can say is WOW. Often times it wasn't just the donation, it was the note that went along with it, or the private message you sent offering your support. Many of you had me in tears. We can one day explain to Asher and Nolan how much everyone cares about them and acknowledges and embraces their differences. You opened your wallets, yes, but that money may as well have been deposited straight into my heart for the value of friendship and support that it showed our family. We will remember this, and you, always.

I wish I could put your names up in lights, but this measly little blog will have to do. I keep reading the list over and over, so happy as each name registers. Seeing the diversity of all the people on this list and how we are connected to all of them has been absolutely heart warming. From childhood friends we haven't seen in years, to friends' parents we've never met, and everything in between. Jordan, the little heart breaker, even got a donation from an ex-girlfriend on another continent! 120 of you gave us $7427 dollars and that is totally unbelievable to me. So without further ado - thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous, to:

Aaron
Aaron
Adele
Albert and Betty
Albert and Connie
Andy and Pat
Anna
Annette
Annie
Bernice and Bill
Bevie
Brandon and Mikale
Brian
Bridget
Candice
Carrie
Cathy
Chelan
Chelsea
Chris
Chris, Becky, Gabey and Olivia
Christa, Adam, Alexis and Madison
Cindy
Cindy
Clare
Connie
Connie
Connie
Dana
David and Shellene
Dawn
Denise, Ryan, Hanna, Olivia and Luke
Donna
Donna and Rowan
Dre
Drew
Ed
Erika
Frieda, Ryan, Chris and Ben
Gail
Gail
Garett, Maralise and Calla
George and Jackie
Georgie
Hazel
Jacqui
Jamie, Cameron and Elliot
Jane
Janet
Janice
Jason and Yuli
Jeff and Renee
Jen, Jon, Kadence, Maximus and Rianna
Jenn, Raymond, Blake and Joe
Jessica
Joe
Johnny and Jake
Judy
Kaiti and Gio
Kari
Karina
Kate
Kelly
Kepmen
Kirsten
Kirsten, Danny and Evie
Lacey
Laura and Jason
Laurie
Laurie and Paul
Lisa
Lisa
Loretta and Steve
Lori
Lynn and James
Maggie
Marilynne
Martine
Meghan
Melanie
Michael
Michael and Trisha
Michelle and Rick
Michelle, Jon, Jenna and Ella
Mike and Dawn
Natel, Darren and Madden
Nicola
Nicola
Nicole
Pam and Darrin
Pam and Regan
Patti
Paula, Daryl, Gavin, Jordan and Kayla
Peter, Shana and Jeremy
Piet, Ale, Lua and Gaia
Rachel, Jason, Dane and Arden
Rebecca
Richard
Richie
Sacha and Jon
Scott, Ann, Lee and Owen
Scott, Mary, Cassia and James
Sharon
Shasta
Stacey
Steph and Elise
Steve, Jen, Chase and Arden
Summer, Tammy and Don
Tammy
Taryn
Tim and Barbara
Tim, Krista, Kaitlin and Connor
Tom
Tracey and Kevin
Tracie and Kevin
Tracy
Tracy and Mike
Tracy, Eric, Toscane and Emeric
Travelodge Duncan
Wayne and Linda
Wendy

Now, I can't leave out the stars of the show. Asher and Nolan have something they want to [apparently very quietly] say to you:


Cheeeeeeeese. Also, THANK YOU EVERYBODY!

Friday, August 28, 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End

We just got back from 5 glorious days in Portland. Doing a little bit of hospital-ing, a little bit of sight seeing, a little bit of shopping, and a whole lot of eating. Oh, the eating.

The purpose of our trip, as always, was a visit to Shriner's hospital for our yearly check in. In the past, we've had consults with an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, a PT, an OT, and orthotics. We've talked about things like hips, and gait, and AFOs, and drugs, and surgery, and and and. Everything we've had questions or concerns about, they've offered assurances or advice - never faltering from the advice given to us at home but still nice to have their expert opinions.

This year, however, it was decided that our time at Shriners has run its course - more so a decision made by them than by us, but we can't argue with them. The long and short of it is the boys are doing amazingly well. They are getting excellent care in Canada from doctors that our Shriner's docs know we like and trust. They are doing as well as can be expected for both of their severity of CP, and Shriner's doesn't feel like at this point they have any more they can offer us. Given the expense of hospital care and travel it's not something any of us can justify any more. Bittersweet, really. Happy - because the boys are doing so well they don't need the "expert opinion" anymore. Sad - because mom and dad love the assurances that "expert opinion" gives us.

But, we know we are in good hands in Victoria. Did we not feel that way, we would have expressed that to our Shriner's team and they would have continued seeing us, I have no doubt. So we say goodbye to the Shriner's chapter of the boys' lives. They made it clear we are welcome back at any time should things change, but we need to be hopeful that will never be required if the boys continue along the strong and healthy path they seem to be headed.

On a travel note, that means we will no longer be heading to Portland every year. No, no, let me take that back. We will no longer be heading to Portland with children every year. Just the adults however - that culinary adventure planning is already in the works. We love that city and are sure that with and without kids, it won't be long before we return.

In the interim, we had an amazing trip full of memories, as always. Here's a few photos to tell the story of the trip...for a larger album click here.













Monday, August 17, 2015

Date Days

The summer is flying by and although we've had a bunch of fun just letting the days pass by, we decided we should make as many quality moments as we could. We've gone on one on one dates with the kids in the past, but not frequently. So we decided this summer, we would officially do it. Each child gets a one on one date to whatever location or whichever activity they choose. The world was their oyster!

Too bad (or good, depending on how you look at it?) that oyster didn't turn out to be very big, so the adorably cute and simple selections by each child were as follows:

Rio + mom = downtown on the bus
Rio + dad = a bike ride and a slurpee

Nolan + mom = ice cream
Nolan + dad = a trip to the park

Asher + mom = a "fancy" restaurant
Asher + dad = China town

We started the dates three weeks ago and did two dates per weekend. Rio and I started with a bus ride (although disappointingly because it was the weekend, not a double decker), a shopping spree at Chapters with some birthday money, followed by another bus stop to a delicious bakery and then a final leg of the busride home. Who knew the #14 could bring such joy. The pinnacle was at the end when she got to pull the cord (of course it was, who doesn't love that?!).


Asher and I went next and although it was our turn, he wasn't feeling up to himself so instead of going to a restaurant he decided on a milkshake. I took him to a soda shop downtown where he got his prized chocolate shake, and I got a Dr. Pepper float. When's the last time I had a float? I'm thinking 1995.


Nolan and I rounded it out this weekend with a trip for ice cream - or unbeknownst to him actually frozen yogurt because they have the best toppings. Absolutely delish. Nolan told me he only ever wants to go for a date with me there from now on. I let him go to town on whatever toppings he wanted, and although he chose every sauce available, and a few different cookie crumbs, he picked exactly one piece of candy. ONE!



In between all of those, the kids had their dates with their dad too, but that's boring. This is about me.

It was so nice to have some quality time with the kids. Rio and I spend time alone together on occasion, but really we're still generally doing errands or traveling to and from sports or activities. Likewise, I spend a fair bit of time with the boys without Rio - but as for each boy alone, that is incredibly rare. We have such genuinely sweet, funny, smart kids it is so nice to take them away from the things that infuriate them and make them act up (their siblings if you didn't catch that) and have some calm conversation and share some non-toilet-humour laughs with them.

These dates will now continue on a regular basis. Even if it's just for coffee or a walk or basically anything non-errand related it's nice to show them how special they are, just on their own. And I've got to admit that not being outnumbered by children on an outing outside of the house is a treat for me all in itself!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kindness by the Foot(long)

Here's a feel-good story for you...

Today I had the kids downtown for physiotherapy, and had to grab a quick lunch for afterwards since we had some running around to do. Subway seemed fast, cheap, and perfect. We made it just before we all melted into big puddles of sweat because it was SO HOT downtown today, and let me tell you that pushing a wheelchair is not as easy as it looks. You really notice hills you didn't know existed when you are pushing a chair on a hot day!

We got to Subway and there were a couple of young construction workers in line, but I didn't pay much attention. Before long, I noticed the one closest to us was staring at Asher - like didn't take his eyes off of him - but with a smile on his face. Not in a rude way, but in a “man this kid is cute” kind of way. I didn’t even really make eye contact with him because a) I’m a snob and b) I wasn’t sure if I should be creeped out or not. He tried to talk to Asher, but because Asher is shy with strangers, the conversation didn't go far.

We all finished having our sandwiches made and after he was done at the till, he turned to me and said “Oh I bought your sandwiches”. I just stared at him and said “WHAT???” not knowing what else to say! He replied, “Oh I just wanted to. You look like you’re maybe not having the best day and your little guy is REALLY cute”.  I just kept thanking him profusely while shaking my head in disbelief and we all said goodbye and went on our way. Seemed kind of uneventful but I didn't know what else to do?!

I was very touched, and stunned, and talked about it with Rio as we were walking back to pick up Nolan. We discussed the fact that he said I didn't look like I was having the best day, and I wasn't sure whether I should be offended by that because yes I was hot and sweaty, but I didn't realize I looked that bad! But then Asher piped up and said "I took my frown off" -- and then it hit me. I HAD been having a bad day earlier in the morning - a really, really bad day - with Asher in particular. The kind of morning that made me question whether I was cut out to be a good enough mom for Asher as we had an ongoing battle for the 300th time and both of us ended up not very nice or respectful to each other. How had I forgotten that that was how my day had started?!

Yes, I know it's hard to believe this angelic face can channel the devil sometimes, but he can I tell you, HE CAN!

Rio and I concluded that this young man in front of us must be a very good reader of energy and although I didn't think I looked particularly worn out, maybe my energy showed that in fact, my day had not been great. It also got me wondering why he was so enamored by Asher. I mean the kid is cute, don't get me wrong, but this guy was really taken by him. Did he have a friend or a cousin or someone else in his life with a disability and for that reason Asher spoke to him? Or was he just having the kind of day where he felt like helping someone that he thought could use a little help? Whatever the reason, it is not lost on me that the universe is pretty good at showing you that the world can be good and kind, especially when you need to hear it, but are totally not expecting it. I'd say this makes up for the day that I recently had two full-blown-flailing-screaming-kicking-biting-tantrum-ing boys downtown and no one stopped to help me?!!

People are really great sometimes, aren't they?!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Vegas, Baby!

Last evening Jordan and I returned from four days in Las Vegas - with friends, and without kids! You want all the goods?!

Well too bad, you're not getting them. The saying "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" exists for a reason. No one ended up with a tiger in their room (although I was hopeful) or a mattress on the roof, but let's just say there are some details that shouldn't emerge!

What I will say is that a good time was had by all, with memories that will keep us laughing for a good long time. And my best tip (that I'm willing to share anyway): red solo cups are a necessity.








Now back to reality. I'm not sure how happy I am about that - but I'm pretty positive my liver is thrilled for the reprieve.

The kids did amazingly well for the first time being separated from us, but are happy to have us back. They've spent allll morning playing Las Vegas with a room key, an airline safety card, and various props around the house. Flight, hotel check-in, housekeeping, buffet, spa - you name it. Why did I spend an afternoon looking for the perfect souvenirs for them??

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Asher's New Blue Chair

I barely blog and then I post two in one day! Ok fairness, my earlier post was just a Tales from the Vault, reminding you all of Asher's old wheelchair - because today he got a new one!

Ok in truth, he hasn't actually used that old wheelchair in a year. The fact is for the past year we've been borrowing a chair, waiting for the funding to come in for a new one. Asher's first chair, that looked like a stroller, was great when he was two but not so much when he was five and in school. So to get us to the three year mark when it could be replaced, we had a borrowed dealy. Today however, he got his very own new one that will last him five years.

It's cute and blue and lightweight and perfect for him. Here it is, next to his old one:


He is very happy with it and likes the colour. I didn't realize until I re-read the old blog post that he used to call his old chair his blue chair - so fitting that his new one is blue too. And funnily enough later this summer he'll get his own power chair (the one he has now is also borrowed) and guess what colour that one will be as well?!

Aside from getting the chair today, the past two days have been stacked with appointments for the boys. I found it incredibly overwhelming and stressful, and it dawned on me this morning why. Having back to back to back to back appointments with tired, cranky kids is not our norm - but it used to be. Oh boy did it used to be. That was pretty much every day of our lives for four years straight. Since the start of kindergarten, I had more or less forgotten that life existed because we are so busy happily living this life. I've got to tell you that little realization made me feel so incredibly blessed. Our new normal is just that these days - normal enough that I forgot what it was like when it wasn't.

Tales from the Vault - Asher's Chair

Tales from the Vault is a feature where I bring back some of my favourite posts from the archived blog. All text from the original posts has been left completely unedited; however, where I think context is required it's been added.




It's been a while since I've shared a Tales from the Vault. It's been a while since I've blogged regularly too, now come to think of it! Anyway, I'm sharing this today because Asher got a new wheelchair today, so I thought it was fitting to reminisce about his old one. And look how cute and tiny he is?!!

---

Last week we received the home base for Asher's seating system (read: pediatric wheelchair). The seat itself came as part of a (removable) stroller frame, so the home base had to be ordered separately. The stroller arrived before our trip so we were excited to arrive back and receive the base that will be used inside our house.

The idea behind this whole seating system was that it would support Asher well and allow him to be more successful at the tasks he does while sitting - namely eating and playing. The thought was that if he doesn't need to work so hard controlling his trunk, he will be able to concentrate more on using his arms.

So far, we are seeing success. It is apparent how much less effort it takes him to complete tasks. His hips and legs mostly remain in a neutral position and that is huge for him. Normally, in his high chair or play chair, the first thing he would do when exerting any effort would be to rotate his hips and bend one knee while keeping the other leg into extension. Now, most of the time, his legs hang in front of him like yours or mine would in a chair. So now the next step is to have Asher use his foot rest to his advantage. If he can firmly plant his feet, that will allow him to have even better control over his body. (As you can see in the picture below, he isn't doing that yet, but the chair has only been in use for a few days after all).


The chair has a lot of great adaptations. There are lateral supports (the grey paddles under his arm), a seat belt, a chest harness (which we only put on him when he is concentrating on something like a puzzle, otherwise he doesn't "need" the support), and bendable supports for head control (which you can see behind his head that I have bent to just lie flat because Asher has no problems supporting his head and neck, but if we take it off he won't have anything to lean back on, especially if he wants to fall asleep in stroller form).

The chair also comes with a really great table that slides on and off. We were really pleased to see that was included, as we were trying to figure out how to build a table that could raise or lower in height to go along with the chair. Thankfully that is now not an issue.


As for the base, it is hydraulic, so it can be raised and lowered easily, allowing him to be pretty low to the floor to play, or he can be high enough to sit at our table or counter. It has handles on the back for pushing him around the house, although it isn't very easy to steer on swiveling wheels.


Receiving the home base was a little bit traumatic for me. That is a wheelchair, no denying it. When it is in stroller form, the wheels, handle, and visor make it look like an actual stroller (at first glance anyway). In this form, it clearly does not. I know I will get used to it, and the important thing is that Asher loves it, referring to it as "Azho's blue chay-oh". This chair is so great for him, and for all of us in interacting with him, so it makes everyone's life easier. As always though, no one wants their baby to "need" something like this. Good thing we're all getting pretty used to adapting.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Let Loose in the Power Chair

We've got Asher's power chair home from school and took our very first outing in the community with it. I feel like this is a milestone I should be cherishing, although I did forget my phone at home so didn't take any photos or videos. And besides, we only went to Superstore and the library, so I didn't think it was going to be that eventful - but it kind of was.

I'd love to be able to report back and say it was amazing and everything I'd hoped for for his independence.

But no, I can't exactly say that.

Don't get me wrong - the independence was great. It was pretty fun to have him cruising the aisles of the grocery store on his own. But I didn't think about how I'd be screeching "WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!" a hundred times. Apparently, I hadn't really thought this out. You see all I've heard is how great of a driver he is at school, and I see for myself what a great driver he is at home. So why wouldn't that translate to the community?

HA! Rookie move, mom. What I didn't realize is that in the community there's alllllll sorts of distractions - distractions he's never been able to stop and focus on while someone else is pushing him. And "stop and focus" is a term I use lightly. He focuses all right - all while continuing to forge full speed ahead and not pay attention to where he's going.

I should have realized, and going forward I will. At home he knows the turns and corners like the back of his hand. Same with school. And although there are distractions at school (hello - oblivious children that he manages not to plow down!) he has spent all school year getting used to that. So choosing to take him to a busy supermarket with a busy parking lot on his first day out was probably not my wisest choice. It got a little frustrating for both of us, and by the end I think he was mad at me for barking orders at him. Can't say I blame him. That said, ignoring my request to not run over his bag of library books was not really an appropriate outlet for his frustration.

All in all, it wasn't a total nightmare. He didn't run anyone over. He didn't crash into any cars. He didn't drive off any curbs. We all made it home safe and sound although I may have a few more grey hairs.

All it's going to take is practice, and he's got the summer to master it. And now I have tempered my expectations so next time I will set him up for success. I'll take him somewhere more open and with less of a rush. And I will have practiced getting this chair in and out of the car  - a new thing to learn all on its own, and not ideal in the sweltering heat - so we'll start fresh and with more energy.

This was a small bump on what's going to be a long and successful road to independence. And all said and done, I think a pretty good stab at it. Next time though, he's going to rock it. And I'll take video to prove it.

And now we both sit here much more relaxed. He is currently perusing his spoils from the library - a photo I did manage to capture.