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

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!