On Being Beautiful & a Sports Fan

A little Bit on Storytelling Scrapping

Each day passes and I tell myself, "I need to write that down, so I don't forget this moment." Donald Davis, an professional storyteller, says that storytelling is like quilting. A quilter goes through life collecting scraps of fabric, which will one day be a masterpiece telling a story. A storyteller goes through life collecting "story" scraps, which will one day be a masterpiece story.

I see our life and like to tuck those scraps away. Sometimes they can be woven into a bigger story, and sometimes not. Still, it's important to be a scrap collector. You may find that one day, many years from now, that those story scraps are much more than scraps, but a building block for a story that will be your very best one. Here are what I view as scraps right now and I want to tuck them away, in order to hopefully pull them out later on.

On Beautiful

Veronica said that she wanted to wear her purple dress with pink dots on it. She said it was beautiful. She wore it throughout the day and I mentioned nonchalantly how beautiful she is in the dress. After dinner, the dress had taken its beating and it was time to retire it to the laundry basket. Except, Veronica said, "No Mama! It's my beautiful dress! I'm so beautiful in it!"

I told her, "Veronica, you're right, the dress is beautiful and you're very beautiful in it. But, sweetie, you would still be beautiful even without the dress. You would be beautiful in pants & a shirt. You would be beautiful in your pajamas. And you would even be beautiful in your swimsuit, because YOU are beautiful!"

This morning she said to me, "Mama, I'm even beautiful in my nightgown!" To which I replied yes, "And you know what makes you beautiful Veronica? It's your loving & kind heart. There are many people who have beautiful faces, but their hearts are ugly & yucky. Veronica you are both beautiful on the inside and outside."

On Sports

Ben is a sports guy. This football season he has been meeting up with friends to enjoy the game with some beer (although he hasn't been able to enjoy it during our Paleo challenge). He is one of those people who enjoys fantasy sports, a true stats guy. We get Sports Illustrated delivered each week. Now, being a father of two girls, it's far too easy to get overwhelmed with A LOT of female/feminine stuff. One thing I appreciate so much is him taking Veronica to her first triple A baseball game this summer. Ben is sharing his interest & love with his daughter. And fortunately, she LOVED it.

Daddy & Veronica went to the game in July, enjoyed a hot dog, watched the game a bit, & brought home some cracker jacks. The one scary part was the team's mascot, a big Chicken, to which daddy still tells stories about the chicken and Veronica overcoming her fear (i.e. Veronica told the chicken to go back to its closetless, chicken bedroom---which was really a little shed, but she thought it was his bedroom).

Since that day, Veronica has immersed herself into watching baseball (and now football) with daddy. During baseball season, she would grab her fake hot dog, squishy baseball and sit on the couch to watch the game. She has added in a baseball card to the mix. She asks daddy, "Daddy, what's this team called?" So if you were to come over today and ask her some Q&A about the recent games she's watched, this is what she would say:

Q: Veronica, what was the last baseball game you watched with daddy?
A: The Giants & the Rangers
Q: Veronica, what was the last basketball game you watched with daddy?
A: The Magic & the Heat.
Q: Veronica, what was the last football game you watched with daddy?
A: The Seahawks & the Cardinals
Q: What was the football game before that one?
A: The Dolphins & the Ravens

One day upon entering the bathroom, she didn't have her regular Strawberry Shortcake book in tow; rather, she was carrying daddy's Sports Illustrated magazine. She later quizzed daddy about a list of football players and their names, along with team. The next day with her hand covering the last name of the player, she asked, "Daddy, who's this?" Ben saw the first name and the first two letters (Wa) of the last name & replied, "Oh, it must be Cameron Wallace."
Veronica with authority replied, "NOOOO! It's Cameron Wake!" Ben moved her hand and she was right.

The following Sunday she was watching the Dolphins & the Ravens, and asked daddy, "Who's this?" Ben answered, "It's the Dolphins & the Ravens." Veronica asked, "Is Cameron Wake playing?," because he plays for the Dolphins.

Last night as they were watching Monday night football, Veronica asked daddy, "Daddy, where's MY football (much like her baseball during baseball games)? I don't have one (giggled)! I'm going to get one for Christmas," she says with certainty.

All of this shows that a little girl can be frilly, floofy & girly, while still enjoying the game and tallying up the stats with her daddy! I wouldn't have it any other way.


November is Birthday Month

  On Saturday morning I picked up two pink balloons & a mini doughnut with pink frosting for a birthday surprise.  Her reaction was fantastic.  She got some My Little Pony items and fun light up shoes, which I think are a contender with her Big Black Boots (see pic below). 

Our family on both sides has numerous birthdays this month.  Not only do we have many birthdays in the immediate and extended family this month, Tay's birthday kicks off the first of 10 birthdays (within the immediate family) we will celebrate under two months.  We did have a wonderful, simple birthday celebration for our Tayers on Saturday.  I'm still a bit taken back that she is two years already, because it definitely doesn't feel that long since giving her birth (labor yes, birth no).  

 My sweet Cadence,

Who knew that while I was singing at worship practice and the bass & drums would start thumping, you started moving & kicking even more...that it was a foreshadow of your name matching so well with what we know now.  You keep rhythm, not only to the music, but it's in your walk, your laugh, your cadence.  When I was in labor, waiting & waiting (42 hours or so) for you to arrive, I now see that it was part of who you are.  You have a persistent spirit about you.  Your ability to stand your ground with authority, even at age two, is a gift.  Your infectious laughter & spirit light up our home. 

I love how you are a mixture of me & daddy with that persistent & direct spirit, while being able to go with the flow & be playful.  You know what you want in life and I want you to go for it.  I pray that you would yield your will to God's, in order to love more boldly, justly & freely.  I know you have the greatest of potential to lead and stomp on the feet of injustice.  Your adventurous spirit is admirable.  I have a sense that the word "no" will only drive you to show everyone that "it CAN be done!"  And that is where I pray the Spirit of God breathes his truth & love into you and you fly with it. 

I joke that I say to you, "Charm is deceitful, beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised," but it's true.  You are so smart & perceptive.  Such a strength and I'm excited to see how God will use it.  Cadence Evangelina, you give some of the best snuggles.  Your ability to make me laugh and how you run to the corner of your crib as a game, in order to "make" mama "try" to kiss you.  You adore your sister and love being with her.  She's your favorite person and I pray that you two have the best of friendship ever.  Well little monkey--you are a priceless gem who dances to the beat of her own drum, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I look forward to this next year and I treasure this last one!
Love you sweet girl--Mama


Almost Two Years Ago

I'm still in shock that Tayers will be turning two shortly. Whether I like it or not, it will happen, so I guess I'll learn to accept it and move on. In the meantime, I do know a thing or two about this little monkey (which I'll share in a couple days), but here's one to keep you coming back.

Whenever we are in the van arriving home, we stop at the mailbox. I push the window button, turn off the car, and insert key. Cadence then says, "I need mail. I need mail, Mama!" Today was her lucky day, because she did get "actual" mail (you know, aside from the political campaign ads). Grandma & Grandpa sent her a card in the mail. It was in a blue envelope and if I know Grandma, she must have found a special My Little Pony card. What do you think?

She also got some My Little Pony stickers, which obviously belong on the card.

And in case you want to hear what the card says...


Catch Phrases

You know when you're walking through the clouds of seriousness, and you think, man when was the last time I laughed? Well, part of our family's mission statement says, "makes laughter a focal point of our time together." I feel like I forget that sometimes when my melancholy consternation abounds. So in keeping with laughter as a focal point, I thought how I don't ever want to forget these little moments in time (and hopefully pass some laughter on to you).

1. On Thursday night I had an appointment, so I gave Ben some instructions to cook fish for dinner. Now, our little Veronica loves listening to stories. If you've been around me (or this blog) for very long, you know I'm talking about the time old tradition of oral storytelling, not the kind found in books with fancy pictures. One story I've been retelling (and retelling) is when Cadence turns into a little fish, but finds her life as a fish isn't as good as her life as a little girl in our home. In the story, mama (played by yours truly) scoops up the once little Cadence girl, now little fishy Cadence, into a glass bowl with water.

Fast forward, Veronica is eating her dinner, then pauses & thinks. She turns to daddy and asks, "Daddy, what's this called? (pointing to the fish)" Daddy replies, "It's fish." Veronica proceeds to pick up her fish and put into her glass of water. She begins talking to her fishy, saying things like, "AWWW, little fishy, sweet fishy." Daddy turns to see what he thinks is Veronica simply playing with her food. He tells her, "Veronica, stop playing with your food. You need to take the food out of the water."

Veronica aghast replies, "But it's my fishy! The fishy needs to be in water!" A brief pause & thoughtfulness, then Veronica cocks her head and sweetly asks, "Can I keep my fish?" Ben tells her no.

When I get home, Ben told me about the night's fishy incident, while I'm hysterically laughing. "Ben," I say, "you know why she asked to keep the fish, don't you?" Ben replies, "No." "Remember the Cadence fishy story?," I answer. Ben ensues with laughter.

Stay tuned for episode two in one or two days.


What is SPD, PT, S&L, SLP & OT?

The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.--Ellen Goodman
You may recall that July wasn't a good month for me, which makes me a bit sad, because I felt like I missed those few weeks of wonderful summer (I guess I get to try again next year). Anxiety & fear flooded my system and spiraled a bit out of control. After dealing with the culminating fear, anxiety & upset stomach, I did two major things to combat it. First, I called my wonderful counselor that I hadn't seen in about a year. Second, I did the unthinkable and joined the intense gym, Jogo Crossfit, I now know & love. A couple things I learned through this experience (and am still learning).

1. Exercise in this capacity has been a breath of new life & rejuvenation (even though I cannot see it when my alarm wakes up at 5:20 am).

2. There are stories, memories & experiences one can have from childhood that don't completely come up until you get older (call it psychological delay of sorts).

3. Death is not to be feared, it's something that happens & I know my future is glorious.

4. No matter where my mind races with my oldest, little girl, I can be mindful of what I know about her right now.

5. And five, being mindful of the present is so much more worth living than anxieties of tomorrow.

So what do I know about today?

We have seen a myriad of specialists regarding Veronica and where she sits on the "developmental charts." She is labeled with a developmental delay in some cognitive areas, along with gross motor & some speech. She's been tested through the public school system (contributing taxpayer money at work) with a cognitive test & a speech test. Next Monday, she will receive a test from the Occupational Therapist (OT) as well. The following Monday after that is when we will sit down to hear about all the results.

What does this mean?

In March, she was referred by her doctor to receive a Speech & Language evaluation, along with a gross motor evaluation. Her S&L eval came back within range, while her gross motor did not. In June she was referred to receive support for her overpronation (ankles turning out) through orthotics (braces on her ankles).

Essentially, she has weak ankles and needs extra support to strengthen them. She is suppose to wear them 8+ hours a day for 6-12 months (possibly longer). Her physical therapist (PT) Jill, who is absolutely wonderful, has diagnosed her with low muscle tone. She also sees some proprioceptive & vestibular issues. Proprioceptive & vestibular is related to Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). We commonly think of simply five senses; however, those are merely the external ones, while the internal ones are the proprioceptive & vestibular systems.

Proprioceptive System deals with the joints & muscles, while the vestibular system lies within the inner ear and deals with gravity. Now, there could be an individual who is either hyper- or hypo-sensitive in dealing with these two areas or the other commonly known five senses. However, a person could show some signs of hypo AND hyper. It's not a this or that sort of set-up all the time (hence why we are all unique creations). She shows signs of hypo-proprioceptive issues, which also affect some of the external senses. She needs to do exercises to build strength in her core, due to low muscle tone; as well as, incorporating a sensory diet to tell her central nervous system how to function.

Veronica will get tested with the OT next Monday. OT's work with fine motor skills and everyday functioning skills. So she will be testing Veronica on her fine motor, functioning (toileting, zipping, eating, etc), and SPD. Jill is not authorized to diagnose Veronica with SPD, because it is out of her jurisdiction; however, the OT can.

How did we get here?

I ran into a friend of a friend at a dance class this summer and reintroduced ourselves. She noted V's braces and said, "the only reason I said that is I notice those things, because I'm a Special Ed ECE (Early Childhood Education) teacher." We got to talking and one thing led to another with her giving me her number if I wanted any information on how to get V help.

Now, I'm personally not one to enroll my 3 year old in preschool for various reasons. However, one of the reasons is my lack of confidence in someone instilling the appropriate care for this unique, special little girl. I know her quirks and that she is a bit different (not always a bad thing). So, I wouldn't have confidence in a person who is responsible for 9 other kids to care, along with giving my girl the amount of care & attention she needs.

So--why not just care for her at home? Well, this is where all this testing, evaluations, screening, paperwork come in. Veronica qualified to get into the Special Needs ECE preschool through the public schools, which would meet 2 1/2 hours a day/4 days a week. As a mom who has seriously weighed in the options of homeschooling, I feel like I would be doing my daughter a disservice to rule out receiving extra help at this stage of the game. And the only way I would have confidence in someone giving that care for this unique little girl, would be a Special Education ECE teacher, who had additional Instructional Aids (IA) in the classroom, along with a PT, OT & SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) working with her every week. That's what she would get.

Not only that, but at this young age of 3, her brain is still very malleable and able to correct itself. Kids with SPD or other related delays (previously mentioned) have a higher success rate if addressed earlier in life (age 3) versus age 9. To put this into perspective, Veronica's central nervous system is a bit out of whack, which inhibits her from participating in daily functions (eating with utensils, putting on clothes, understanding requests or questions asked of her, etc), communicating in a social/emotional way (joining in play with others, lacking the confidence, etc) and being able to fully move & play (walking down the stairs, hopping, running, etc).

Where do we go from here?

We will meet with the school psychologist, SLP, OT, PT, & the Special Education ECE teacher, to draw up an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) and get her started in the preschool. This will start for her in November sometime, but don't know when. After she did the cognitive test a couple weeks back, the school psychologist scored it there letting me know that Veronica scored 2 points below the mean, which automatically qualified her to receive Special Education services for three years. She also let me know that Veronica scored "normal" on her verbal, which is the best thing you want to see for a child, because their ability to communicate above all other areas cognitively shows the highest signs of success.

How am I dealing with it?

I sat there trying to hold back the tears, but you can't hold back the flood. I wasn't crying because I was told my daughter had a "developmental delay," or that she might possibly have a harder time functioning in life. My tears were ones of joy. I have been looking at this special little face for years and in the past two (or more) thinking, "something's just not right." Feeling like I was the only one to see it--it helped me feel sane. It affirmed that there is a little thing called intuition which should not be thrown under the rug. It gave me hope...for her.

When we go to see Miss Jill, there's this little girl who blossoms. She's absolutely beautiful and sometimes I have to hide my face. I hide it because I'm ashamed for believing lies, which say, "being different is bad...being different is abnormal...being different is less than what God created...being different is hard to love at times, etc." There have been so many thoughts of comparison with other children, wishing that everything was "normal" and even embarrassment. As I've been walking along the path of internal healing from my own past hearing God's voice saying, "I delight in you...your worth is far removed from your abilities & gifts." And then I heard him talk about his love for Veronica, which continues to pierce my heart, "Her worth is not dependent upon her physical prowess, ability to achieve 'milestones,' or anything measurable by human standard, but simply because I created her in my image & she as my creation is not just good, but very good."

And what I know about her now is seeing a little girl who is a bit inhibited on one side of the bridge wanting to cross, but out of inability & fear, she cannot embrace the beautiful grassy meadow filled with wildflowers on the other side of the bridge. Where she can dance freely knowing her worth, like a picture of heaven. I have seen glimpses of her walking toward the meadow--blossoming into who God designed her to be, and I know Ben & I simply want to encourage toward that path.