Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Has anyone seen Luke?



I think he went that way.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Any Seuss fans out there will recognize this blog post as one of the more popular gift books of all time (or at least since it was published in 1990). When I graduated from high school, I received a couple copies of Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" The first one was unique, the second one was ok, and by the third same identical book, I was totally over it.

I was even more annoyed when my mom's friend (who had given me the third book) kept asking my mom if I'd opened it. I kept telling my mom that I had... I'd written a thank you note after all! It wasn't until my mom demanded that I open the book that I realized that my mom's friend had stuck dollar bills between all of the pages. She knew I hadn't opened the book. There was like $20 in there... lots of money to my 18 year old self. Cathy, 14 years later... I apologize for being young and stupid :)

Since we've moved into the house, we've been struggling with how to decorate Will and Luke's room. Of course as a fan of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I want to give the boys a killer room. But I am also a pragmatist. Since Luke really seems to like the moon and sun, and Will showed a lot of visual interest in planets, we decided on a space theme.

We've got awesome solar system quilts, and on Etsy, I found a great vinyl wall cling. It goes perfectly with the space theme... but also ties in our desires for all of our boys to reach their highest potential.



And hopefully when they get several copies of "Oh, the Places You'll Go" when they graduate from high school in 2025, they'll have more couth than me.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Engaging

When you talk to anyone familiar with children with special needs, there are a couple of questions they ask you off the bat to determine your child's physical abilities and development level.

Can he walk? Is he verbal? Can he feed himself? Can he use the potty?

When you answer every one of those questions with a 'no,' it is really easy to get down on your situation. Really easy. If you let it. Whenever you answer 'no,' everyone's first response (whether they mean it or not) is to get a sad look on their face and tell you they're sorry. It is just human nature. I get that.

What I found is that if I am very positive, then the response I get when first talking to a new person about Will and his abilities is also very positive. And it should be, truly.

So Will cannot talk... does that stop him from being engaging? Not one single bit. Take the video below for instance (click this link to view the video if you get the blog update via email). You've seen this same toy in our photos before... it is a computer that has been with us for a long long time. Will loves it. There are 9 buttons on the keypad, and each one of them plays a different song. We discovered over the past year that Will loves to push one of the buttons because he loves the song that it plays when he touches it. Of course, this is the button that Will must work the hardest to push because it is at the bottom left of the keypad, the farthest reach from his right hand.

video

By the way, the thumping you hear in the video is me stomping my foot. This is also causing me to shake the camera. I am not a skilled camerawoman.

To encourage him to reach and push that button, we started clapping or stomping at a couple points of the song. He lights up when we do this, which then encourages him to reach and push the button again. He laughs, we laugh. Luke and Matt try to clap with us. We all cheer when Will pushes the button again.

So while my child may not reach out for your hand, gaze into your eyes, and ask you to pay attention to him, he does communicate, express joy, and engage you deeply. If you're lucky enough to be next to him. Just make sure you bring your clapping hands.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene Day 2

8:00a: Irene made landfall near Morehead City, NC about 30 minutes ago. That's about 150 miles to the southeast. We've got steady 20 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph. I tried to take a photo of the wind out the front window (looking at my neighbors trees). Not sure if it really does the storm any justice though! The treetops all around us are getting a work out. We've got a high wind and flash flood warning in place all day. This certainly isn't as bad as people on the coast have it right now.

All in all, its been a pretty typical morning around here. But I know that Luke can sense something is a little strange because whenever we get a strong gust of wind, he breaks his attention from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and will look out the window. It really takes a lot to break that intense focus!

Poor Otis... doesn't like going to the bathroom in the rain. I literally had to kick his butt off the porch this morning to do his busines. He reluctantly peed in the rain and wind, and came back up onto the covered porch. He was happy to pay me back by shaking off as I reached down to wipe off his paws.

11:30a: Not too much has changed here. Steady rain. Steady winds. We saw a neighbor's 'Happy Birthday' balloon blowing down the street. We still have power, though have reports from people nearby that their power is out. We're expecting rain and wind through the rest of the day, and all it takes is one branch to take power down for hours. We played for a while, but seem to all be more interested in following developments on the Weather Channel.

2:00p: The best way to pass the time during a hurricane? Our answer was to take a nap. All of us hunkered down for a couple of hours. Felt pretty good.

While we were sleeping, a willow tree in our neighbor's yard uprooted. The winds are definitely strong. Every now and again, you can hear the seals on our exterior doors groan. I was out in the garage earlier to get a can of soup, and the garage doors were rattling around a lot. The rain is steady, and it doesn't look like it will stop until much later this evening. I am completely awed by the sheer size of this storm.

6:45p: It is amazing that nearly 12 hours after Irene made landfall, we're still getting rain bands here! Heavy wind too. But we can see some definite lightening of the sky to the south... indications that the storm is finally moving out of the area. We have thankfully not lost power all day. Our home has not sustained any damage. Aside from being a little bit cranky and cabin-feverish, we're doing pretty well.

We've been keeping busy with art projects, toys that haven't been played with in a while, and a new favorite, chocolate pudding. Photos to follow.

9:15p: And so our Irene experience ends... as of about 7:30 tonight, the rain stopped coming and there were some notable breaks in the clouds. We continue to have some gusty winds, but those are dying out and will be gone by midnight.

We took a drive over to my mom's house. No damage there, or anywhere along the 15 mile drive. It was good to get everyone out of the house for a bit, if just for a change of scenery. On the way back, we stopped at the Dairy Queen because we needed a bit of a break. I took a photo out the window as I waited in line for my Blizzard. The sky was breathtaking.

As the storm pulls out of the area, the reports of damage and death are increasing. It makes us feel so fortunate that our family is safe. We're all headed to bed early tonight, and have all of our thoughts and prayers pointed towards our family and friends in Irene's path. Stay safe, and please check in whenever you can. We love you all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene Day 1

1:00p: As long we have power and I am able, I'll plan to post periodic blog updates to let you all know how we're doing. If we lose power but I still have cell phone coverage, I'll attempt to post brief updates on Facebook (Amanda Baldauf Slavik).

I just started to notice some pretty ominous looking clouds rolling in. They are still white and puffy, but they're big and there are a lot of them. There is a very slight gusty breeze blowing the leaves on the trees. Calm before the storm.

Though Irene is supposed to hit land about 150 miles east of us, the effects of the storm are more than 250 miles wide. In addition to that, Hurricane Fran (2006) was forecast much in the same way that Irene is... hit the coast and move off northeast. Only Fran decided to change course at the last minute and ran right over Raleigh. Of course no two storms are the same and Irene is going to do what she wants to do... my point is that even though we aren't supposed to get a big impact from Irene, things could change. We're prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best.

The National Weather Service just issued a Wind Advisory for this area starting at 6a tomorrow. We're expecting 40+ mile per hour winds and rain all day. I've moved all of the deck furniture, plants, and kids toys off of the back porch and into the garage. I also moved the bird feeder inside. Otis is hanging out on the back porch, facing east and periodically barking at nothing. Is it at all possible that he can sense that something is coming from that direction?

5:30p: The clouds changed from puffy white to ominous gray over the past couple of hours. The winds have been steadily increasing. We just had our first band of rain. Lasted for a couple of minutes and gone.

We ran out and got a new propane tank for the grill. Nate realized that Otis was almost out of food, so I ran to Target and picked some up. Thankfully everyone there was nice and not stressed! I also filled up my van's gas tank. The lines were long and people were NOT nice. Nate went shortly after me to fill up the car's tank and the only kind of gas left was premium.

While we're in a lull, we're going to take the car over to my mom's house to park it in the garage. We'll have the van here with us (the other half of the garage is full of all the stuff off the porch!).


10:15p: The winds continue to pick up, and are becoming more steady. We've had 3 rain bands, though nothing too bad. It looks like the more steady, tropical storm type rain and wind will arrive after midnight tonight. Stay tuned for updates tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preparation or overkill?

In case you missed it through all the unbelievable world news recently, there's a big hurricane named Irene out in the Atlantic... churning and taking aim at North Carolina and the rest of the eastern seaboard. Its going to be a pretty eventful weekend for millions of people.

As I've said before, I grew up in Maryland. Though I don't remember any dramatic, fear-inducing hurricanes during my youth, I can remember big storms (anyone from GMST remember having an outdoor swim meet with Big Bertha churning overhead?!). I don't recall anyone ever running amok before these storms to stockpile food and water, nail plywood over their windows, or run the local REI out of camping lanterns, cook stoves, and NOAA weather radios.

I am apparently not a child of these cool, calm and collected times.

As a graduate student, I took a meteorology class. Ever since that time, I've been addicted to the National Hurricane Center's website. Every year when June 1st hits, I typically check their maps for potential hurricane activity about 3 times per week.

Since we moved to North Carolina in 2005, there haven't been any major hurricane threats. The decimation from Hurricane Fran in 1996, Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and Hurricane Isabel in 2003 still sits at the forefront of people's minds here. Many people in this area were without power and water for several days following these storms, had flood damage, or know a storm victim.

The governor had press conferences yesterday and today, telling people not to panic but to be prepared. Well you know what statements like that actually do... they make people panic. And while I tried to be calm on the outside, my head started spinning on what I needed to do to be prepared for Irene. Although I have tracked this storm on the NHC website for days, something about the governor's statements made it all very real.

I picked up some storm-weathering essentials after work yesterday... bottled water, soup, crackers, boxed milk... things that don't need refrigeration. Of course because I went shopping when I was hungry, I also picked up some non-essential things like pudding, cookies, and pub mix. I'll thank myself for those later.

I got two lanterns that operate off of batteries to avoid a repeat of our December debacle. I also picked up loads of batteries - both for the lanterns and for all of the boys' toys. The idea of not having their toys operational during a long weekend with no air conditioning and power made me very very nervous.

I'm thinking of picked up a NOAA weather radio just to have on hand. And I asked Nate to pick up a second full gas tank for the grill. We discussed purchasing a roll of plastic to have on hand in the case of broken windows (plywood seemed a bit much). He looked at me kind of strangely.

So if you'll scroll back up to the top where I listed all of the funny nutty things people do before a big weather event, you'll realize that I have now done all of them.

Oh crud.

Is this true necessary preparation or really just overkill? I won't know until the rain starts to fall, the wind starts to blow, the power goes out and we're happy to have food and light. Thankfully we don't really have to worry about refrigeration since we weaned Will off of his neurontin. The only thing we "need" power for is Will's feeding pump. But that can operate off of battery power for about 3 nights. And if worse comes to worse, we can charge it in the car.

Not that I'm still thinking about all of these things... I am a mom... of course I am. So for those of you out there who appear to be in Irene's path - take extreme care and know that we'll be thinking of you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A silent inspiration

I am very fortunate to have made some wonderful friends through my workplace. When we moved to North Carolina in 2005, my group was so welcoming and friendships blossomed quickly. Through the years, co-workers have come but mostly gone, and a core group of true hearts has remained.

One of those friends is Ann, who is married to Ronnie. Ann and Ronnie have been sweethearts since the 3rd grade. They are one of those couples who are truly made for each other, and inspirational both through their devotion to each other and their faith. They were fortunate to retire together a couple of years ago.

Shortly after their retirement, we got the scary news that Ronnie had fallen off of a ladder and severely broken his leg. His injury was very complicated, and over the next several months, he underwent many surgeries to first clean, and then stabilize his break.

That was almost 2 years ago. Earlier this year, Ronnie's wound still had not healed. He was unable to walk. Together and inspirationally, Ronnie and Ann made the difficult decision to have Ronnie's lower right leg amputated. Once they came to the decision, they both felt a peace that they hadn't known for several years.

Ronnie has had his new leg for 5 weeks. I was so very fortunate to see him and Ann for lunch today with some of our other wonderful work friends. You'd never know it by watching him walk on his new prosthesis that he has only been able to walk for 5 weeks out of the past two years.

It was wonderful to catch up with Ronnie and Ann. They are avid blog readers, however I hadn't seen them for a long time before lunch today. As we were saying our goodbyes, Ronnie gave me a big bear hug. Such a good hugger he is. He got a very serious look on his face and said this to me (paraphrasing):

"Please keep writing. I love your family and I love your stories. I really look forward to what is coming next. Thank you for giving me something to pray for."

I was absolutely awestruck and not sure of what to say. I assured him I would keep writing. I went back to work.

Since that time, I've realized that without knowing it, I've managed to inspire Ronnie. I've been able to provide him with our day to day stories, and make him laugh and cry and be a part of something that is different than the pain he was living.

You're never sure who's out there reading your words. You're never sure who's out their laughing or crying or feeling your pain. But to know that I've been able to help one person feel a little better... feel enough to pray for me and my family... and to thank me for it. That's a beautiful silent inspiration that I am extremely proud of and humbled by.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aha!

Since school started back up, Luke started back up with wetting his bed at night. How's that for celebration of a new school year?! We bounced around ideas why... without a nap he's sleeping more soundly and not waking up to go potty, we're eating dinner a little later and not stopping his beverage intake early enough, etc. After 3 nights of Luke waking up in tears and cleaning up pee pee sheets, we weren't sure what to do.

In the middle of the night recently, I awoke to Will's pump beeping and him whining. As I typically do, I stumbled into his and Luke's bedroom to quiet the alarm, fix the reason for it beeping (usually a kinked tube), and adjust Will on his bed. As with a typical night, I turned around to leave and looked at Luke's bed.

He wasn't in it.

I was instantaneously awake, alert, and alarmed. Where was my son? This was the first time that I'd ever not seen him at his bed at 3:30a.

I checked Matt's room. No Luke. I checked in Luke's favorite hiding spot under his bed. No Luke. I walked back to my room to see if he was on our floor. Still no Luke.

Panic.

And then I heard the sink running back in Luke and Will's bathroom. I ran to the source of the noise.

And there he stood. Luke on the toilet seat, leaning towards the sink. Orange 'Luke' cup in hand. Guzzling water from the tap.

Aha!

Now there are no cups in the bathroom or available on any low table, counter, drawer, or shelf that Luke might be able to reach on his flat feet, tip toes, on a stool or on a chair.

And there have been no more pee pee sheets.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mother and Child

I grew up in Greenbelt, Maryland - a planned cooperative community that was created in the early 1930s as a part of FDR's New Deal. To those people who don't live in Greenbelt, the concept of it sounds very much like a commune - all the houses were originally built to look pretty similar, there was a food cooperative, and walking paths laid out throughout the town so that you could get to the center of town without crossing any roads. I loved growing up there.

One of the key parts of the city is Roosevelt Center, where the original town planners built said food coop, a pool, tennis courts, schools, movie theater, and shopping center. There is also a large area for gathering. In that gathering area, there was a statue erected called Mother and Child. It was pretty large and when I lived in Greenbelt, it was flanked by trees and stone checkers boards. I sat by it often, and never really thought about its meaning. Its a very art deco looking statue of a mother snuggling her young son.

This past weekend, our friends Chris and Jenn came to visit us. And we were so excited to meet their new son! I took a photo of Jenn and Andrew that I consider Mother and Child for this century. Congrats, guys!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hiking rejuvenation

It has been too hot this summer for us to do much hiking. The last time we used the backpacks was at the beach in June. Not sure when we used them before that, though.

The weather this past Saturday was partly cloudy with a risk of showers, highs in the low 80s. We decided to risk it. In our attempts to perpetually shake things up, we tried out a new park that we hadn't visited yet - Medoc Mountain State Park - about an hour from our house.

The moment we arrived, Luke started whining. He didn't want to walk. He had to pee. He wanted to go home. We did our best to talk up the hike. We loaded Matt and Will into backpacks. Of course he wanted to get in one too... unfortunately we only have 2 backs to hold backpacks between the 2 of us adults. Like in seasons past, Luke is on his own to hoof it. The walking is good for his physical therapy.

He was in a pretty good mood when we started. We made the decision to take the 3 mile loop. About 10 minutes later, Luke's whining told us that might have been a bad move. Note the cyclic conversation below:

Luke: I want to go back to the van.

Me: We have to walk to get back to the van.

Luke: I don't want to walk anymore.

Me: That's the only way you're getting back to the van.

REPEAT. Again. And again. For the next 2 hours.

Luckily Matt, Will and Otis were in great moods. We thought we might be able to cheer Luke up with the creek along which we were walking. Unfortunately with the summer's heat, the creek was very low and stagnant. A couple that was also hiking said that their light-colored dog ran into the creek the day before and came out black from all the organics. We kept Otis away.

By the time we reached the halfway mark on the hike, Luke was crying loudly. He scared away whatever wildlife might have made the walk fun. He showed us the biggest crocodile tears he could. Incoherrent talking while crying was our hike soundtrack.

I love the outdoors.

In the last mile of the hike, there were 1/10th mile markers that counted down. We got Luke moderately interested in looking for the next mile marker - we told him that after we passed mile marker 1, the van would be our next stop. That was the happiest he looked all day. I've never seen him enjoy counting backwards quite that much.

We're going to have to get back into the weekly hikes now that the weather appears to be cooling down. Definitely can't be shown up in October when we meet Uncle Drew, Nicole, Grandpa and Grandmama for a hiking weekend in Virginia... or perhaps we should get Luke his own hiking backpack for that trip? We'll definitely have more able backs to help with the heavy lifting (read: decrease Luke's whining) then!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An abundant harvest

As we have in years past, we planted basil this year. Our new neighbor gave us a pot of basil plants very early in the season, and that pot turned out to hold about 12 individual basil plants! With the warm weather this summer, they have been thriving. I've been making about 3 servings of pesto each week (one serving dresses one pound of pasta) - which really is so much basil. One serving takes 2 full cups of fresh basil leaves.

This week's basil harvest bordered on ridiculous - 14 cups of basil. I picked all of the big leaves yesterday and thought about what to do with it. When you freeze basil, it turns black, so that seemed kind of unappealing to me. I decided to go ahead and make the basil into pesto, and put it into the canning jars that I had left over from strawberry season. Each serving fit perfectly into a half pint jar! Seven servings just today!


We can't possibly eat this much pesto. And the crazy part is that next weekend, there will be just as much basil to do something with. The pesto will last about a week in this jar in the fridge... so if you live in the Raleigh-Durham area and want some free, homemade basil pesto, please email me at manda2mama@gmail.com! I am happy to make arrangements for delivery or pick up :)


Friday, August 12, 2011

First week back

After our trip to New York, we came back to some excitement... the first week back to school for Will and Luke! When your kids go to a year round school, the idea of a "new school year" is a bit silly, because they were really only on break for a couple of weeks.

Regardless, this week was the start of the new pre-K school year. Not much changed with Will's situation. Same teachers, same classroom, same routine. The only new thing is a new bus driver, new route, and new pick up time.

Luke, on the other hand... big changes! As this is his second year in his part day, speech delay program, he moves from the morning to the afternoon. And the afternoon program goes right on top of what is lunch and nap time at his day care.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun.

Nate drops him off at day care like normal. Around noon, his driver picks him and his lunch up, and drives him to his pre-K program. He eats lunch there with his new classmates. And while his day care chums are napping for 2 hours, he is learning about weather ("Mommy, what is your favorite weather? Mine is sunny."), shapes ("Mommy, what is your favorite shape? Mine is a circle.") , and colors ("Mommy, what is your favorite color? Mine is blue.").

After a little over 2 hours, his driver picks him back up, and delivers him back to day care right around the time that his day care friends are waking up and having snack. Its like he didn't miss anything at day care, which is nice for him because he loves it there.

However each day this week, Luke got home from day care around 5pm, and proceeded to have a pretty serious meltdown. Once calm, he ate dinner with drooping eyes and big yawns. With pretty minimal fighting, he got ready for bed and brushed teeth. And each day since he has started this routine, he's been asleep before 8pm.

He's been sleeping better through the night. I think as he gets more used to this routine, the meltdowns after day care will decrease in severity (though probably will not stop). Will and Matt are actually following suit with the earlier bed time too, so Nate and I have a little more quiet time in the evenings!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The advantages of befriending a human beat box

In loud situations, Will has a hard time enjoying himself. In fact, he gets so unhappy that he whines a lot. I am not sure if noise makes him uncomfortable or if his hearing is so sensitive that large groups are just too much for him. Whatever it is, he had a hard time at the beginning of the family reunion, when the rain forced the party of 40 inside. No one was particularly noisy, but that many excited people talking and laughing definitely raised the decibel level in the house.

Will can be distracted in these situations... with toys or Elmo or someone singing songs to him. He's never really met a human beat box before.

Thank goodness we know Martin.

Martin is a long time friend of Nate's - they met during college when they worked together on the same paint crew. Through the years and Spiedie Fests, we've all become close friends as couples with Martin's wife Jen, been in each other's weddings, and in the past year, had kids (our 3rd, their first). We hadn't met their son Andrew yet, so they came over for a good part of the family reunion.

Martin soon realized that Will was having a tough time with the noise, and that Nate and I needed a break from distracting him. He broke out his marching band finest... some of the true classics...

John Philip Sousa, Henry Fillmore, Karl King...

Tommy Lee, Dave Grohl, Ringo Starr, Carter Beauford...


No genre was left untouched. Will was in heaven. Smiles, giggles, beaming eyes. Martin had a beat box repertoire like no other. What a perfect match. I have never - in all my 4+ years of knowing Will - seen him take to someone as quickly as he took to Martin. It was so great! Maybe Martin will record his greatest hits album and send it to North Carolina, for use in the most dire of William whining situations?

And although it doesn't fit with the story, in honor of friendships that span years and states, I wanted to post the below photo of Nate and Martin and their two 2010 babies! I don't think they would have believed that they'd both be the wonderful fathers that they are today back when they met in the mid-90s.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sharkey's

We went to Binghamton this past weekend for our Callahan (Nate's mom, Grammy's) family reunion. Since Will and Luke were little, we've split the long drive into two days. We left Thursday, spent the night in Maryland, and arrived in New York in the early afternoon on Friday. Nate and I were winded. All 3 boys were happy to be out of the car.

After settling in, we were quickly introduced to several family members from out of town - farther than we'd come - Rochester, Minnesota and Boca Raton, Florida. They looked decidedly less tired than we did. And shortly thereafter, family arrived from northern Virginia. We were ready to go to dinner with our small party of 22.

In true traditional Binghamton fashion, we went to Sharkey's to eat. Wings, pizza, spiedies, kielbasa, city chicken, pierogi and halupki... you know, health food. We had a great loud time, getting to know distant family and catching up with cousins we haven't seen in a long time.

Luke had the most fun with the old fashioned bowling game down the center of the bar. Will enjoyed kisses from Grammy and showing off his new glasses. And once Matt woke up, he only enjoyed sitting on my lap.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The moment you know you're raising a kid with a heart of gold

We just got back from a long weekend trip to New York and New Jersey. I have a lot of blog posts lined up to tell the tale! More on those in the nights to come.

The first story I want to tell is that of my Grandpa Milt. He's was born in 1924 as the youngest of three brothers... only to be followed by a sister a couple of years later. Like many young men of his generation, he enlisted in the Navy at age "18" and then miraculously turned 18 for the next couple of years. He came back from WWII, married my Grandma Mary, and proceeded to have 5 kids, a career, a tavern, a woodworking hobby, and lots of friends, laughs, and hard work mixed in there.

I was the first grandchild and have always had a special relationship with him. He's the only person in the world I let call me "Mandy." As long as I can remember, he's always been gruff. Never mean. But tough. My brother and male cousins always claim that he scared them. Maybe he did... but all I knew was that he and I had lots of time to bond over summer trips to New Jersey and afternoons enjoying a birch beer and a Slim Jim.

As I grew older, he was always tough on the boys that I dated. In Nate, he finally found his match... over a stack of wood, a trip down the hill, and a stiff drink before 10a. Since then, they've bonded over a shared love in tools. Nate's always wanted a wood shop just like my grandfather has out back... full of lathes, drill presses, various saws... and always, always he talks about having a radio always on - no latter the time of day or night - with the local country station playing. Just like Grandpa Milt.

After Nate and I got married, Grandpa Milt has been a generous source of beautiful woodworking. I have a couple of inlayed cutting boards that I cannot bear to blemish, wood bowls and serving utensils, and of course, the duckie stepstool. I think that he takes a lot of pride in producing his beautiful pieces, and most of my aunts and uncles have Grandpa Milt originals in their homes!

As everyone does, Grandpa Milt has been having a tough time with aging. Bouts with severe back pain and dizziness have limited his walks out to his wood shop. There is no doubt it has made him sad, as in my farthest memories, I can remember him making his slow walk to the wood shop several times of day.

Grandpa Milt's love of working with his hands has reached several of my uncles, as well as family in my generation. I think somewhere along the line, he decided that he wanted his collection of shop pieces to be handed down to people who would love them like he had.

While we were visiting this weekend, Grandpa Milt offered Nate one of his radial arm saws to help get his shop started. Nate was both flabbergasted and honored. After much discussion and affirmation, Nate and my uncle started to dismantle the saw to pack it in our van for the long drive back to North Carolina.

Grandpa Milt had spent most of the afternoon in a shady spot on the porch. But I noticed that shortly after the saw started to be dismantled, he got a bit antsy. He shuffled across the porch. I asked if he wanted any help getting down the stairs. He told me that he'd be fine if I'd "just get out of his way." That's Milt for you.

He made his way down the steps and across the well-worn path to the wood shop. He inspected the saw dismantling process, but didn't have too many words to say. I genuinely think he came over to make sure that the saw was being treated the way that she should be. Perhaps to say goodbye.

Without a word, he turned around and started his trip back to the house. Nate, my uncle, Will and I turned our attention back to the saw. Luke broke free from our group. I looked up and saw this:

There were no words exchanged. Just love. Understanding. How could Luke have possibly known that Grandpa Milt needed love and support after his weighty and solemn goodbye? Can you teach a 4 year old to be compassionate?

I had a lump in my throat as I watched them walk slowly and carefully back to the house. I got Nate's attention, and he just smiled watching the scene. It was truly touching. What a kid. What a genuine heart.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A whole new world

In just a matter of days since they were ordered, Will's new glasses have already arrived! We picked them up - excitedly - today. Doesn't he look sharp!?!?! When we first put them on Will's face, he tried his best to whine and knock them off.

In order to give Will the best chance possible of trying out his new specs without distraction, I started an Elmo DVD (still a favorite around here). Will's eyes immediately focused sharply on the TV. I think I saw his jaw drop.

Though Will enjoys Elmo quite a bit, we usually have to remind him to pick up his head while watching (he drops it to his chest). I think after a while, his eyes would get tired or the colors would start to blur together and get boring.

I didn't remind him once during the DVD to pick up his head. He was intent. It was honestly like a whole new experience for him.

We're supposed to break him into his glasses-wearing slowly, so I didn't push him much past an hour tonight, but it is just going to be such a blessing for him to be able to see clearly now!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

R.I.P. naptime

For most of Luke's life, he's been a good sleeper. The kid can sleep through anything - which I largely attribute to all the nighttime drama that has occurred in Will's bed right across the room. He learned to sleep through things, or risked not sleeping at all!

Since we moved into this house, Luke hasn't slept very well. He fights going to sleep at 8p (which has been bed time for many years), gets up to go potty often just to see what we're doing after he goes to bed, and seems to get up earlier and earlier each day.

Today he woke up at 4:58a. Bright eyed and rearing to go.

I grabbed his pillow and blanket and put him on the floor in our room... because Will (unlike Luke) sleeps exceptionally lightly and I didn't want to risk Luke waking Will up. When Nate got up around 5:30, Luke chatted his ear off and wanted to take a shower with Daddy, watch Daddy shave, get dressed with Daddy...

For those of you who do not know it, my husband is not a morning person. In fact, he is the most non-morning person I may have ever met. Luke's chipper attitude isn't met with a lot of excitement from Daddy. But that doesn't seem to affect Luke and his ample morning energy.

Early next week, Luke goes back to his pre-K program. Only this school year, he moves from the AM to PM class. Which means that he'll go to daycare in the morning, get picked up on the bus around noon, go to pre-K until 3p, and then go back to daycare. At Luke's daycare, naptime is 1-3p. He'll get back right as all his friends are rousing from their naps.

R.I.P. naptime! I think the first couple of days are going to be tough on Luke. But in all truthfulness, he's been showing us for several months that he is nearing the end of his naptaking days. The school schedule just forces our hand.

And maybe will let him sleep in on weekends? I don't know, maybe until some late hour like... 6:30a!!!