Monday, July 7, 2014

Beyond Waiting Room Magazines

bowl of cherries

When I think of summer, it conjures up visions of a good book, a sweating glass of lemonade and a hammock. Unfortunately, I don’t have a hammock (or shade trees to tie a hammock to, which is the real reason I don’t have a hammock.)  But even if I did, I’m not getting much opportunity to use it right now. 

We have an upcoming surgery for one little person + we’ve had a extra doctor & therapy appointments + one little miss is enrolled in hula class and one little man in martial arts = a whole lot of time either in the car or in a waiting room.

While none of those things exactly screams SUMMER FUN, it hasn’t been all bad. We’ve gotten to spend a lot of time together and we’ve found things we enjoy doing while we wait, which far beats out aimlessly flipping through out-dated magazines in the doctor’s waiting room.

For the car –  We all like to listen to these Sparkle Stories. They are soothing and enjoyable, which makes morning rush hour traffic much more palatable. We also like StoryNory. When traffic isn’t as hairy, a bunch of songs from here make for good car sing-alongs. Make up imagination-filled silly stories about what you see (Do you see that green car that got pulled over? I bet he was going too fast because he forgot his….)

For the waiting roomI Spy books; lacing cards are both good therapy and a great calming tool, these portable Lego activities are fun; free face drawing printable; draw a half of anything and have your child finish the other half: robot, face, truck, etc…,

For the driver/mama – podcasts, podcasts, podcasts. These are great not only in-route but also for the dinner prep and dishes, etc… that await you when you get back. I’ve been listening to: The Art of Simple, Lisa Grace Brynne’s MAPP Gathering (amazing!!) and TedTalks.

Learning to wait well is an acquired skill, one that most adults are still mastering (thus the prevalence of screens and exasperated sighing in waiting rooms across the country). If you have an energy-bursting-from- the-seams, can’t-be-contained-child, you probably don’t look twice when you see us doing group jumping jacks at 7:30 AM in the dimly lit Shriner’s underground parking lot. For anyone wearily whispering, “I hear you”: 4 self-regulation techniques you can do anywhere and this calming exercise. When all else fails, you can step outside and  go all old-school VBS revival with I’m Going to Sing, Sing, Sing and I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy. If you’re not feeling quite as Spirit-filled, try the Hokie Pokie.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Disability Doesn’t Make You Exceptional

Occasionally, people will tell me that they can picture Ying as a motivational speaker when she grows up. That’s always kind of made me bristle. It’s not that I don’t see that as a valued profession, it’s more that it’s just so clich├ęd. I mean honestly, wouldn’t it just be awesome if she was a surgeon, a mathematician, a chef?

Stella Young hits it on the head here with I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much. (Plus, you can charge your phone with your wheelchair’s battery. Say what? Why has no one told me this. That could really come in handy!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Watch This

You’ll be glad you did. My favorite line from this video was Chris asking his dad what he did to raise him differently from any other child. “Nothing,” his dad said.

Man do I love that. Without further ado, Chris the farmer.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

old hat, new hat


It’s rather obvious that I haven’t been here in quite some time. It would be easy to say I hadn’t written because I’d gotten wrapped up in life. That would be true, to an extent.

The greater truth is that I came to realize how little I actually knew. The other, and somewhat silly, reason is that I felt pigeon-holed by the whole limb different title. I mean, we’ve never seen ourselves as an adoptive family, we’ve always seen ourselves as a family who happens to have adopted. We’ve never seen Ying as a limb different child; we see her as a child who happens to have a limb difference. So why exactly did I start a blog titled limb different?

But as time has gone on, I’ve remembered that I started writing here precisely because I was shiny and new at special needs and limb differences. I started this blog because these are the answers that I wanted when we were starting out. I wanted someone to tell me how to buy a modified car, how to go to an IEP and how to deal with stares in public, and, and, and….

So to anyone stumbling here because you’re starting out, having gotten a little further down the road, I’d tell you this:

Having a differently abled child is as much the fabric of our lives as having a child that runs on high octane – it’s life.

We hardly notice the stares any more. If anything, people come up to us and are very complimentary of Ying and her pink wheelchair. Sure there’s the rogue old man, who tells me he thinks I should tighten the seat belt of Ying’s chair because he’s worried she’ll fall out. But more often that not, I’m meeting the smiles of someone across the way. People seem to feel a great sense of pride in Ying, even people we don’t know.

The questions have gotten harder -- because they now come from Ying herself. We tell her the one thing we know to  be true: we don’t know what God’s reason was, but we know He has a good one.

Do not dismiss the thing you think is hard today. Do not minimize it or trivialize it or compare it to someone else’s definition of difficult. You own it. Some day it will be a measuring stick of how far you’ve come.

Maybe you feel a little isolated, a little alone. Make you think people can’t relate. And to your exact situation, in that exact moment, they probably can’t. Just like you can’t relate to their exact situation at that exact moment. But you are not alone. I’ve been surprised by the painter who casually mentioned an autistic son after seeing Ying. By the coworker who, knowing about our adoptions, talks about a difficult childhood. We were meant to share the hard, to steady the hand next to us, to cheer on the tired mama to the left of us, the stumbling friend to the left of us.

Finally, watch this. Watching this woman put on fake eye lashes will blow your mind, and, sometimes, that’s all the inspiration you need.

Let’s meet here more often. I’d forgotten how much I like it here.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Some parts of the country are sick of the white stuff already, but we love a good snow day.

We woke up Christmas morning to an indoor snowstorm, but this would be fun any fine winter’s day.

1. Hang lots and lots of snowflakes from the ceiling on white ribbon. (Don’t toss them when the snow “melts.” Save them for next year!)

2. Cover the steps and hallway in styrofoam packing peanuts.

3. Go to the dollar store and buy boxes of instant potatoes flakes. It makes for awesome snow and fun pictures.

let it snow

let it snow1

4. Have an indoor snowball fight using everyone’s rolled up white socks.

5. Use kitchen scissors to make flour tortillas into snowflakes. After the designs are cut out, brush the tortillas with melted butter and top with cinnamon sugar. Pop them into a 350 degree oven until brown. It’s dirty snow you can eat.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Around these parts….

bike and pink wheelchair

  • We think that wheelchair ramps make awesome bike ramps.
  • We can be overheard saying things like, “If you want to help me cook, you need to wash your feet.”
  • We make rules like ‘no slinkys on the wheelchair’s joystick.’
  • You can hear a little girl say, “good night, pink wheelchair” at bedtime.
  • We’ve been engaged in The Great Shred of 2013. Even though we have 2 finalized adoptions, we had piles upon piles of forms, form instructions, and even the envelope that the form’s receipt confirmation arrived in. It was time to let them go; the shredder has been running non-stop.
  • We’re cheering on Rep. Tammy Duckworth. You can, and should, see her in this video.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Filling a shoebox: Operation Christmas Child

For as long as I can remember, my family packed shoeboxes at Christmas. It’s a tradition that carried over once I became an adult. It’s also a tradition that has come full circle. We learned that, in the past, some of the older children at Ying’s orphanage have been the recipient of Operation Christmas Child. Nothing will make you pack a shoebox faster, and with more love, than knowing that.

operation christmas child 

Christmas shoeboxes

So as a family, we packed shoe boxes this year. Little hands and little feet filled plastic baggies with leftover Halloween candy. (Certain persons were initially more reluctant than others but were soon filling their baggie to the brim). We went to the store and asked our kids to pick out socks and puzzles. Some little girl will be the recipient of Ying’s love for pink.

This is such a small thing. But it means something. It does.

When we were in the Hmong village last year, we took gifts. Several of the gifts came off a suggested list. Things like a small winter coat, hygiene products, etc… We also took a few fun gifts. Things like bubbles and a travel size Hungry, Hungry Hippo. Do you know what gift was exclaimed over the most? School supplies. Pens, pencils and erasers were remarked on by the adults, interpreter and children alike. That’s stuck with me.

Most of us don’t think of a yellow #2 as a gift. I’m not sure what I would do if I found it in my stocking, much less my kids. Yet for children in a school house with no electricity, it was a wonderful present.

Find some pencils. Bag up some candy, stickers and toothpaste (more ideas and details on filling a box here).

Love can’t be contained, but Christmas can fill a box.

PS – The shoeboxes are now hightech. When you donate online (suggested donation is $7/box), you will get a printable barcode that you put on your box. Once your shoebox is delivered, you’ll get an email telling you it’s destination.)  In years past, we’ve gotten these emails. I love knowing where our shoebox has gone.

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