Tuesday, June 17, 2014

a little man, and his little friend.


A few years ago, our lives were turned upside down and inside out with the birth of our special little guy. Amos Abraham was born one quiet, spring night. His peaceful and serendipitous arrival into this world gave nothing away of the turmoil we had felt the previous weeks. We knew he was a boy. We had just learned he had an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, otherwise known as Down syndrome. We knew he also needed surgery to correct his bowel, or he would not survive. We knew we weren't allowed to bring him home for weeks.
We knew a lot of painful, heavy and difficult things.

What we didn't know was how fiercely we would love him, and how powerfully his presence in our lives would change us.



The surgeon nicknamed our precious baby Famous Amos. His hospital stay, while feeling like decades at the time, was short when compared to many others. He came home. We fell head over heels in love. He grew, I grew, his daddy grew, his siblings grew. Our hearts were bigger and better, because of our Famous Amos.

I became connected with the beautiful world of other families raising children with special needs. One of these moms is a lovely lady in California with one of the most beautiful little boys I had ever seen. I fell in love with her family, partly because they were so beautiful, but also partly because I recognized that bigger and better heart that was now familiar to me. Their 3rd child was a beautiful little boy with Down syndrome, and his presence in their lives lead them to adoption, and they brought home a second little child with Down syndrome. A precious little girl. Each of these little children they had nuzzled into their hearts were so incredibly beautiful, and the love that this mother had for each of them, and her two older boys, and her husband--well, it was such a thing of beauty, I was so honored to join the ranks of parents like her.
Through her, my eyes were open to the broader world around me that I didn't know existed previously. These were the beginning stages of where my eyes and my heart and my husband's were opened wide and gasping to the drastic and overwhelming need for adoptive families for children with special needs all over the world. These children need their lives saved. Literally. And this family had worked and prayed and gloriously brought home their baby daughter. This beautiful mama, a few beaches south of my own loves her two little children with designer genes so richly, and so warmly, she commissioned an artist to create two handmade Waldorf style dolls each in the likeness of her beautiful littlest littles. The dolls were beautiful, and I wondered if my snuggly little lovey guy would enjoy laying hands on such an incredible creation.


Fast-forward a few years later and we find ourselves living on a little slice of paradise on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Not long after, I realize we are on the same island that is home to the incredible little world of Bamboletta Dolls. As we were settling into life with our burstingattheseams family of four (at the time) children, us as the mom and a dad and busy with buying a business (couple o' local skateboard and snowboard shops), and my pregnant belly about to burst with our newest babe, little did I know that a mere hour's drive away was the enchanting little studio, the creators, the heart and the team of amazing folks that make up the magic known as Bamboletta.

Bamboletta means baby doll, and Amos loves to do the sweet, cradling, rock-a-baby sign in American Sign Language for baby, and he has an affinity for these dolls. They're soft to touch, but firm to squeeze and lug around, they smell like home and have sweet little faces, their facial features can be poked and prodded while Amos can pretend feed, to help drink, to place in the highchair, to point and learn yes, those are eyes!, to snuggle into bed, to dress and undress, or to have a little friend accompany him to appointments, or to be in the car, or to help with potty training.

Amos struggles with transitions, and as of yet, at just past 4 years old, has not spoken his first word. He came close when he was a littler Bub, but then his tiny, barely sprouting vocabulary vanished. He gets frustrated, angry, bored and is so darn stubborn. He can be like a tornado.

Amos is awaiting a secondary diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.


When we first learned of it, there was a familiar crushing pain in my chest--only for a moment--and then the moment passed. I was reaffirmed that he is still my beautiful son, I am still his warrior mama, and any way that I can help enhance his environment, and take joy in him, and find pleasure in the tools and therapies we surround ourselves with, I am going to seize the opportunity and be blessed through his curiosity, and his learning - on his own developmental path.


Just as he is, Amos brings me joy--so much joy--to watch him hold hands with his dolly friend. I get tears in my eyes when he helps his little dolly walk across the floor, his head bowed in serious concentration. It brings me immense pride to watch him take his little cup of water, and put the straw to his doll's mouth just like we do for him, and just like his therapists have done for the last four years. It makes my heart swell with such joyful pride to see him flip his little dolly in the air, just like daddy does to him. I literally weep, unabashedly, when he graces his dolly with such tenderness, just like we do to him.



To hear his squeals, and to see his eyes light up and his face get so bright and excited when he gets to play in his little pretend world, the world that not everyone is privy too, and not everyone understands--but when I see him connect with this little dolly, (tears now)--and I grow to know more of the love and care that went into making this doll, and all the other dolls that pour out of this little studio in Cobble Hill --...

...the dolls may seem expensive. But when you consider how many hours of handmade stitching and stuffing and the cost of natural materials that go into each one, and the fact that these are heirloom toys, a doll that can be passed on to my children's children, enjoyed, loved, played with and valued for generations--not just a toy that will end up in a landfill a few months down the road...

I know that to some, it's just a doll. It's just a toy. But when you have a little child that struggles to communicate, a little child that you love so fiercely, more fiercely than you knew was possible, when you have a little child that the world sees as different, or the world might see as not as worthy, or that in other parts of the world a child like my beautiful little son is given away, or abandoned, a child that needs a little more help to learn...

a little child who sometimes locks himself away inside his own head...

...when you see your child connect with this little pretend baby friend, and hug him tight to his chest and breathe sighs of contentment and gratitude? Well, it is such an incredible gift. An immeasurable, beautiful, and wonderful gift. This is my little man Amos, and this is his little friend.

and I'm crying.


Amos has strabismus, which means he has one one good eye, and one eye turning inward, so he has prescription eyeglasses. But with all of his sensory sensitivities and his teeny tiny little bridge of his nose, his glasses press up against his beautiful, long luscious eyelashes and squish down his eyelids so he removes the glasses in a flash. And when he decides to look at something without his glasses, like his doll's face, he puts it up so close to his own little face--to study the features, to learn them and know them--and then his little pointer finger comes out to touch each thing that he's looking at so closely and studying the details of so very intimately--this is how Amos looks at his doll. He peers right into its eyes, full of unconditional love. It is the same way he looked at me as a little tiny newborn infant. Gazing up into my eyes, into my very soul, saying I love you so much, mama.

looking closely, searching for dolly's bare feet.
There's something so incredibly loving and nurturing about watching this in any child, but in particular observing this in a very special little child. Seeing our Famous Amos connect with something, anything in this way--is just such a pouring of sweet salve onto a mama's spirit, and it is one I am so incredibly grateful for. Christina and her team at the Bamboletta studio bless families and children young and old over and over and over with these beautifully handmade, heartfelt little creations.



I'm so incredibly thankful to have found not just a toy, but a friend. A friend that my little guy will play with, even if it is only for moments at a time, a friend that my little guy will interact with in a way that so closely matches my interactions with him, or daddy's interactions with him. And to see him be so sweet, and tender, and gentle with this little toy--his little friend, well that's just a gift that's too sweet for words.
 
Thank you, Bamboletta. Thank you for all you do.

there it is, eye contact with his dolly.

Amos and mama, summer 2014.

Bamboletta, you bless us. You bless us so.
Thank you.

To learn more about Bamboletta and learn how to get a doll, check them out here.
To read about their charitable and philanthropic efforts, see their blog here.
To learn more about orphans with special needs waiting for adoption, check out these wonderful organizations.
Reece's Rainbow
National Down Syndrome Adoption Network
and waiting children, in our own province.
Adopt a Waiting Child, British Columbia.

There is always more we can do, more we can give, and more we can pray for. Perhaps you are feeling called to give more of yourself, your time, your heart, or opening your family to one or more of these waiting children. (thank you).

To connect with me, you can follow me here:
blog: http://www.lauraluyt.com
instagram: http://instagram.com/lauraluyt#
twitter: https://twitter.com/lauraluyt

sometimes noodles are just noodles.

just popping in for a quick note. typos be real.
and here's a little reality of it-takes-me-awhile-to-get-things-done...
all photos in this post are courtesy of the effervescent and gifted wonder talent superstar that is melody davis. she took them for us over a year ago.
don't judge.
...

all those things we should've done and we never did.

I, for one, am sick and tired of all the judgement.
how about you?

i feel judgement all around, all the time, about everything.
and why does everything have to be about something bigger?

sitting on my floor just now (not now for real, but now when I first started writing this), with my hefty toddler snuggled tight against my chest and chin, he insists I stay present with him, locking eyes with me and pressing his lips against mine over and over and over and over. I am smitten with him.

my eyes see past his shoulder to my dining room floor, littered with dried noodles.
you see, even now? i am ashamed to even type what they actually are as if writing dried noodles makes them sound all fancy hoighty toighty. truth is they be kraft dinner noodles.
because if I write noodles then you can surmise they could be gluten-free, free-range egg noodles, organic kamut enriched noodles, handmade artisan rosemary and lavender noodles, or any beautiful outlandish combination that makes me sound more worthy somewhere.

but screw it, they're KD.
good old, out of a blue cardboard box, fake neon-orange powdered cheese, dried gluten-filled kraft-mother-freaking-dinner noodles.

phew! and I am oddly relieved, to be honest.

but I digress -- i feel judged by their presence on my floor.

1. I haven't vacuumed them up.
2. therefore, I am bad.
3. my kids eat garbage.
4. because I am bad.
5. I am a bad mom for letting my kids eat garbage.
6. I am a bad mom for not vacuuming them yet.
7. they are not organic, gluten-free, dairy free, or even nutritious.
8. they are were one of the only foods my sensory-sensitive little son will would eat.
9. GMO? yuck.
10. dead babies used in kraft foods or some other equally disgusting BS fear tactics.  

you eat what? don't you KNOW what they do??

screw you, judgement.
i ate it when I was a kid, my grandparents and parents fed us KD and we enjoyed it, they didn't appear to be crappy parents just because we ate KD. so stuff it. jerk.

and now, somehow -- I feel better.




the presence and judgements surrounding these innocent noodles are representative of a bigger scene playing out in our day-to-day lives, and it is sucking our joy. it is sucking up so damn much energy to worry about freaking noodles that we are kept from DOING BIGGER THINGS IN HIS NAME.
like we are being bombarded constantly by how we aren't measuring up as moms, as wives, as Christians, as human beings--and I don't know about you, but a great deal of it paralyzes me.

I feel at a loss as to what to do, what the next step is.







for now I will take the snuggles and the toddler smooshing squishy puckered up lips with me as he holds things so close to his face to sweetly study the details.

do you have any words of wisdom?

but this I do know:
when I work and dance and sing until I sweat and chop vegetables and fling laundry and place food on the table that is good and we eat together and I have a definite job and task and I grab ahold of it with relish and complete it and am actively involved and moving and effective....?

well, those days just shine.
but what do you do when your child would rather scream and flail than eat?

feeling a need to hang lights in my backyard and have a solid fence and just sit out there with my babes and calm the heck down. and if he will eat the KD? well Imma gonna feed it to 'im.

and refocus on this:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Phillipians 4:8

mm, those are good snuggles. his lips are squishy. sweet little Bub.




let's go outside and stop looking at those stupid noodles.
can't vacuum right now while the baby (actually, the entire household but me) is asleep anyway.

be quiet, cobwebs.

they're just noodles.



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