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.



Friday, March 14, 2014

on the business of behavior (sorrynotsorry).

right now.

spring break.

the day I wrote this we awoke to snow flitting to the ground, melting and disappearing as if it had never been. and now today the warm spring sun is shining full and long upon us.

the littlest is asleep.




I had successfully consumed two cups of coffee, but not before the pot sat for an hour or more.
we were expecting company.

my floor is littered with cheerios, a seemingly endless supply of one of the three possible foods our little Tank will eat. the days of fighting with him over food are anxiously pregnant with strain and worry.

it's hard not to fret.

our world is turned upside down on a daily basis, more often than not. this whole autism business.
it's okay. I am not scared of a diagnosis. it doesn't change how much I love this child, his sparkling chocolate-brown eyes, his curling lashes that frame them exquisitely, his perfectly sculpted cheeks leading to chin and his ribbon of a mouth and the way it crinkles into a grin so deep his eyes have to close with the joy of smiling at you.

the way he eats popcorn (enter food number two) with so much gusto he has to throw his head back because his joy is so immense it cannot be contained.

this boy, and the ocean. he is so quiet & curious, studying the waves lapping at his feet, fearless to enter the water but content to throw rocks in endlessly. he belongs outside. he is so at peace in the fresh air, rain drizzling his hair down to his sweet face as he launches stones into splashes. this is one of those moments. right here.

the other behaviors are what are difficult.
and sometimes it's just not okay.
slamming cupboards.
throwing.
stalking his baby brother.
restless sleep.
yelling. non-verbal.
refusal to eat most everything.
yelling.
moaning.
flailing 40 pounds out of my arms and injuring me.
power struggles.
hitting me.
scratching.
breaking things.
the yelling. oh Lord, the yelling.

I have to SOAK with a capital S.... SOAK up the good moments while I am thoroughly in them. even when the good is mucky, I have to jump in with both feet and stomp hard and dance long to squeeze every last drop of juicy goodness out of it and get the fun and thick of it up in a great splash - so that when the next difficult moment comes, I have the remnants there to remind me of the joy they contained.

Jacob wants to be wherever Isaac is. he wants his big bro's opinion & thoughts on most every topic under the sun. "Mom. I want a sandwich just like Isaac's. Did he put mustard on his sandwich?" "He did, sweetie, but you told me you don't like mustard, remember?" "Hm. Yah. But I'm going to go ask Isaac if he thinks I should have mustard on my sandwich because I want a sandwich just like Isaac's".

but it is taxing, nonetheless. I can't pretend it's not. and anyone else looking in from the outside who doesn't get it is just that. they don't get it.

and so i feel judged. incapable. exhausted. inhospitable. unable to both be my children's mother and an exemplary housekeeper. to both be my children's mother and an excellent host. to both be my children's mother and joyfully open my home to all guests. some times I am one of these, sometimes I am the other. more often than not I choose to hang with my kids, and some of those days are piloted on a bit of survival mode by the skin of my teeth. and my house is crazy, and while it's fine for us to live in this season of crazy house little kids tornado toddler etc, etc...

other people judge, dammit.

so I'm sorry. I'm sorry I feel so much anxiety with having people over who don't get it. I'm sorry if you're one of those people. I'm sorry my children and my family come before my playing host to you. or maybe I'm sorrynotsorry.

there will come a day where I have learned to fully grasp this, to manage and still clean my house and smile when you come to the door and greet you warmly and have clean hair, clothes, and skin.

where I can serve you and keep you and shine my countenance upon you.
but if I don't know that you get IT - the it where I am right now?

then I'm sorry, today is not the day yet where I can do that.

my girl. arms wide and heart abandoned.

taking him away doesn't help, either. I have no desire whatsoever to take my child elsewhere, away from me. this is not a helpful offer.

spending time with him, with us, observing what I do, then listening to what I say, and observing his reactions with love and encouraging him, and I - these are things I long for in the way of help.

because he doesn't walk to the park like a typical child. he runs. to the street. in the street.
he darts away from the park. to the street.

and if it's just me, I have the baby, the stroller, one child in one spot and one sprinting in the opposite direction. over and over and over.
these were the images that used to wake me in a cold sweat when I was a mama on my own...why, it's enough to make a mama's hair turn gray. (ha! and what's a mama to do who already has gray hair?)

he escapes the yard. he escapes the playground. he wants to escape the room, the house, the car, the store. he yearns for the open road. he's got big dreams, big plans, and a mighty big spirit. he just doesn't articulate it in the same language as the rest of us.

and so we stay home. nearly all of the time.

and the tornadoes ensue.

he has a storm brewing inside, when he is bored...and as his mama I have not completely learned how to guide it just yet. scratch that - if I am one on one with him, he is a lovely, completely manageable little sweetheart. honestly. because then I CAN manage his behaviors and catch and redirect and praise and teach.

and when there is a sweet moment, I lavish in it.

but I have four others.
and we play host FAR too often to so many who don't get it.

a lovely mama with many years of experience of raising her adult son with autism counseled me just last week, speaking of how overwhelmed she felt with the work of it when he was growing up.
"the work changed when I stopped trying to make him into who I wanted him to be; to stop throwing, stop yelling, stop it all. everything changed when I got down on the floor and threw with him. he looked at me as if to say,
'mama? you see me?'"

whoah.

I get it, but I know that because he isn't my only I can't always get down and throw with him. (broken ipad/broken tv/gallon of paint down the stairs/abrasions, cuts and bruises from flying objects/broken dishes/safety of others)...and so sometimes I am worn thin.

too thin to be able to play host to you, the way you probably deserve, or the way I am capable of and hope to. at least not right now. unless you are one of those who gets it.
and I'm sorry.
well, I'm sorrynotsorry.






might not seem like a big deal, but it is. ready to start the day in shark boots & a fedora... that he put on ALL BY HIMSELF.

and then as if on cue, he shows me something he can do. and you're damn right I cried.

he is fantastic. so am I.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

today.

taking a long, winding and meandering walk down memory lane by finally making time to go through photos and writing out some of my heart. it has been a long time coming.

a long time, indeed.


it has been so long since I have been able to write, to squeeze away, to take more than a few moments with my phone in hand whilst nursing a squirmer or spoon feeding a stubborn toddler or wrestling sweet faced boys to bed or talking and taking opportunities to be present with my growing bigs... all good things.

so this time I've carved out here is a weaving of nearly a year of snapshots and memories and life all wound into one tapestry where I find myself finding my feet under me as a mama and wife and as laura and standing strong again... we have so much to catch up on.

where do I start?
wait, I already have.


nearly an entire year of photos I have been waiting for a moment to post. a year. aye.


my last post told of our young jonah who lived with us for a few months last summer. the brood and I went away across three provinces and in and out of three weeks we visited family back home on the prairies. it was heavenly,
and it was torturous,
and through it all my only wish was that my Mr. was with us.

it was not a journey for the faint of heart, but then again, when have I been known to be faint of heart? ha!


oh, saskatchewan. you will always be back home to me.


this was the exact stretch of highway in alberta where our van broke down and we needed rescuing over an entire year earlier.

jonah went back to his parents and to university on the mainland while we were away, and shortly after we returned, our house was joyfully opened to family -- joel's brother aaron and sweet kaiti moved in with us while aaron recovered from a broken pelvis.

God is really revealed to us when we are totally and completely broken. and our dependence on Him is so vital, so necessary that it is when we are broken that we are forced to our knees and we truly let Him be in complete control. 
then the good stuff happens.  

hearts were shared over months together of aching for babies. for children. for parenthood. for togetherness. for family.

and it is with much joy and trepidation that we announce a piece of the story being renewed.  
we are throwing our names back into the hat.
we have started our application to adopt.
 

 our furry nephew, charles. isn't he fantastic?

 kindergarten. already. time flies, i tell you. it flies.

I can't stop the tears from flowing these days. and I don't have to.

how does that song go? 

joy... and pain.
sunshine... and rain.

there is a constant struggle between desperately seeking joy in the every day, in the glorious-ness that is being alive, being a mother to my little houseful, the joy in being wife to my Man. the struggle lies not in those things, not in those roles, but inside of myself.

when I fix my gaze on me, on my lack of sleep, my lack of quiet time, my lack of effort, my lack of grandparents nearby, my lack of family and close friends, my lack of willpower and discipline and beauty and intelligence and patience and love and joy and talent and heart and spirit...

...the battle is just that. it goes from a self talk of come on, chin up, you can power through... because I CAN and I know I can power through the days of less sleep and screaming toddlers and the challenges that arise with 5 children, the cusp of teenage years tipping into adulthood, the relentless redirection for curious bigger ones, the onslaught of a gazillion questions from curious little ones,
"do crabs have balls?"
seriously. this was an actual question the other night.
I try to keep a record of these things, if only to appease my exhaustion with a much-needed belly laugh to the point of tears.

oh yes, and the exposed and full-blown exposition of personal nudity with a breastfeeding infant toddler. my self talk goes from get up and do this another day, this is just a season, you can do this...

to a full blown you are worthless. pointless. powerless. a failure. a fraud. an imposter. bad. wrong. broken. ugly. damaged. fat. stupid. liar. sinner. you don't deserve any of this. and the hard stuff? well, you made your bed, honey. now lie in it.

ack, devil. be gone.




today.


I am in my pyjama pants for the third day in a row. fighting a sinus infection, a kinked neck, a cyst in my knee. I have a sweet cheeked little boy touching the speakers playing fun music at my feet, his eyes growing wide with the vibrations on his outstretched fingertips.

I am so thankful for this, right now.

today I am mourning the loss of a sweet friend. She was a champion encourager, a visible vessel doing Kingdom work in her every.single.thing. You know when sunshine pours into windows and highlights the microscopic particles in your air and sets them ablaze, and you never knew they were there until the light shone brightly upon them? my jacob used to call that sunfloweration.


this sweet friend is the picture of sunfloweration.
everything about her was sunny.
tears are flowing again. was. ouch.

I thought with 100% certainty she was going to fully recover this side of heaven. I couldn't wait to wrap my arms around her with her blond mane of curls growing back and a coffee in hand and we could weep over the joy and the pain and the life she poured into me while hers was ebbing away. sweet Kristin, I miss you terribly. I love you. thank you for your incredible, far too brief, and all encompassing friendship. You were such an example of Jesus here on earth.

oh, the tears.

she taught me to relish the pyjama clad days. even after they are a blur of when they began and no end in sight. she showed me love, and faith and prayer even when her own walk was far more fraught with real work than my own. selflessness.

so all of those garbage messages? argh, let them go, child.

let them go.

and just like that, He takes them for me.

He will for you, too.


it is a new season.

much like the spring underfoot, crocuses and buds poking out of the damp earth and leaves uncurling from their branches, stretching and reaching and striving for something better--I am reaching and striving and aching to push forward out of my sleepiness and into the light of a new day, a new season.

time spent with hands thrust into clay has been so incredibly good.

our amos is awaiting an autism assessment.

while it is true we love amos or any of our children no more or no less than we would if he was created differently, this day-to-day life with some of our unique challenges can and does get a bit difficult or a bit tiring--far more so when I fix my gaze on myself.
when instead I turn my eyes upon Jesus, the things of this earth grow strangely dim.

my beautiful friend who is now in the arms of our Savior so boldly and lovingly reminded me of simple and wonderful things when we were first given the news of this possibility, and to continuously turn my eyes upon Jesus.

she also reminded me to collect memories in print, in photos, in words - so that they have a lasting effect outside of my own head and heart. 

how wise was she? what a blessing, strolling through photos from warmer summer days with rounded bellies outdoors, barefoot and sunkissed, all the way into the autumn and school days and the gathering of christmas. joy.



um, hello cherub!


all of my loves.


sweet Kristin, your words and kindness and wisdom and love will never be forgotten.  

there are so many moments here that I don't want to forget.

thank you, Jesus, for your daughter Kristin. thank you for Your word and Light in her, and through her. thank you for her boldness in speaking Truth and her loving reminders of where to fix my gaze.


softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. and we are ready to dig in to soil, to help new growth stir, and to be thankful for the dirt and the sun, the work and the promise.

and to myself I say welcome back.

welcome home. 

so glad to be here.


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