September 7, 2010

I never thought I'd have to say...

Any mother will tell you she comes to a point where she realizes there are things she never thought she would say or do...until she became a mother. A new example was created this past weekend when my youngest son dropped his pants and decided to pee on the outdoor playground display at Menard's.

Here are just a few more examples of things I never thought I'd say...until I became a mother of boys:

  • Why is there a dead frog on your dresser?
  • Well just how many grasshoppers do you thing you let loose in the van?
  • Just because you can pee outside doesn't mean you should.
  • There will be no snakes in the house. Ever!
  • Who left a pile of worms on my kitchen counter?!
  • Sorry, but I can't let you wear your Superman cape to Great-Grandma's funeral.
  • It is never okay to look up your neighbor's skirt. I don't care if she said it was okay!!!
  • Why is there a grasshopper on your brother's high chair tray?!
  • Your hamster doesn't need to be in the bathtub with you.
  • Wait until the pee-pee stops before you shake it.
  • I realize you're excited about your praying mantis, but I don't want the jar on the dining room table.
  • Please stop giving bubble gum to the dog!
  • Why are there five toads in your swimming pool?
  • Next time you have worms in your pocket, can you tell mommy? Actually, let's just not put worms in our pocket.
  • When the hamster is roaming the house in his little ball, we do not kick the ball. Nor do we roll it down the stairs.
  • Who dropped (my watch/matchbox car/insert most any noun here) in the toilet?

Keep in mind this is just a short list. It is also not a complete list as I've only been a mother for nine years. I'll revisit this often and repost any time I find mind myself thinking "Well, I never thought I'd be saying that."

August 24, 2010

Freckles, Tiny, & Bullet

Bailey, Emma, Hayden & Jarrett
with their amphibian friends

This past weekend Hayden caught three toads. He and the neighbor girls named them Freckles, Tiny, and Bullet. I sat on the driveway and observed the kids play with their new amphibian friends. They even held toad races by lining them up and seeing which one reached the sidewalk first. This seems like a typical thing kids may do, but for me it meant so much more.

Toad races, with Hayden in the lead
One of the things I used to worry about when Hayden was younger, in addition to his health, was whether or not he would have friends as he grew up. Not just acquaintances, those are easy to find. But real, true friends. The kind of friend that will look past the huge scar on his neck or his inability to ride a bike. A friend that will accept that his speech is severely delayed and who will learn to interpret Hayden's version of English. I used to pray that someday he would find a friend who would accept him and show him what it meant to have a friendship.

We moved into our house in the Spring of 2006. I remember looking out the back patio door and seeing two young girls playing on a swingset in the next yard. They appeared to be about Hayden's age. I wondered if they'd ever be interested in playing with Hayden- or would his play be too slow-paced for them?

A few days later the girls' mom introduced herself and girls to me in the front yard. We discussed our children's ages. The younger girl, Emma, was one year younger than Hayden and the older girl, Baily, was one year older than him. To my surprise the girls actually wanted to play with Hayden! They asked about his scar once, I told them what it was from, and then they went back to playing. They accepted him for who he was.

Over the past four and a half years Hayden and the girls have grown exceptionally close. They exchange May Day baskets, birthday presents, and Christmas gifts. Bailey tends to push Hayden to be brave and do things he may not have otherwise done (ride a two-wheeled scooter) and Emma is more gentle and calm, talking him into coming in the house with me when it's bedtime, or reminding him to stay back from the street. 

Often times when we pull into our driveway the girls will run out of the house screaming "HAYDEN!!!! Wanna play?!" It's like they can't get enough of him. And for some reason I'm still surprised when this happens. I'm so used to other children staring at him (adults too), pointing at him, wondering what's "wrong" with him. It's such a relief to trust that these two girls truly want to be with Hayden and enjoy spending time with him. Sometimes they'll even beg to come to our yard or Hayden will whine until we let him go to their yard.

This is why watching them Friday with their new toad friends meant more to me than it would to some mothers. I can't take for granted that my dream for him has come true. These girls have taught him more about friendship and acceptance than I ever could. He has picked up so many social cues from them that no amount of behavioral therapy could teach. I will be thankful for the friendship they have shown him everyday for the rest of my life.

August 16, 2010

The Decision

I clearly remember the day Jason & I decided we were going to try for one more child. I had been visiting my Grandma Shearer in the nursing home. My aunt made a comment, jokingly, about how someday it'll be me visiting her in the nursing home. We chuckled, but once the laughter stopped, I really got to thinking about it. I knew I would be able to visit and help take care of my parents should something happen to them. A daunting thought, but naive to think it won't happen. As selfish as this may sound, I was saddened at the thought of maybe not having anybody be able to come visit me, take care of me, look after me. It's not that Hayden wouldn't want to, it's more a question of whether he'd have the ability to. We don't know what the future holds for him, but any parent of a special needs child will tell you that the focus isn't just on today, it's also always on the future, for we have to plan ahead more than you care to know. I fully accept that Hayden may never drive, never marry, never have his own children. I have come to terms with this, and I'm not trying to be depressing- this is just a fact that I have faced years ago.

With this thought going through my mind, I also began to panic at the thought of what would happen when I'm gone? When Jason and I are no longer able to care for Hayden? Who will look after him and truly have his best interest at heart? It's a scary thought for any parent, but even scarier when you know your child does not have the skills to make certain decisions on his own. Keep in mind, I'm truly not trying to be negative about Hayden's condition, these are just my honest thoughts and it's taken many years to be okay with saying these out loud.

That day I went home from visiting my Grandmother and decided to have "the talk" with Jason. We'd often discussed another baby before, but at one point a geneticist said Hayden's condition could be hereditary. We had even altogether ruled out another child, for fear we would have another medically fragile baby. Luckily, after years of genetic testing, including a trip to Harvard Medical in Boston for lab work, the genetic theory was thrown out. Doctors decided Hayden's condition was random.

Jason and I discussed the advantages of having another, which included peace of mind that Hayden would have a sibling "in his corner." I want it to be known that we, in no way, decided to have Jarrett for the sole purpose of being his brother's keeper. This is absolutely untrue. We wanted another baby so badly for five years while we awaited the verdict of Hayden's diagnosis. With that being said, we cannot overlook the obvious idea that down the road Jarrett could one day play a key role in Hayden's support system.

The decision was made and on June 8th, 2007 at 10:10 pm Jarrett Troy was born. He has fulfilled every desire I've ever had as a mother. He is every bit as loving as Hayden, whom he bares a strong resemblance to. He's also kind, gentle, caring, and determined just like his brother. The two have a strong bond and learn from each other. They can be fighting all morning, but if one gets scolded or is sent to his room, the other brother is right there to defend and comfort the one who's just been punished. It's been rewarding to observe this bond tighten as they grow.

Yesterday I got a glimpse of Jarrett's protective, brotherly love shining through. They were playing in Hayden's bedroom and I heard Hayden start to cough. He didn't sound like he was in distress, so I wasn't worried. Jarrett, however, was concerned. I overheard him ask "Hayden you okay?" Then he said in an urgent voice, "I go tell mommy." Pretty soon I could hear the pitter-patter of his little feet in the hallway coming my direction. When he reached me he blurted out "Mommy, Hayden coughing. He sick."

What a little dear. My heart swelled with pride. Even though Hayden really was fine, it was nice to know that Jarrett was looking out for his big brother and knew to get attention when he thought there was cause for it. It seems small, but it's moments like these that make me hopeful for the future.  Hopeful that one brother will make every effort to care for his brother, not because he has to, but because he loves him enough he wants to.

August 10, 2010

County Fair

I love county fairs. When I was growing up my dad was on the fair board, so I remember spending a lot of time at the York County Fairgrounds. I love the animals, the demolition derby cars, the rides on the midway, and of course, all the fair food that you only allow yourself to eat once a year (namely, funnel cakes).

Last week Jason and I took the boys up to the Saunders County Fair because we heard they were having a demolition derby with combines. Now, my boys love farm equipment as much as the next Nebraska kid, so we thought this would be right up their alley. The boys, both donning their favorite John Deere t-shirts, were geared up for the derby and couldn't wait for it to get started. They were giggling with anticipation when the combines sluggishly entered the arena and took their place. We counted backwards from 5 and the derby began! Hayden could barely contain his excitement- he was standing up on the seat of the bleachers trying to get the best view. Jarrett, on the other hand, saw the combines smash into each other and instantly started wailing "No, that hurts him. No, that hurts combine. No crash combine!" People sitting around us were so nice and tried to comfort him. We were all telling Jarrett that the combines like to crash and they think it's fun. Unfortunately he didn't buy it and whimpered throughout the whole show. The last combine standing was a John Deere, so that pleased Hayden. Jarrett was just glad the combines weren't getting hurt anymore.

This past weekend the Lancaster County Fair got up and running, so we took the boys out to that Friday. Our first stop was the pig races- always a favorite with my boys. Next we visited the petting zoo, followed by the antique tractors, and then onto the horse barn. Some of the 4H kids were brushing their horses and let us pet them. We were meandering through the rows of horse stalls and I turned to tell Hayden something and noticed he was not behind me. He wasn't with Jason either. We called for him, but no answer. Panic set in...did he wander off? Did somebody lure him off? He was just beside me. Where did he go?!

Then I heard a little voice, "Mommy look!" He had found an empty horse stall, let himself in, then shut the door behind him! He was checking out what he called the horse's 'bedroom.' I quickly looked around to see if the horse's owner was near. Actually, my first thought was to search for the horse he'd just let out...but luckily it was empty. We retrieved our curious son and decided to check out the bunnies and chickens next- Hayden can't fit in those cages.

We ended the night by letting the boys choose four rides to go on. (I know four rides doesn't sound like a lot, but at $3 per ride per child, it was all we could afford!) Watching their faces light up as they went round and round on the rides took me back to my younger years. Even though the motorcycles and boats they were riding were completely stationary on the platform, I think they actually thought they were driving. They moved the steering wheels and honked the horns, waving every time they would go by us.

It was a memorable evening and reminded me of my childhood and the small town I grew up in. While there we ran into a lady from our church, a former classmate of mine, and one of Hayden's teachers. The boys (and their parents!) were hot, tired, and exhausted when we got home. But all agreed it was a fun family activity that we'll repeat every year at county fair time.

August 3, 2010

Bonding Over a Frog

Last night Hayden was walking around the house with his little hands cupped around something. When I asked what he was doing he presented a frog to me. Just like that. As if it were normal to be walking around with a frog inside the house. Some children might carry around Matchbox cars, action figurines, GI Joe dolls (oops, sorry, my brother always used to tell me GI Joes are not dolls). Anyway, most children play with nonliving objects in the house. Not my Hayden. He has always been fascinated with bugs, frogs, and worms from a very young age.

I agreed to let his new friend stay in the house, so long as it lived in his bug habitat. We got the critter set up with some water and grass in his new home. Hayden even named him Billy, after his favorite tv show Billy the Exterminator. (Does this surprise you that his favorite show would be about an exterminator?)

This morning we got up and Hayden helped me make monkey bread. I was cleaning up the kitchen following breakfast when I heard squealing and hysterical laughter coming from upstairs from both Hayden & Jarrett. This struck me as odd because all morning they'd been fighting, pushing each other's buttons, and tattling. Curious, I walked upstairs and followed the happy sounds to our master bedroom, and then to the master bath.

I found the boys side by side, both in t-shirts & undies, intently watching something going on in my shower. As I approached I discovered the source of excitement: Billy the Frog had been let loose and was hopping around in my shower. (Mental note: spray shower floor with scrubbing bubbles cleaner & scrub before entering.)

I sat there and watched the boys before quickly running for the camera. Who would have thought that a frog could have caused these brothers to go from bickering to bonding on a bathroom floor?

With cinnamon still on their faces from breakfast,
Hayden & Jarrett share a moment with Billy the Frog.

August 2, 2010

Hayden's Plan

As a mother, every now and then you will have a moment when your child makes you so proud, and at the same time, pulls at your heartstrings. This afternoon Hayden & I were leaving a building following an appointment he'd had. As we were walking down the hallway I couldn't help but notice the smell of it reminded me of my Grandma Shearer's house when I was growing up. I've heard that out of the body's five senses, the sense of smell is more strongly linked to a person's memory than any other sense.

I told Hayden about the hallway smelling like my Grandma's house. He did know my Grandma, but unfortunately his memories of her consist of watching her wither away due to late stage Alzheimer's. I took Hayden with me to the hospital when I'd visit Grandma in her last weeks. It always amazed me how gentle he was with her. In fact, the day before she died he wanted to brush her hair. That's the last memory I have of her is watching my little boy brush her hair and seeing a smile come across her face because she knew she was being cared for. 

Of course during the funeral Hayden was very concerned about the casket. Was Great-Grandma in there? Was she sleeping? Where was she going next? I couldn't help but wonder what was going on in his mind. Death is hard for any child to understand (even adults!) but when his brain doesn't work normally, I can only imagine the idea of death being even harder to grasp. I think the hardest part for him was not understanding where Grandma's body went after the funeral. I tried my best to explain it, but felt like I failed miserably in that department of parenting.

Today when I mentioned my Grandma the first thing he said was "Grandma die." Even though it's been nearly three years, he is still concerned about her death and funeral. He followed that with "Grandma buried?" I answered that yes, my grandma wasn't with us anymore & we can't see her, but that we can still think about her whenever we want. And then he said something that for some reason just broke my heart, but also filled it with warmth. He was tagging along beside me in the hallway and asked, "Mommy die?" I hate to think about this, I don't know anybody who does, so I tried to answer matter-of-factly that yes, Mommy will die and that everybody dies at some time. He proceeded to tell me his plan: "Mommy sick, Hayden take care. Mommy die, Hayden bury."

Ack...hang on, let me get a tissue! I can't even describe to you what this meant for me. I remember years ago, while visiting this same Grandma in the nursing home,  I had an awful feeling that as I get older, I may never have a child who is able to look after me, care for me, visit me in a nursing home or hospital. It was almost a feeling of panic, not only would I be alone, but Hayden would be on his own if I were sick. Granted this is years in the future, but at the time it was a daunting thought for me.

Many times Hayden has surprised me with his insight and I have come to realize he comprehends a lot more than I realize. This was one of those times. I had no idea that it was even a thought of his that he'd try to take care of me. Like I said, it just tore my heart out when he said it, but at the same time I was overcome with a feeling of proudness that only a mother can feel. Apparently I should not be worrying too much about the future, for Hayden has a plan.

July 31, 2010

Backyard Picnic!

There's something fun about picnics. Maybe it's the packing of food in a cute picnic basket. Or perhaps it's the the act of spreading out a favorite blanket and sitting on it with loved ones. Or eating fun, portable food. Maybe it's even the word picnic. Pick-nick. It's a fun word to say. Whatever the reason- I love picnics. Jason and I used to go on picnics often when we were dating and first married.  We don't go on them nearly often enough now that we have kids. Occasionally we'll pack up a cooler and head out to a nearby lake, sometimes eating right there on the boat in the middle of the lake. Those are fun days and sometimes its simple moments like those that really seem to bring our family together.

I didn't have school this past Tuesday and wanted to do something fun with my boys. My mom had recently given us an old picnic basket and I'd been looking for an excuse to use it.

Hayden & Jarrett were excited and helped me back the basket. We even made sugar cookies that morning & the boys thought we needed to pack a whole dozen for the picnic. I had originally planned on taking them to a park to eat, but they wanted to go swimming in the backyard after we ate, so we decided to toss a blanket out under the shade tree behind our house. It didn't matter to them that we were only three feet from the patio, it was a picnic all the same to them.

I noticed the boys were unusually kind to each other- sharing their food, not bickering. They were even taking their time eating, rather than rushing through lunch so they could get back to playing. After they finished eating they took turns pushing each other on a little swing that hangs from the tree. It was such a sweet moment. Sitting there in the shade on a quilt made by my mother, watching my two boys play on the swing, I couldn't help but think "This is the life. These are the moments I live for."

We went swimming after lunch, the boys running back & forth between the pool & picnic basket to get a snack. When Jason came home from work that day the first thing they told him was that mommy took them on a picnic. I think the boys enjoyed our backyard lunch just as much as I did, so I see many more picnics in our future.

July 26, 2010

Hamster Havoc

We recently acquired two pet hamsters, or "mice," as my mother likes to call them. Each hamster has its own cage which is kept in each of the boys' bedrooms. The number one rule we have for the hamsters is Only Mommy & Daddy are Allowed to Open the Cage Door. Actually that's the only rule we have. This rule came about after our last hamster met an untimely death in an accident involving a toy John Deere hay baler. But that's a whole different story.

Last week I had a day off from school and was looking forward to a whole day alone with Hayden & Jarrett. No plans, nothing to do but play and be together. It was a nice feeling and such a change from my usual busy weekday schedule. Unfortunately, this peaceful feeling didn't last long. Shortly after breakfast Hayden came racing downstairs & into the kitchen yelling that one of the hamsters was out. I think I muttered a word (or two) that I won't repeat here, before following up him up the stairs and into Jarrett's bedroom. I shut the door behind me, hoping the little varmit hadn't escaped the bedroom yet.

I glanced around the room, looking for any movement on the floor, and that's when I saw Jarrett curled up on his bed crying. The critter will have to wait for now (the hamster, that is, not Jarrett) while I attend to my son. I picked him up, asked why he was crying, and between sobs he muttered, "Mommy mad? Try to hold hamster." I could see he was feeling real awful and guilty, so I spared a lecture but did remind him of the one and only rule of hamster ownership in this household.

My next mission was to locate the furry firecracker and return him to his proper dwelling. I found him quickly, in a corner, behind the dresser. As I bent down to pick him up I saw a blur of movement and he was gone. Turns out the little boogers are quick. Very quick. The process of finding the hamster, reaching for him, and missing him happened over and over. Each time I'd miss the boys would squeal with laughter and dance around. They were quickly confined to the bed because I was afraid they'd accidentally squish the little guy.

After 20 minutes of playing Hide & Seek, I called for back-up, also known as my mother. Now, she hates the hamsters anyway, so to say she was less than enthused would be an understatement. She was kind enough to come over anyway and through a process of rearranging the furniture to create a path that the hamster couldn't squeeze out of & escape- we caught him! Whew! Safely back in his cage.

I looked around Jarrett's room & commented on how it looked like it'd been ransacked. A rocking chair was overturned, books had fallen off the bookshelf, pillows thrown on the floor. What a mess I had to clean up. And then it happened....

Hayden slowly walked up to me and, with his head hanging, broke the news to me: his hamster was also out of its cage and on the loose. I swear to you as my mother is my witness- this actually happened. At this point both my mother & I began a rant of some choice words/phrases. It honestly crossed my mind to let the stupid thing remain lost and starve to death. But I am an animal lover, plus I had a vision of us living with the horrid odor of decaying hamster & that was enough to snap me back into reality.

We marched into Hayden's room with a better plan this time around: Locate, barricade, create path, block all possible exits, place cage at end of path, catch hamster. It worked much smoother this second time and we were done within ten minutes.

I decided to reiterate to the kids the importance of having rules & I had them repeat to me the one rule. They both knew the rule and promised to never ever open the doors again.

Just to be sure though both cages now have small luggage locks on them...

The story doesn't end there though- I went downstairs after the Rodent Roundup, grabbed the fish food, and discovered one of our fish floating upside down. I know statistics say that owning a pet can be comforting, can actually lower blood pressure & reduce stress. I used to believe that, but I'm not sure that applies to our household.

July 15, 2010

Kids Really Do Say the Darndest Things

Some of you may remember Art Linkletter's segment titled Kids Say the Darndest Things. Bill Cosby hosted a show with the same name about 10 years ago. Turns out- it's true. Kids really do say some funny things. Yesterday both of my boys gave examples.

Jarrett, my three year old, had just woke up from a nap and I laid down with him to cuddle as he woke up. He had gone to sleep holding a little John Deere lawn mower toy and as I put my arm around him to cuddle he informed me my arm was on his grass that he was mowing. I repositioned my arm and soon noticed a funky smell. I asked Jarrett if he tooted and without missing a beat he looks at me and says, "Is not me mommy. Is smoke from my mower."

Also yesterday I was swimming with my nine year old, Hayden. We were taking a break by the pool and I noticed him staring into space as if he were in deep thought. I asked what he was thinking about and expected he might say he enjoyed spending time with me during the summer. Or maybe he'd say how much he loved swimming. Instead he answered with one word and took me by surprise, "Boobs." 

And so the fascination begins... 

July 14, 2010

Big Hearted Hayden

My dad owns some land along the Platte River near Central City. As a fun "male bonding" trip my dad took Hayden & Jason, my husband, fishing last week. They packed up all their poles, fishing gear and headed for river. Jason and my dad were already planning a fish fry out at the farm to serve all the fish they were going to catch. Hayden was just looking forward to spending time with his daddy and Grandpa.

They arrived at the river and, even though it was a hot day, enjoyed relaxing along the water's edge, baiting, casting, and anxiously awaiting for a bite. The fish were indeed biting, but most of them were too small to take home, so they were thrown back into the river.

By the end of the afternoon they had only caught two fish big enough to take home. No matter, they guys were happy and Hayden was tickled to have caught something!

Upon arriving home my dad was getting ready to take the fish out of the water they'd been transported in and Hayden suddenly got concerned as to Grandpa's plans with the fish. Dad explained how he'd take them home, cut them up and get them ready to be eaten. Hayden didn't like that idea so much, and even though both Jason & my dad explained the process of fishing...with the final result being, well, a meal, Hayden was still not convinced.

Turns out dad and Jason didn't have the heart to take the fish away from Hayden, so they were temporarily put in my mother-in-law's whiskey barrel water fountain, until a new home could be found. Later that evening Jason & Hayden took the two fish over to the farm of a family friend. Those two lucky fish now live in a pond on the Epp's farm. Deana Epp reported that the fish are doing well and she has named them Hayden & Jarrett. My dad & Jason, on the other hand, are still hungry.

July 13, 2010

Gumballs and Rewards

One issue I think every parent has to deal with is how to discipline their children. Whether or not you have a special needs child, you will come to a point where you will have to chose a discipline method. Some parents chose to use time outs, others take away favorite toys/activities, some send a child to their room to "think about" when he has just done, and others use a reward system. We use a combination of the above, but focus mostly on the reward system.

Now let me begin by saying I didn't start out liking the idea of rewarding behavior. I didn't think kids should be rewarded for behaving in a way or doing something that was expected of them. That was before I had kids.

We learned quickly that the time out method didn't work well for Hayden. It didn't seem to phase him at all, and I really think that because of the way his brain works, he couldn't see a connection between sitting on the stairs and the offense he'd just committed. In some cases, it actually made his behavior worse- as he sat on the stairs he'd grow increasingly angry and end up in a raging fit that would last for up to two hours.

After reading an article on the importance of rewarding children for positive behavior I decided to give it a try. I made a chart and would give him a sticker for any positive behavior I saw. Whether it was putting his toys away without being asked or taking his plate to the kitchen after dinner, he got a sticker. Hayden seemed to enjoy the positive reinforcement. I enjoyed it because it was an easy system to use and didn't take much time. The hardest part was staying consistent and really being on top of it and remembering to reward even if we were away from home. I'd send a small sticker chart to my parents' if he were spending the weekend with them.

The only downfall of the reward system is that Hayden tends to tire of a method after an amount of time. We used the sticker system for a while, then moved on to a Behavior Bank. I made a little bank out of an old can and he'd get pennies for each positive behavior. However, he didn't have a concept of money at the time, so that wore off quickly.

Through the years I've had to get real creative. My latest attempt has been to use an old laminated gumball machine poster that I had when I was teaching kindergarten years ago. I hung the poster on the back of our front door so it's visible throughout the day. Then I cut circles out of different colors of construction paper. Any time I catch him doing a positive behavior, I give him a "gumball." I write the behavior on the gumball and he gets to place it on the poster. Some of the things he's earned gumballs for are: helping mommy unload the dishwasher, being good at the grocery store, and giving up a toy he was playing with so Jarrett could play with it. Again, these are all behaviors we expect from him, but I feel so much of my time is spent telling Hayden "Don't' tease your brother! Don't throw balls in the house! No yelling in the house!" that I really do need to focus on the positive things he does. It makes him feel proud and know that his parents are aware of the great things he does. And it also reminds me that he really is a super kiddo. I sometimes get so wrapped up in the extra work he is that I forget to notice the fantastic things about him.

Now onto the reward part! This is the first time we've tried adding a material reward to the system. After he has earned 25 gumballs (which he just did yesterday!!!) he gets to chose a reward. It might be a small toy, or a special overnight trip to Grandma's, a trip to the park, or a train ride at the local zoo. He gets to chose and, within reason, we'll accommodate. most of you know we had to give up our dog last month due to Jarrett's severe allergies. Hayden wanted another pet and decided on a hermit crab. We took him to the pet store last night and after examining the hermit crabs he decided against it because they, in his own words, "don't move fast." He decided he'd rather get hamster, which works out perfectly because we have a friend who is wanting to get rid of his daughters hamsters. We're planning to pick up the hamsters tonight and Hayden is so happy. He even said, "Good boy, get hamsters."

It's important to note that we don't give the gumballs excessively. He earns about one or two each day. We started this system the first week of June when school got out and it's taken him until now (July 13th) to earn his 25 gumballs. The idea isn't how quickly he earns them, but just that he does progressively earn them.

For now this is working. We'll continue with this as long as he seems to enjoy it. Nevertheless, I'm already thinking of what his next reward system could include and I've got some ideas up my sleeve.

July 11, 2010

What's in a Name?

If you've ever had the task of naming your baby, a new puppy, or maybe even your own business, you can relate to the frustration & excitement of coming up with a unique, individual name that you will be pleased with and not tire of. Coming up with the name of my first ever blog was similar to naming my children: making lists, e-mailing mom my top choices, annoying my husband any time a new name came to me, and calling my friend Mandy to get her opinion.

Some of the names were quickly dismissed, such as Sweet T. A friend of my from school calls me Sweet T, because my name (obviously) starts with a T. However, after doing a google search on this name it appears there is another female out there using this name as her, uh, Stage Name. And by "stage" I am referring to the kind that has a pole and perhaps some fake smoke for special effects. Other names were good possibilities, such as Talkative, and Sometimes Tacky, Tricia.

After two days I was finally ready to just settle on a name to get the task over with. Then last night, shortly before midnight, I was sitting at the dining room table with the computer and decided to make it simple. What does my life consist of? I glanced around the room and saw a Tonka dump truck sitting by my feet with a bed full of Hayden's rock collection. Right inside the back door I could see where sand had been tracked in, most likely on the bare feet of Jarrett after he'd been playing in the sandbox. On the kitchen counter was a bug habitat that's currently housing a cocoon, as well as a plastic baggie full of locust shells that Hayden has been gathering.

Then it came to me. My life consists of dirt, bugs, and a house full of love. So the blog name was born. Finally.

I hope you will enjoy reading this blog. For years my father has been encouraging me to share my writing, and any of my friends will tell you I certainly have a lot to say. I have no definite plans for a "theme" of my blog, it will most likely consist of a potpourri of stories relating to my family, daily life, school, and the struggles of raising a child with special needs.

That will all come in time, but for now a name has been chosen and a blog is born!