Halloween is upon us. I wonder when I lost the ghoulish feeling. It used to be my favorite holiday. I suppose in so many ways it still is, for the memories alone. Owen doesn’t completely understand what holidays mean. We sing “single bells single bells single all the way” daily it seems and he asks about going to see the Easter bunny and Santa Claus when we drive by Cabela’s where I took him to see both. When the Easter bunny left I told Owen that he went to visit Santa. So now both are living happily at the North Pole. Where does the Easter bunny stay when he isn’t visiting Santa is often my thought. Owen is only now starting to like anything sweet so candy wasn’t a motivator and dressing up for Halloween was extremely difficult for him. Owen doesn’t like hats on or anything covering his face unless he wants to cover his face. And he really doesn’t want others to have hats on their heads unless they are a person that’s supposed to have their hat on their head. Owen sees me as a picture that has to look the same every day. If I take my glasses off to clean them or to rub my eyes Owen will yell “summer glasses” wanting me to put them back on. After years of trying he will let me pull my hair back or put a hat on, sometimes, without trying to pull my hair back down or take the hat off. It helps Owen to process when everything looks the same. Routine is not only about doing something over and over but also about how something or someone looks as well. This year I got Owen a clown costume. He tried it on and he left his hat on for several minutes. These are huge steps for my sweet baby O. Today and always know this is one moment in time. Find your joy, live your dreams out loud, and know that you are important. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen’s smile is what gets me through our days. I pray out loud to God for calm, thinking that being loud is probably not promoting calm. Owen read himself to sleep last night, holding his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar and a small toy bus, with his stuffed “catApillWer” right next to him. There is great joy in seeing your child “read”. When he finished his bath he was ready to read. “Wanna read a book”, he said. He had already read his bath book and was eager to start reading our nighttime story. I let him choose, knowing which one he would select. I think he has all of his books memorized now. We are working on spelling and it is one of the activities I try to do in the car to preoccupy him from telling me the directions he thinks we are going. He yells, “turn right turn right” and wants me to go through each of the steps until our destination. I thought I was helping him when I explained mommy turns in different directions on our journeys, but it may have complicated it for him. He’s now constantly concerned as to which way we are turning. It may have also added to my stress, complicating the drive. If I don’t turn the direction he thinks we should be going he screams or cries. You would think I would have learned when I casually said that we weren’t going to go at a stoplight until it turned purple. Now he screams out “purple” when I don’t move fast enough when it is green. This causes more complications because the red lights already upset him. That’s when I focus on his smile. Share your joy, share your smile. You never know when someone will need to see it. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen kept stopping on our way to the bus stop, wanting to hug me. I told him he could hug me once we got there. We got out of bed later than we should have so we were running a little behind, even though we still had plenty of time. We stood waiting for the bus and Owen was all smiles and happiness. He hugged me multiple times, playing with my hair, and saying, “big hug”. I don’t know if I understood how much I needed them too. Emotionally it has been rough the last few days. Nothing is calm, everything is happening, and the world is still spinning. But here is my little boy giving me exactly what I need. Yesterday was like throw potty training out the window day. He was dry all night though. The unexpected is the expected for me and I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop or the screaming to happen. He’s been doing really great at school and for this I am thankful. When I picked him up from school he was calm in the car until I turned right at a stoplight. He was yelling “turn right” but as soon as I did he started crying, loud crying. He was upset when only a few minutes before he was saying “momma change” meaning he was ready to go home. This is when it’s hard. He says many words but he doesn’t always know how to express his feelings. I think back to when he couldn’t express himself at all. The screaming, hitting, and anger was a constant struggle for us. He stopped crying almost as quickly as it started and he was back to being happy we were heading home. The afternoon had flown by and we’ve played a lot. Through struggles I still see progress. His emotions are my emotions and I always pray for good days. Find your strength, push forward, and make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen got into bed with me at some point. I think I was too tired to even realize what time it was. Thankfully he fell back asleep easily and so did I. When I woke for the day he was at the foot of my bed. I have a rail on the side of the bed, but I have no footboard. It always worries me that he will fall out of the bed; fortunately, he never has. He woke in a good mood and I woke determined to be in a good mood. He actually got out of bed without me telling him ten times and he went to the potty without hesitation. We’ve had a few bumps in the road for the potty train, but they are minor when you consider all of the moments of time leading up to this day. I still can’t believe it and I still wait for the ”what’s going to happen next” phase. After years of Owen being in diapers, we are here at this stage. I want to say finally, but I know all of the moments in time my sweet baby O had to go through to get to this point. It hasn’t been a walk in the park for him, so it’s more of a huge celebration for life and progress. I try not to dwell on the woulda, coulda, shoulda beens, but instead rejoice in the now. I get mad at myself for not figuring out ways to help him sooner or get us both through something differently, but here we are and my little miracle amazes me every day. We read books together yesterday and played games, we talked and sang songs. I’m thankful for the interactions and cherish these moments. We were in the car several times over the weekend and I felt like there was a lot of progress with that as well. I got him a book to keep in the car and he dropped it several times but was able to pick it up with his feet. The one time he couldn’t he cried and cried until I was able to turn a corner and it moved to where he could get it. Even through his tears, I felt like he was calmer than he normally is. He embraced the book idea, figured out how to pick it up with his feet, and “reads” it periodically as we are going down the road. Find joy in the little things, be proud of your accomplishments, and know that you are a lot stronger than you think. Smiles to all and donut daze!
What’s your name, I asked Owen, multiple times, multiple ways. He didn’t answer. I started to panic. I asked him one more time, “your name is”. “Ohhh win”, he said. I felt the air return into my lungs. It took him years to answer that question. I’ve always wanted him to be connected with who he is and his name, but he still doesn’t always answer the question. I know he will, but it still catches me off guard when he doesn’t answer it. He’s shown such growth over the last few months I don’t want him to go backward, even though I know that is not what’s happening I still can’t help but get anxious as the moments go by when he won’t answer me. I ask him all the time what his favorite color is. He has never answered this question. I wait for the day he can tell me. I know his favorite food is veggie straws because he wants them all the time, but I don’t know if he understands the concept of something being a favorite choice. I always tell him my favorite color is pink, hoping he makes the association. I want him to know that he doesn’t have to have a favorite color, maybe he has a favorite texture instead. I try not to dwell on the questions he can’t answer or doesn’t answer, but instead rejoice in the progress he has made. We played a board game together. He rolled the dice and moved the pieces, counting the pegs forward. He didn’t scream or get mad, he actually played the abbreviated version with me, going through all the motions I asked of him. I can tell how much he is learning from school and church. His patience level is increasing as well. And his need for input is huge today, as I try to get him to stop rolling his chicken nuggets in his hair first, quickly followed by inserting it into his toes, before it goes in his mouth. Through life’s challenges, I see victory. We all got something. Be thankful for the little things and know that tomorrow is a brand new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I wonder if I will ever get used to the screaming. It comes when you least expect it and it doesn’t come when you most expect it unless it does. I stood in my bedroom with the light on. I waited for the screams and the sound of Owen’s running feet to turn it off. I was only in there for a moment, changing my shirt, but generally, that is enough for him to want the light off. He doesn’t want the lights on in our bedrooms unless he wants them on. But this morning no scream for the light to be off. He woke me with a scream this morning, well it was our second or third time waking, I’m not sure. We were laying there, I was mostly awake, and the short burst of screams started about two inches from my face. He answered before I could even question it, “why are you screaming wanna big hug”. I told him that I would give him a hug but hugs did not need to be screamed about. It’s going to be a sensory input kinda day. He was listening great for it not even being six o’clock in the morning. He went to the potty all by himself. He has only been wet three nights in the last three weeks, since using the Depends guards. These have helped with the transition from diapers to underwear. The training pants were too confusing for him, thinking they were still diapers. He stood crying in the living room, wanting to go bowling, asking the schedule one more time. The screams happened immediately as I told him that we couldn’t go bowling yet. I tried to explain that the alley wasn’t open this early in the morning, but that made him cry more. I went over his schedule with him for the next ten minutes and he finally walked away to play on his tablet. More screams came a few minutes later, but these were the burst o’matic happy screams. They still catch me off guard and come randomly as he gets excited about something or tries to mimic tones he hears on his tablet. He came running to me asking about bowling once again. I tried to explain the time again and his response, “put your shoes on”. I said, “I love you son”. He said, “I love you son”. I told him that I was mommy and he was my son. He said, “ I am your son”. These are the moments when his language skills amaze me and I’m thankful for how far we’ve come. Through the challenges of life, there will be many victories. Celebrate your victories no matter if they are big or small. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
There is a moment in time where you’ve got to decide to let go and move forward. The stress of yesteryear can weigh you down. I’m trying to listen to my own words and be kind to my soul. Owen woke in the middle of the night, but quickly went back to sleep once he got in bed with me. It seemed like we both struggled to get up this morning. But once we were up he was ready to go. The last few days before we walk out the door Owen has started asking for his swing. I hang it in the doorway on a pull-up bar. He gets very anxious about it. He wants me to go through all the steps of his day with him until he gets back home to swing. He will say, “and then” after each step, knowing what comes next, but not stopping until I say what he wants to hear. On the way to the bus stop, he kept asking about the moon. We couldn’t see it. The sky was still dark enough, but the clouds and a slight fog were hiding it from our view. I could hear the little squeal of anxiety coming and going in his voice as he tried to find the moon. We saw it so clearly the day before, singing and talking about it at the bus stop. Didn’t the moon know it was now part of our routine. It can’t be hidden from us when we were walking. The art of distraction started. On the way home from school, in the bright daylight, Owen kept saying, “see de moon”. He sang about the moon and I was happy to hear him sing. He asked for his swing as soon as we had our house in our sights. Live outside the box, cherish the littlest of victories, and listen to your heartstrings; and “don’t put your chicken in your toes”. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Do not eat hair, I’ve said it in a thousand ways in a thousand days but yet Owen still eats hair. I can’t stand the feeling of a hair in my mouth but he is constantly trying to bite my hair and eat it. I can’t imagine the input he gets from this, but he has been doing this since he was a baby. I’ve expressed my concerns over the years with his doctors and therapists, but they all said to find ways to distract him and not let him eat it. Easier said than done, I tell ya. Right now he is extremely concerned with his teeth and constantly has his fingers in his mouth or trying to bite something. He’s lost many of his baby teeth, with some causing great concern and others not as much. I try to explain to him that he is getting “brand new teff” and that they will grow back in. We watch videos and play with apps, hoping that it helps him understand. This morning, as we were walking to the bus stop, he kept saying, “see de moon”. He would stop every few feet and look up. This excites me to see him looking in the sky towards the moon. Many times I’ve asked him, “do you see the moon”, pointing towards the sky. He has a hard time looking at objects that I point to. He doesn’t understand where the end of my pointed finger goes. I try to give him more details, “look up in the sky”, I will tell him, holding in emotions that run from sadness to joy. I rejoice when he looks towards the moon because I know the progress he went through to gaze into the sky. We stood at the bus stop, him holding my hand and he said, “do you see de moon I see de moon de moon sees me God bwess me and God bwess ewe”, our version of a song I learned as a child. I told him God’s holding up the moon for us to see. The bus came around the corner and off my sweet baby O went to school. Find joy in your world around you and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Today was a teacher planning day at Owen’s school. This meant he didn’t go. He actually handled it really well because he was going to spend time with his grandma. It still took him a while to process everything and he didn’t want to leave the house, but we got out the door. He still knew he would be going to church tonight and for that I’m thankful. The holidays are quickly approaching and it means more changes in our routine. It’s hard for him to understand why something is different. I am starting to see a difference in how Owen handles it when go places together or if I stay someplace I’m not supposed to be, interrupting the routine. For the longest time, I couldn’t stay at my parents' house when he was there. It certain wasn’t part of the routine and it wasn’t what he was used to. Owen sees the world partly as a picture in his mind and when it isn’t just so then it is a no go. The holidays make me even more aware of how hard it can be for Owen. For him, he doesn’t generally have the meltdowns in the new setting or when we are out of routine but they come later. He still talks about our electricity being out months ago from someone hitting a pole. When we got in the car this morning something upset him but all he could do was scream and point. He couldn’t explain what was wrong and I knew we had to move forward. It may take him months or years to explain it. That’s the amazing part about Owen’s voice, he holds onto memories from years earlier and tells me what he can when he can. This is the magical part of our journey. I’ve learned about the world through my son’s eyes and I know that I’m thankful for all that he has taught me. When we take a moment to reflect on the goodness of the world it gives you a whole new set of emotions. Let your light shine, know that you are worthy, and today is one moment in time. Smiles to all and donut daze!
“Milk”, he yelled from his bed, hours after he’d gone to sleep, and he was still asleep. Owen doesn’t eat a lot of sweets, very few in fact, but the dude loves his “shockuwit mulk pwease”. I’ve been having our groceries delivered and the chocolate milk magically appears on our doorstep. It feels like the golden days when there was someone that delivered your milk to you. And it helps me beyond measure to open my door and have everything sitting there. Well, the store was out of chocolate milk, so I actually went to a different store to get his beloved chocolate milk. However, I got the unsweetened kind. When I put the unsweetened chocolate milk in his cup a little later he asked me for “shockuwit mulk pwease”. It didn’t dawn on me that it was unsweetened and he wouldn’t like it as well. Before I started getting our groceries delivered I always switched back and forth between sweet and unsweet, so I thought nothing of it as I got it. Night two I realized that he didn’t want the milk because it was unsweetened. The whole night he was upset because it wasn’t the milk of his dreams. And then in his dreams, he cried out for milk numerous times. Momma will be getting sweet milk today. Luckily he still drank it and he will drink water or juice, but this is a reminder of many things to me. He is growing and now he was able to tell me what he wanted; this is huge to me. The importance of food choices has always been a concern for us and since early on I worked with him to get him to try different textures, colors, smells, and shapes of foods. Many times over the years food has been thrown across the room because it didn’t pass his food rules. We are learning and growing together in a world that seems all but routined when we need it to be very routined. One moment at a time, one food choice at a time and one smile at a time get us through our day. Find your inspiration and know that you are important. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I'm Lynn Browder. Owen's Mommy. The best moments in time are when I get to see the smile on his face and that giggle come from his heart.