Monday, November 21, 2011

Recent Fun!

Do not worry! We are not dead! These past few months have been a complete whirlwind. We have moved four times since May and pretty much feel like we have gone crazy! Despite the crazy we have done a few fun fun things. When Dave moved to Pocatello to live with the Indians we decided to visit one of our favorite spots. Rexburg! We started our day going to the Idaho Falls Zoo. The kids loved it! At least they look excited!

 After the Zoo we headed to Rexburg and hit a few hot spots. We ended up at one of the most delicious places around. Nielsen's Frozen Custard. If you haven't been there, SHAME! (And please go as soon as life lends you the opportunity, it is amazing!)

 Love my handsome boys!

 We visited the Vineyard Gardens Pumpkin patch. It was a lot of fun!

 Let's get ready to RUMBLE!

 Catchin a few needed Z's in the bouncy house!

On October 8th we participated in the walk for Autism Speaks. It was held at the Rio Tinto stadium which is pretty awesome. I know the Farr's can appreciate its' awesomeness!

 We were so happy to have family there to support Lincoln and Autism Speaks in spreading awareness for Autism spectrum disorder. Lovin' on his grandpa!

 Just waiting to start. Sure glad I had been practicing my speed walking. It was brutal out there!
Lincoln was a champ and showed everyone up in speed and cuteness!

Dave and I were lucky enough to attend a BYU Cougar football game. Despite the cold, it was a lot of fun. I am still amazed at how people react during sporting events. Don't get me wrong, I love a good game and fair competition but is just a game!

Halloween pretty much rocks at my parents' house. Halloween day could not have been more beautiful. We carved these pumpkins outside with no jackets on. It was bliss! The pumpkins didn't turn out so bad either.

 We had to pay homage to Toy Story one our favorite movies and my brother Jairus, did us proud by carving his favorite cereal box character. Do you see what I am talking about?

 Benson and his cousin Sage were so cute as Tinkerbell and a lost boy. Lincoln was sick but he made the cutest Peter Pan I ever did see!

 My parents yard looked awesome! I thought it looked pretty scary. They handed out warm churros and hot chocolate and projected Thriller on their garage for trick-or-treaters to enjoy!

 Benson could not. get. enough. of the fog!

 These last pictures didn't turn out very well but they tell a great story! My sister and brother-in-law gave Lincoln some sessions at Courage Reins. It is a ranch where children with disabilities can come and get therapy using horses. Lincoln will soon be going every Saturday and we are hopeful it will help him with some of his anxiety and maybe even some communication. The people who work there are amazing with Lincoln and I am so grateful for their patience in working with him.

They work on signing go, stop, more, horse, fun, all done and many more. Lincoln loved petting the horses mane. It was amazing!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rethinking Success

suc·cess    [suhk-ses]

1: outcome, result

2a : degree or measure of succeeding b : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

3: one that succeeds

As I have pondered the many facets of my life raising a child with a disability, I have identified my need to change the way I approach and view success not only in Lincoln's life, but in mine as well. What is success? How is it measured?

As noted above success can be defined as a favorable or desired outcome. My difficulty has been changing my perspective and attitude toward what I see as favorable. I used to daydream about my future children and family in a panoramic view, imagining their birth and childhood, gaining excitement about the typical successes of talking, playing, and just learning. Not in my 360 degree view did I foresee how those views of success would need to be tweaked.

Too often success is measured only by what one can see and is even then compared to what "should be". It has been a blessing to step outside this definition of success and make it my own. If I were to define success as I have come to understand it, it would read something like this;

1: the act of persevering and moving toward a desired or favorable outcome

I have realized that sometimes just moving forward is a success. So often I become frustrated and feel hopeless while trying to achieve a desired outcome. It is then requisite for me to step back and see the small and simple successes achieved along the way. Today I witnessed several small steps and successes in Lincoln's life and in mine.

I am so grateful for the time I have to reevaluate my life and my successes while helping Lincoln with his. I am happy and hopeful knowing that if Lincoln and I just put one foot in front of the other working toward our goals that we will find success not only in the end but also in the journey. I am happy that success needn't always be measured in leaps and bounds but in tiny footsteps as well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One of those days...

Yesterday, was one of those days. One of those days ending in tears. The tears came because it was the only thing I could do to find comfort. Have you ever been anxious about stopping crying, because it is then when you will have to face reality and the emptiness you feel? I have. I did. On one of those days. I felt so alone. So lost.

That day had been a day of frustration. Frustration in not knowing how to help my child speak. Frustration in feeling I am doing this alone while my husband is away. Frustration in helping Lincoln do the same thing over and over and not seeing the progress. Frustration in seeing other children Lincoln's age accomplish things with ease that he may never do. Frustration with the same uncertain answer to same wanting question. How long? How long will it be this hard? How long will I have "one of those days" far too often? How long until feeling the only thing keeping the tears at bay is my will to keep them there will be over? How long?

The silver lining of these feelings is recognizing and being grateful for a God who gives us days, gives me days. Beautiful sunrises that come with a sense of newness and strength. Sometimes I wonder how I can keep going. Then I realize, you just do. Even when things are hard. Because even during the hard times there are wonderful things to experience it is just a matter of me choosing what I want to experience and what I want to feel. This doesn't mean I won't experience one of those days...but that maybe they will become fewer and fewer. So here to is to new days, relishing the good times while learning from the hard times. Lincoln, I will always keep going for you. I love you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I love you through and through!

Last weekend our family ventured into the wild blue yonder that is Strawberry Reservoir to attend a family reunion with Dave's family. We are so blessed to have such wonderful family! However, I will admit sometimes family functions get me a little down. Probably not for any reasons one might think. It is hard to watch Lincoln's cousin's, many who are his same age, who have no trouble expressing what they want, need, or feel. Who don't have complete meltdowns when things may be too noisy or crowded. Who I can watch walk up and down stairs without sensing an impending tumble. Who can wrap their arms around your neck and tell you how much they love you. As I have pondered these reasons, sometimes asking why, I realize more and more how much need I have for growth and understanding. But more importantly, how much I have grown.

I'll be honest, thinking about those things did not make me feel better about the situation. Surprising I know. I tried to change my perspective by picturing these observations in a different light. Although Lincoln cannot speak, he does express what he wants, needs, and feels. His "language" is not always clear, but it is there. Bless his heart for being patient with me while I am continually humbled and try learning to speak his language.

And while Lincoln is so sensitive to crowds of people and noise, and though he may be slow and stumble as he scales stairs, he tries. He tries everyday to face and overcome his fear of noise and crowds. He tries and is so proud when after much difficulty he climbs a flight of stairs. Can I tell you how much I love when he reaches out for my hand when going down stairs? He knows I will keep him safe. He trusts me.

I feel I have cried an ocean over not being able to "hear" I love you mommy. And that dream is still something I hold to be priceless. However, even though I cannot hear it, I can see it and feel it. When Lincoln looks in my eyes and smiles, climbs on my lap, or simply holds my hand, I know he loves me and I am grateful for those moments.

So instead of asking why, I am determined to seek how and what. How can I better understand him? How can I make facing his fears easier for him to bear? And what can I do to ensure Lincoln never questions my love for him? I am so grateful to experience life one day at a time. I am able to learn from yesterday, try to be better today, and prepare and apply lessons learned tomorrow.

A book I have read to Lincoln since he was born reminds me of my love for him. It reads: "I love you through and through. I Love your top side, I love your bottom side. I love your inside and outside. I love your happy side and your sad side, your silly side and your mad side. I love your fingers and toes, your ears and nose. I love your hair and eyes, your giggles and cries. I love you running and walking, silent and talking. I love you through and through, yesterday, today, and tomorrow too."

Thank you Lincoln, for letting me love you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Here it goes...

As you can tell I have been having a hard time deciding what the fate of this blog will be. Do I write my true feelings, things I am experiencing? Some days I am still unsure. I feel as though it is a constant tug of war with myself in baring my soul as it relates to raising a child with a disability, which affects every aspect of who I am. It is amazing how going through trials really strips you of any pride you may have and brings you to a new place of humility. This past year or so I feel as though I have really been seeing the world with new eyes. It is like looking through a kaleidoscope, the end is not clear, but there are many beautiful colors, shapes, and new things to discover. These are some of my discoveries. Here it goes.

Someone I never would have met. A few months ago, Lincoln and I were out in the foyer of our church building. This seemed to be the best place for us considering I didn't have to be as worried about Lincoln distracting those around us with his frequent yells, his somehow perfect precision in nailing others with Goldfish, or trying to quiet down an impending tantrum. As Lincoln roamed the foyer he jabbered with his "Chinese babble" tied with random inflection choices. I sat on a couch next to a woman and her three curly-headed girls. This is when I first met Joshua. Joshua was a tall, built, teenager sprouting the common signs of adolescence; body odor and acne. However this isn't what drew me to him. It also wasn't his high-waisted pants and suspenders. It was his excitement as he sat and held on to my arm while singing with high-pitched joy Hickory Dickory Dock. I was certain this must have been his favorite nursery rhyme. He finished and then was off roaming around saying hi to others while beginning Three Blind Mice. All I could do was smile. His happiness made me happy.

Just then the woman, Cindy, sitting next to me apologized for his behavior telling me Joshua has autism. I of coarse said there was no need for an apology and then pointed to Lincoln. Cindy understood. I can't explain my relief and excitement to speak with someone who understood. Cindy asked if Lincoln was in speech therapy as it was apparent the sounds escaping his mouth were not "words". I told her he was but the progress seemed next to nothing. I explained my concern that Lincoln may never speak. To my surprise, Cindy said Joshua was the same way as a little boy. Just as we looked over at Joshua he began a new song with as much joy as the first. Cindy looked back at me and said in a light-hearted tone, "this is what I prayed for!". Cindy's story about her faith and prayers for Joshua to speak was published in a religious magazine. If you are interested, it can be found here.

I was humbled. So often I feel as though I am trying to conquer this challenge on my own. However, almost daily I am reminded that this feat needs faith. Thank goodness I don't have to do this alone.

I relayed to Cindy how amazing I thought she was. Look how far she had come. She is the mother of six children, one with autism. How did she accomplish this, and with all of her hair intact. She thanked me for the compliment and then told me that one day I would be the mom whom others viewed with amazement. Both of our eyes began to well up with tears. I will be honest, for a moment I did not want to be that mom. I wanted to be just an ordinary mom raising an ordinary kid living an ordinary life. Once again me wanting to take the easy road. However, that is not my calling. I don't feel this is any person's calling who goes through any sort of trial, whether it be addiction, sickness, loss of a loved one or whatever it may be. We must wake up each morning, put our pants on one leg at a time and realize our longing for ordinary will not be, but that our lives can be extraordinary if we make it so.

I thought about what I had said about Lincoln's speech progress being next to none. Then I thought...maybe to an ordinary mothers standards. Just like Joshua made small and simple gains I realized Lincoln really had made extraordinary gains during speech with his eye contact, his ability to stay at an activity for more than five seconds, and so much more. I was so grateful in that moment to remember those tender mercies that were Lincoln's small and wonderful successes.

I looked back at Lincoln in that foyer and though I realized the long road ahead, I knew there was hope. There is always hope.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Welcome to Holland

This was a wonderful description of what it is like to raise a child with a disability.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip-to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager aniticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going yo Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you  must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would have never met. It's just a different place.

It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy then Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.

And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is very significant loss.

But...if you spend your life mourning that fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Lincoln David Parkinson was born on August 31, 2007. He weighed in at 8lbs. and 9oz. and was as the saying goes a "healthy, bouncing baby boy". Lincoln was perfect. He had my nose and my eyes, daddy's skin tone and lips. I loved him. I was so excited to be his mom and to see where this new life would take my life. I dreamed about the day he would say his first word, wondered what his favorite toys would be and was certain his life would be just as I had always imagined.
    Today marked a day in my life I never imagined. Today my sweet Lincoln was diagnosed with Classic Autism. As Dave and I sat in a small, white room we were given news that completely altered any life plans I had made. As I sat listening to Dr McCoy telling us of our situation I kind of couldn't believe that I was "that mom" who had a child with a disability.
    I read a book called "The Barbers Song" where the author wrote these profound words, "How quickly the seasons of life change. A short time after we started our life as husband and wife, Arlene conceived our first child. Although we were stepping into a time that would give us great joy, I think we were fortunate not to have been able to see the challenges that were a part of our future. If this had been possible, we might have missed much happiness and growth in our efforts to sidestep the pain that lay ahead."
    As I thought about the point of this, I thought, "would I have changed my path had I known what we would be facing and the many challenges this would bring?" I really thought about that question and as I was completely honest with myself I realized I wouldn't change a thing. For me, that realization was a big deal. I seem to be one of those who tends to take the easy road rather than the road less traveled. I have come to realize I am not taking the seemingly smooth road I had expected. Instead I am taking a road with many bumps, forks, and hard to read signs. However, this unknown road can become familiar, easier to navigate, and even smoother as I work with my family and professionals in making our own roadmap.
   I also know I wouldn't change a thing because I was blessed with the most loving, amazing three-year-old I could have dreamed of. He just happens to have autism. As I have thought more about the diagnosis, I have realized this doesn't change how sweet Lincoln's kisses are, or his smile that can melt my heart, or his amazingly happy demeanor. The fact is, I know Lincoln was sent to our family, to me, for a reason. I know I am just beginning to learn the amazing things he will teach me. I am now so happy and at peace that I am "that mom". My perfect bouncing baby boy is still perfect just in a different way I had imagined. Lincoln, I know this diagnosis doesn't define you and I want you to know I love you and that you will always be my favorite Lincoln.