Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dare to be Different

Meet the new host of a children's television program in England. Cerrie Burnell was born with a limb deficiency and is missing a portion of one of her arms. This girl is freakin' adorable. She was hired, not to fill a minority quota by hiring a woman with a disability, but because she is "bright and engaging." Which is more than obvious.

Here's the kicker. Some parents are outraged. They're terrified that this girl will scare their children...give them nightmares. Right. How dare she go around being different. And in front of children? NO!

What do these parents expect to do if their kid runs into a person with disabilities in the grocery store or at school? In order to protect these kids, should I lock Reid in a bell tower for the rest of his life so his limb deficiency doesn't frighten anyone?

If this same issue was about ethnic background rather than a disability, these parents would be called racists. This is no different than discrimination against race, religion or sexual preference. It makes me sad that some parents are unwilling to use this to teach their kids about acceptance and instead they learn the very opposite. Kids are born with an open mind. If they fear this kind of difference, I would say it has a lot to do with their parents.

I realize people of all ages are naturally curious and occasionally apprehensive about disabilities. But it has been my experience that kids accept this kind of thing very easily. Of course they have questions, as do parents. Though parents more often avoid the subject and kids like to ask. And asking leads to accepting. I'm always more than happy to talk about Reid's leg when asked. I much prefer that a kid asks than is shushed by his parents. If they're old enough to ask, they tend to be old enough to understand. And once they have an answer, they move on. So far, I have not met a kid afraid of Reid because of his leg.

It seems as though the world has come quite a ways in it's acceptance of people with disabilities. They used to be locked away. And now we see people like Cerrie hosting children's shows. Awesome. But at the same time we live in a medically developed world where people can choose to abort children at the first sign of a disability long before they have a chance at life. How does that factor into acceptance?

I say way to go BBC for overlooking a disability and hiring this charming girl. Maya and Miguel on PBS has a character, Andy, with with the same. And even Clifford has a three-legged dog. We're getting there. Honestly. If kids can learn to embrace it while they're young and impressionable, maybe they'll grow up just a little better for it.

Here's a clip from the Today show last week which sparked my outrage for intolerant parents and love for the BBC and Cerrie Burnell.


...with a capital T that rhymes with G that stands for Grayden.

So not only has Gray found where we keep the spices, but has learned to unscrew the lids. I can't tell you how many times this morning I've swept up cinnamon.

Mom...your house is SO not Grayden-proof.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Practice Parenthood

Thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook, I've recently reconnected with some of my most favorite kids in the whole world. Only they're not kids anymore. And I just can't even believe it.

Me with all the kids right before I moved.

My senior year of high school I babysat for a full time job. Ann, the mom, worked 12 hour shifts in the ER 3-4 days a week and occasional weekends. I got early dismissal from school so I could pick the younger two up from a neighbor and the oldest up from jr. high and get back just in time for Tara to walk home from school herself. Then we all had homework and dinner and chores and baths and bedtime and sometimes soccer practice or birthday parties and even school skate night. I stayed for the middle of the night feeding with the baby until Ann came home at 2-3am and I drove myself home.

Cute baby Madison

Ann had four kids in a pretty big age range...Brianne was 11, Tara 8, Derek 3 and Madison was just six weeks when I started babysitting. I don't remember it being hard or burdensome. (How is that possible?) In fact it was quite the opposite. I loved it. I couldn't have asked for a better job. I deeply and truly LOVE those kids.

Poor Derek sound a sleep in the family room.

When I moved away to go to college, they had saved up their own money so they could take me out do dinner and even gave me a going away gift. I laugh just thinking about my 17 year old self with four kids at Applebees. I was more then excited to go. I thought it was so sweet and really fun. I don't remember being nervous about it in the slightest. And now, with my own kids, I don't think I'd even attempt taking just three of them to a sit down place alone.

Madison and I had matching outfits.

Though I was really responsible with things like this, I was certainly oblivious to what a big job this was. It wasn't until I had my own kids that I realized what Ann was trusting me with. I watched them all pass milestones and adjust to life with Ann as a single mom. Though I did my best to help them through it all, I just didn't grasp it's significance.

I occasionally brought over my box of costumes. Tara LOVED the fancy dresses. I don't think I could have paid Brianne to put one on. But whether or not she admits it, she had fun sometimes, too.


Derek and Brianne

Brianne...who stuffed her shirt with a pillow.
If you can't tell by her arms she was super skinny.

I was way beyond excited to hear from Brianne and Tara on Facebook. Who are now (I'm guessing) 18 and 21. That's nuts. I expect everything to stay as I left it. And now they're grown ups and beautiful. I saw them occasionally when I was home from college visiting. They all came to my wedding, but that was nearly 7 years ago. So the nice friendship request on Facebook has had me thinking about these kids a lot lately. I miss them.

The neighbor kids came over quite often to play, too. I can't remember their names but the little girl wrote an essay about me in school...she wanted to be a babysitter when she grew up.

I don't think anything could have better prepared me for motherhood. I never really freaked out about having my first. In fact caring for him was very natural for me. I'm sure it's because I had done it before. Thanks for letting me practice on your kids, Ann. You're a brave woman.

Me and the kids at my wedding.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Better Late Than Never

It’s an unusually slow blogging week for me. I actually have time to write and nothing interesting enough to write about. So since I’ve missed Flashback Fridays the last few weeks, I thought I’d make up for it today. Friday’s keep getting busier. I’m having a hard time keeping up.

I know I’ve shared embarrassing moments before. And I don't often allow myself to get really embarrassed. I have been known to draw attention to myself in otherwise embarrassing situations for shear entertainment purposes. It’s the subtly embarrassing things that I find much harder to cope with while experiencing them. Though it only takes a moment before I’m ready to share it with the world for a good laugh.

This was three years ago, probably to this very week. The end of my pregnancy with Reid was so miserable. He sat in my birth canal for two weeks. I was walking around at 7 centimeters dilated and still not in labor. So needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the house and missed a couple weeks of church. Then I missed church again when he was born…I was still in the hospital on Sunday. And I missed church several weeks after he was born. Though physically, it was my easiest recovery, coming off the hormones from that one was an emotional train wreck. Receiving the news of amputation in your child’s future is pretty rough to cope with through pregnancy hormones and I just wasn’t ready for all the woman at church who, with no propriety, unbundle your infants and rip off their socks to adore their cute baby feet. I know I would have broken down in tears every time some one mentioned Reid’s lack of toes.

I realize that was a long explanation when all I really wanted to get across is that I hadn’t been to church for nearly two months and was really missing it…not to mention missing my young women. Anyway, without telling Spencer I picked a date I would make it back to church and mentally prepared myself for that date. Well Spencer was serving in the stake presidency at the time and that date happened to be the first in a long line of ward conferences he needed to attend. So it turned out I was on my own to have myself plus two kids ready for 9:00am church. Which now doesn’t sound too bad, but at the time it was. It was the first time I left the house alone with two kids. Or really had a need to get myself ready for anything in nearly two months.

The morning was hectic and rushed, but I was ready with the kids and in my seat just in time for the meeting to start. Things were going smoothly. There is always some one around at church to hold your baby and hand your toddler fruit snacks. So no major problems. Until half way through the meeting I looked down and realized I was wearing two different shoes. One brown. One black. With black tights. In my defense, the shoes were very similar styles, heel the same height and width. It was easy not to notice while walking in them.

I looked around to see who was already laughing at me and no one seemed to be noticing. So I calmly crossed my legs at the ankle and tucked them under my seat and tried not to draw attention. Really, rather than hide, I wanted to go up to the front and stand at the pulpit and announce it so we could all have a good laugh and I wouldn’t have to explain it to everyone or wonder who was noticing. But that’s not really how things go.

I deal much better with embarrassment when I can tell a funny story and laugh about it rather than walk the halls with the people behind me snickering at my expense. But whatever. I stuck it out through the rest of church. Like I said, I was happy to be back. And no permanent damage done. I didn’t lose any friends over it.

And though I wouldn’t want to repeat it…it is pretty embarrassing. It somehow seems worth it for a good story.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Look Who We've Got Our Hanes On NOW!

NON-PARENTAL WARNING: This post may contain material not suitable for persons without children. Rated for bribery, bathroom language, and toilet-training references.

So I mentioned that Reid thought turning three would magically make him potty-trained. Well that's pretty much how it went down.

Reid got #2 down like a year ago. He just doesn't like getting his business done in a diaper. So all year I've been thinking the rest would follow shortly. We had made the big potty training effort last fall with charts and rewards and the whole bit. But to no avail, Reid just wasn't ready. I'm not sure if it was laziness or lack of control, but whatever, it didn't happen.

The day after his third birthday he asked for undies when he woke up...since he was, after all, three now. I was skeptical since I had him try the same thing only 10 days earlier with no luck. But when your three year old asks to try, you don't turn it down. And to my surprise he made it the whole day with no accidents. Then the next day and the next day. In fact, he's only had 4 accidents in the past two weeks. He's been all over town in those undies and I think he's ready to make it through the night. He's been dry in the morning for the large majority of those days.

I complain that my kids are late bloomers, but let me tell's been easy both times. And now for the first time in THREE YEARS, I only have one kid in diapers. There were even five months in there that I had three kids in diapers. I can't even tell you what a break this is for my budget.

Now once again, we just have to work on aim. Which is a HUGE problem when Reid is not wearing his prosthetic. He can't even stand up straight, let alone pee.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Super Sonic Speed

I think Gray's gear shift is stuck on super sonic speed these days. Rarely do we actually see him any more...he's more like a blur...kind of like Dash from the Incredibles. Come to think of it, they do look quite a bit alike. Sometime I'll have to include a picture of him in a superhero mask. Spitin' image. Ironically, I thought about naming him Dash. It was on my list of cute boys names. Spencer vetoed it.

Yesterday the family was hanging out in the family room and I didn't want to be excluded so I brought the laundry in to fold and Gray unfolded it faster than I could get it folded. He figured out how to get past all baby locks...he can't open them, but he knows how to break them. He can open doors. In fact, he learned how to open doors BEFORE he even learned how to walk. If you ever can't find him, check the garage. This only proved to be a problem once when the garage was accidentally left open and I found him down the street. He won't be held. He throws EVERYTHING. In fact, he has quite an arm. Gray's my first kid who's a natural with a if we could just limit his throwing to balls. He empties cupboards and drawers. He can finagle himself out of a stroller without the slightest bit of struggle. And the second you start to unbuckle his car seat, he's out and half way to the street before you realized what happened.

Kids this age always tend to be mischievous, but he has been my worst by far. I'm pretty sure Parker got into just as much as Gray, but not at lightening speed. Honestly, Grayden is constantly on turbo drive. One time, about a month ago, I saw him sit down for a combined day total of 45 minutes when he had a fever. Other than that, he is on the go ALWAYS. ALWAYS. That kid can't hold still for anything.

But in all his craziness, he thankfully is not a climber (besides the stairs). We have some small kids chairs that he is deathly afraid of. You put him on there and he's stuck until you get him off. Gray just doesn't get that his feet are only a couple inches from the floor. On a grown-up chair, he'll flip to his belly and slide off, but he can't do that on these pint-sized chairs. So last night, I set him on there so I could finish up folding my laundry. It was the perfect time out. He of course couldn't hold still, but he was distraught. He sat backwards and sideways and was all over that chair, but wouldn't for the life of him get off. I thought it was so cute and funny (I know I'm not nice) that after I finished my folding I kept him on a few more minutes to snap some pictures.

I never thought I was much of a baby person...and I'm still not a newborn person AT ALL. But I'm finding I can enjoy this age despite the mischief. Grayden is 16 months now. When the other two crazies hit this age, I was so pregnant I didn't take the time to enjoy it. I was busy whining about pregnancy and preparing for the next kid. Gray is freakin' hilarious. He makes me laugh all day long. Even his trouble is funny. It's so hard to believe such a small body can pack so much personality.

He loves to make us laugh. It's not just by accident. He LOVES to tease...mostly Reid because Reid can't stand it. But he teases the dog a lot, too. And he even teases Parker when he knows Parker is vulnerable. He loves his brothers. He talks baby gibberish a mile a minute. Neither of my other two did that. He is high drama. He puts on an act for everything. Gray loves to be silly. He loves to wear costumes (hooray). And not to mention, he is unbelievably CUTE.

I just can't wait to see how this personality evolves as he grows. I hope he continues to entertain me...that's why I had kids in the first place.