Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Bathing Suit Incident

Just in case you were wondering, Jonathan really does only have one leg. Why? Because he was born that way. Why? Because that is how God made him. And no you may NOT look up the leg of his bathing suit just to make sure it really is missing.

Yes, I really did have this conversation with a boy (about 8 years old) at the pool tonight. He had been playing very nicely with my children and then Jonathan got out of the pool and hopped over to the diving board. The boy quickly followed and stopped Jonathan as he was hopping out to the edge of the diving board. He then proceeded to reach through the rail, bend down and attempt to look up Jonathan's bathing suit. I quickly called for him to stop. Jonathan gave him a look like what are you doing and then hopped off the diving board. I called the boy over (hoping a parent would appear) and proceeded to tell him it was not appropriate to look up someones bathing suit. He told me, he was just checking to make sure it was really missing.

This happens when we enter a new environment. People stare, eyes follow him, strangers come up to me and tell me how amazing he is. Jonathan takes it all in stride. Half the time he is oblivious to it. The funny thing is when someone asks if he is my son, my first reaction is "why what did he do?" I forget the one leg thing. He is my son (period) I agree he really is amazing, but please take my word for it- he is not hiding his leg up his bathing suit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

we got wheels

Leo had physical therapy today. He got a new set of wheels to borrow! He wasn't sure what to make of his walker as he is used to pushing his "walker" toy. This real walker is a backward one which he actually pulls as he walks. It is a little too big for him, but the smallest one our therapist could find to borrow. We will be ordering him his very own as soon as we are sure this is a good fit for him. The one we order for him will  be smaller and have a back support on it.  Progress is being made. 

Leo had a consult with an Occupational Therapist last week. She gave me probably 50 pages of reading to complete with the acknowledgement that I most likely didn't have time to do it. I really appreciated her insight into how Leo sees the world and how he interpretes his surroundings. She also demonstrated for me a brushing program or a deep pressure program as she liked calling it. Leo giggled the whole time she was "brushing" him. He loved it. We will be incorporating this program into Leo's daily schedule.  She will come out one or two more times offering her insight and then decide if any more visits are necessary. 

In other news, we are in full summer mode here.  Jeremy took Jonathan and Ben to Great Adventure yesterday courtesy of the Read to Succeed Program.  Tyler is participating in a Lego Mind storms Day camp and loving it.  Amanda is attending a music camp at our church.  This is probably our fullest week all summer.  I am looking forward to slowing down next week and enjoying some down time.

As I type, Amanda is listening to the Phantom of the Opera in her room and Jeremy is reading Redwall to all the boys in the livingroom.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Leo walking! (sorta)

Here are some videos of Leo walking with assistance from Kim.  Walking!  Let that sink in for a minute and maybe you'll understand how Kim and I feel about this.

We have been charged by Leo's physical therapist to do this sort of exercise with him twice a day.  We may, in time, get a real walker for Leo.  (Not a toy one like you see here.)  It seems they are hard to get for little tykes.  (Who knew?)

But , the really neat thing is what the therapist told Kim today.  She said that she thought Leo would (with practice) get to the point where he would walk on his own.  Nice.

I can't help but look at this and think "Leo, you've come a long way, baby."  I mean, when he was born he had a cleft lip, and a cleft palate, and an ominous genetic disorder.  His outlook was pretty bleak.  I am sure there were doctors who doubted he would make it through his first year. 

But he did. 

We were told he was blind.  But he sees.

We were told he was deaf.  But he hears.

We were told he may never walk.  But... look out!  Here he comes!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just for Fun

This year we joined our community pool.  The kids have loved it!  We spent 4 hours there today and everyone came home happy, hungry, and exhausted.  Family of 8 pays the same price as a family of 2 or 4-join in March and get a discount. This really was a no brainer decision.  Even Leo loves the baby pool. 

I tried to capture pictures of the kids going down the slide, but was unsuccessful- they were too fast.  Today Jonathan literally, no exaggeration, went down the slide without stopping, for 1.5 hours.  He would go down, swim to side, get in line, which was not long, and do it all again.  1.5 hours.  I was getting tired watching him do it. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Year Love Built

It was one year ago this week that Leo became a part of our family.  A lot has happened in that year.  Three surgeries, more doctor and specialist appointments then I can count, and the forming of the most amazing family bond.  One year ago, Leo was a cute, cuddly stranger.  We welcomed him into our home and he worked his way into all of our hearts.  One year later, Leo is a Shafer.  And not in name only.  Each of our kids has welcomed Leo into their hearts and lives in their own way and time.

Some, like Jordan, were enamored with Leo from the start.  It was love at first sight for Jordan.  He couldn't and still can't get enough of Leo.  He is probably Leo's biggest fan.

Others, like Amanda, took a little more time to warm up.  In the beginning Leo had the worst projectile reflux I have ever seen.  This was "gross" to a 13 year old girl. The reflux smelled awful.  Leo was not very discerning with who he spit up on.  But as the year has progressed, something happened Amanda fell in love with Leo.  You can now hear her talking to Leo and playing with him.  Leo is her brother.

Others, like Ben and Jonathan, took the transition smoothly.  Thankfully.  They didn't see Leo as a threat.  In some ways, they saw many benefits to Leo joining our family.  We now had baby toys out.  Jonathan loves playing with Leo's toys.  Ben loves entertaining and singing to Leo.  It was normal to Ben and Jonathan to have a baby suddenly become their brother. 

Tyler loves Leo.  Leo has brought out the sensitive side to Tyler.  Last week we went to a special needs carnival at Davisville Church.  At one game, Tyler had to race a 4 year old girl to see who could fill up a bucket the fastest.  It was quite evident that Tyler was going slower then he could have.  He did it in such a way that it was a close race and the little girl had the biggest smile on her because she beat a big boy!  Tyler is tender and loving.  Leo helps bring out these qualities in Tyler. 

Adding to your family through adoption is different then giving birth- we all know that- but also in some ways is how you fall in love with the child.  We had maybe 2 months from the first phone call to when Leo came to live with us.  We loved him immediately.

But in some ways in the beginning, my heart was guarded.  We met Leo's birthmom.  She handed him to me on June 6th, 2011.  Trusting me with her son.  She left in tears.  I will be honest.  I was worried.  What if she changed her mind?  What if she wanted him back?  A year later, I am confident- I am Leo's mom.  If you ask him where is mommy- he looks for me.  When I leave a room, he comes looking for me.  We are his family.  His birthmom will always be an important piece of his history and will always be his mom, but we are his family. 

This has been  a year of growing and of watching love grow.  I will admit because of Leo's medical needs I am not sure if we will ever find a normal.  I believe our new normal is that each day is a gift, fulled with surprises, and we need to live just one day at a time.  Not worrying about tomorrow, but rather learning to lean on God for the strength needed today.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review- The Fiddler

If you know me well, you know I enjoy reading for pleasure.  My idea of a relaxing day or evening would be one where I am curled up with a good book.  So, when I saw the opportunity to review a book for Bethany House Publishers I jumped at the chance.  I received a copy of The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis in the mail.  I could hardly wait till the kids were in bed so that I could begin reading.

As my daughter says, "mom, the only books you read are about Amish people!" I do read other types of books, but I will say she is correct in that I am fascinated by Amish living. I have read numerous books by Beverly Lewis and I was not disappointed in this book. In our fast paced world where the pressures can come from every side, I found the book extremely interesting as it dealt with Amelia (the main character) wanting to slow down and enjoy life. As her life collides with that have a young Amish man, it is interesting to watch them both struggle with their identities and also the conflict of wanting to please their families. I did not find the book predictable although I was extremely pleased with the ending. Beverly Lewis once again came through with a wonderfully written story.

I think because my life is so crazy and completely opposite of the Amish that is why I am drawn to them.  Wouldn't it be cool to live in the middle of no where on a farm, with no Internet, no distractions, no phones, but then I wake up and realize just how blessed I am with the life God has so graciously allowed me to live.  So, I will enjoy dreaming about what life could be like if I were Amish as I loose myself in a good book.