Our shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.

Larry Crabb

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Darkness of Night Makes The Sunrise Stunning

"Sometimes one has to walk through the often complete darkness of grief to embrace the light of joy to be found in challenging circumstances. Feeling that grief does not diminish the joy one feels at the end. In fact embracing the grief enables one to experience the joy more fully. Yet for some they see acknowledgement of the darkness as a detractor from the joy. If only they could understand that the darkness of night makes the sunrise stunning."

I was in a discussion with a woman today about Austism.  I had simply stated that the article we were reading actually caused my blood to boil because in my opinion only someone who does not daily face the challenges of life with a family member on the Autism Spectrum would state that a 1.1% chance of your children developing Austism was an acceptable chance.  This is in regards to the continuing debate of do vaccinations cause Autism.  I am not anti-vaccination.  I was struggling with what I felt was the arrogance and ignorance with which the author was writing the article.  As the conversation via Faceboook continued the woman I was conversing with said if there was no one with Autism the world we live in would not be as beautiful.  That is when I wrote the above quote.  While I agree that my son and others whom I have been blessed with the honour of working with are truly amazing and beautiful, I also felt as though I was trapped by the comment.  How could I be open and transparent about the grief I feel?  My son is an amazing little boy.  He astounds me every day.  Yet I had to grieve the son I thought we were going to have, the dreams I had dreamed for him, so I could embrace the new dreams and all the joys that come with parenting a child with a disability.  Only in facing the grief could I open my heart to all the joys and blessings God has for our family and our son.  My children each in their own way are my greatest teachers.  Yes I have grieved, and grief is not a one day process.  I so wish it were somedays.  However there are moments like today when the grief appears, when the darkness encloses around me. Yet I have hope that just as the night falls, so to the sun will rise.  Trust me the beauty of the sunrise is stunning, and so is the joy that accompanies each new sunrise in the ebb and flow of grief.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Family Gathering (I know it is a little late)

I know that this post is a little late.  I did start writing it right after Christmas, and then this post went got put aside.  So without delay here are the photo's from our family Christmas.

H opening up one of his gifts from Grandma J!

Kenzie in her Princess Sofia dress from Auntie Jocelyn, and also giving us a little taste of her singing abilities with her gift From Grandma J

Jaris getting a turn to serenade us all!  I love how he has his hand out while he is entertaining us.

Look at me and my lips!  I wanna kiss mommy!

Making a gingerbread house after supper on Sunday!

The girls intently watching Grandma

Well there you have it!  I still need to download the photos I took on Christmas Day with just us.  Not sure when I will actually get around to it.

This weekend was truly an amazing mama weekend for my heart.  On Saturday Jaris, without having to be bribed or asked to say it said, "Mommy I love you too!" as he sheepishly looked and me and ran away.  He said it three separate times, and then to top it off he saw a scrape on my foot and asked me if it hurt.  When I said it hurt a bit, he asked Jeral to come with him upstairs to help him get his Thomas Blanket.  They brought it down stairs and Jaris placed it on my foot and then asked, "Mommy foot all better now?"  I started crying because I have longed for this day, and yet not sure if I would ever hear Jaris tell me he loved me with his own words.

Then to add to an already day fantastic day Kenzie and I went out on a mommy daughter date.  I love our mommy daughter times, and I cherish the memories that we are creating when we spend time together.  I know we spend lots of time together every day yet there is something special about getting away just the two of us with out the males in our lives.  At Kenzie's request we went to see the Disney movie Frozen for the second time.  She was so adorable as she would look up and lean over to tell me she was being brave and that she was just a tiny bit scared when the objects on the screen would come out of the screen at us.  Yes we saw the movie in 3D.  Even more heart warming was when she decided she needed to sit on my lap near the end of the movie.

Hayden has stopped calling me daddy, and now called me nanny!  Yes!!!!!  We are one step closer to mommy!  I still long to hear him say mommy, and yet I am so elated to hear him call me Nanny, especially when he calls me nanny and them puts his arms up as his way of asking me to pick him up.  Then after I pick him up he nuzzles his head into my neck as he wraps his arms around my neck as well.  I am so very blessed to be a mommy.

 Today we met with a woman who may be replacing Jaris' fav teacher who is moving to Australia.  We are really hoping that this lady is the one.  Hopefully we will know in the next few days if she has decided to take the position as Jaris' Monday, Wednesday, and Friday teacher.

Well I think that is all for tonight as I need to get some sleep!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Year

I know this is a few days late, alas that is the reality of having three small children who have all been hit with a nasty flu/cold, and then Jeral and I got levelled with it as well.  I apologize for the length of this post.  It sort of got away on me, and took a spin that I had originally not intended, yet that is where my thoughts took me today!

I was reading something that my sister in law wrote about “new beginnings”.  Normally we look at the New Year as a time of newness.  The last year is finished and we get to start a new year with a clean slate.  I only wish I could wipe the slate of last year clean, erase some of the events that happened in our family last year.  Alas that is not reality for us for anyone actually.  We can begin the new year with fresh resolve to do things differently than we did from the previous year.  We can choose to live healthier, live more intentionally, to not stress about things as much, to work with in a new budget etc, however for somethings the slate cannot be wiped clean. I know this may sound very pessimistic, and while I do love the fresh resolve and new ideas that tend to spring forth in the new year, I also am this year a little more realistic to the reality that I cannot simply wipe away the past year and forget about.

If I had a Chalk Board Slate with words written on it as a representation of 2013, there would be words on there that could be wiped clean for 2014 and then there would be some words that will forever be a fixture on the Slate of our lives.  One word in particular - AUTISM.

May 6th , 2013 Jaris was diagnosed with Autism.  I cannot simply wipe that off the slate this year.  And while part of me does want to because I am afraid of the many unknowns, and part of me also knows that Jaris is a gift from my maker God, and that he was given to us for a reason.  In some ways it would be nice to have our brains like the wires in a car.  If the wires are crossed you open up the hood and you pull the wires and you put them in the right place so everything works properly according to the standards that our society has set out and expects.  As I am typing this I am reminded of how different societies do things differently.  When I was in India in 2001 I got the opportunity to drive a vehicle over there on the very per crowded streets.  I sat on the other side and the stick shift was on the opposite side as to what we are used to in North America.  Often one could see the lights of the other car blinking.  Instead of the signal being turned on to indicate the way the on coming car was going to turn, the signal light was indicating which way the person driving the oncoming vehicle wanted you to go.  Talk about backwards, or at least backward to my North American mindset of driving.  Yet it works and if I would have tried to force my North American way of driving there would have been a huge accident.  I would speculate that Autism is like this story. What society may deem as wrong is just a different way.  Yet we are scared of different, so we try to force what we know and what we are comfortable with on others.  Just as I needed to learn rather quickly in one short driving lesson, the rules of the road, and what was expected of someone driving Indian roads, Jaris will need to learn  what society expects of him in various interactions, and I as his mom have that responsibility.  However I do not want to force Jaris to change who he is and how he is designed by God altogether.  I know that he is created uniquely and perfectly by God, and that Jaris is one of three miracles we begged God for all those years ago, as we struggled through fertility issues.  He has some much to offer our family and so much to teach all of us if only we will open our eyes, ears, and hearts to see and hear what God is speaking to us through him.

I am not going to lie and say that parenting a special needs child is easy.   Nope, not easy at all.  This past year was a bumpy one for us and for extended family.  Some relationships have been hurt drastically and I am not sure if they will ever repair.  My hope for 2014 is that they will and that those family relationships will be stronger.  In being a mom who advocates for her children I am afraid that Leanne the friend, the sister, the sister in law at time gets lost, or even forgotten.  I see lots of people daily, and most are members of the team who work with us to help Jaris grow and blossom, very few are friends.  I can a test to the reality that even when surrounded by lots of people one can feel very alone and isolated.  The fear of stepping out of that isolation also breeds fear of rejection.  Fear of rejection of my self and also fear of others rejecting Jaris.  Presently I am not afraid of anyone rejecting Kenzie.  She is so engaging, and she draws you in with her warmth, and gentle, yet fun loving spirit.  Everywhere we go she easily makes friends and finds acceptance.  Hayden is still an adorable little babe, and for the most part does not want to be parted from Jeral or myself.  Then there is Jaris and I so want to spare him ever feeling the rejection I felt as a child.  Sadly I have not been able to spare him that.  I know that often some of the behaviours that have appeared are seen differently than I would see them.  I know I am his mom.  I know that I have come to see the outbursts, tears, laughter, pulling at me, asking me to come right now, as a bridge that he and I can travel back and forth on into each others worlds.  Others who are not trained and aware of this may see him as a badly behaved child, and not want to be around him.  Ironically enough so far it has been more adults with this attitude than children.  The other day Kenzie had some friends over from Preschool, and the boys played wit Jaris and he played with them.  They had a tough time understand some of his words and one of the boys asked me about it and i explained that Jaris has Autism and so his brain is wired differently and at times his words are hard to understand and the boys said oh, okay, and then went back to playing with Jaris.  A part of me wishes that we could retain the same love and acceptance that little children display all through out life.  Our world would be a very different place if we could.

Now if I said that 2013 was a year I wish would never have happened that would be a lie also.  While we had some drop us to our knees, blow your world apart moments, we have also had some very amazing moments.  Without this year we would not have been able to get Jaris all the help that he needed to get, and he would not be progressing and blooming into the amazing little boy that he is.  He may not be talking and asking for hugs, and kisses.  He may not be asking us to come and play.  I would still have a gallbladder with gallstones inside my body causing me an extreme amount of pain at times.  We would not have some answers and clarity as to what happened to Jeral as a child.  Kenzie would not have started preschool, and the honest talks about her adoption would not have taken place - although I think she would be okay if those talks had not happened.   I would not have met some of the moms I have met through Kenzie's preschool. Hayden would not have started walking and trust me he is a big boy so having him walk is great for my back!  And he is just adorable!!!!  My relationship with my sister would not be as close as it is (crazy that it took her moving 7 hours away for that to happen). Jeral and I would not have celebrated 7 years of marriage (okay we celebrated by staying home with three sick kids, still we made it to 7 years).  We would not have gotten Blackie our puppy.  The list could go on!

So yes there were moments I could have done without this year, and yet there were also lots of amazing moments that I would not want to trade for the world.  That is life, and I am sure 2014 will be filled with many more moments I will savour, and some I will quickly want to forget.  So here is to 2014, and maybe a few less knock me off my feet moments!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Catching Up

I think I have started about 10 posts in the last few months, however I have yet to finish any of them.  So what has happened in the last few months since my last post.

Well we have fired one of Jaris' teachers.  In the end she just was not a good fit for our family, and for Jaris.  However we were fortunate enough that the young lady who replaced her is wonderful.  Sadly the other teacher and her husband are moving to Austraila, so we will once again be looking for another teacher.  In spite of all the changes Jaris has been doing very well, and thriving.

We had our Pauls' extended family Christmas here at the beginning of December, and as always it was  a lot of fun.  The following day we had our family Christmas with my sister and her family.  It was a sad day when my sister and her family left to go back home.

We had Kenzie's 4th birthday.  This year she was allowed to invite a few friends.  I did however draw the line on inviting the whole preschool class.  Kenzie was in her element and enjoyed being the centre of attention.

We had our quiet family Christmas.  My mom came out and joined us.  Once we came home from Church on Christmas Eve we let the kids open their stockings, which included new pj's, snacks, a few small toys, and a Christmas movie.  We moved two mattresses downstairs and had a great big sleep over while watching Christmas Cartoons.  I loved watching the Kenzie, Jaris, and Hayden as they opened their gifts.  Kenzie often said, "this is just what I wanted!" After she opened a gift up.  My daughter seriously is very sweet, and kind hearted.

On the 28th of December we had the Krahn, Cowie Christmas.  Once again my children were so excited to be with family, and to be with their cousins.  Kenzie enjoyed entertaining everyone with her singing and dancing.  And as usual my children were blessed beyond belief.

We also had our 7th anniversary.  I can hardly believe that we have been married for 7 years already.  We celebrated by staying at home , eating take home Chinese food, and watching a movie after the children were in bed.  The joys of having little ones with colds, and also Jeral getting sick as well.  However I honestly can say that I would not have wanted to celebrate any other way.  Cuddles with my love while relaxing, nothing better than that!

I have now gotten sick along with the rest of our family.  The joys of being parents.  So I will be heading to bed rather quickly!  I will eventually get photos up of the last few weeks!  I hope that 2014 is a year filled with love, and adventure!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Calgary Trip

We are going to be very sad to leave tomorrow!  We arrived in Calgary on Friday evening to a throng of squealing children!  All three of our children and both of my sister's children we giddy with delight and enthusiasm.  I love how much our children have grown to love each other and I know that when we leave tomorrow we will all be very sad.

Another great bonus of this trip is that the dad's and mom's traded off days.  On the Saturday Jeral and Chris got to go out and enjoy just chilling together, while Jocelyn and I watched the children.  We managed to get all five kids out of the house for a bit of an adventure at the McDonalds Play Place.  Jaris even went up in the equipment until he tried to stand up and smashed his head.  At that point he screamed so loudly that another mom ran, ripped her shoes off and went inside the equipment.  However when she got to Jaris before I could the screaming got louder and she turned to me and said I think I scared him.  Yep I am pretty sure you did, and that is okay!

Sunday my sister and I got to leave the men with the children, and we went out for a lovely lunch, some shopping, and a movie.  It was so nice to get to just hang and do sister things together, and surprisingly we even like similar movies!  While we were shopping we looked at each other, then smiled because we both realized that all of our shopping was for our children and not for us.

Jeral and Chris took the kids sledding Sunday night and they had a blast.  In all honestly we were not sure how Jaris would do, yet he loved it and had some much fun.  So I think we have found another amazing activity for him to enjoy!  When they got home with the kids Chris had said that he expected Jaris to be the weakest link, yet he was the strongest one out there.  I know the comment was meant to be encouraging, and I am choosing to sit in the reality that my son loves sledding and blew everyone else away with his skills in this area.  Yet I also find it it hard to hear that my son was expected to be the weakest link.  Maybe it was just the way things were said, and that is what bothers me.  I know that when children have disabilities others often expect less of them, and I will admit that I am guilty of this myself.  While I am Jaris mother and I know what he is capable of better than anyone else, I also know he is capable of being encouraged gently to go beyond what he is already doing. I also know that the best time to encourage him to go beyond his limits is when he is in a relaxed and anxiety free place.

I also loved watching the children play together.  They had so much fun.  All four of the oldest were interacting and playing dress up.  At one point Tyson and Jaris came down stairs asking for help to find the second pirate hat so they could be pirates together.  We also had a first happen - Jaris and Tyson were playing just the two of them and Kenzie and Mady were playing just the two of them.

Now we are home and while we are thankful to be home, we are sad that we had to leave.  Coming home means doing lots of laundry and tidying up the house.  The children are already telling me how much they miss their cousins and that they can't wait to see them and luckily we get to see them in 3.5 weeks.  So until then we will get the house ready for the big Pauls' Christmas in a few weeks, and I will keep setting up for Christmas!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall Family Photos

In Mid October we went to Davison Orchards and met up with Heather and Bernie from Captured Memories Photography for a mini photo shoot.  We had fun and for the most part so did our children. As you can tell we still struggle to get a family photo with all of our children looking and smiling at the camera, yet oh well.  My children are priceless to me!

Family of 5!  Sure do love my family!

Happy Boy going down the slide!
I love this photo because of the way Jaris is standing almost as though he is going to take on the world and look after his older sister and younger brother!
These two are in league with each other.  The had been together since Kenzie was 3 months old and Jaris was born - they do not remember a life without each other and I honestly know that they would be lost if something ever happened to either one of them.

My cutie pie!

We tried to get a few of Jeral in - however for the most part I was the one in the dirt with the kids!

We prayed and waited for God to send us and angel and that angel is this little girl!  Love you baby girl!

Future Farmer sitting behind this tractor

I love how he is shoeless here!  Keeping shoes on this boy is hard, in part because he has very thick feet and in part because he is like me and prefers to be barefoot!

A mother and daughter shot!  I am such a lucky mama!

Jaris kept telling me that the tractor was stuck and asking me to help him get it out!  I will do anything for my boy!

Playing in the sand

So sweet, so innocent!

Umm, get away from me please stop trying to smoother me!!!!!! At least that is what I think his face is saying here!

Brotherly love!


Like I said they do almost everything together!

Well there you have it, just some of the photos that we got!  Jeral is putting Hayden to bed and Kenzie is asleep, while Jaris lays in our bed trying to fall asleep.  I must say having my office back is a great bonus.  I am still technically in the room with them, so they don't get up, and yet I still have my space.  We just finished putting my office back together this week.  For the past 5 months it has been in disarray from the renos we did.  I finally gave my wonderful hubby a deadline, or else we would have to hire someone else to finish because this was taking to long.  I can guarantee that if it was his office, it would have been finished long ago.  Oh well all that matters now is that I finally have my own sacred space. I still have a few finishing touches and this will come soon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wishing for a Safe Haven

I love this photo of Kenzie with her cousin James from this summer!  My kids absolutely adore their cousins, and I feel so blessed that my children and so loved by all of their cousins.  They truly are amazing amazing group of young people.

Jeral and I have been talking lately about how blessed we are and how at times we long to just have a "normal" life.  We constantly have people coming and going from our home.  We are constantly consulting with others as to what is the best path for us to take as a family.  I know that many people thrive off of that and would love to have the "extra" help and input.  We are just in a place of input over load.  If money was no object and if we would not miss our families so much I think we would pack up and buy a tiny deserted island to live out the rest of our days as a family.  It would be our haven from constantly being asked to justify every decision we make.  I know that to some who live in countries where the government does not help with funding for the treatment of children with autism I may sound ungrateful.  That is not my intent.  I know how fortunate we are to be able to provide the therapies that my son needs - I also know first hand that the funding we get does not cover it all - we are paying for some of his therapies personally.  I guess I am grieving the life I had thought we would have when we had children and how drastically things have changed this year.

I decided that I was going to start attending the Bible Study at our church again, and then I decided I am not going too.  While I know many LOVE doing Beth Moore Studies, and I am sure she is a lovely person there is something about her that drives me bonkers.  While I do crave connecting with other women (in a setting that does not revolve around my  children, and is less anxiety producing) I realized ladies Bible Study is not where I am at and I am totally okay with that.

One more rant for the day.  There has been an article making it way around Facebook, about Jenny McCarthy Being Dangerous.  While I may not agree with everything that she had said in regards to vaccinations being the cause of Autism, and that the Gluten and Dairy Free diet is a cure for Autism etc., I am very tired of people picking on her.  I think that we are forgetting that she is a mother, and as a mother when your child is diagnosed with a disorder such as Autism you will turn over every stone and look behind every corner to find help for your child and to find answers.  There is no rhyme or reason as to why some children like my son are born with their brain pathways wired different than the rest of typical society.  It is a mystery that I hope and pray will be solved in my life time and that we will be able to help children like Jaris and so many others to a greater extent.  Instead of picking on her and borderline bullying her, try to remember that she is just a mom who wants to help her child.  Instead of judging, and offering sympathy, try empathy!  As a mother of a child who has Autism, I know first had the blessings my son is, and I know how I would give everything including my own life to help him make sense of this world that he lives in.  One that does not make sense to him all the time.  I know the research behind vaccinations and that for the most part science says there is no link between vaccinations and autism.  We tried the gluten free and dairy free diet and it was a bust for us.  I also know that I am curios and educated enough to research the latest fads/therapies for Autism, and that I so long to know why Jaris has to face this struggle.  So because of that I have grace and compassion for a woman who happens to be a celebrity, and who also is a mom.

Oh and just to note we did not put Hayden in the dryer, he climbed in himself.  Apparently he thinks it is the best place ever!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Playing Catch Up

Wow it is hard to believe that i have not posted anything since H's birthday.  I have started many posts and just have never finished them.  Yesterday we meet up with our friends and photographers Heather and Bernie at Davison Orchards for a mini photo shoot at the pumpkin patch.  I sure am blessed to have the family that I have.

So life lately has been busy!!!!!!!!!  Busy feels like an understatement.  I do not want to think how crazy busy we will be once the kids start extra-curricular activities.  I feel as though we are going full tilt already.  

Kenzie is loving preschool and thriving there!  She loves her teachers and tells them every school day how much she missed them.  I love the little crafts she brings home every from preschool and I love that she is so social.  The only time she does not want to go to preschool is when Jaris' OT comes to the house to play once a month.  Kenzie loves playing with her.  Kenzie is definitely not a baby any more.  She says that cutest and sometime most precocious things.  Lately she has been asking to have lots of mommy/daughter dates, and has decided she love Chinese food!  So I am frequently asked to take her to the mall so we can have lunch there!  I can hardly believe that in just over 2 months my little girl will be 4 years old.  We are reminding Kenzie that once she turns 4 we will be moving her back to her bedroom for night time.  While she loves being a big girl when it comes to sleeping she insists that she needs to cuddle with mommy all night long.  I do love snuggles, and I am also ready to have my space at night back!

Jaris is having a tough time emotionally with his school.  He is whipping through things at a fast rate so we know he is capable of completing the tasks set out before him.  He just fights with us in the mornings before session.  Normally I can hold him and his huge puppy dog on my lap and gently remind him that mommy needs to leave soon, and i can go.  However we had some really rough days that broke my heart.  I am thankful that after a talking with the supervisors we sorted some things out.  Unfortunately the agency and I did not get off to a good start when I was told by one of the BC's that Jaris needed to learn that when he cries no one will come to his rescue.  Fortunately I was able to talk things through with the supervisor and the BC apologized and they are willing to incorporate family time into Jaris' sessions.  While things got off to a rocky start, we are seeing Jaris grow and blossom.  I still have to bribe him to say,"I love mommy!"  Yet he is saying it now, which is something I never thought I would hear come out of his mouth.

Hayden affectionately called H at home is not a little baby anymore.  He is starting to walk, yet only when he wants to.  if we try to get him to walk he promptly sits down and crawls.  He loves all things soft and snuggly, and frequently goes after his sisters blanket while she sits all wrapped up in it.  We took the gate off the stairs a while ago because he is an expert climber!  He crawls up and to go down he lays on his tummy and gives himself a big push to slide down.  He is very fast! The only slightly scary part is when he decides to show off and stands on the edge of a stair while screeching in delight!  H has 14 teeth with 2 more cutting, so no wonder my amazing sleeper has decided to stop sleeping through the night!  He had another hearing test in September and he passed it with flying colors.  I am hoping that he is just going to be a slow talker.  So we will keep an eye on him.  I love that H still will snuggle before bedtime. Actually all three of our children snuggle with us and I feel very blessed that they do.

Jeral is doing well.  I am so blessed that he is so involved in the life of our children, and that he is so helpful.  I am truly fortunate and our children are lucky to have their daddy so involved in their lives.

Well this is our life!  Hopefully I won't go 2 months until I blog again.