No more training wheels!

Lovebug is now riding her bicycle on just 2 wheels! I am so incredibly proud of her!

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She’s been riding her bike with training wheels for quite a while, and we weren’t in a hurry to take them off because her balance and motor skills just weren’t ready.  She can be a bit of a perfectionist which leads to extreme frustration (i.e fits & meltdowns) when things don’t go just right. We knew that the balance issue was hard for her, so it was inevitable that she would fall or struggle a little bit. Things like the bike not turning the way she wants it to, or hitting a bump and falling over were likely to cause a major meltdown, so we just waited and let her take it at her own pace for a while.

This past week we knew she was ready!  She has done absolutely amazing this past month with her attitude, her control, her ability to understand things – just overall we’ve seen a lot of growth and maturity.  Her Sensory Processing issues have been at a minimum because she’s getting plenty of input running around, digging in the dirt, & going up and down the stairs.

We decided to go for it!  We used a method that had been tried and true for some friends of ours that taught multiple kids in a single day how to ride with 2 wheels.

We took off the training wheels, took off the pedals, and lowered the seat all the way so her feet could be flat on the ground.  Then, we took her to the end of our street and had her walk the bike down the slight incline with her feet.  She would walk with her feet, then push-glide.  This allowed her to really feel when the bike was balanced but her feet her right there to just put on the ground when needed.

Walking the bike

 

For a while she just couldn’t understand what we meant when we told her she would “feel” the balance, but finally she called out “I feel it!!!” and we knew she got it!

Push-Gliding

 

We practiced like this for a few days, and then we put the pedals back on. Oh the JOY in her face!!!  She keeps saying “Please don’t put the training wheels back on” and we keep reminding her that once they come off, we don’t need to ever put them back on.

Riding on 2 wheels!!

 

She had a few bumps along the way.  She had to learn not to over-correct when steering, and that the faster she is going, the smaller corrections she needs to make.  But instead of getting frustrated and throwing a fit, she would just stop and say “why is this happening?” and then she’d work to figure it out after listening – really listening – to our advice.

She also fell off once, and we could tell she was about to get really discouraged.  We knew she wasn’t injured badly (no blood or even cuts), so we acted excited about her “first fall”!  I told her it was great that she feel off the bike because now she knew what it felt like to fall and she didn’t have to be scared of falling anymore.  Our reaction diffused the situation and she hopped right back up to try again.  I don’t even know how to describe how HUGE this is for her.  I’ve spent 30 minutes with her crying over bumping into a wall before.  She’s growing up…and maturing…and handling her SPD so so much better!

We talked about fear during these practice days too.  There would be times that she would say “I’m scared!”, and we had a chance to talk about how our fears work.  When we are doing something new our fears take over and we end up making the situation so huge and scary in our minds – much more than it should be – that we actually make it worse.  Once we face those fears head on, we win!  When Lovebug had a couple moments of being scared, I reminded her that God is with her and that fear does not come from him.  When we let fear win, we let the enemy win, but when we are brave then God wins.  Being brave does not mean NOT being scared.  Being brave means being scared to do something, but doing it anyway!

We were practicing on our street and as she rode down the street, she had to steer in between 2 cars parked on either side.  She had to learn quickly that when you look down you don’t control the bike – it controls you.  When you look straight ahead – where you want to go – you control the bike.

So many life lessons in learning to riding a bike, don’t you think?

She couldn’t wait to go back out to ride the bike again yesterday! This time she wanted to ride it to the park near our house, and she even ended up riding it across some grass (which I think is a bit harder than on the cement).  She’s still working on the starting up process, since it requires a bit more balance to jump on and start pedaling, but she’s doing it on her own.

What a milestone!! What a great memory for our first house in the Army!  Before I know it, she’ll be jumping on that bike saying “See ya for dinner, Mom!” and riding off into the sunset.  Hopefully that day doesn’t come too quickly!

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My daughter’s tree

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There is this tree in the parking lot at church, and from time to time as we are passing by it on the way into, or out of church, I hear Lovebug say,

“Can I stop and say a prayer at my prayer tree?”

(We always say yes)

I don’t remember when it started exactly, or why she dubbed it “her tree”, but it’s been going on for at least 2 years.

I never know what she says as she kneels there – sometimes for seconds, sometimes for a minute or two.  I love that she has a place, even right there in the middle of a parking lot, where she can talk to God.

For me, I have 2 favorite places to talk to God. I love being on the beach listening to the ocean waves. Just the powerful roar of the water and the view of the horizon reminds me how small I am in the scheme of things.  My other favorite place is surrounded by nature.  Camping in the middle of a state park or up in the mountains overlooking endless trees.  Just enjoying God’s creation.  Of course I can’t always go there.  Right now I live in the middle of the city a good 6 hours from an ocean.  So, instead I curl up on my comfy sofa with a cup of coffee for my quiet time.  I really need to at least get a patio table so I could move outdoors, I guess.

Where is your special place?

How Great is Our God!

I have to brag on my daughter! It’s my blog, I’m allowed!

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My daughter is a lot of wonderful things.  She’s smart, funny, a great reader, a colorful dresser, and a lover of animals…but a stage performer she is not.  She doesn’t like to talk or sing on stage or in front of anyone.  She gets nervous and starts pretending to be an animal – a coping mechanism of hers.  Part of it is just being a bit shy, and part of it is her extra high anxiety levels due to her being on the Autism spectrum with Asperger’s. She loves to sing, and will sing at home, in the car, and in the bathtub…just not in front of other people beyond her family.   She also has some serious song-writing talent.  She makes up the most amazing original songs off the top of her head and will sing them with passion….as long as there are no more than 1 or 2 people around, and that they are people she knows extremely well.  I keep telling her she doesn’t have to be in the spotlight – one day she might write a song that someone else performs on stage.

At church, she will sometimes barely mumble the words to a song if she’s being held by Hubby or me.  She has this fear that all the people in the room are going to be looking at her and judging her.  It’s so real to her that we can’t convince her otherwise.

Today was different.  It was AMAZING!  It was nothing short of the Holy Spirit’s power on her.  This morning our worship band, Dutton, was leading us in singing one of Lovebug’s very favorite songs that we’ve sung with her since she was a baby – “How Great is Our God” – when suddenly she starts belting it out like nobody’s business!  She was singing like she was the only one in the room.  Seriously off-key and absolutely beautiful! It was literally music to my ears!  I got tears in my eyes, and my smile must have been a mile wide as I sang along with her.  Oh, I wish I could have recorded it!

I can only imagine how proud God must have been! I felt like a mom whose child had spoken for the first time. I leaned down and told her she was making God smile so big!

After the song finished our pastor, who was seated 3 rows ahead of us, turned around and gave me a thumbs-up and said “That was great!”.  I thought to myself, “Yes it was! But it was so much more than great.  It was truly Spirit-filled!”.  For a lot of kids, that would have been just another song.  For her, it was a miracle!

She lost a tooth!

This morning, Lovebug came running in holding out her hand to show me this…

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…and this

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YAY!! Finally, at almost 6.5 years old, she has lost her first tooth! She is so excited! She said that she wants to keep her first tooth and she’ll give the next one to the Tooth Fairy.  I assured her that the Tooth Fairy would leave her the first tooth to keep, and still leave her a little prize anyway.

 

I’m not sure I like this.  Even more evidence that she’s growing up.

Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!

I am in a great mood today for so many reasons!

** I got to see my husband yesterday and that just completely lifted me up!

** The baby is napping today! Probably means he won’t sleep tonight, but he’s actually napping!! I’ll take it 🙂

** The temperature outside is 72 degrees and sunny – perfect! I feel drained when it’s crazy hot, but this beautiful weather just lifts my spirits!

** I spent 2 hours outside with the kids! We ate lunch out there and played on the swings.  Put Little Bear in the jumper on the patio for a while, then pushed him in the baby swing.  He LOVED the baby swing, especially because Lovebug was swinging right beside him.  We’re planning on some more outside time after rest time!

** I pushed Bug for a while on the swing, and just hung out enjoying her company.  She was making up all sorts of songs, as she often does, and I just cherished the moment as I listened to her.  She sang one song  called “Maybe I’m just meant to be a Cowgirl”.  Then she had another one about how she dreams of living in the country one day – away from all the stores and gas stations with a big yard to run around in, and to have a horse and a dog.  She also sang songs about our previous foster kids and how much fun she had with them, using every one of their names and talking about special times she had with each of them.

** That song led to a great talk with my mature, sweet, kind daughter about foster parenting.  She was talking about how much she loves to have the other kids here and to be able to help them and their families.  I said “Even if they leave and go back home?”….she said “Yep, even if they leave. I love helping other kids. So far we’ve helped 2 families entirely, and we are helping one right now.  I love having brothers and sisters here for a while, and then when they leave, I get a break and can enjoy being an only kid for a while, so it all works out.”

What more could a parent ask for?  I am so thankful for my many, many blessings!

From tears to triumph!

I don’t think I have ever been more proud of my daughter than I was this past Sunday afternoon!  It was an absolutely amazing achievement for her in many ways, and especially in regards to her Sensory Processing Disorder / Asperger-like challenges.

We had signed her up for a FREE “Kids First” hockey class at the Dr. Pepper Stars Center, and yesterday was the class’ first venture onto the ice (class #1 was just picking up/sizing equipment).

It was absolutely precious to see all these 5-8 year olds in their hockey gear toddling around on their skates.  A few had skated before (Bug has been a total of 3 times, once a year for the past 3 years at Christmas time), but the majority of these kids had never been on the ice before, and they were all certainly beginners.

She had been looking forward to this for a couple weeks.  She’s enjoyed going ice skating with us at Christmas time when we hold her hands and toddle around the rink.  She loves watching hockey with us when we get a chance, and she has an older cousin who had done this class years ago.  To her, this was a chance to do something “cool”.

We arrived at the rink in plenty of time to get her dressed in her equipment.  We had tried on the equipment a few times at home, so she was comfortable wearing the skin pads, elbow pads, padded pants, and helmet.  With the exception of a bigger helmet it wasn’t too much unlike what she wears to ride a bike.   She was all smiles as she received her very own jersey to wear (and keep upon completion of the class), and couldn’t wait to get started.

UNTIL…..she saw the coaches putting out the goal nets on the ice.  Suddenly, she was hit with this overwhelming fear and perfectionism as she started bawling, “I can’t hit a puck into those nets, I can’t even skate yet!”.  She saw the coaches skating around, professionals that they are, and assumed she would be expected to do the same.  Thankfully we were able to convince her that she didn’t have to skate like the coach yet, and that they would help her.

Here is where I have to give a HUGE shout-out to Coach Katie!! The male coach (didn’t catch his name) was giving the “welcome speech” to all the kids before they got on the ice, and Katie took Bug on out on the ice and skated around with her. She held on to her, helped her up when she fell, and taught her how to get up on her own.  Most importantly, she removed Bug from the overwhelming crowd of kids anxious to get on the ice, and gave her some much needed ‘space’.   That did wonders for her!!  She doesn’t enjoy feeling crowded under normal circumstances, but when she’s anxious that feeling just gets worse and she gets into “fight or flight” mode.  That’s where she was, all ready to quit and go home just to “get away”, when Katie rescued her.  She scooped her up in her arms and skated around with her on the ice.  Bug’s face lit up at the “ride”, and she was able to relax a bit.
Bug was then left to skate around a bit on her own and get used to it.  Of course she fell, several times, but the coaches were quick to rescue her and encourage her.

Once it was time to get everyone on the ice, they were instructed to skate (or rather, “march” on skates) around a bit and then come together in a circle in the center. From the outsiders perspective, it looked like a comedy of errors.  Kids dropping like flies, some causing domino effect as they fell into someone else knocking them down too.  Up and down, they all went as they tried to figure out these things attached to the bottom of their legs.
Unfortunately, during this time, Bug had reached her limit.  Our little perfectionist was frustrated that she kept falling down, and was oblivious to the fact that everyone else was falling too.  Her bottom was hurting from all the falls, although I suspect not nearly as bad as her sensitive body perceived it to be, since she had some great padding on.  At one point, she was sitting on the ice just bawling hysterically, and our hearts were breaking.  I wanted to just run out on the ice, pick her up, take her home to cuddle and rescue her from the pain – both physical and emotional.

But we waited.  The coaches were right on top of things, and Coach Katie even picked up Bug at one point and was holding her on her hip (while on skates…wow!) and talking to her.  Coach Katie did her best, but eventually, Emily came rushing over to the doorway to us.  She’d had enough!  She was crying so hard that she could barely get out the words.  “This isn’t as fun as I thought it would be!”, “I want to go home!”, “My bottom hurts because I keep falling on it!”, “This is hard!”, and “My hair keeps getting in my face!”.

I took her in my arms and told her that we loved her very much.  We told her that we understood it was harder than she expected, and we pointed out that she was only one of MANY that kept falling down constantly.  We told her how proud we were that she was learning to get up all by herself.  We told her “You could go home, but why don’t you give it a little longer and see if it gets better.  You might end up really enjoying it.  You don’t have to be great at it, you are all here to learn, and the coaches will help you every step”.

We reminded her that Mommy & Daddy were right here watching her, and that God was always with her.  We reminded her that she could pray to God in her head and ask Him for help.

Then, we tried a little bribery – I said, “How about you try to finish the class, and if you do, we’ll go to the store and pick out a new package of stickers?” .   She lit up at the beginning of negotiations!  She said “If I do good, can we go to the park as a reward?”.  We said “Of course, but you don’t have to be good at hockey.  We just want you to try to finish the class”.

I just knew that if she finished the first class, she would be so proud of herself.  I also knew that once she knew what to expect, the next 3 classes would go so much more smoothly.

So, out she went again, to give it another try, and by the awesome grace of God, she did it!!

She kept falling, but she bounced back up and kept going.  She skated fast and had several times where she skated halfway across the rink without falling.  She looked back and smiled at us.  She got hair in her face, and went to ask the coach for help (without tears!).  Her glove fell off, and she picked it up and put it back on (without fussing!).  HUGE accomplishments for an SPD kid!  She had been in the middle of a meltdown, and actually recovered from it within moments.  Thank you, Lord!!  Hubby and I were grinning from ear to ear and I was just amazed!  Normally, once she hits that meltdown mode, we are D.O.N.E – done for the day.

Then, they brought out the pucks! Soft, foam ones, not the hard “professional” ones.  They tossed them all on the ice, and the kids just went to town trying to get them in the net.

Another achievement for Bug!!

She got a puck and hit it toward the net.  She missed.  She fell.  Another kid fell and landed on her puck.  She hit the puck from right in front of the net and it went way off behind the net.  She lost her glove.  But, she kept trying!! She chased that thing around the ice, behind the net, and back before finally making it in the net!!  You should have seen the smile on her face as she turned around to look at us!! You would have thought she just won the Stanley Cup!  Mommy & Daddy’s smiles were even bigger than hers as we gave her thumbs up and cheers from behind the glass!  The determination she showed was incredible!  She didn’t fuss, she didn’t cry, and she didn’t quit!!

This is HUGE for her.  Bug does not do well when she gets something wrong, or doesn’t succeed the first time.  She is a perfectionist, and often quits when the going gets rough.  But she kept at it!  She even fell down and lost a glove during all this, but bounced right back and kept going, determined to make that goal!

After the first one, she claimed another puck and did it again!

When class was over and she stepped off the ice, her first words were “I want to be a hockey player when I grow up!”.

She went from this sad, dejected, frustrated, miserable, confused & hurt little girl at her meltdown point……

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…..to THIS – proud, confident, happy, excited, determined & accomplished ice hockey class participant!!

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When the going gets rough, take off your panties!

We’ve had a couple of busy couple of days around here, and that means a very haphazard schedule, which makes our SPD kiddo all the more sensitive and out of sorts.  Even after a bath tonight (which normally does wonders for calming her down and desensitizing her), she just could not find any panties that were comfortable for bedtime tonight.  She tried on about 7 pair of panties including her old favorite standbys, a couple pair of bike shorts, and even her swimsuit shorts (since she wears those sans panties), but none of them worked.

Finally, she decided on a nightgown without panties. What are you going to do? In this case, sensory needs far outweigh modesty.  I did remind her that this was only ok because it was bedtime, but that we had to have *something* on over our bottom to go to church tomorrow.  If we don’t make it to church, you’ll know why!

I will say that I am oh-so-proud of her for actually using her WORDS to tell us how she was struggling tonight.  Usually we get a lot of tears, whining, and flailing.  Tonight, she was able to stay in control enough to say “these just don’t feel good” and “those have seams so they bother me”, and finally, “can you give me a massage to keep my legs from hurting tonight so I can sleep?”.   WOW.  I made sure to praise her highly for her awesome communication skills in the middle of such an uncomfortable period for her.

Lovebug’s 5th Birthday!

Friday night, we had dinner at “560”, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant inside Reunion Tower.

Bug saw Reunion Tower a little over 6 months ago when we were out driving one day, and she asked me about it.  “What is that ball on a stick?”, she said.  When she found out there was a restaurant in it, she decided right then and there she wanted to go there for her “5 birthday”.  I’d been there before, and while it wasn’t super cheap, it wasn’t bad.   What I didn’t know, when I said “sure!”, was that it had been remade into a fine dining restaurant! With “fancy” food!  Good thing my little girl loves SUSHI!

So, we gave her the choice – a birthday party with friends, or dinner at the restaurant with family.  She chose the restaurant and never changed her mind.   I’m so glad she did! She had the best time! We celebrated with my parents, Hubby’s mom, and Hubby’s grandmother.  She ate tons of sushi, some samples of everyone else’s food, and an entire apple crumble dessert all by herself!  Such a big girl!

 

 

The next day, Saturday, we had a family party at home.  We had cake & ice cream, opened presents, and mostly played with Emily in the little pools in the backyard.  It was a fun, relaxing day!

 

 

Now, my little girl has been 5 for 2 days, and she’s growing up before my eyes.  All I can do is pray that this next year goes by a little slower than the last, and that I cherish each and every moment with her!  I am so blessed to be her Mommy!

To be like a child

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The Bible tells us that unless we become like a child, we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matt 18:3

I learn so much from my little girl each day!  God uses her to teach me about His character, and the qualities He wants in each of us.  I find that I do much better when I strive to be more like her, than when I focus on trying to make her more like me.

Yesterday, I talked to Bug about her play kitchen she’s had since she was 2.  She played with it for a couple years and thoroughly enjoyed it!  However, now it just sits in our kitchen taking up space and she never plays with it anymore.  Her interests have taken her elsewhere, and she prefers to help Mommy cook in the real kitchen than to pretend to cook in a pretend kitchen.

So, I gave her some choices.

1) She could move it outside and see if she played with it outside differently. 
2) She could sell it and use the money to buy something else. 
3) She could give it away.

She chose option #4 – “I want to sell it and give all the money to God because helping other people is more important than toys.”

WOW.

Why is it that my first (sinful) reaction in my mind is “Are you sure?? You don’t want the money for something else? You could tithe on it, but then buy something else, you know. “  Thankfully my brain-to-mouth filter was turned on, and I didn’t say any of that out loud.    Instead, I told her how proud I was of her choice and of her generosity.

Right now, I’m spending my quiet time in Psalm 119.  This morning, I picked up where I left off yesterday and read verses 36-37,

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

We don’t need to raise our kids to be grownups who seek to “have it all”.  We need to cherish our children, and look to them as examples of what God wants us to be like.

I live for moments like this!

Tonight on the way home, Bug (4 years old) commented on the half-moon in the night sky. I asked her to tell Daddy why we could only see part of the moon.

Bug: “because there isn’t light shining on it all”

Hubby: “How did you know that?”

Bug: “Mommy told me. After we got home from the park yesterday, she pretended the jar of powder was the sun, the apple was the earth and the squash was the moon. “

Me: “so how did that work?”

Bug: “the sun stays still and the moon and the earth move around”

So smart! It’s amazing how much they absorb!  Then, she said “I’m going to go to the store and get a sticker that says Good Teacher and give it to you because you teach me so good. It will have GOOD on the top and TEACHER on the bottom with a little pink heart!”

THAT is the reason I feel so blessed that we were called to homeschool!   The feeling inside when your child tells you that you are a good teacher just cannot be described with words!’

I live for moments like this!