Three Whole Weeks

Hi!!!  Gosh, it’s been three weeks since I’ve stopped in and typed my guts out on these keys.  It’s been a whirlwind in so many ways.  November is a weird month for my anxiety and sadness.  It’s my birthday month and the month my Mom died in.  The day she died was just the weirdest day because her death was sudden and on set and I was by myself when some serious decisions needed to be made and a doctor yelled at me and I was 29 and very clueless about ALL THE HOSPITAL & DEATH THINGS.  So it often feels like a lot of replaying the whole day over and over again in my head and remembering not so great feelings and words said and I can feel some serious anger about it all.  We do always celebrate her and this year it was with Dairy Queen.  Amon and I got her favorite Butterfinger Blizzard and all felt mediumly right in the world for a moment.

I wrote this about her yesterday:

“I love this photo of us. She was my person. She is my one true parent. The one who stuck it out and loved and cared and gave with zero strings attached. She always wrapped me up tight. She always called. She always loved us and our kids to absolute pieces. She taught me my #1 parenting goal…To always pursue my kids. To chase after and love them fiercely and unconditionally no matter what. I miss her hugs and laugh the most. She felt like straight up home and acceptance just as I was…no fixing required. 8 years feels like far too long.  Another day closer in all the ways.”

I’ve been working some.  I put together 40 kindness advent kits and then sold them.  That’s how that works right?!?!  HA! 🙂  Now I’m working on key fobs.  Creating makes me feel better.  It’s this weird push and pull because it is insanely hard for me to get started creating these days, but once I get into my groove it’s just what I need.  I’ve been trying to push myself some everyday to create something no matter how big or small…just something.

We nailed down our own kindness advent activities for this season.  This will mark our 9th year of doing this which seems so insane.  You can read all about it HERE…my mom’s death inspired it all.  This year we are doing things that are completely free or things we already have the supplies for around our home because medical bills are legit.  I thought we’d have a hard time coming up with 25 things, but after a few car rides to and from school we had brainstormed a whole list.

I also put together a PDF of 101 Kindness Activities and listed it in my shop for $5.  It’s all the things we have done over the years or are doing this year.  I love this little list and it weirdly means so much to me.  Anyways, if you’d like to snag it CLICK HERE!!!

Winter and Leo are now the #1 school picture takers in our home.  These gems landed in my email and a smiled stretched so far across my face I almost broke.  I mean, Leo’s crooked glasses and giant wet spot on his shirt = perfection.  Winter was recently gifted some gold necklaces from Mrs. Diana at church.  I’m not sure who was working the kids’ photo line that day, but apparently they thought the necklaces should be neatly tucked under her collar and on full display.  Thank you whoever you are!  We’re considering getting personalized mouse pads made. 🙂

We get to celebrate 3 birthdays in the fall.  Josh Kelley busted into his 37th year first.  He requested things like sausage balls and orange juice with pulp (Gag!) for breakfast and chocolate chip cookies and a date night at Bar Taco.  So we did all of that.  I even lost his birthday card…already filled out and sealed…at the hospital…and didn’t even buy a replacement.  I just told him about his card…provided a spoken visual…and he was good with it.

Hudson was up next.  He turned 11 and Josh and I wondered how we got so lucky to parent this giant man child.  Donuts and a Little Debbie birthday cake and Taco Bell and some new soccer gear and a game of soccer at the park with Icees were all on the agenda.

He’s the funniest guy.  Our resident comedian and sweet love.  When I look at him, I feel his feelings so strongly.  I feel his smiles and laughter and his sadness and nervousness.  I hear his words and feel it all and I’m so glad I do.

As part of his gift Josh, Hudson, Solomon, Big Daddy and their friend Adrian all went to a Nashville Soccer Club game.  They had THE BEST time and now Josh and his dad are ready to buy season tickets next year.  They had an absolute blast.

And I’m the last Kelley birthday of each year.  I turned the big 37 too.  I’m usually super strategic about special days, but this year I felt pretty meh about it all.  Just my luck, some friends stepped in and made my birthday weekend a little extra.  Ashley, Alissa and Leah shoved me in the car at 5am and instead of hitting up the gym like we usually do they whisked me off the Waffle House for breakfast.  Leah hung up a birthday banner and even pulled champaign out of her purse to make mimosas.  Come on now, amazing.

Jen and Chad bought ridiculously amazing tickets to the Avett Brother’s concert and Jen and I had a night out.  It was insanely good.  We laughed and cried and talked about all the big and small things.  Jen’s one of my most favorite people to chat with because nothing will shock her.  She’s as open and accepting as they come.  It was such a good night and the cherry on the very top was when the rainbow lights lit up the stage and I felt Everett so close.  Miss that little boy like crazy.

For my actual birthday not much was on the agenda other than watching some amazing kiddos play soccer, finding the funniest penis shaped gummy…it’s supposed to be a carrot, but we all know better…and hanging some leaves at Everett’s grave.  That’s all I really wanted…minus the penis gummy. 🙂

And now the end of November is close.  Like so close.  I’m hoping to stop back in again sooner than later.  It feels good to type and share even the most mundane of things.  I think about this little space on the internet and I hope I never wander too far away.  Thanks so much for stopping by, reading and caring.  Means the world.

Flailing

Fall has been a bit wonky.  I’ve been anticipating the end of the year coming for so many reasons.  I’ve never been one to really narrow in on a certain holiday, but this year, for some reason, I am legit feeling Christmas.  I don’t fully know why.  The past few months have been difficult and sadness and anxiety have been swirling around coming up in all of these weird ways.  Maybe Christmas is on my horizon because it feels nice and good and magical and calm.  Maybe because I haven’t felt like myself recently…or felt like I had much to offer or give.  Maybe because I can’t seem to focus and I’ve never felt that way in my entire life.

I thrive on to-do lists.  I love marking things off…preferably with a black Sharpie marker.  And since fall set in I feel like I cannot get anything done that actually needs to be done.  It feels as if I’m failing in a 1,617 different ways and my head takes me back to summer.  Summer meant something deep this year.  I told myself over and over again, “If we can just get through Leo’s surgery.  If we can just take him back home.”  I’m not sure what I thought would settle if all that happened, but I just knew I wasn’t sure I’d survive losing another child and it felt like if we could walk out of that hospital with our boy in our arms things would at least feel a little right.

Maybe I’m left feeling my way through the fact that Leo is home and thriving and working so hard and making so many gains and my heart still feels shaken to it’s core with Everett’s death.  I didn’t think a successful surgery for Leo would mean my pain from losing Everett would go away, but there was this massive goal ahead of us…a finish line we had not been able to cross with Everett…and I just had it in my head that something would shake out from crossing that line with Leo…maybe a change within my own self.

Summer felt simpler.  Harder is ways because summer holds such pivotal memories of Everett and us losing him, but we could easily escape a bit in the hot sun and cool waters.  We were more rested and there was this weird easiness and to the chaos of everyone being home together twenty-four hours a day.  There was routine within in the glory of absolutely no routine.  Now we’re in the midst of six kiddos in four different schools.  Three middle schoolers is not easy.  And not in a personal way.  They are fun and hilarious and we love the people they are turning into and love hearing about what all is going on at school and in their heads, but it’s hard to keep up with all that is placed on their middle school plates.  A large portion of the time I have no idea how to do their math homework and well, that makes it pretty hard to help them with their math homework. 🙂

Flailing is kind of my best descriptive word for myself in this season.  Like a straight up fish!  I get through a day and think, “What did I do today?!?!”  Time races and I feel left in it’s dust.  Unproductive.  Scattered.  Unable to figure out where exactly I am.  Emptied out.  And that feels hard to me.  Winter has owed money on her lunch account for two weeks now.  Like we get automated calls from her school and emails telling us her balance is now up to_____.  Last time I chose to listen to the voicemail or open the email it was like $4.80…her lunch is .40 cents a day. :).  Just this morning I finally sent in some cash because I could not physically will myself to our bank or a business establishment that would let me get cash back.  Or I’d forget when I was at a store that let’s you get cash back.  I just couldn’t.  I have officially begun dropping any plate…the smallest and the biggest, the nicest and the jankiest, the in perfect condition and the chipped, the dinner plate and the salad plate…no plate is off limits…I am fully capable of dropping any of them and watching them fall.

This year for Halloween 5 out of 6 kids used costumes we already had on hand from our dress-up drawer and bin or they borrowed supplies from their Aunt Jen to make their costume happen.  I bought Amon a $12 wolf mask and told him we’d figure out the rest of his costume at home.  New costumes for everyone…handmade or store bought…it didn’t matter…I just didn’t have it in me and I thanked them all for going with Mom’s current flow.

If I had to nail it down I think this is absolutely some form of depression.  Fall is hard because this was the beginning of our new normal without Everett.  This was when we started to see longtime relationships fizzle.  This is when the isolation and loneliness that so often come with losing a child began.  This is when we walked through all those first holidays without him.  This was the beginning of the slow realization to all the dreams that had been buried along with his little body.  This is the season of really hard things and even if my mind does not remember every single event, my body does.  My body has taken stock of the trauma and does not forget.  I believe I’ve walked through a lot of healing…it’s true…but I also know my body holds something sacred and immensely hard with Everett’s death and therefore a change in season can set me off in a different direction and course without my say.

This week I did a podcast with Taylor at the Speak Life Podcast…it will air in November…and I got to talk a lot about Everett and the day he died.  Before I even started talking about him I started to cry so when I spoke about some details pertaining to the day he died I absolutely sobbed my eyeballs out and I’m honestly not sure you’ll be able to understand a word I was saying.  It has been a bit since I’ve spoken to someone…outside of Josh Kelley…about that day and my feelings surrounding it.  So when it all came pouring out so did the relentless tears.  Afterwards I felt this deep sense of release…it was so nice to say his name to someone and share feelings from that day.  It also threw my day for a loop and I found myself binge listening to the Catlick Podcast while sewing 1000 fake leaves together to hang from the tree over Everett’s grave.  And by 1000 leaves, I literally mean 1000 leaves.  The things you can order on Amazon is for real!

We have not done therapy in a while because it got pretty complicated to A) Get to therapy B) Schedule a therapy time that worked for 7 humans and C) What we did while waiting on whoever was in therapy…sitting in a still car for long periods of time is hard on Leo.  So admittedly we’re really behind on therapy hours and do need them.  I’m a firm believer in EVERYONE NEEDING THERAPY.  Everyone!  My best friend Ashley…who is a therapist…is quick to remind me of this in a very kind way.  🙂  And she’s right.  I just wish services like these were more readily and easily made available to people…another soapbox…for another day…mental health and America.

I’m taking some steps to help combat all the wonkiness…lots and lots of steps…all the steps 🙂 and then sometimes I just sit with it.  Like this morning, after a sweet early 5am breakfast with friends, some sadness crept in so I took Everett’s colorful pumpkin we’d painted for him to his grave right after I dropped Leo off at school by myself.  We have plans to all go together tomorrow afternoon to hang his leaves, but I just needed to take his pumpkin alone.  Today.  So I did.

I’m breathing…like seriously, breathing.  Deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth.  It’s real.  And it helps.  Grace is probably my number one helper right now.  Lots and lots of grace for myself and offering up real words to others to help explain my off-ness when it involves them.  I sent one of Solomon’s teachers an email this week explaining briefly how chaotic the last few weeks had been and I apologized for still not sending in his supplies he needed for this particular class.  We sent them in this morning and I’m hoping she’ll extend some grace and love to all of us about it.  Sometimes remembering to buy and then actually going to the store to buy glue, graph paper and popsicles sticks is hard.

I mean, who hasn’t been there at some point in their lives?!?!?  Maybe not everyone, but my current life is in a season of always behind.  Always forgetting.  Always not enough.  Always feeling a bit more broken and scattered.  Always feeling at a loss.  And you know what, I can see it…I’ve recognized it…and I’m working on it.  Our best we have to offer can look so different based on one million reasons and factors and contributors.  And currently my best might not feel like my best, but it is just that…my best in my current state.  It’s what I’ve got and the world isn’t going to spin off it’s axis because of any of it.

So I might feel like I’m just flailing around like a fish out of water right now…thrashing and swinging from one moment to the next…just trying to survive…but eventually I’ll hit the water again.  I’ll catch my new rhythm and in the mean time, I’ll keep working and moving towards my waters edge.  I’ll get there.  I’m moving towards it.  And I’m asking for a little grace along the way.

Things I Loved

Saturday we partied with Katie our crazy kind Noonday ambassador and it was a blast.  Thanks so much to everyone who came out, ate, drank, laughed and shopped!  Hope you had some fun too!

This Friday is the last day to order and I’m closing in on a big goal and would love your help if you’ve had some items on your wish list or gift list.  I know I’ve been making all the lists for the holidays…teacher gifts, family & friend gifts, etc.  I love knowing my purchases matter and I’m getting killer gifts to give as well.

I love seeing Noonday items in person because it never fails I find items that I would never have purchased from just seeing them only online.  The try-on and see-in-person was fully necessary and I love when I find those fun items.  This time was just the same.  I knew I liked a bunch of their stuff, but then seeing them in person added more love or introduced me to items I never saw coming.

The Ablaze Earrings and Halcyon Hoops were absolutely INSANELY GORGEOUS and totally not something I would have ever purchased online!  Ever.  But then seeing them in person and then on my ears and I was fully sold.  They are incredible and both classic and statement pieces.  Maybe my top 2 favorite items from the entire evening.

 

My favorite bracelets surprised me as well.  Once again, I had not picked out any of these as ones I was eyeing, but the Crosshatch Cuff, Encircled Wrap Bracelet and the Utopia Bracelet Set won me right over.  Added them to my wishlist promptly!  Love the more muted color tones and gold.  BIG LOVE!

I’m typically a very simple necklace wearer…like usually wear the same necklaces over and over and over…like shower in and wear to the gym and sleep in them.  I have very few statement piece necklaces and definitely share my flare through my bracelets and earrings.  I hadn’t picked out the Spiraled Pendant Necklace or the Timeless Medallion Necklace, but when I saw them in person they really did still match my M.O.  Classic pieces that literally go with everything.  Both killer!

I laughed because they are basically the same piece, but if you absolutely made me pick the Spiraled Pendant would just win out by a hair.

Noonday’s Winter Line was awesome…just as expected.  It all sweetly reminded me so much of Everett…of course.  One thing I was really surprised by were the Brightly Felted Ornaments.  In my head, they were small, but they are actually really big.  I was crazy pleasantly surprised.  They are gorgeous bright colors and I immediately started thinking about what a fun little gift they would be to purchase, but then give individually coupled with a small Starbucks card or yummy chocolate.  That puts them right at $11 for a thought-filled gift.

 And last surprises of the night were the Adwa Foldover Clutch and the Anthology Market Tote.  I am definitely a bag lady.  I love fun, funky bags and have pretty much only one very classic bag.  I love boho and color and sling bags and pretty much the bigger the bag, the better.  Here, HOLD ALL MY THINGS PLEASE.

So for me, the Adwa Clutch was in no way on my list, but then I saw it in person and threw it over my arm and across my chest and I was sold.  Bonus:  It’s made in Ethiopia.  It’s gorgeous and really would still hold all my must haves and they have alternate straps you can purchase…Embroidered Bloom Strap and Jetsetter Strapthat are ridiculously cute.

PS:  Also could totally be killer camera straps.

And the Anthology Market Tote would be such a fun little gift.  It’s made really well and thick and who doesn’t need a fun pool or Aldis or park bag.  This is definitely a throw all our things for soccer in this bag and go kind of deal.  Loved it and it really wasn’t on my radar other than loving the color scheme.

So that’s my run down of my surprise party finds.  A mix of things I was surprised to find I really loved in person and wanted to pass it along to you guys.  Remember, last day to shop is this Friday!  CLICK HERE and snag some goodies.

Christmas On The Brain

Amon and Winter have already been requesting things for Christmas.  I’m working on a new Kindness Advent.  Josh Kelley has mentioned putting up his Christmas lights more than once already.  I may have already purchased some stocking stuffers and 2 out of 3 of Leo’s Christmas gifts.  What I’m saying is the Kelleys have Christmas on the brain.  It’s true.  Scoff all you want, but it’s true.  And this year I feel excited unlike many of the last few years.

We’re mixing up our Kindness Advent this year by choosing kindness that is completely free or we already have the supplies or items on hand in our home.  Very honestly, the main reason for this year’s spending free kindness is lots and lots of medical debt and we thought it would be a good challenge for our crew.  We all brainstormed over a few days and several car rides to and from school and came up with a legit good list.  It was actually really fun figuring it all out.  Also, I might be making up Kindness Advent kits for MY SHOP.  It’s been a long time request and I’m trying my hardest to make it happen this year.  I’ll share more soon, but as you can see Christmas is definitely on the brain.

Noonday recently released their Winter Line and it’s gorgeous.  It screams Everett Kelley and I want to buy pretty much every last thing.  Every year each kiddo gets a new ornament and when I saw the Rustic Bell Ornaments I knew what would be our kiddos’ ornaments this year.  Some years they get individualized ornaments pertaining specifically to them or something important from their last year, but sometimes I get them matching/similar ornaments.  They all have handmade clay balls from Ethiopia, paper mâché ornaments from Nepal, different stitched and crocheted stars from Afghanistan & East Asia and tiny animal bells from Zhengzhou, China.  Bells from India are joining the mix this year.

While I’m already thinking ahead to Christmas, I’m also thinking about birthdays and teacher gifts and just because treats for people who need some extra encouragement.  I’ve seen some Noonday artists in person…I’ve seen their craft and creativeness and it’s crazy legit.  What I can say with confidence is this is purchasing with purpose and power.

Tomorrow night we’ll party with Noonday.  If you’re local, I hope to see you there.  I promise to fix you a drink, hand you a plate of food and hug your neck.  And I promise you’ll laugh…it’s just what we do.  No pressure to buy, just come hang out and eat and drink.  Also, my friend Ashley gave me a bunch of new Noonday samples so there will be door prizes galore.  It’s going to be crazy fun!!!  If you can’t make the party, no biggie.  You can SHOP ONLINE HERE!  All items will be mailed directly to you.

Now I’m off to make some more cookies and clean our toilet. 😉 Rolling out the red carpet.

Noonday Haves

Leading up to Saturday’s Noonday Collection party I wanted to share with you some items I personally have and have given as gifts.  These are items I legitimately love and wear and have gifted to others.

The Birds of A Feather Earrings, Cow Horn Hoops, Crescent Moon Earrings  and Forestry Ear Climbers are all crazy classic and light weight.  I love wearing all of them and have given them many times as gifts to family, friends and our teachers.  Such a fun gift!

I love a good arm party and this bracelet accomplishes it in one slide snap.  Love all the colors and fun and funkiness of the Woven Dreams Bracelet.

The Wildflower Clutch might be my most favorite Noonday purchase ever.  It’s so colorful and well made and it’s a clutch that can still hold all my things. 🙂  A total keeper and I use it year round.

 

I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for items that are versatile and would easily please a large crowd…an items that can be given to friends and family and teachers that will be a slam dunk.  The Underground Cuff does just that and couples so well with other bracelets.

The Geo Necklace, Triangle really speaks for itself.  Simple, gorgeous and goes with anything.

 

 And I’ll share more tomorrow about Noonday’s Winter Line, but their Festive Paper Bead Garland is used often in our home.  I break them out for all sorts of festivities…birthdays, just becauses and Christmas.  I’ve also been known to add them to our Christmas tree.  Such a fun home item to celebrate with.

Hope to see you Saturday in person and if not, CLICK HERE to shop online now and snag some goodies!

Don’t Forget…This Saturday!

This Saturday is our Noonday Collection party and I’m pretty darn excited.  I actually have only hosted one adult party in our home since Everett died.  I know everyone handles grief differently, but I definitely turned inward.  I’d much rather stay at home these days.  It’s comfortable and what I know.  Home is my safe place where I know everyone there understands my heart and loss and my deep love for Everett.  But I’ve missed hosting fun parties so this Saturday I’m getting my hosting feet wet again.

Safari Stack Bracelet Made in Uganda 

Portal Bracelet Made in Haiti

Polished Horn Ring Made in Vietnam

Patina Hoops Made in India

I’m making yummy cookies and spinach & bacon queso dip and more yummy food and maybe I’ll throw in a few raw veggies for good measure.  There will be drinks and hugs and laughter.  And purchasing amazing items with deep purpose.  If you are local and want to join us shoot me an email pitterpatterart at gmail dot com

Medallion Necklace Made in Ethiopia (Sale)

Mossflower Weekender Bag Made in Peru

Mod Marble Studs Made in Vietnam

If you can’t make the show, no worries.  You can shop online now HERE and items will be shipped straight to you.  Still a giant win!  I’ll mail you a cookie. 😉

Filigree Hoops Made in Vietnam

El Amor Wooden Tray Made in Guatemala

Droplet Necklace Made in Ethiopia

Drifter Makeup Bag Made in Guatemala

This week I’m highlighting items I like and would love to own in this post.  I’ll also share items I already personally own and have gifted to others and I’m going to share some about Noonday’s Winter Line which screams Everett Kelley!  Major heart swoon.

Brilliant Leather Wrap Bracelet Made in India

Anthology Market Tote Made in India

Belonging Necklace Made in East Asia (Sale)

So mark your calendars and join us Saturday night at 6pm or head over HERE and grab some goodies for yourself, friends, family or teachers to celebrate!  Think Christmas or birthdays or just because.  Let’s put our purchasing power to good work.

We Will All Be Better For It

We have two amazing and incredible boys with disabilities.  They both rock extra special hearts as well as Individualized Education Plans at school.  Amon’s disabilities are less noticeable than Leo’s and honestly, that’s why I talk more about Leo’s.  If you are around Leo for any amount of time you will see it.  You’ll see his autism shining through.  You’ll notice the special way he talks and acts.  You’ll see it on his precious little face.  When you’re around Amon you likely won’t catch Amon’s disabilities at all.

Leo has given us this small & yet huge direct doorway into the goodness and crappiness of other people’s humanity.  While we know Leo and absolutely see how he brings value and magic and love to the world…that the world needs more Leo’s…not everyone thinks this way.  In fact, I can see how Leo is treated differently than Amon among people and out in the world.  And that’s pretty damn crushing as Leo’s mom and dad.  I think it’s fair to say, a lot of parents in similar situations likely can relate.

As parents I think we’re prone to notice all the things regarding our children.  We know where our kids are 94.2% of the time.  We’re keeping our eyes on them in large crowds.  We’re noticing all the little ins and outs of growing and changing…are they hitting milestones, are they not.  As parents of children with disabilities I feel like this gets heightened a bit.  If something is off with Amon or Leo my mind kicks into overdrive.  Like if Leo randomly falls asleep one day before nap time my head moves into investigation mode.  Why?!?!?  Why is he already falling asleep so early?!?!?  And I start moving through my mental & physical checklist.

Fever?

Heart Failure?

Sickness?

Low oxygen saturations?

Fluid around his heart?

Just tired because he didn’t sleep well last night?

A fluke?

We’re trained to notice all the things and then work through those, alone and with medical professionals, to find answers because sometimes it means life or death or a doctors visit instead of a hospital stay.  We are constant investigators.

These observant tendencies carry over into regular day life.  As parents of one child with more noticeable disabilities and parents of another child with typically unnoticeable disabilities we see how they are treated.  When someone doesn’t want their child near Leo, we notice when they move their child to another location because of some lame ass excuse they are verbally saying out loud to themselves…AKA saying it out loud because they are trying to make us think “IM NOT MOVING MY KID BECAUSE I DON’T WANT THEM NEAR YOUR KID.”  When a parent only hovers when Leo is around, we notice.  When they strategically place their child where they can’t physically get to Leo or Leo can’t physically get to their kid, we notice.  When people stare, we notice.  Can I just pass out stickers and tees that say, “Staring isn’t caring, asshole.”?!?!?!   When they mumble words under their breath or shoot someone else a look about Leo, we notice.  When people talk or point out all the ways Leo struggles VS all the goals he has met or the way he works so hard, we notice.  And by God, when someone else thinks they know how to parent Leo better so he “just won’t act the way he does”, we notice.  All the different ways others go about trying to limit their or their child’s interaction with Leo, WE NOTICE.  It does not go unseen.  They are not being sneaky or clever or discreet or smart.  They are being unkind and dumb and rude and exclusive.  And they are missing out on one insanely awesome kid!!!

What kills me is Leo works so damn hard.  If only you lived in our home and could see the ground he has covered in his short 18 months home.  He is at the doctor every week for blood draws and cardiology checks.  He goes to modified pre-school where he does speech and language therapy.  He does physical, occupational and sensory therapy.  And he has ABA therapy every day.  He works so hard on literally changing the way his little brain processes and teaching it new things.  Sometimes I sit and try and imagine what it’s like to be in Leo’s brain.  To be so little and to work so hard…it makes me teary and also so insanely proud of his hard work and determination.  He’s a big hitter and pincher and literally is grinning ear-to-ear when he does it.  He hit a kid the other day and when I told him he had to be soft and tried re-directing him he said, “Play.”  His precious little brain just works differently.  He’s not trying to be malicious.  He’s excited and trying to fill his sensory needs and play all at the same time.

Leo is brilliant a thousand different ways.  He also absolutely knows and recognizes people who really love and appreciate him as the human he is….exactly as he is now…no changes necessary.  His siblings are all smitten.  I laughed because Leo recently hit Amon on the back and Amon didn’t even blink, but turned around and squeeze hugged Leo which was just what Leo wanted.  My kids get it.  It’s not always easy, but they understand the magic of Leo.  My friend Ashley’s kids, Abram and Lorelei, are the same.  They both gush over Leo.  Abram always offers up a big hug for Leo and it’s fair to say Leo is slightly obsessed with Lorelei and I really believe it’s because he knows she genuinely likes him just the way he is.  I’ll never forget one time when they were swimming together.  Lorelei was swimming over to Leo and he got so excited that he chucked a pair of googles at her.  I told him no and re-directed while Lorelei just smiled sweetly at him.  Later Ashley told me that Lorelei said, “Leo can throw stuff at me any time he wants.”  Hahahahahahaha.  Gah I love that.

I’m not saying it’s always easy being buddies with Leo, but are any good relationships easy anyways?!?!  Nope.  Because we’re all human and we all struggle in areas and valuable relationships take work from all parties, but it’s well worth it.  Leo will love you unconditionally and forever and you’ll get a front row seat to his sweet enchantment and goodness.  He’ll teach you just as much as you teach him.  And after he sees you, you’ll be the topic of his stories and he’ll talk about you non-stop.  My friend Bekah, who is our carpool angel in the afternoon for Winter and Amon, is the perfect example.  Bekah adores Leo and loves on him every chance she gets.  She got her car stuck in the ditch in our front yard and it was all Leo would talk about FOREVER.  “Bekah.  Car.  Fell.”  But then Bekah brought him an icee when he was in the hospital a few weeks ago and now Leo has a new story, “Bekah. Icee. Leo.”  Bekah always chats with him and waves when we pick up Amon and Winter or she brings him a popsicle out to the car.  She gives him big squeezy hugs every time she sees him.  She gets down on his level and treats him like her own.  This week we were in Disney World and Bekah and her family were there too.  We ran into them and through the sea of people Leo saw Bekah and then nothing could have stopped that boy from getting to his Bekah.  He got to her and gave her the biggest hug and proceeded to remind her, “Bekah.  Icee.  Leo.”  Word on the street is it made Bekah’s day because Leo is a day maker.

I don’t really have a ton of answers.  I wish I did.  Like how do we make everyone more inclusive and accepting of all kinds of different human beings.  How do we all just chill out a bit and choose to soak up the beauty that’s found within all of us.  How do we teach parents to breath easier and offer grace instead of freaking out when their kid gets pinched by another child with a disability who cannot control their actions and behaviors all the time.  How do we teach people not to stare and that one of the best things we can do is offer up a kind smile.  How do we teach people that unless they have parented or taught children with  disabilities then they have no leg to stand on and their opinion on how to parent our child is actually void and completely unnecessary.  How do we teach the world that being an asshole isn’t cool.  How do we teach our people that everyone is worthy and amazing and we all have plenty to offer this world.  How do we educate an entire world on the fact that we’re better together and we each contain love to enrich and give to others.

A disability does not make you less of a person or change the amount you contribute to this world.  People with disabilities aren’t to be pitied.  And we’re certainly not to form relationships out of obligation or pity, but out of a desire to get to know a person and have a beautiful, mutual, flourishing friendship.  We learn from one another and become better humans together…not apart.  And a friendly reminder, parents of kiddos with disabilities pretty much see everything, so maybe next time think twice and instead encourage your child to form a friendship instead of choosing exclusiveness and avoidance.  They will be better for it.  You will be better for it.  We will all be better for it.  I promise.

Gratitude Planner {Update}

Last November I began my quest to figure out how to be more grateful.  Losing Everett had made me jaded in some departments that I was not okay with.  Some of my jadedness I hope I keep forever because it keeps me tuned into others loss and sadness and grief and pain.  But this jadedness in the gratitude department was only going to turn me into a complete asshat.

I set out to combat it and work consistently on my gratefulness because life is hard, but life is still utterly beautiful and I didn’t want to miss it.

You can read all about my daily planner, printer for daily photos and my daily gratitude HERE.

I’m almost a full year in of deliberately practicing gratitude and I can honestly say I have loved this practice.  It has made me more aware of goodness and all through out the day I think to myself, “This is what I’ll write in my book tonight.”  I also think I ended up getting a weirdly good by-product.  Things that used to completely and totally freak me out…bring on anxiety and stress…I handle much more clear headed now.  My mind instantly goes into a -What’s the worst case scenario and whatever the result is will the world spin off it’s axis?-  Guess what, the worst case scenario has never resulted in the end of the world.  So my mind kicks into breathing techniques and my mind races to find the good or the not so terrible part of whatever.  It’s so intriguing, but I really do believe it’s a direct by-product of practicing gratitude consistently for an entire year.

I am already preparing to continue this practice and I set to work looking for just the right daily planner again.  I love simplicity…I crave it actually…so I wanted an all-in-one-item again…planner and gratitude and photos all in one book.  I thought about getting the planner I got last year, but then started searching and finally landed on the Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Daily Planner.

This was just the planner I’d been searching for.  It’s still a very convenient size and there’s a page for each day of the year.  It’s pre-dated and the color options are lovely.  And the price is just right.

So I’m all ready for 2020.  I’ve got my important dates filled in and I’m already scheming to purchase all my HP Sprocket Portable Printer paper much cheaper with all the holiday coupons headed our way soon.  Excited for another year of practicing gratefulness.