a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Monday, August 26, 2013

Six and a Sundae

With a great group of friends this past Saturday, we celebrated Oia's 6th birthday. Six, that girl! We had a Sundae Funday party which satisfied quite nicely her sweet tooth as well as her desire for all things fun.
And it was fun! The outdoor afternoon party was complete with a pinata, an inflatable princess castle and make-your-own sundaes, among a few other things to entertain busy bodies. Smiles and kids were everywhere.
I'm not sure why, but my mind always tries to come up with a project or craft when celebrating with little people. I think it's part teacher, part wanna be artsy-fartsy. Whatever it is, it's important to create tangible memories too. And when you allow canvas and paint to collide with tiny and unique minds, you get something lovely in return.
I, ahem Rob, sectioned a canvas with painter's tape into individual squares. Each of Oia's friends were able to choose one square and decorate it for her at some point throughout the party, mostly when we could talk them out of the bounce castle long enough to get creative. Naturally, Rob and I snagged a square along with Oia's NeNe too. The bottom left square is full of Esme's love. A masterpiece, all for our one-of-a-kind six year old, to treasure as long as she'd like.

Dearest Oia Lee,

You are a blessing of six years and going strong. So, so strong. Everything about your mind and body is comprised of resilience, determination, and sheer persistence. Your therapists and teachers say it will serve you well in the future. In the moment though, you can be quite a challenge. Especially for your Daddy and I. You would have it no other way. And really, neither would we.

Tonight, your Daddy was looking at the picture of you inside the princess castle on the morning after your birthday party. Still jumping, laughing, feet free of braces. He looked up and asked me if I ever imagined you'd be able to do such a thing at this age. There was a time, when you were just barely one or so, that I just couldn't picture it in my mind. Oh, but I tried. I wanted to see you doing it so badly even if it was only in my mind. But if the image was there, it was hazed with uncertainty. So imagine beautiful girl, just how full our hearts felt to see you slide down and bounce around all by yourself inside that castle inflatable at your party... just like YOU always knew you could. Worth every penny.

Like your sister, you are a lover. Our favorite right now is the little pat, pat, pat you give on our backs while embraced in a hug. Your pat, pat, pat on our back translates to I-love-you-and-I-need-you-and-I-think-you-are-the-best-mom/dad-ever. No words ever needed to comprehend that.

You are a Daddy's girl. You have been from Day 1. Your day doesn't end well if that Daddy of yours is not home to tuck you into bed at night and watch you drift to sleep. Thankfully, he doesn't miss bedtime often. And yes, he really does stay right there, at your feet on the edge of your bed, until he knows you are asleep. It's no wonder you love him. You make a fiery dash and squeal all the way to the garage door once I declare "Daddy's home!" and you prefer to spend the last few minutes of your day tucked against his chest for quiet snuggles with him in his chair. Your sister and I do the same from across the living room. That's when 4 feels perfect.

This new year as a 6 year old is all yours. Work your magic, however you can, whenever you can. Continue on as the leader of this family and know that we are still behind you, soaking in all of your lessons, as you feel fit to teach them. It's a beautiful life we have, Oia, and I sure hope you agree. Thank you for making it that way.

We love, love, love you, darlin'. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Six years ago this very day, our first baby girl was born. After a long day of labor, a patient midwife delicately delivered our 6 pound surprise onto my draped belly while the good Lord simultaneously placed a crown of motherhood on my head. I'd like to think He smiled while doing so, saying "She can handle this. I know she can." Life changed forever that August evening and it changed in ways I never thought possible. And I'll live the rest of my days with a grateful heart and stretched perspectives because of it.

Happy Day, sweet Oia Lee. To the moon and back again, we love you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's Begun. Kindergarten.

Yesterday Oia sat on our front porch steps in nothing but her undies and sunglasses eating watermelon from a plastic bowl. Her last day of summer break. Red juice dribbled from her chin as she watched me mow, row after row, our entire front yard. She loves to watch me mow. And I adore how she excitedly waves at me each time the mower and I round the hill near her perch on the top step, like it's the very first time she's seen me all day. Smiling, front tooth missing, and happy. And all I could think, row after row of fresh cut grass, was My God, this time tomorrow she'll be in Kindergarten!

Breathe. Inhale.

Well, that tomorrow came this morning. I drove my innocent watermelon lover to school for her very first day of Kindergarten and my heart was ahead of my chest by at least 5 miles the entire ride. It made no difference whatsoever the number of years of preschool she's had before and the familiarity of returning to the same building barely eased my anxiety. Kindergarten is a whole new book. And Kindergarten for kids like my Oia must be a book from a whole new genre. It sures does feel that way at least.

Oia did great at drop off. Of course. She walked into the building carrying her backpack and lunch box all on her own but refused to hold my hand. Naaaa, she said, even after I begged her to. I needed her hand far more than she needed mine but her refusal communicated she had not a fear or worry in the world. At least that made one of us. Reason #62 of why I love this kid.

The teacher in me was quite critical in the routines and procedures department during morning arrival and of course that made for an uneasy hand-off of my world into the hands of a teacher and an assistant that I really don't know. A little faith goes a long way in times like these and I relied on it a lot today.

I thought about my big girl all day long. I looked at the clock often and wondered what she was doing throughout the day. Thankfully, dismissal felt much better than arrival, although I still had some remaining butterflies from the morning. Oia's teacher told me she had a "really great day", with emphasis on really. And I could tell she meant it. It was relieving to hear. Exhale. Deep down, I knew that would be the report. I just knew it. Oia has a way of making us proud and today she carried through with that characteristic of hers yet again. But 179 more days are ahead of us and this route in inclusion won't be easy. I'm realistic. But somehow, we'll make it all work out, one slow day at a time.