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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cast For Kids

This past Saturday we participated in an event called Cast For Kids. It's an opportunity for special needs children to get to go fishing and do other fun stuff. It was held out at the Old Bridge Beach at Bay Springs and it's beautiful out there. The weather was great Saturday too. 

This was our first time to participate in anything like that, and I was really excited about it but it still managed to exceed my expectations. All the volunteers were so kind and helpful. Each of the participants got their own fishing pole and tackle box to keep, as well as a t-shirt and a hat. Korban, of course, was very pleased about the hat!

Hanging on to daddy. 

Sis just wanted to play on the rocks. 

She even brought Hundley for some fun in the sun. 

Happy little girl. 

There were also people from the marina that donated their time and their boats to give the families boat rides. My kids had only ridden a boat one other time before, when we were in Florida two years ago, so I knew they were going to love that. 

We had the choice between a bass boat and a pontoon boat, and we chose the pontoon. I was expecting it to be a short little trip but it was a nice long ride. We enjoyed it so much!

Here's Korban climbing on. He was ready to go!  No fear whatsoever. I was so thankful. 

I just love this picture of Korban. He didn't even know I snapped it, and the calm, relaxed smile on his face makes me feel good. 

Of course, Miss Selah was super happy to be on a boat too!

One of the men with the marina had his pug along for the ride. Naturally, Selah was smitten. :)

We even got an up close look at an osprey nest. A nest that big is not something you see every day!  

Pure happiness!

They didn't want to get off the boat but there was a lot of other fun stuff to do. Like games...

And face painting...

(Or arm painting, for those who don't relish having their faces touched. ;)

Balloon animals!  Korban chose a dog. 

Selah picked a snake. 

You could even get a sword or whatever you wanted.  The guy was really good!

Selah did some tree climbing...

And some sand castle building...

And some wading too!

She sure does love the water. 

And everything that goes with it. 

Korban didn't wade, but he sure was happy to be there. 

We didn't really do much fishing.  Turns out there was so much other stuff to do, we never actually got around to doing what we came to do. I am NOT complaining about that. It was a fabulous day, and we will go fishing another time, especially since Korban has all the equipment now. :)

They served us all a really nice lunch under the pavilion and then passed out awards. Each kid that participated got a plaque with their picture on it. So cute!  I can't want to hang Korban's in his room. They also got to pick a toy. He chose a Planes Lego set, which I thought suited him really well. He loved that movie, and he loves to build too. 

This was our first year to do Cast for Kids, but I definitely don't plan on it being the last. So thankful to have such an awesome event in our area. It is an annual event and I would strongly encourage any of my local peeps with a special needs child to sign up. We loved it!  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Part Two

 After we finished up at the zoo and went back to the Ronald McDonald House for a rest, we were ready to hunt up some grub. At first we weren't planning to go out to eat, but Brad saw online that there was a Joe's Crab Shack nearby and they were supporting Autism Speaks, so we decided to eat there. 

Brad and I love seafood, but we hadn't gotten to eat at Joe's since I was pregnant with Korban. I remember it really well because we went to a youth pastor's conference in Nashville and just had the best time. 

I was only about five months pregnant, but had had an eventful pregnancy with some real scares and we were really glad to get that time away with each other. We decided to eat at Joe's Crab Shack one night, and I mean we absolutely tore it up. It was so good, and I was at that ravenous point in my pregnancy. Ok, fine. I STAYED at that ravenous point in my pregnancy once the nausea passed and it only got worse once I actually gave birth and started nursing said baby. But that's neither here nor there. The point is, I ate a lot of good food. And then we had to walk back to our hotel!  Which wouldn't have been such an issue if I wasn't you know, fat and pregnant. To make matters worse, Brad was telling me some really funny story (which I can't remember for the life of me now) and I was laughing so hard I literally couldn't walk and had to sit down on the curb. Brad sat down with me and we just sat there on this curb, full of seafood, laughing so hard we were crying with all these people walking by staring at us. Such a fun memory. 

That was literally the only other time we had eaten at Joe's, so we were really excited to go back. We knew they had autism awareness t-shirts and we were so excited about that, we wound up going straight to the gift shop. We chatted with the employee working in there while we shopped and he was very nice and helpful. He was friendly and really good with Korban. He even talked football with him!  Korban liked him a lot and it really meant a lot to me that this guy took time with Korban and complimented him on what a good kid he was. 

They had a nice playground outside and it felt really good out, so we requested to eat at the picnic tables by the playground. Just being outside soothed my going-out-to-eat anxiety. Korban loves to go out and eat (bless him, he likes to eat, period.). He tries hard but going out isn't always easy. 

One time at Olive Garden in Memphis, he got mad and threw a breadstick. It landed in the plate of one of the people sitting next to us. Awkward much?  We apologized (a lot) and explained.  That was a time when Brad had made some autism business type cards explaining the issues and would hand them out when issues arose.   They were very gracious and just laughed it off once they got over the shock of an airborne carbohydrate projectile landing in their pasta. 

Another time he got ahold of my hair so bad in a restaurant with both hands that my friend had to pull him off of me. This really freaked out the ladies eating next to us. I can imagine it was a pretty strange sight. 

He's screamed in restaurants before and scared everybody half to death. And then there's the puking. He has a very sensitive gag reflex and with his stomach problems he tends to choke easily and then it's just all over with. One time we went out to eat with some friends and Korban choked and then threw up directly in my face. That's one of those things I would have sworn would have killed me before having kids, but I just cleaned up and went on. However, those friends have never asked us out again. I can't imagine why!  ;)

All that being said, if Korban is being disruptive obviously he is removed from the situation immediately.  It takes a lot of courage on all of our parts to be able to go out anywhere, but we enjoy going out and I don't feel like we should just hide under a rock. I don't want to ruin anybody else's night, so we try very hard not to bother other people, but I believe we have a right to enjoy the wide world too. :)

Anyway, I was excited about being outside and it felt very family friendly. Selah was all about the playground, so I walked her to it. She found a sweet little girl to play with, so I left her to her playing and went and sat back down with the boys. I could see the whole playground from where I sat and it was fenced it, so I wasn't nervous about that. 

Our appetizer (crab nachos!) was delivered and we dove into that with gusto. Selah's all like "let me play on the playground!" And Korbans all like "give me more chips!" Ha!

That was just the appetizer. We were pretty excited about the main course too!  

I told the waitress that Korban had just had his 8th birthday and asked if they would sing happy birthday to him. He loves that, and the waitress said they would be glad to do it. They were so sweet singing to him, and he was so excited. 

After Korban finished eating, he asked to go to the playground. There were lots of kids playing, so Bradwalked him down there and stayed with him. He just walked around holding his 
hand for awhile. Then Brad and I traded out when I finished eating so he could finish his meal. 

By then Korban wanted to slide. Can I get some props for climbing up in a play structure, through a tunnel and down a slide with a belly full of coconut shrimp?  

We played together for awhile, and then something pretty amazing happened. Korban grabbed my arm, pointed down at the ground and said "You go down there." He was telling me to leave him to play and go on--pretty big step for him. And honestly, for me too. He clings to me for comfort, but I'm used to keeping him within arms reach at all times because I just never know what he's going to do.  But I felt pretty confident. He had been doing so well, and pretty much all the other kids playing were as big or bigger than him. 

I went down to the ground and just enjoyed watching both my kids play. Korban wandered around and went down the slides head first and just had a ball. It was so cute. From time to time, he would lean his head out and say "They're being loud!" And I would tell him that they were just playing and ask if that was ok. He would say yes and go back to playing. He touched a couple of kids, but not in a mean way. Like he would just smile and hold his hand out to them. There was one little boy that was so sweet to him. He reminded me of our friends' son Jakub. He sort of looked like him, and he seemed mature for his age and just so KIND like Jake and his little brother Jack.  I love seeing a sweet, gentle spirit like that. 

This little boy kept speaking to Korban and giving him high five or shaking his hand. It made my heart so happy. 

Selah played the whole time with the first little friend she met on the playground. That little girl was so sweet, and they played so well together. 

So I was happily watching the kids play and I looked up and noticed Brad talking to a couple who had eaten dinner close to us. They chatted for a while, and when we all left Brad was so happy he had gotten to talk to them. They had noticed that Korban had special needs and explained to Brad that their daughter did too (a chromosomal abnormality I believe) .  So they were talking for a long time about that. Their daughter just so happened to be Selah's little playmate that she had enjoyed playing with the whole time we were there! 

They also had two older children, a son and another daughter. While Brad was talking to the dad, their son ran up saying "hey, there's a kid that's like sister on the playground and he's really cool!"  (He was referring to Korban.) Remember me mentioning the little boy who had been so kind to Korban?  Yeah, same kid. Special needs siblings are rock stars too. 

I just thought it was such a God thing that we ran into such a precious family. Amazing way to top off an incredible day. Full bellies, even fuller hearts. :)

Being Thankful

Very happy to be able to say that Korban's new medicine is working very well for him. It's a very small dose of a beta-blocker called Propranolol being used to treat his anxiety. He's more relaxed and interactive, and also MUCH less aggressive, with no negative side effects like acting drugged or whatever. Very big praise report!  We have had the best weekend we've had in a very long time. Friday was his infusion and while he still didn't like getting his IV, it was much easier than it usually is. He still cried and screamed a lot but he didn't get sick beforehand like he often does due to nerves. We only had to hold his arm steady and keep him still rather than laying him back and having to hold him down like we normally do. It was far from perfect but it wasn't the battle we normally have to fight. He fell asleep and had a nice little nap while getting "infused." 

Love that sweet face!  

He woke up before the infusion was over but was in a good mood and was ready to eat. 

Selah played and watched tv while waiting on her brother to get finished. The volunteer who does the face-painting was there and Selah was all excited to see her. She had her mind all made up--she wanted two apples, one red and one green, painted on her arm. 

It turned out so cute!  I especially like the worms. :)

After Korban was finished, we headed back across the street to the Ronald McDonald House. 

Here's Daddy carrying Selah and her much beloved Hundley. 

We had lunch at the house. There was a surplus of Easter candy, and of course it caught Selah's eye. She's mine, after all. 

She chose this candy which looked like a rubber ducky. She loves ducks and it really was cute. I'd never seen anything like it. 

At least she shared: 

She ripped off the duck's head and passed it on to Korban. (After taking a bite to make sure it tasted okay first. 
I'm sure she wouldn't want to give her brother sub-par candy.)

Then she tore into his tail feathers, saying "bye-bye, butt!" Oh, Selah. 

After lunch we headed to the Birmingham Zoo. The Ronald McDonald House has a membership arrangement so that any of their residents can go to the zoo for free. We love the zoo so much, so this was a big treat for us. The weather was just lovely and Birmingham has a very nice zoo. We really enjoyed ourselves. 

We went to the reptile house first. (Of course we did!). See the tortoise in the picture above?  He's sort of flat and camoflauged on the ground there. He's actually called a pancake tortoise. See?

This completely tore Selah up because she thought it meant he liked to EAT pancakes. I get a really lovely image of the zoo staff taking the tortoises on a field trip to IHOP if I think about that for very long. 

We were walking around looking at a different things, and Selah started trying to pull us down this dead end alley. We told her no, that there wasn't anything to see down there, but we were wrong. This was what Selah had spotted:

A big peacock in all of it's glory!  

Selah sidled up for a photo op. She was probably trying to figure out how to get that thing in our van!  ;)

Both kids even got to pet it!  Niiiiice peacock. 

Selah also got to see her other favorite bird, the flamingos. 

Since she's Selah, she also did some climbing. 

Hang on, sister!

Korban went to visit the gorilla. That's his favorite animal there. The gorilla was totally chillin'--enjoying the sunshine. 

Look at him--all laid out. I love the arm in his face. So funny. 

He did sit up and move around a little bit while we watched. Very pretty animal. 

Korban loved watching him. 

We had a blast at the zoo. This whole weekend was great, and I want to write about all of it but this post is already long, so I'm going to have to break it up. Consider this part one. To be continued!