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Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Old Long Syne

Good bye 2010... and don't let the door hit you on the bum on the way out!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It was my privilege...

A friend of mine, Laura, asked me if I would come shoot some pictures for her just before Christmas, Christmas Eve to be exact.  I talked about Laura here, and she is an super amazing person!  Of course I replied YES 'cause it involved a camera and me and photos so what's not to love!  And what started as merely picture taking, became my privilege.  My privilege to witness the smiles and see the joy, and see how all of God's work is truly perfect.

Lose The Training Wheels is a non-profit organization that helps children with disabilities learn how to ride bicycles.  Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but it is.  It really really is!  I don't remember the statistics, but the percentage of special need's kiddos with mental disabilities that learn to ride a bicycle is almost nill.  And besides the obvious joy the children get from learning to ride a bicycle, they come out of the experience with higher self esteems and self-confidence and a new found independence... things that don't come so easily to those with extra challenges.

So indeed it was my privilege to watch God's handiwork unfold and be able to document a little bit of it.

The bicycles are all customized with special seats and wheels and some safety features.  
Then every rider has two volunteers that stays with him or her the entire week.   Two volunteers right by there side the whole time.  To steer them on the right course, catch them if they fall, guide their path.  If you think the smiles on the rider's faces is good, be sure to look at the smiles on the volunteer's faces as you thumb through the pictures!  This gift of giving was the best one yet!
Let's start with the fact that sometimes, it's even hard to find the courage to even get on the bike!
 But eventually, almost an hour later, she makes it on...
 ...and tests out the pedals...
... and then she even gives way to a smile.  
Watching these children go from fear and uncertainty to joy was just amazing!  Many never actually made the jump to riding independently.  But it actually didn't matter all that much.  It was an accomplishment of something they may never have done otherwise.
This sweet young thing always had a smile on her face!  Every time she'd go around the gymnasium floor, she'd come by... grinning at every turn!
 And eventually, after days, she made the leap to two-wheeled bike all on her own.  Notice the volunteer whose hand is not supporting the bicycle!
This is N.  He is Laura's son.  He too made the huge transition to independently riding!
OK, here is a really really good part...
As a mama, this part makes me cry.  They are tears of joy and blessings and gratitude!
This is Laura, watching her only son, ride a bicycle for the first time.
 And here's N's papa.  Can't you just feel the love and the pride?  Just like all fathers and sons should be!
And when the rider gets good enough, they go outside.  Then the volunteers really get to burn some calories!
Laura is literally shouting with joy to N, "Look, I'm not holding on!"  It was really hard to tell who was having more fun!
This is M.  There was a storm that was clearing off and there is just something about these images that again makes me take a moment and breathe in the gratitude.  The storm giving way to light.  The drizzle giving way to empowerment.  Whatever it is, look at her go!
So here's the thing-  There were tears everyday that I was there.  Some from the participants from fear.  But most of the tears were from sheer joy, when one emotion is so very strong that it transitions to another.  Most of the tears were from the mamas and the volunteers that were also privileged to bare witness to these magical days.   I couldn't help myself either. 
 Every single one of the Lord's creations is so very perfect.
After my winy-complaining-mess-of-a-post yesterday, I think this is just what I needed!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christams and keeping it real

While taking my camera bag to the car on Christmas Eve, Patch lost my camera battery.  He set it on the bag rather than in it.  On.  In.  It's all the same when you're 12 years old.  We've searched high and low, and it's nowhere to be found.  I'm not sure how one actually goes about losing the aforementioned battery in the course of 20 yards.  But it is what it is.  And this being Christmas day, there are no batteries to be purchased!  Which wouldn't really be a big deal except that Papa got me a NEW 100mm macro lens, and I'm just itching to try it out!  So I'll embarrass myself with my poor writing skills and hope y'all don't notice the typos and bad grammar.

The best gifts this year went to Livy and Tess.
Livy,14, received an eReader.  To see my girl become the reader of the family, does my mama heart well.  My girl that once struggled for every word and was tested and retested and eventually diagnosed with dyslexia.  It was years of struggle and extra lessons and time.  Homework made us both cry.  But ultimately I guess all that extra time and effort paid off.  Around 7th grade all those reading strategies kicked in.  Now she reads with anticipation and joy.  So much so that the frequent trips to the library and bookstore were becoming quite bothersome.  She's was so excited to receive her gift and has had her nose buried in a "book" all day now.
The Five People You Meet in HeavenThe Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom is her first selection.  I think she's going to be an Albom fan!  {fingers crossed!}  Which leads her next to Tuesdays With Morrie and For One More Day.  Sigh...  Anyone read Albom's new book, Have a Little Faith?  Anything contents objectionable for a 14 year old?

Tess's favorite gift by far is her Paper Jamz Guitar.
Wow Wee Paper Jamz Guitar Series II - Style 3I have no idea how this wee child knows what she is doing with a guitar, since none of us play the guitar, and I'm pretty sure I've never taken her to a Def Leopard concert recently.  But that girl knows how to ROCK!  Prior to this gift, she'd grab just about anything, a spatula, a hanger, a tennis raquet, anything and start rocking out.  It's just about the cutest thing we've ever seen so of course we encourage her!  This toy is far too old for her, but she very quickly figured out how to operate the "demo" mode and has been strumming "Turning Japanese" all morning. 
Turning Japanese I kid you not.  Once I get my camera working, I'll try to figure out how to download video of one of her performances.  I'm so lame that I can't figure out how to load video.  

Well that's all I have right now.  Papa is cooking prime rib in the oven and it smells heavenly in here.  Together with Yorkshire pudding, we have our traditional Christmas dinner soon.

Do Amazon links count for photos?  It's all I got!

PS - Keeping it real... I wrote this part then deleted it.  Now it's back.  It feels an awful lot like complaining.  But I do want to keep it real.
This Christmas was stressful for me.  Really stressful.  And just when I thought not another thing couldn't make it worse, another thing was put upon my heart to deal with.  And God knows just what lessons to lay before my feet.  OK, God, just for a little bit, could I stop being a student and just reflect?  Just be?  No one is sick, and we have a roof over our heads and not being able to feel like I'm appreciating these little wonderful blessings makes me feel even more guilty.  The guilt for feeling this way, while at the same time the the rest of the world is celebrating, is heartbreaking.  Keeping a smile of my face and joy in my heart, or at least the pretense of joy for the kiddos, feels phony.  But it's all I got right now.  Blogging can be cathartic... helps show me in pictures and print, all there is to be thankful for right here and right now.  I don't like to write about the hard stuff in too much detail.  Yesterday, someone said to me, well you picked this life.  Yes, I did.  I still wouldn't have it any other way.  Guilt, joy, stress, blessings, and all.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joy, apprehension, and fear

Liv figured out that this is the 13th year we've had brunch with Santa.  Way back when Papa and I only had two littles... way back before cell phones and email... way back before the invention of the wheel and fire.
All the aunties and uncles and cousins come too!
First we decorate cookies.
When decorating cookies, more is alwasy better.  More frosting, more candy, more sprinkles.  
 And sampling your work is always good too!
Then we eat brunch.
I love this kid!  He cracks me up!
 Tess, who's teaching you to play with your Jello?
And what's that silly napkin-hat all about?  It totally takes away from your look!
 And then the waiting for the big man in the red suit begins.  It can be tough to wait your turn!
But eventually each has his turn to divulge his wish list!
That look on Livy's face looks like she's up to no good!  I wonder what she's telling him she wants for Christmas?  Just the thought of the possibilities makes me scared!
This child ran into his lap when it was her turn!  And the smiles or her face melted my heart... again!
Some are a little hesitant and apprehensive visiting this odd stranger.
 And some are down right angry!

Merry Christmas, all!
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