Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hinton Status

It's been a long, good while since I've given any real update on the status of our family.  So, no deep thoughts here today folks, just thought I'd share a little bit about all three kiddos.

We'll start with the classic third kid...Turner or T-dawg, T-bug, T-bone as we lovingly refer to him around here.  This child is a dichotomy.  He's arguably the most content, sweet, smiley little thing, but at the same time I feel like he's been fussy and needy most his nearly four months.  He does go with the flow, as if he had a choice.  We're on the go almost always at least five out of the seven days a week, so he's in his car seat A LOT!  Of course, this means he's on an unpredictable schedule, which goes against every fiber of my being.  Schedule = Consistency = Predictability = Sleep = Good Life in my book.  Both Elena and Cal were rockstars in this category, Turner not so much.  Besides the schedule and lack of sleep, he's certainly the most expressive of our kiddos.  He smiles at ANYTHING.  It's great and so darn cute.  You may remember Cal "The Scowl"...it took every trick in the book to get him to smile.  Elena was so content but I had to use some good material for her too. Ha!  As far as tricks go, he's rolling all over the place, gives us the occasional giggle, and coos around the clock.  He's changing by the day and is just the cutest little thing.  I know a lot of people think he looks like Cal, and he does, but really he reminds me so much of Elena at that age.  His expressions, his eyes, his smile take me back to that short time we had with her then.  I'm starting to feel that familiar anxiety creep in like it did when Calvin was around this age.  Elena was injured six days before she was four months.  I remember with Cal, being so scared until that time period passed and I feel that familiar fear in my gut now as T starts to approach that age.  It's weird and unfounded, but I'll feel it for awhile longer (though it never really goes away).

Calvin is a two year old.  Some days he's great and fun and hilarious and other days he tests every fiber of my being.  Other than the emotional swings of toddler-hood, he's a pretty great kid.  He's sweet, funny, caring and polite.  He is my helper with both Elena and Turner and takes his role as brother very seriously.  He loves to read and has memorized several books on account of us reading them to him 5,278,902 times.  He loves puzzles, music, singing, dinosaurs, sports and school.  Pretty eclectic taste!  He requests Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" all. the. time. and demands Kidz Bop on all car rides (shoot me).  We often catch him singing songs to himself or sitting with a book "reading" out loud or to Elena.  "Gasketball", soccer, golf, football and "lollyball" are favorites around here, all of which make Dad beam with pride.  Though, it's the indoctrination of the IU Fight Song and the memorization of the entire IU Men's Basketball team that have Chad really happy.  Calvin will gladly tell you his favorite player is "Juwaaaaaaan", his cousin Sam like "OG" and Uncle Evvy likes "Thomas".  I think his head will explode when Chad takes him to his first IU game.

We moved him to a big boy bed back in October and he's *nearly* potty trained, though that's been one step forward, two steps back.  He goes to preschool two days a week and loves to hang with his best buddy Max.  Christmas has him allllll excited this year, which is exciting for us to watch.  And he's looking so grown up these days.  He's growing like a weed and never stops talking. I wish I would write down all the funny things he says and does.  I'll never tire of hearing him say "I'm losing my britches!" (when his pants are falling down)  Cal has a big heart and that has me proud.  Watching him grow is such a privilege.

Last, but not least, Elena!  It feels good to say that she's finally on the upswing again!  Having a child with special needs is a constant roller coaster.  Things will be good for awhile, then something pops up (perhaps like emergency hip surgery), enter crisis/setback mode, then usually things get ironed out again.  I'm praying that we stay on this track for a good long bit, because it's SO awesome to see her doing so well.  I can't express enough how much she loves school.  Anytime anyone asks her about it, she immediately smiles and starts to "tell" them all about it.  Chad and I just can tell that her little brain is soaking up all the input, academically, socially and therapeutically.  We are so encouraged by it all.  You may have seen the video I posted last week of her taking steps in therapy.  This is also a new "stride" (pun intended!) for her.  She must feel great with two new, stable hips under her because all she wants to do is stand and take off stepping.  It's so fun to watch.  She's really doing great on all fronts...visually, communicative skills, academically, physically....she continues to prove to us that there is so, so much more that is possible for her.

All of that said, it's a lot.  There's still so much to manage.  Our list of "shoulds" is a lot longer than what we are actually doing.  She needs a lot of support and we get a lot of "homework" in her therapies that we struggle to implement at home.  It really is a full time job.  With our schedule and three kids who all need me all day, the tasks are impossible.  But, it still feels good knowing all that she is doing, without me at my full devotion to all her needs.

Momlife is hard ya'll.  It feels somewhat better, to see all that my kids are and achieving, (do this!) written out when every day feels mostly like a failure.  Three kids is no joke.  It makes me almost cringe when people say to me what a great job I'm doing because, let me be real clear here....we are surviving.  That's it...there's little else to our day other than just making it to bedtime.  And when bedtime comes, I breathe on the couch for approximately 15-20 minutes before putting myself to bed.  I haven't seen 10pm (honestly, 9:30pm) in months.  I know I'm not alone, there's lots of you Mom's out there in the trenches with me.  But, it's true...it's just a season (oh dear God, please let this just be a season!) and one magical day I won't clean up puke, poop or other bodily fluids.  I'll rise in the morning after a full and complete night's sleep.  I'll blissfully send all three kids to school and enjoy eight peaceful hours of nothing.  Maybe I'll even put on real jeans, curl my hair (let's be real here, actually shower), and look acceptable in public.  That day WILL come and it will be amazing.  But for now, it's not...ha!

Our life, in all it's chaos, is still pretty great.  I have three ridiculously, squeezably, cute kids who make me laugh (and cry), smile (and cry), and bring me so much joy (and cry).  We have so much to be thankful for this holiday season and always.  That's the Hinton's lately...and props to me for posting two weeks in a row....it's a win!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Thanksgiving Challenge

I generally like to do a Thanksgiving post, because I think it's so so important to have a grateful spirit, not just one day a year, but all the time.  In our culture, this can be really difficult.  I know I am a few days early but I'm grateful for thirty minutes of Daniel Tiger this morning to keep my two year old occupied.  

This year I don't think Thanksgiving could have come at a better time considering everything that's happened in our world in the last few weeks and months.  Politics and politicians aside, I've found the behavior of the American people (all sides, all parties) to be the most disappointing.  And it's not just the subject of politics, it's friend to friend, family to family, neighbor to neighbor.  People just aren't kind anymore.  We live in a me, me, me world.  It's all about how I feel, what you did to me, how I've been slighted, how I wasn't treated fairly.  There's no respect of others, other's opinion, other's feelings.  We've forgotten that other people exist.  

I would like to think the perspective of my own "me world" changed five years ago when I found myself in the ER with my three month old baby, whose life was nearly taken.  I learned pretty quickly that life isn't fair.  Things don't always turn out the way we expect them to.  Sometimes we lose.  Sometimes justice does not prevail.  Sometimes it doesn't matter what you want or how you feel.  Sometimes things happen that leave you afraid and unsure of what lies ahead.  And I've learned that those are the moments when you choose to either shrivel or shine.  

You can shrivel into an angry, bitter, revengeful person.  Or you can choose to shine by humility, forgiveness, kindness, perspective.  It's in the moments that often leave you feeling crushed, confused and disoriented, where you pick your path.  It's not always an easy choice.  Sometimes it's easier to be angry and spew bitter words at others and into the world.  But you learn more, gain more and give more when you choose the other.  

In our world, there's far too many people who choose pride over humility.  There's far too many people who choose to shout, instead of listening.  There's far too many people who choose to be bitter and spiteful, instead of being kind and forgiving.  If we could all step outside of our feelings, opinions and circumstances for just a moment and realize that there is an entire world of people who also have feelings and difficulties, perhaps we could resolve some of the hurt.  When we pause to be thankful for what we do have and consider the needs of others, you may find that your hurt, problems, whatever, isn't so bad.  

In this week of Thanksgiving, I challenge you to identify one thing in your life that is a source of hurt, whether it's a relationship, circumstance, outcome or anything else, step outside your feelings for a moment, and choose humility, kindness, forgiveness.  Reflect gratitude for all you have been given.  Honor the source of all the gifts in your life.  Choose to shine.  

I am thankful for all of you, who continue to show love and support to our family.  It is entirely humbling to know how many of you care and still pray for our sweet girl.

I am also thankful for the gift of grace.  I always need it and I'm frequently reminded that I need to give it.  

Lastly, I'm thankful for this......  Just in case you don't believe in miracles

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Five Years Later

Every year as this date rolls around, that familiar pit in my stomach appears, the lump in my throat is constant, and I always feel like I'm on the verge of tears.  This year, five years after our lives forever changed in a millisecond, those feelings remain.  The last couple days the events of that day have been on replay in my mind.

And while the flashbacks are painful, I can't help but feel a little differently this year.  You may remember my post last year.  That was truly one of the scariest things I've ever done.  But by the time I realized that was what I need to do, God had already prepared me for the act itself.  My mind and my heart were freed from the heavy burden of anger that weighed my soul.  Forgiveness is such an amazing gift, whether you are giving or receiving it.  It frees your heart to feel other things like gratitude, love, humility, compassion, all things that reflect Jesus and what He did for us.  Extending forgiveness doesn't change the hurt of that day, the questions that remain or the difficulties Elena and our family face as a result, but it has allowed me to move forward and clear my heart of the anger and bitterness.

After a tragedy, one of the questions that you always hear is "Why?".  It's no different for me.  Do you know how many times I've thought, pleaded with God, for the answer to that question?  Do you know how mad at Him I've been at times for this to have happened to my child?  Faith can sometimes be a hard, hard thing.  It often fights against our human instincts to seek the tangible, get the answer.  But I know that's not always possible and without my faith, there would be no strength and there would be no hope.

For Chad and me, it's never been about the what happened, it's been about how we have wanted to respond to it.  I remember a conversation we had before even leaving the hospital that we didn't want what happened to make us fearful and bitter.  We both wanted to face whatever laid ahead together in a bold, positive, hopeful way.  I think that's where faith comes in.  I was able to commit to that, because I knew we wouldn't be walking it alone.  I knew that from the moment I called out to God on the drive to the hospital, He would be there walking with me, carrying me, fighting for me every step of the way.  And He has.  God has been so faithful.  During those dark, impossible times He wants us to lean into Him and redeem that pain with love, grace and forgiveness.

And my friends, five years later, I can look back and see those promises fulfilled.  I can see the beauty that is His plan, perfectly woven through the hurt.  It doesn't mean that life is easy.  There's still heartbreak.  I still grieve.  My hearts aches for the difficulty that Elena will always face.  But I know we have only begun to see the "immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine".  (Ephesians 3:20)

My sweet Elena is the happiest, most easy going, hardest working, precious little soul.  She is my love, my joy, my inspiration.  I know God has great plans for her life and her story.  It is the greatest privilege to be her Mom and to share her story with all of you.

Our chicken, October 31, 2011...the last picture I took of Laney girl.

 Four days later

Five years later, my happy girl


"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28