Blessings Beyond our Understanding

baptismal-fontThis was a big week for Pooh Bear.  The funny part is that at this point, he has no idea of the significance on the events that took place.  The exciting part for me is being here as bit, by bit, the layers will be pulled back for him and he will understand (as much as anyone can) the great changes that took place.

Monday we filed his petition for adoption.  While that might not seem like that much of event, you have to understand that from here the distance from filed adoption petition and finalized adoption is the distance from one pile of papers to another.  At some point in the next six to twelve weeks, we will receive a very non-descript envelope that will inform us that his adoption has been finalized.  It will have a date on it and that will be his Adoption Day that will be celebrated annually in our house, but that envelope is incredibly anti-climatic despite the significance it represents.  The filing is the last “hurdle” that needed to be jumped in order to get there.

It also means that he can now be called by his new name, however, we have another tradition in our family.  That is, the children receive their new names at their baptism.

And that brings me to the second big event of the week for Pooh Bear.  Today he was baptized.  All baptisms are extremely exciting for me, but it is all the more exciting to be part of one like this.  By God’s design he was born into one family.  Yet, also by God’s design, he is now part of ours.  While we were up front with him, making covenant for him, and on behalf of him, his birth family was with the congregation, tearfully adding their support.  It is beyond comprehension by human minds that such a thing could be.  It does not make sense, and yet, it happened.  We were all there to witness it even though, to a large extent, most of the sub plots of this great tale were lost on all of us.

This day marked his entry into a covenant of faithfulness, just like his filing marked the beginning of the process that brings him into this family.  He doesn’t fully understand either (in fact I am quite sure the only thing he knows is that he got wet), but understanding is not a pre-requisite to receiving the blessings of either.

He doesn’t need to know that I am his father to be blessed by the provision, protection, and love that will come from that.  Neither does he need to understand what that water poured over his head means in order to receive the blessing from it. He is eternally marked and he belongs to Jesus, just like he belongs to this family.  As he grows, it is our job to help him understand what it means to belong to the family of God, just like it is our job to help him understand what it means to belong to our family.

In the meantime, blessings will be poured out him.  Some of those he will recognize while others will bless him without him even knowing it.  In the end, that is the condition of us all.  There are blessings we recognize and are grateful for, and there are those that are poured out on us by our loving Father that we don’t have a clue are even there.

I am grateful to our eternal Father that He does not bless us based on what we understand.  If that was the case, I am afraid, that I would have far fewer blessings than I now enjoy.  In fact, I know for certain that I would have at least 7 fewer blessings.  Those are blessings that have names and are frequently the subject of this blog.


Special Needs at Disney World

Bright Eyes and Curly Girly with CinderellaWe are in the middle  (literally) of a trip to Disney World.  It truly is a magical place for kids of all ages (that would most definitely include yours truly).  However, like any good thing, it can quickly become a bad thing if not handled properly.  A corollary is that too much of a good thing, is no longer a good thing.  Here is some advice on how to keep the special times special for everyone and to maximize the great things the children will enjoy.


1) Establish your home base

Beautiful excels in this department so I really do not have a lot of personal experience to add here, but I can tell you what I have observed by watching her, and what helps.

First, pick a place that will have a place for everyone.  There are too many of us for a hotel to qualify.  Consequently, we rent an apartment or, as in this last trip, a home.  Literally, our home base, is a home.  This provides a comfortable landing spot for everyone in the family.  The irony is that it was cheaper than a single hotel room ($125 a night).

Secondly, settle them in.  Show them around.  Where are they going to sleep, eat, bath, use the restroom?  Where are you going to be if they need you?  Where is the food going to be when they are hungry (you still need to make sure you control what they eat, but they need to know there is food)?

The first night in the house, Curly Girly opened the refrigerator and commented that they didn’t keep much food in the house.  You have to love that.

2) Set Expectations

We have 4 firstborns in our little pack.  They all want to know the plan and become agitated when there is any kind of variance.  I am sixth born, so for me, “winging it” is second nature.  That is a conflict waiting to happen.  To avoid that, prepare your children before you leave.  It is too late once you get there because they will be seeing things to thrill them before they even get to the park.  Even the street signs on the way in are “Disney Special.”  I always tell the children  that if they have a happy heart, they will have a happy time.  If they are unthankful, they will be miserable.  They also know the parks (from experience and the promo video that Disney will send for free – HIGHLY recommended) so they can tell me ahead of time what they want to do when they get there.  That way we can prioritize those things they really want to do rather than the latest thing that catches their eye.

3) Make use of Services

Disney does a fantastic job to accommodate people of all types.  In some ways, it feels like a convention of families with special needs.  However, you need to ask in order to be receive assistance.  To start, head to Guest Services and ask about services available for children of special needs.  I recommend inquiring about the Guest Assistance Card.

4) Remember the Critical 3 needs

If I weren’t so tired, this topic would be number three.  I am sure you can cope.  Nutrition, Hydration and Exercise are things your children need in steady doses.  Make sure you are all  drinking regularly, getting some healthy snacks (trail mix, peanuts, granola bars, etc.) and getting some chance to use their big muscles (if they are mobile) will help keep their them from wild mood swings.  Disney has play areas in every park.  Use them.  Trust me, it will be worth it.

5) Remember their frames

It is easy when in a place like Disney to push on to “just one more thing.”  The problem is at some point, you will push the children beyond what they can handle.  You are asking for a meltdown if you don’t pay close attention to their conditions.  Disney provides something for your eyes to see everywhere you look.  Additionally, the volume is loud, the crowds are bustling, there are all kinds of smells, and it is probably hotter than they are used to.  All of this is pushing their senses beyond what they normally handle. It can be mentally exhausting for them just to filter out what they don’t want to pay attention to. Keep that in mind and pace yourselves.

Part of pacing yourself is resolving not to stay too late, and not to try to do everything.  Yes, tickets are expensive, but if you want this to be something your family enjoys, then be prepared to stay extra days rather than make the days too long.  Disney’s tickets after day three are about $11 a day.

6) Leave a “down day” in your schedule.

Yesterday, it was obvious that P.C. (who is a sensory avoider) was out of gas.  We were literally pulling out of the street from our rented home when we decided he needed a break.  He was beginning to deregulate and we hadn’t even gone a block.  I stayed home with him and went through a sensory diet that included a lot of big muscle exercise and he was a new little man.  He had a great day at home and was extremely happy again (his usual state).

Today was a great day for him, probably his best of the trip.  In addition to being better prepared and regulated, he also knew his own limits better and was not afraid to ask for more help than previously.  The “down day” made the rest of the trip possible for him.  He can now enjoy the next couple of days before we head back home.

Making Memories

Ultimately, a trip like this is about making memories together as a family.  The question is, what kind of memories are you going to make?  If you approach the outing with preparation, and patience, you will make some great memories that the whole family will enjoy.  If you don’t you will create memories of anger and tension.  No one chooses to make the second of memories, but if you can easily end up there if you don’t work at it.  Find what works for your family and enjoy your trip!