Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Being Thankful

I am the first to admit why I haven't written in over a month.  I've been lazy.  Completely and utterly lazy. 

Since this is the month when most people go on an on about who and what they're thankful for, I've decided to do the same thing.  Having Nate in my life has changed me in so many different ways.  I am more thankful for the little things each day.  The big things are still super important, but every tiny breakthrough with Nate is something to be thankful for.

These are, in no particular order some important people I am thankful for.

      Without him, there would be no Nathan.  Without my rock, I would probably be in some type of asylum right now.  He balances me out, he is strong when I am weak, patient when I am ready to snap.  Matt is calm when I'm freaking out and gives me all the breaks I need from the kids.  He's a wonderful husband and father, and without him I wouldn't be who I am today. 

      Both my parents and Matt's parents are amazing.  They try their best to understand what we are going through and really are hands on when it comes to helping out with Nathan. My mom and dad have been our saviors when it comes to baby-sitters.  We definitely need time to relax and chill away from Nathan, and my parents are always there to watch him when help is needed.  Matt's parents are so great with him as well.  John is always up for taking him for walks and distracting him, while Linda finds awesome things that keep him occupied instead of destroying things!

      These 4 people have definitely done their homework.  They are always asking for information about Nate, wanting to know what's going on with him and how they can help.  They have been some of our biggest cheerleaders and have really reached out to us in times of need.  They're always looking for that special gift, toy, object that will grab Nate's attention and project him into that next phase of learning.  Steve & Charity's kids have gotten to know Nate, and accept him for who he is, regardless of his quirks.  I know that when the time comes, any future nieces or nephews on my side of the family will do the same.  I am confident that both families will raise their children to be caring and compassionate, and love Nate.

      My best friend in the entire world is Amie.  Amie and her family have been the friends who have been there for us through thick and thin.  They have been a part of Nathan's life since is birth, and I can't ask for more caring, loving friends in my life.  Amie is always so positive about Nate's future, and I often turn to her for pep talks and to boost my spirits when I'm feeling down.  Their son, Jackson is about 18 months younger than Nate, and is so accepting of Nate's speech issues.  Although Nate can't talk to Jackson, they find a way to have fun, understand each other, and create quite a commotion.  

      Nate's school is Surrarrer Elementary, and I am so thankful that out of all of the schools in the district, he is at Surrarrer.  It is such an amazing place, and he really feels at home there.  I have gotten to know the staff and principal, and am confident that he is really getting a great education at his school.  I was so nervous about him switching schools last year because Surrarrer is so much larger than his previous school, but I now realize that I have nothing to worry about.  Nathan is taken care of, and is accomplishing so much thanks to his wonderful teachers.

MR. E.-
      Seriously the one person I trust the most at Surrarrer with Nate.  Alan was Nate's aide during his kindergarten day/extended day, and is with him again this year.  Nathan absolutely loves him and all I have to do is mention his name at home and Nate shapes right up (Alan- Can he come live with you??).  Mr. E. has done so much for Nate- from making his sight words into an awesome Curious George file folder, to being his friend, to showing him the ropes at a school he used to be so unfamiliar with.  It's been great to get to know Alan as a friend, and I'll be really sad the day he decides to leave Surrarrer and move onto his own classroom.

      Our team for the CASANA Apraxia Walk.  Everyone who has joined our team either by donating, walking, running, or anything else.  I appreciate you.  I appreciate that you want to be there and support my child.  I appreciate that you are willing to take time out of your busy lives to participate in a 1 mile walk or a 5K.  I appreciate the cards, phone calls, emails, and everything else that has gotten me through these past few years.

     Most of all I am thankful for my wonderful son, Nathan.  He's definitely challenging.  He drives me insane to the point where I don't think I'll make it through the day, but he is my son and I love him.  Nate has taught me so much over the past 7 years, and I am so happy that he is in my life.  I am thankful that he has his health.  I vent about his disability, but I know it could be worse for us.  Nathan, I love you with all my heart.

I'm sure that there are people that I have left off my list and believe me, it's not intentional.  My friends and family have been such a great support system for me.  I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

His happy place

A few years ago, we decided to begin Therapeutic Riding with Nathan.  Therapeutic Riding, is a program developed for children and adults with special needs.  The program is designed to help improve a variety of skills such as core strengthening, communication, building trust, improving motor and social skills, and decreasing sensory overload.

When Nathan started his Therapeutic Riding Program at Rocky River Stables, he instantly fell in love with horses and horseback riding.  He would "ask" when it was time for riding and both Matt and I knew it was something he looked forward to on a weekly basis.

During his 45 minute riding session, the instructors work on both gross and fine motor skills while on the horse.  The riders perform activities like arm and leg circles, puzzles, putting rings onto cones, and controlling the horse.  They do many of these activities inside the riding ring, and also go out on trail rides if the weather permits.

Nathan has come so far in the past 2 1/2 years of riding.  He always did a great job with the puzzles (he's always been interested in puzzles), but struggled with other things.  When he first started, he needed help getting on the horse.  Nate wasn't able to do the arm, wrist or leg circles without help from his side walker.  He also didn't always want to hold onto the reigns of the horse.

Last night, I stood in the entrance of the ring/riding arena, and watched Nate in awe.  He quietly and calmly walked over to his horse, and got on with minimal assistance.  He grabbed the reigns and was ready to go.  During the short exercise part of the program, he did the arm and leg circles with a small amount of prompting.  Nathan looks and acts so comfortable on the horse, and is truly at a happy place when he's up there.

I am so glad that we have been given the opportunity to participate in Therapeutic Riding.  We have found an activity that he absolutely adores.  I hope that being up on a horse will always be one of his happy places.

For more information on Therapeutic Riding at Rocky River Stables please visit

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nate's Mates

Most of our team- minus Nate since we couldn't get him to stand still!

I am completely overwhelmed.  I'm overwhelmed by all of the love and support I felt on Sunday at the CASANA walk for Nathan and children with Apraxia. It took everything I had to not burst into tears multiple times during the course of the day.

I'm sure most of you who follow my blog (or are friends with me on Facebook) know that Sunday was the Apraxia walk/5K at Osborne Park in Huron.  This is the second year that we participated in the 5K/Walk for Apraxia.  Last year, we decided to keep it small since Nathan had just received his diagnosis, but this year we decided to go all out and make it huge.  And HUGE it was!  We had 61 people officially registered on our team for Nate's Mates.  Due to some extenuating circumstances a few people weren't able to make it to the actual race (that's OK!), and I believe we had about 55 people there to support Nathan.  Our team, Nate's Mates raised $3,075 for CASANA.

The generosity that people showed during my fundraising efforts was unbelievable.  Donations to CASANA and Nate's Mates came from people I see on a daily basis, people I haven't seen in years,  people I have met only once in my life, and people I've never met at all.  Matt and I appreciate every one's willingness to support a cause that is so near and dear to our hearts.

The day of the walk/5K was so moving.  There were about 250 people there to support loved ones who are battling Apraxia.  Our team of 50-some people was a huge presence at the park.  It is so obvious that people care about and love Nathan and our family, and I am so thankful for all the love and support that my friends and family have given us over the past 7 years.

Here are some pictures taken at the event :

Nathan- all for you buddy :-)

Sara, (Uncle) Nick, (Aunt) Kristen, & Nate

The Kanengeiser Family

Proud parents
Nate's biggest fans

Nate's favorite teachers- Mr. Frederick (and his girls) & Mr. E

Grandpa, Oma, Karen, & Doug

Denise and Evan

Some of our team members

Monday, October 1, 2012

Peppers for lunch

I have to share this because its too funny not to. 

This afternoon, right around lunchtime, I received a text from Nate's aide at school.  Here's how our conversation went:

A:      Did you pack Nate an entire green pepper?

ME:    WHAT?!?!?!
         OMG, he was messing with his lunch- I bet he put it in there
         You can send that back home

A:      Lol, I figured

So, apparently when Nate was pushing me out of the kitchen and living room, he was smuggling a green pepper into his lunch bag.  

A green pepper???  My kid is so strange.  Most kids would try to sneak in a pack of M&Ms, some cookies, or fruit snacks. Mine chooses a green pepper.  

I seriously can't stop laughing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A letter to my son

Dear Nathan,

I wanted to thank you so much for dumping out the entire contents of your brothers 10oz sippy cup onto your comforter. Not only am I happy that you wasted milk, I am super excited to wash your sheets (again) since it seeped all the way through the comforter onto them. 

I'm also really excited that you did this today because I haven't cleaned up enough of your mess. I thoroughly enjoyed wiping up 1/2 of my can of Diet Coke from the table in the basement. I cleaned it once today, but you're right, it definitely needed to be cleaned again.

I absolutely loved stepping in your spit after coming down from your top bunk.  My foot was in dire need of some moisture, and what better way to provide this than your spit.  I hope that next time I'm coming down from changing your sheets I can step in your spit again.  

I really hope that we can have another liquid filled day in the near future, I seriously can't get enough of it.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Storytime? More like "borey-time"

From the day we brought Nathan home from the hospital he has been read to.  As a former teacher, and having a mother-in-law who is a retired children's librarian, I totally know the importance of reading to your child.  

Nathan has been read to every day of his life.  When he was still napping, we would read him books before naps, before bedtime, and various times throughout the day.  As a 7 year-old, he still gets books read to him before he goes to bed at night.  I strongly believe that Nate's love for books stems from us reading to him so much. 

Because Matt and I want to instill the importance of reading in both of our children, we (obviously) read to Evan as well.  For the past few months, we have been having "family time" before we put the boys to bed.  We gather on Nate's top bunk and read plenty of books to the boys.  Evan usually bring 2-3 of his toddler appropriate books, and we grab a longer book for Nathan.

Lately, I have been paying close attention to Nate while it's Evan's turn to have his books read.  I wish I knew what he was thinking.  He stares off into the distance and looks completely bored out of his mind.  Why wouldn't he be bored?  He's been hearing these same stories for the past 7 years!  The one book that he's been completely interested in is his reading books from school!  He absolutely loves paging through it and "reading" all of the stories to himself.

He used to engage in his books "asking" questions, counting things, and paying attention.  For the past few months, it's been quite the opposite.  I wish I could ask him how he feels about Evan taking over and choosing what books get read and in what order.  I'm sure that it takes a lot of patience and strength to deal with a sibling, who is typical, when you struggle so much to get even the simplest words out of your mouth.  

Seeing Nathan like this breaks my heart.  His face is usually so animated and alive, but when it's time to read with Evan, his expression totally changes.  I am trying to remedy this, When we are done with our "family time" one of us takes Evan and puts him to bed, while the other reads Nate a longer book that is more appropriate for his age level.  Right now we're reading some "Nate the Great" books, which he really seems to enjoy!

I would do anything to get into Nate's mind and know what he's thinking.  I'd love to know exactly what he likes/dislikes, his dreams, and his daily thoughts.  I'd love to know these things but until he's able to verbally express them, I'll be kept in the dark.  I think that's one of the hardest things about having a child with a disability like Nate's.  

Friday, September 14, 2012


I've been asked a few times this past month "Why have you been running so much lately?"  Those people apparently don't know that for the past 11 weeks I've been training for a half marathon.  

Training for the half has been an amazing experience.  I have pushed myself to limits I never thought possible and have run distances that I never imagined.  Yes, I am running the half for myself, but I'm also running it for Nathan.

I don't know what the future will hold for Nate.  I don't know if he will have to live with us for the rest of his life.  I would hope that as he grows and matures, he gains a sense of responsibility and can move out on his own.  I don't know for sure if this will be possible.  If he does happen to be able to move out on his own, I'm turning off all the water in his place before he moves in :-)

I'm running for Nate because I know that I need to live and stay healthy for him as long as I can.  I'm still young and in good health, and I believe that running, exercising, and taking care of myself will lengthen my life and allow me to help out Nathan for even longer.

I  worry that something will happen to Matt and myself, leaving Nate and Evan alone.  I worry that when Evan is an adult he won't want to help Nate (if help is needed).  Running gives me a sense of hope that I will continue to stay healthy and that I can be there to help out Nathan (and Evan as well) for as long as possible.

When I run, I'm able to sort through so many thoughts.  I love to run with a buddy, but running alone helps me clear out all the things that are going on in my mind.  I can de-stress, have an hour to myself, and just clear my mind.  I truly believe that this makes me a better mom.  I can take a break from my kids and when I come back to them I'm a better person.  I'm healthier, calmer, and think (at least for a little while) that I have some answers.

So, when you ask why I run, my answer will be short and simple.  I run for Nate.