Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Accelerator

When we travel to St. George or to Lake Powell, we usually stop at a truck stop in Beaver, Utah. Christopher's favorite part of the stop is drying his hands. Instead of paper towels, the bathrooms are equipped with a high speed hand drying machine called an Accelerator. It is like the old hot air hand drying machines on steroids. I like this video because it not only shows Christopher enjoying the machine while drying his hands, but shows him standing and choosing the manner of his play.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bed Time

As Christopher is maturing, he is able to communicate his desires better and better. Regardless of whether we are at our home or another's, Christopher has an uncanny ability to find dishwashers, dryers, and doorstops. He frequently will come and grab Alice's or my hand, stand up, and walk to his desired destination. He will then take our hand to the on-off control of the machines indicating he wants it on, or to the door stop so we can flick it while he laughs and giggles. With the dishwasher, dryer or also the washing machine, Christopher puts his ear to the machine, feels the vibrations and listens to the stimulating noises--sometimes for hours. After the machines have run multiple times, I tend to decline Christopher's further requests. Christopher will often then go to Alice and grab her hand usually with the same result. Christopher is one determined little boy, and does not like to take "no" for an answer.

This weekend, we went on a 4-wheeler trip as a family south of St. George, Utah. Christopher and I road all around the trails on my machine, Alice and Abbie on hers, and Ben road his. My brother and his daughter Cori also came with us. It was a great afternoon. In the evening, we were hanging out in our condo, and my best friend since I was around 4 years old, Paul, came over. Christopher knows a softy when he sees one. Christopher approached with the smile on his face he wears when he wants someone to help him have some fun. He passed right by me on the couch, grabbed Paul's hand and lead him to the washer and dryer. Not wanting to disappoint Christopher, Paul solicited Alice's help to start a new load. The last load had been washed multiple times already. After Christopher enjoyed the washer for about 30 minutes, he returned to the living room, grabbed Paul's hand again, and went for another walk. I expected him to go to one of the machines for another load. Instead, Christopher walked to his bedroom, climbed up in bed, and took Paul's hand to his covers to tuck him in.

I think Paul truly felt privileged that Christopher chose Paul to help with Christopher's desires and needs that night. One of the great privileges of having a child with special needs is the opportunity serve him every day. We are so blessed that Christopher has the ability to clearly express, in his own way, his gratitude for the service that he requires to meet his needs each day. Christopher seems to have an uncanny ability to involve others in his day-to-day care that brings them similar joy and satisfaction as we experience every day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yellow Waterfalls

As we traveled to St. George for President's Day weekend last night, I was reminded of a funny experience on this same route at the end of last summer. We were traveling home from our favorite vacation spot, Lake  Powell. Christopher loves the water, and seeks out any source of water for play. Even when we are at church, he likes to stop at the drinking fountain as we pass, push the button, and play in the stream of water. When he is in the bath tub, he likes to put his hand under the faucet as the water comes out--sometimes, he pushes his hand up against the faucet and sprays water all over the bathroom.

Christopher is getting pretty good at walking with support. As we travel, I frequently take him to the bathroom. Often times, he is not the only one who needs to use the facilities. When he is done, I typically have him hold onto my waist behind me while I do my business. On this one occasion, I was following our normal routine. As I was half done, I suddenly noticed a hand come from behind blocking the stream. You can imagine my surprise. We both washed up really well. I have since learned to taken extra precautions to avoid his zeal for playing in streams of water to catch me by surprise.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Introduction to My Book

Here is a link to the introduction to the book I am working on about Raising Christopher and what I have learned about happiness from him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Love You Dad

Since Christopher was born and was tenuously hanging on to life during his five months in the newborn intensive care unit, I felt an overwhelming desire to communicate to him how much I love him. Throughout the nearly 12 years of his miraculous life, I have had an increasingly strong wish for him to reciprocate and say, "Daddy, I love you."  I love hearing my other two children, Ben and Abbie, express their love for me. With Christopher, I had accepted his smiling, laughing, and giggling when we played or otherwise interacted as expressions of his love. Recently, Christopher surprised me again. A couple weeks ago, I was taking him "potty" before putting him to bed. I sat him down on the potty, and started waiting. While Christopher sat and looked at me, he started to sing the children's primary song, "Love One Another" which is about Jesus's love for his children and expectation that his children will also love one another. Christopher sang in his typical fashion by singing "uh", "uh", "uh" to the tune of the song. He sang through the song twice as I thought of the words I know so well: "As I have loved you, love one another. This new commandment, love one another. By this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love, one to another." It is not often I have spiritual moments in the bathroom. However, on this evening, my bosom burned as I felt the tender mercies of Jesus Christ as he allowed Christopher to communicate with me in a new way--that he loved me. 

The Great Escape

I have been contemplating blogging about Christopher's activities for a long time, and have not taken the time to do so. On Sunday, February 5, 2012, I had an experience with Christopher that I can't help but share. I can laugh about it now, but it was not very funny at the time. 

Our church service had just ended. My wife, Alice, our ward choir director, was on the stand, and I was seated in the wheel chair bench at the back of the chapel with our kids Abbie and Ben seated by my side on the bench, and Christopher parked in his chair next to us. As people began to exit the chapel, Ben told me he was going to his Sunday School class. Abbie, in a panic, said, "Dad, I can't find my other shoe." I looked on the floor, and did not see it. I bent down, and looked under the benche, and worked my way to the middle, and found it on one side of the bench center support. As I victoriously presented Abbie with her missing shoe, I noticed Christopher was not in his parking spot.

I quickly scanned the chapel, and did not see him anywhere. I did not think he could have wheeled out of the chapel so quickly on his own, and thought that Ben must have taken him to Primary. I picked up Abbie's coloring book and coat from the bench, sent her off to her class, and went to find Benjamin and Christopher. They were not in the foyer near the west doors where we usually enter and exit. I walked down the hall and checked Christopher's class room. Some of his class mates were running around the room, but Christopher was not there. I began to feel a little anxious at this point. I quickly walked through the hall to the children's primary room where Christopher loves to listen to the music. He was not there. 

I continued around the hall in our church checking the bathroom as I passed to see if Ben took him there. No sign of him. I went back to the chapel to see if I had missed him in the mass of people. I wondered if he was up on the stand--he likes to wheel up the ramp and play the piano when he can. He was not there. I then nearly ran to Ben's classroom, and found Ben sitting on his chair leaning back against the wall oblivious to the panic welling up within me. I could not imagine that Christopher could have made it outside of the church. We have heavy, double doors blocking the way outside. I resolved to make one more quick pass around the hall and then continue my search outside if I didn't find him. I was now pondering recruiting some help. In a very, very brisk walk, I zigged and zagged around people in the hall and made my way around our church again. I approached the east outside doors, I saw our former Bishop wheeling Christopher down the hall. He informed me that he was outside after our sacrament meeting. He saw Christopher wheeling himself down the sidewalk on the east side of our church. Christopher was joyously screaming. Bishop Holman saw Christopher turn the corner as he intersected the sidewalk along the road. Not seeing any of our family around, Bishop Holman started his pursuit. He saw Christopher appear to stop as he came to the point where the sidewalk crosses the entrance from the street to the church parking lot. With the path clear, Christopher proceeded to propel his wheelchair up the sidewalk, past the corner house to the "S" shaped hill that climbs out of our neighborhood valley.  Christopher was then caught and returned to the confines of our church, and to his father's delinquent care.

Now that Christopher is back safe, I can laugh about his adventure. His ability to accomplish that which he sets his mind to never ceases to amaze me.