Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Math, Spina Bifida, and other variables



For three mornings in a row, we have gone to Esther-Faith's room to wake her up only to find her awake and sitting at her new-to-her desk. Until we moved that desk into her room, she never initiated math homework. Yesterday, she had an old math textbook and a sketch notebook out and she was concentrating hard, knees pulled up to her chest, in her "Hello Kitty" pajamas. I sat down on her new-to-her bed. "Whatcha doing, Esther-Faith?" I asked sipping my coffee. "Just trying to catch up," she answered without lifting her eyes from the page.



It caught me off guard.

Catch up? On what? With whom?

Does she know? How can she know?

She IS behind in math. Very behind. It has never bothered her. I can't tell if it bothers her now. I just watched her copy numbers from the textbook to the notebook--the pages already full of sketches of ballerinas.



Math was not my strongest subject either. I don't care if she never takes calculus. But how does she know she's behind? That she needs to catch up? Has she picked up on that from us? From the extra work we do every night? The flashcards? From the other kids? Or is she just feeling frustrated in math class every day?



It doesn't matter. She gets up early to study math.

I hate that she knows.

I wonder what else she knows.

Here's what I know...

I love her exactly the way she is right now. Today. Just as much as I loved the adorable three-year-old with the head full of curls, I love snuggling under her covers and reading the books together that I loved at her age. I love talking to her about how to be strong. To be fair. To be gentle. To be fierce. I love that I don't even have to tell her some of the stuff that I tell her. She just knows.




I love that she has decided to volunteer at the animal shelter. Petting cats. Brushing dogs. Taking pictures. She doesn't know why, but she is passionate about taking care of animals that don't have homes. If she had her way, they would all have homes at her home.

I love that.



I love that I learn something new from her every day. I went for a walk along the river across from the dance studio during Isaac's lesson last night. I took pictures of animals along the walk and then went home and asked her what they were. She knew every single one. I want her to know she is really, really smart even if she doesn't quite get math.



She loves movies and video games, but she is just as happy with a pile of legos or markers and a sketch pad. Maybe more happy. I love that my boss (a graphic designer) sent home some professional markers for Esther-Faith, and now she has decided she wants to be a graphic designer, too. I love that there are hundreds of virtual and literal pages of drawings on my ipad and in my house. Of ballerinas and dogs and picnics and camping and people and the solar system and animals and so much more.



I love that she is unapologetically who she is. She isn't afraid to BE who she already IS and strive to be who SHE wants to BE. She loves who she wants to love. She has prayed for her brother every night since he left home. She only sees the good in people. She is just as beautiful inside as she is outside. And she is gorgeous on the outside. She has never let her crutches or her braces or her wheelchair or her diagnosis define her. She will be whatever she decides she wants to be. Because she is strong and independent and confident and smart. She is not Spina Bifida. Or hydrocephalus. Or NVLD. Or any other label that you might think fits her because she learns differently or walks differently or dances differently or engages differently. She is not her diagnosis. She is not disabled.

Don't ever tell her she is those things.

She is not. I know it. And she knows it.

She is Esther-Faith.






© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Walk, Run, and Roll: October 11

Join us next Saturday for the annual Walk, Run, and Roll to benefit COSBA!

Then HennHouse will be there, and we'd love to have you join us in raising money and awareness for Spina Bifida. And, we'd love even more to have you join us after the race at the HennHouse for some BBQ.

More info: centralohiospinabifidaalliance.blogspot.com
October 11, 2014
9 a.m. race time
McNamara Park

Register now: speedysneakersracing.com/2014wrr.aspx (search for team Esther-Faith)





© 2013 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Big birthdays...

I have eaten at maybe two or three restaurants in my life that qualify as "four diamond" or "five star" or whatever. You know the kind... the best of the best. Like the chef is creating a special meal just for you. And they grow the basil and the sage in a garden out back.

In 2004 Tim took me to New Orleans to celebrate my graduation from business school with my MBA in cause marketing. We (quite literally) ate our way through that city. It was before children (we actually met the boys the day before we left... so technically, we felt like parents even though they weren't "legally" ours yet--we talked about them the whole time).

During that vacation in 2004 we ate at a restaurant called Bacco. I couldn't tell you where it was or how to get there (and frankly, it might be gone now due to the hurricane), but it was the kind of place where they put your napkin on your lap for you and bring you a tasting menu so that you can make sure you get what you want.

I had the most tender pork loin in the history of braised meats. It had a prune reduction sauce and was served with potatoes that could have only been grown in the palm of someones hand with the most care possible.

My mouth is watering remembering that meal from 10 years ago. It was that good.

And tonight, we ate at LaSalle grill in South Bend, Indiana. We made reservations. They pulled out my chair for me. They greeted us at the door by name. And they didn't care at all that we were grossly underdressed (we're in town for a soccer tournament. I didn't pack dress clothes. We're lucky we all have enough clothes for both days. I only packed three pair of shoes.).



We had two waiters. Our food was set in front of us at exactly the same moment with precision and grace. They brought us new silverware for each course. They made our food to order.

It was amazing.

We eat at a place like this about every ten years.

But tonight, we were celebrating Tim's 40th birthday.

He couldn't decide between the antelope (not a misprint) and the duck. So, even though I don't eat much meat, I ordered the one he didn't. Because it is his birthday, and he usually eats my food anyway. I ended up with duck. It was the most delicious and tender and decadent meal I've eaten in, well, ten years.




It didn't matter that Isaac was wearing a soccer uniform and Esther-Faith was wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt with leopard print leggings. Or that Tim had on a Germany national team shirt while I was wearing a USMNT jersey.

We were treated like royalty.

Even though the kids kicked each other under the table. Esther-Faith stuck her fingers in Isaac's water (to annoy him), and Isaac simulated vomiting when I ordered the duck. Nevermind the 100 crayola markers and the fact that Isaac eats everything with his fingers. (Including picking the croutons off my Caesar salad.)  Isaac laid his head on the table at one point. I asked him to sit up straight 738 times. Esther-Faith tickled his leg under the table. I think she wrote on the table cloth (we're used to going to places with paper tablecloths.)



I could have sat there all night.

They would have let us.

We even ordered dessert. (We almost never order dessert.) Tim had three scoops of homemade, single-batch, craft ice cream (ginger snap, cinnamon, and maple syrup). They brought it to the table with a candle in it. Isaac had molten chocolate cake with peanut ice cream and candied almonds. I had keoke coffee.



Tim and I held hands across the table. We talked about how much we both miss my dad. (Today is his birthday, too. He would have been 63. Since the first year we were dating until he died, Tim and my dad celebrated together. In fact, Tim has picked out a hanging flower basket to give my mom because he misses my dad so much.)

We talked about some big decisions we have to make with regards to our oldest. We talked about how well Isaac is doing. About how awesome Esther-Faith is (in general). We talked about the last 20 years that we've been together (almost 20... The 20th anniversary of our first date is November 4). We talked about the next 20 years. We talked about how much we have in common with his parents. We talked about a courageously and beautifully honest email my mom sent us this week. We looked at each other's eyes. We talked about the love reflected back from each other.

It was rare and amazing and delicious and luxurious and sophisticated and every other amazingly descriptive adjective you can think of...

It was one of the most enjoyable evenings we've had in a long time. Sure, we missed Isaiah. Especially later as we we took a driving tour of the University of Notre Dame and we passed the track stadium.





But, as we have so many times in the last eight months, we took a minute to miss Isaiah, and we refocused our energy on the moment. Honestly, if it weren't for "the moment," we would be so lost in the pain of our lives. In the pain of Isaiah's life.

But today, we experienced an incredible meal and some amazing family time. We were able to focus on the here and the now. A 40th birthday. A BIG win in the tournament (a 16-point win). A GREAT start to the school year. A new 504 plan (for which Isaac was able to advocate for himself). New opportunities. New cities. New experiences.

Tonight was amazing.

Well worth the money.

Worth the time.

I guess, family is always worth it all.

Even when it hurts. Especially when there are celebrations to be had.

I hope we don't wait another 10 years for an evening like tonight.

And I hope I remember to pack a dress and heels and makeup next time.





© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

This is my favorite picture from her first day of school.


And some others that I love, too.

I cannot believe she is in third grade. 

I cannot believe how grown up she looks. 

Tim called the outfit she selected "sophisticated."



And Isaac is now refusing to wear even polo shirts to school.

He says he likes the button down the best.

And only long sleeve. 

I cannot believe he is in eighth grade.

I cannot believe he is 15 months from driving. 



I do not wish to keep them young.

Okay, maybe I do.

Not young. I do not mourn the time that has passed. 

I am enjoying them as they are now.

But sometimes, I do wish life had a pause button. 

To enjoy a particular moment just a little bit longer.



I guess Tim's camera will be that pause button.

It will capture some of the moments.

With each click of the shutter.

And every pop of the flash.

We'll both live the memories.

And capture them.







© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.


Friday, August 29, 2014

#borntodance

New teacher.

New class.

New challenges.

Same tenacity.

Same drive.

Same love.

#borntodance









© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.


Nothing quite like a good book



© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Friday, August 22, 2014

First day of school, take 1

I was doing okay. Getting ready for work. Approving outfits. Getting in a few early morning snuggles with my girl. Then I caught a glimpse out the window. Two kids sitting on the front wall. Posing. Laughing. 

And I completely lost it.

Tears. Panic. The works. 

It does not feel okay that Isaiah is not home yet. It is not okay that he is struggling right now. That I miss him more every day. And that he has no idea. 

No idea how much we miss him.

He has no idea how angry his brother is. How confused his siblings still are. 

How much we miss him. 

First day of school pictures at the HennHouse should have three kids in them. Not two. THREE. There should be two handsome boys on either side of a spunky little redheaded girl.

But it is not that way this year. 

And we are running out of time. 

Isaiah is a junior. After this year, we have one year left of "first day of school" pictures with three kids. 

It is our prayer that he is home by next year.

That Isaac and Esther-Faith are ready and happy for him to be home. 

That we are all home. Together. Soon.

In the meantime, I guess I have a few more tears for a few more lost moments with my three kids.

And I have even more celebration and excitement for the two who are home and having amazing experiences for their first days of school. 

Isaac this week. Esther-Faith right after Labor Day.

And they really are making the most of every moment they have.






© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tree Hugger


Picking tomatoes

Picking tomatoes

Peppers

Gardening

Does dad see me getting ready
to climb the tree.

Ummm....

There she is.

In the tree.




© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Overheard at the HennHouse

Last night Isaac took his first contemporary dance class. His exposure to contemporary leading up to last night was anything we could find on youtube. His very first exposure to contemporary dance was "Contemporary Eric."

It was not a good introduction.

Then we found some videos for a show called "So You Think You Can Dance." Those were a little better, but all involved boys dancing with girls. He is 100% not ready for that. In fact, he said, "I'll try contemporary, but I am not doing ANY of THAT with a GIRL."

So, last night he had his first class. Lesson. His teacher is a college student. A boy. A VERY good teacher.

Isaac fell in love with contemporary dance.

I think.

He had an hour of contemporary then and hour of tap. Then he called his dad.

Tim: "Well, Buddy, what did you think?"

Isaac: "I loved it."

Tim: "Yeah?"

Isaac: "Expect I'm not sure about moving my body around in open spaces and flail my arms like that. It feels uncomfortable."

Tim: "Did you get homework?"

Isaac: "Yeah. I have to listen to music and just move my body."

Tim: "That sounds.... ummmm.... interesting."

Isaac: "Maybe you can help me with that."



(*FYI: If that happens, there WILL be video.)




© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The journey and the destination

I already miss my sister-in-law.

She didn't so much as grab me by the shoulders and shake some sense into me, but rather sat comfortably in a chair facing the mountains with a glass of wine and say, "Life is just slower here." I watched her spin some of her gorgeous hair in her fingers. "You will learn to just appreciate every little thing."

And she was right. I did.

I sat next to a pond and watched my kids fish for the first time in their lives. We hiked trails that were off the beaten path in search of waterfalls that were beauty-rated "10." We sat on the deck and just watched the mountains change as the sunlight had it's way with their shadows and trees and mist and fog. For the sunrise and the sunset. We learned to knit. We mined for gems and minerals. We read entire novels without taking a break. We caught turtles and saw rattlesnakes. We took long drives with no destination.

Tonight, we took the scenic route home. Off the beaten path. Through--under and around and up--the mountains. We avoided major thoroughfares. We took time to enjoy the drive.

We learned the meaning of the adage "the journey is the destination."

We have been home for 30 minutes, and we already miss it. We know that we have to go back to our "everyday" of jobs and work. In some ways, we are looking forward to it. But if anything, this week has forced us to slow down. We so anticipated the vacation, that once we were on the side of the mountain, we worried it wouldn't be all we hoped it would be.

But it was.

It was more.

It was the journey and the destination.


(to be continued...)












© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.