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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Overheard at the HennHouse

We tend to get the most stares when we're out and about doing normal, everyday things. Mostly it is little kids. Just curious. Sometimes, though, the kids can be a little too distracted by our mismatched (and kind of ornery) family.

Esther-Faith and Isaac have been known to use an empty aisle at the grocery to practice their dance moves or see who is faster. They will occasionally position themselves at opposite ends of the aisle and run headlong towards each other. A kind of grocery store version of the game of chicken.

More times than not, when we walk into a store, Esther-Faith is greeted like a celebrity. Four days after school ended we went to the grocery and ended up standing around for about 45 minutes talking to another family while Esther-Faith and their little girl essentially had a play date in the cosmetics aisle. On the same trip, three other children ran up to Esther-Faith to give her hugs and say hello. One in the produce. One by the pasta. And the third in the check-out line.

Last night, a little girl was so busy staring at Esther-Faith that she full-on ran into the meat cooler. It looked like it hurt. Bad. But she never took her eyes off of Esther-Faith; she just adjusted her path and kept staring. I looked over at my daughter. She had initially waved to the girl and said "HI!" (she's never really met a stranger), but she seemed embarrassed at the continued, prolonged staring.

I asked her, "What do you think when kids stare at you like that?" She just shrugged and did a spin, arching her back, and positioning her arms in second ballet position. So graceful. But she did look a little sad. I said, "Maybe she's staring because you are so beautiful." I meant it. Her spins and twirls and positions are amazingly beautiful. She was born to dance.

She answered, "Nope. I think it's because of the wheelchair."

And she spun again. Arms in high first this time, melting into third. Her neck long and elegant, turned ever-so-slightly toward the fruits and vegetables, gazing at nothing.

This is one of 1833 photos from the dance recital.
Consider this a preview. 
I haven't been able to write or talk
about the performance
without completely breaking down.
They both did amazing.


© 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.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Miracle League

Some shots from Saturday's game. After a couple of weeks of being rained out, Saturday was a perfect day for some outdoor fun.

Starting line-ups


I love how they love each other. 

National anthem.

Rounding the bases!

Coming in to home plate!





© 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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Finding HOPE

Last Thursday night in family therapy Isaiah revealed that he would like to try Nair on his face. Because that seems easier than shaving.

And in an effort to put more effort into his relationship with us, he devised some questions to ask us. Three were for Tim. One was for me.

1. He asked Tim about the friend he lost in college. In the almost 20 years I've known Tim, he has talked about Mark only a tiny handful of times. It was very brave of Isaiah to ask. And very brave of Tim to answer. Considering how things have been going between the two of them lately. Isaiah asked. Tim answered. In the silence that followed, I asked Isaiah why he was curious about Mark, and I told him that I thought it was brave to ask those kinds of questions. He said he asked because of losing Taylor this year. He said he goes over the last time he saw her in his mind all the time. Every day. And he wondered if dad ever thought about Mark. Tim looked right at Isaiah and said, "Almost every day. I saw him 10 minutes before he died. I always wonder if I could have done something." I HATE this connection they have. Of losing friends who were far to young to be lost. But they are talking. About commonalities. And Tim is finding a new reason to support his son. And that is good. And it gives me hope.

2. Isaiah asked Tim what he enjoyed doing when he was 17 years old. LOADED question. Tim made some stuff up. And answered honestly. I even learned something about the man that I love. Well, I learned something about Tim and something about Isaiah. And I learned that Isaiah is trying. He's trying really hard to find any connection that he can with us. And that gives me hope.

3. Isaiah asked Tim what mischievous thing he did when he was a kid that his parents don't know about or that he saved to tell them later in life. I have a feeling that Tim held back in his answer. I know from his parents and his parents' friends that Tim was quite mischievous when he was younger. There was giggling and laughter and stories and fun. It felt.... normal. Then, I turned it around on Isaiah asking him what mischievous thing he has done that his parents don't know about. Tom the uber-therapist laughed. Isaiah hemmed and hawed. He said some stuff that we already knew. And then he said that he would tell us the rest in a couple of decades. Which seems fair to me. And gives me even more hope. That he's thinking that far ahead. And we are in his picture when he sees his future. HOPE.

4. Finally, Isaiah asked me what "the one thing" was that attracted me to his dad. L.O.A.D.E.D. question. I said there isn't one thing. There are some big things like his dad's humor. His work ethic. His honesty. His loyalty. His sense of fairness and justice. And about 1000 little things. Like how I feel when I wake up next to him. Or how much I miss him when he is at work. Or how he loves us all with a fierceness. And how he never gives up (aka BEING STUBBORN) on anything. Including loving him. That when someone makes a commitment to a life partner they are promising to love that person when things go well and when they don't. Same with kids. He stared at me. It was a heavy, serious moment. I could tell he didn't now what to say. So, I decided to lighten the mood. I told Isaiah that at least 92% of the time I'm awake, I try to make Tim happy. And that people change over time--that Tim has gotten significantly less attractive (which isn't true, but it sure made Isaiah laugh). We talked a little bit more.

I promised Isaiah we would have our own questions next time.

He said he was looking forward to it.

Looking forward is good. He's been doing a lot of looking only at what is immediately in front of him and focusing only on that. Getting into fights. Losing points and privileges. Forgetting the goal. Which is to get better and COME HOME.

So, anything we can do to get him to look outside of his current situation is good. Helpful. Hopeful.

On Friday (and all weekend) Tim worked some overtime. He categorizes his overtime a number of ways. "Drunk" overtime. "Speed" overtime. Etc... This past weekend was a holiday weekend. Tens of thousands more people on the roads. Tens of thousands more opportunities for people to do stupid things with their cars.

Friday morning, some guy in a brand new black camero with blacked out windows thought it would be super-fun to speed through a school zone. During school hours. By Isaac's school. Tim pulled this guy over. Tim does not have much patience for this particular brand of idiocy. Kids playing. Teachers crossing the street. And a guy being stupid with his car. Once Tim had him pulled over, the following text exchange happened:

Tim: "If you are in a class that has a window out to the street, look outside...but don't get in trouble or anything."

Isaac: "I see you."

Tim: "Yeah!"

Isaac: "I showed everyone."

Tim: "I'm the man."

And on and on. He also sent a picture. Then, 12 minutes later, on his way to the post, someone else decided to be stupid with their car. In front of Esther-Faith's school. He sent a photo of that, too.


Later that day, Tim showed up at my work with my daughter and a brown box. You see, I ordered his birthday/Father's Day/every-other-holiday-that-comes-between-now-and-Christmas gift early. He needed it before the dance recital next week. I was excited to get it for him, but I told him that I wanted to open the box.

He (literally) couldn't wait for me to get home. As Esther-Faith was unloaded from the bus, she was immediately loaded into the truck and brought to her mother's work so that her mother could open a brown box for her father who just. couldn't. wait.

First picture with the new lens.
Giggles, and mom trying to maintain
the quiet of the office.

Then he took the lens home and left the girl. (Not on purpose. She chose to stay.) I didn't mind. She put a movie on my iPad and sat quietly until it was time to go. Well, quietly-ish. She giggled at the movie a lot. Which happens to be one of my favorite sounds. Her giggles.

Saturday morning I visited Isaiah. He is overwhelmed with all the school work that he has left to do before finals and the end of the school year. We talked about passing instead of perfecting. That's a hard concept for him. But he's trying.

Trying out the new lens and the new wheelchair gloves.

Saturday night was Isaac and mom date night. One of Esther-Faith's favorite people in the world (KATE) came over to play while Isaac and I went to a soccer game. It wasn't football like we're used to when we watch LFC, but it was still fun. It is easy to spot the folks who don't know much about the beautiful game. The guy behind us yelled touchdown when the Columbus Crew scored.



The Columbus Crew is a professional soccer team in the MLS.

He yelled, "touchdown."

The guy with the beer cut him off at that point. At least that's what I think should have happened. Cause later when they scored their second goal, he did the same thing.

People watching is our new favorite hobby.

This morning I reminded myself how much I love Esther-Faith's giggles when she came to my room at 5:14 a.m. to ask for another chapter in the book we're reading. Her sleeping mask was pushed up on her forehead. Her braid was a mess. She was dragging a stuffed animal that looks like our dog. And she climbed onto my bed with the book reminding me that it was in fact "tomorrow" and we could read one, maybe two, more chapters before breakfast.

We did.

I think we're going to read the "Anne of Green Gables" series this summer. It might last us the month of June.

Monday included more gardening. What a normal activity for our family. We've done it together for years. Tim and I have had a garden together for almost 15 years. And somehow, there were still moments that we missed having our oldest at home. Esther-Faith was on watering duty. She mentioned a couple of times that she missed squirting Isaiah with the hose. And how he would squeal when she did. There were no fights or arguments or tense moments. But there was also no Isaiah. It is hard either way.

Watering duty.

Practicing her casting off the deck.

It was a busy, but comfortable weekend. We definitely still struggle in this new normal of ours. But we're so grateful it is our struggle. That our kids are all adjusting--sometimes very well--to this situation. The date night with Isaac was a reward. That child has managed to get nearly perfect grades ALL YEAR. In a year that included some pretty tough stuff for him. The last semester of school has been incredibly different and difficult. But somehow, he managed to compartmentalize. He managed to keep his grades up, keep his head up, and have hope.

And that hope is what we're hanging onto now. Isaiah is starting to look beyond his current situation. We are starting to heal from the trauma and abuse he put us through. Isaac and Esther-Faith have adjusted to the potential that he may not come home, but they haven't lost sight of what it might be like if he does. We're all starting to adjust and search for hope--in any way that we can.

Yeah... This kid thought he could take the ball from Isaac.

It didn't work. 

And in the next 10 days school will end, summer will start; there will dance recitals, soccer try-outs, lemonade stands, new schools, summer reading programs, and so much more. We're excited. We're busy.

And we're hopeful.




© 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.