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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Overheard at the HennHouse

Esther-Faith and I are reading a chapter book together called "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia. She loves this book. At the end of every chapter, she begs for just one more chapter. Tonight as we finished a chapter way past bedtime, I started flipping through the second half of the book--which I have been known to do. I settled on the last page and started reading.

Esther-Faith: "Are you reading the last page? The end?!"

Me: "Yes. Sorry."

Esther-Faith: "But you'll know the end."

Me: "I know. I shouldn't do that."

Esther-Faith: "That's okay. You can do it. Just don't tell me what happens."


Sometimes Tim calls her my "mini-me." Except when it comes to books, I guess.



© 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 21, 2014

When Tim chaperones a second grade field trip, there are hundreds of photos.

After the bus driver forgot he was to drive
ALL of the second graders on a field trip,
They got underway about hour late.

She TOTALLY has her dad figured out.
If she mocks his photo taking now,
what will she do when she reaches 16?

I totally love his photography skillz though.

And she loves fountains.
So glad my mom gave me one for my birthday last year.
It has a permanent place in my front garden.

"Can't" is not in her vocabulary.
There was no way she wasn't getting the submarine.

And checking out the giant microscope.

This snake snacks on small, happy children.

Starting to fade.
What a long day.

Checking out the old time exhibit.

Of course EVERYTHING is "hand-on" at COSI.
It's a good thing Tim chaperoned.
I would have wiped everything clean with clorox wipes.

Utterly exhausted at the end of the day.





© 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, May 18, 2014

Getting the garden planted (finally)

After third winter and (hopefully) the final frost last night, we decided to try to get our plants in the ground.

The elderberries are doing great. The pear, plum, and apple trees all look to have survived the exceptionally cold winter. The asparagus and mint are starting slow, but they are growing. Even the blueberries have buds. But we lost all of the herbs. And some of the other perennials didn't come back either.

We have TONS of lettuce, kale, and cilantro coming back from last year, but today we decided to get the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in the ground.

Prepping the tomato/basil box.
Growing roma tomatoes and four kinds of basil in this box.

Getting her flower box ready for seeds and plants.
She bought seeds to attract butterflies this year.

Isaac prepping the beet, leek, and turnip box.

Taking a break to eat some sour cream crumb cake.

Putting in the lime basil.
(Photo by Isaac.)

Love planting, but I love EATING what we plant more!
(Photo by Isaac.)

Esther-Faith wasn't what I would call "gentle" with the plants.
But she sure was a lot of help. Adorable help.
(Photo by Isaac.)

She mixed up a "soup" of mud and water to put on the plants.
(Photo by Isaac.)

This is how she got from spot to spot in the garden.
Held onto Tim really tight while he grabbed her chair.
(Photo by Isaac.)

More planting (and playing in the dirt).
(Photo by Isaac.)




© 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 07, 2014

Dance Recital: Important information!


Saturday, June 7, 2014
2 p.m.
Upper Arlington High School
1650 Ridgeview Road


The studio where Isaac and Esther-Faith take their dance lessons is hosting a recital on June 7, 2014. Tickets are $9 each and will be available for sale beginning May 12, 2014. You can contact the studio to reserve your tickets (614-326-4075 or barteltdancers@gmail.com), or you can let me know how many you want and I'll purchase them for you (please let me know soon!).

The recital will be about 90 minutes long with a 10 minute intermission. One of my dancers will be in the first half, the other after intermission. We're REALLY excited for the debut of the HennHouse dancers, and we would love for them to have a big cheering section. Their costumes are adorable. Their dances are beautiful. And they are amazing.

If you want to put a note in the program, you can do that until May 17 (contact the studio, $1.25/word), and you can also order flowers through the studio that will be given to the dancers after the performance ($7 for three or $12 for six roses).

If you can't make it and you are still interested in the HennHouse dancers debut performances, we'll be buying a DVD of the performance--which we would LOVE to show you over dinner or appetizers at the HennHouse. If you come at the right time, you might even hear some practicing from the upstairs.










© 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.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Adventures in childrearing, and Tim is awesome

I'm struggling a little bit with the fact that my baby boy is turning 14 years old in a couple of weeks. So, I've decided that I'm going to start referring to his age in months. So, he is currently 167 months old. He will be 168 months old in a couple of weeks.

Cause that doesn't seem any worse than having a kid 18 months from driving.

He's a toddler's age away from driving my car.

I'm selling my car.

Good thing the pastor has been preaching about worry.

And Tim... where to I even begin.

I finished riding the exercise bike tonight and went looking for the husband. He was in the Kid Cave eating a leftover hamburger (without the bun, for health reasons (and he said he was "cleaning out the fridge"), even though he was consuming those carbs in beer) and watching a batman cartoon (that he claimed to be previewing for Isaac. Cause a 167-month-old child needs to have his cartoons previewed).

And just for fun, I asked Esther-Faith what we should do now that it is Isaac's birthday month, and she said, "We should cancel it."

Dance Class

My favorite soccer player

Recital rehearsal 

Loving from Nana

Bubbles on Easter


Tap lessons




© 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.