Monday, August 30, 2010

Brother and Little Sis

About a month ago we had an experience that got me thinking about this post, so when Amy wrote about her son Nathan, I decided to copy her.
It's really hot here in Texas so on those days when the heat index is 115 degrees, I like to take my stir-crazy kids to an indoor playground. On this particular trip we met up with a friend and her daughter. After helping Della walk around the playground I set her in a small "boat" that she couldn't easily climb out of. The boat had two seats and so I asked Archer if he could sit with her for a minute while I gave my back a rest. Archer enthusiastically agreed because he is sweet like that. I turn around and walk to a bench that isn't too far from where my children are. I see a little boy (maybe 18 to 24 months old) attempt to dive into the boat and onto my daughter. I see Archer stop the boy and say "No No" and something like "There isn't enough room in here for you too." Almost immediately a 60+ year-old woman wearing a embarrassingly short skirt starts wagging her finger at Archer yelling at him. I can't hear what is being said but you can bet that I was high-tailing it over there to see what was going on. By the time I get there the woman is going back to her seat. I take one look at Archer's terrified face and I pull him into a hug and he starts hysterically BAWLING. He is sobbing so hard that I can't even understand what he is saying. After a few minutes the story comes out that the woman yelled that he wasn't in charge of this playground and if a kid wants to climb into the boat, Archer has no right to say that he can't. My favorite part was she threatened to "Call the mall police" on Archer if he did anything like that again. My friend Laura who was with us wanted to go to yell at the lady, but instead she took Della by the hands and helped her walk over to where the woman was sitting. When the woman saw that Della was handicapped she immediately got up and left. The little boy that Archer kept from clobbering Della WASN'T EVEN HER KID! Meanwhile Archer is still sobbing and saying over and over again "I was just trying to protect Della! I didn't want her to get hurt and she can't say to other kids that they are hurting her!" I was super angry. Like seeing-red-spots angry. But mostly I was sad. I was sad that Archer had to endure that woman's ranting. I was sad that I had asked him to sit with Della in the first place. I was sad that he has to protect his sister at all. I was sad that the woman didn't take 5 seconds to survey the situation and that she yelled at a little boy until he was crying. But the worst part of it all was knowing that this would not be the last time something like this would happen.

This is just the way life is for Archer. We do our best to see that he gets one-on-one time with Chad and me. We have wonderful friends who offer to take him to places that Della can't go to, like the movies. When we do make a trip to somewhere special (the library, the park, etc.) sometimes we have to leave after only being there 20 minutes because the place is too loud for Della and she is throwing her goldfish at people while screaming as loud as she can. He has never complained about it. Nothing will ever change the fact that he has a sister that needs help, and sometimes that help will be him. The best/worst part is that he doesn't mind. For some reason this makes my heart hurt. How can he be so good and kind and patient when he is so young?

Archer has NEVER hit Della or done anything to intentionally hurt her out of anger or frustration. She pulls his hair, sticks her hand in his ice cream, tackles him when he is playing with the iPod, or turns off the TV while he is in the middle of a video game. Archer responds by gently prying her fingers apart to release his hair, spoon feeding her some of his ice cream, making room and cuddling next to her so she can see the iPod too, and by learning how to pause his game without having to actually see the screen.

If Della outlives us, it will be on Archer alone to take care of his sister. This fact makes me so sad. But, if he grows into the adult that I hope he will, I wouldn't trust her care to anyone else.

Oh, and to the lady that yelled at Archer in the mall, if you are reading this, you need to stop yelling at small children until they cry. Please try and get some mental help because clearly you have some serious issues. And one more thing, please throw away that skirt. Frankly, it was grossing everyone out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

34 Years Ago Today...

Once upon a time in 1976, a baby boy named Chad was born...


He was a really cute little boy...


Who grew into...



A young man...



Sometimes Chad was a little naughty, like when he would get off the rides at Disneyland...



But he was well-behaved most of the time. Then Chad served a 2-year mission in New Zealand where he taught himself to speak another language (Tongan) in just 6 months...



A few years later he met a girl. They liked each other a lot and decided to get married...



So he built her a house...


Just in time for their son Archer to arrive. A few years later they welcomed a daughter named Della. Chad was a very good dad...


And his children loved him very much...


They love him because he is fun...

And because he is funny...



One day Chad started his own business and his family decided to move to Texas so they would have room to grow...

Even though he didn't build their new house, he has done lots of projects to make it feel like home...


Happy Birthday Chad!

Thanks for all you do for us. We love you so much.

Love,

Caitlin, Archer, and Della Belle

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sometimes Chad's Dreams Really Do Come True (Please Don't Tell Our HOA)

Chad has been wanting chickens now for almost two years. I knew he was serious when he designed these coops over a year ago...



Well, all of Chad's wildest (chicken) dreams came true last weekend when we bought two Barred Rock pullets (hens that are too young to lay eggs but are older than chicks) for $3 each. Meet Chicken and Waffle...


So far so good. Archer has accidentally almost killed them 6 or 7 times...


And Della spends most of her day trying to find things that will fit between the bars of their cage like plastic wrap, my grocery list, Happy Meal toys, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and black beans that she threw on the ground during dinner.

For now Chicken and Waffle are too small to fend off the neighbor's cat so unless we are outside with them, we have to keep them in a cage. They will start laying eggs in a few months and will each produce 200 each per year. That's a lot of eggs.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

My Daughter Is A Part-Time Model (Kinda)

About 18 months ago our friends the Browns, told us that Texas Children's Hospital was looking for children who are being treated or who have been treated at the hospital and who were willing to be photographed. The pictures would be used for the hospital's Happy Face Project where portraits of children will line the long hallway leading to the Ronald McDonald House. There would be no sitting fees ($495) for the photo shoot which was to be done by Evan Thayer. I didn't know until much later that he was quite a serious photographer and has done fashion spreads and photographed a few celebrities like Pres. George W. Bush Sr. and The Gambler himself Mr. Kenny Rodgers.

The session didn't go well. First of all Della's hair was doing something strange (crazy) and wasn't forming little ringlets like is usually does (of course). She was also uncharacteristically cranky but the next day she came down with a fever. I would be cranky too if I were sick and people kept telling me to smile.

Anyway, we couldn't afford to buy even one of the pictures and that was that. Then last week, a year and a half after the photo session, we got a letter from the TCH Vice President saying that Della's picture had been chosen and it was now hanging in the Abercrombie building. We drove downtown yesterday to take a few pictures of Della's picture.


Aren't they beautiful!?!?

Della kept pointing to herself...







Our friends the Brown family...

The hallway with the other portraits...



Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Della's First Time "Talking" With The iPad

The iPad we ordered for Della is here! This is video of the first time she gets to use it.



It's been amazing to see how fast she has figured it out in just the past 24 hours. In our last post we tried to give a detailed but brief overview of AAC technology, so if you would like to know more, go here.

Don't worry, Archer has already made her a button that says "I want to watch Archer play Wii." As well as one that says "I want to drink Dr. Pepper."