Our Holiday Break in Photos

Taking photos of my beautiful boys and crazy, wild life is one of my favorite things to do. Part of me wishes I would have became a photographer. Photos show our life in a way that my written words never could.

When Cooper was 3, I was asked on a questionnaire if he had any behaviors. Does he stim or flap? Does he line objects up? Does he hum?

At that time, he didn’t do any of those things besides flap his arms. I remember thinking, we must be really lucky. I’d hear other parents talk about hoarding or obsessive behaviors with stress, exhaustion and worry in their voices.

Well, around age six, something changed. Coops started hoarding, lining objects up, stimming, humming, bed stripping, etc. I could honestly go on and on. He developed obsessions with lining up chairs, photos, closing curtains, putting things in our bathtub and turning the lights off.

In this photo, Cooper is hoarding photos of his brother. He was nervous about Christmas and overwhelmed by the excitement and chaos. Lining up these photos calms him. They make him happy.

And as his mom, I can honestly say that I am so happy he has the ability to self soothe in this way. His love for his brother shines through as well.

Speaking of hoarding, every Saturday we clean underneath our couches, beds, refrigerator and behind our entertainment center and bookshelf. These are the items Coops has gathered up around the house (or borrowed from school) during the week.

When he is done with them, he hides them. Out of sight of of mind I guess.

Jamie and I have made it our mission to lessen this behavior. We try to limit his items to five or so. It’s been going really well and I bet if you lifted up my couch right now there would only be a few things. Hopefully!

This is one of my most favorite photos from Christmas. The calm before the storm as they say.

Cooper wakes up each day around 5 am. He comes into our room, crawls in between Jamie and I, and we try and get him to sleep for a few more minutes. We are rarely successful. He typically lasts just a few seconds before he is putting my glasses on my face. It’s pretty sweet really.

On Christmas morning, Coops and I went downstairs to wait for Sawyer to get up. He didn’t understand that it was a special morning. Or that Santa had come.

He did notice that there were a few more presents under the tree though. He patiently waited. Not really knowing that anything was going to happen. I can look at it one of two ways. I could be sad that Cooper doesn’t understand Christmas OR I can be happy, drink my coffee, and enjoy alone time with my sweet boy. I chose the second.

When Sawyer woke up, he ran screaming down the stairs. That was a big signal for Coops. And it was time for presents!

Sawyer had his Christmas concert at school a few days before Christmas break started. He got all dressed up. He practiced his songs for me…even though I wasn’t supposed to hear them before. Watching him stand on the risers, sing, smile and laugh was amazing for Jamie and I.

We take absolutely nothing for granted. We know that these moments are special. And beautiful. And they don’t happen for everyone.

After the concert, we went to his classroom to help him decorate Christmas ornaments. At one point I stepped back and took it all in. 20 kids. 30 or so parents. A teacher. Everyone laughing, smiling and creating ornaments. Such an effortless day for these families. For mine. So simple.

Three years ago I attended something similar for Cooper, only I was volunteering to help the kindergarten kids make cards for their moms and dads. At one point I asked where Cooper was only to be told that he was in the special ed room. There was no Para to take him around. I was livid.

I remember I stopped what I was doing and went and got him. That wasn’t fair. So I took him around.

He ran around to each station….what should have took an hour took us five minutes. And then we left.

He didn’t do any of the activities. Or sing the songs. Or participate in the games. I cried the whole way home.

It’s funny the things we remember. That day is burned in my memory. And so is this one. I’m so proud of Sawyer.

Sometimes, even the strongest people have sad moments. We are human. In this photo, Jamie is reading the Elf on the Shelf book to Sawyer. We were talking about that silly Elf, and all the things he’d done around the house. We talked about Santa and the Christmas tree and sledding. We talked about presents.

Cooper sat in the kitchen on his iPad. We invited him in. We encouraged him to join us. We did our best. But he did not want too.

I’ve learned that is okay. We don’t force him. It’s not worth it for him or for us.

But in the moment, I saw a little boy reading with his dad. A dad who has more than one son. And I wished that Cooper could be there too.

I find that even in a beautiful life, there are sad moments peppered in.

Every single day, Jamie and I encourage Cooper to be close to Harbor. Sometimes it is just for a second. And sometimes he will sit by him.

I have this vision, a dream I guess, of Cooper being in his twenties, and Harbor being in his teens, and they have a beautiful relationship. I can almost see it.

As a mom, I want them to love each other. More than anything. I want them to see the beauty in each other.

There is so much beauty in the outtakes. The photos that never make it to a frame. We had a wonderful Christmas this year. It was loud, busy, overwhelming at times, and oh, so amazing. We are blessed with a wonderful family, beautiful children, and so much more.

And lastly, Harbor is 12 weeks old. I almost can’t believe it. I remember 12 weeks and 1 day ago, I was pregnant and scared. Ready to have my third little boy. I didn’t know how any of this was going to work.

Would Cooper be okay with his brother?

Would I be able to give them all the attention and love they needed?

Would a third kid be too much for us?

Well, 12 weeks in, and this little boy has been the biggest blessing ever. He is happy, smiley and a complete joy. I am so thankful he is here with us. Oh, and he weighs over 17 pounds. He’s meatball!

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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