Our school district has a break this week for three days. Somehow I managed to fill up the kids' schedule with extra doctors' appointments, so no big fun activities were planned. However, I've been pleasantly surprised at how well the first two days of no school have gone.
Of course we've had the usual tantrums and fits and messes. But there have been some huge bright spots that I have to brag about! Wednesday in particular was a wonderful day. After breakfast, Owl had an OT appointment, and Herbie, being out of school, had to come along. Herbie began building a block tower in the waiting area, and pretty soon another child came and knocked it over. I assured him we'd be able to rebuild it, and as the mother was trying to get the child to apologize, Herbie told him, "It's OK, I forgive you." Of course it was prompted by me, but he said it on the first prompting in a totally audible voice! OK, that was huge! As we continued working on the tower, a girl came over and joined the fun. Herbie didn't flinch when she started building with him and suggesting her ideas of how to do things. Wow! In fact, he thought it was fun to have her play along, and when they completed the tower they jumped around together cheering. The various staff members in the office know Herbie (he also gets OT there) and were cheering for him. He was so pumped up about how he built that tower with another child.
Later that day we had an appointment with Herbie's developmental pediatrician. He sat so well for this appointment, and even answered a couple of questions. We talked about his progress and the supports and interventions in place. Some days I get so caught up in how busy we are with therapy and how stressful it is to deal with behaviors. But today, the doctor reminded me of how Herbie had behaved when he last saw him 6 months ago, and it made me stop and realize how much progress has been made. I briefly started to feel sorry for myself that I had to celebrate such victories when my neighbors were celebrating things like their kindergartener playing hockey, but then Herbie pulled me out of it with his joyous retelling of the very, very, very tall tower he had built that morning. We spent the rest of the day playing and laughing and smiling. There was more happiness at our house than usual. Even after an impressive bedtime meltdown, Herbie came back to his tower story and fell asleep smiling.
Today was another good day, nothing as dramatic as yesterday, but sunny enough to stop at a playground on our way home from appointments, and plenty of smiles to go around. After dreading 3 days of no school, this has turned out to be a pleasant surprise. An answer to a prayer that I forgot to pray, but Someone knew just what we needed.

I was reading the 9th chapter of Isaiah in the Old Testament yesterday, and was struck by verse 6:
For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
It is a verse I have heard countless times, and immediately brings to mind Handel's Messiah. But this time, as I looked at those names given to Christ, I was struck by "Wonderful Counselor."
We were taking Herbie to a counselor for awhile, a psychologist with a lot of degrees and knowledge, who I had really hoped would address his anxiety issues and help him learn to talk about what was really on his mind. The counselor got along with Herbie and gave us a few helpful tips, but I never felt like they really connected or that she had any grasp of his specific worries. It was not the cure-all I had hoped for, nor was it even worth the time and money that we were spending on those appointments. Was the psychologist a "wonderful" counselor? No, she was a nice woman with a handful of useful ideas. There may be other counselors out there who could do better. But have I really sought out the counsel of the Wonderful Counselor? What is He trying to tell me that I'm not listening to? Can He help me to reduce Herbie's anxiety? (Or my own, for that matter?) I think I need to spend some more time with the Wonderful Counselor.

Today was library day at Herbie's school and I forgot to put his library book in his backpack this morning. Turns out they won't let kids take out more than one book at a time. This may sound like no big deal, but he absolutely loves the school library. I was heartbroken when I realized my mistake. I was imagining his whole day thrown off because he would be upset about the book. When he got home, I gave him a long hug while he cried a little and asked why I forgot. He watched while I marked "library day" on every Tuesday in my calendar through the end of the year, and he made some suggestions about where to keep the library book so I am less likely to forget. Thank goodness for second chances.

In other news, the Owl is somewhat of a screaming maniac lately. I'm not sure if this is a new trend or has been brought on by the steroids that he has to take for his respiratory issues. Maybe his poor diet? (Heck, I'm kind of crazy on days when I eat too much starch and not enough protein!) Or he could be tired from starting preschool, it's a lot of activity for him. There has just been a lot more screaming around here. Herbie puts on his noise-cancelling headphones and smiles. I think I need a pair of those!
In a recent note from Herbie's resource room teacher, she commented on his "award-winning smile." I have to say, I totally agree with her description, he has the most amazing smile. It's hard not to catch his joy when I see him smiling. Owl has more of a cute little shy smile. Sometimes when I'm checking on him before I go to bed, I like to stroke his hair or tuck the blankets around him; he'll stay asleep but a sweet angelic smile will spread across his face. I can just hear the cherub choir singing in the background when he smiles like that.

I try to remind myself of these moments when my kids are throwing their dinners on the floor or pulling everything off of the shelves at Target...