Archive for the ‘Figuring It Out’ Category

h1

The Miracle Bowl

December 9, 2010

For college football aficionados, especially those who are BYU fans, The Miracle Bowl represents one of the finest comebacks ever in the history of the college football—engineered by the great Jim McMahon. The Cougars had never won a bowl game coming into the 1980 Holiday Bowl, and the “experts” seemed sure they wouldn’t get this one either.

They were matched up against the Mustangs of SMU who boasted two of the best running backs in the game.  Nicknamed the “Pony Express,” Eric Dickerson and Craig James were picked to run roughshod over Brigham Young.

With four minutes left in the game, everything was turning out just as it was supposed to. BYU’s defense couldn’t handle SMU’s offense, and the Mustangs scored to take a commanding 45-25 lead over the Cougars.

But, like all miracles, the undoable found a way to get done.  Over the next four minutes, BYU found a way back.  Then, in the final minute of the game, now just down by six, The Cougs blocked a punt, and with 13 seconds left, ended up with the ball on the 41-yard line.  After two incompletions, McMahon threw a “Hail Mary” pass as time expired.  Due to an amazing catch, the ball found its way into Clay Brown’s hands for the touchdown.  With no time left, the miracle was completed as the extra point was good.  BYU took their first bowl win with a 46-45 victory. (To see a piece done on The Miracle Bowl, click here—or watch it at the end of this post)

This year, I had my own Miracle Bowl.  It was twice as amazing, and took my breath away in a way the 1980 Holiday Bowl never could.

It was the first weekend in November and BYU was playing at home against UNLV.  The night before, I had decided that I wasn’t going to use my season tickets, and just watch the game on TV.  It was supposed to be pretty cold, and UNLV was on a down year to say the least.

But, when I woke up the next morning, the weatherman was all wrong (big shock…right?!)  It was a beautiful day, with temperatures you expected to see in mid September—not the first of November.  Feeling like I couldn’t pass on such a beautiful day, I got on the phone and started making the rounds to see if I could find a second (Ko’s my usual game day gal, but things have been a little off this year…OK maybe more than just a little).

I called my brother, my brother in law, my buddy—all the usual suspects, and because of the late notice no one could join me.  Finally, sitting at the counter, I looked over at Cole and asked him.  He didn’t say no—frankly, he didn’t really say anything, I took that as a yes, and we were off.

We made the hour and a half trip brilliantly.  I was in the front of the van doing my pregame prep by listening to the pre-game on 1160 AM, while Cole was in the back getting all he needed from Donald Duck (said like it’s all one word, “Donalduck”).  We prepare for games very differently, but different strokes and all that

We got to the stadium where Cousin Jessie, who’s going to the Y, met us, and unloaded The Cole Man from his car seat.

Coleman with his cousin Jessie

Before I knew it, there we were, Cole and I taking in our first Cougar game together. We sat there, got some pics together, and with Cosmo the mascot, Cole saw his first touchdown (which we happened to get on video—you can see that below too) and even somehow enjoyed a hot dog together.  Which, I know may not seem like much, but when you have no use of your hands, partial use of your arms, and have your left hand side unable to help since it’s being used holding Cole, buying, unwrapping, and sharing a hot dog with a 22 month old takes real skill!

Cole meeting "Cosmo" and looking a little unsure about doing so.

Cole takin' time to talk to the ladies (Here he is with his friend Lauren)

Then, in the middle of all the cheering and fun (BYU won big), it hit me.

I’ve had those same seats for a long time; since ’89 when I was a freshman;  since before I knew Kolette.  I’ve been watching BYU play football from those same seats for 21 seasons now, and during those seasons I’ve seen a lot—a lot of football, a lot of fun, and a lot of fathers taking their sons to football games.  Through nearly all those seasons, I wondered if I would ever get to be one of those fathers.

Then, on the 6th of November, there I was—watching a game with my boy.  I was now the father.  I now got to make sure my boy could see the ball, meet the mascot and get a hot dog.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and streamed down my face, as I saw my Miracle Bowl.  For, I was reminded again, as I so often am, that Cole is just that—a miracle—the real thing.  Just like the BYU vs. SMU game, Cole proves that the undoable is doable, and that the “experts” don’t always know as much as they think they do.  It made me grateful to my Father in Heaven for this supreme blessing; for this incredible kindness.

It may not be the best game I’ve ever seen, but it was the most beautiful.

Me and my miracle man

I love you son,

Dad

The scoreboard after the TD

THE MIRACLE BOWL

h1

Movin’ On Down

March 12, 2010
The best lil' partner out there

My Lil' Partner and I

When Kolette and I thought about having a baby in the years BC (Before Cole) I was filled with concern about what role I’d be able to play.  If you follow the blog at all you know that we’ve been able to do things I never thought possible.

Just this morning we worked our way through another obstacle.

Coleman loves to ride around on my lap.  The problem is each ride means someone (usually Kolette) has to lift Cole up on to my lap, and then help him off when we’re finished.  Well we haven’t figured out how to get him up on my lap yet (although Cole’s REALLY trying), but when it comes to getting him off my chair and on to the ground–check.

We’ve been working on this for a little while, and today it all clicked.  Check out the video below, and prepare to be amazed – for I am.  I am continually amazed at the way Cole, Ko and I figure out work-arounds. Videos like this are precious to me. I watch them over and over and every time my heart is filled with love.

For, it’s quite a thing to watch my lil’ partner work hard so I can be more involved in his big ol’ life

Jh-

h1

ReelDirector Makes You a Real Director

February 12, 2010

ReelDirector for the iPhone 3GS

One of the best things about being in an “iPhone State of Mind” over the last 13 months came in an addition iPhone made to it’s 3GS model–a video camera.

Catching Cole’s special little moments has been so much easier with a video camera in my pocket.  Kolette and I love our Flip video camera and use it often, but there have been a lot of great stuff that we would have missed if we would have had to go to find the Flip first.  (We love the Flip though. It takes great high-quality video for being such a small little camera)

So, with our iPhones at the ready Ko and I captured all kinds of video from Coleman’s life.  The problem was that the only way to do any editing, was to download the video to my computer and put the clips into a program that would allow up to manipulate the footage.

Now, thanks to the folks at Nexvio, “There’s an app for that.”  They’ve come up with an app that allows you to edit video on the fly and right from your phone.  It’s called ReelDirector, and it is so easy.  We just take the video, trim the clips, add transitions and titles, import audio if we like–and voilà.  Just like that a finished video that we can instantly text to all our loved ones (Grandma’s mostly).

In fact, just recently Cole’s Grandma Coleman who currently lives in the Dominican Republic just mentioned how she doesn’t feel so far away, because of all the video we’ve sent.

If you’re an iPhoner, I totally recommend it.  If you use another device with a video camera there’s gotta be something else like it out there.  It makes things loads easier, and keeps those you love close.  Just look at the way I chronicled some of Coleman’s best “walkin’ work” using ReelDirector.

It’s like I’m James Cameron on wheels……well let’s not get crazy!

Jh-

h1

Walking Man

February 3, 2010

Things are movin’ and groovin’ here at the Hall Home.  Coleman had his first birthday party (for more info and pics, click here) and now the kid’s decided to get up and get going.  Up till now, Cole played for the non-walking part of the family, which was good–Non walkers 2, Walkers 1.  However, now it looks like Cole might be jumpin’ ship for greener pastures.

All I have to say is, “Go Coleman, Go!”

Jh-

h1

Surprises On Both Sides

December 2, 2009

Some friends of ours came to the house to see Coleman the other day.  Our friends have gotten to that point where they don’t even pretend to be there to see us.  All pretense is gone.   They’re there to see Cole and if we happen to be there then its just icing on the cake.

But during all the oohhing and ahhing, over Cole (they hadn’t seen him in months) one of them turned to me and asked how the whole fatherhood experience has been in comparison to what I’d expected.  In my answer, I began to think about what has been easier than I anticipated and what’s been more difficult.

Easier:

  • Holding—I’ve been able to hold him far more than I expected.  Cole’s temperament has been a big player here, and it’s been a little gift from heaven.  From the very beginning, Coleman’s always has been calm in my arms. Whether it was letting me feed and burp him in the beginning to being able to cruise around in my chair with him on my lap, or in my arm, my ability to hold my boy has far surpassed my wildest dreams.

  • Feeding—From the bottle through to our current Gerber/Table food stage, I’ve been able to feed Coleman.  I was sure that this was going to be something that only Kolette was going to be a part of.  However, it’s been something that I’ve done nearly every day.  Whether it’s been throwin’ some formula down his gullet (thanks Boppy), or slingin’ some sweet potatoes into his mouth, I’ve managed to feed Cole nearly every day—at least once. I’ve been able to hold a bottle, hold the container of baby food, and work the spoon.  It’s been a huge help that Coleman sits in his High Chair with his arms down and mouth open wide—but, as a quadriplegic, I never expected to be a part of that part of his young life.

  • Playing—I felt sure that I’d be able to play with Cole, but I thought I’d have to wait until he was older to really “get involved wit it.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  We’ve figured our all kinds of things, from throwing him around while I’m lying in bed to playing games after he eats.  We’ve used toothbrushes, cups, pretzels, wooden spoons, and anything else we could think of.  One of the real joys of my life has been playing with my buddy.

More Difficult:

  • Picking Him Up—It’s been hard from the day he was born to the day I write this post to watch him need to be lifted off the floor, out of his crib, from his High Chair, or up from his playpen.  It kills me.  I watch my boy need help and I can’t help him.  It definitely makes me feel helpless.

  • Getting Down on the Ground—If I had ten minutes out of my chair, there’s no question that much of that time would be spent playing with Coleman down on his level.  I watch others do it, and it’s different than having him on my lap.  I love the time I get face to face, but it’s on the counter or in bed.  As I watch him play, it’s easy to tell it’s different when it’s down in his environment—on his terms.  How I’d love to play with his stuff, at his height with no distractions, no counter top, no moving wheelchair—a just me and my boy.

  • Not Being Able to Watch Him Alone—Kolette and I have been able to make it so I can keep a monitor and watch over him while he naps, but if he wakes up, have to have someone to call to come take over.  Kolette works so hard, and when she has to be somewhere else, I’d love to be able to care for him all on my own.  It may not seem like much, but I’m his Dad and look forward to the time that the two of us can stand on our own two feet.

Now, before anyone feels bad, or wants me to look on the bright side, understand this—I am richly blessed. I have more and do more than I ever expected to have or do, before I had my accident. After all my injuries, I realize that I am one of the few that is lucky enough to say that I am married to my best friend and have a champ of a boy for a son.  I love my life—every single minute of it.

But, like every life there are things that are easy and things that are hard.  I think everyone goes into this fatherhood thing blind, but, because of my unique situation, I believe I went in blinder than most.  I therefore thought that it might be interesting to evaluate the good and the bad.  And, I have to say; I was surprised at some of my feelings on both sides.

However, thinking through all of this did bring me to a few undeniable conclusions.

First, I have a saint for a wife.  The majority of the things I’ve figured out to do have been because she was helping me think through them, both to find the answers, and support me through the learning curve.  She is definitely of the “If at first you don’t succeed” camp, and that has blessed my life as much as it has Coleman’s.

Second, a little patience goes a long way.  There are so many things we’ve figured out that we wouldn’t have if we had given up the first go ‘round. I’m grateful for patience.  It’s given me the chance to learn so much more about what I can and can’t do.

Finally, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  I know there will be somethings that will surprise me and be easier than I think, and some that will disappoint and be more difficult.  But, so far it’s been the journey that’s brought the joy, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend.

Jh-

h1

Sittin’ Up & Flyin’ High

September 2, 2009

Floor Time

A little over a week ago, Coleman started sitting up.  It started with Kolette putting him in the right position and him more “leaning with help” than actually sitting.  It wasn’t long though until that “leaning with help” turned into “sitting with help.”

Then, just like so many other things, one day he woke up and had it. We still had to be close by to make sure he didn’t fall, or place the Boppy around him so if he did fall, it’d be on something soft that could break his fall. That Boppy, is there anything it can’t do?

Anyhow, watching him sit there I got an idea.

One of the most difficult things about being the father of a baby while confined to a wheelchair, is watching all the people who love Cole so much playing with him down on the carpet on his level. Sometimes it really makes my heart ache not to be able to be right down there wrestling, playing, or just laying with my boy on his turf.

When he was younger, and a lot less mobile, he would lay over my shoulder, or on my chest and it could fulfil my need to be close to him.  Now, he’s moving around like a whirling dervish, and when I hold him over my shoulder he’s looking back and forth so much it is often difficult to get any “face to face” time.

With my heart yearning to get the carpet feel with Cole, I watched him sit up.  The more stable he became the more courage I gained and finally got the stregnth–the intestinal fortitude if you will–to try this idea I’d been cooking up.  It wasn’t a groundbreaking idea by any stretch of the imagination, but it was an idea that had a profound effect on our lives

I had Kolette sit him up on our countertop and I wrapped my arms around his little bottom to keep him from falling backwards on the granite.  Coleman was a little pensive at first, not quite sure about sitting on the cold rock instead of the warm carpet, and a little nervous about the height.

Those concerns quickly passed, he looked at me, and then there we were.  Face to face just as if we were laying on the carpet together.  It was magical. We laughed together, played together, and sang together–never forgetting to grunt, growl and shout to profess our manhood; all separated by inches instead of feet.

I loved every minute of it. I kept him up there until he was so tired that he looked like he was going to fall asleep sitting up.

Cole on Counter

When we decided to have Cole, I knew that there were going to be lots of things I wasn’t going to be able to do. I knew I was going to have to count on his Grandpa Hall to teach him to golf, his Grandpa Coleman to teach him how to throw a baseball.  I knew his uncles would have to be involved. Uncle Nate would have to show him how to stif-arm his opponent, Uncle Clint would be in charge of teaching him how to catch a football, and Uncle Brandon would oversee lacrosse instruction.

What I’ve found however, is that the best times are those where we figure out a way around, beat the system, and do it on our own.  I love my boy so much. I know it’ll be a long time before I forget that first day on the countertop where he was sittin’ up and I was flyin’ high.

Jh-

h1

Nothing Common About This Cold

May 20, 2009

Not Feeling Great but Still Has That Smile!

Not Feeling Great but Still Has That Smile

Lately we’ve noticed that Coleman’s been a little more stuffed up than usual. That was followed by a cough here and there that led to even more coughing especially at night or while taking his naps. There wasn’t any runny nose, but there was a tiny bit of a fever and a whole lot of congestion in his nose.

As new parents we watched the symptoms for a day but we were unsure what to do. We put a humidifier in his room and set an appointment to see the doctor the next day. I couldn’t believe how concerned I was as he went to sleep last night. We kept the baby monitor on, that way if we knew that he was coughing we at least knew that he was breathing.

In my life I’ve had a number of bouts with pneumonia. For me as a quadriplegic, I have severe respiratory issues so pneumonia can come on fast and take a strong hold. Last night I didn’t sleep much because I couldn’t stop thinking that that same thing might happen to him.

This morning Kolette loaded Cole in the car and headed off to the doctor. I kept praying in my heart that everything would be OK. She called when they were finished and told me that it was nothing more than a little common cold and explained that we were already doing the right things to help him work through it.  He would be just fine.

The weight that lifted off my shoulders was enormous.  I now understand that although it is simply a common cold, there is nothing common about the feelings I have when I think Cole is hurting or sad or just not feeling right.

As that worry was removed following his doctor’s visit, my thoughts turned to my parents.  In the summer of 1986, they had to wait in a hospital waiting room to find out what happened to their 15-year-old boy after he had dived into Lake Powell.  I can only imagine the heartache they felt while waiting and how that heartache must have intensified when they found out I’d become paralyzed from the chest down.

This is a tricky thing being a parent. You put so much love and everything you have into a tiny person that you have so little control over. It’s truly like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and it makes my soul hurt to think of those who have had to deal with tragedies I pray I never have to see when it comes to my child.

I think those parents must be the strongest of us all. I think our Heavenly Father must see something special in them to ask them to endure what must be the greatest of pains – to watch over a child who needs so much extra care or to even deal with losing a child. But, I suppose He would know how all of that feels, too.

So, here’s to Cole. Here’s to his health. Here’s to every parent that has had to deal with their child getting seriously ill or injured or worse.

I hope and pray my boy will stay healthy, but more than that, I pray that if he doesn’t I’ll be able to deal with it in the same quiet wonder that people like my parents have.

Here’s to you, Mom and Dad!

Jh-