...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I’m about to get heavy on one of my kids. To be read: This post has little to do with all things home.

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That’s Layne. Today is his birthday. He’s turning 8. I find myself reflecting on my kids’ short but big lives on their birthdays. I’m often amazed at how much they’ve changed and grown. Today is no different.

When Layne was three years old, he was diagnosed with a sensory disorder. He was a relatively mild case but his symptoms were enough to disrupt our daily lives and affect Layne socially. On an intellectual level, Layne was way beyond his years. He was speaking in complete sentences at 16 months and was reading by the age of 3.

But, physically, Layne was uncomfortable in his body. Just getting dressed for the day was a huge, frustrating task that, more than once, ended with Layne physically getting sick. Layne couldn’t advance with his peers in preschool because he had problems with potty-training – yet he was reading at a 1st grade level. He was nearly 4 years old by the time he was potty-trained “enough” to move up but even then he had problems.

Desperate and worried, I relayed my concerns to Layne’s pediatrician and we were referred to an occupational therapist. Layne attended OT sessions and I was given recommendations for treatments and activities outside of OT to help Layne’s symptoms improve. One of the OT’s suggestions was to enroll Layne in gymnastics. I did. It was a basic co-ed gymnastics class that met for 45 minutes once a week. He learned to do a somersault and jumped around in a bounce house. That was over three years ago.

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Yesterday, Layne placed 1st on parallel bars, 3rd on high bar, 5th on pommel horse and 4th all-around at a gymnastics meet in Indiana. I was so proud of him but the best part was seeing how proud Layne was of himself. He has come a long way.

We celebrated Layne’s birthday this past weekend. Per Layne’s request, we threw a Titanic-themed party for our families. He was inspired by a library book he had recently read on the Titanic.

titanic party

I made Layne’s favorite meal and he helped me come up with Titanic-esque names for the food:

*Watch Out for That Iceberg! salad

*Troubled Waters chili

*Grab a Lifeboat corn muffins

*Titanic fruit salad

He chose Cold Stone’s ice cream cupcakes for dessert. {If you want to confuse the bajeezus out of your guests, ice cream cupcakes are the way to go! Yes, you eat the frozen chocolate “wrapper.” Yes, they are cupcakes. Yes, they have ice cream in them. Yes, they have cake in them. And, again, YES! you eat the “wrapper.”}

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Someone on instagram asked so I thought I’d share…the black and white polkadot balloons were off the shelf at Meijer. The guy in the flower department filled them with helium at no extra charge. Wasn’t that nice?!

What would you guess an eight-year-old boy’s favorite birthday gift to be? You will never guess Layne’s. NEVER. So I’ll just tell you.

A 4-slot toaster. A 4-SLOT TOASTER! We played Heywood Bank’s “Toast!” after Layne opened his toaster. Layne made stacks of toast for everyone the next morning. He’s one-of-a-kind.

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Happy Birthday Layne! I’m so happy I get to be your mom and watch you become you.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

50 Comments

11.February.2013

Happy birthday Layne ! And good job at the gymnastics ! take care Millers.

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11.February.2013

What a precious little boy. And what a proud mama moment to be able to reflect back on the past eight years and see how far he has come! Congrats to Layne on his gymnastics accomplishments!

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11.February.2013

Wow, this post is so touching!! I got all teary-eyed after reading how well he did at the gymnastics meet! What a special kid. And the titanic-themed food names he came up with?? Genius! I love thow his favorite gift was the toaster. Happy Birthday to Layne! And what a lucky kid to have a mom like you!

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11.February.2013

So sweet! Thank you for sharing…my brother did gymnastics. Those are some brave kids. Congrats on all his successes Mom!

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11.February.2013

Dana, I read your blog all them time and have never commented before. I am a Kindergarten teacher, and I was so deeply touched by your story of Layne and his amazing accomplishments. He sounds like a wonderful, fascinating boy, and I love that got a toaster for his gift! Thank you for sharing this side of your life…he’s a lucky little boy to have you for his mom!

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11.February.2013

What a wonderful little boy you have! I loved getting to know more about just him. Thanks for sharing and happy birthday!

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Dana, a post about one of your kids is totally “home” related if you ask me! Thanks for sharing, I loved it, even if it wasn’t about decorating per se. That fruit salad looks great, very Titanic, and I love when parents let their kiddos help and pick the theme. Question: did he ask for a toaster? just asking b/c I’m surprised he got one. Happy Birthday Layne…you’re a cool kid!

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replied on February 11th, 2013

He specifically asked for a 4-slot toaster.

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11.February.2013

YAY Layne – looking good with all those medals!

And the laundry/buffet area looks fabulous – you certainly know how to make every inch of the Underdog work for you.

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11.February.2013

Happy birthday Layne! My daughter has some sensory issues as well and wow! What a great thing it has been to discover that to find TOOLS that work for them! I’m so glad you found something that is so great for him!

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11.February.2013

All ours lives changed the day my now 5 year son was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder at age 3. Today, he still can’t ride a bike, but he is teaching himself how to read and do math. We see our OT twice a week.Seeing what Layne has accomplished by age 8 is SO encouraging. Thank you for sharing. (I have followed your blog for more than a year, but never knew we had this particular thing in common!)

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11.February.2013

Thanks for sharing this. While my oldest doesn’t have a sensory disorder, she has a neurological speech disorder that causes muscle memory issues on top of speaking difficulties. I look her achievements a little differently then most parents, I am sure you do the same with your son, you know how hard they had to work to overcome their obstacles to succeed. It means that much more when they accomplish their goals with flying colors!! Happy Birthday Layne!!

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11.February.2013

I love this. And we have a toast maker/eater as well. I will frequently get up in the morning to find my oldest has already toasted and buttered himself a mile high pile of toast and poured himself a glass of cold milk. He is seven going on eight – it must be a boy/age thing. Cracks me up.

I hope he is even half as creative in coming up with his birthday party theme.

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11.February.2013

Happy Birthday Layne and congrats on the medals !! You ROCK !! :)

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So very sweet…thanks for sharing! :)

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11.February.2013

Layne and I share this wonderful birthday! Happy Birthday Mr. Layne. My B has/had sensory processing as well, so I applaud your being able to share such a personal post. Keep up the good work Momma! Congrats on being a gymnastics phenom!!!!!

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11.February.2013

That is so awesome!

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11.February.2013

This is wet-eye stuff. Sharing your parental pride, and challenges, can help a lot of other moms (and dads) out there. Encouragement is priceless–and so are our kids. Happy birthday, Layne.

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11.February.2013

That is such a neat birthday theme :) And congrats to Layne for doing so well at his gymnastics meet!

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11.February.2013

Happy Birthday to your little man – you have a right to be proud. I have two boys and I love watching them develop and overcome their obstacles. Thank you for sharing. x

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11.February.2013

Wow! A Titanic birthday party! I thought my son was the only one who wanted one of these! He’s OBSESSED with the Titanic! Happy birthday Layne!

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11.February.2013

What a sweet post. Happy birthday to Layne. My nephew also takes gymnastics and looooves it. Taking after his awesome Aunt, as I also took gymnastics when I was younger. ;)

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11.February.2013

Thank you for sharing that personal story! Happy Birthday, Layne!

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11.February.2013

I knew I liked you for more than house tweaking reasons. You are a great mom. My son was diagnosed with sensory integrative disorder in Kindergarten. He would hid under the desk when the fire alarm drill would sound off. He copes very well. He was later diagnosed with Asperger’s. He too took a gymnastics class to help along with Tae Kwon Do. He is now in the 6th grade, all honors classes. He recently had a bought with anxiety, but is right back on track. You and your family are AWESOME! I love house tweaking even more after this post! Happy Birthday Layne!

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11.February.2013

I am really trying hard not to cry right now. You are amazing and so is Layne. Congratulations to you both. (P.S. I loved the titanic fruit salad idea!)

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11.February.2013

Happy, happy birthday, Layne. One of my most favorite posts that you’ve ever written! 3 of my 5 kids are competitive swimmers. We started them in swimming at the suggestion of our pediatrician. 2 of the kids have ADHD and its such a great activity for them to get their extra energy out! I know that frequently people wonder why we have our kids participate in such a demanding (time and money) sport, but its been life changing for our family. Congrats to Layne, and happy birthday to him and you both!

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11.February.2013

Go Layne! Happiest Birthday to you and your marvelous toaster!

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11.February.2013

Happy Birthday Layne! Look at all those medals – congratulations!
My 24 year old brother loves all things Titanic. He has autism and will be extremely excited to see that your birthday theme was Titanic.
Dana – What a lovely, touching post! BTW, my mom’s name is Dana (pronounced Dan-ah). Small coincidence. :)

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11.February.2013

I have an 8 year old who has been Titanic-obsessed lately! Reading everything he can on it. We watched the documentary on DVD last night about finding the Titanic. For Christmas he asked for hand-carved wood animals. Oh, and an orca tooth. Hooray for the one-of-a-kind kids. They make life more interesting. The decorations and food at your party looked awesome. Happy bday

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11.February.2013

I love everything about this post. Rock on, Layne. You and your family are awesome.

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11.February.2013

Happy Birthday Layne!!! Awesome party for a super cute kiddo!

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Can I just say that you are the cutest mom and Layne (how do you pronounce that?) is soooo stinkin’ cute! What a fun kid! I love that he wanted a titanic party and loves his toaster oven. Seriously he has the best personality ever!

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replied on February 11th, 2013

His name is pronounced just like ‘lane.’ We got a little crazy and threw a “y” in there for fun.

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11.February.2013

It is heartwarming to hear of committed parents of exceptional children and how deeply that love impacts… thanks for sharing, Dana. Layne sounds like a wonderful boy!

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11.February.2013

Honey, this has everything to do with home! :)

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12.February.2013

Happy birthday to your big guy. Your pride is so heartwarming. Thanks for sharing such a personal story!

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12.February.2013

Happy birthday Layne! And congrats on your accomplishments.

Fun fact: did you know we’re actually in the middle of a helium shortage? If we continue to use it at our current rate, it’ll be completely gone in 30-50 years. Isn’t that crazy?

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replied on February 12th, 2013

That’s what HH told me when I came home with the balloons and told him they didn’t charge me for the helium! If I had known that, I probably would have just blown them up myself.

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12.February.2013

Yay for Layne, and his accomplishments! My son will be 5 next week and has SPD. We are still dealing with potty training “issues” (how on Earth does that work with Kindergarten?). He sees an OT, but still can’t ride a bike, swing, etc.

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12.February.2013

Dana, this post is exactly why I love your blog. What a special story. Happy Birthday Layne!!

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12.February.2013

Read this post aloud to my husband in bed – loved it! Max is in to lamps-I take him to the lamp section of Home Goods as a special treat! (He’s 18 months)

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replied on February 12th, 2013

That’s so funny! Layne went through a lamp/lighting phase as well. He would get very excited every time the Lamps Plus catalog came in the mail then would spend hours looking through it. :)

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12.February.2013

Happy Birthday, Layne! And great job on the gymnastics!

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12.February.2013

Love the post today. Happy Birthday Layne. Congratulations on your gymnastics accomplishments. You are doing a fantastic job Dana!!

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12.February.2013

Your boy is precious. never heard of that toast song before, pretty hilarious. Where on earth did you hear about that? Also really love the names of your food, although what a tragic theme for celebrating a fun birthday party.

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12.February.2013

This is such a beautiful post…and a tribute to you, your husband, and Layne!! Well done, all of you!

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12.February.2013

Thank you for sharing such an encouraging post. It gave me hope as my 4 yr old son was recently diagnosed with SPD and a language disorder.
And those cupcakes sound awesome! Happy Birthday Layne!

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12.February.2013

I’ve been following your blog for quite some time. My husband and I are in the middle of our 1950′s ranch remodel, and I love to see other people’s ideas. I’m also a pediatric OT and love to hear the success your son has had. I wish him continued success with all of his endeavors.

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13.February.2013

My son too has SPD and although so smart, struggles with a lot of daily tasks and socially. I loved reading your story as I have been thniking that gymnastics was a direction we were going to take. We are going to try it! Happy Birthday Layne.

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What awesome little guys you have (and gal, even though you haven’t written too much about her personality yet!). How proud y’all must be of Layne, and even better that he’s proud of himself.

Erin

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