"God doesn't give children with special needs to strong people; He gives children with special needs to ordinary, weak people and then gives them strength. Raising a child with special needs doesn't take a special family, it makes a special family."
" Faith makes life possible. Hope makes life workable. Love makes life beautiful."

The Winwards

The Winwards

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tanner is THREE

Tanner is 3!!  

As I sit here reflecting on how much I love Tanner, my heart is filled with emotion!  He has changed me so much, and I think I've learned more from him than I could ever teach him! 

Tanner is now 3 and I really wonder where all the time has gone!  He is 39 inches tall and weighs approximately 35lbs.  He is getting so big and getting so independent.  He is usually smiling and has the best personality ever!  He loves to tease, sing, and talk.  When he was little I remember saying one time, "I can't wait until he can talk".  Well, he talks now and he talks a lot!  There are times now I wish I would have never said that! :)  Tanner knows his ABC's, and can count to 13. Why 13 I don't know... but he's so cute about it.  He gets to 13 and then he pauses and yells 20!!  He knows 7 colors and all the simple shapes.  He will be starting preschool in January, and I'm so excited for him!
His favorite toys currently are Thomas the train engines.  I was able to find some cheap off of craig's list.  Best purchase ever!  He plays with those trains nonstop. His favorite food is chicken nuggets with ranch & macaroni and cheese. He eats all the typical toddler finger foods.  His favorite snack is chips and dip.  He is a dipper.... if the food is dip-able, he will dip it!  He tells me all the time that he is a "Ranch Boy".  I think he's just a silly boy!

I found this poem online, and it reminded me so much of Tanner......

You weren't like other children,
And God was well aware,
You’d need a caring family,
With love enough to share.
And so He sent you to us,
And much to our surprise,
You haven’t been a challenge,
But a blessing in disguise.
Your winning smiles and laughter,
The pleasures you impart,
Far outweigh your special needs,
And melt the coldest heart.
We’re proud that we've been chosen,
To help you learn and grow,
The job that you have brought us,
Is more than you can know.
A precious gift from Heaven,
A treasure from above,
A child who’s taught us many things,
But most of all- “Real Love”

Tanner is now a big brother!  His brother Connor was born on 11/17/2011.  Tanner loves him to pieces.  He is always wanting to hold him, hug him, and kiss him.  There was a point about 2 weeks after we brought Connor home that Tanner was probably really jealous.  The conversation went like this.....
Tanner - "Mom, take Connor back"
Me - "Take Connor back where?"
Tanner - "To the hockpickle (hospital)
Me - "Why would I take him back to the hospital?"
Tanner - "He too noisy Mom."
Me - "But Mom loves Connor"
Tanner - "Sigh" "Ok, he can stay"

With each day Tanner is getting better and better about Connor being around.  He does have his days where he cries more easily or gets mad easier than other days. But he actually has done way better than I ever imagined he would.  And for that I am very proud of him. :)

This is another poem that I found on facebook that when I read it , it reminded me of how I feel about my Tanner. 

I Still would have chosen you 
- By Terri Banish 

If before you were born, 
I could have gone to heaven and saw all the beautiful souls, 
I still would have chosen you... ... ... 
If God had told me, 
"This soul would one day need extra care and needs", 
I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me, 
"This soul may make your heart bleed", 
I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me,
 "This soul would make you question the depth of your faith", 
I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me,
 "This soul would make tears flow from your eyes that could fill a river", 
I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me,
 "This soul may one day make you witness overbearing suffering", 
I still would have chosen you.
If He had told me,
 "All that you know to be normal would drastically change", 
I still would have chosen you.
Of course, even though I would have chosen you, 
I know it was God who chose me for you.

Mom loves you Tanner & I couldn't be prouder to be your Mom. 

Monday, December 5, 2011


I came across this poem on Facebook tonight and fell in love with it.  I hope that this is something Tanner will always live by, and not let anything hold him back or get him down....


Some say I am disabled, 
But you know that isn't true. 
I simply have a challenge 
A little different from you. 

My slight inconvenience, has taught me 
Things they could not know. 
Each obstacle is a victory, 
Enabling me to grow. 

I'm not really any different, 
I cry, I laugh, I snore. 
I don't want to be treated 
As if I'm not a person anymore. 

Out of good intentions, 
People are afraid to let me try. 
But sometimes I have to fall, 
And sometimes I need to cry. 

God gives me strength and dignity, 
And the courage to be all I can be. 
For He doesn't see me as disabled, 
He just sees me as me. 

Leslie W Ortega

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Connor Jackson Winward

Announcing the arrival of Connor Jackson Winward!!!  Born @ 9:25am on 11/17/11.  Weighed 9lbs 6 oz and measured 20.5 inches long.  

So much like Tanner in so many ways, yet definitely super calm and big personality!

Having a "typical" child after a special needs child is a whole different experience and one that I will cherish always.  It's amazing all the things that are considered normal.  :Things that you don't think twice about unless you experience things differently.  

I look forward to getting to know this new little man.  I'm still amazed at how much you can really love someone you just met ! :)

Tanner loved him from the very first moment!  I was worried about how he would react, but he has been so great about it.  There have been some extra meltdowns and extra whining.  But he loves to hold and kiss Connor and is always asking about him.  I look forward to watching them grow up together and becoming best buddies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bad Day.......

Good day... gone wrong.... went to visit hubby's mom Sunday night.... our car parked in driveway got broken into while we were gone!! We were only gone for 2.5 hours. We have it on video, but the video is in black and white and you can't see a lot due to it being dark! Jerk came 8 minutes after we had left and took about 20 minutes to tear apart the inside of the car!  Due to the fact that he came only 8 minutes after we left makes me feel like he was watching the house for who knows how long!  That fact freaks me out!

The police were able to get some pretty good prints from the car and the stupid guy left his flashlight in the car as well, so prints were pulled from that. I really hope they catch him!

It just sucks so bad that this had to happen 4 days before the new baby! Makes me feel so insecure!  It also makes it so hard to take care of things.

The one thing that I'm thankful for is that the garage door opener was not in the car!!! Cause otherwise he could have gotten in the garage and the house too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweet Kindness

Tonight as I watched my son try to play with his cousins in his chair.... as they are running circles around him....... and he is getting more and more frustrated by the minute.... I REALLY HATED SPINA BIFIDA..... It was so hard for me to watch him want to play so much and not be able to keep up with the other kids. It was heartbreaking. At one point he even started to cry.
But then my oldest niece who is 9 did something so sweet. She asked him if she could push him to chase the other kids. He loved it! Thank goodness for her thoughtfulness. It was still hard for me to watch, but I'm glad he had more fun after that. When I thanked her afterward, she said that he deserves to be included even if he does it in a different way. So touching.

This picture is from last year, but its my favorite one of the 2 of them together.  Tanner sure loves his cousin Emily!

Such A Scary Moment!!!

I just about had a heart attack tonight!! Tanner was in his wheelchair and we were at a church leaving a rehearsal dinner for my hubby's sister wedding. Hubby let Tanner out the door and the sidewalk is tilted downward. Hubby didn't grab Tanner and he went zooming down the sidewalk. At the end of the sidewalk is the curb! The first thing I thought was "Oh no, he's going to fall forward and crash on the pavement....being pregnant and due in 6 days I couldn't run after him.... and was forced to watch helplessly and I screamed for my husband to get him! Tanner jumped off the curb and kept going towards a tree! Luckily my husband reached him and stopped him before he hit the tree! It was so horrible feeling like my son was going to get so hurt and not being able to do anything about it! Thank goodness all that happened was Tanner got scared!!

I truly never want to live through that again!  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

38 weeks

Officially 38 weeks and 3 days  - C-section schedule in 1 week!  

I don't think I could get much rounder!  My maternity clothes are getting too tight, and that is simply pathetic! 

Here are a couple of 3D pictures the got of baby boy Connor!  Can't hardly wait to meet him!
Perfect little feet w/legs crossed.

 Face with arm going across
He's pretty smashed in there!  Almost there!

Preschool Eval - Frustrated

So..... we had Tanner's preschool evaluation today to see what he qualifies for as far as "extra services". They tried to tell me that he wasn't going to qualify for anything!! I about died! He has orthopedic/gross motor delays like none other!
Then the OT that was there was like "Why doesn't he have arm rests and a tray on his wheelchair?" I had the hardest time not flipping out over that one! We specifically didn't order either of these on his chair because we don't want him in his chair all the time at school! She was saying that these were needed because "how is he going to carry stuff otherwise?" GRRRRR!!! I explained that he had a backpack for the chair that can be added. And for lunch and such.... we will require an aid or helper. She looked at me like I was nuts! Am I wrong to think that?
And then she tells us that he needs wheelchair brake extensions. He can already work the brakes he has now. Yes, he has to bend down to reach them....but he can still do it. At this point I'm just frustrated......not sure what to think or what to do.
I went in expecting the meeting to go smoother or better I guess. It just threw me for a loop how shallow the OT was, especially after telling me that she has a brother that has Spina Bifida. It was maddening! You would think she above all others would understand!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Shiner

Tonight Tanner hit right above his left eye on the filing cabinet at home.  He was trying to slide down my lap and took a nose dive instead.  Poor guy cried for almost an hour.  It swelled up pretty big, but went down some after applying an ice pack for about 20 minutes.  I feel like such a bad Mommy!  Wish I could have stopped it from happening!

The worst part is that he had to hit the corner of the cabinet!

I'm sure he got such a headache.  We gave him children's Advil to help out with that!

Daddy applying the ice pack.  Tanner hated the ice pack!  It was a struggle to keep it on for as long as we did.

This happened right before bedtime.... so needless to say... Tanner was pooped, and promptly went to sleep. It's so hard for me not to worry due to the fact that he has a shunt.  But the bump is on the opposite side of his head than where the shunt is located.  
But -  He's still cute no matter what. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011 for Tanner was a busy busy busy weekend!  So many things going on! 

We started out by going to a toddler/preschool Halloween party on Friday 10/28.  Lots of goodies, and 
trick or treating in the house!  It was so cute to see him with the other kids!

Next we had the Spina Bifida Walk N Roll on Saturday 10/29.  I tried and tried to get a good picture of Tanner, but he really wouldn't hold still long enough for me to get one.  The 2 pictures below are the best I could get!  He wouldn't wear his cowboy hat so we put it on the back of his chair.  He had to wear his pepsi hat...... goofball.

So he was Woody with a baseball cap on for Halloween.  Definitely original!

Tanner is a member of a foundation here in Phoenix, called the Starlight Foundation.  The Starlight Foundation is an organization that "Helps seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities". Saturday night we were able to go to a Coyotes hockey game through the foundation.  The awesome part about these activities is that they are absolutely free to the families!  We just started taking Tanner to these in September and love them!

The game was Tanner's first ever Hockey Game!  He even got a certificate!

The night was also filled with trick-o-treating within the arena.  Tanner received a huge pillowcase to collect his candy in!  He loved it!

On Monday we also took him to a Halloween party that included a hay ride which he loved!  Didn't get any photos of that unfortunately! (camera was left in car!)

All in all it was a fun packed weekend that wore us all out!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Pic

This is the best pumpkin picture I've been able to capture of Tanner.  He "colored" one pumpkin, and put Halloween stickers on the other one!  
He's going to be Woody from Toy Story this year!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The joys of a BOX

Tanner loves to play in boxes.... if there is one around... he is in it, around it, or putting stuff in it!

Silly Boy!

Tanner's New Wheels!

Tanner got his 1st new wheelchair this week, and so far he loves it!  It called a Quickie Zippie Zone, and the color is Toxic Green!  Tanner picked the color and I think it totally suits him!  The day we got it, I took him to Target and let him loose!  He loved the freedom to go WHERE he wanted, WHEN he wanted!  This has been a long time coming.  The smile on his face and the excitement in his eyes were priceless!  

We plan to continue working on walking, and to use the wheelchair for outings and adventures that require a lot of walking.  He is getting closer to being about to use his walker... he's just not quite there yet!

I'm so excited for him to have this new freedom!  He's very independent and this is just going to help boost that independence and I'm hoping his confidence too!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baby Belly 34 weeks

I'm not too big on taking pictures of myself while pregnant.... but thought I would give you a glimpse of how big my belly really is!  This time around I feel way bigger than I did when I was pregnant with Tanner! Picture taken in the doctors office bathroom.  (I'm not tall enough to get my whole belly in the mirrors I have at home)  :)

Tanner still doesn't completely understand that there is a baby inside his Mommy.  When asked if there is a baby there, he says "No way, just a lot of food"  Cracks me up!  Boy will he be surprised in a month!

Tanner's Story ......

I remember it like it was yesterday.  Routine ultrasound on 7/24/08 - scan was going good and then the tech got real quiet and said she would be right back.  The doctor then came in and said that my new baby boy growing inside me has spina bifida. What he said next, I will never forget. He said "Your baby has spina bifida, he will have no quality of life, when would you like to abort?"
I first felt shock, and disbelief. But the disbelief soon turned into massive sorrow. I don't think I've ever cried so hard or long in my life! He is my first child, so I was already scared, but now I'm terrified.  We were offered termination many times, and each time we said no.  We were going to let God decide. 
There were times I blamed myself, or thought God must be punishing me for something. I spent many sleepless nights crying and agonizing over all the unknowns and what-ifs.  
I tried so hard to put up a strong front and tell myself that there are worse things that could happen to my son. Trying to convince myself that I could do it, and it won't be as hard as the doctor's say it is. Or at least I'm hoped that it wouldn't be.

Csection was scheduled for 12/18/2008, but Tanner decided to come 3 days earlier on 12/15/2008.  Turning the scheduled csection into an emergency one!  Already showing off his stubborn side.....
The hardest part was that he would be transferred to the children's hospital while I stayed at the birthing hospital.  I got to spend 6 blessed hours with him and hold him for a couple of minutes before they took him away.  
Tanner was 14 hours old when he had his back surgically closed.  He had his first VP shunt placed at 9 days old. He also got his first set of casts to for his club feet at 11 days of age.  He spent 14 days in the NICU, including his first Christmas, and then we were able to take him home!

(Don't mind date on pics - new camera - and hubby forgot to change the year!)

Tanner had 4 addtional surgeries by the time he was 7 months old, but none of that has ever slowed him down!  He also has had casts on his feet a total of 18 weeks so far. He sat independantly at almost 9 months old, army crawled at 11 months old, 4-point crawled at 12 months, and pulled to stand at 13 months!

Today Tanner is almost 3!  He is smart, outgoing, funny, cute, strong, stubborn, and courageous!  He never lets anything get him down!  He talks up a storm, and will copy anything you say!  He still primarily crawls everywhere, but is learning to take steps in a reverse walker.  He also gets his first wheelchair on Monday 10/17/11!  He is going to be a big brother in November, and will be starting preschool in January.  

As I look back on our journey, I honestly wouldn't change anything for anything!  Tanner is who he is, and spina bifida is just a small part of him!  He lights up our life with his sunshine, and is our little miracle from God.  The struggles have made the triumphs so much better!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spina Bifida Awareness .......

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month.  There have been a lot of happenings on face book, blogs, and other things going on. Below is something that I contributed to another blog, but also wanted to add it to this one as well. 

"What do I know now that I wished I had known when I found out about Tanner's Spina Bifida?"

"Wow!  Where do I begin?  There are so many avenues I could take.  But the main things that stand out in my mind more than any others are...
- I wish I would have known what an absolute joy Tanner would be in my life! 
- How no matter how hard it gets, I AM strong enough to handle it!
- That the doctor that told me that Tanner would have no quality of life, was DEAD WRONG!
- How much I have and will continue to learn from him!
- How much happiness he truly brings into my life!
- How I had nothing to worry about because he is so much more than the spina bifida diagnosis!
- I really wish I would have not worried so much about all the "what ifs" and enjoyed my pregnancy.

I could seriously go on and on about how much I love and adore Tanner.  He's my little miracle from God, and I love him to pieces!"

This next part I borrowed from a friend - 

SPINA BIFIDA AWARENESS : You should be aware that having a child with SB may cause increased motivation to help others, a newfound perspective in times of trial, a desire to enjoy the little things and commitment to change the way the world defines "disability". Studies show that raising a child with SB will induce strong feelings of gratitude for even the simplest of milestones and produce a willingness to do anything, talk to anyone, try any method necessary to make life better for your child. Side effects include feelings of worry, fear, uncertainty, and anger but are tempered with love, faith, determination and hope. Having a child with SB is not easy...but loving one is. ♥

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Special Poem

A fellow mother of a special needs child posted this poem on face book written by Tricia Proefrock , and I just had to share!  I love it, and it really touched my heart.  I hope one day that Tanner will see me like this....

I know Different

I have felt your tears, falling on my face.
... Someone else might think they are tears of sadness, because of what I can't do.


I know those tears pour from your heart out of gratitude for me, because of what I CAN do : I can love everyone in the purest form possible. Unconditionally. I can be judged, but will never judge in return. I know different because I feel, in your hugs and kisses, that I'm perfect just the way I am.

I have seen you hang your head down in shame, when we go out on adventures.
Someone else might think you are ashamed of having a child like me.


I know you are ashamed of the grown-ups who ignore me, yet talk happily to all the other children. The grown-ups who won't look you in the eye, but stare at me, when they think you don't see. I know different because I've seen the many, many more times you have raised your head up high, with pride, because I'm yours. : )

I have heard you whispering desperate prayers at night. Someone else might think you are asking God to make me a typical kid.


I know you are thanking Him that I got to be here, with you, for another day- exactly how I am. I know different because I have heard you ask me never to leave you. And I have heard you cheer for me, every single day of my life- you tell me I don't need to be typical to be amazing, I just need to be here.

I know you have a big job, taking care of me.
I know your body hurts, because I'm getting so big.
I know that more than anything, you want to hear me say your name.
And I know you worry that you aren't good enough, and that you will fail me.


I know that even on your worst days, you will always be enough for me, and I will always love you more than you know. ♥

Friday, October 7, 2011

What Tanner says....

Tanner is so funny at times, and has a lot of random thoughts!  Below are a few conversations that have happened recently....

Me - "Tanner, is there a baby inside mommies belly?"
Tanner - "No way!"
Me - "If there is no baby, what is there making mommies belly so round?"
Tanner - "Just lots of food"  And then he giggles....
Sigh..... gotta love him!

As I've been getting all the baby stuff out and ready, Tanner has been really curious about all of it.

Tanner - " Mom, what you doin?"
Me - "'Getting stuff ready for baby Connor"
Tanner "For baby Tanner?"
Me - "No baby Connor"  Tanner, you are a big boy now, not a baby"
Tanner - "No, I baby Tanner"

Recently Tanner has become obsessed with Cookie Monster.... and lately anytime he doesn't want to do something, Cookie monster is doing it instead.

Tanner - "Mom, cookie monser in my bed"  Cookie Monser is outside"  "Cookie monser goin ta eat my dinner"  "Cookie Monser brush teef (teeth)"  
Me - "No, Tanner you are supposed to do it"
Tanner - "I don't tink so!"  Cookie monser do it!"

I don't know where he gets this stuff, but its cute.  It's so hard for me to get after him about it.

I once said that I couldn't wait for Tanner to talk....... and now..... he talks ALL THE TIME!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's been awhile

It's been a long while since I posted - so this post is simply to say that I'm going to try harder!  I'm going to try to catch up before our new baby comes in 38 days!  Because then I know that I'll really not have time!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spaghetti Song

This is Tanner's FAVORITE song right now, and I probably sing it to him or with him at least 30-50 times a day!  Please don't mind my awful singing voice in the background.  This video is just too cute not to share!

Utah Trip..... Part 1

Tanner and I took a trip to Utah for 3 weeks. from  July 18th - August 8th.  We had a lot of Adventures. This part is just from July. Tanner has gotten tired of me taking pictures of him, but I got what I could. This first picture is of him and his cousin Steven, playing the piano.  My sister Trina has 4 boys, and Tanner called them "the boys".  

Here Tanner is @ Great Grandma Winward's house "brushing" his hair.  Great Grandma lives in Riverton, Utah. It's great to stop there on the way up to Cache Valley, and stop there on the way back. She is Ray's grandma, and such a sweet lady. 

Tanner also got very attached to the "mini" chair that she had there. Just his size!

Tanner's favorite thing to do while in Utah was play at the parks!  He loved being able to be outside so much! 

This was his favorite parks out of all the ones we went too. 

When he got tired of the park, he loved to "push" the stroller around on the grass. 

But then right back to playing. 

At my mom's house Tanner had a lot of fun!  His most favorite thing was these tuperware animals that he could build and play with.  Here he is with his "zoo". 

Counting how many there are!

Near my mom's house in Logan there is a mini zoo at a park. It's called Willow park, and was always a favorite for me when I was a child, and Tanner likes it too.  We went several times. His favorite animals were the turtles and the monkeys.  I was only able to catch the turtles on this trip.  

And the BEST thing Tanner did while in Utah!  He walked in his walker with my help of course!  I took it with us to see  if he would get more into it, and he totally did!  So glad I took it!  He's getting there slowly but surely!  So proud of him!

Stay tuned for more adventures!