Ballerina Balm: The Launching of a Labor of Love for Laurin

Five-year-old Cindy Holland found her first friend in the world at 1500 Hibiscus Street in McAllen. Laurin Huber lived only two doors down from her. They jumped on the trampoline together, played with Barbie dolls, rode their bikes to Dairy Queen and danced at Melba’s Dance School.

Because Laurin was a year older, Cindy always looked up to her. More than 47 years later, Laurin is now looking up to Cindy from the bed where she receives 24/7 nursing to stay alive. In 1980, Laurin’s life changed forever when she almost died in a car wreck that has left her helpless to do anything for herself.

Until recently, the last time Cindy saw Laurin was in high school. Like most news these days, Cindy learned through Facebook about the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust. She wanted to visit Laurin but was a little hesitant. When Lupe Enriquez posted about a reunion party to visit with Laurin, Cindy knew she couldn’t stay away any longer and drove straight to McAllen from San Antonio.

Laurin is reunited with her childhood friend Cindy.

Laurin is reunited with her childhood friend Cindy.

“When I saw Laurin for the first time, I didn’t feel sad like I thought I would,” said Cindy. “I felt blessed to be able to spend time with her. All the little annoyances and problems of my life felt so insignificant. Visiting Laurin brings me joy and puts things in perspective for me.”

Shortly thereafter, Cindy had a poignant idea to help her childhood friend and dance buddy. She and her daughter Andrea have dedicated 10% of the Ballerina Balm sales nationwide to the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust as a way to help with the tremendous expense of her care. “I remember what an amazing dancer and tumbler Laurin was,” said Cindy. “I felt this was a good way that we could help with her support.”

Ballerina Balm is designed specifically to soothe the soreness and aches of dancers’ feet. The average ballerina exerts 220 psi of pressure on her feet when dancing en pointe.

10% of Sales to be Given to the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust

10% of Sales Will be Given to the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust, which helps to cover Laurin’s medical expenses.

“One of the main ingredients in the secret formula is peppermint, which is so rejuvenating,” said Cindy. “In the McAllen area, Ballerina Balm will be available exclusively at Melba’s Dance School.”

Ballerina Balm is part of the new Chalet Cosmetic line that Cindy and her daughter are launching nationally. Cindy grew up in the cosmetic industry. Sue Holland, her mother, owned and operated Merle Norman stores in La Plaza Mall, Edinburg, Pharr and Weslaco.

A limited number of stage makeup kits will be available for purchase at Melba’s Dance School, along with Chalet Cosmetics’ oil-absorbing pumpkin powder, cleansers, toners and moisturizers that are available exclusively at Melba’s Dance School, located at 2100 N. 10th Street in McAllen, Texas.

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Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” (this is for gift checks outside of the ad program described under Laurin’s Angels; ad program checks should be payable to “Melba’s”) and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours.

If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Christmas Concert Singers Give Private Performance for Laurin

On December 20, 2015, a loving ensemble of local musicians gathered to perform a benefit Christmas concert for Laurin at South Padre Island. Most of them had never met Laurin, who is mostly confined to home and was unable to attend the concert. So they decided to do something about it. One week after the concert, several of the vocalists made the drive from the coast all the way to McAllen to visit with Laurin and share some of the concert music with her.

singers-visit-Laurin-12-27-15-w

For Laurin, having visitors is her absolute favorite thing. If they sing for her, that’s even better! She remained very alert, eyes wide open, taking it all in as the singers introduced themselves and then gathered around the piano for an informal concert just for her. To Laurin’s apparent surprise, her sister-in-law Lisa provided some accompaniment on the freshly-tuned baby grand piano. They shared several of the songs from the recent concert at the Island, as well as previous years’ concerts. It ended up as a Christmas carol sing-along, with many rich harmonies.

Carolyn-Paul-Harold-visit-Laurin-12-27-15-w

What a joyous time of praising God for sending us the greatest gift of all: His Son, Jesus Christ, who left Heaven to become a helpless Baby and live a human life here on Earth. We celebrated the pure grace of this gift: God’s provision to pay for all of our sins so that we could ultimately spend eternity with Him.

Laurin was so blessed by this visit. She has been a bit depressed since her 106-year-old grandmother passed away just a couple weeks before in the same room. All the music seemed to lift her spirits. She definitely perked up and appeared to be getting into the Christmas spirit.

The visitors were also blessed to meet Laurin. Many people don’t understand how to relate to someone in her condition. Until they just do it.

The Lord provides. Merry Christmas!

singers-and-group-with-Laurin-12-27-15-w

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Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” (this is for gift checks outside of the ad program described under Laurin’s Angels; ad program checks should be payable to “Melba’s”) and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours.

If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Laurin’s #1 Angel Is Now In Heaven

Melba H. Stewart, born May 15, 1909 in Dallas, Texas, lived to the astonishing age of 106 years, 6 months and 28 days. On December 13, 2015, she passed peacefully at home surrounded by loving family members into the presence of her savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Melba Stewart (Laurin's grandmother)

Melba Stewart (Laurin’s grandmother)

Back when Stewart was 99 years old, the full force of Hurricane Dolly struck McAllen on July 24, 2008. Stewart got up in the middle of the night with no power in the house to check on her granddaughter, Laurin Huber. She fell and broke her neck. Her physician said many people with the same injury would suffer paralysis or die. Not Stewart. After three months of wearing an immobilizing, steel halo that screwed into her skull, she graduated to a neck brace. After doing physical therapy, she was once again enjoying full neck mobility by her 100th birthday! She was able to get around with a walker for several more years.

Hurricane Dolly was not the first time Stewart checked on her granddaughter. In 1980, Huber nearly died in a car wreck that left her immobilized and helpless. Stewart took Huber into her home and oversaw her care, which has required 24/7 nursing ever since. For more than 27 years, Stewart personally cooked and supervised the preparation of Huber’s food and ground it into a puree.

There’s another Huber who has benefited from Stewart’s sacrificial love. Melba Huber has been teaching dance at Melba’s Dance School in McAllen since 1957. Melba’s dancing feet might not have made it to year one without Stewart’s dancing fingers. Stewart played the piano for her daughter’s dance classes as payment for the class fees.

Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, dancing teachers hired pianists to play for classes. Stewart could read music when playing for ballet classes and improvise when playing for tap classes. Pianists who could do both were rare. Sometimes when a dance instructor was teaching a tap step, Stewart would get up from the piano and do the step. Stewart said she always wanted to dance. Her musical fingers made it possible for thousands to dance at Melba’s School of Dance.

Even though Stewart played the piano for a 10-piece dance band, her gifted fingers weren’t limited to the keyboard. Stewart borrowed her daughter’s seventh-grade typing book, rented a typewriter for three dollars a month and taught herself to type at around 100 words per minute. Her typing skills helped land her a job with the Strauss Frank company (a national automotive parts company), where she served as office manager for many years.

After Melba Huber’s husband, Jim Huber, died in 1971, Stewart retired from Strauss Frank so that she could assist her daughter with her family and in growing her dance business. She served as office manager and designed and sewed costumes for dance recitals.

Stewart is survived by her daughter, Melba Huber, two grandsons, Carey and Keith Kinsolving, a granddaughter, Laurin Huber, and three great-granddaughters, Lindsay, Emily and Kylie Kinsolving.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to a cause close to Stewart’s heart: the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust (www.WeLoveLaurin.org). Please send donations to We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust, 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501.

 

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” (this is for gift checks outside of the ad program described under Laurin’s Angels; ad program checks should be payable to “Melba’s”) and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours.

If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Love Notes from God

You may wonder what I mean by “love note from God.” It’s not to be confused with the love letter from God. He inspired the writing of the book we know as the Holy Bible, and it truly is a love letter to all his children. Cover to cover, it is all about God pursuing us, wooing us and loving us.

A love note from God is more individual and personal. He writes in your own heart language in a way that’s just for you. Sometimes it might be in the form of words. He might prompt a friend to call you right when you are feeling low and need the encouragement. Maybe he will simply speak something into your mind. Or some song lyrics jump out as if they were just for you. God made you and He knows exactly how to communicate His love in a way that is deeply personal to you.

Often, He doesn’t use words at all. I post a lot of photos on Facebook that I entitle “Love Note from God.” Most of them are sunrises over the Gulf of Mexico, shot from my third-floor balcony at the beach. God knows I’m not naturally a morning person and these daily blasts of beauty are like a whole-hearted embrace from my Maker. I respond with thanksgiving in my heart for the gift of another new day. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Love Note from God 1

Love Note from God 2

Now maybe you don’t live at the beach and your view of the sunrise each morning is obstructed by buildings. God has millions of other ways to send love notes. There’s no reason to be jealous of somebody else’s love note from God. So many parts of His wonderful creation can minister to his beloved children in ways individually meaningful to each one. The lavish detail and mind-boggling variety of wildlife, landscapes, skyscapes and weather are just a hint of how much God loves us. Sizes, shapes, colors, textures, patterns, movements, sounds: He created all of this amazing-ness just for us!

Gulf sunrises aren’t God’s only love note to me. He knows that a pelican flyover is another favorite of mine, as I delight in watching their oh-so-orderly business-like lineup zoom by. I feel His hugs when I’m able to spend time with a friendly dog that will cuddle up and let me spend an hour stroking its silky ears. He’s whispering in my ear when I see trees decked out in glorious splashes of fall color.

Pelicans!

I know some of God’s love notes to Laurin by the way she reacts to them. One of them is when friends come to visit her. She has her biggest smiles then, so it quite obviously means a great deal to her. Another one is when anyone talks to her about God or even sings a song to her. She becomes very emotional, apparently deeply moved by it.

How does God express His love for you? Maybe it’s a favorite wild bird singing outside your window. Or the way you know autumn is coming by that first delicious swirl of cool air intertwined with the leftover summer warmth. Or the scent of freshly-blooming honeysuckle wafting over the fence from your neighbor’s yard. He writes of His love to you through any or all of your senses and even directly to your mind.

Try going through each day with a heightened alertness towards God. Notice what makes you smile. Maybe that’s God loving on you. Take a moment to return the favor and respond to His love in a heartfelt way. He loves it when you think about Him, thank Him, praise Him, smile at Him.

If you think about it, you could thank Him by paying it forward. Be part of one of His love notes to Laurin (or someone you know in a similar situation). Drop by and visit her. Sing her a song. Pray with her. God will smile.

 

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” (this is for gift checks outside of the ad program described under Laurin’s Angels; ad program checks should be payable to “Melba’s”) and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours.

If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Melba Huber’s Dance Legacy Will Be Remembered By One Who Will Never Dance Again

Look who’s on the cover of Texas Border Business!

Texas Border Business -- Nov. 2014Texas Border Business -- Nov. 2014 -- Page 16Texas Border Business -- Nov. 2014 -- Page 18 & 26

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If you have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know. If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels #welovelaurin

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What If You Couldn’t __________?

I’ve observed that people tend to define themselves by what they do. If you ask them to tell you about themselves, they usually start with what they do. “I’m a teacher.” “I’m a writer.” Or, “I’m retired, but I travel, quilt and do volunteer work.”

Yet some seem to believe it would be a great life if they didn’t have to do anything but lie around watching TV or sipping a margarita on the beach or reading a book poolside. Even watching, sipping and reading are abilities that can be taken for granted. However, most wouldn’t be happy for long without a greater sense of purpose.

Laurin still remembers her friends from high school.

Laurin still remembers her friends from high school. That’s Laurin at the upper right.

THE POLL

Being Laurin’s sister-in-law, I think a lot about disabilities. Laurin has lost MOST of her abilities. There is literally almost nothing she can do for herself. I pondered the question “What if you couldn’t _______?” Then I asked my friends on Facebook to comment on what activity they would most miss doing if they were to become disabled. Because I didn’t want everyone to give the same answer, I added the condition “other than sex.” Haha! (This didn’t stop Michael in California, who insisted there was NO other activity he’d miss!) Notably, NOBODY said they’d most miss working! However, many of their answers were linked to a sense of purpose or expression in life. Rick in Texas said, “My art and craft work is much of my motivation to get up each day.” Kathie in California said she would feel the most deprived without “playing the piano and the organ as well as singing.” Two of my friends, Deidren and Nancy, both mentioned sewing/quilting. My grandmother, a life-long seamstress, used to say, “The day I quit sewing is the day I die.”

Other answers revolved around independence. Hannah in North Carolina said she would hate to lose the ability to clean herself. Jessie in Alaska said her biggest fear would be losing the ability to “be self-sufficient and take care of my kids myself.” Sharon in California, who has suffered from a disability since 2006, says she most misses driving, which had been a key to her independence. “I would not want to be a burden to my kids,” said Lori in California. “It would be a humiliating and helpless feeling to not be able to do basic hygiene by myself.”

Laurin-lift

A nurse uses a power lift to move Laurin.

BLIND VS. DEAF

There was some discussion of whether eyesight or hearing would be the most difficult ability to lose. I think only one friend, Erika in California, feared deafness more than blindness, because she is a musician. Many others were more averse to blindness, especially those involved in visual arts. People perceive blindness as a greater loss of independence than deafness. One artist friend, Lori in California, said, “Being blind would be worse than being a paraplegic in a wheelchair to me.” Cheryl in Alaska was also concerned that blindness makes one more vulnerable to crime because many blind people “get ripped off” by dishonest people who are supposed to help them. Deb in Pennsylvania added, “I would miss reading. I’d have to learn Braille, but I am afraid the selection of reading material would be so small. Also, I am a visual learner. I don’t seem to retain anything I hear, so I would have real problems being blind.”

THE SIMPLE THINGS

Some of my friends would most miss basic, everyday activities. Sara in Texas said she would simply miss eating, and would definitely “regret anything that would hinder my ability to gorge.” I appreciate her choice of words! Mary in California watched her sister lose her ability to eat and breathe without a feeding tube and a trach. “It was heartbreaking, but she remained brave and kept her hope and trust in God. She never wanted to lose the ability to use her arms. She wanted to be able to hug her grandchildren. God granted that.” Quite a number said they would miss playing with their kids or walking their dogs.

Mona in California remembers caring for a patient who’d lost both his arms. He couldn’t scratch an itch, blow his nose, use the restroom, eat or pull up his blankets in bed without help. Troy in Florida has found a new appreciation for just being able to use his hands. He said, “I recently broke my index finger on my right hand. Amazing the things you can’t do missing one finger.” It’s so good to be reminded of the little things most take for granted.

On that note, a couple of the things I’d most miss doing were not even mentioned by the friends who answered my question: laughing and remembering. I’m sure there are some people who can no longer do these, as simple as they seem. Imagine life with no sense of humor or heart-warming memories! These are two things at which Laurin excels. They are also things which are helpful in developing and maintaining relationships with other people. Friends she knew in high school visit her, and you can tell she recognizes them instantly. When they start telling funny stories from school or joking around, her whole face lights up in this huge smile and her upper body convulses in sometimes-audible laughter. This must be one of the ways Laurin keeps a good attitude in spite of her utter dependence on others to do everything for her physically.

Selfie: Laurin & Lisa

Selfie: Laurin & Lisa

INSIDER VIEW

I deliberately saved Sarah in Texas for last. She has a special perspective on this issue, as she was in a life-altering accident in her teens. Like Laurin she was brain-injured, but unlike Laurin she can talk about it. Sarah has lived with the effects of her brain injury for 15 years. She took the time to share with me how she has dealt with her disabilities.

One permanent effect has been a loss of equilibrium that keeps her from driving or dancing, both of which she misses greatly. Sarah also has a difficult time finding a job that fits her limitations. “I lost my independence,” she said. “That has been the hardest.”

She also has a hard time with the thought that her condition seems to prevent any chance of her finding love and getting married. She had mixed feelings whenever attending someone else’s wedding. She would put on a happy face at the event, but then cry on the way home. She still grieves over what has been lost from her life.

How does she get through it? “I had to start looking outside of myself to find out about other people and what they were going through,” said Sarah. “I learned not to talk about myself so much, but ask other people about their days.” Aha! Get your mind off of yourself and think about others! Now we’re getting somewhere. Most of my friends didn’t seem to know how to answer the part of my question where I asked how they thought they would deal with a disability. Perhaps it’s one of those things you don’t know until you’ve been there, or until you’ve spent time around someone who has.

Maybe one of these days I’ll even find out more about how Laurin deals with it. She can still see and hear, laugh and remember, but she can’t use her hands, talk, clean herself, drive, dance, eat, drink, sew, play with kids or walk a dog. But she can pray. And I have a strong feeling that is the biggest key to how she deals with it. When she can’t communicate with anybody else, she can talk to God, who hears her heart. If only we were all living that close to God.

YOUR TURN

What would your answer be? What activity would you miss the most if you were to become disabled? How would you deal with being disabled? Join the discussion and leave a comment via the red link below the title of this article, where it says “Leave a Comment.” Join the discussion!

LAURIN’S ANGELS

The latest to join the Laurin’s Angels crew are the two gentlemen below who contributed to help Laurin with her ongoing medical expenses:

Gary Alaniz
Bud Wand

Thank you so much to all who are pitching in to help Laurin continue to have the excellent, constant medical care that she needs. You are all a vital lifeline for Laurin.

 

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know. If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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A Most Welcome Visit

Laurin always loves it when her friends come to visit her. She absolutely lights up, grinning, laughing and watching intently, making sure she absorbs every detail. I think she especially loves it that her nurse dresses her up a little and puts some makeup on her. So often, when I talk to her about makeup, she gets the giggles.

Laurin’s good buddy Lupe Enriquez organized a group of her friends from high school to attend a We Love Laurin party earlier this month. The turnout was excellent, with about a dozen showing up to bless and encourage Laurin. Most or all of them also left a contribution to the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust. Melba (Laurin’s mom) provided tasty refreshments, including chicken salad sandwiches, chips and glass-bottle Cokes. Knox Jones brought his guitar and ended up leading the group in a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Laurin has the most wonderful, amazing, caring, generous, compassionate friends!

Laurin enjoys a wonderful visit with some friends.

Laurin enjoys a wonderful visit with some friends.

 

Laurin and the girls

Laurin and the girls

Laurin’s Angels

Many thanks to the following kind friends who came to cheer Laurin and to help her meet her ongoing medical expenses:

Mariano & Estela Bocanegra
Nora LaFranco
Alex Gamboa
Knox Jones
Omar Trevino
Harvey Balli
Leslie Law Tanner
Gay Hargis
Ben Garcia
David Carrales
Lupe Enriquez

Some other friends who couldn’t make it to the party sent donations as well:

Denis and Arimon Sanchez
Reba Showers
Gladys Law
Paulette Moore

Other recent donors include:

Penelope Hatch
Carrales & Co.
Danielle Travis
Valerie Blackburn
Melissa Jalomo
Jayne Freeland
Terry Cuevas

Thank you so much to all who are pitching in to help Laurin continue to have the excellent, constant medical care that she needs. You are all a vital lifeline for Laurin.

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know. If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Seven Ways to Communicate with Someone Who Cannot Speak or Move

Maybe you’ve never been in a situation where you were with someone who couldn’t speak. Maybe you’ve avoided these situations because you felt awkward and didn’t know how to act. I first met Laurin while dating her brother Carey (now my husband) back in 2004. I admit that it was difficult as I struggled to think of clever things to say that wouldn’t offend her in any way. I was so busy self-editing that I usually pretty much clammed up.

So how do you get to know and carry on a relationship with a person who is completely non-verbal and can’t even move in order to communicate by gestures? This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are a few ways that have come to me over the past 10 years of knowing Laurin.

1. One-Way Conversation

Master the art of the one-way conversation. Shakespearean characters do it all the time, speaking at length in grand soliloquies. Your language need not be nearly such perfect poetry. Just think out loud. Share with her some of the things that have happened in your life since the last time you spoke to her.

If you need a little help getting started, just read to her. Laurin loves to be read to from the Bible, but you could also read other books, magazines (show her the pictures, too), letters, text messages and emails. You might also take her hand and pray with her.

IMG_5179

You can talk to her on the phone, too. There is always a nurse nearby who can take the phone to Laurin and put it on speakerphone. Carey is quite good at this. I thought it was weird at first. Did she really get anything out of it? He would call Laurin while he was out shopping or something, describing everything he was seeing. She got a huge kick out of this!

Once you get started, you’ll find that you can get on a roll quite easily, since she won’t interrupt you to divert the conversation to some distracting rabbit trail. She will listen to anything you want to tell her. She just loves the company. And she’s absolutely the best at keeping secrets.

2. Eye Contact

If words fail you, just look her in the eye and smile. Watch her face for reactions when you talk to her. This is one way to communicate with Laurin where you’ll be on equal footing. In fact, Laurin may be better than most people are at communicating with their eyes, since that is by far the main way she can connect with people.

If you want to get her answering yes/no questions, she’s able to answer those through blinking her eyes. Just establish with her that you know the code: zero blinks for no, one blink for yes. (In Laurin’s case, she adds extra blinks for YES!!!) If she’s in the mood for this, you’ll be able to tell she’s into it because her blinks will be especially emphatic, and her eye contact will be like steel. And I mean those flashing baby blues will slice right through you!

This might be taken a step farther. I don’t know that it has been tried with Laurin, but she would need to be having an especially alert day to even attempt it. Some have had success with alphabet board blinking, though it is laborious for the blinker. The way this works is you show the person a paper with the alphabet arranged in four or five rows. Establish that you want them to spell out what they want to say to you. Then point to each row of letters and ask if the first letter of their message is in that row. Have them blink when you point to the correct row. Then point to each letter in that row and have them blink when you touch the correct letter. Write down each correct letter so you can figure out the message when you’re finished. You can see why I said “laborious.” That might be why no one’s tried it (that I know of) with Laurin yet.

3. Your Presence

Just being in the room with Laurin can be a way to connect with her. Often, small children seem to get this right away. My twin nephews were five years old when they first met Laurin. Her condition didn’t seem to inhibit them at all. They got close and touched her, talked to her, talked to each other, and just filled the room with light, joy and energy.

4. Touch

You do have to be a little delicate with this one, as there may be medical equipment such as catheters, feeding tubes, IVs, tracheostomy tubes, oxygen masks, etc. that you should be careful not to disturb. With Laurin, a gentle touch of the hand or arm, a stroke of the hair, or a kiss on the cheek or forehead seem to be welcome gestures of affection and friendship. Don’t overdo it, though. She’s not a lap dog.

5. Shared Experience

If the non-verbal person can be taken for a car ride, you could go on a little sightseeing drive together. If she has a wheelchair, take her out for a walk on a nice day. Point out birds, flowers and other interesting or beautiful things you see. Once, Laurin’s nurse bundled her up in warm blankets in her wheelchair and Carey and I took her to go see the Christmas light display in a nearby town square. You’d have thought she died and went to heaven. And speaking of heaven, Laurin loves to be taken to attend church services.

Brother and sister enjoy the Christmas lights together.

If you can’t take the person anywhere, then just enjoy together whatever you see outside the window. Make sure she has something to look at there. Plant a pretty garden. Set up bird feeders so she can watch the constant action of some colorful, feathered friends.

Watch a movie together. Laurin watches movies alone all the time. But you know how it is. Watching it WITH someone somehow elevates the experience. This is especially true for Laurin, as the only visitors she usually gets are medical personnel.

Another thing Laurin loves is to look at your vacation photos. This is a huge bonus, since most people would be yawning and looking at their watches by the time you hit the tenth photo of the Grand Canyon. As long as she’s not already sleepy, you have a willing audience in Laurin!

Laurin enjoys her brother's vacation photos.

6. Demonstration

This is where your high school drama skills can come into play. Re-enact something that happened to you. Show her how something works. Trot out some of your dance moves. Sing her a song. I’ve sung to her spontaneously a few times, and it really moves her. She tears up and gets emotional (in a good way!). It seems to minister to her deeply.

7. Technology

Laurin has been blessed with a unique piece of technology known as an eye-gaze computer. There is great potential for communication here, but there’s a big learning curve. Laurin has had a few sessions with it, but she really needs someone who can spend some serious time working with her on it. Whenever she sees the computer, she gets so excited. I know she wants to learn. We’ve been letting her listen to Bible messages on her computer and she’s never more alert.

Laurin listens to a recorded message on her computer.

Laurin listens to a recorded message on her computer.

I’m planning to write more about this in a separate post, but I believe there is huge potential with this computer to allow Laurin a level of communication that she hasn’t enjoyed for several decades.

Just Do It

Don’t let your inhibitions get the better of you. Just because someone can’t talk to you, doesn’t mean they don’t require connection with people. We all need other people in our lives. Friendship is a deep human need built into us by our Creator. Laurin demonstrates that every time her friends come to visit her and her smile simply lights up the room.

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know. If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Birthday Celebration and Hunters Expo

BIRTHDAY JOY
Thank you to all who wished Laurin a happy birthday in some way, whether on Facebook or by calling, visiting or making a donation to the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust. She lights up whenever you mention her birthday. She listened carefully when I tried to explain Facebook to her, and told her how many birthday wishes her loving friends had left for her.

"Happy Birthday, dear Laurin..."

“Happy Birthday, dear Laurin…”

One of her birthday gifts was a flash drive filled with Christian music and Bible teaching she can listen to. Her nurses plug the flash drive into her computer and play these mp3 files via iTunes. Laurin listens with intent focus to the Bible messages. She loves to attend church, but seldom gets the opportunity. The other option was to bring church to her. You can tell by watching her that this meets a deep need.

Laurin listens to a recorded message on her computer.

Laurin listens to a recorded message on her computer.

We also had a little cake in honor of Laurin’s birthday. Laurin isn’t able to eat cake since she now must receive all her nutrition via a feeding tube directly into her stomach. But she still loves the festivity of the cake-and-candles tradition, along with the obligatory singing of “Happy Birthday.” She smiled contentedly while the rest of us gathered around and had cake and ice cream. And then she laughed at us while we struggled to get her birthday present up and running.

Laurin enjoys the festivities as her brother Carey presents her birthday cake and candles.

Laurin enjoys the festivities as her brother Carey presents her birthday cake and candles.

HUNTERS EXPO FUNDRAISER
We are so blessed that Chris Curl has donated a booth for the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust at the Texas Hunters & Sportsman’s Expo this weekend. It runs July 18-20 at the McAllen Convention Center. If you can, please stop by the booth. One of Laurin’s best buddies, Lupe Enriquez, is running the booth for us. He and/or some other friends of Laurin’s will be there to greet you. Help us spread the word if you can!

LAURIN’S ANGELS
A HUGE thank you to Laurin’s newest angels, who have given gifts to the We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust:

Jennifer Clearman
Pink Chalet Boutique
Ofelia Parker
Diana Albrecht
Joel D. Galindo, C.P.A.

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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Enjoying Life When Your Body Is a Prison

I thought I’d take a moment to share a little about how Laurin enjoys life in her post-accident reality. Yes, I said “enjoys.” I know most people have a hard time imagining how someone with “locked-in syndrome” could possibly have a positive life experience.

TOUGH SITUATION
I know it’s easy to think of all the negatives about Laurin’s situation. She can’t move (except her head and eyes), speak, drink or eat. She is stuck in the same room most of the time. If her nose itches, wouldn’t that be enough to drive her crazy? She can’t even let someone know she’d prefer a different TV channel. I used to tease her about watching too many soap operas (she would laugh so hard over this!), hoping the nurses would overhear and think about giving her something more substantial to watch.

SILVER LINING
On the positive side, I think Laurin’s situation has made her the most patient person in the world. Every little event in her daily routine must be something she looks forward to with eager anticipation. Each nursing shift change; bath time; TV time; seeing her grandmother wake up in the bed across the room; watching the yard work being done outside her window. When it gets quiet, I’m sure she watches the birds and squirrels out her window, looks at her photos and memorabilia and takes long naps. Her favorite times are when she’s surrounded by people, especially old friends. This is when she lights up and smiles the most. She appreciates a funny line and will laugh big. She loves to look at pictures, so she’s a willing, captive audience for all our vacation photos.

Laurin enjoys her brother's vacation photos.

Laurin enjoys her brother’s vacation photos.

If she gets to go out, even just to the doctor, that is a great day! The trip to see the “Annie” performance was huge for her. Once near Christmas, we bundled her up and took her out in her wheelchair to look at the Hidalgo light display. She had the BEST time!

Laurin accompanied brother Carey and sister-in-law Lisa to see the Christmas light display in Hidalgo. Check out her facial expressions!

Laurin accompanied brother Carey and sister-in-law Lisa to see the Christmas light display in Hidalgo. Check out her facial expression!

Carey_Laurin_toysoldier_Christmas2006-w

VISITING LAURIN
Any of her friends who might want to visit her, but feel intimidated by her condition, please try to put that aside. It does take a little getting-used-to when you have to carry on a one-sided conversation, but she certainly enjoys it. Just think of a few stories to share with her, maybe some pictures to show her. You could even read to her. Just give Melba a call before you stop by if you want to make sure Laurin is ready to receive visitors (i.e., not asleep or in the bath).

FINAL THOUGHTS
Here’s the biggest reason I think Laurin still enjoys life. Since she trusted the Lord as her Savior in childhood (well before her accident), we know she is a Christian and are quite sure she prays. That must a fulfilling way for her to spend her time. It is also probably a great relief to communicate to Someone who understands her completely. She gets emotional and tears up during worship music or when we talk to her about God and heaven or read scripture. Anything about the Lord obviously strikes a deep chord in her. This undoubtedly has made the biggest difference for her. Her body may be “locked-in,” but her spirit is free as a bird!

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info: www.Facebook.com/welovelaurin.

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.

#laurinsangels  #welovelaurin

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