Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No Phone Zone

Let me take you back to a date and time when phones were used for reaching out to someone because they lived too far away; to a time when the radio or television were on so that you could hear the latest in local news or hear a thrilling detective story; there was a reason the room you sat in was called a family room; parents and children laughed while telling tales of their day and enjoying supper together. Do those days sound strange and obscure to you? Have you lived that way as a child? Or even now as a parent?

Five years ago, I canceled cable and made a decision that I didn't want my family to waste away in front of the television; and I confess...me of all people found a replacement very quickly...my iPhone!!! It started small and innocent, but these little hand held devices are evil I tell ya!!! I was able to justify very quickly why being on my phone for various reasons (FB, Internet, Amazon, Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube etc) was ok, after all, I was home a lot with 3 little ones that don't talk and I'm longing for the outside world and my boredom was starting to kick in. I told myself, "you deserve a break!"...but at what cost.

One day, my eyes were opened and I discovered a truth that sunk deep into my heart. This iPhone was stealing valuable time away from my children...the time I swore I was gaining by getting rid of television. I was tuning out my life, and tuning into the web. I am not proud and honestly a little ashamed because I stand on certain values about being a stay-at-home Mommy. Let me back up by also saying that I do cultivate learning, I am very busy, my kids are well cared for and we have a fairly strict schedule but I'm trying to convey a very specific message here.

When I saw little blue eyes peering around my phone; wrestling fights ensued between me and my kids over the phone; my nursing baby grabbing it while I nursed....I became the very thing I hate in this world! I decided then that I wanted to create an environment where my children would be at the very center. A home with songs, dancing...and a little cooking and cleaning....but love and laughter that bounces down the halls and attention from the eyes of their mother and that is when I created the "No Phone Zone". The zone moves depending on where our family is at the time, but basically consists of ANY room where there is ANY family member who is wanting attention...wanting to be spoken to, looked at, heard , cuddled, fed, scratched, read to, or simply watch a movie together etc. Basically where there is a heart need, there is No Phone!!

We aren't perfect at this yet. I still struggle with boredom but always hear a small voice when I'm letting things slip. I put down the phone...and walk away. I will no longer miss out on small things, that down the road are the biggest things; expressions, giggles, touches, snuggles, shared meals, happy smiles, sad boo-boos, water surprises, chasing bubbles, discovering insects, learning about trees and plants, drawing, teaching about Gods love...you get the picture.

So, for all you mothers and fathers...if you want to miss out on your childrens lives...do these things:
- text friends at your childs soccer game or ballet recital
- check your FB while at stop lights or better yet, change your status while driving
- go to the park and sit on a bench watching a YouTube video while your kids play
- constantly check your messages while at dinner
- talk on the phone while going for a walk
- play scrabble while your child bathes a few feet away
- watch a movie or search the web while you feed your baby

I am guilty of a few of these and of course from time to time, an occasion comes up when you cant really avoid a call and in the case of having a newborn, trying to stay awake at night time feedings. But, we ALL can stand a few hours away from being plugged in and our children will learn about life through the expressions on our faces instead of seeing mom and dad worshipping a little metal box.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lonely in the House of Wishes

In the House of Wishes there lived a bunny named Lonely.  He was fast and furious and liked to have crazy fun!  He had sharp hearing and cute little buck teeth, with a pink wiggly nose.  He was quite adventurous and everyone knew that he had great abilities and was very brave and talented.  Lonely had friends.  He lived with a llama, kitten and parrot.  Even though he wasn't alone...he still was lonely. 

He longed to stretch those powerful legs that jumped so high and could run so fast.  The ground under his feet, in his humble surroundings, didn't allow him to even grip the ground to run.  He wished he could eat the dandilions and clover in the Land of Open.  Here he could only eat cabbage.  He wanted to dig under the fence and go beyond the boundaries set for him because he wanted the adventure, but instead he was being asked to sit still.  It made him sad.  But, bunnnies don't stay sad for long when they are fed cabbage.  And we all know what cabbage does!

Lonely suddenly realized the reason he lived in the House of Wishes.  Instead of living in the Land of Open where the weather and temptations could get to him, he was safe and warm inside the place where wishes grew.  He knew that one day he would be in the Land of Open again.  He knew that during the time in the House of Wishes, he could learn to use those legs better, he would learn to eat what was provided, sleep when it was time and play with his friends when they came around.  When Lonely was in the Land of Open, he ate things that were bad for him, he didn't visit his friends and he slept in the cold.

This was quite a lesson for Lonely but it gave him hope for his future in that Land of Open.  He would just wait and trust and believe.  That's why Lonely lives in the House of Wishes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Our story - A mother's heart exposed

Have you ever felt so hopeless that you have to try and look through a situation (I mean literally through, like X-ray vision), to hopefully catch a glimpse of something deeper on the other side that is trying to surface. Something of great value. Something that reaches beyond your own tangible hopes. A level of such clarity that you are certain only comes from God during the darkest moments in life. Or to put it differently, have you tried to look into the eyes of your own portrait and tried to ask the "you" in the portrait...."what were your dreams?".

We are there now. Looking in the eyes of our wedding portrait. What were the dreams of two hopeful people, wanting a fresh lease on life? Coming out of difficult loss and looking to the horizon, trusting God with our future. Looking to each other for love and compassion. Finally finding that one person who would urge us on during these dark moments. Always hopeful and encouraging. Yet, very innocent to the turn of events that will soon shake our world. Still very much committed and holding tightly to each other when we hear one bit of bad news after another. What a very different life we lead now, than our dreams had looked like 4 short years ago. Wondering all the while if God had forgotten our plea for help. Trusting His Word, but also afraid that His Will would allow even more suffering in the near future.

Reality came with a crash at the news that our baby son, Aidan, had Autism. Many don't realize the impact this had on my heart. The truth is, I waited for over 15 years to conceive my 2nd child and my biggest fear was that they could possibly be Autistic (since it runs in families and I have a 1/2 brother who has Autism). Before we saw any signs of his condition, I was already pregnant with our daughter Kaelynn. When Aidan was 2 and Kaelynn was only 10 months old, our home became a therapy zoo, with 20+ hours of therapy every week. I have counted, on average, 8-10 different people in my house, any given week. During this time we also had our two oldest sons living here (Jake, who was 16 at the time, and Alex who was 12 lived with us for the first 3 years). Living in a two bedroom, with 4 children and intense therapy...was enough to drive me mad. Just 2 months after this therapy started, we got the surprising news, we were going to have another baby. Prayers for a larger house increased and so did our stress level. Screaming is how these kids communicate and there was no rhyme or reason to the tantrums, fits, spells...whatever you call them. I know the difference because I had had another child who developed normally, and this was NOT normal! Watching Aidan was so painful because he really appeared to be in a panic and sometimes it was in the middle of the night. These type of things really leaves you isolated because going out to public restaurants, parks, library etc just doesn't work. As Kaelynn started getting older we watched her carefully. She seemed to be developing normally. But, the ugliest part of this disorder is it can appear out of the blue around age 2...as your child will start to lose skills they once had. Right now, we aren't sure but Kaelynn is undergoing therapy for much of the same things Aidan did at this age. Baby Kylie was born in October 2011. Immediately after her birth, Aidan had to transfer from his county program to our local school district. They have no flexibility, so at age 3 in Nov 2011, Aidan began a transition to a special preschool program. Starting in March, Kaelynn started her assessment, and now we have double the amount of people coming and going in this 900 square ft place. Since all this started we have a never ending challenge of keeping kids (who have no danger compass) safe, fed (food justs gets thrown around), clean (sensory issues don't allow for water, brushing, scrubbing etc); bungee cords, stroller straps or high chairs, baby gates, locks on doors and cabinets are no match for children who don't respond to requests or discipline or even their names or simple commands like STOP!! Very few people are able to watch our children so breaking away just for a couple of hours to recharge is impossible. Since Aidan was born, he has consistently had sleep issues...and I don't mean the kid has a hard time sleeping....he has a hard time not running around the house at 2am and bashing his body into walls...hence the sensory issues. Kaelynn has now learned this behavior so we have played musical beds/bedroom since they were born. You can imagine the stress level in a house that hasn't truly slept in 3+ years. Our rooms are basically on top of each other and we have no bath tub to bathe our kids in a safe setting...man, this story just keeps getting better and better!! One night when Kyle was praying about all of this I just started laughing hysterically...it sounded like a made up story.

Was this our dream? No. It has become the hardest part of our life. Yes, partly because of the stress and extra work load, but mostly because my heart aches for my babies and the struggles they have to face. Will they make friends? I don't know. Will they ever speak? I'm told maybe not. Tears are forming now as I write this very sad reality. We pray for healing and we still love our kids where they are at but going against the "mantra" of parents who support the "accept" theory, I have to say...I hate Autism! I hate what it's done to my son. I hate what its done to the rest of my family. There is no way around this feeling. Do I accept my child? Yes. I love him as much as all the rest, and because of his needs might even provide a little more affection and tenderness. But I still hate that we can't have meaningful conversation. He doesn't want to be close to me. He doesn't acknowledge us as his family. I don't get to teach him in a way we both understand. Everything is choppy and rigid. Nothing flows socially. I tell you, it's sucks!

When I spoke earlier about looking through a situation, this is one that I long to get my arms around. I'm trying to find that deep meaning of why?? It's a scary place to go, because its there that really deep hurt is exposed. I have been there before...but never on behalf of my children. I don't want to dig deep on something that will reveal my child's pain to me. The reason I am writing this...is that I need to air out my emotions. I spend most days in this house with 3 diaper babies who scream all day. I'm writing because one day I'd like to look back and see where I've come from. I'm writing because I hope someone will read this that feels this same agony and I can help them be okay with "hating autism", and to not feel guilty about it. So much of what you hear on the Internet is about accepting. I understand the concept of why you might want to accept it...but I also don't see what is wrong with stating the obvious...Autism steals from families. Can I still find joy in my days?? Of course! I am making the most of a bad situation and Jesus is helping me, or more likely carrying me. I am lost without Him and He knows how I feel.

If you find it in your heart to pray for our family, please do...as we have a most uncertain future and many more challenges ahead. With no cure and such a wide spectrum, the outcome for Aidan and Kaelynn is totally and completely in Gods hands.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back-Scratch Junky

Originally Published 11-14-2006 My son has crossed over!  I don't know when it happened or how I can bring him back now...I think it's hopeless!  Routinely, he will exhaust himself trying to get his fix of getting "scratched" accomplished.  I have witnessed this tireless effort many times and it makes me laugh without fail.  Last night he even screamed, "SCRATCH ANYTHING! JUST SCRATCH!".  Every night he flops his body on my bed, upside down, sideways, diagonally, face down, fetal position...any different way hoping I will give in to his request - always with a look of total desperation on his face.  Like if he doesn't get scratched he might just die right there at that very moment. **Picture this with me**  I'm tucked in bed ready to read myself to sleep and in comes my junky.  Flopping himself across my lap, his arm comes crashing across my chest and I hear a sigh of frustration, "aaaaaggghghhhhh...please scratch until 10:24...okay, okay...scratch until 10:16...please...Mom! (pause) Scratch! Mom! (pause) I want you to scratch...!"  So, I give in...I start to scratch his arm...He complains, "you're not doing it hard enough, okay go slower...now go down this side, cuz you went down the other side. You aren't doing it right, do it like this (as he demonstrates).  I tell him,  "I don't need your instructions Jake!"  "But, you're doing in wrong and not following the rules," he says.  I reply with laughter, "What? Is there a book on how to scratch and how not to scratch?".  "Yes!", he giggles back. Did you know that there is a specific way to scratch a back, arm or head?  I have been in back scratch training for at least 5 years now. Here are the rules: You can't go too fast or too slow and don't ever change your speed. You have to put just the right amount of pressure consistantly. Your fingernails have to be even and real...not acrylic. You have to cover the entire area at random intervals that equal the rest of the surface - never cater to one area more than another!  Yes, this is true and very important! If you decide to go in circles you have to cover the whole area with circles, don't change the direction of the circles or start going horizontal or vertical just because you feel like it. If you're scratching the head, you have to go against the hair and you have to start the scratch before the hairline...always start right next to the ear. KEEP IN MIND THESE RULES CAN AND WILL CHANGE DEPENDING ON THE JUNKIES DESIRE AT THAT VERY MOMENT!  I'VE SEEN IT HAPPEN...DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU! This is very serious business if you want to please your back scratching junky! I don't know how to break him of this addiction.  It is a sad reality in our home.  I just say, "your poor wife is going to have a hard time learning all these important rules.  She is going to spend every night of her life negotiating how much time she is willing to spend on scratching." If you have any advice for a tired back scratching Mom...please reply!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Princess Sand

There once was a princess in a really close land
The land was dirt the land was sand
Where can I build my castle high?
The ground is soft, I dare not try.

She needed a castle where she could live
Live like a princess, like a princess should live
Can't live without a tall tower keep
Where will I lay my head to sleep.

I can't live in this land that is covered in sand
I need help from a sturdy, loving hand.
Asking her Father above the clouds
His land wasn't sand or dirt or ground.

Help me with my problem, my problem so deep
My castle my home, your promise to keep
She called out to Him every day and night
Give me the answer I'm praying you might.

I want my land to be firm like you
Not like the sand that my feet walk through
He certainly listened He had a plan
But princesses don't get answers on their command.

As the days passed by the princess grew weary
Her heart was sad and her feet were dirty
Not much like a princess she felt in her soul
I'm ruined and tired, I want to let go.

I haven't the strength to continue in sand
I wanted a Rock from my Father's hand
I might as well forget the dreams I've once shared
I'll just sit in this pile of sandy despair.

But before I settle for having nothing at all
I'll make one more plea, I'll make one more call.
She opened her eyes flowing with tears
Father, please don't let these months turn to years.

I'm yearning for blessings that come from your throne
I want to learn how to get to the land that you own
From sand to the Rock can't be that far
If that's what it takes to make splendor from scars.

I'm willing to leave the land I called home
My broken heart needs your healing alone
Her Father replied and assured He always had heard her
Live on my Rock and ask nothing further.

As the year continued, things got even harder
She couldn't help but think that He'd forgotten her
She leaned on His promises and gave Him her hope
But here she was again, at the end of her rope.

Without being fully healed from before
She thought the pain was over, yet there was more
For some unknown reason she didn't see clear
This wasn't going to be the year of all years.

In fact, there were more traps set in the sand
She found herself caught up, but not by His hand
Frustrated and weary by making mistakes
She reminding Him daily she wasn't that great.

She failed at everything she had ever tried
Even trusting in Him was an effort that died
"Faith, what is that...if it isn't what I'm showing?"
Each night she couldn't keep the tears from overflowing.

She clung on to something that she couldn't see
Her fingers were weak and her strength gone indeed
There really wasn't anywhere else she could turn
The only thing to do now was to learn.

At the bottom of the sand pit and looking a mess
He reminder her again she was His princess
He hadn't forgotten and he knew full well
There were times in her life that had been pure hell.

He had held her chin up during the darkest of days
And knew she had trusted Him in her own special way
She sensed His presence and now it was time
She looked up from the bottom and started to climb.

She cried all the while and it hurt to even breathe
At least she knew He'd be there, and that He'd never leave.
Yet the question remained in her heart and her soul
What more could He want? She had given her all.

There wasn't anything left that wasn't filled with soil
And her broken condition was proof of her toil
She had nothing to offer and wasn't sure she knew how
To even be a princess, she felt less than ever now.

Given up on her dreams for the fairytale story
That she could tell about later to give Him the glory
But, to Him she's still lovelier than silver or gold
And He is the Author of the life that unfolds.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What I believe Autism is...and what it isn't

Autism is:

A scary word to hear about your child.
A reality for normal families with normal children.
Life changing.
Hard to understand.
Worrisome for the rest of your children.
Exhausting for the child and for the parents and siblings.
A new way of life, we weren't expecting.
A continuous struggle.
A way to bring family together.

Autism isn't:
The end of the world.
Deadly or contagious.
What defines my child.
Made up or fabricated in parents minds.
The same for every family.
Going away.
Outside of Gods Devine purpose and plan.
Too big for God.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chili and Chocolate

As I'm typing, my 3 year old son is screeching from his bedroom...a sound very much like the Nazgul from Lord of the Rings. I simply want him to take a break. You see, he slept from 9-11:30pm last night and then was up until 6:30am. At 8am I had to wake him for a short time because his regular therapy starts at 8:30. Of course, we realized after about 10 minutes that he wouldn't make it through the session, so the therapist left and I let him go back to sleep until 11 o'clock...and when he got up, we got ready for the bus and he was off to school. Long day for a three year old. Its always a tough decision to try and get him to nap because I literally have to sit and listen to the tortuous scream. It's almost worse than just letting him stay up.

My two year old daughter is going in circles around the stroller that sits in our living room (for lack of a better location) and she's muttering "a dah, tha...**breathe breathe** a dah, tha...." and reverse... A bub-bub....a bub"...and now our 5 month old daughter is starting to whine. Oh joy!

So why do I sit and type away as if I have nothing better to do? Well, I don't really know?!! It makes me feel better to write out my frustrations (sometimes) but, I have also realized that somewhere in the middle of all this nuttiness....I am losing myself! If I don't connect with my intelligent womanly side....I will surely become one of these adorable little alien babies that I reside with! Blubbering nonsense, spinning in circles, screeching like the Nazgul...drooling. Or, I will turn into mush (Although that might be because I ate a whole can of chili and a Hershey bar for lunch! You heard me right America!...chili and chocolate!!) But, you get my meaning right? If I'm not careful I will lose it...all of it!! I'm sinking like the Titanic! Not enough lifeboats! Freezing cold water!!! People stealing my floaty toys!!! It's madness!

Now let me be really sparkly clear like a fresh water spring....I am 100% devoted to my wonderful husband and our kids. I am not losing my mind there. He's right by my side going through this too and if he could blog my feelings, you would get 537 pages of heartfelt tender and raw stories.

But, I am human afterall...therfore I blog. I blog for all the stay-at-home, same four walls, tight budget, one car Mommies or Daddies out there who need a laugh or simply a new way to look at things. You know who you are! Life isn't always cake...sometimes it's gluten-free cake.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Facing the unknown

My husband will laugh when he reads this...and will think I copied him...even though my blog page was started in April of 2010...just too busy with the wee'uns to get around to writing. (heehee honey, riding in on your blogging coat-tails).

I decided to start writing again because it's a great way to express myself when I have very little outlets nor time. A lot of things can happen in a few years (although I don't plan to rehash at the moment) but recently, I realized that when we least expect it, true hurt can surface and take us by surprise and literally knock the wind out of us. I like to use the expression, "knocked the wind out of my sails"...because frankly...I am at full throttle 99.9% of the time. When I DO stop and let myself see what is happening around me, it's painful yet liberating that I am NOT in control. What's more, I realize what a serious situation I find myself in at times and that isn't always fun. I don't think it's healthy for anyone to walk through their life and ignore the struggles that are happening, nor is it good to dwell on them. That is why the scripture says "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me" (Psalm 23:4). The intent is not to STAY in the valley nor walk BLINDLY through the valley. Let's face it, times get hard for everyone and we need to learn as we go through it or we could end up on the other side of the valley, very bitter and angry. And I have been there before too...no bueno!

After receiving a bit of discouraging news earlier in the week, regarding our 2 year old daughter possibly having Autism (as our 3 year old son does), I handled the paperwork and meetings like a champ at the time of course...like any level headed woman; then yesterday I completely fell apart while I was bathing her. As I explained to my husband later, it was as if I was holding all of my dreams of her life (ballet, piano, ponies, being a bride, becoming a mother) in the palm of my hands and they all turned to sand...and I had to watch as it all slipped through my fingers. Not able to hold them together for her. Not being in control. That is when I faced the unknown. I don't like this...I am angry...I hurt for her...for us...and it isn't fair! I am human and I know my heart. But, what beautiful reassurance we have when we don't have to face it alone...and to remember that it isn't my incapable palms that she is ultimately being held by...it is Jesus and His more than capable, nail scarred palms that are holding not only my daughters dreams, life, body...but also her entire future!

A few months ago, after giving birth to our youngest, I was having a conversation with God that sounded something like this.

Me: God, please don't let anything happen to my children. I've had a hard enough life and I don't think I could bear it....I love them too much!
God: I do too. That is why I gave them to you.

I am trying to let this resonate. And like any mother, I will have to readdress this over and over.

Thankful for another day!

Time Surge 1986 - "The Emerald Lights"

                Octavia didn’t say a word, but Tempest noticed she wasn’t flying upward toward the platform but rather back to the eleva...