Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crashing, grieving and perfection

Today was a good day.

We haven't had a lot of those over the last year and the last few weeks with everyone being sick has been really tough on all of us. I was feeling as if we had taken a few steps back with my son's sensory issues and activity level the last few weeks, but today renewed my hope we're making improvements and progress. I am going to chalk the last few weeks up as everyone feeling off-kilter. I think (I hope) we're all getting back into our groove again and feeling better.

The last few weeks were pretty emotional for me as it seemed as if my son was spiraling out of control. We were aware enough to understand that he was not feeling well, which was probably contributing to him being more sensory seeking and more sensory defensive. It broke my heart more than any other emotion...the frustration, the completely helpless feeling. I felt like a failure as a mother, unable to help my child feel better.

It pains me to see my son so uncomfortable in his own skin. He was completely unable to sit still for more than five minutes: Crashing. Biting. Schreeching. Tantrums. (Did I mention c.r.a.s.h.i.n.g?) It felt as if all of the progress we have made with OT was quickly fading away before our eyes.

I was at such a loss. I had no idea what to do for him. I also had to grieve. Grieve the realization that my sweet boy may face challenges I will never understand. Mourn the fact that he may never outgrow some (or all) of these challenges.

We have made so much progress over the last few months, and I guess I was just a bit naive about his struggles. This is definitely going to be an ongoing learning process. No two kids are exactly the same and I am beginning to thoroughly understand the fact that there will be progress and setbacks along the way.

I love my son and my family beyond anything words could ever express. I know that my son is such an incredible gift and I am so very thankful he is mine. I think he has taught my husband and I more in the last two-and-a-half years of life than we have taught him. His strength, courage and love are unmatched.

My daughter is truly amazing as well. She is probably the most compassionate, empathetic and loving sister a kid could ever have. Her words and her presence comfort her brother constantly. When he bites her, she cries, but she is not retributive. She doesn't try to bite him back, she will simply go find his "chew stick", gives it to him and hugs him. It is as if at tw0-and-a-half, she realizes he bites her out of a physiological need, not anger. Her love knows no bounds and affection for her brother is so evident.

Watching my children together just warms my heart. I could not be more proud to have them as my children.

They are perfect in every way.

They are my heart.

Did I mention, today was a really good day?

I am so thankful for my children:

Thankful for the big and little lessons they teach me every day

Thankful for their personalities

Thankful for their loving and forgiving spirits

Thankful for who they are as little people

I'm thankful for a really good day.

What are you thankful for today? What lessons have you learned from your children? How do you handle setbacks?

Monday, February 14, 2011

This Kind of Love

I have gotten away from my Thankfulness project over the last several months. Not that I haven't been thankful every day, but I haven't been posting them here. I have, however, been posting them on Twitter almost every day. I'm still ridiculously thankful for my life, my love, my kids and my blessings.

Today is Valentine's Day. It is 6:45a.m. and my kids are still asleep. My husband has already left for work. The first thoughts that come into my tired, haven't-had-any-coffee-yet brain are simple:

I love my Husband (probably the best man on this earth.) Our "song" is "This Kind of Love" by Sister Hazel. We found it a few years ago when we had been married about a decade and it really is our kind of love. Listen to the song. It will warm your heart.

I love my kids (the best kids on this earth.) Even through all of our daily challenges, they rock my world. Their sweet, innocent, perfect love. Hearing my kids say "I love you Momma" makes my world complete.

I love the quiet moments when the house is actually, well, quite. (Just as my son wakes up and starts to scream as I type this post.)

Well, that was a short-lived moment, but I'm thankful for it nonetheless. More on love later, maybe during naptime. ;)

Happy Valentine's Day. May you love and be loved this day and every day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

If these walls could talk...

Tonight, I'm kind of dreading going to bed. I couldn't really figure out why until just now. It's late, so this may be a bit long. (Sorry in advance, but thanks for reading anyway!)

I feel like I am sitting on the edge of "chaos". (If that makes any sense!) Waiting to be pushed over the edge of a cliff into the ocean to be battered around for a while on the rocks. Yeah, graphic, right? That's kind of how my soul is feeling at the moment.

We found out late Friday evening (yeah, thanks for ruining our Valentine's weekend!), that we will very likely be getting transferred... somewhere.

We don't know the where. We don't know the when. (Could be within 3 months - could be longer.) Just that it's very likely. (As in, 99% likely.) And soon.

It may not seem like a big deal to many people since we are a military family. Until I mentioned we've been here for nine years. (That is like 30 years in one place to the non-military folks.) It's a bit traumatic.
This is the home and community we were supposed to retire in and live happily-ever-after.

There is a line in an old Toad The West Sprocket song (Disclaimer: It wasn't one of their best songs, but still a good song from the early 90's - and the lyrics worked!)

"You can show me your home, not the place where you live, but the place where you belong."

That line always struck me.
For years I would recite that line and use it whenever someone would ask about it being tough to move frequently as a military brat and then military wife and never having a consistent "home".

Well, I won't be using that line anymore.

The unknown is a pretty scary feeling. I used to love moving around the world and always looked forward to it - every two years I was ready to go! My adventurous spirit could pack up a house in less than a week! I was always ready for the next adventure. Perhaps I've outgrown that need to "see the world" or perhaps becoming a parent has changed everything.

Perhaps it's just exhaustion. We've had so much turmoil and chaos in our lives over the last year and I was really hoping (begging) that 2011 would be our year of calm. Our year to re-group. It would just be a year without major drama. It would simply be Our Year.

(After all, it's the Year of The Rabbit on the Chinese calendar. I'm a Rabbit - isn't that supposed to be lucky??)

I am feeling stressed out about the who, what, where, why, when of it all, but am trying to Trust. It is difficult to trust when you don't know the details and you are a control freak about your own life, like me. I want to know the details. Now, please.

But I am trying to trust. Trying.

To trust that God's plans for us are bigger than we can imagine for ourselves.

Trust that God will work out the details. (Will we have to short-sell our home?)

Trust that this move WILL be a good move for us, my family, for me.

Trust that we will be able to find another church that we L.O.V.E. (It has taken us nearly 14 years to find our current church, which has been an incredible blessing for our family.)

There are so many things we love about our Home and I am afraid I won't be able to love another house, or church or community as much as this one. Frankly, before we came here, we were stationed in a not-so-fantastic place for two-and-a-half years. It was awful and I was miserable. (And being miserable is not in my personality!) That station/experience made me realize that even in the U.S. there are very 'backwards" places.

(I don't want to go to one of those places again.)

But I also know God uses places and things to stretch us in amazing, yet sometime painful ways. But I don't want any more painful lessons. I need a break from painful lessons.

I have always loved moving around the world and the U.S., but now that we have children, it's different. We love our home, we love where we live. We built this house seven years ago to put down roots.We planned to retire here. To raise our kids here.

I've lived here longer than I've ever lived anywhere in my entire life.

It is the only home our children have ever known. This is the home my husband and I shed oceans of tears as we went through infertility issues and then the adoption process as we waited for our precious babies to find us. This is the home where I dreamed and imagined our children: crawling around, learning to walk up the stairs, and watching their little feet pitter-patter into the nursery we created. This is the home where our children found us and have had all of their "firsts". First foods (all over the walls & floors), first steps, first words, first holidays. This is the home where our family shared Christmases with my Dad. This is our home.

I know our "home" is just a building and the cliches about "Home is where your heart is" is true. But there is something to be said for a place where all of these memories are made.

These walls have seen it all.

The thought of leaving hurts my heart. I feel like our home is the 5th member of my family.

In addition to leaving the only home my children have ever known, the thought of uprooting our children is almost overwhelming. Having a child with special needs,well, it makes everything different. A move is no longer just packing up a house and moving across the country or the world. We have to consider things such as: Will there be appropriate services available for him? Will we be able to find therapists we love who are great with our child? Will our children get the best care possible? Etc., etc., etc. The thought of moving to a new state and new "system' to start all over again is exhausting. I fear the progress we have made with our precious son could be negatively impacted by a major move. I worry about my kids and how this will affect them. The mere thought already has me losing sleep. (Thus, the reason this post is being written at 11:30 p.m., when I know the kids will have me up by 6:00a.m.!)

All of these variables and the unknown of when and where are scary. Sad. Daunting.

But as these thoughts race through my head, I keep telling myself (and trying to truly believe) that God has His hand on us. He is going to use us. God is going to bless us.

Perhaps my fear stems from the fact that I already feel so incredibly blessed, that I'm not sure I could be more blessed? Wow, that's deep. Yet, also so shallow. I guess I'm not giving God much credit - how much greater are his plans for us than what we create for ourselves. You'd think our experience with our children would have taught me to remember that God will bless us beyond anything we can imagine for ourselves.

Perhaps our purpose in this community is complete. Perhaps the blessings will astound us wherever we end up.

That is what I need to think about and cling to when the stress gets to be too much and I can't sleep. God's vision for me, for us, is greater than anything I could imagine - or fear. Whether in this house or another - we'll be blessed and make many, many more memories in the years to come.

God is in the details. And he'll take care of the details, too.

It's your turn to comment:
If your walls could talk, what would they say? What are your favorite memories in your home? How has God blessed you in ways you could not have imagined? Do you limit your expectations of God? How did you handle a major move with a child with special needs?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How's your vision?

I haven't posted in a while simply because I had so much to say, and wrapping it up into a small, tidy post simply wasn't possible. Too many words. Too little time. So I said nothing.

But I am back. And I still have lots to say.

My husband and I attended a family conference/seminar at our church on Saturday about creating the families we want. There were several questions and even "report cards" to 'grade' how we feel we are doing as a spouse, as well as a report card for our spouses. It really makes you think! How often do we stop to think of how we are doing as a husband or wife?

It made us think and talk a lot about how we feel we are doing as husband and wife. After all, parents (and their relationship) are the biggest influence in their children's lives. You'd think that would have been the most thought-provoking (and/or contentious depending on your 'grade'!) but for us, the most intriguing question was simply

"What is your vision for your family?"

Not what you will do, but what will it be.

It really made me start to think about what I want my family to look like (and be) in 5, 10, 20 years. What legacy do we want our family to have for generations to come?

We threw around a few words like "loving", "kind", "compassionate", "fun" (you have to have fun!) but the word we settled on was: intentional.

We want our family to be intentional:

with our time
our finances
our relationships
our words
our hearts

I think everyone wants or thinks their family is intentional. I like to think that I try to be intentional, but I realized this weekend, in those moments of frustration when I raise my voice with my kids - I'm not being intentional. I'm letting frustration dictate my actions. How can I be more intentional as a mom?

I want to be a good wife to my husband, but do I give him the intentional time and attention he deserves each day, or do we have an exhausted conversation at the end of the day before we both crawl into bed and pass out for a few hours of sleep before we start the same routine the next day? How can I be more intentional as a wife, friend and lover to my husband?

I want to be a good friend, but when life gets crazy and I forget a birthday or simply don't make the time to spend with them, or pay attention to them, I'm not being a very good friend or intentional. (I wasn't a very good friend in 2010.) How can I be more intentional with my friendships and relationships?

I want to be intentional and a good steward of our finances. Is buying my kids toys they don't really need, but want, being intentional with our finances? Is getting that pedicure being intentional? What does being intentional with our finances mean and what does it look like?

I want to be intentional with my time, but is flopping down onto the couch after a long day and turning on the t.v. (for a little escapism and mindlessness) intentional? Is reading blogs in the middle of the day being intentional? I need to figure that out.

I'm going to address, and attempt to answer, each of these questions over the next week. The question then becomes: how do we become intentional and what does it look like?

As I ponder these questions, I leave you with a few:

Are you/your family intentional? What does it look like? In what parts of your life could you be more intentional?

Sunday, November 21, 2010


At church today, our pastor talked about something he calls ThanksLIVING. He talked about being thankful every, single day. For the little things. For the big things. For the painful things. For the exciting things. For the things that bring us to our knees.

Being thankful, when we don't feel like being very thankful.

It made me smile, because that is exactly what I am trying to do with my life. Through this blog, through my Twitter account. By making a conscious effort to be thankful every day, it has changed my outlook.

Being thankful has made me more thankful. And a better wife, mother, daughter. Being thankful has made me a better person.

The last six months have been mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. World-rocking. The kind of things that bring a person to their knees.

Often, during this season of life, I have felt weighed down by the drama of life and death. On more than one occasion I have said: "I don't think I can bear anything else." My faith is deep. I trust God. But I am human.

I fear.
I stress.
I hurt.

Physically and emotionally feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders every day...

gravity tugging at my body with each step...

fear tugging on my heart/mind...

Something "else" would always happen:

The house floods. A loved-one dies. Work instability. Possible unplanned relocation. A child gets sick.

At times it is overwhelming, but my faith allows me to cling to hope.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I manage to maintain hope. I know that God is using these things in my life to His glory, whether I can see/understand it at this season in my life or not. I may never understand it.

I know that the path I had planned for my life is playing out completely differently than I had planned or could have imagined for myself. But you know what? I Love My Life.

The good.
The bad.
The ugly.
The painful.

Even when it hurts, I am blessed.

And I give thanks.

I still have fear at times, wondering how everything will work out, but I know that we'll be okay. No matter what happens we will be okay.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself or living in a constant state of fear, I give thanks in all things.

It is a paradigm-shift to
Thankful LIVING.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 12, 2010

No milk, sugar or gluten, oh my!

Earlier this week my son's doctor recommended making some changes to his diet by eliminating milk, sugar and gluten. My first thought?

"HOLY COW! What else is there to eat??"

Now, if you know my son, you know what a picky eater he is and that most new foods result in flying food. Not my idea of fun. It is a bit overwhelming, so the nutritionist recommended eliminating milk from his diet first.

It sounds simple enough, until you factor in the fact that my son wants what he wants and he wants it right now.

The nutritionist recommended transitioning to Almond milk. We tried Blue Diamond Almond Breeze

My son hated it. My husband and daughter loved it.

Oh, this is going to be a fun process.

Pancakes are one food my son will eat every single time. He loves his pancakes.

So last night I decided to try making a gluten free pancake recipe the nutritionist assured us would be a sure-thing, even for a picky eater. It was my first attempt at making anything gluten free.

My son hated it. He spit it out. (So did my husband.)

I felt defeated and overwhelmed. How on earth am I going to be able to prepare and feed my family gluten free food they will actually eat?!?

Then this morning I found out something spectacular...


I can honestly say, never in my life have I ever been excited about Bisquick, or any "mix" for that matter. I am excited about Gluten Free Bisquick! :)

If anyone out there has great links, recipes, recommendations or advice, I would greatly appreciate it!!

Have you made the transition to milk or gluten free? Or eliminated any type of foods from your child's diets? Any advice? Any great links? Any great gluten free brands that are consistently delicious?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm thankful for Twitter

Oddly enough, I'm thankful for Twitter.

In May of this year I created a Twitter account. I was reluctant to create one, but wanted to force myself to be thankful for something each day:

To tell the world what I am thankful for each day.

To change my thinking, even on days when I feel overwhelmed as a stay-at-home-mom with two two-year-olds. (They can seriously make you question your sanity on some days!)

Little did I know how powerful a little old Twitter account would become for me and changing my thinking.

Creating and using my
Twitter account has made a huge difference for me. It has forced a paradigm shift. It forces me to think about and find things I am thankful for each day - even on really bad days. Like the day my father died. His funeral. When another friends newborn son died. When another mom's 4 month old daughter died. Instead of being overwhelmed by the sadness and grief, it made me view the experiences a little differently.

Allowing me to look deep and find things I am thankful for, when I feel overwhelmed by life, sadness and loss. So many of my friends and family have had a difficult year this year, often enduring unimaginable pain and heartache. It has certainly been a year full of trials for me personally.

I wrote the previous post back in June 2010. It is now November. I'm not sure what happened to the time between June and November, it is all pretty much a blur for me. It has been eventful to say the least. Here is our last 6 months in a nutshell:

  • Two weeks after the June post was written I received news that another friend's newborn son had died, two weeks before his due date.
  • Two weeks later, our home flooded. Big time. As in, tear out drywall and flooring and deal with contractors flooded.
  • A week after the flood, we received word that my father was terminal - and had days to live.
  • A week after that call, my Dad died. We were out of state for about 6 weeks taking care of my mom and the unfortunate logistics of death & notifications.
  • Two weeks after returning home we found out that our precious and perfect (in every way) son has some developmental delays and began the process of getting him some early intervention services.
  • That same week, we learned that my husband may be getting Orders to relocate soon. (We're a military family.) The "limbo" feeling begins:Will we have to sell our house in this market? Where will we go? Will our son's early intervention services be available there? Where will we go? Etc., etc., etc. Stress Level High!
  • A few weeks later, we learned that I need to have surgery. UGH. Who has time to be sick, especially with two two-year-olds?
  • The same week we learned that our son is "at risk" for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (That will be another post altogether.)

To say I have been and am feeling very overwhelmed is an understatement. I have pretty much been in a constant state of STRESSED OUT since June.

It makes me ask the same questions I think everyone asks with such chaos on in their lives:
  • Why? What purpose does this serve?
  • What else can go wrong/happen? (Not a great question to ask - because something can and will go wrong!)
  • Why all of this pain & suffering?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • When will things get better?
  • Why is the world off of it's axis?
This summer, I frequently found myself saying, "It feels like the world is off of it's axis."

Nothing feels right. Everything feels out of balance. Nothing is as it should be.

I don't understand why we are going through everything we are going through, but I maintain hope. And that hope allows peace. Part of that hope and peace is because even in the midst of our pain, we know God is going to use it to his glory, and even in the worst of it we are not alone. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the midst of the storm.

I always thought I was a thankful person. Even for the little things, but I realized something this summer:
How thankful are we when it hurts?

Share your thoughts and tell me: What are you thankful for?