Sunday, May 17, 2015

Making the cut...

You wouldn't think hospital employee's take business trips, but occasionally they do.  So while the Mechanic is in Chicago training on a likely multi-million dollar piece of lab equipment, the kids and I get to relive memories of our single-parent time in Tennessee.  Then, I single parented for two weeks at a time, so this less-than-a-week doesn't seem bad.  Of course I have more children now, and they are bigger handfuls, but we'll see how it goes.  I'm actually looking forward to seeing how disciplined I can be and how much I can get done as the only adult in the house!  

One thing I'm excited about doing this week is continuing work on something that definitely made the cut even though it isn't specifically in my lifetime goals.  There is a wonderful organization started by two cranio moms called Cranio Care Bears.  They send care packages, free of charge, to any family with a child undergoing a surgery for craniosynostosis.  Completely volunteer and donation driven, the most important part of their care packages is the prayer ribbon chain.  Each link has an encouraging verse or saying on it, usually written by someone who has been touched by cranio in some way... some parents make them while their child is in surgery, others do ribbon drives for birthdays or class parties. 
Ladybug with her prayer ribbon chain just before leaving for surgery

Care package goodies and BooBooBear (from their store)

With the handmade blankie from her care package, post-op
 In honor of Ladybug's first "cranioversary," coming up in June, I set a goal for a certain number of ribbons I wanted to send.  I'm about half way to my goal and have till June 18th to meet it!  I stocked up on books on CD and Waltons DVDs from the library that can play in the background while I write on ribbons this week! 
I might be slightly addicted. 
If anyone wants to contribute to this organization, their website has instructions for how to donate , through money for shipping, ordering from their Amazon wish list and shipping it directly to them, collecting needed items yourself, or making prayer ribbons.  You can also shop for cranio awareness items in their store; all proceeds go to the care packages!  

Friday, May 15, 2015

On Social Media and Goals...

Pondering my goals and priorities... 

Time is in short supply.  There are many things that are okay, aren't sin, aren't harmful.  There are things that can be used for good.  But are they worthwhile?  (And yes, I'm spending time on this... because writing out my thoughts helps me think)

I'm stuck on Facebook.  I've taken a break from it twice this year already.  And it just keeps coming to mind.  I have excuse after excuse for why I don't delete it completely.  There are good things that come from Facebook.  I share pictures with family and friends far away.  I claim I get to know people better through Facebook.  I say I get to encourage and educate other moms of cranio kids.  I say I get to find out prayer requests.  

But what is Facebook causing me to miss out on?  Because everything I chose to do means I'm choosing not to do something else.  

So when I log on, what am I saying "no" to?  Cleaning.  I don't have a dishwasher, and saying I'm "waiting on the washer and dryer" is a joke, because in this house there is ALWAYS laundry to be put away.  Reading, either quality books for myself or reading to my children.  Playing with my children, or paying attention to them at all.  Praying.  Studying Scripture.  Meditating on a hymn.  Giving serious thought to anything.  Cooking.  Exercising.  Managing money. 

What am I saying "yes" to?  I can encourage people on Facebook.  I can see prayer requests and say a short (distracted) prayer.  I can gossip.  I can come across harsh and judgmental.  I can get irritated, or stressed, or worried about the way other people live and raise their children, or the viewpoints of others, or their opinions of me.  I can be encouraged and held accountable for healthy living. 

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Does Facebook fit this definition?  Does what I read, and what I post, follow the command of this verse?  If I'm honest... no.  I can pretty much count on one hand the people on my "friends" list who spurn me on to a better life, whose posts, shares, and comments fit the qualifications of that verse.

It's pretty clear to me that I need to make changes.  Intentional, flexible, focused... 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Progressing or Drifting?

As part of a healthy living and exercise group I'm a part of on Facebook, I have been giving thought to my goals, my values, and my passions.  I'm a relatively analytical, unemotional person, at least compared to most women, so I've had a hard time getting in touch with any emotions regarding my lifestyle.  I'm okay with that though, and am focusing on the benefits that being unemotional can have.

This morning, I took the time to put that anaylytical side to use in evaluating my life.  I thought about what I had stated as my overall goals, thought back to what I remember writing as my goals and purpose for my life back in high school/college, and then thought about my typical day.  I asked myself a hard hitting question: is the way I live each day pushing me towards my goals, or am I simply drifting?

Then I thought about the things I complain about, the excuses I use, the things in my life that drive me nuts.

The one big thing, the common link that stood out, was time.  I always claim I don't have enough of it.  I've said this week I needed to freeze time till I could figure out what I'm supposed to do.

Every human is allotted 24 hours in a day.  Some people accomplish a lot in their 24 hours.  Some accomplish pretty much nothing.  So the question isn't how much time I have, but rather, how I'm using it.  Am I being a good steward of my time?  Or am I wasting it?  Am I spending my time on things that have nothing to do with my goals, my purpose?

And I feel like I'm on repeat... which means this is a chronic problem for me.  Maybe I'm feeling time slipping by and that's why these same thoughts are occurring so often.  I'll have two children in preschool next fall, my baby is on the verge of walking, and I feel like they were just born.
So if I drop off the face of social media, nothing's wrong.  I'm just streamlining and focusing. =)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Does SPD Mean To Me?

After reading The Out of Sync Child and realizing sensory processing disorder (SPD) describes my Ladybug far better than any autism spectrum disorder, I mentioned to her pediatrician that if SPD is real, she has it.  And she asked me what that meant to me.

That is an excellent question.  I either think I am crazy, over-diagnosing completely normal childish behaviors, or I feel like no one else has any idea what my life is really like.

So for me, SPD means...


  • As my child gets older, she requires more effort and attention, not less.  She gets physically and mentally harder to parent, not easier.  I look back at nights of colic and think, that was easier.


  • Any mistake costs me time.  A cabinet not latched.  The kitchen not blocked off.  A jar not put away.  And typically, it doesn't cost me a few minutes.  It often costs upwards of 30 minutes, sometimes more, by the time I clean both the child and the surroundings, in addition to the cost of the item wasted.  There is NO room for error. 

  • I must weigh the need to go to the bathroom or anything that takes me out of sight of the kids against the risk of finding mayhem when I return. This means simple things, like showers, toileting, personal hygiene and maintenance, must either happen at 6am or it doesn't happen at all.
  •                                                   
  • Every event, every day, is approached with "how will she cope with this?"  Meltdowns are more likely after social events.  I decide whether or not the benefit outweighs the possible consequences.  Changes in plan are often accompanied by screams and resistance.  She may appear very placid in public, but when we return home, the windows may rattle as she apparently simply can't cope with anything else.

                                                                
  • I am to the point of deciding my time would be better managed by devoting myself 100% to my children during their waking hours, rather than trying to get anything accomplished around the house.  Because if my attention is elsewhere, she is likely causing mayhem that will take even longer to repair.
     
  •                                              
  • I am continually running on empty.  I am mentally exhausted.  I am constantly trying to come up with things for her to do, ways to stimulate her senses and meet her seemingly unquenchable desires.  Ways of handling her meltdowns.  Forms of discipline and training that will work.
  •                                                   
  • I struggle with hope.  Because things are getting harder.  I look forward to her being in school.  But I wonder if I will need to home school, and how in the world will I do that?  Every time I've thought things are getting better, they've stopped improving.  And I try to focus on what has gotten better.  Such as, she is no longer obsessed over closing doors.  Yet what has that been replaced by?  Painting herself in oatmeal & Nutella. Can we go back to the door closing?                                             
  • I feel guilty.  Because I'm living the life of which I dreamed.  And yet... I can't wait for bedtime.  I want to enjoy my children.  I reach the end of the day and my creativity and patience are long gone.  I feel foolish for having so many children in so few years.  I could never have known what it'd be like, and I wouldn't trade any of them, but I still sometimes feel guilty for putting them through a childhood like this. 





     This is part of why I have started making extra effort to get pictures of the grins that come when she's enjoying something.  Because I need that visible reminder that something I'm doing is working.  That I'm not making her miserable all the time.  And I take pictures of the messes, because as much as I'd like to forget them sometimes, I want to remember so that when my children are grown and I see a mom struggling, I will remember that these years that are supposedly awesome can be really tough.  
And I am aware that every child has their own unique challenges.  Just about all kids get into things.  Many kids enjoy getting dirty.  Most kids pitch fits.  And 3 is a tough age.  Each individual thing depicted in the pictures above, for example, is not what bothers me.  It's all of it together.  It's the daily, multiple times a day, stuff that exhausts me.  Perhaps, in another year, I'll say to myself "you really were nuts.  She's grown out of all that and is a completely normal kid and you over-reacted."  But in the meantime, if using techniques created for kids with issues helps, then I'm going to read those books and use those ideas.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"This is Only A Mountain, Tell It To Move, It'll Move"... Or will it?

In my mailbox this afternoon was a small card.  Someone was kind enough to bless our family, with not only including us in their daily prayers but also letting us know that we're in those prayers.  Having just dealt with yet another pair of poo filled underwear, and having not dealt with it well, this was such an encouragement to me.

On the front of the card was this saying by a Bonnie Jensen.  "There is nothing more powerful than a faith-filled prayer -- it has the grace to comfort the soul and the strength to move a mountain."

This brought to mind a song I had been meaning to write about... a song by Jason Castro entitled "Only a Mountain."  The premise of the song is, I would presume, Matthew 17:20, which says "He said to them,“Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

While living in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, I enjoyed hearing this song.  I thought it was a great song.  But, with a few more years and a few more pounds under my elastic waistband, it no longer sits well with me.  It had been months since I'd heard it, but when it was played on the radio a few weeks ago, I was on my way home from yet another visit to a local surgeon because of Ladybug's chronic wound.  

And it occurred to me... no.  You can't just bounce around to a song singing "You don't have to find your way around it; tell it to move, it'll move. Tell it to fall, it'll fall."  I understand there were good intentions behind the writing of that song, but it reveals the dangers of taking a single verse without the context surrounding it.  Especially if you have not been blessed to have had the full Bible taught to you, this could be very frustrating.  "My mountain isn't moving.  Maybe I don't have enough faith.  Maybe God isn't real, since that's what He's supposed to do and He's not doing it."

Now granted, if you're basing your faith a single song you have other issues that need to be addressed, but still...  God does not promise to move every mountain upon our command.  There are many faith-filled people who beg God and fully believe that He can do as they request, but He answers no.  

I'm aware of a mother who is full of faith.  She believes God can heal her son.  She believes in miracles.  She's seen them happen.  But her son is two years old, and he did not leap out of bed this morning and great her with spontaneous language.  She had to get out of bed, lift him from his seat, strap on his braces, and continue trudging up the mountain in front of her as she spends hours feeding and burping and pleading for an ounce of weight gain.  She prepares mentally and physically for yet another surgery.

I'm aware of a woman who is full of faith.  She believes God can cure her of cancer.  But this morning, she woke up, got out of bed, and continued trudging up the mountain before her.  She is preparing for surgery.  She strives to think positively and take care of her body while it fights cancer.  
I have a mountain.  It's a crater in my child's head.  I've encountered mountains before, called craniosynostosis, called Chiari Malformation.  Could God have healed my daughter from any of those?  Yes.  He could have.  Did I believe Him capable of unfusing her skull without any surgical intervention?  Yes.  Did I believe Him capable of giving her brain room and pulling that cerebellum back up on top of the skull base?  Yes.  Did He choose to move that mountain for me?  NO.  

I asked.  He said NO.  He left that mountain there.  

Why?  

I don't know.  But I do know, God's will was for me to climb that mountain.  It was not His will to move it.  

Will God move the mountains in front of the other two ladies I mentioned?  I don't know.  He can.  I pray He will.  But, if He chooses not to move them, I pray that they will have the strength to keep climbing.  Even if it feels they are slipping backwards.  Even if it feels it will never end.  

Because the God who is capable of moving mountains, is also capable of strengthening the feet, the hearts, the souls of those who are climbing them.  

And so, back to the quote.  Which I love.  This Ms Jensen, whomever she is, has it correct.  She does not say that prayer will move mountains.  She says it has the strength to move them.  And it has the grace to comfort the soul if that mountain is not moved. 

Are you facing a mountain?  When you pray, do you believe that not only is God capable of moving that mountain, but that He is also capable of equipping your feeble self to climb it?