Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When it rains...

It pours.

Ran kids to school, finished breakfast, ran Daniel to school, ran to meet the new case manager, had a gloriously peaceful half hour before picking up Daniel. Grabbed him and went for groceries - gluten, dairy, soy and peanut free - for Oren to see what's causing him issues.

Get call from vice principle in the middle of the store about Oren's tardies and his failing most of his classes. Let him know nobody has been in contact with me (as instructed per his 504 with the school) and that I'm not happy. He promises that the teachers will be in touch, and if any aren't, to call him Friday.

Get a call right after about William beating up another kid at recess today and wouldn't tell the teachers why. Drop off prescriptions, run pick him up, talk to teacher about what happened. Talked to William - turns out the kid was fighting his friend and he was trying to help. Kudos for being a good friend, not exactly the best way to deal with it.

Go pick up prescriptions, realize that it's nearly 2:00 and Daniel and I haven't eaten, feed us. Run home, Nathan gets home, CBRS worker comes for William, paperwork signing... Leave again, late, to grab fun little guy I'm babysitting this afternoon from school, run to Oren's school - 20 minutes later than usual - to grab Oren, because the worker wouldn't stop gabbing but I can't be late to get the babysitting boy so Oren had to wait.

Finally make it back home to a barrage of calls and emails from Oren's teachers, and a surprise one from Nathan's about his math work. Get everything sorted out with missing assignments while Nathan sands his pinewood derby car since the weigh-in is tomorrow. I didn't cut it this year. We bought pre-cut. And I don't feel the least bit guilty.

There has been chocolate today when I'm supposed to be cutting sugar. And cookies. There may have been cookies. But darn-it-all if I'm just done! I keep telling myself that the Lord knew I could do this. The teachers have been helpful about the missing assignments, one even offered to be at school early tomorrow if Oren could be there and help him get caught up! (Oren's not too happy. I don't care.)

It's just days like today that make even me wonder how I do it. People ask me all the time. And normally I tell them I breathe, or cherish bedtime, or some other nonsense. But some days I don't even know myself. It just happens. I cry a little. Sometimes a lot. I vent a little. And then I pick myself up, sharpen a couple pencils, and start in on playing catch-up with life.

I'll put on my big girl pants, go get "hopefully" good new from William's therapist, try to put together a nutritional Oren-friendly dinner, make sure beds have clean sheets, and rub my children down with lavendar, our new nightly ritual. I'll tuck them into bed with a conversation about their day, a hug and a kiss, and an "I love you!" Which I'll mean to the bottom of my toes. Then I'll curl up on the couch with a book, ignoring the new big laundry pile, because I have to, enjoy the quiet. Then I'll go to bed, so I can wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.

Because when it rains, it pours. And because it's only after the rain that the flowers can truly bloom.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Life has it's ups and downs...

Had a rough doctor appointment for Oren today. Making the decision to put a child on a strong medication like Zoloft is a hard thing to do. But based on how he has been reacting to the over-stimulus of crowded buses and hot classrooms, it was time for an adjustment. And it's the lesser of the evil medications for his age. While I personally know kids on more meds than he is, looking at his pill sorter made me a little teary this afternoon. We are also looking at speech therapy or a home worker to come in and help him learn to deal appropriately with things.

I guess it was a good appointment, because we were able to get a number of issues addressed and we have an action plan for how to proceed. But we were hoping to avoid that class of medication for a while longer. And as far as medication goes, I have been told that we are doing amazing at keeping his doses and variety at the minimum effective dose. That's hard work! We've taken things out of their diet, like artificial colors and high-fructose corn syrup, and make sure they eat a variety of nutritious fresh or homemade foods. We are careful about routines and sleep. We give advance notice if at all possible about things like outings or housework...

These are the kinds of days that make me wonder what on earth the Lord saw in me. I had a blessing once that I was to be given "choice spirits to tenderly train and care for". I'm beginning to see, as things develop with the boys, just how choice they are. I pray that I'm doing the right thing by them, and giving them the best chance to succeed in life and become the men that the Lord knows they are capable of being.

I am grateful for the medications that are available. I am grateful for the therapies that we have access to, and for a doctor that understands I don't want zombie children. He knows that I'm not expecting miracles, nor am I trying to drug my children because I can't handle it. Not once have I felt judged in his office for asking for the help that both my children and I desperately need! I am grateful for family and friends, and even strangers, who are loving and understanding and patient with my children and myself - who don't judge us on a bad day.

Isn't it funny how downs can also be ups?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thoughts on my children...

Can I just say that, sometimes, I hate being right?

That being said - I was. Oren is officially with William as part of the spectrum of autistic disorders. He is very high functioning, which I knew. The ADHD combined type diagnosis still holds, he has periods of both hyperactivity and is easily wound up, and inattentiveness. One of his original diagnoses was also ODD, oppositional defiant disorder. That was also right. Not severely, just enough to really tick off certain personality types and at least try the patience of his parents on a fairly regular basis.

I don't know why I put this off for so long, even with the gut feeling about what was really wrong. We just adjusted to how he is I suppose. And once it's official, there's no turning back. But with him being a relatively mild case - it's just combined with some other fun things... his prognosis is excellent. If we can just get him to understand the rules of the game well enough to play it when it matters, then he can be his quirky self when he needs to be.

Over the last year, there have been more times than I'd like admit that I questioned why these particular children were mine. Oren and William with their disorder. And Nathan with his palette, processing issues, and physical weaknesses. While taken separately, it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, right? But trying to work with all of their needs, especially when they each deal with things so differently, while making sure that Daniel isn't taking the brunt of the accommodations? That 's where I wonder if I'm doing a good job.

There are so many people who are patient with my children, even though they don't have to be. So many people who are rooting for them and trying to help them achieve their best. People that truly love and support my children, and their parents. I can never thank them enough. I notice you, and I am grateful. Everytime you talk to me about how you can help them, has the potential to bring tears to my eyes. And often does, when I am recounting the situation to others.

Someday our home is going to have a sign on the wall that says "I am a Child of God". Only he knows why my children are the way they are. And only he knows the best way to lead them, guide them... I pray that he continues to offer me little glimpses into the souls of these wonderful spirits that he has blessed our family with. Even though we have a lot of difficult and trying days, I am grateful for all that they teach me, and others, about unconditional love.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Look! Pictures!

 I found some pictures! Hurray! Now you can see what we did this summer. :)

My awesome sister-in-law took pictures of the boys this summer.

I took some too. They were goofs.

But HANDSOME goofs!

Even the ones who wouldn't look at the camera.

We got into things we shouldn't. Like Daddy's special marking paint.

We ended the school year. How much we learned!

We got to get our faces painted. Which is one of our favorite things to do!

We took everything out of the pantry.

And put it on the table.

We tore the shelves apart.

And we painted.

And we built custom-spaced sturdy ones instead.

We got our Wolf Badge.

And our Webelos. And we are so proud of our hard work!

We built catapults with Daddy.

And knocked stuff down.

We got really messy.

I mean REALLY messy!

All of us!

We went swimming. And got cold. But the sand was warm.

We put a much-needed new roof on the house.

Some of us got brand new glasses.

And we played at parks!

Sometimes we had to go to the doctor. Because otherwise life is boring.

But we all survived, and are ready for the rest of our year, older, maybe wiser, and can't wait to have more fun!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Holy Forever, Batman!

How is it that I've made it an entire summer with nary a single update to my poor, neglected blog?

For shame!

I wish I could promise to do better, but the truth is that it is very difficult for me at times to voice my thoughts. Life seems to have so many ups and downs, and sometimes it's all I can do to get through what's being thrown, let alone get all my deep insights out.

And photos?

They don't happen often. Or more correctly, they are all on my phone and I can never seem to find the time to get them all over here to upload them.

And so we'll just play some catch-up with what everyone is doing!

Mark- Finished up yet another school year in July. According to credit hours, he's a senior. According to his class list, he's still got another 3 semesters at least. Depends on his minor/clusters/whatever he decides...  We were very blessed to have had an internship offer extended in April, and they were willing to wait until after his next semester to have him report. So 2 days after school ended for the summer, he was loading his car and driving to Montana for a minimum of 10 weeks, hopefully more. While it's been really tough having him gone, I tell people that it's easier than a deployment: nobody is pregnant, he can call every night and/or facebook, we're not in a foreign country, and his parents live in the same town and love to see their grandkids! Also, having to take care of himself, he's come to a new appreciation of all that I do. That's always a plus! :)

Myself- Where to start? Weight loss? I've been stalled since Christmas. That's right. In fact, I've let it go a little and gained about 10 lbs back. There are so many excuses, and so many reasons. But I'm trying to get myself back to a healthy state of mind so I can get back to a healthy body. I was able to do a couple races this summer, for which I am grateful. And Mark ran one with me, pushing me WAY past my wall, and encouraging me not to quit.

      I've been struggling with a lot of things this summer. And slowly I am trying to learn to let go. Not everything happens the way or the time you hope. Nobody is perfect, the goal is in the trying. And that sometimes, things just happen.

Oren- My "baby" is in the 6th grade this year. 11 years old. How did this happen? He is a grand total of 6 inches shorter than his mother! He love to read, devours everything we own that I've deemed appropriate for him, and begs for more. He and I have struggled a bit the last several months with the fact that there are only 2 parents in the house, and he is not one of them. Being highly intelligent seems to come with it's drawbacks, and a little humility might be a good thing to teach. But all things come with time.

     He is starting a lot of new things this year. The middle school does advanced math and english, so he is doing those. He was allowed to choose several electives, and big surprise, investigative science was first on the list! He also chose to start beginning woodwinds, and is very excited to get to play clarinet.

Nathan- He had a bit of fun this summer! Last year it was determined that the valve between his nose and throat was not closing all the way. This was the valve we had reconstructed at 4 yrs old... But he's grown way faster than we thought and though it was trying, it just couldn't quite get shut. A year of therapy, and still nothing. No improvement whatsoever. So we made the very difficult decision to have the doctor do another surgery. This one involved sewing a flap of tissue across the valve opening, essentially closing it off, with small ports on either side for breathing and drainage. This can be reversed once he gets as big as he's going to get, if needed, or if the apnea that is a common side effect becomes a problem. So far, so good. He sounds as though he has a perpetual cold, but even that is getting a lot better as the swelling has gone down.

   He is in 4th grade this year, and already likes it better than 3rd. This year, he's talking better and more, and says he has already made some friends. Last year he was a bit of a loner, and it broke my heart. But a mom can't fix everything, and I couldn't make friends for him. He has to find his own way. Such a sweet boy, and adores his little brother, Daniel. Those two have become fast friends this summer!

William- Oh, my sweet William. Someday I'm going to have a garden of Sweet William flowers, just because. :)  This was a rougher summer on me than it was on him. We had him formally diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome. A lot of people wonder just what that is. People hear it hand in hand with Autism. Both are characterized with basically a lack of social skills. Of course, it goes much deeper than that, and can be mild or highly severe. Children may be very vocal, like Oren, or non-talkative, like William. The difference between the diagnoses is that with autism there is some form of cognitive impairment. With Asperger's, there is not. But all that is a moot point as of next year, when some committee somewhere that thinks they know everything has decreed that there will be no more Asperger's. Only mild to severe autism. He is highly intelligent, and I'd love to do an IQ test like we did for Oren to see just how so, his struggle is relating to the world around him and being comfortable in his surroundings.

    He started 1st grade this year, and I was concerned how he would handle a whole day of constant stimulation. At back-to-school night I talked to his teacher and let her know what issues she'll be dealing with. Her first words were "How can I help him?" As a mother, this made me so happy. She isn't going to try to force him to be a square, when he wants to be and only knows how to be a triangle. She walks him through the lunch line and is his go-between with other adults. Our at-home life with him is still a huge struggle, as we try and find ways to help him express himself appropriately, and understand him. But all the work and deep breathing is worth it when he smiles at me and we have those small moments of peace and clarity.

Daniel - At nearly 4, he is a firecracker! Always on the move, sweet and cuddly. He and William are starting to get along a little better now that they aren't sharing a room. A little. He is learning so much every day and every time I turn around, he's grown that much more!

    With his brothers starting school again, he's missed having his constant playmates of summer. So we are trying to find others for him to play with. I think he enjoys having lots of time, just he and I, to cuddle and talk about what interests him. It's hard to think sometimes that in just 2 more years, he'll be starting school as well, and I'll have no more little ones at home! Where has the time gone?

Even with so much going on with each of our children, and with ourselves, we have been so blessed as a family these last few months. I would promise to be better at posting on here, but I know better... How about, I promise to try thinking about posting more? Yep, that I can commit to!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My first 5K

Somehow, it's been 4 months since I last blogged. A lot of that has been that we only had 1 functioning computer, and Mark had it at school ALL day! But with Oren starting middle school next year, we thought it best to have a desktop that he could use here at home for writing essays and doing research. Harder to break a desktop than a laptop! So now, I can sit and take as long as I need during the day to fill people in on what we're up to.

As long as I can get back in the habit of doing so.

Saturday was my first 5k. Ever. For someone who couldn't run a mile in elementary school, this is a HUGE deal! (I really couldn't. Didn't even finish walking it because it was taking to long so the coach waved me back to join the class after my 3rd lap. Sad.)

I had been roughly following the C25K plan, starting out walking and gradually adding intervals of running. Mine took considerably longer than the 2 months as stated by the plan, but I was proud of each milestone. The first time I ran a full 4 laps around the track? Best day ever!

Winter hit and cut my running short. Until an awesome girl at church said she could bring a guest to her gym. And so I went to workout with someone who was pretty much a stranger, and whom now I count as a friend. I hopped up on the treadmill and did awful! But it was good to be back on, and I started pushing myself again for my goal of a 5k this summer.

I thought I had some time. I was wrong. :)

Saturday morning came and I found myself stretching and warming up with over 100 10k runners and nearly 200 5k runners. (I'm a runner! Holy cow!) Mark and the boys were on the sidelines, waiting with a camera. The boys were so excited!

 "Mommy? Are you going to run fast? I'm super fast!" - Daniel

Mommy is just going to be happy trying to make it through the whole thing in one piece!

My number pinned on, my legs stretched out... I took my place towards the back of the pack. Which turned out to be a good choice, because the front people were FAST! They took off like lightening! With a deep breath, I got my legs going. Slow and steady. One step at a time. Breath in and out. Nice even pace.

I look up, and I was already at the first water station! The mile mark already? I tried to drink out of a tiny cup without inhaling it up my nose, and without breaking my stride, and psyche myself up for the next mile. From my treadmill, I know that the first mile is "easy" for me now, but that mile 2 needs talking through. I can do it.

The first leg of any race is run with the body. The second leg is run with the mind. And the third? The third is run with your heart.

By the halfway point, I was talking to myself. "You can do this! For your kids! For yourself! Make them proud! Keep breathing! Keep pushing!" It's a good thing nobody was around me to hear, because I'm sure it sounded pretty amusing. At nearly the end of the 2nd mile, I'm praying for strength. I'm praying for the endurance that I know I'm capable of. I'm praying for the courage to keep running. I'm thanking the Lord for this chance He had given me to use this body in the way He intended it. This is my second chance to be the person He wants me to be and I'm grateful for it.

3rd mile. I'm tired. My legs want to walk, just for a minute. But I've pushed the treadmill here too and I know my legs can do it. I've eaten right so they have the energy the muscles need to push through the wall. My mind is blank beyond the "breathe and run, breathe and run" mantra that I'm using to keep my pace from lagging. Where is the finish line? There is a strong wind that was at my back, but that now I'm racing headlong into. What little bit I've got left is harder now for the extra effort the wind is taking to fight.

I can see it! Mark says to finish strong. Use everything you've got to get yourself across that finish line. So the last 100 yards, I extend my stride, pump those arms, and sprint.

36 minutes, 49 seconds. And I ran. The WHOLE thing. Blowing past my personal best! But the second I slowed down, my legs decided they were jelly and were fairly close to collapsing, so I grabbed the drink table and started in on a chocolate milk before going and finding my little family who were waiting for me at the finish.

The hug I got from my husband, who has supported me through this whole journey, was sweeter than the chocolate milk. He is so proud of me, and so were my kids. I could have walked once or twice, but the looks I got from them when I told them I didn't stop once were worth the work!

I'm signed up for another 5k in July. And have free entry into another one this summer if I wanted to. And that little voice that kept saying "Slow and steady..." is saying that maybe a 10k next year wouldn't be so bad!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas Fun!

 A friend asked for a post of all the stuff I made for the Christmas this year. There were several projects, and I've included links to the tutorials I used if there are any. While all these gifts took quite a bit of time, they were all worth it!

 For Mark's parents, a birthday calendar with all the children, spouses, and grandchildren. There are so many to remember now, especially in October, that it seemed a good idea to put them all in one place on the wall for everyone to see. Now there's no excuse for a missed birthday! :) It also looks really nice in her room, which is painted her favorite color: cheery yellow.

Project plans here. This is where I found the basic plans, and what I really needed - the thing that connected all the circles together. I had no idea, but she used jump rings, which are found in the jewelry making department of any craft store, and small eyelets from a hardware store.

For William, who loves hanging out on the floor of his room and drawing, or working through coloring books and workbooks. This gives him a way to store his supplies, as well as help his back posture by not having to hunch over quite so far. You can place it on the floor, or it would be great for a teen lap desk to do homework.

Project plans here. I had most of the wood, and only had to get a 2x2x8 and a pair of hinges. I also grabbed Valspar sample can at the hardware store that was premixed and less than $3 because William liked the color.

 The boys love to drape blankets over their beds to make forts, and Oren is forever making tents outside. So why not build them one for the inside? It disassembles, although not too easily, and there are dowels attaching the top crossboard with one of the 1x2's it's leaning on so that it doesn't accidentally fold up on someone or fall all the way open. It seems pretty sturdy so far!

Project plans here.

Also, the floor cushion inside so they have a place to rest their seats. I had a giant bag of batting and a LOT of fabric to choose from, and the stripes won.

Project plan here. Minus the handle, since it was around 11 pm on Christmas Eve...

The only thing Daniel asked Santa for was a superhero cape. Luckily I had already found a tutorial earlier this year for just such a thing! He loved to put his coat hood on his head and run around with the coat trailing after him, so this way he can still have a cape and wear a coat. :)

Project plans here and here (for the eye mask).

Danny-boy also got a chair that I had picked up from DI over a year ago. It was covered originally in old, dirty Space Jam fabric. Complete with some sort of pet hair in the original padding! I stripped it down to the foam, which I soaked to clean it. Then I used fabric glue to attach batting to help soften the shape of the chair. Each side of the chair was placed individually on fabric, the outline drawn with seam allowance added, marked with which piece it was and which side. Then all the pieces were sewn together. It was really tough, there were some odd angles to work around. But it turned out really cute, and a perfect fit!

Since I ended up somehow 2 stockings short, and none of us had matching stockings anyway, I pulled out some more fleece and some felt and whipped up a half dozen. I didn't use a tutorial, but took pictures while putting together the last one and will post one on here later. I may add everyone's initial on their stocking, but since each person picked their felt colors, it helped us tell them apart. :)

Every year, we get pajamas for Christmas. This was a tradition growing up, and I can still remember the excitement of going up to get ready for bed and finding a wrapped package with my name on it. The best year I can remember was the one my mother made us all matching long red flannel nightgowns, with white at the collar, and red ruffles on the bottom and the sleeves. I loved those pajamas and wore them until the nightgown was finally too short.

This was the first year I managed to make both the tops and the bottoms, instead of using a package of plain white t-shirts and adding some decoration to match the pants. 

The last 2 things were projects for Mark. Since he isn't home and I really don't want to pull the card out of the computer, put it in the camera, set up the shots, transfer stuff back to the computer and then find it to post the picture, I'll just use the ones from the tutorial...

First one is a firewood carrier. His is a yellow striped canvas on both sides, since the flannel would attract and hold wood splinters. Instead of branches, I used a hardwood broom handle. Very hard. So hard I could barely cut it with the saw that came with our mitre box! But on the plus side, that means that it won't break easily...

Mark didn't want the handles sliding out of the slots, which I had sewn an additional seam right next to the wood with a zipper foot so they'd stay a little better. So he drilled some holes and put some screws right through the fabric and into the handles. Which is how we know just how hard the wood really was, he could barely get the drill bit through!

And lastly, I made him a foot warmer! Fleece on the inside and a flannel outside, in his favorite color: blue. He is forever asking the boys for a blanket to wrap around his feet when he's doing his homework on the couch. So he get's cold feet? Not anymore!

Minky is around $20 a yard, and while I do happen to have a yard here at the house, it was originally bought for a baby quilt for my nephew and I wasn't willing to cut into it for a foot warmer, not have enough for the blanket, and end up buying more yardage later at an outrageous price. So fleece it was!

I plan on making one for myself, but making the top into it's own rice bag sewn onto the bottom larger rice bag. Because I stole Mark's the other day and it was warm, but big enough to fold over my feet and with the warm rice on top and bottom it was even better! 

So that's the list of the different projects I had going on this year. Will we do homemade next year? Definitely! Will it be such an extensive list? Very likely. Will I wait until December to start? I hope not, because this was insane!

I also had 2 blankets that were done Thanksgiving weekend: one for Mark's sister and her husband, green flannel on top and gray fleece on the bottom, with random quilted squares, big enough for my 6'4" brother-in-law to snuggle under comfortably. Which is good because then he got sick after Christmas. The other was green camo fleece on top and tan marble-y on bottom to match desert camo. Those were stiched 4 inches from the edge all the way around, and then the outsides were cut into inch-wide fringe. He loved it!