Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a meme just because I'm tired


A college friend had this up and I haven't written anything much past book reviews and doctor appointment stuff lately so I thought this would be brain candy for me.

1. What we're eating this week...

I am needing to review a cookbook so this weekend I'm trying out cheater crepes made with tortillas. Yum! Tonight I'm making my boys' favorite meal - ham sammies!

2. What I'm reminiscing about...

When days weren't so full or when I wasn't so needing quiet to recharge. When did I become so hermit-ish?

3. What I'm loving...

I love this weather. So warm. And I love that I found TWO pairs of comfy maternity pants!! Yay!

4. What we've been up to. 

Doctor appointments. One with a PT (Moose has functional scoliosis, no biggie it sounds like) and an MRI. Next week: follow ups. We've also been trying to get outside to the park more.

5. What I'm dreading...

This month with something almost every day planned. I have tried to cancel the things I can but most everything is a must. Boo.

6. What I'm working on...

I'm working on a really great cross stitch that I planned. But I keep having to tear out parts because apparently I can't count. UGH! BUT it will be beautiful and colorful when I'm finished.

7. What I'm excited about...

LAST TRIMESTER!! I cannot WAIT to meet this girl! Someone gave me a BONNET today for her. Oh I love bonnets!!

8. What I'm watching/reading...

I am at this moment watching Teaching Mrs. Tingle (don't judge; it's hilarious). I am reading one of the best books I've ever read - "Love Does" by Bob Goff. Get yourself and your best friend a copy. I love how he talks about Scripture without quoting it with chapter:verse. It makes it more real.

9. What I'm listening to...

"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J.R.R. Tolkien. Loving it! Still wish every audio book was read by the guy who read the Harry Potter books.

10. What I'm wearing...

I have on a black t-shirt and comfy sweats today. I'll have to change in a bit because it's warmer outside than it is in my house.

11. What I'm doing this weekend...

I am going to cheer my husband on in his half marathon! I am so excited! I cannot wait but am nervous about navigating the city. He's always been such a support so I'm so anxious to be the best cheerleader for him!

12. What I'm looking forward to next month...

Nothing planned except summer reading activities. Lots of park time. Lots of rest time. Lots of boy time.

13. What else is new...

I don't think anything else is new. We've had enough new lately, which I'm thankful for because it really has lead me closer to God and made me rely fully on Him and I love that, but I'm ready for not new for a few months and then totally new with baby girl. ha!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dear Mama with the special needs kiddo(s) who thinks life is hard

Dear mama,
 Life is hard, isn't it? All those phone calls, medical terms (followed by insanely scary Google searches - stop it), doctor appointments, no-sleep nights because of the "what ifs" drifting in. It's overwhelming. To top it off, you actually have to be a mother and love, discipline, nurture, make food, take them places, socialize, eat (please eat), shower.
  I was lucky. Life was relatively normal for about 2 years into motherhood. I mean, it was hard but I thought that hard was normal (and to an extent, it is normal. ALL mothering is hard, special needs or not!). And then we got the diagnosis that made some of the hard better explained. Didn't make it harder or easier, but explained so we could do something about it.
  Then added on top of normal mothering stuff, we had the doctor appointments, therapies, trying out diets (that didn't work), fishing through quack doctors vs. real doctors. And we came to our new normal.
  It was hard. I am coming to the conclusion that it gets more difficult every year. When they're babies, you just do everything for them. Feed, change, feed, change, rock, feed, feed, change, play, read. But as they get older, they have their own ideas, their own attitudes, their own sins (which look an awful lot like your own, right?). Meltdowns, tantrums. And again, that's just the normal stuff! If you have a special needs kid, there is the "is this a meltdown or is this _________ (autism, medication, depression/anger from being different, blah blah blah)?"
  We just got our second diagnosis for our son, Moose. I was not expecting a second label on his life. Now, I love our neurologist because he told me (and I knew from his autism already) that the diagnosis doesn't change the kid. He is no different today than he was yesterday. The same is true for your kid. He or she has not changed with a diagnosis. To paraphrase Popeye, "they ares what they ares and that's all that they ares." And it does not change the key factor: you love them and God loves them even more. Even more!
  Sometimes it seems like we just want to question God in these circumstances. Why? Why? I understand and I don't think it's wrong to ask why because we are rational people and we want answers. That's why there is science and research and history and -ologies of all sorts! We are a people who long for answers. I don't have most of those for you (sorry, I don't even have them for myself). I do have ONE answer: Jesus Christ.
  Some days I wake up and am drowning in my doubts and my questions and my fear. Just breathing is hard (not to mention this baby that grows daily making breathing always more difficult LOL). Just surviving is hard. I am a mess. And then, I read His Word, speaking encouragement into my mess. Speaking beauty from these seemingly dense ashes. Speaking hope into our future. God is FOR us. God LOVES us. God LOVES my son (and my son and my daughter). God FIGHTS for us. God does allow hard things; this is a world that is broken with sin - that is a fact. He does NOT bring the sin or temptation on to us, but He is there to help us cope with it, fight it, flee from it, and to have victory over it. VICTORY! We are not called to have spirits of fear. We are not called to drown. We are called to take up His Word, His Sword, His Spirit and fight for freedom, for love, for hope, for charity, for justice, for faith.
  Pray to him. It's not hard, there's no formula, no right or wrong way to pray. Just talk to Him. He's listening and He wants to hear you. He wants to help you. Comfort you, encourage you.
  So I know it's hard and if you EVER need a shoulder to cry on, I have two. I'm happy to listen and share our experiences. But I do not have most answers, just one. Jesus. Lean in, lean hard, listen, love. He will guide your ways. He is the light on the path. He's our flashlight in the darkest of days. He loves you and your children.
 Love,
Randi

Sunday, April 19, 2015

His faithfulness in the hard

A month ago when Moose had his first seizure, it was a "normal" one. One we all think of - tremors, eyes rolled back - when we think of seizures. Over the past few weeks as we've learned more about seizures, we have wondered (at least I have) if we've been missing smaller seizures for a long while now.

Moose is a spacey kid. Moose is a sloth-y kid. What if those spacing out moments, those lolligagging moments aren't being spacey or sloth-like? What if they are seizures so small you don't notice? Or after affects of seizures (the fatigue)? Now, we don't (and aren't) want to beat ourselves up over this because we're only human and only so observant ourselves. But an observation nonetheless.

Yesterday Moose had a seizure around 2pm. I still see God's handling of this because I was not home from 10-1 and Big A was tending to the yard and garden at those times. We were all in the living room at 2pm when our son became unresponsive. Totally unresponsive. The moment was so unexpected, so benign, that I thought he was just ignoring me (I was asking him to match his socks). I threw a paper towel roll at him! And then I started to take it seriously. No response, no response, no response. Time is an interesting thing that can make mere minutes seem endless and terrifying.

We started for the ER. He could kind of walk but was just not....there. By the time we got in the ER, he was responsive and I think the nurses thought we were nuts at first because he seemed fine, if just a little sleepy. The doctor came and checked him out and confirmed our suspicions. He called it an absence seizure which makes perfect sense; our son was absent for those few minutes.

He slept for awhile and we took him home where he slept more. He was acting like himself so we decided to go for a drive and ended up at a really neat park at a neighboring town. Big A was pushing him on a merry-go-round while I was helping Squirt find little items in a nature hunt. And it happened again. Unresponsive, unresponsive. He wasn't as responsive even when he came out of this second episode. Had a harder time answering questions; seemed more lethargic. I called the hospital, which directed me to the doctor who I called who called another hospital and spoke with the pediatric neurologist we saw a few weeks ago.

It was decided to start Moose on anti-seizure medicine. Back to the hospital (what are the statistics of children getting sick on the weekends when pharmacies aren't open?). We started on the most benign, the one no one is allergic to, the one with seemingly small side effects (lethargy, possible mood alterations). We learned that pudding with a smashed pill in it feels/tastes like coconut pudding to Moose (he got it down but was not happy about it). We learned seizures make him so tired he's not even interested in eating (although his brother decided to have a growth spurt yesterday - I'm so hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry - while we visited the hospital).

We declined on him being observed in the hospital and played musical beds so I could observe Moose myself overnight (nothing to report except he talks in his sleep sometimes like I do). At 6:00 this morning, he woke up, his talkative self. Thank God! I may take his talkativeness and repeating for granted and get annoyed with it again, but for now I'm so thankful. He's here. He's responding. He took a big ol' pill this morning without complaint (better than coconut pudding, I think).

This episode made me think about all of the books about autism I've read and how a lot of those kids (some? most?) are "locked" in their own world. For some parents, this is their life with their child. I'm so sorry if this fits your life; it's scary and sad and I pray you find the hope of the Lord in this situation.

I know I'm very thankful for Moose's "big" seizure at school last month. Without it, would we have noticed (as readily) these "small" seizures? How long have they been going on? How long will they continue? Questions we face without easy answers, or any answers. But not questions we face alone. God allowed Moose's big seizure which made us aware. God has not allowed him to be harmed by these seizures (no head injuries or such). God has allowed us to see His hand at work in Moose's life and even in Squirt's (as he prayed for his brother on the first ER trip, he suggested something about maybe Satan has him and later I thanked him for praying, he said that he told Satan to "get behind me so he [Moose] could flee." Whether this is a medical or spiritual or both situation, it encouraged me to know that our son at 5 knows about spiritual warfare without us really teaching it to him and that he's aware that Satan has no power of followers of Christ.).

James 1:2-4 "Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." 

I asked God to help grow my character more like His and this wasn't what I had in mind, but I will take the opportunity. I know He loves my child more than I. I know He is sovereign over all. I know He has a plan. I will trust and wait to see it unfold.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook by Mike Berenstain (book review)

We love the Berenstain Bear books around here. I've been reading them since I was a child and I love reading them to my children. They are some of the most helpful social stories, in my opinion.

I was excited to get to read "The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook (Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult)" by Mike Berenstain because I love when my boys help me in the kitchen. They do not do so with as much enthusiasm as when they were just a few years younger. Moose was still hesitant to help me but Squirt was VERY excited about this cookbook. He flipped through it and decided on a few dishes to make. I didn't have the ingredients for all of them so we had to pick and choose.

image via BookSneeze

We ended up making a Shepherd's Pie first. It was really good and very easy. Squirt helped me put the ingredients together and in no time, we sat down to a delicious kid and mom made meal. It was just fun to make something simple with him. I would use this recipe for a new baby meal, too. Very filling. I did add frozen peas to the recipe, which the book didn't call for, but I like to make things a little more nutritious when I can.

The next time we used the cookbook, we made Sub Sandwiches. I didn't have sub buns so I made some small french loaves. We mostly didn't follow this recipe, I guess - not using tomato (on the kids') or green peppers, but I did add bacon (so much for that nutritious stuff, right?). But the idea came from this book!

When I decide to take birthday treats to school for the boys, I would like to make the Race Car Cookies, which are chocolate covered wafers with chocolate covered caramels with Sprees as the wheels and fruit roll-up type things cut up for decoration. I know Moose would get a kick out of them, and maybe even agree to help me make them!

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may or may not be the same.

The Legacy by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley (book review)

Awhile ago I reviewed "The Desire" by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley and loved the characters and plot in the story - Christina being pregnant and not knowing what to do, Marilyn taking her under her wing, Michele wanting a baby so badly and not being physically able to carry one. I loved how the authors tied their stories together with exactly what God ties our stories together with: love, grace, forgiveness, and more love.
image via amazon.com

When the opportunity to read "The Legacy" by Walsh and Smalley came up, I was very excited. This story revolves around Marilyn's youngest child, Doug, and how his life has been very far from the God his parents have found relationships with. Christina is involved, heavily, in this story, and we also get to see the adoption story with Michele play out fully in this.

As often with novels, this plot wasn't hard to follow or figure out the ending to. However, that doesn't detract from the tale. Who doesn't love a happy ending, regardless of if you see it coming or not?

Walsh and Smalley have found a sweet spot in their writing, sharing the love of God with their readers. Just beautifully written dialogue and character development. I really enjoy reading them and would like to go back and read the first two books in this Restoration Series.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may or may not share my opinions. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

neurologist, EKG, EEG

This past Tuesday is when we took Moose to see a pediatric neurologist. We really liked Dr. K; thought he had a great bedside manner, especially with Moose. It takes some patience and persistence to have a conversation with this kiddo, but the doc did.

Very observant guy, too. He noticed a slight curvature in Moose's back and that one leg is longer than another. We'll have that PT appointment to look forward to in the near future. Dr. K also said I would not make it to my due date; so we'll see on that one, too.

Moose did so well behaviorally. It was kind of amazing. He not only did well in the appointment with Dr. K but also endured an EKG and EEG that same day. I was talking to his teacher this morning and she observed (and I agree) that Moose holds it together really well during school and sometimes on Fridays you can see him coming apart at the seams. I'm sure it takes great energy from him to seem so "normal" so often, but he does a wonderful job of it.

We did get results back from the EEG and are going to go have an MRI done after some wave activity was seen in the first test. This could mean seizures or it could not; I hate to jump to conclusions before having all of our ducks in a row. I guess now it's a waiting game for this new test and results.

Whatever may happen, we know God is in control. He made Moose just how He wanted to make him, seizures or not. I trust in that hope, always.

I'll leave you with pictures of the boys. I haven't shared any in awhile on here.

Faces painted like Lego Ninjago characters - Cole and Kai

a nice day in January (I need to take more pics of them!)

Also in January...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sand in My Sandwich (and other motherhood messes I'm learning to love) by Sarah Parshall Perry

I like reading memoir-type books about mothers with autism spectrum kiddos. It's a comfort to know I'm not alone in this jungle of ASD weirdness. "Sand in My Sandwich (and other motherhood messes I'm learning to love)" by Sarah Parshall Perry was right up my alley. She's got two kids on the spectrum (and her gender numbers will be the same as our own: 2 boys, 1 girl).

image via amazon.com

There were many places in the book where I was shaking my head in agreement. She uses a pretty well-known quote in ASD circles that is: if you know one autistic kid, you know one autistic kid. Which basically means that they are all so different. I know 4 kids around my son's age with autism and not one of them seems to be exactly the same (and really very little overlap of tics & such). However, in "Sand in My Sandwich" I felt like Perry used a lot of blanket statements for autistic kids rather than pinpointing these were specific to her kids. She also said Asperger's is high-functioning autism which (in my knowledge) untrue. Asperger's has both high and low functioning kids; same with autism. They are on the same spectrum but different issues (think a rainbow with different colors). That always bothers me to hear because my son's diagnosis is autism so if Asperger's is "high-functioning" autism, then it correlates that my son is not high functioning - which he is. Maybe just a mincing of words but irritating to me nonetheless.

Beyond that Perry really was open and honest with her journey from controlled perfectionist single woman to mother with children whom she can't control completely. I am on my own journey as such (although my singleness did not contribute to this as it was a short time in my life) and it's HARD. I'm learning to let God take control of SO much of my life; and some parts I fight tooth and nail to control until I'm knocked on my rear.

This really was a good book to read. Not super heavy but something I could relate to. I appreciate books like this a lot.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest opinion. Others' opinions may differ from my own.

Q&A a Day Journal (book review)

I have been a diary keeper and journal writer since 4th grade. I had an electronic Dear Diary and a red journal (I believe it was a coca-cola one) with a lock & key. I kept all of my personal secrets in there - who I had crushes on, how mean my sister or cousin was, how awesome my sister or cousin was. Everything. I've had varying colors, styles, but none since 4th grade with a lock. Even in my early years of motherhood, I've kept a journal. I even keep a journal for each of my children and my husband, although none of them reads the ones I keep for them and I'm not as diligent with theirs. I tried to do a DIY Q&A journal for my kids and I've been terrible at keeping up. 

image via amazon.com
I have been a diary keeper and journal writer since 4th grade. I had an electronic Dear Diary and a red journal (I believe it was a coca-cola one) with a lock & key. I kept all of my personal secrets in there - who I had crushes on, how mean my sister or cousin was, how awesome my sister or cousin was. Everything. I've had varying colors, styles, but none since 4th grade with a lock. Even in my early years of motherhood, I've kept a journal. I even keep a journal for each of my children and my husband, although none of them reads the ones I keep for them and I'm not as diligent with theirs. I tried to do a DIY Q&A journal for my kids and I've been terrible at keeping up. 

I love the idea of a 5 year journal! I love seeing growth in my children and myself, so I would love documented proof of this. I really like the Q&A journal and would like to get the children's versions for my kids. I think they are old enough now (the older two, of course) to write one sentence about their day or something. Just an idea.

The only thing I dislike about the Q&A journal are some of the questions are cheesy. Who is your enemy? What?! Enemy?! What am I, a queen? I don't really have enemies. There were just a few silly questions, but I suppose I could cross them out and come up with my own if they are too hokey.  What I'd really love is a Christian version of this journal to see the growth in my spiritual life. 

Disclaimer: I received this Q&A journal in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may not match my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Can Learn the Bible by Holly Hawkins Shivers (book review)

Confession: we have more children's devotionals than we've read or are likely to read. Wow. Good to get that off my chest. Now, I didn't buy all of these devotionals so it was never my intention to have this many. We are also not consistent in reading devotionals - we've tried breakfast time, after school, bed time and we just haven't found a time that works for us.

However, do not let our lack of diligence keep you from continuing to read this review of "I Can Learn the Bible" by Holly Hawkins Shivers. The subtitle of the book is "52 Scriptures Every Kid Should Know." Now, I believe this is a subjective look because there are SO many verses from the Bible kids (and adults) should know.

image via BookLook
Part of my family's problem with devotionals has been the format of the devos. Usually there is one verse and then a story to go along with maybe a little blurb at the end a la Aesop's Fables. The lesson. The format is just one of the things I really like about this "I Can Learn the Bible" book. There is a verse (most of them well known like Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruits of the Spirit) for each week (I also like it's split into weeks vs. days...probably for folks like us). But then it's different - the book talks to you as the reader (and your kids as listeners) to explain the verse(s). Sometimes they do use a story but I haven't felt that the stories were A) so long my kids stop listening or B) irrelevant.

I just feel that the author has really taken the time to explain in a kid-friendly way but not dumbed-down way about the verses! Week 8 has "Continue to ask, and God will give to you. Continue to search, and you will find. Continue to knock, and the door will open for you." - Matthew 7:7. And the explanation is: "Because you are hiding God's Word in your heart...you know that God speaks to you through the Bible. But how do you speak to Him? That's right - you pray! Think about it for a second. You...you can talk to the God of the universe. You can talk to the Maker of heaven and earth, the One who made you, the Great I Am. Wow! That is a very cool thought!" I love how simply it's put and yet profound. It really is profound and amazing to think how we can talk to God.

My children are 5 and 7 right now, but I feel like this is a resource that I'll be able to use for the new baby and for my boys as they continue to grow. This devotional is different, more connected to how real life works and how kids think, than others I've read. I'm excited to continue to go through it with my boys (and girl).

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' may not share my opinions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More (from messes to miracles) by Tammie Head (book review)

I'll be honest with you all; I've been in a spiritual funk lately. Both my husband and I realized that we don't feel that close to the Lord lately - not really sure why. Even one of my best friends admitted that she'd felt the same way but was very peaceful when a song had lyrics about God "still" being there. With these thoughts in my head, I began to read "More (from messes to miracles)" by Tammie Head.

Who doesn't want more? And more of the One who made "everything and everyone" (as my children pray every meal)?! Even better.
image via Icon Media

I felt a connection with this author, Tammie Head. I understand some of her past and she seems very authentic in her faith. She just spoke some words (wrote some words?) that pierced my heart. She spoke about how self-centered/egotistical we can become; like our lives revolve around us and only us. "We focus on ourselves, we focus on our problems we focus on our pasts, we focus on our fears, we focus on our failures, we focus, focus, focus, on everything but Christ." Phew! Anyone else look around to see if it's just them?! Well it must not be if it's written in plain English in a book! She goes on, "Then, we wonder why our faith isn't working. And why we're such a mess. Our eyes are fixed on the wrong things! Somewhere we quit beholding Jesus. It's time to look back up." The weight that came off of my shoulders as I read this, I tell you what. Just to come to an understanding that my feeling far from the Lord is probably a lot to do with my focus!

image via Icon Media

I feel a lot like Head where she claims she was so busy inside the church that she wasn't connecting with people (and connecting people with Jesus) outside of the church. I'm honestly not that involved at the moment in a church ministry, but I have spent time reading books and the Bible and watching studies but not connecting to people. The Bible says without love we are a resounding gong. I feel that in my life because, not only have I not been loving people, but I've hardly noticed them to love!

There were other gems in this book but I would love for you to consider reading it yourself. The format could kind of jump around but I never felt it was spacey, just intentional. I just felt a burden lifted as I continued to read through the book. It pointed me back to Jesus, back to the Bible, back to basics. Sometimes when we're mature enough to go on to the "meaty" stuff, we still need to go back to drink the "milk" to continually fill up on that Living Water.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may vary from my own.

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