Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sense in the Senseless

There is no rhyme or reason anymore. . .
We struggle to understand how someone could harm small children, we weep with families who are facing sudden, unexpected loss and yet in the midst of this, we hear stories of heroism. 
We hear about teachers who blocked bathroom doors as best they could and helped their students stay calm and quiet and then were able to reunite them with their parents. 

There is no rhyme or reason, no answers... at least none that will satisfy our hearts and minds. 
Gun control?  Maybe, but to what extent.  Better mental health services so parents who have children in need of help have more options, that don't include jail or juvenile hall?  ABSOLUTELY!  Autism restrictions - NO!  This sad, hurting young man was mentally ill and in need of our help, not our condemnation.  He leaves behind a father and brother both struggling to figure out how to help and how to live with the aftermath he left behind.  He leaves behind more questions than answers and a nation reeling with shock that someone could possibly hurt children and those who had nothing to do with his problems.

I don't want to fight, I don't want to point fingers, there are no winners in these debates.  I do believe we need more mental health care facilities, and they need to be created to be more affordable.  Do I believe that Autism means violence?  Not in every case, I think there were factors going on that may have played a part.  I know several families who have children with Asperger's, some of whom struggle to control their anger and one whose son I can see doing something like this because he has no impulse control and often retaliates against his siblings.   But in the end, no matter what the reason was for this tragedy it happened.  Answers will not bring back those lost, nor will they really offer comfort to the families struggling.

No rhyme, no reason, only questions and empty answers remain.  So I snuggle my girls a little tighter and thank God I home school them.  I offer up extra prayer for those grieving the lost children and adults in Connecticut.  But it all seems hollow and inadequate. 

Have a good week,
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Crying


Crying.   I hate crying, even now.  But not for the reasons I used to dislike it so much.  I hate how it makes my face look red, swollen, and puffy and my nose all stuffy.  But that wasn't always my reason for hating to cry.

When I was younger, to cry meant you were weak - especially among my peers in elementary and middle school.  It earned me a seat at the head of the "let's make this persons life miserable" line.  I got good and keeping my emotions in check, unless I was very upset, then I would cry and it wasn't a big deal.

Then I met Chris and we got married and I became pregnant with Elizabeth and something bizarre happened.  Into my second trimester I began to cry at the drop of a hat.  Frustrated, I would cry.  I would see a dead cat at the side of the road, I would cry.  I would watch a sappy romantic comedy I would cry.  It got to the point where Chris blocked the Lifetime Movie Network, because I would always cry.   The real rub was that I knew I was being irrational which of course, meant I cried even more.  I cried in frustration when we moved my Mom to Wichita, and it took me forever to stop crying.  I think I freaked my friend Dave Egan out, he had never seen me cry and suddenly I couldn't stop - which made me cry even harder.  LOL, I was a hormonal mess. 

Thankfully with my pregnancy with Rebekah I realized I wasn't in control so it wasn't as frustrating if I wanted to cry.  Here's the thing, now I have children and things that would normally have never made me cry before make me cry now.  I even found myself crying at some happy moment during a stupid children's cartoon!!!  It wasn't even a good Disney cartoon movie, it was a B cartoon movie at the very least!  Thankfully, with this new found sense of freedom to cry comes a more mellow sense of humor.  Things that I would not have found humorous when I was younger, now make me laugh. 
I can laugh with my friends about things like smelling children's bottoms, or how children never want your attention until you are on the phone. 

Children change you.  Often in visible ways, those jeans you used to wear suddenly don't fit like they used to and probably won't ever again.  But they also change who you are inside.  There comes a transition for many moms and dads, it's different for everyone, but there comes a point where it's no longer about you, and your world begins to revolve around these amazing little people that God puts you in charge of to raise to be preferably civilized human beings.  If you do it right your children grow up with a heart for God, knowing how important it is to pray for others and help when they see a need, and if you are really lucky, they grow up to become amazing men and women we can be proud to call our children. 

Being a parent isn't easy.  Children do not go home from the hospital with a manual on what to do if this happens or who to call when things get crazy, maybe they should.  We are all learning as we go and figuring out how to raise our children.  Heaven knows there are plenty of people out there who think they have it figured out.  But if you are really, truly and honestly lucky you don't just raise your children, they get to help finish raising you and change you in a profound way that will never leave you.

I hope you all have a good weekend.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Confessions of a Mom


I admit it!  I know it may not be a good thing and maybe it didn't set a very Christ like example, but I'm the angry woman who ripped into a couple who brought their child to church WITH RSV!!!!

Elizabeth was a newborn and had been really sick all winter long.  It had been a while since we had made it to church and I really, really wanted to go.  I loaded her up and took her to the nursery and sat in church, but this nagging feeling kept at me and so I went down a few moments before church got out and there is a mom comforting her child who is red with fever and has a barky cough I recognized right away RSV. 

If this had been Beka, I might not have worried, but this was Elizabeth and we had been in and out of the ER for months battling one thing after the other and it always, always went straight to her chest.  She was miserable, I was miserable, Chris was missing work and here was this woman who brought her child to church sick?!  And Lizzie was sitting in a worker's lap next to this person and her child. 

I lost it and ripped into the mom for being rude and disrespectful enough to bring a child to church who was obviously sick and told her to she needed to take her baby to the ER, immediately.  From a distance I could see her child struggling to breath and I could hear her rattling.  I put the mom's ear to her child's back and told her to listen.  Then I had her listen to Lizzie, who happened to be clear at the time.  She immediately got up and rushed out and I'm presuming she rushed straight to the ER.    Hopefully, her baby was okay, but sure enough a few days later, we too were at the doctor's office.  That was the point when Elizabeth's pediatrician called our insurance and demanded that they purchase us a nebulizer for Elizabeth.  Ten visits in a short time was causing her to worry. 

What is the point of me sharing this?  This is my point... not every one is blessed to have a child with a strong immune system.  There are children born with liver, kidney, blood, heart and the list goes on in the names of diseases.  When you knowingly take your child to a family function or to a friend's house who has a child who has these diseases you put that child at risk.  This also goes for children who are post transplant.  There is a reason why some of my friends and I don't get to see each other often, they have a sick child and as a parent who spent years battling the Asthma Monster I get how important it is to keep your illness from a child whose immune system may or may not be so great. 

So the next time you have a holiday or family gathering coming up - if your child becomes ill think about the people in your family.  Is there a baby who was born prematurely?  They would be very susceptible to catching your child's illness and getting it worse than your child.  Does anyone have a child with asthma, allergies, a weak respiratory system, liver disease, kidney disease. . .I think you get my point. 

I hope you all have a happy healthy holiday season.  But let's think before making a selfish choice please. . . your choices impact other's lives.

In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Improvements and Road Rage


Today we had Lizzie's check up with the pediatric opthamologist.  While I love her doctor and as a rule I don't mind a drive (we drive normally 20 minutes from Everett to Redmond), I do have one pet peeve.  Being late.

I really, really, really dislike being late.  I prefer to be early, but I have children so let's be honest, that doesn't happen often these days.  I'm lucky if we make it on time or just a moment or so late.  Today though my navigation system decided to take me on the scenic route.  So what should have been a 30 minute drive at the most, turned into over an hour long drive with me stuck behind cars driving three miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone.  I was less than thrilled.  Especially when I thought I'd forgotten my phone at home so I couldn't call Dr. Lenart's office and let them know we were running later than usual.  Thankfully, I found my cell phone in my back pocket once I arrived, but it didn't improve my mood when we were in the office for all of five minutes and then done. 

Now I'm not one of those people who is going to get out of my car and start yelling at people.  That does not however, stop me from growling or muttering not so softly about driving.  You know it's not that I want to speed, I would just like to drive the actual posted speed limit!  I don't think I'm asking too much.  So no more listening to the GPS device, we will always take the highway, I leave earlier than needed anyway for a reason - I don't want to be late.  My time and the doctor's time is valuable.

Okay off my venting soap box.  On the good side, Elizabeth's vision has improved a line from 20/60 to 20/60.  This is good, because it means the letting her play video games, or doing school while she patches is helping her, which we needed to know.   And now we don't go back until January to see if we can make more progress with her vision.  For now we keep patching until we hit a plateau or it stops improving all together.

Oh and I discovered that when you are annoyed and driving, listening to Red isn't such a good idea.  It just agitated me more, Taylor Swift on the other hand, was more calming and I was able to take a few deep breaths. 

I hope you all have a good week.
 In Christ,
Maureen


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Single Parent Homes Equal Deprived?!

A woman asked about any other mom's doing the single parent thing who had children with severe illnesses today.  It's a good question, can you do it?  Absolutely, I know several single mom's whose children face Biliary Atresia or Autism and other health concerns who are have little to no support from the other parent. 

I grew up in a single parent home.  We didn't always have the money to do the stuff everyone else did, but we had a mom who would have done anything for us and would fight to the death to keep us safe.  Okay so Christmas wasn't a grand, financially extravagant vacation for most of my years, but it was for my brother and sister for several years when Mom was teaching, until health concerns made it too difficult for her to continue.  And you know what, I am more grateful and well balanced than my siblings.  I grew up understanding that we don't always get what we want from life without working hard.  While I spent my teen years babysitting to pay for what I wanted to do with our youth group or school activities, Matt and Meg didn't do this.  Instead they chose to gripe, and moan about how we were broke. 

I learned that hard work and determination will take you far.  Matthew has a great work ethic, because he realized Mom wasn't going back to teaching full time and he had to buy what he wanted himself.  However, Mom did do this.  She was home everyday when we got home.  If we were sick, even though we didn't have health insurance she made sure we went to the doctor - she kept how bad off we were from us as long as possible.  She also made sure we were able to enjoy the little things.

Christmas while not rich in gifts was rich with family, good cooking and memories I will carry with me for a long time to come.  I spent years taking piano lessons and I even got to study voice in college, which Mom encouraged me to do.  I may not have had the latest trends in clothing, but I had something better, clothes made with love by my mom and my Grandmother.  I still cherish and refuse to share the quilt my Grandma Taylor made, because it is made from snippets of clothing she made for my family over the years.  Swatches from Matthews jam shorts, Mom's dresses so she would look nice for work when she finished her Master's Degree in Chapter One Reading, Christmas dresses for Meg and I.  Those are memories that no amount of money will ever replace.

Would it have been a little easier to grow up in a house with two parents?  Absolutely, but we didn't and what we may have lacked in money, my mom more than made up for in love.

If that makes me deprived, then so be it, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween with Special Needs


Halloween 2004, Elizabeth had just turned three years old, Chris was deployed and we didn't know it, but she had Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specifice, an Autism Spectrum Disorder.   All I knew at this point was that she was our little Monkey, with lots of smiles, but also with lots of tantrums, head banging, and frustration on all of our parts. 

So before Halloween I spent a month trying to teach her how to say, "Trick or treat."  We worked, and worked and worked, but by Halloween, nothing was happening.  So we dressed up and I told her to use her manners.  Manners have always been really important to my family, so even as an infant I was showing the girls to use please and thank you.  I never expected that it would save our hearts and butts this Halloween. 

My mom followed us in our car and we began our walks.  The first few houses I was worried.  The bigger kids were practically mowing her over, she was three but the size of an 18 month old.  So we kept plugging away.  At first, I would say trick or treat for her, but then she realized she was supposed to say something, so she said the only thing she could say clearly in this situation.  "Pwease!"  Something shifted, people loved her Pwease and Pwetty Pwease and some watched in horror as the older kids shoved her down or out of the way. . . Empathy hit their hearts and the good candy came out.  I became less anxious, somehow they understood she couldn't say what the other kids were saying.  They smiled, they gave her more candy than the others and smiled when she said "Fank you."

That year Elizabeth made out like a bandit.  I think it took, Mom and I a couple of months before we realized, we just had to throw it out already because she got more candy than even the three of us could eat or should eat.   She loved going out and by the next year Sarah lived with us and she was able to watch and learn and her speech was improving and we didn't know it, but Halloween 2005 was our last year to trick or treat without knowing what was going on with Lizzie. 

This year there will be many children coming to your door.  Some of them will speak, some of them won't know what to say, try to remember - each child has a different story going on behind the scary or adorable costume they have on.  Maybe all you will here is a please or a thank you, try to ask yourself, "If I had a child with limited or no speech what would happen?"  You would be anxious, worried, and probably frustrated. 

Now we do a little trick or treating, not a lot, but when we go, we go over the rules.  I thought I would share them with you so if you see some of it, you might understand better.

Our Halloween Rules:
1.  No knocking on doors with the lights out.  They are not participating and it's rude to not respect their decision.
2.  One piece of candy (sometimes Mommy had to help them) unless they tell you to take more. 
3.  You don't ask for more candy, there are a lot of other children who would like some candy too.
4.  Use your please and thank you. 
5.  Look people in the eye when saying please and thank you.  It's important and polite.
6.  Watch out for smaller children, and be helpful if someone falls.  You would want someone to help you if you fell down.
7.  Stay close to Mommy or Daddy, it's important to stay safe from strangers.

I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween.  We are staying inside this year, because I lost my voice, but don't worry I'll be buying candy for the girls.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Discipline. BLEH!


I have started doing a parenting devotional each day thanks to YouVersion's Bible app on my cellphone.  I really like it a lot.  I am learning and refreshing some lessons I think I may have become too complacent on.

One of those things is follow through.  So after feeling convicted I have started cracking down on the girls.  Now Elizabeth knows if Mommy tells her something it's a good idea to listen.  Rebekah though is five years old so she's still learning.  And that means that today I am the mean, mean mommy. 

Discipline is important.  The Bible tells us this in several places and God disciplined the Israelites.  He also showed them grace and mercy until he realized they were never, ever going to listen unless he proved he meant what he said, hence the exile into Babylon. 

Even now, I hate hearing the girls cry, even if they are crying because I have had to ground them, or swat their tushies.  And yes, Sarah I even hated hearing you cry.  In fact, there were a lot of times I would have to ground Sarah, she would go to her room and cry and my heart was torn.  On one hand, she was being rude and disrespectful, so punishment was needed, but she's my daughter and I love her.  I hate seeing her upset.  And yet, I have to discipline the girls, not because I'm mean, but because I love them and want them to grow up and stay out of prison and also understand that rules are important.    But even more importantly, I want them to grow up to be love God and to live by what he asks of us.    If my girls can't listen and obey Chris and I, then how can I expect them to obey and listen to God when they grow up? 

Do you have an area where God is speaking to you about your parenting?  Do you find yourself struggling to maintain order and structure at home?  I know some days we struggle to the point where Chris gets involved and that is never a pretty picture.   Although, he is excellent about making sure after he punishes them that they know that he loves them, but they have to obey.

I hope you all have a great week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sisters

Me, Matthew, and Meg (she's the littlest shepherd)
 
Darkness pervades the house.  I lay in bed listening to the silence and finally I can't take it anymore.  I get out of bed and slowly make my way to my mom's room.  She isn't there, she is sleeping these days at the hospital because Matthew is fighting for his life.  I expect to crawl into her bed and fall asleep but it's already occupied.  My sister, home from her own hospital stay thanks to a car accident that took our Grandma Taylor's life and a month later our Grandma Schultz (the stress caused her final and fatal heart attack). 
 
Our house isn't really home these days, it's a shell.  Silence is everywhere.  I usually wait until I can no longer stay awake before I finally give in to sleep.  And even then sleep is fleeting because well meaning people call, they all want answers.  Sometimes I have the answers, but mainly it's all a wait and see what happens game.  It's hard and worse, it often feels like I'm trying to take it all on alone. 
 
So this night I cave in and just crawl in beside Meg.  We lay there silent for awhile then begin talking.  We talk about being scared, how sleeping in Mom's bed helps us feel closer to her.  We are scared Matthew will die, we are scared Mom will have another heart attack, we are scared that life may never feel normal again.  And for a while we are united in our fear.
 
 
For the past few years Meg and I have walked very different paths.  I am going to college, working, trying to help Mom make ends meet.  Meg is busy blowing of high school and following Matthew's former example of drugs and rebellion, but for that small time we are united. 
 
The years have passed, we've still walked different paths but as we've gotten older we are finding more common ground.  We both enjoy writing, love our children, and time has brought wisdom for each of us.   Don't misunderstand me we still do not see eye to eye on many things, but we are working on using our commonalities to forge a friendship.    We won't always agree, but we are learning to agree to disagree.  The moments in the dark when we held on to each other beginning to weave a clothe of sisterhood and encouraging us to become something we've always struggled to do - become a family.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where Do You Turn?



Barking!  The sound draws me straight up.  I can hear it from 50 miles away.  Lizzie's asthma is flaring or she is sick and it's gone straight to her chest.  And yet, in comparison with so many I'm meeting in Liver Land, thanks to my friends who have children who fight Biliary Artresia, we are lucky. 

We don't live in the hospital.  We used to have a small army of specialists and teachers working with her to help her with her Asthma, Allergies, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Amblyopia.  Those are a lot of A's there.  While we worry and wonder what the future holds for our girl, none of it comes even close to those battling cancer, BA, or many diseases that ravage and destroy children and families everywhere. 

And yet, while we don't face the same diagnosis, we are finding kindred spirits in Liver Land, Cancer Land and other disease.  Our children and loved one face different challenges, but it all still rings true.  Parents scared for their children.  Parents left to watch helplessly as we leave our children in the hands of doctor's and nurses, teachers and therapists, people who become our families away from our families. 

We all face challenges.  No ones challenge is worse or better when you break it down to a simple truth.  Someone we love is sick, different, or both.  From Downs Syndrome to B.A. to Autism to Preemies, we all have to fight to let God have our children.

As a parent our first instinct is to try and fix it, but what do you do when you can't fix what's going on in your child?  What do you do when everything that needs to be done, has been done, and it either hasn't made the connection yet or it hasn't worked?  Where do you turn? 

Of all the things we battle with Lizzie, we have found one truth fundamentally necessary.  We have to give her to God and trust that his plan for her is bigger than our own.  And in some ways this is terrifying, but in others it calming.  If God can create the Earth in seven days, send his son to us via a virgin and even walk on water or heal those who are ill, what can't he do for our babies. 

There really isn't a main rhyme or reason in this post, just thoughts racing in my head. 

Where do you turn when it all feels like it's consuming?

In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Abandonment


I have Fear of Abandonment.  There I admitted it.  Fear of Abandonment occurs when a child loses a parent at a young age (like I did) or after a traumatic divorce, etc. . . there are several reasons that can cause it.  Some parents who have chronically ill children often struggle with it as well.

When I was younger my greatest fear was that my mom would die and I'd be left without a parent.  Not an absurd fear since my dad died suddenly when I was five years old.  As I got older and then married and had children I struggled with worrying about Chris and the girls.   I do what I can, and spend a lot of time praying about it and giving my family to God to keep the fear from ruling my life.  However, occasionally fear rears its ugly head. 

A few months ago, Chris and I had it all set up to go away for a quiet weekend together just the two of us.  Sarah is living in Idaho so we were asking a college student who we know from one of Lizzie's friends here in the apartment complex to stay with the girls.  Then a few days before we were supposed to leave I had a horrible nightmare.  I dreamed that someone shot Beka and I was only on the phone and helpless to help her and Chris didn't understand what was happening.  I woke up sobbing and even now it still shakes me up, just writing about it. 

But here is the truth. . . we can't stop what is going to happen.  When it is some one's time to go, it's their time to go.  All I can do is love my family and acknowledge that God is in control and keep praying and giving my family over to him and trust He will take care of them.   We all have fears, things that scare the crud out of us.  I've shared one of mine.  No matter what your fear, no matter what trial you are facing - God is there.  And he will take care of you and your family, even when it doesn't feel like it's going to be okay.

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heart of Worship

I grew up singing.  My mom says, I was singing before I could speak in full sentences.  I also love to sing for church.  I have sung in a Karoake bar once, but it never felt right.  Somehow, if I am not singing to glorify God, singing just doesn't seem like home.  I wouldn't have it any other way either.

As a teen growing up, I enjoyed singing in choir, solos, and then I got to college and tried a semester as a music major.  Several things happened that changed my course in life.  First, it was the catty attitude I noticed and the spirit of competition.  It wasn't a kind spirit, it was mean and vicious and that alone was enough to deter me from pursuing music.  I sing because I love it, it's a part of who I am, not because I want to be better than everyone else.  Second, my TMJ came back with a vengance.  When my TMJ flares up, my jaws clench, I am in agony and become light and sound sensitive, which stinks big time, because it means I can't even stand to listen to music, I just want quiet, darkness and I don't want to move.  By the time I finished one semester as a music major I didn't sing for a year after leaving college.  It took that long before I was ready to consider singing again. 

Then I got older, I got married, I had Elizabeth and I found that while singing in choir was still fun, that it was more important that I take care of Elizabeth.  In that time, I also began to learn something about the importance of talent, versus the importance of having a heart for worship.  In our choir, several years ago was a man who was flat, he sang loudly and proudly but he was flat.  Many choir members took turns sitting in front of him (me included), and tried our best to not let him take us down with him.  But as I sat in the congregation I realized something,  all the talent in the world does not make up for anything if you are just singing to sing.  This man who by our standards was subpar, sang with great gusto and a great love of God.  His only goal was to sing and make a joyful noise to the Lord, and surely that was more important than making a pretty noise. 

It reminded me of the woman who was poor who came and brought her last coins to pay her tithe.  In all likelihood, this woman would go home and have nothing to eat and possibly even die, but for her it was more important to serve God and give him what was rightfully his.  Just as in the parable of the servants given talents by their master it is more important to use the talents God gives us, it is more important that when you come to God and sing, it is with a heart of worship than a heart that wants to impress others.   

Dear Papa,
Please help us as we come before you to bring a heart of worship.  Help us remember you'd rather we come with the heart of a child than a voice of talent and that you will love that more than a beautiful, but soulless sound any day of the week.

Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Top Ten Reasons to Not Totally Hate Summer




Summer has come to Washington.  Yesterday, we got up into the 90's and many people fled to stores and the mall as well as play areas with air conditioning to stay cool.  I know it might sound funny to many of you, but for most of my friends in Washington, cooler weather is what they know.

I grew up in Oklahoma and Kansas - not quite as warm as say living in San Antonio, TX or Arizona, but when it got hot in the summer it got HOT!  Triple digit heat is hot regardless of it being a dry heat or a wet heat.  Although, Chris assures me there is a difference, because being in Iraq was more bearable for him than Kuwait where he said, the humidity coming off the ocean was so heavy it made it almost impossible to walk, much less breathe.   Either way, I LOVE the weather in Washington.  I don't care about the rain, or that it stays overcast.  Being far sighted means my eyes are somewhat light sensitive.  Chris, Sarah and Beka all have light colored eyes, so for them the overcast skies are wonderful and mean less need for sunglasses year round. 

However, there is a down side to this normally cooler weather.  No central air conditioning in most of the homes.  This means one the days when summer does show up and it gets past 80 in Washington and in the Puget Sound, it isn't just hot, it's hot without air conditioning.  UGH!  Today is going to be one of those days.  And the worst part is I live near a pond, but it won't help at the highest temperatures of the day.  It just means the water will tease us, because it's too nasty to swim in - ducks, geese, frogs, fish - they all use the bathroom in that water and there are leeches.  I am not swimming in that, no matter how hot it gets.  Chris hates the idea of swimming in the ocean or sea because there are dead people in it, and sharks.  I have to admit, I'd really prefer to swim in a swimming pool myself - preferably and indoor one if possible so I'm not sweltering to death while in the water that is supposed to cool me down.

All of the heat aside, though there are things I do enjoy about summer weather.  Enjoy my top ten reasons to enjoy summer:

1.  You get to sleep in, at least you do if your kids aren't in year round schooling.

2. Ice cream - need I say more.

3.  Sandals and flip flops - I love sandals and flip flops and not needing socks to keep my feet warm. 
But I don't love them enough to really ever love summer.  I can tolerate it though - after all, it isn't as if I have a say in whether or not summer comes to the U.S, right?

4.  Sundresses - it was and always will be one of the reasons I will love summer.  I love seeing my girls in cute little sundresses having a good time.

5. Iced tea - I like my hot tea in the cooler weather, but I also love iced tea - especially when it's fresh from brewing.

6.  Picnics - especially when said picnics are the pre-show to some awesome 4th of July fireworks.

7.  Swimming - again I would rather it be indoor and air conditioned in the inside area, but at some point, swimming is swimming and helps keep you cooler than you'd be if you were not in water, right?  Right.

8.  Summer evenings spent with the girls playing until it gets dark.  I loved summer as a kid when we could play outside while Mom and Grandma Taylor would visit - we'd ride bikes and find things to keep us occupied while the weather was cooler.

9.  Camps - Family camp, kids camp - both were a part of my childhood.  For years we went to Anadarko, OK for Camp Meeting and children's camp.  It was fun, I got to see a lot of old and new faces and heard some great music (even if it was Southern Gospel music, I enjoyed it), heard some amazing sermons and got to spend long lazy summer evening eating sno cones and listening to Mom and her friends laugh and have a good time playing Skip-Bo or Uno while they caught up and talked about life.

10.  SNO CONES!!!!!!!!  If you haven't ever had the privilege of a sno cone, I am so sorry.  Granted you probably don't know what your missing, but childhood isn't really complete without trying a sno cone. 

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, August 13, 2012

Unexpected Roads

Family colors our lives in many ways.  All of us know this, sometimes the lack of family colors our lives, how we interact with others.  Maybe it colors how you interact with people, maybe it colors how you view families importance.

My family is sometimes a brutally honest family.  My younger siblings show this to the nth degree.  Sometimes it's good, sometimes it ends with us yelling at each other because someone said something without tempering with grace.  One of the things we were all three taught though was prayer is important, no prayer is too large or too small for God.  And that all people need help, no matter what.

Sometimes I find I struggle to remember that not everyone was raised this way.  Not everyone thinks that no matter where you are prayer is very important.  And yet, it is because I hold this belief that a prayer group was opened.  It's not really my prayer group, I just happened to get it going - this one is all God's baby.

 A few weeks ago, I posted a prayer request on a prayer group for an individually named child.  The baby I requested prayer for is in need of a heart transplant.  Without this, she will die.  There is no ifs about it, without a transplant, this beautiful little girl will pass away and leave her family devastated.   And so I posted a request for prayer on the praying page for another little girl.  It wasn't meant to detract for the other child's plight, but this child's mother had had years to finally get things going on Facebook, the baby's family was still reeling for their news and how life had changed for them.  There was no Facebook page for this baby, no one to remember her.  I innocently thought, all the prayers she receives can be helpful, right?

Wrong!  Suddenly there was a backlash that I honestly never expected.  People who truly begrudge a baby, whose family is just learning to walk the road that comes with a sick child prayers?!  I was stunned.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this could happen.  You really choose to begrudge a baby less than three months old prayers, because it's not her name on the prayer page?  Then I got angry, what is wrong with people?!  This baby is no less important than this little girl.  Yes, her fight is important, no question, but you would really say that you won't pray for a baby in need of a transplant on a page for a child who has had to have multiple transplants?  After hours of prayer and trying to remind myself that not everyone sees the world the way I do and some much needed sleep I woke up refreshed and with a new resolve.   If people will begrudge a baby prayer on another child's prayer page, then why not open a page where all families can come and ask for prayer for any problem, from being afraid of going to sleep away camp to those families struggling with illness, learning disabilities, divorce, you name it, why not pray for it.  Didn't Jesus say, "Let the little children come to me?"  He did and he valued children and families.

So we started the prayer group Praying for Children and Families All Over the World.  Anyone can ask to join, anyone is welcome, but we keep the group closed so that people feel more comfortable asking for their requests. 

As the mom of a little girl with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I definitely understand that there are some requests you'd prefer to not announce to the entire world.  Anyone who has read my blog for the last few years knows all about our adventures in Lizzie's finding her happy place.  I wrote that blog and warned people before they clicked the link and before they began reading, it was a sensitive issue.  There are some things you fight that you don't want the world to know.  Maybe it's an addiction, maybe it's something that you never thought you'd find yourself fighting?  Maybe things are unravelling in your marriage.  I definitely understand not wanting to share that publicly.  Some things are private. 


Several weeks in, I love watching how those who love Christ are joining together to offer prayers.  Some of those I asked to join asked to leave.  There is nothing wrong with that - you have to have a heart for this one to be able to take it.  We have a lot of families whose children are very sick, and it can be heartbreaking to read about their struggles daily.  So I just asked them to send me a private message and I'd remove them and no hard feelings.  There have been only a few people who have asked to leave, the rest seem eager to pray and join the group.   It is truly a blessing to see how God is at work in a small group and it all started because of one sweet little baby who is still fighting and finally got well enough to be on the transplant list.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Remembering

"One day my world came crashing down, I'll never be the same. They told me that my child was sick. ... I thought, "am I to blame"? I don't think I can handle this. I am really not that strong. It seemed my heart was breaking, I have loved her for so long. I will..."  - Unknown Author

Just reading those words, brings back a rush of the weeks and days leading up to Elizabeth's Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.  Although the author is talking about an ill child who is battling for life, it doesn't mean I don't get it any less.  The moment when all of your dreams of a perfect (remember it's a dream) child are shattered.  Suddenly what you thought you knew doesn't exist and you find yourself spiralling down into a new world an unknown world.

This is the world of parents whose children are diagnosed with illnesses or disabilities.  Facing a change in what you thought would be and facing what will be is always a challenge.  It is also heart breaking and sometimes rewarding.  It brings new opportunities to see God at work.  Children who defy odds (some don't, but some amaze even medical professionals), children who you used to dream one way and you find that your dreams aren't really gone, they just have to change and adapt.  Sadly, some do not make it, they go on and become angels in Heaven and leave behind brokenhearted families.

No matter what you face with your child - the journey leaves you changed.  Hopefully it leaves you more compassionate, more empathetic, more thoughtful of what you say to people or how you say it.  Hopefully, it doesn't leave you bitter, angry and unable to look to God for the strength he is willing to provide to you.  Alas, this happens sometimes and I'm sure it breaks God's heart as much as those who watch you unravel. 

Reading those words by an unknown author will not be every one's reality but it gives great insight into the heart and fight behind those parents who will go to battle for their children.  Maybe you are one - or maybe you have the privilege of knowing one.  Either way, you may find it changes your world forever too. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, July 30, 2012

A New Perspective

Yesterday we had a guest speaker at church.  I can't remember his name, but I know his message will forever change how I read the Word of God. 

He was speaking about how he had gone to see an actor who at his pinnacle had been in Les Miserables on Broadway, but this man instead was doing 1.5 hour monologue bringing the book of Luke to life for so many.  He said he asked to meet for lunch the next day and nine hours, his way of reading God's Word was changed.  This man had talked about just spending months hanging out absorbing one specific book of the Bible until it wasn't just that you had it memorized, it was that you had absorbed it into your very being.

Our speaker talked about how it transformed how he read the Bible - no longer was he worried about memorizing verses, he began to read and hang out in Philippians, he kept moving as he became absorbed in the Word and the Word became a part of him.  He didn't just read it, and know it by heart, but he understood each book he spent time hanging out in.

How did he do this?  He spoke of three things main points.  However, he also talked about reading out loud as if we are reading for our children - even if we do different voices for them, but alone.

Here were his three points:
1.  Prayerful Reading:  He talked about a lot of things here - including the fact that sometimes we get distracted because just as in a game of football, someone is playing defense.  Sometimes we'll find ourselves distracted - there is a reason for this.  Sometimes we'll walk away with nothing but sometimes we'll also find the humor. 

2. Continuous Reading:  Just as you would sit down and read a book in a single sitting, you should do this with the book you choose to study.  You will come away having absorbed more.  I can attest to this fact. 
He suggested setting a timer for 10, 20 or 30 minutes.  Because when we set limits like "I'm going to read 5 chapters" By the time we read chapter 2 we are saying to ourselves, "I've got three more chapters."  However, by setting a time limit, it makes it more manageable and we can just read continuously until our timer goes off or we know our time is up.   I have to say, I started doing this this morning - and you can cover a lot of Matthew in 30 minutes.  I am half way into Chapter 7 now.  I even started with the different generations that lead to Jesus being from the line of King David.

3.  Repetitious Reading:  He talked about spending months just reading and rereading each chapter until you have read it so much that it is just ingrained in your heart and mind.  He also suggested starting with smaller books like Ephesians, Philippians and John, to name a few. 

I loved this idea - not worrying about memorizing, but just absorbing God's Word until it is in a part of you.  I look forward to absorbing and hanging out with Matthew first.  Learning and absorbing Jesus' teachings. 

Warning:  If you do this too, prepare to be convicted and realizing that things we didn't think much about are suddenly very visible and there in front of us.

I hope you have a good week.  Happy Monday!
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baby Steps

Raising children is tough.  Raising a child who has special needs can at times feel insurmountable.  No matter what your child's challenge is, it is so tempting to worry about the future and what it holds.

When Lizzie was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, she struggled with echolalia (repeating or echoing favorite phrases, or words) and she wore thick glasses, she was in and out of the doctors every cold and flu season and at the time it all seemed as if she would never be a functioning adult.  Part of it was because I was discouraged and part of it was she hadn't begun school yet so we weren't really sure what to expect.  We were still trying to wrap our heads around her diagnosis and didn't know what to expect from Elizabeth. 

Before her diagnosis, it never occurred to me to wonder what would become of her?  And once she started school, the pieces began to slowly fall into place.  Speech began to emerge a little here, a little there until the child who would sit quietly for hours in the car could not stop talking.  It was great!!  Maybe not for Sarah, because she didn't understand, but for Chris and I we were ecstatic.  Then after a year of Kindergarten to work on her social skills, we started Kindergarten again to work on academics and slowly but surely it all began to happen. 

In the between times though I wondered?  Would Lizzie ever grow up and go to college?  Would she ever get married?  What about boys?  How do we protect her from those who would hurt her?  What could I have done differently?  All of these questions and doubts plagued me until I realized I had to let them go and just trust that God had a plan for Elizabeth that was bigger than my dreams for her. 

It looks simple on a page or computer screen, but it was anything but simple.  It was a slow heartbreaking process and learning to take my hands off of the driver's wheel and allow God to steer her path and life.  It got easier as I realized he had sent us to Spaght Elementary for a reason.  The team there, especially Lizzie's Mrs. Silveous eased my anxiety little by little.  The knot that lived in my stomach at IEP time, became more of nervous fluttering as I realized that they were working as hard as we were to help Elizabeth achieve so much.

Here is the thing, when we try to keep control of our lives, we inevitably make a mess out of them.  Even with all of our planning, and trying to fix things, we end up messing it all up.  I have slowly (and I do mean slowly) learned over the years that when I allow God to have control (even when I don't really want to) things don't end up so messy.  Is it easy?  NO!  Is it best?  You bet!  Somehow the insurmountable doesn't seem as large when I know God takes care of it. 

Even if you don't believe in God, try taking one day at a time.  You will drive yourself nuts worrying about what hasn't happened yet.  So take a few deep breaths and go minute by minute if you have to, but know each baby step will slowly add up over time.

I hope you all have a good rest of the week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baby Steps Adding Up


A friend and I have started a daily Gratitude List and today I thought I would share my list with you all. 
1. That Lizzie has a WONDERFUL Pediatric Opthamologist, Dr. Tom Lenart who is just as proactive as I am in her treatement.  When we first started our journey with Amblyopia, I only knew one of my aunts and my sister had struggled with it.  So I had been keeping an eye out for it.  I thought I saw a drift in Lizzie's eye several times, but the eye corrected itself so quickly I decided I was seeing things. But after an eye test at her preschool, I knew it wasn't just me anymore. 
Our first opthamologist claimed he specialized in pediatrics, but you could have fooled me.  He was rude, abrupt and impatient with Elizabeth.  In his defense, she was very busy and had difficulty sitting still.  However, the last time we saw him, Chris was with me, and I was pregnant with Beka and he grabbed her face and talked to her like she was a bug.  Chris about came unhinged right then and there.  So we called our great pediatrician and she made a recommendation to Dr. Charles Whitfill.  He turned out to be just what the doctor ordered (literally).  So when we moved, I was thrilled he knew someone in Washington and hence we now have Dr. Lenart.  He is just as wonderful and patient with her as Dr. Whitfill was when we lived in Wichita.  He even offered some great ideas to use as incentives to keep Lizzie motivated to keep her eye patch on, so I'm tickled with this visit.

2.  Lizzie now has to patch for only 2 hours a day.  When we started, Lizzie had to wear her eye patch from the time she woke up in the morning until bedtime.  So that even though her alignment has improved drastically from her surgery, her vision still requires patching.  She gets to play a game on my phone, but not until she finishes patching first - it's a reward.  I predict the purchase of a Nintendo DS in our future with puzzle games and things to help improve her eye vision in the left eye.

3.  Last but not least, I am glad that as I get older I really do get a little wise.  I am far from having all of the answers in life, but somehow it doesn't bug me as much as it did when I was younger.   With that comes more patience as I wait on God's timing and not mine. 

Have a good rest of the week. 
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Growth Out of Trials

Who would have thought that a little baby could spark so much controversy.   A two month old at that, and all because I asked for prayers.  Sometimes life takes an interesting turn.

I have been requesting prayers for Baby Hannah Mae, she's just turned two months old and is in desperate need of a heart transplant.  I am also apart of a group called Pray for Emerson.  Emerson and her family are awesome, and their story is amazing and abounding in God's miracles.  But in asking for prayer for Hannah Mae, I apparently sparked a controversy.  Some of the other people felt that it was wrong to be asking for prayer on a group for one specific child.

At first, I was ticked, then I was saddened.  Then after some much needed sleep I woke up inspired!  Why not create a Facebook page open to the public, where people with any problem for their child or their families can come and ask people to pray for them.  This circumvents the issues of worrying that one child is being ignored in requesting prayer for a child whose name is not on the site. 
So if you are a Facebook person and you are interested I have created a group named Praying for Children and Families All Over the World!  It is an open group and no matter what is going on, from family troubles to medical issues - anyone can go and request prayer for a child and their families. 

Here is the link to Baby Hannah - she in desperate need of a heart transplant at two months old.  Without it, she won't live much longer.  So prayer warriors let's get kneeling!!!
http://www.hannahmaeneedsaheart.com/

In Christ,
Maureen

 Footnote:  We are working to make the group open, but also closed, so people can find the group, but have to in it to see what people post.  Our hope is to give people a little more comfort so they can share those delicate situations without worrying that the whole entire world (i.e. those who would not understand or would say mean things) can see what they post.  Also, anyone who wishes to join is welcome, all I ask is that if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.
Thank you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Oddish Girl

All of our children have their own distinct personalities.  Some are dare devils who make us prematurely gray haired.  Some of our children are into computers, some into science, math, etc. . . you get my point.

Beka is my oddish child.  The child who is afraid of bugs, dogs, zoo animals, birds, vacuum cleaners and tornado sirens have a fascination with dead and dry skin.  As I write this, she is doing her darnedest to pick at the dead skin on my scalp.  It is something she seems to find fascinating for some reason.  I don't get it, but there you go. 

The same girl who is spunky, cheeky and pretty darned adorable and can be scared of anything and everything cannot stop herself from picking at me or Chris and our dead skin.   I am shaking my head.  I wonder if this means she has a possible future as a dermatologist?  I know she has a future in fashion - her favorite thing to do is to work with the few blankets she has and using them to make a dress.  I have to admit, she has come up with some pretty cute stuff.

This child is always smiling, happy (unless you wake her up from a nap, then she is like her mommy and extremely grouchy until she is fully awake), she makes us laugh constantly, but not to the point where she doesn't get into trouble for anything.  :D  It's kind of hard to be down when Beka comes and sits on your lap and gives you a cheeky grin.   

This is my oddish child, but you know what, I love her quirks and little odd things that make her, Beka.  Even if it means we'll never have a fish again because they terrify her.

Have a good weekend,
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Washington

Dear Washington,

You are many things.  Beautiful, majestic with the Cascade Mountains, and amazing to drive through.   You are also incredibly sneaky.  Little did I realize that what started as a good idea - Take the girls to Jetty Island would turn into a drama fest in my household. 
I forgot that cooler temperatures does not mean you can go without sunblock when spending several hours on a beautiful fun filled (and seaweed filled - note the picture above).  But my girls had a blast, and I learned how to squelch my inner EW! so I could walk the vast expanse to check on the girls.  Thankfully the tide came in before we left so the expanse closed considerably.

You are very sneaky because just when I was wondering if I could enjoy living in your state, you draw me back into the joy and splendor of all you have to offer.   So while the girls are less than thrilled at their pink shoulders, and I would prefer to be minus an incredibly pink sunburned face, I admit it, you are a pretty cool state to live in and I look forward to finding out about your awesome hiking trails and teaching the girls about the joys of nature.  Now to find a few good books about nature, so I am at least somewhat knowledgeable.
Sincerely,
An Almost Converted Former Kansan.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Life Changing Events


Twelve years seems like a long time, but to me it feels as if no time has passed.  Twelve years ago, I walked into church and shook hands with the handsome man up above.  While it took a little help from my pushy mom to get things going, once the ball started rolling it all fell into place. 

I was home from Sicily and trying to just focus on finishing college and then going to graduate school.  I had given up.  I was 26 years old and I kept seeing all of these college peers who were younger than me getting married and I decided, That's it!  I give up I quit.  I don't care what Jaymi thought God was telling her, I give up on men.    So when in April 2000 my Aunt Nina sent me an email telling me I should meet this nice young man in her singles Sunday school class my first thought was, No way am I getting set up again! 

It's funny how when we finally quit on our plans for our timeline, God's timing kicks in and falls perfectly into place.  Twelve years and I haven't regretted a day since. 

I love you sweetie and I hope we enjoy many more years to come.

Love Always,
Maureen

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tea!!!


When I was a little girl, my Grandma Taylor would come visit - and eventually for a few years she lived with us.  She came to America from England after World War II because she was married to Grandpa Taylor.  With her she brought a love of tea.

Growing up living with Grandma meant a lot of things, including learning to love a good cup of tea.  She started with more milk than tea and slowly changed the levels until it was more tea than milk.  She taught me to love a lot of things, but it's the love of tea I take with me everywhere.  But it wasn't until Chris was deployed in 2009 that I was faced with a different sort of tea.

Chris being in Iraq, meant he had a lot of jobs to accomplish.  He created and built a CST - it's like a base truck stop where the convoys were go and park, refill their gas tanks and human gas tanks, etc...  And often he would eat or drink with the nationals.  This included camel meat and other oddities but probably the most odd thing he told me about was fish tea.

Now I'm pretty game to try new foods.  I have eaten squid, octopus, sushi, different types of food, even from India, since my Aunt Chris and Uncle Frank and their family lived there as missionaries.  It's okay, as long as they go easy on the curry.  Spicy equals heartburn for me.  I don't mind trying new things - but I draw the line at fish tea. 

The tea snob or maybe it's my British ancestory refuses to embrace the idea of adding fish to my tea?!  Mint, Lemon, I'm even willing to retry Earl Grey (it's not my favorite as Lizzie would say), but fish?  I say nay, nay!  Call me a snob, call me whatever, just please do not put fish in my tea. 

I think my Grandma Taylor would be proud or maybe amused.

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Changing Gears

When Elizabeth was small she had this thing she loved to do.  It made me crazy, to the point that the last time it happened I started crying.  When you have a child with special needs you face a lot of challenges.  Some kids with Autism struggle with Pica - the desire to eat anything and everything - including their own feces.    For us, this issue kind of went away once she understood it was disgusting and bad for her. 

Now as we are struggling with constipation I have to kind of shake my head at the reverse in circumstances.  Elizabeth was my fecal artist - yes, I said it.  My child liked to paint her room and crib with her own feces.  It was a huge problem for the longest time.  It got worse when Chris was deployed during 2004.  So when he came home in 2005 and we walked in once again to find that Elizabeth had painted her room and bed with her poop, I lost it.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  Chris hugged me and told me to go visit my mom and he would take care of it.  And he did.  I too had made Elizabeth help me clean up her masterpieces (they were more like the art that looks like children's finger paintings), but something about Daddy telling you it is gross and disgusting must have made it all click with her because after that day we haven't had a problem since - with Elizabeth that is.  Rebekah went through a short bout of it, but hers was more she didn't like being dirty and was trying to get the poop off of her bottom and it seemed only natural that she wipe her hands on the doors, walls, furniture. . . I think you get my point. 

So here I was with a child who couldn't leave her own poop alone and now that same child can't seem to go poop.  I might laugh if it weren't for the fact that she is miserable.  So Karo Syrup (all I have is light Karo) in water and reading to her.  Every time I turn a page we each take a drink of water.  Once she tires of this game we started having a Chug-a-lugging contest, but instead of chugging beer or alcoholic beverages we are chugging water and water with Karo syrup in it (not my water, only her water.  One bathroom, two people needing to go means one of us isn't going to make it in time).  Tomorrow, we will keep pushing Karo water and Karo syrup in her oatmeal. 

Also a few friends who struggled with this issue or who like to read a lot recommended the following:

1. Coffee - I don't really get this one, but hey if it works, it works.  Now to buy coffee since I am a tea drinker.

2.  Biscuits and gravy- but it has to be honest to goodness homemade gravy, not from a jar or packet gravy. 

3. Aloe Vera juice - apparently this tastes a little sweeter than grape juice.  My cousin Ken is not in medicine, but he is all about health, teaches combat training and studies a lot.

4. Grape juice

5. Apple Juice - this one I knew about.  Apples are high in fiber so when you hear that saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."  It is true, because it keeps your regular, but also fiber keeps cholesterol levels down as well.

I also read on a pediatric website that a diet high in fiber helps.  So Miss Lizzie will find herself eating a lot more veggies and a lot less hot dogs or chicken and french fries. 

I'll be honest, I don't know what triggered her constipation.  I know I feel horrible that she feels so badly.  She actually raided her own piggy bank and offered to walk to Safeway and buy her own apple juice so she could help herself because we are just that broke this pay period.  That was when I broke out the Karo syrup and figured no guts no glory.  I also never thought once the girls were potty trained that I would have to worry about their poop.  Just goes to show we all still have things to learn.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

I also forgot pear juice and movacol - those suggestions come from a mom with a son who has Biliary Atresia and has intestinal issues.  I am unsure if you can find movacol here in the States, but I will keep you posted.  Thanks Belinda!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vacation?

For years I have considered taking a vacation.  Chris has gone off on Army exercises, which isn't quite the same as a vacation, because he is sleep deprived and exhausted when he gets back.  It's not a typical vacation - it's a vacation for one.  Chris has even contemplated sending me, and I took him with me.  And then I realized something.

I haven't been alone in so long, the idea of leaving Chris and the girls is kind of scary.  I have been some one's mom and wife for almost 12 years and I don't know how to be someone else anymore.  This is not a bad thing, except I get burned out and frustrated.  I'm sure it is equally frustrating for Chris as well - he knows I am stressed, burned out and frustrated (at that moment in time) and wants to send me on a getaway, but it never quite happens.  Not from lack of trying on his part either. 

It isn't even that expensive.  I could go to Arizona and see my best friend Jaymi, or Massachusetts and see my friend Maureen, but I realized today that I somehow end up sabotaging it, because what will I do with the alone time?  The girls did Camp Fire this year and I had two hours in the apartment alone - it was weird and very quiet.  I found I didn't really know what to do with myself. 

If you could take a vacation where would you go?  Would you go alone?  What would you do with your free time?  I am open to suggestions - because I am out of ideas.  I think I need to figure something out soon.  If for no other reason so I don't lose my imagination.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Poop


When you are single and young, you imagine many things.  You imagine what Prince Charming will look like, you imagine what your wedding will look like.  You dream of homes, the life you hope to live and you dream big.  Never in those dreams do you dream about poop.  Never when you are in high school do they tell you that one day you will have a child and your life will be consumed with the concern for another person's poop.

Then it happens.  You meet someone, maybe he is Mr. Right maybe not - if you are lucky your partner is awesome and there for you.  Believe me, you are going to need it - because once you become a parent you find yourself doing things you never thought you would.  You find yourself  worrying about whether or not another person is pooping like they should.  And that is just your partner - never do you imagine you will intentionally smell someone's pants and see if they are finished pooping.  When you are a parent you worry about diapers, diaper rash, wet wipes - are they organic or non - organic, are they causing your child to break out in diaper rash.  Should you use Desitin or the other brands of butt gunk to sooth the red heiney your child is sporting.  How many pounds of potty do you let the diaper absorb before it's had enough (just kidding, I never did that).

Then you work on potty training this new individual.  If you are lucky, they potty train quickly.  If you are me, Lizzie's mom, you spend a year banging your head against the wall only to have her suddenly put the pieces together after Daddy comes home for war and he smirks and asks, "What's so tough about potty training."  If he's lucky you don't throw something at his head because you just spent the last year gaining new gray hairs and trying to potty train a child who apparently wanted her Daddy more than you. 

Then they become verbal, they can talk to you and you think.  Oh Good I don't have to worry about poop anymore. Right?  WRONG!!!  Not pooping is a problem, pooping too much is a problem, is their blood in their poop (that's more for your partner than your kids if you are lucky), are they feeling okay.  Is their tummy upset or is it that your stir fry just happens to make an excellent colonic.  And this is during the time when a rotovirus or some stomach flu bug is going around causing vomiting and diarrhea.

This week, we worried about poop twice.  First, Beka ate too much fruit and freaked out when she "pooped too much."  then we visited the Emergency Room with Lizzie.  I thought it was a Urinary Tract Infection but alas, no - she is constipated.  So again I am concerned with poop only this time it is how to get it to started.  Fiber One makes great tasting bars to help with this issue, stool softeners are an answer and apple juice is also a great laxative.  The only thing I haven't tried yet?  Ex-Lax.  Oh and lots and lots of water!

At this point I have to laugh, because if you don't laugh you might cry.  Tummies are still upset, husbands still need to take it easy with the stir fry and little Bekaboo's need to lay off the fruit.  Although, on the bright side, at least I don't have to worry about getting Beka to go, just Lizzie and I will gladly take this one for the team. 

I must confess though I do wonder will there ever be a day when I don't worry about other people's poop.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We NEED Change!!

The beautiful girl you see above is our oldest daughter Sarah.  She is smart, beautiful, and preparing for college, she has her first serious boyfriend and we miss her.  But if things had gone as her mother planned, none of you would know this side to Sarah.   Odds are, she would have been a negative teen, possibly pregnant or sexually active, she may have even dropped out of school because what was the point if she wasn't leaving Davenport, IA, ever.  Her relationship with Chris probably would be lots of swearing at Chris on the phone and being angry.  I would have been the evil wicked stepmom who stole her dad from her mom (I didn't by the way, they had been divorced for over a year before I met Chris) and she would most likely not be in church or even know about God.

How do I know this?  Because the first four years of my marriage to Chris (we are going on 12 years in January), we spent praying, weeping and begging God to PLEASE BRING SARAH INTO OUR HOME!!!!  We got four to six weeks in the Summer (her mom tried to shorten it whenever possible) and then she would disappear.  Unanswered and unreturned phone calls, calls to the police to do a well check.  What was going on? 

Kate was married to an abusive mentally ill man.  For four years (I didn't get to see her at all the year Chris was deployed), I would pray and ask God to please help me not put this beautiful girl in a car with her mom.  We didn't know what was going on, but it was the little things that weren't said, little actions, reactions that tipped me off that all was not okay in Sarah's home.  Finally in 2005, I prayed and begged God, "Lord, I do not have it in me to put Sarah in a car knowing she is returning to a bad environment.  Lord, you know better than we do what is going on in her home.  Please don't make me put her in the car with her mom again."  Chris and I even formulated a plan so that Lizzie and I would go spend the day in Oklahoma visiting friends and family because he knew I couldn't watch her leave again.  I couldn't dance the vindictive dance with her mom, where she worked to claim Sarah as MINE! 

For four years, we heard how Kate threatened Chris' family that if they didn't do what she said, they would never see Sarah again.  We worried, she wasn't eating, being fed, and we didn't dare send extra money because if we did, then it meant that it went to beer and cigarettes, instead of milk, bread and eggs. 

As the time began to draw closer to Sarah's 2005 visit I realized Cessna was hiring and encouraged Chris to help Kate get a job there.  This accomplished two things.  First, it helped Kate get a better paying job with potential to move up.  Second, it meant Sarah was in Kansas and I knew from a lawyer visit we had had a few years before that once Sarah moved into the state that we had to keep her with us for six months to ask for a change of venue and change of custody.  Mainly, the plan to was to get Sarah closer so we could keep a closer eye on Kate and make sure Sarah was safe.    It worked, Kate moved to Kansas in September and she allowed Sarah to live with us because she could only afford a two bedroom apartment and Sarah was too old to share a room with her brother, which in Kansas is illegal. 

Something that wasn't a part of the plan for us, Kate's now ex husband kidnapping Summer, forcing Kate to move back to Iowa.  Our plan was to share joint custody with us having primary physical custody.  Carl Fetty Jr.  pulled a fast one and that went out the window.    March 2006 saw us sitting in a lawyer's office, using our tax return to file a change of venue.  We got it, but Iowa tried their best to hold onto Sarah, but they didn't have any legal standing.  We finally got the change of custody, but due to some unhappy events while we had temporary custody, we changed our minds and decided to go after sole custody.  We also stripped Kate of medical power, unless it was for emergency medical care, and we had it written in to the papers that when Chris would deploy that Sarah stayed with me.  This helped both girls because it was tough enough having Dad gone, but then for Sarah to have to leave too - it would have been too much for Elizabeth and for Sarah.   

The day the custody papers came making Sarah legally and finally in our home, well I think I am going to frame those papers.  Until then I had never ever seen such a beautiful piece of paper.  How did we get to the point we did?  How did we get stuck spending four years worrying and praying?
The courts.  In our country judges assume every mother is a fit mother, unless you can prove otherwise.  Many states are known as Mother States.  Iowa is one of them. 

There are thousands of children stuck in custody battles who are losing.  Divorce is tough period on children, but when they end up with parents who love them, but only as a pawn to hurt others with or who only want them for the money, it harms the child.  Sarah is still struggling. 

On a happy note.  Because of the change of custody Sarah and her mom have a better relationship.  It took a few years of us forcing her to talk to her mom, but once they broke through some of the barriers they are now on the road to mending their relationship.  Kate even attends church now and sadly, Sarah's siblings have both been diagnosed with some form of disability.   It may have started off with me being afraid for Sarah, but now that she is heading off to college, I am thrilled to see the amazing young woman she has become. 

We as a country need to begin to demand that our children stop paying the price for overloaded court systems.  Courts need to begin to look at both parents as viable options.  While not every father should have custody of his children, neither should every single woman who gives life to a child.   Not all women are good mothers.  We see evidence of this weekly, sometimes daily in the news.  It's time for a change, we need to speak up.  Court shouldn't cost parents tens of thousands of dollars to fight for custody.  If we had fought in Iowa, it would have cost us $30,000 easy and that is just to start with, the more drawn out it would have been, the more expensive it would have been.  This isn't right, of course, it isn't right marrying someone and decided, "Oops I made a mistake" either, but I can't change that. 

Justice 4 Jason Kendall on Facebook is a story that provides an excellent example of custody in need of being changes.  When a woman can cheat on a man repeatedly, lie about him, destroy his Army career and still hide his son?  Something has gone seriously wrong in this world. 

I ask that you join me in prayer for Jason and his son and pray that God speaks to his ex-wife's heart.  I also ask that you pray for God to open the doors so that Jason can gain visitiation and eventually custody of his son. 

In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Envying Your Children?

I was reading a blog recently about a woman who had lost her father as a girl.  She wrote about her missing him and how it affected her now as a mother.  The thing is this woman said she envied her children their father?  Hmm. . . should we envy our children.

I would LOVE to have Sarah, Lizzie and Beka's thick beautiful eye lashes, it's true or the dimple each girl has on one cheek when she smiles, but envy them their relationship with their dad?  No.  My dad passed away unexpectedly when I was five years old.  And it shaped my life, definitely.  It shaped how I looked at men, how I interact with other people (he was more a social butterfly than my mom) so I might be doing better and then there is the fact that I would never had had to put up with a mentally ill, abusive stepfather.  But envy my girls that they have their dad and a wonderful relationship?  NO!

Until I married Chris, I skipped Father's Day at church.  Nothing like shoving a dagger deep into your heart than sitting there watching other people moon over their dads.   But something shifted when I met Chris.  I used to think I would be a little melancholy when I got married, that I would be thinking about how I wished Dad were there.  But when I married Chris all I cared about was being with him and being married.  When we were expecting Lizzie I enjoyed shopping for his cards from Lizzie and Sarah and snuck them into his duffel bag at the bottom for him to find out in the field for annual training.   I still enjoy making sure the girls spoil Chris on Father's Day.  But something else helped. 

The year I became pregnant with Beka, Chris was at annual training and I attended church.  In truth, I had forgotten about it being Father's Day.  Sarah and Lizzie were with Mary and Ted in Idaho, so I had lost track of the days.  Maybe I would have ditched, but I didn't and the pastor shared a story about a boy who began attending a church as a small child.  His father never married his mother and had abandoned them both.  For years this boy felt odd, like an outcast and outsider.  Then a new pastor came to church and as luck would have it he preached on Father's Day.  The young man was walking out and the pastor reached to shake his hand and asked where his dad was.  The silence in the church became suddenly awkward, the pastor realizing quickly looked at the young man and smile, "Oh you came to meet the best Father of them all today - your Heavenly Father."  That moment changed that young man's life - he went on to become a very successful man as he got older.  And a man of great faith (the name was not shared in the story).  I had never thought of it that way before, I didn't have to miss my Dad, because I had the best Dad of them all - God!  It helped and I don't feel like ditching on Father's Day anymore either.  It helps that Chris is retired now too - so no more annual training etc. . .

I guess what got me thinking is, why would you envy your own child?  Isn't the point of being a parent that you want your children to have a better experience than you had?  So far my girls are having an excellent example of their Heavenly Father's love and I LOVE that.  I love that my children don't know the pain of a Father's Day watching other children and longing for a Dad who is in Heaven.  I pray that they not know this pain for years. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shame (Said Tongue in Cheek)

I had a brilliant plan for Friday night.  We did some school, we worked a while, even walked laps at the mall - followed quickly by playtime at the play area.  My plan was to make hot dogs, mac-n-cheese and introduce my girls to Star Wars.

As a girl I had grown up watching Star Wars and LOVED them.  I was so excited when they came out with movies 1-3.  My hope was that the girls would love the movies as much as I had.  So I mistakenly took a nap, got up later than I planned and cooked dinner.  I had invited Sam, a friend of the girls to come and watch the movie with us.  Maybe that is where I went wrong - she had already seen it.  The girls did fine until the soda, pop corn and goodies were gone. 

Suddenly I found myself watching Star Wars alone.  Not unhappily mind you but I had to have a little fun.  What on Earth is wrong with my girls?!  Chris and I both enjoy good science fiction, and here our daughters couldn't even watch Star Wars?!  NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Where is Star Trek's Dr. Crusher or Sanctuary's Dr. Magnus when you need them.  I hung my head in mock shame.  I have failed as a science fiction parent?  What's next?  They don't want to attend Comic Con?  The shame, the horror?  Quel Nightmare!!! 

Then I remembered them sitting enraptured as we watched Stargate, some Sanctuary episodes (some of them are too scary for hyperimaginitive girls) and how they enjoy Farscape with Chris and I.  So maybe all hope isn't gone.  After all, they loved watching Thor and Iron Man 2 with me. . . Superman is a favorite in my house.  So maybe hope is not lost, maybe, just maybe there is hope for the girls.

But can someone please call Dr. Magnus and tell her we may need her assistance soon?  She may need to run a brain scan for a tumor or something.


Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Independence

As a parent one of the toughest things we have to learn is to let our children go.  I think in many ways it never gets easier.  I am 38 and still have to remind my mom that I am in fact, an adult and raising three girls just fine.   This is probably even more difficult when your child has a special need.

I've seen many families who insist their children mind, use their manners, and do not let them get away with much.  I have also seen other families struggle until their child is an adult and able to move away from home who never quite achieve this.   It is tough.  I still struggle with it, but I have also found that as I raise the bar of expectations for Lizzie that she and her sisters meet my goals for them every time.  It might take a while to get there, but it happens in their timing, and sometimes it even happens in my time (notice I said sometimes).

I remember when Lizzie entered Kindergarten for her second year, I realized my goals needed to shift.  The first year I was hyper vigilant.  I constantly watched and hovered over her.  Of course, that was the first year we knew her diagnosis as well, but the second year there was a shift.  Chris and I began to transition from being overprotective and letting her slide by to realizing we had to raise our expectations.  She had shown us quite well that she was capable of learning.  It took a while, but our ultimate end goal now is to teach Elizabeth what she needs to be independent when she becomes an adult. 

Granted we think we it might take her a little longer than Sarah and Rebekah, but we know it's possible and it is our ultimate goal.  Even now I am teaching her how to cook, clean the kitchen and do laundry.  As she gets older we will learn other tasks as well. 

It is an easy trap for us to fall into when our children have a special need or need to work a bit harder to achieve their goals that we try to shelter them and do everything for them.  There are some children who are severely autistic or disabled who will need extra care for the rest of their lives, but Lizzie isn't one of them.  And many children with special needs do not fit into that category. 

I have a friend who spent years working with disabled adults.  She has told me stories about adults who were capable of caring for themselves but never given the chance.  I remember listening to her tell me about a man whose mother was dying and she could no longer care for her son.  My friend had to teach the man how to do his laundry - he did it, he learned to cook and clean and take care of himself with assistance.   That was the point in which I realized we could not be that mom.  Because my dad died when I was young I realized at a young age I would not live forever, but never did this idea concern me more than when it came to how did we prepare Elizabeth so she could live on her own?  She may always need a social worker to look in on her or her sisters to be there to offer assistance when necessary but Chris and I had long conversations and still have them about what is our next goal to teach Elizabeth to be independent so when we are no longer with her she can thrive and function in society.  Is it tough?  Extremely.  Is it important?  Nothing could be more important. 

I think the trap that most parents fall into is not realizing they can't live forever.  And let's face it, in this tough economic time, most of us cannot afford to create a trust fund for our children.  So what do we do to help our children?  Begin researching?  What is your child capable of and what are you expecting of him?  Are you doing too much for her?  Are you allowing him to get away with things he shouldn't?  They are tough questions, but they need to be asked and answered.  How can you help your child be ready for the day when you are no longer able to help him?  What kind of programs are available to offer assistance?  What kind of wait list is there?  Can you apply before your child is 18 years old or do you have to wait until that time?  If not apply early, especially if they have a long waiting list. 

Your inability to live forever does not have to spell disaster for your disabled child.  Ignorance or denial won't help them either.  You can make the difference - be your child's advocate and as they get older if they are verbal, teach them to handle those situations while you are there to help them navigate them.

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen