Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Little Girl That Could...My Own Little Engine Story

I've struggled to know what to say or not to say in case I say too much and offend. I never want my girls to feel this blog is something they dread because I share about our family. But then, God keeps telling me to share this story so someone who needs help can hear it, have hope and see what we've seen. One of our girls has struggled to learn from books. Reading was hard. Comprehension is tough. Math was easy for most of her school until she hit grade 6. She has always loved hands on activities. She learns best by doing and she learns best by organizing her thoughts with color. She has to see it to know it and to see it, it has to be colorful. Once she gets it, it's there. But getting her to that point has been nothing short of a miracle.

As a homeschool mom, the journey of teaching this child had brought me to my knees many a night. I felt like a failure often. Why can't I help her learn? What am I missing? As a trained teacher, I felt this was the learn how she learns best and teach that way. Everything that worked with the "typical" student, did not work with her. So I kept digging. I kept praying. I kept trying new things. I kept hearing God tell me to keep doing what we were doing on those days I worried I was ruining her.

God cares for His kids. He places them where they need to be for what He needs them to learn. I know this is true, because we lived it. My girl could not read and I was struggling to find a way to teach her. God lead me to a co-op where there was a mom who would tutor kids with reading struggles using Orton-Gillingham approach, which is what they use for dyslexic kids. Her son was dyslexic and she tutored through the local dyslexic group. So she was a wealth of information, still is. I was able to see where my girl was growing quickly. After three years of her tutoring my sweet gal, she released her from tutoring. My girl could read. She was able to read at grade level. And the world was good....until middle school hit.

Once in middle school, we noticed a drastic change in her ability to comprehend what she was reading. Grades started to suffer because she couldn't remember what she was reading. So I sought help. Through some testing and such, we learned a lot about our girl, most of which we already knew but it was good to see that we do know her and we weren't messing her up. Regardless, daily work was painful for her. And to see a child struggle is one thing. To hear them suffer and feel stupid, well that breaks the teacher momma's heart. So I started researching options for a little assistance as we figured out that the reason school got so hard at the middle school level was because they now are required to use higher level thinking skills which could not be highlighted in the book with pretty colors, or color coded note cards. This meant, she had to recall the story, make inferences and write what she concurred. For a kid with dyslexic tendencies...that is so difficult.

In my research and my hunt to find answers, I found that in my girls mind, she does not make a movie picture of the books as she reads, like her sister would. For example, when we read a story, we "see" that story running through our minds like a movie. For her, there is no movie. So no movie equals not able to pull information for recall which means not able to make those higher level thinking questions work. So I came across a program that I wanted for her to be taught which would teach this skill. We found a couple companies that would work. One wanted her to attend for 6 weeks this summer for 4-5 hours each day at a price tag of 12,000!!! Holy cow! Then the one we used chose to have us come 6 hours a week, two days a week through summer. Then we went for four hours two days a week this fall. Right now she is taking  a break until end of January and then we go back for one hour sessions twice weekly. During these sessions, they are training her how to take what she reads, create that movie in her mind to allow her to pull from that to connect the higher level thinking skills. This option was much cheaper, but still very pricey. But wait til you hear the payoff....

My sweet girl has NEVER picked up a book to read for enjoyment. EVER! I just assumed, at the time, it was a personality thing. She also NEVER unpacked her day driving around or arriving home as her sister had. Again, I assumed it was a personality thing. But I've found that is not true!! It's a brain wiring thing! As the tutors worked with my girl, she started getting in the van and unloading her day with me, as her sister has always done. She talked the entire 45 minute ride home often. Other times, she worked so hard she sat in silence. We called that brain tired! I get that! But to see those moments connect for her and make sense in a way she could retell was nothing short of amazing. There were times I felt overwhelmed at listening to all she shared because it was music to my ears, answer to prayers and I didn't want it to end.

About a month ago, a sweet friend watched her while my  husband and I went to Chicago. She shared a movie with her which sparked an interest in reading the book. I had not read the books, seen the movie nor did I want to honestly.  So I talked it over with my man and we decided at her age, if she is asking for a book, we buy it and talk through any issues that pop up. So we did. My girl was found sitting on her bed of all things....READING!!! My child was reading a book for pleasure!!! She finished that first book in two weeks. Begged to buy the second book and finished it in three days! We are now on the third book and believe she will finish it this weekend. I can't tell you what it does to this momma to see what you've always known to be child is more than capable. She is achieving things at a pace I'm amazed.

Some would have written her off. They would have said I needed to be realistic at what she can do. They would have said she just "can't " do what I want her to do. They would have said put her in school because they have "trained" professionals to do what you can't. They would have said she just can't learn.I know that because it has been said to me by professionals, family and friends.  But God had placed on my heart early on to teach these girls the way they learn...the way He created them. So as I stepped out of the box, I learned that ALL God's children can learn. We just have to find the way He wired them to do so and then pour everything we have into that way until the light comes on and they soar on their own. I'm not saying school is easy. I'm not saying she doesn't get frustrated. But you know what, my girl is reading for pleasure, tackling school work independently and downloading her day to me more and more and I could not be more grateful! Bottom line to that mom who is ready to quit...pray, keep going until you find the answer, ask lots of questions and never give up on your child. The pay off is priceless!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Momma's Journey

This is becoming my journal to good health physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have been on a wild journey the past year and a half and I have to say that I have learned so much about myself, my family, my friends,  faith and my sweet Jesus. I will start at what I consider the beginning: Alaska cruise 2013. Here we are at the Musher Camp overlook. It was a great day, but I was so tired it was very difficult to enjoy a lot of what we did. 
We had moved from our home of 13 years the month prior to leaving, two weeks to be exact. I was finishing schooling the girls, driving them to activities and managing the home as usual as well as painting the rooms and emptying boxes so we could be moved in prior to this cruise we had planned. But I was also finding myself to be more and more exhausted over simple tasks, forgetful and as always, wacky female issues. This woman in this picture was tired...physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I look at this picture, I feel sad. That is such a fake smile. I know what this woman is feeling, thinking, hiding behind those glasses so as not to alarm anyone how exhausted she truly is. Why? because I have to keep up. It's my job...or so I put that pressure on myself. I had to be actively involved in whatever the girls were to a point that I was in  leadership roles on top of homeschooling, managing a home, moving and helping my man at his office. Life had gotten out hand for this lady...and there were days she felt so overwhelmed, but refused to admit how much she needed rest, peace, help. 

At this time, I did not like what I looked like at all. I felt gross and had determined I would always be large due to my female issues. But deep down, I prayed God would heal my body. Not to give birth, as once was the case. But to be able to enjoy my family and not grow weary in small tasks.

My family was my everything. I poured into them all I had and I felt that was what a good mom did. I felt a "good" Christian woman needed to serve on multiple boards to be sure she was serving God in the most effective way. Making sure she was in the mix and not just "sitting" on the sidelines letting others make decisions. I actually felt it had to be me. But what the picture above does not show is that this lady was spent and had very little left over to give to her family. I was on empty. 

Upon arriving home from Alaska, we all learned just how much that was true. I experienced my first severe panic attack during church that Sunday, sitting in a pew with fellow believers. I sat there feeling like if I didn't get out I was going to die. I got up, went to the bathroom where I was sure I was having a heart attack. I couldn't calm down. I didn't take my phone so I could not call my man of all times! So I waited for someone to walk in that knew me. I sat and sat as lady after lady walked in, looked at me, said nothing, walked back out after using the restroom. I was stunned at how little interaction there was in the restroom at a church we had attended for 7 years. But then, that is the negative side of going to a large church. I waited for 20 minutes before my help arrived in the form of a dance mom of Rachel's student. She got my family, we left, called my parents and we all sat in my living room checking my blood pressure and trying to get my mind to calm down. But I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stand being alone. I couldn't stand having people too close though. It was odd. I was super sensitive to quiet as well as too loud. It appeared my nervous system was on overload and I had to sit back and wait it out. 

After a doctors visit, which my parents took me to, I started hormone replacement for perimenopause and some low dose blood pressure medicine to take the edge off the anxiety as I was told my blood pressure was anxiety related not due to hypertension. I was ruled out that I had diabetes, heart disease, all things I was sure I was dying from in the midst of these irrational moments. I can't explain what goes on in your mind when irrational thoughts take place. But I do know I have a new appreciation for people who struggle with mental illness. Anxiety, depression, etc, are no laughing matter. You can't stop your mind from thinking no matter what you do. And those thoughts are relentless. I spent two weeks unable to leave my home without someone else driving me. My parents came to pick me up daily and make me walk with them to  burn off adrenaline and get fresh air. Those talks and walks were the best medicine ever! My husband picked up helping with the girls activities and around the house with no complaints. The girls did whatever they needed to in order to keep the house running. The torch was passed to them at this time for a brief season and I have to say it was good to see they could do it. But I spent many days in tears over nothing. It was a dark place I never want to return. The only hope I had was my faith in Christ. What calmed me was when Matt would read scripture with me, pray with me or if I was listening to praise music. And for those who don't know me well, watching Pooh with my girls and coloring also helped my brain to relax and allow me to sleep. But if I was up, I was pacing, fearful and down right scary. My parents would drive over to take me out for a walk and then take me back to their house while Matt worked. This lasted longer than I hoped but soon I felt the meds were kicking in and I could tackle some things on my own. 

We opted for me to not take an antidepressant at that time and see if hormones helped as we felt everything was brought on by the hormone imbalance. I had never experienced anything like this prior to perimenopause. So instead, I found a new way of eating that works for me and allowed me to lose 40 pounds fairly quickly. I felt better than I had in years and I actually was in pictures again. Something I usually tried to hide from. 

This journey has weighed heavily on my body, mind and spirit. However, I feel it has weighed equally heavily on my sweet man and girls. It is tough to not know what to expect when you wake up each morning and look at your wife. It has to be scary to see your mom crying nonstop over nothing and curl up on the bed in a fetal position asking you to sit with her until she falls asleep or Daddy gets home. That is tough stuff. But I'm grateful for a family that loves me enough to walk this path with me and help me realize just how blessed and loved I truly am. That is something I think as women we sometimes loose sight of in the midst of our daily tasks. We start to feel invisible. 

This family has grown stronger as a result of my struggles. We have had to look at the things in our life and decide what matters most and what can we let go...activity wise, relationships, etc. That is hard to do. But if there are things in life that are so draining and you don't have it to give, you have to do what is best for your immediate family. So I've lost some friendships in the process. I've had to let go of what I want and learn to follow only what God brings to me. I have laid down my need to be in charge of what the girls are doing all the time and trust God to guide them as we have trained them to go to Him for guidance. I've stepped back and have seen them soar. I think God needed to break me to allow me to see that my family doesn't "need" me or the little things I do. My family "wants" me to be there and to be a part of their world when I am able. But they also want to be able to do things and share later. That is huge for me! I know it is splitting hair in a sense, but truly a need mentality puts me in the driver's seat. It means they can't function without me which brings a ton of weight (hence my weight gain) along with pressure galore! But to be wanted there is  so precious. There are not adequate words to express how blessed I was at this revelation by God during this time. I don't need to do all that other moms do to be the good mom, wife, Christian woman. I just need to act on what God lays before me and allow my heart to lead me in the choices I make daily instead of a check list of obligations. 

And you know what? I'm having more fun with my girls than I have in a long time because I'm happier. I'm peaceful because I'm setting healthy boundaries around what God has placed on my heart each day/week. When I step out of His plan, I relapse with panic, fears, health issue. 

But when I sit at the throne of Grace daily and ask for His plans to be revealed and I obey that plan that day...well, there is perfect peace and I have enough energy to get through the activities and enjoy my family in the evening to boot. Those days I don't listen are harsh still. I am learning as I go. This is definitely a journey...not a race. I see where God is leading and I am listening. I'm beginning to feel that menopause is a time of slowing down to take a long look at what you focus on and readjust as needed. And if you don't do it, you will be given another chance to learn the same lessons until you do slow down, seek God, obey His plan in your life, tell others no to things that you no longer can do and let others help you. 

So if you don't see me at meetings, church events, girls activities, you can be assured I spent some time doing what I needed to that day and am preparing to give my all to God first, family second. And the fruit of that is beautiful, no matter how bumpy the road getting there has been. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Time Flies is the Truth

      Yesterday, I sat in my living room playing with these two and today we are all preparing for their launch to college. It does not seem possible. I have a mixed bag of emotions, as the aunt. I am so excited to see where God has brought them this far and I just can't wait to see where He takes them next. On the other hand, their heading off to school will start a chain reaction, much like their coming into our families did 18 years ago. Before long, we will all have empty nests and I think about that from time to time. If I were to talk to all 10 kiddos in our families, what would I want them to know before walking out into the world to spread their wings? What did I need to hear before doing the same? What things did I learn the hard way and want to share the wisdom from that lesson to spare them the same pain?

      And then it hits me....they have to fly off and fail in their own ways. It might be just silly stuff which we will giggle about for years to come or it might be stuff that makes our heart ache when we recall it, regardless, those lessons coming down the road are theirs to experience. The only thing I can offer as a loving aunt is my loving ear and shoulder when needed. (and maybe a little money from time to time:))

     So, sweet kiddos, I could not love you more. I could not be more proud of who you have become or excited to see such potential in where God is going to use each of you. My only real advice is to cling to Him and His Word and anything that goes against His Word is not worth it in the end. All the world offers is shiny and exciting and promises such empty pleasures....but seek Him before being fooled. You are His and when in doubt, just take a breath and listen to Him. He will never leave you or forsake you. And if you ever make a silly choice, just know I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next and my door is always open to listen to your heart aches and joys. Go shine for Him! You are ready for this and you are going to rock this world for Him, I just know it. And every once in a while...maybe just once in a while you might send your old Neeny a note. Love you guys! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stretched Thin

Wow! There are seasons in my life where I feel stretched out about as far as I can be stretched...this would be one of those times. I keep pouring over our schedule trying to find what can give and where can we reclaim some of the much desired family time...and we homeschool! How odd is that statement?! Ha! Anyway, as I was pondering this situation I had a few insights  and I was wondering if anyone else feels the same..or am I really that old?!

I just get saddened by the lack of family time..sitting around the dining room table nightly, eating together, talking, sharing our joys, sorrows etc. I am saddened by the lack of cuddle time in mornings to start the day with a sweet fragrance of giggles and not rush, rush, rush. I am saddened at the time I spend in a van driving my girls all over town and really not going anywhere. I am in the van more than I am in my home! And I am dropping my girls off somewhere more than I am able to sit with them and soak up some much needed momma/daughter time. So that got me to thinking, when did this switch happen? I don't recall ever being on the go as much as I am now when I was a kid. Was I oblivious or was it different? That is where I have to say my generation fails. We have lots of good things I see as parents...I believe we talk with our kids more than previous generations..each one gaining that gift from the other. However, we have less time to do so, so maybe we aren't talking more but just cramming it in to what time we have.

When I was a kid, I recall coming home, doing homework and playing outside or in our basement for hours! I mean hours, people. Today's kid comes home from school, does homework and goes to activities for hours! Where is the time for play? Imagination? Family bonding and memories? I point no fingers at anyone without pointing them at myself. I do the same thing. But I it necessary to be at practices/classes daily? Really? Are we all trying to make our kids be the best in whatever they are doing instead of focusing on character development and family? Don't get me wrong, I think you get lots of benefits from the activities your kids are in...learning to stick to it to see a goal achieved, dedication etc. But where do they learn to honor their parents, love one another, serve together, loyalty to family etc if they spend more time with a team/group than each other?  I worry about this issue as I am trying to figure out what needs to give. But I wonder, do others see it as progress? Am I the only one who feels there are times we are sailing this generation of kids down the river by selling them the need to go, go, go at all times and never enjoy times of being still? In the stillness is where I learn the most about God. In the stillness is where I find peace. In the stillness, I breathe in His truths. So if I'm never still, never teaching them to be still, how will they hear Him? Is busyness the enemies greatest weapon against families?

Some of my sweetest moments growing up are of me sitting on my moms lap listening to her read to me over and over or camping and listening to my dad talk like Donald Duck for hours. time to go camping because someone has a game/performance. No time to sit and read because the school work is too demanding and leaves no time. I am humbled by the dedication and focus of my girls leaders/coaches. Truly I am. I just wonder if that role in their life shouldn't still be ours and we have paid someone else to take that from us. For me...leaves me thinking there has to be a better choice. A combination of it all. Until I find that, I pray I can steal away sweet moments in the craziness of our schedule. I just know one thing is true...I only have a season of my life to raise the kids God has blessed me with and I would hate to think I spent it driving around instead of soaking up sweet moments that will carry me through all the other seasons of my life. I don't get to do this chance. What do I want my girls to walk away from this season in their life knowing? What do I need to change to make that happen? Eager to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Year~ Fresh Focus

I realize I might be a little behind in posting this, but hey, it's still January! I just really want to have it written somewhere to help me stay accountable to this goal in  my life. So, with that, let me back pedal a bit...
There are times in my life where I have the best intentions of doing better, speaking better, living better, and yet I don't. I drop the ball. I get short with my family (hard to imagine, I know:) , I don't sit down for Quiet Time yet again, I leave the house a mess, I miss opportunities to pour truth into my girls and I walk right on past where God wants me to be. I miss it all. Why? Because I'm so focused on what I want to do in that moment I lose focus on what is most important. Kind of the Tyranny of the Urgent. Those things that scream loudest, get my attention. Yet, all that does for me is to truly leave me empty. I feel sad at the end of a year, my heart not full of the joy I know God desires for my life. So what's a girl to do?

For me, setting goals is key. So this year of 2014, I have chosen to focus in on two words to really fix the rest of my life around. My words for 2014 are PASSION and INTENTIONAL. I desire to be more passionate in the things God calls me to a wife, mother, daughter, leader, friend. I want to be sold out for HIM in all I do. When someone is passionate about what they are doing, they are contagious. You love being around them because they ooze joy and passion for whatever it is they adore. I want to be that way about JESUS to my girls. I want them to see that I am so passionate about JESUS that I ooze HIS love and truth in every aspect of my life. I want them to see that I am so passionate about being a Godly wife, that I ooze the love of Christ on my husband and that the calling to be their mom is such a passionate calling in my life that I ooze the love of Christ all over them as well. I want them to see the  passion I feel inside starting to ooze all over whatever I'm doing.

Being intentional seems natural for some people. Most of the time it can be for me as well. I often choose people over tasks. I know that jobs can wait but people are only here for a time. So I get that, but there are times I use that as a way to get out of  things. Being honest here. So in my goal to be more intentional with all I do, I need to carry that in all areas of my life. Wherever God places me for that moment, I desire to be intentional in that moment..with the people there, with the job at hand, with the calling given. That will require me to stay focused on that moment and not get lost in my daydreams or my "fixing it" mentality which can creep its way in without me realizing it. Being intentional is really about being sold out in that moment, fully engaged and prepared to do whatever it is God has called me to do...laundry, meals, hug my girls for some much needed cuddle time. I don't want to waste one moment of time over my agenda or need to fix something. I want to get lost in memories and moments God has placed on my journey this year.

So, I leave this post up as a reminder to myself to stay passionate about what God  has called me to do in life and to be intentional while there. I'm eager to see how this year pans out but so far...loving it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Snow Fun!

WE have been experiencing some beautiful snowfalls lately. I thought I'd take a sec and post some pics of the fun we've had in the well as some shots that are just beautiful! :)

The girls decided to dive into the snow...swimsuit on, hat on..bare feet! Oh my!

They also made a new friend. :) 

Even our furry guy enjoyed the snow. 

Bean loves to take pictures. She asked Doodle to put on one of 
her dance costumes and pose. And they are beautiful! 
Blessed by the ballerina and the photographer! :) 


Some hate snow, but I love the way it reminds me of how God allowed His Son to die for me and cover my sins white as snow. AS I look out my window and see a fresh blanket of unmarked snow, I can't help but immediately think of this gift. Precious reminder. :) 
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