Tuesday, August 29, 2017

10 Ways to Have the Busiest October EVER!!

When one turns, ahem, almost forty, it is advisable to freak out and fill one's birthday month with as many activities as possible. If you wish for a wild-never-a moments-rest-month, then read on!!

1. Turn almost 40. Celebrate by eating whatever you want and accepting well-intended compliments that you don't even look close to 40.

(3 and 4+4+1=39--ha ha!)

2. Go to your 20th high school reunion. In Parkersburg, West Virginia. Maybe even get one of your flights delayed so that you can visit extended family for a couple of hours at their new business establishments.

 Then prepare yourself for all the fun of arriving to your final airport at 2am and driving for two more hours. Be certain to rent a little yellow VW bug so that when you drive around the small town of your alma mater, everyone will notice you and maybe even flag you down in your old neighborhood to suspiciously ask what you are up to. Be sure to visit with as many people as you can and drive to all your favorite establishments of your bygone teen days-- since you don't know when your next visit might ever be.

3. Walk the height of the Eiffel Tower. If Paris is unavailable, try the New River Gorge Bridge. In particular, the Bridge Walk, aka walking the entire catwalk that spans the length of the bridge, underneath the creaking, rumbling sounds of the busy highway above. Bask in the incredible, lofty views; dig the tiny pin dot of rafts taking on the white water in the river below. Be grateful your are harnessed in and therefore unable to fall off and meet an untimely death.

4. Drive the crazy back roads of West Virginia and Virginia. As the sun is going down. With a dying, then dead phone and therefore no access to your map apps (cute little yellow bug had no phone charger!) (But, some places were too remote to even pick up a signal, anyway!) Crawl in to bed at an old, historic inn, to which you will not have time to learn all about it's cool history. However, you will be able to rise the next morning and dig these old builidings.

What do me and Thomas Jefferson have in common? Besides our love and appreciation for the Declaration of Independence, we have both taken in the soothing, annually 98 degree temperatures of the naturally effervescent Jefferson Pools. The building was probably in better shape 240 years ago, but no biggie.

5. After a relaxing soak, drive further in Virginia to meet up with one of your oldest pals whom you knew in 4th grade and haven't seen for a decade. Enjoy the fact that you are still good friends; look forward to your next get together, secretly committing to yourself to not make it another decade apart.

6. Board a plane for home. Have some more fun with those flight delays. Make your husband lose three hours of sleep to come and pick you up. Hit the ground running four hours later with the demands of your six children and a brand new week which includes getting new flooring for your entire house. Which includes tile demolition. Which means dust. For weeks. But realize it is worth it to see gorgeous floors like these...

7. Celebrate your eldest child's 17th birthday--yea! And attend an IEP meeting for your special needs child--ugh.

8. Pick out coordinating outfits for 8 people. Attempt to get 8 people smiling and cooperating at the same time for family pictures. 

9. Help plan and carry out a Halloween party for 22 fourteen and fifteen year-olds. Move the party indoors due to rain. 

10. Purchase and assemble costumes for 8 people. Litter new floors with costume pieces and fabric scraps. Go to church's trunk-or-treat and win best family costume award.

11. Make attempts to sleep in in November ;-).

Monday, July 24, 2017

Take My Breath Away...

This past week I got to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world: The Grand Canyon. Got to spend the whole day there, from several viewpoints up top to half-way down the canyon--on a mule! My dear mother-in-law watched my two youngest children so I got to explore with my hubby and four oldest--all without having to constantly hold someone's hand or worry about them. What a treat!!!

We explored the higher and less-crowded north rim. My husband and I were definitely not expecting the breathtaking drive there. We thought it would be deserts and dry--not mountainous forests with beautifully interspersed meadows! And then peaks of the canyon!

My friends, who know how much I "love" animals, will not believe that I indeed rode a mule for 3.5 hours since my husband didn't take a picture of me on a mule :-(. Oh well--here is everyone from my view--on a mule. (In his defense--my phone was on a strap around my neck--his was not and he didn't want to drop his phone down the canyon!)

#4, right behind our guide, riding Leslie.

Then #3 on Bill.

(Then me on Suzy Q. The "Q" probably stands for quirky--she kept trying to pass #3 and Bill--and was notorious for nipping at passing vegetation--even ripping out whole plants and trying to munch them while she walked).

#1 was after me, riding on Wickiup. 

#3 on Rooster. She, being our most experienced rider, was given the most stubborn of mules. While most of us just had to nudge our mules with both feet--she actually had to whip hers in the behind!

And lastly, my love, riding on Ike. (There was a couple after him, and they were nervous on their mules).

I could post the hundreds of pictures I took; I will never tire of the views!!!!!

Um, that's really deep.

Nature-made Supai Tunnel

The Supai Tunnel Trail--check out the rest of the trail that meanders down, across a spring (see the bridge), and down, down, down to the bottom of the canyon. Unfortunately the mules don't go down to the bottom anymore (too hard to maintain the trail). Another day I will return and hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bittersweet April

"Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it."

Victor Hugo

Being the advocate for someone is very hard. It requires patience and stubbornness. It requires more than I have time to expound on; just know that about EVERY decision I make has my son at the center of it. 

This is why April was so hard. The company that provides my son's behavioral therapies informed me I had too many change vouchers for the first quarter of this year. (These are any times I had to change locations for therapy, was late, or had to cancel). I was given an ultimatum to not let any more incur for the quarter. But, we had one day during a crazy rainstorm when I had to pull my car over to wait it out, because I couldn't see. This made us late to therapy at the clinic. And this was the final straw.

I arranged a conference call with our local operations manager and the company's head guy in charge of family services.
After two hours of me crying and trying to convince them to give us another chance, pleading my case that I have my special kid plus five other children who need me (and how many people have that on their plates!) they still refused to keep us. 

This was devastating because it meant going back to square one on locating ABA companies that service my location. As well as, the dreaded wait time. There are too many children on the spectrum and not enough services in any aspect, so there is always a wait. (I did find a company but that's 3 to 6 months of waiting. School ended on the same day that his old therapy services ended 😔).

I cried so much in the month of April--probably more than any other month in my life. During spring break I tried to suck it up and attempt potty-training a 2nd time. During this time I somehow acquired strep throat. Miraculously, no one else got it--even with all my kids home for the whole week! This was the first hint of sweet to my bitter cup.

Another sweet was a private moment while attending another church meeting. The man conducting was the stake president from a different stake, other  than my own. He was telling a wonderful story about his wife's great grandfather. Not only was the story interesting, I noticed how he conducted himself and his mannerisms. It reminded me a lot of my own husband. Then I got to thinking about how humble and personable my husband is, as well as nonjudgmental. I was kind of having a conversation with the spirit, in my head. I just felt that my husband was such a humble and willing man and he was needed, by the Lord, to serve in callings where he would be able to influence and help many people. I was so moved that I wrote about it in my journal, which I don't write in very often.

During our weekly date I felt I needed to share my thoughts with my husband. He of course was very humble and just smiled while looking down and sayed a quiet "thank you." 

The next day was Easter, and we received a phone call from the stake  executive secretary to come and meet with the stake president of our stake. After talking to both of us for several minutes, finding out the details of our week, asking us how our marriage was, and then turning to my husband and asking some very personal, deep, spiritual questions, he extended the call to serve as a counselor in the bishopric for our ward. My husband and I both immediately began crying. Because of our son and the demands of his special needs, we just assumed that we would never be able to serve in certain callings in the church (because of the time commitments). But my experience had prepared my heart for what was to come. I had received a witness that my husband was needed and we would be okay in his extended absences. "You can't keep a good man down." (And honestly, I don't see much of a difference in his time that he was already spending with work! The Lord is blessing us).

Bittersweet April--thank goodness the sun rises after the darkness. We are on a new waiting list for my son's therapies. Until then I "wait on the Lord." (Proverbs 20:22)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tying up loose 2016 ends...

I realized that there were some things that I mentioned on Facebook, last year, that I never followed up on. I left things hanging!

First and foremost, was the news I shared about my aunt. She had a bike accident and was found by some cops on the side of the road. My uncle, her husband, was out of town for work. Friends were able to contact him and report her dire condition--she was not responding and after being rushed to two different hospitals, eventually ending up at Stanford, severe brain trauma was evident. She was kept comatose for a week while they worked on saving her brain. 

Essentially the right artery (there are two main arteries in the brain--one on the left and one on the right) was damaged beyond repair and therefore blood was flowing into the brain and spilling out into the brain and dura (sac that the brain sits in). They ended up packing it with platinum coils and basically sealing it off--all the while hoping (and praying!) that the left side artery would start to compensate for the right. Hallelujah, it did!!

Then they did a lot of tests to make sure she could swallow and talk and asked a lot of questions to jog her memory. 

After almost two months in the hospital, she was able to be released to a nursing facility. But, my uncle was ready to take her home and was able to help speed things along for her recovery so that she could return home. She is walking, talking, is regaining most of her memories (there are little holes here and there). She cannot see out of one eye. But, I feel like her amazing recovery has been the biggest miracle, for us, in 2016.

It is truly a miracle that she is alive. One night my cousin, Shawn, was texting every hour and we thought she was going to die. We finally had to go to bed and prayed that her condition would 
stabilize/improve, which thankfully, it did.

My beloved aunt and her devoted husband, who never left her side. So glad she is still here with us. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Perpetual Child-proofing: Welcome to my world

Oh, the joys of having a child with special needs! (Sarcasm detected?)

These past six or so months have had us on high alert. For those of you who have had children, perhaps you remember having to childproof/baby proof your home? Perhaps you still are in this phase. It seems we are back in to this phase again. Imagine your toddling toddler able to reach and climb like a school-aged child. Yup, still lacking fear of almost anything, but now with the ability to reach practically anything. Oh boy.

And oh boy, this boy!

Parents will do anything to keep their children safe. Some parents of special needs children are doing this over time!

#5 is not a hyper, masochistic daredevil (and thank the Lord for that!!!) But he is not afraid to climb on to practically everything (dryer, furniture--including tall shelves, the landings above stairs, the inside of closet walls, the side of the above-ground pool). And he is simply always on a mission--to find interesting things to tap and chew. And just so you know, almost everything can be tapped or chewed: bus passes, credit cards, bookmarks, wooden utensil handles, leaves, charging cords, ear buds, bottles of household cleaners.... Keeping him safe is a full-time gig.

We've had to up our safety game these past few months. This means the dismantling and doing away with the above-ground pool and changing out almost all 19 doors' doorknobs to locking ones. Me and my family are all getting pretty fast at unlocking doors with that little pin thingamajig! I'm sure he would have a blast figuring out how to pick the locks too, but thankfully we still have height to our advantage and he can't reach the locking-picking thingamajig at the top of the door jams. My hubby and I are still going on weekly dates, but now the older kids in charge can't have the tv on, because even it is just a kid show for #6 to watch, they can get distracted and miss that their littlest bro is climbing to the tallest shelf on the bookcase in the other room. 

Love our little explorer and I'm trying to keep rising to the special challenges he brings. I love that my family is so vigilant and forgiving (those bus passes, bookmarks, charging cords, and ear buds belonged to them....)  :-/

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer survival 2016

Three weeks. Yup, three weeks til school starts again! Lame, I know. But I guess if you get out of school a few weeks before everyone else, you go to school a few weeks before everyone else :-(.

Anyways--I'd like to salute a few things that have made my six-kids-home-summer doable:

1. Fruit dehydrators!
The 30+ fruit trees are happily being fruitful and I still have a little bit of jam leftover from last year. I did make some more jam already and now we have plenty of jam. Fruit leather--we are out! One thing I love about the dehydrators is that you can use overripe fruit to make great fruit leather. (But it makes terrible jam 'cause it usually won't set!) All I have to do is cut my fruit, take out the seeds, purée it in the vitamix, spread it on the trays, set them in the dehydrators, turn them on and let them do their thing--it's so easy!!! And it feels good to have some healthy snacks that don't spoil.

2. Swimming pool!
We just have a no-frills aboveground pool. It is not fancy, but it keeps the kids cool and they can swim and splash (and get tired out!) while I watch from my kitchen window and make dinner---killing two birds with one stone, I love it! Still saving for my in-ground dream pool...aww--maybe next summer?! Until then--this works!!!

3. Summer schedules!
I made another playgroup schedule for my ward this year. I love having things to do and planning them out ahead makes it so worthwhile for me. I don't like waking up one day and trying to figure out what would be entertaining for my kids and I to do that day. And we all need to get out of the house from time to time.

4. The iPad!
For many summers my children have fallen prey to their mother making them do, ugh, school work over the summer. I used to comb through their old textbooks and workbooks to save things for them to do over the summer. While they still have to do some hands-on work, I am very grateful for all the versatility of my iPad and all the wonderful educational apps that I can put on there for them to use.

5. Deep freezer!
What would my favorite season of the year be without delicious frozen things to eat. Popsicles and fruit blends galore for the kids, plus occasional ice cream sandwiches and other ice cream novelties. Most importantly: mom's personal stash of fudgesicles so she can "indulge" while trying to stay fit.

6. Another driver!
Oh how nice it is to have another driver. She is finally comfortable with the stick shift and has been able to take herself to all the teenage activities she needs to go to--and with being a member of three choirs and a cross country team and getting a job and wanting to hang out with friends--I am happy that I do not have to be her chauffeur!! I know what you're thinking; in three weeks this means I will get more sleep as I will no longer have to drive to early morning seminary!!!! Hooray!!

I hope your summers are all going blissfully. What are some things you love to have around for your "survival"?

(Just a few snapshots of summer 2016)

Monday, June 27, 2016

My marriage has reached adulthood!

I am not getting around to blogging as much as I would like. And, it always seems that I am blogging about my wedding anniversary. There are no excuses for this: I consider my decision to marry my husband, in the Washington D.C. Temple, to be the best decision I have ever made!!!

It's been a great 18 years. The last three have given us quite a whirlwind of emotions with the whole "rug-pulled-out-from-under-you" autism journey, of our now 5-year-old. Our relationship has been tested, and continues to be as we are continuously met with obstacle after obstacle. But this I will attest to--we better deal with all that is thrown our way when we work TOGETHER. 

I have grown to love him more and more as I have seen him, during our trial, dig down deep for that extra ounce of strength, patience, kindness, hope, faith....

My life has been derailed and we are running on a different track than most people. We have more than stopped to smell the roses! We are in slow-motion smelling those +!@*#% roses now!!! While I am meeting friends along the way who know how I feel, I am forever grateful that my husband-- the love of my life, my sexy, funny, perpetually 23-year-old boyfriend--and I are going through this together. He knows exactly how I feel.

Happy 18th to us! People--marriage is worth it if you and your partner are both willing to invest your whole heart, might, mind, body, and soul!!!!