Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christmas Morning

A good friend of ours gave an amazing talk in church early in December.  It was about giving good gifts.  Gifts like service, gifts that are simple.  It was beautiful.  John really took it to heart and cleaned out the garage!  He made a few gifts for the boys this year. 

Exhibit A, the sled:  We've had John's old rusted, broken sled hanging in our garage, well since the day we moved in eight years ago.  So, he shined it up and replaced the wood.  And it hasn't snowed all January, so we have yet to try it out.  But it sure is beautiful.
Exhibit B, an elf's workbench.  An elf retired this year at the North Pole and donated his workbench to a good little engineer at our house.  Yep, if you were to buy one of these, it would cost about $300.  Ours was made out of recycled garage junk.  No cost.  And my house has stayed a little cleaner too.  Witten now has a work center out in the garage and I haven't stepped on a screw, found grease in the carpet and random broken objects laying around.  It was a win win! 

Witt's Christmas:  Tools and a workbench

Race's Christmas:  telescope, paints, and a Wii game

Lane's Christmas: Trains

Okay, they were spoiled this year.  I loved having Christmas on Sunday.  I loved getting up and going to church before opening presents.  It just made the day so much more special, and I need to remember this in years to come.  Race and Witten didn't complain once and showed amazing patience.  Lane...well, could you blame him?? 

I love Christmas, I love these magical years when the boys are all young and all still believe in the magic.   It's going by too quickly; they're growing up too fast. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Okay For Now

 Read this book:

I'm not going into detail.  I won't ruin it for you.  But seriously, it will change you.  I'm so grateful I read this right before I start my writing courses on Wednesday.  Yep, you heard me.  I have to take a few classes to keep up my teaching certificate (not sure how much blogging will get done in the next 4 months, but...).  So, despite all other options, I'm really going to do it.  Finally.  I chose two writing classes in hopes to find some direction I want to go with my own book. 

I want to write something like this.  Something people will remember; something that reaches out and hands you a piece of hope.  I want my writing to make a difference and make people want to be better. 

Read this book.

Friday, January 13, 2012


For me, the first two weeks in January are spent in recovery mode from December.  Thank GOODNESS we didn't have to go back to school till the 9th. 

Here's a glimpse of our month:

To start, this fabulous friend came all the way from Idaho to go Black Friday midnight shopping with me (and visit with her AZ relatives I guess...) where we got our kicks out of laughing at the psycho animal instincts that surface in people's behavior on the night of Thanksgiving.  Lots of fun.  People watching is one of my favorite things to do.  I love you my friend, I MISS your guts!

Getting out the tree.  I have to say, every year seems to get a bit easier with the tree.  Race and Witt basically put it up by themselves now.  Lane (knock on wood) hasn't shown any desire to pull the tree down, or climb it (I should write a book called "The adventures of Witten and Spot" but that is another story for another day...), but loves to admire it instead. 

Putting up lights...John ALWAYS looks forward to this (I say this with as much sarcasm possible).  It's like an early birthday present...that's how much he likes it.  But, no matter how much he doesn't like it, he loves working with his biggest helper...

Christmas crafts.  Witten avoids arts and crafts at all costs (he'd rather be outside rolling in some dirt, playing with sharp objects or fire...seriously). When he does participate in crafts, it's usually very rushed, care free, and dare I say, sloppy (his teacher would agree)... so, any time Witten sits down and puts forth some effort into something like a ginger-bread train, we're all smiles and cheering him on!

I made aprons for the boy's school teachers.  Through this project, I quickly realized, yes, I love sewing...blankets.  NOT clothing.  I'm way too linear.  Doing the bunching in the waists practically KILLED me.  I was seriously sweating bullets while I bunched!

Somewhere in the middle of all this, not exactly when, it all blends into one December blur now-a-days, we had an exciting visit to the ER when Witten split his chin open on his day home sick... It's healed up nicely; super glue is an amazing thing.

We baked and painted ornaments.  I always love watching Race's detail.

And made and decorated LOTS of cookies:

We had a birthday party for our Daddy.  You know you're getting old (34) when all the candles in the house don't add up to your number, and still, when all lit, makes the cake look like it's actually on fire.  We love our Daddy.  Looking at all these pictures makes me once again realize with so much gratitude, that despite how busy he is, John is still so active in our family life.  Happy Birthday Hubby.

We sang a lot...

Race and Witt had their school concerts.  They both worked very hard and did fabulous.

(click to see better)

Service.  My favorite part.  Grandma Sara borrowed Race and Witt on separate days to take them "angel shopping" for other kids, and to do meals on wheels for the elderly.  It was so special.  Thank you Grandma Sara.

Despite our busy-NESS this December, I so enjoyed my quiet moments of prayer and meditation.  I would sit up at night, by the lighted tree with my cup of cocoa, after the kids were tucked in.  I would nestle in my little corner of the couch with a blanket and a book and think of our blessings.  Our daily blessings, along with the out-pouring of love shown to us by others.  Countless, selfless acts of kindness that sometimes I wonder "why? why would someone do something so amazing for us?  for me?"  I cried many tears of joy, humility, and gratitude this December.  Words, no matter how much I love to use and indulge in them, can't describe the true gratitude in my heart for my Savior and the goodness that is still so present in this crazy world. 

This December, my kids witnessed many miracles.  Acts of kindness and service. Sometimes done by them, sometimes for them.  I'm so grateful for those teachable moments.  When I could say, "Look, look what someone did for us.  Now, let's go and do for others." 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sharing Stress Soup

So, have you ever seen this?

Well, if you haven't and you're naturally a stressed person (like myself), maybe you shouldn't watch it.  Though very insightful, it stressed me out more.  The major point that brought on unwanted anxiety was the portion of the documentary that talked about some of the most stressed people in the world.  Do you know who they are?  Yep, mothers of children with disabilities.  Interesting isn't it?

By the way, this is very hard for me to talk about.

I've always had anxiety.  I've also recognized that it's gotten worse over the years.  It comes with being a control freak and perfectionist I guess.   I've talked to you in the past about the battles of faith and fear and learning how to let some things go.  I have always thought my stress and anxiety were manageable with the help of exercise, St. John's Wort and my Stress B Complex.  But in the last few months, nothing has been helping.   Less sleep,  crying more, less self worth,  panic attacks... fear.  I finally broke down and got a prescription from my doctor; for the nights I just can't calm down by myself. 

It's been a hard thing to admit, because hey, I'll be the first person to tell you, I'm strong, I can handle it! 

Isn't it interesting the way Heavenly Father teaches us, and uses us to teach others.  Because, as you probably know, one of the main components that add to my stress level is Race's autism.  Race has lots of good days, but there are the bad ones.  And sometimes, the bad days consume me. 

Race doesn't have school on Fridays.  So after therapies and shots, we always head to the library.  It's our day that he and I get to spend a couple hours together, just he and I, and destress from the week.  I was sitting there, watching him in the library.  He was really into the comic books that day.  Every one around him could have been miles away for all he knew. 

And apparently for all I knew too.  Because as I sat there watching him, wishing he had a good buddy at school who understood him, wishing music class at school wasn't so overstimulating and hard for him, wishing he didn't want to play with the big kids who are less tolerant than the younger ones, wishing December's weren't so autistic, wishing for some form of relief for him!  It took a minute for me to realize that I was wiping tears away from my own cheeks.   It took me a minute for me to realize the three kids next to me were being obnoxiously loud in the library and I turned to see if there was any kind of supervision. 

And there was, and she just smiled at me knowingly.  How snobby and unfriendly I can be!  Because I didn't smile back.  Until I realized, these three kids of hers...

"They have autism."  I state, not a question. 

"Yes."  she smiles

"All of them?" 

"Yes, among other things."

"Are they siblings?"


I was lost for words.  All three seemed more severe than Race.  I know I just stared.  Not at the kids, but at her.  Wondering at her calmness, wondering if she goes to school with them.  Wondering if she loses sleep at night, if she's afraid.  Wondering... at her smile.  "My son has autism."  is all I can say.  She glances at Race reading comic books.  He looks up and smiles at her.  She smiles back and nods.  We stare at each other for a moment.  She's smiling and I've got tears ready to spill over.  "How, how do you do it?"  I whisper.  Afraid to speak louder for fear my voice will crack and I'll start to bawl. 

I'm sure she could have said many things, but seeing my fragile state, she simply said, "The same way you do."

After a longer than usual library visit, Race and I made our weekly fast food trip.  It was amazing really.  The immediate flip in my spirit.  I felt good after talking to the mother in the library.  I thanked Heavenly Father for the strength I felt. 

As we left the drive through, the vehicle behind us starts honking.  Confused, wondering, what the heck, is my gas cap open?  do I have a flat?  I don't recognize her.  She's now motioning for me to stop.  I stop, and I wait for this complete stranger to get her food from the window and pull up next to me.  She gets out.  She looks tired, stressed, anxious.  I've seen that look in the mirror way too much. "Where did you get your bumper sticker?"  she asks in an almost desperate tone.

I have a magnet that looks like this on the back of my car:

After telling her, she says, "My son has autism."  She motions to the happy boy in the back of her SUV.  "We just moved here from North Carolina and..." she starts to cry.  "And I don't know what to do, everything is so hard here in Arizona!  I feel like I'm just running in circles!" 

I step out of my car, grateful to the mother in the library and my Heavenly Father, and the extra strength given to me just minutes ago...

...and I pass it along to my new friend.