Anxiety Is Not My Friend

I’m not gonna lie.  The last couple of weeks have been rough.  Anxiety is real.  It’s like an unwelcome guest who just won’t leave no matter how much I want it to.  I drop kick it out the front door and then it sneaks in the backdoor.  After a phone call with our insurance company it latched onto me like a parasite.  And it followed me to bed Monday night and kept me company until 4 a.m. Anxiety is not my friend.

It all started a few weeks ago when it snowed.   Snow makes Mikayla feel anxious.  She deals with her anxiety by following me around all day and talking nonstop.  I began to experience a fair amount of anxiety after spending 4 days with my chatty mini-me shadow.  Wednesday came, the roads were clear, and we headed to church.  I took the girls to their class and I went into the worship service thinking that I would be able to relax and regroup.

We were halfway through the first song and I began to feel claustrophobic.  The drums that have never bothered me before were making my chest pound.  I grabbed my purse, bolted out of the sanctuary, and ran into the restroom.  And then it happened.  The worst ugly cry I’ve ever experienced in my entire life came pouring out of me. As I began to pull myself together the door opened and my friend was suddenly by my side.  She has a lot of experience working with special needs adults.  She listened as I shared what was bothering me and she encouraged me.  And then she said 3 words that sent me over the edge.  She said “I get it.”  As soon as those words were out of her mouth I lost it.  I asked her “Do you get it?  Do either of your children have anything wrong with them? Do you deal with special needs 24 hours a day without a break? Do you have to worry about if your kids will ever leave home?”  As soon as I spit out the last word I wished I could take it all back.  I usually just think those things when people tell me they understand.  I’ve never actually said them to anyone.  But it happened.  I was glad that it happened with a friend who will continue to love me even when I’m unlovable.

Hope had a really bad day at church last Sunday.   Something wasn’t right even before she went to class.  But I was hoping that she would settle down and enjoy class.  I got a negative report from our frazzled friend you was helping Hope during class.  I was feeling as if everything was spiraling out of control.  Things I thought the girls had finally overcome were coming back to haunt us once again.  I was so discouraged.

Our insurance company denied a couple of medical claims that we thought they would pay.  Totally frustrating.  And our insurance is also in the process of reviewing the medical necessity of our girls therapies.  A couple of the therapists met with me to discuss what we need to do if the insurance decides to stop paying for the girls therapies.  It wasn’t an easy conversation.  I didn’t sleep that night because of all of the questions racing through my mind.  What if they quit paying for therapies? What are we going to do then?  How can this be happening?  The insurance will let us know their decision by February 19th.  And so we wait.

So I’m totally stressed out and I look at the calendar.  A mammogram on the 27th?  That should help my anxiety, right?  Oh joy.  I didn’t want to reschedule it so I go to the appointment.  She calls me in and hands me the gown.  She tells me the gown opens in the front.  If you’re wearing deodorant you need to use a wipe to remove it for the test.  Put your clothes in a locker.  Keep your purse with you.  Sit in the waiting area and we’ll call you soon.   Yes.  I know all of this.  I’ve done it before.  But thank you.

I’m reading my book and waiting for them to call my name.  And then I suddenly realize that I didn’t remove my deodorant.  How in the world did I forget to do that? She even told me to do it.  So I ran to one of the dressing rooms and removed my deodorant.  I got back before they called my name.  After the test was over I went into one of the dressing rooms, put my purse on the chair, and then felt like a complete idiot.  It’s kinda hard to put your clothes back on when you forget to stop at the locker and get your clothes.  So I sneak out of the dressing room, grab my clothes, sneak back in the dressing room, and get dressed.  Yep.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  Other than I don’t function well on 8 hours of sleep in 2 days time.  It’s really nothing that a 72 hour nap wouldn’t cure.

I went to church after I got home from my appointment even though I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t have a full-blown ugly cry in the restroom.  That’s progress.  As we stood for the closing prayer a friend came up to me.  She hugged me and she handed me a paper.

Paper from Amanda

 

So much truth that I needed to hear while I’m in the middle of my current mess.  The Lord will direct our steps.  If we lose insurance coverage for the girls therapies He will direct our steps.  He cares about every little detail of our lives.  He cares about our girls behavior.  He cares about my behavior.  He cares about how much sleep I get or don’t get.  He cares about the anxiety that I carry.  He wants me to give my burdens to Him and He will take care of me.  (Psalm 55:22)  It seems as if I’ve stumbled a million times in the last few weeks.  Yet He still holds my hand and I know that He will never let go.

Turtle Tales – What Happened At Our House This Week

Speech progress is a really big deal at our house.   I used to wonder if our girls would ever talk in complete sentences instead of just using two word phrases.  So I got really excited this week when Hope got mad at Mikayla.  I guess that sounds kinda funny.  But I’m thankful for speech progress no matter how it shows up.

Mikayla touched Hope’s iPad.  Hope got really mad and she yelled “You ruined my life….and I’m not very happy!”   Obviously she overreacted just a smidge.   But I honestly didn’t care.  I was laughing too hard.  That was a really big sentence that was even delivered with the proper emotion.  Go Hopey!

Our friend Jennie invited the girls to stay all night at her house.  They were well behaved and were having such a good time so Jennie asked if they could stay a second night.  Of course, I said yes.  I had a wonderful 48 hour break from caring for them.  The girls got to visit Jennie’s cat Sparkles and they went on a road trip to visit some horses.

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Hope had an appointment with her orthodontist on Monday.  They put a new band on one of her teeth. They finally found the perfect size and got it glued in.  Hope immediately said “Take it out.”  The nice lady told her that it would have to stay until her braces came off.  Hope decided to go along with it instead of throwing a fit.   Phew.  They told us that she would probably be sore because of the new band and a new kind of wire they had put on.  But she never acted like she was in pain.

After we got done at the orthodontist we went to Easter Seals for the girls therapies.  Hope usually has an off day when she has therapy after the orthodontist.  But since Easter Seals and the orthodontist are in the same town that is an hour and 15 minutes from our house I schedule them on the same day.  I was totally shocked when Hope’s occupational therapist told me that Hope had a much better day than she’s been having lately.  And then Hope grinned and handed me a paper.  I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Hope loves Mom and Dad 01-16-16

For Hope to do so well in her handwriting on any day would’ve been amazing.  But for her to do this well after being at the orthodontist is miraculous.  I was so proud. And her goofy grin told me that she was proud too.

Hope’s speech therapist showed me the scoring sheet from their therapy session.  Hope scored 92% and 93% with no visual prompts.  She said that the last time Hope got around  50% for both.  I couldn’t believe that she’d done her best after seeing the orthodontist.

I sat down with Mikayla and had her make me a paper like Hope’s.  I just felt the need to have a matching set.  I’m planning on framing them and hanging them on the wall.

Mikayla love mom and dad

We got a few inches of snow this week.  Snow makes Mikayla feel anxious.  She worries about if Daddy is going to have to go to work.  She worries when he goes to work that he won’t be able to get back home.  And she worries that Grandma is out driving around in the snow when she should be at home.  When Mikayla is feeling anxious she follows me around ALL DAY LONG and she talks ALL DAY LONG.  So what’s a mom who has a chatty little sweetheart following her around all day supposed to do?  She thanks God for a husband who bought her a grand stash of chocolate for Christmas.  And then she eats it every chance she gets.  Snow is my enemy and spring can’t come soon enough.

Books I Love ~ Hands Free Life

Books I Love

Hands Free Life

At the beginning of January I read several blog posts that women wrote sharing their list of the best books they read in 2015.  A book called Hands Free Life was mentioned several times.  I went to Amazon and noticed that the Kindle price was only $1.99 (it’s currently  $8.99).  I quickly purchased it because it was only a couple of bucks.  What did I have to lose?

This book may possibly be the best $1.99 that I’ve spent in my entire life.   I absolutely loved Hands Free Life from cover to cover.  I’m even going to order a copy to keep on my bookshelf.  I love my Kindle but I’m also a huge fan of actually holding a book and turning the pages. This book is worth buying twice.

Hands Free Life is about being present in the moments you have with your family.  It’s about not missing out on life because you’re distracted with your phone and your to-do list. I cried many times while reading this amazing book.  Rachel Macy Stafford’s writing inspired me to make the right choice the night Mikayla’s world fell apart.

I don’t often leave comments on blogs but I felt compelled to leave this comment on Rachel’s blog.

I type this with tears in my eyes and a truly thankful heart. I found you only a few short weeks ago and I’m so excited for the journey ahead of me. As a mom of 4 girls (2 with special needs) most of my days feel as if joy is a distant unattainable dream. And then I read Hands Free Life and things began to change for me. Instead of rushing bedtime because I was exhausted I let my girls crawl into bed with me. Instead of worrying about their speech skills and their behavior I found myself just listening to their hearts. And it was beautiful.   I’ve felt like a robot just going through the motions each day.  Just existing but not living. But now I have hope. I have hope that joy can be a part of my life once again.

I still have days when I make the wrong choice and rush through life.  Today was one of those days.  I’m definitely a work in progress.  But reading this book has sparked a fire in me to live a more intentional life with fewer distractions.  It’s time to enjoy my family instead of feeling stressed and anxious all the time.

If you would like to know more about Rachel Macy Stafford and how to have a Hands Free Life check out her website http://www.handsfreemama.com.  Believe me.  It will be worth your time.  If you need me I’ll be over at Amazon ordering Hands Free Life and Rachel’s other book Hands Free Mama.  Kinda wish I had Amazon Prime.  Sigh.

The Night Her World Fell Apart

We woke up to snowy, ice-covered roads on Sunday morning.  We soon got a call that church was canceled.  Then my Mom called and canceled my Dad’s birthday party. Our full day suddenly turned into a quiet day at home.  Of course, the girls wanted to play in the snow.  After 30 minutes of hunting for hats, gloves, boots, and snowsuits and then covering their entire bodies with all of it they were ready to meet the snowy world.  30 minutes later they were back inside sipping hot chocolate from their new flamingo mugs.

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After hours of listening to endless chatter it was finally time for bed.   I was exhausted and my bed was calling my name.  As soon as I announced that it was bedtime Mikayla burst into tears.  She said “I miss Grandma and Grandpa.  The party was canceled.”  And then she did something that I’ve never seen her do before.  She went into a full-blown ugly cry.  It was a moment that broke my heart but yet it made me happy at the same time.  Because once upon a time our girls didn’t show emotion. But here we were in the middle of an ugly cry because Grandpa didn’t get to have his birthday party.  Progress.  I’m always thankful for progress.

This first ugly cry didn’t look as if it was going to end any time soon.  So I told Mikayla to crawl into bed with me.  Hope soon crawled into bed with us.  The three of us started talking and the tears quickly disappeared.  I’m often guilty of not taking the time to listen to their hearts at the end of the day because I’m tired and I want to go to sleep.  But on this day I stopped, I listened, and I heard their hearts.  It was entertaining and it was beautiful.  Here’s a little glimpse of our conversation.  If you listen closely you’ll hear what our girls love the most in this world.

Church was closed.

Me: Yes, church was closed.  But you didn’t miss anything.  No one was at church.

Grandma & Grandpa’s house is closed.

Me:  No.  Grandma & Grandpa’s house is never closed.  If we could get there they’d let us in.

Hummingbirds are cold.  Hummingbirds are not pets

I need to see Sparkles    (Sparkles is our friend Jennie’s cat)

Bo died.  They buried him.   (Bo was Jennie’s dog)

Sparkles and Bo are old pets

I like popsicles in the freezer.

Go pray for the crocodiles and the dolphins.

The dolphins are cold.

I need a dog with donuts  

Dog with donuts

I need to pet the sharks again

I pet the baby sharks

A dolphin’s a mammal not a fish.

Mommy, baby sharks are cute.

A shark’s a fish.  Baby sharks are cute.

The pet store’s not open.  They’re closed.

What happened Mommy?  I squeezed your nose.

I got snot in my nose.  And blood.

I could kiss you.

You obey me.     (Not sure where she got this idea.  But it’s not gonna happen)

I need a pet flamingo.

Flamingo’s a bird.  He has a bill.

What about a toucan?

I’d like a peacock at my house.

I saw a turkey in my yard at Thanksgiving.   

I’m picking my nose.  I’ve got a booger.    (Coulda figured that one out without words)

Monkey’s tummy’s growling.  He needs a sandwich.  Monkey needs to go to the bathroom.

I need a pet leopard

Hope:  I need a chihuahua

Mikayla: Chihuahua is a bad word

Snakes are cute

Mikayla:  I miss Grandma and Grandpa

Ok.  We’ve come full circle now.  I miss Grandma and Grandpa is where we started. But there are no tears this time.  It must be time to go to sleep.

I love you.

I love you too.

Good night.

Good night Mommy.

2016 A Year to Cry Less and Laugh More

Joy Comes in the Morning

One thought immediately came to my mind as I began thinking about how I would like this year to be different from last year.  I want to cry less and laugh more.  I believe that 2016 is going to be a year of laughter for our family.  It’s going to be a year of joy.  We’re only a week into the new year and I’ve found myself laughing more.

Late one night Hope got up, went to the bathroom, and then went back to bed.  45 minutes passed and all of sudden she was standing at the foot of our bed.  She asked “Why do I pee so much?”  And then she turned and went back into the bathroom.  Brett and I both cracked up.  I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.  In the middle of my laughter I realized what a huge moment this was.  It was the first time that Hope has ever asked a “why” question.  She normally would just say “need to pee again.”  I can’t even put into words how exciting this moment was.  And all because our little girl drank a little too much before bedtime.

Last Sunday I handed Hope a pair of shoes and told her to put them on.  The next time I saw her she was wearing a different pair of shoes.  “Hope, those aren’t the shoes that I told you to put on!”  She said “Daddy said so!!!!”  Sure enough Daddy had told her that she could wear them.  But Daddy didn’t realize how dirty the shoes were which made them inappropriate attire for Sunday church.  Daddy is so much more fun than Mommy.  I made her change the shoes.  Hope got hopping mad at me.  It was a foot stomping how dare you not let me have my way kind of moment.  It wasn’t pretty.  As we loaded in the van Hope glared at me, stomped her foot, and said “You get one more chance, Mommy!!!!!”  I did what any good mom would do.  I laughed myself silly.  Yes I did.

In that moment I couldn’t help but notice how far she’s come.   Her language skills have soared in the last year.  She used the proper emotion and included a foot stomping for emphasis.  I didn’t have to wonder what she was thinking or what she was feeling.  It wasn’t a moment to reprimand her for her behavior.  It was a moment to savor.  It was a moment to celebrate the emergence of new language skills.   And it was a moment when I was forced to realize that her behavior only mirrored my behavior   Yes, she’s really just a mini-me.  She’s heard me say “You get one more chance, Hopey.”  And she’s heard me say it with impatience and without a hint of kindness in my voice.  So in that moment the Lord gave me a gentle reminder that I need to work on my character.  I’m thankful that His voice is always kind and that He always give me one more chance.