Top Posts of 2016

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Can you believe it’s the last day of 2016?  Thank you for following my family’s journey this year.  Here are the top 5 posts for 2016.

#5  Sensory Processing Disorder: A Day at the Dentist

I still cringe when I think about Mikayla and Hope’s visit to the dentist in July.  I was embarrassed and I felt like a horrible mom.  But then I found a note in my mailbox from the ladies at the dentist’s office.  They didn’t look at me and see a bad mom.  They looked at me and they saw a good mom having a bad day.  It’s no surprise that this post would resonate with my readers.  I think we often listen to and believe the lie that we’re bad moms. But the truth is that we’re good moms just having a bad day.

#4  Putting My Trash Out for Everyone to See

I didn’t want to write this post.  I put off writing about it for months because I didn’t want everyone to know that I struggle with anxiety.  But then one day as I was cleaning the basement I felt that it was time to write about it.  So I hit publish and here it is at #4 for the year.

#3  The Case of the Missing Coats

This post makes me look a bit foolish.  I ran all over our church looking for coats that were still in our van.  But God used my foolish moment to lead me to the right person at the right time.  I learned a valuable lesson.  Searching for the answers to our girls futures is much like searching for their missing coats.   I ran all over the church trying to find their coats but I didn’t find them.  It was when I stopped and asked God for His help that the coats were found.  I can run all over this earth searching for services, therapists, and schools for our girls and not find them.  But if I just stop and ask God to help me He will answer.

#2  Putting the Pieces Back Together Again

This post was about my husband fixing our washer for $15.  God reminded me that He wants to fix those areas of our life that are broken.  Sometimes a part of our life will work for years and then it will suddenly no longer work as well as it used to.  Homeschooling was a piece of our life that was no longer working for Mikayla and Hope.  We decided to enroll them in public school and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made

And the top read post in 2016 was:

#1  The Night Her World Fell Apart

This post was about Mikayla processing the disappointment of Grandpa’s birthday party being canceled.  She experienced her first 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.  We crawled into bed and I just sat and listened to Mikayla and Hope share with me what things are most important to them.  This moment taught me to slow down, listen, and savor the moments with our girls.

Happy New Year!

Sensory Processing Disorder: A Day At The Dentist

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Mikayla and Hope were irritated with each other from the moment we stepped into the dentist’s office.  I was hoping they would call one of them in quickly so they could get away from each other.  They called Mikayla back for her cleaning and Hope started playing a game on her iPad.  Wow.  This is going smoothly. But after only a few minutes Hope became restless.  And she started talking.

It’s my turn!

No it’s not your turn.  They will come out and say your name when it’s your turn.

She went back to playing with her iPad.

It’s my turn!

Have you heard anyone say your name?

No.

Then it’s not your turn.

She played her iPad some more.

It’s my turn!

No.  It’s not your turn.  They will come get you when it’s your turn.

After 30 minutes of listening to Hope say “It’s my turn” the hygienist came out.  She had finished Mikayla’s cleaning.  She explained that Mikayla’s molars have deep pits.  She said that she could put sealants on them to prevent her from getting cavities.  She had some extra time and could do it while we were there.  I told her to go ahead.  She went back in with Mikayla and Hope went back to her same routine.

It’s my turn

No.  It’s not your turn.  They’re still working on Mikayla.  When they get done with Mikayla then it will be your turn.

It’s my turn.

Have you heard anyone say your name?

No.

Then it’s not your turn.

30 minutes later the hygienist brought Mikayla out and a strange odor filled the room.  She said Mikayla did fine with the sealants until they tried to do the ones on the top.  She gagged and then she vomited.  It was all over the front of her dress.  And it was in her hair.  They had cleaned her up but she gave me a moist towel so I could work on her some more.  She said she would be back to get Hope as soon as she cleaned the room.  I left Hope in the waiting room while I took Mikayla in the restroom. I cleaned her up the best I could but she still smelled.

When I got back to the waiting room I was very happy to find that Hope was the only person in the room.  Maybe we’ll get out of here without anyone having to smell the vomit.  Mikayla started eating the sucker they gave her.  Hope got upset and started yelling because she didn’t have a sucker.  Then she went back to the routine she’d been doing for the last hour.

It’s my turn

They’re cleaning the room.  They will come and say Hope when they’re ready for you.

It’s my turn.

Did you hear anyone say Hope?

No.

Then it’s not your turn yet.

20 minutes later the hygienist came out.  It’s finally Hope’s turn.  Hallelujah.  Mikayla and I start playing a game on her iPad.  I’m feeling very thankful that we’re still the only ones in the waiting room.  Then the door opens and a lady comes in.   A couple more people come in.  Then another.   I wondered if their noses were picking up the scent of my smelly little sweetheart.

After 2 hours had passed I was really needing to go home.  Hope finally came out.  I walked up to the window to make their next appointment.  Mikayla took her Despicable Me umbrella and hit Hope with it.  Then Hope took her My Little Pony umbrella and hit her back.  I told them to stop it.  They didn’t.  You stand here.  And you stand over there.  Don’t touch each other.  But they did.

The receptionist asked if I would like to make their appointments on 2 different days next time.  Yes.  After the way today went I would like to bring them on different days.  The receptionist apologized for it taking so long.   The computer was being slow.  Hope started eating the sucker they gave her and it made Mikayla mad.  They started hitting and kicking each other.  I suddenly felt as if I couldn’t breathe.  A panic attack began to take over my body.  I told the receptionist that I had to leave.  The printer finally spit out the appointment paper.   As my trembling hand reached for the paper the tears started to come like a flood.   As I turned to leave I didn’t look at any of the people in the waiting room.  I felt ashamed. What kind of mom can’t control her own children?  As soon as we got outside Hope started yelling because she dropped her sucker.  It’s stuck to the front of your shirt.  Peel it off and let’s go.

I cried the entire 25 minutes that it took to get home.  Why does going out in public have to be this hard? As soon as I got home I told Brett I was going to bed.  I didn’t care that it was only 3:30 in the afternoon.   I went in the bedroom, put on my nightgown and crawled in bed.  All I wanted was to forget that this day had ever happened.   And there’s no way I will ever write a blog post about it.  That’s for sure.  But here I am writing about it.  Crawling into bed and trying to forget the day wasn’t the end of the story.  A few days later I found a card in our mailbox from the ladies at the dentist’s office.  They each wrote me a personal note of encouragement.

Just a note to let you know we think you are great!  I hope your day got a little better.  

I enjoyed seeing your girls.  I can tell you go above and beyond taking excellent care of them just by looking in their mouths.  What a wonderful mother you are.

I was stunned.  They didn’t look at me and see a bad mom.  They looked at me and they saw a good mom having a bad day.   As I closed the card God whispered in my ear.  He said That’s how I see you.  I look at you and I see a good mom having a bad day.  And He loves me.  Even when my attitude stinks and I’m impatient He still loves me.  He gently reminds me I need to work on some things.  And I nod my head and agree.

The next day I took the girls to appointments at the eye doctor.  Guess what?  They were complete angels.  They didn’t yell at each other.  They didn’t touch each other.   I told them I was proud of them and I wanted to buy them a prize for being so good.  They wanted ice cream sandwiches.  I don’t understand why life can be so different from one day to the next day.  Or from one moment to the next moment.  But perhaps next time I feel tempted to carry shame out of the doctor’s office I’ll remember the ladies who looked at me and just saw a good mom having a bad day.  I’ll shake the shame off and walk out the door with my head held high.  And I’ll trust that tomorrow will be a better day.

Putting The Pieces Back Together Again

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The washer started making a funny noise.  That can’t be good.  Then it started walking across the laundry room.  That can’t be good either.  My handsome handyman did a little research and he ordered a couple of parts.  Saturday arrived and he dismantled the washer.  Parts were scattered all over the floor.  As I stepped over all the pieces they seemed to symbolize our life.  I felt like many parts of our life weren’t working anymore.  What are we going to do about this?  What are we going to do about that?  What if this happens?  What if that happens?  Is life always going to feel like this?  Or is it possible that all the scattered pieces of our life could go back together and life would start working again?

I said a silent prayer for our washer.  Please let these parts be the answer.  Please let it work when Brett gets it back together again.  I prayed but I also doubted.  My mind had the washer dead and buried.  I was already irritated with the thought of going to Sears and picking out a new one.  Why do I do that?  Why do I always think it’s going to be complicated instead of simple?  Why do I assume the worst rather than hope for the best?

45 minutes later Brett had the washer back together again.  Now for a test run. We threw in some towels and waited for the verdict.  Well, would you look at that.  It’s not making that noise and it’s not walking across the room. Brett had fixed the washer for $15.  We rejoiced because this repair was quick. easy, and it didn’t break the budget.   And in that moment the Lord spoke to my heart.  He said “I want to do the same for every area of your life.  I want to show you how to fix the parts of your life that don’t work anymore.  Just trust Me. ”

Sometimes a part of our life will work for years and then it will suddenly no longer work as well as it used to.  That’s what has happened for our family with homeschooling.  I started homeschooling 15 years ago when Taylor was 4 years old.  I’ve enjoyed every single part of it.  Homeschool mom has been part of my identity. I thought that I would homeschool all of our girls through high school.  But this school year I began to notice that it was no longer working for Mikayla and Hope.  It’s been a struggle for them and it’s been a struggle for me.   It’s time for a change.  I will continue to homeschool Brynna for the next 2 years until she graduates from high school.  What worked for Taylor and Brynna isn’t working for Mikayla and Hope.

Brett and I have decided that Mikayla and Hope will be going to school next year. We’ve prayed and the Lord has put many people in our path who are helping us on our journey.  I’m choosing to hope for the best.  I know the process will include a lot of trial and error.  We’ll find out this part didn’t work but this one did.  And I believe that one day we will feel like we did when the new parts made the washer work again. We will rejoice because the new school and the new experiences have helped make Mikayla and Hope’s lives work better.

My Wish For Every Special Needs Parent

My friend Amanda sent me a message.  She said our pastor felt led to have a special Wednesday night service.  Everyone would be together in the sanctuary and the kids wouldn’t be going to class.  She said the staff had discussed how this night would be hard for me since Brett can’t come with us on Wednesday nights.  They knew that it wouldn’t be easy for me to keep Mikayla & Hope corralled and quiet.  They wanted to do whatever they could do so that I would be able to come. She asked for my thoughts and feelings.  I gave her a few quick thoughts and then I said that I could just stay home so that others didn’t have to miss out on the service. Her loving response didn’t surprise me.  “You staying home isn’t an option…sorry but nope”.

The night before the service Amanda messaged me about the plans that had been made.  I was amazed that people were going to so much trouble just so that I could come to church.  As I crawled into bed that night I was really looking forward to the service the next day.  But the moment I woke up the day turned into a struggle.  The girls were intense, demanding, and irritable.  They kept asking the same questions over and over and over again until my brain felt like a pile of goo.  By the time noon rolled around I was exhausted.  I didn’t feel like I could handle the long drive to church.  It just sounded like too much.  But I was determined I was going to go because people had went to a lot of trouble for our family.

As we pulled into the church parking lot I was feeling shaky.  It was a bone-tired-I’m-at-the-end-of-my-rope kind of shaky.  I pulled open the door and my two little firecrackers entered the building.  Becky immediately greeted us with activity bags full of things to keep the girls busy.  Amanda had arranged for Joni to sit on the right side of the sanctuary with Hope and for Valissa to sit on the left side with Mikayla.  Once the girls were settled with their helpers for the evening I went and sat by myself.

As the worship service began the tears started flowing from my eyes.  The tears were partly due to exhaustion and the relief of getting a few moments to myself.  But mostly the tears were because I was thinking about statistics that I’ve read that say 80% of special needs families don’t attend church because they don’t feel welcome. And there I stood in my church feeling like a queen.  I wasn’t on the outside looking in wishing that I could be a part of what was going on. I was there experiencing what everyone else got to experience.  My heart overflowed with gratitude for our church.  And yet my heart also hurt for those families who don’t receive this same love and acceptance at their churches.      

I’ve left out perhaps the most amazing part of this story.  We don’t go to a little church where everyone knows each other.  Our church has a regular attendance of 1,000 people.  Isn’t that amazing?  1,000 people and our family isn’t lost in the crowd.  We are loved consistently on special nights as well as on ordinary days.  People are sensitive to our situation and they love like Jesus loves.  Jesus said “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14).  Jesus wants all children (and all adults) to be welcome at church.  Those who have autism.  Those who have sensory processing disorder.  Those who have cerebral palsy.  Those who have Down syndrome.  Those who have intellectual disability.  Those who have ADHD.  Those who have a disability should be welcomed as well as those who don’t.  Jesus loves them all.  The people at our church love them all.  And every day I’m thankful to call our church home.        

It’s often hard for special needs families to find acceptance in the world.  But it shouldn’t be hard for them to find acceptance inside of the church.  I wish every family would feel loved like our family feels loved.  All it takes is someone who’s willing to be an Amanda.  Make activity bags and create an opportunity for people to love a family. And it takes people like Joni and Valissa.  People who are willing to miss church and walk the hallways with sweet firecrackers who can’t sit through church.  It takes people who are willing to stop their world for just an hour so that a mom can catch her breath.

As we enter our churches this Sunday may we be mindful of the needs of others.  If we see a mom or dad struggling with their kids let’s take a moment to help them. Let’s stop and pray with them or give them an encouraging word. Let’s make opportunities for special families to feel special.  Let’s make my wish for every special needs parent come true.  May they find acceptance as they enter their church this week.  May their world be changed just because someone noticed their need and loved them enough to meet it.     

Stepping Stones To Greater Things

My dentist told me that I had to have a root canal and get a crown.  What?  Are you kidding me?  I don’t think I want that.  But apparently it was the only way I was going to get rid of the infection in my gum.  So with fear and trembling I made the appointment.  The night before the procedure I got extremely anxious.  The fear of the unknown always has a way of making me a little crazy.  I gave myself a pep talk.  “Tricia, get a grip.  You’ve had 3 c-sections and you didn’t think they were a big deal.  Surely you can live through a root canal.”

It took 2 visits to complete the root canal.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be but I certainly hope I never have another one.  This week I had my appointment to get my temporary crown.  I woke up dreading another 2 hours in the dentist’s chair.  As I opened the door to the office I sighed, rolled my eyes, and thought “Here we go again.”

They numbed me.  They did an impression.  They took an x-ray.   They filed away my tooth.   As pieces of my tooth were flying through the air I was thinking about my older sister.  She’s 45 years old and the girl doesn’t even have a single cavity in her sweet mouth.  Bless her heart.  Why do I have to go through this?  Why can’t I be more like her?  Oh, to live a cavity free, root canal free, and crown free life.  Must be nice.  The temporary crown was finally in place.  I was relieved to be able to shut my mouth and get out of that chair.  Sweet freedom.

When I was having my root canal it seemed like a really big deal.  I didn’t enjoy one single minute of it.   But in the grand scheme of life it’s a pretty small thing.  Isn’t that how a lot of situations are in life? When you’re in the middle of the situation it seems huge.  But one day you look back and you realize that it was just a stepping stone to help you get to the other side.  A root canal and a crown are stepping stones to help me keep my smile.  My smile won’t have a big gap in it where a tooth used to be.  That’s a feature that I’m kinda glad to keep.

Tomorrow we begin a new journey for Mikayla and Hope. I have a meeting at the school to find out what education options we have available for them.  I’m looking forward to it about as much as I looked forward to my root canal.   I’m not a fan of IEP meetings.  What parent is, right?  They make my stomach feel queasy and I don’t enjoy hearing about how far behind our girls are.   But the IEP is an important part of the process.  I couldn’t get a crown without first having a root canal.  And we can’t go forward with the girls education without first writing an IEP.  The process will most likely be difficult and I doubt I will enjoy it.  But it’s a stepping stone to greater things for our girls.  And these two gals are certainly worth it.

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Happy 11th Birthday Mikayla and Hope

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11 years ago these little gals came into the world. They’ve taught me to slow down and see things that I can’t see when I’m hurrying. They’ve taught me to giggle at things that most people don’t even notice. They’ve taught me that life is about the journey and not just the destination. Seeing the world through their eyes is one of the greatest blessings that God has ever given me.   

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Hope told me she wanted a bird feeder for her birthday.  A bird feeder?  That’s perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  And Grandma is the perfect person to give Hope a bird feeder.  Hope loves to watch the hummingbirds when she’s at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and now she wants to see hummingbirds at our house.  So Grandma bought a bird feeder for Hope and one for Mikayla too.  They were so excited.  Now we have to wait for it to get warm enough for the hummingbirds to come.  The girls want them to come right now.  Pray for me.    

We took the girls to Chuck E. Cheese last Saturday to celebrate their birthday.  They would see a game that they once loved and would say “That one’s boring.” or “I’m too big for that one.”  What a difference a year can make.  They gravitated towards anything that vibrated and would make them bounce.  Their favorite game was one where they had to hold onto these silver levers that vibrated.  They called it the “shocking” game.  They loved that thing and would grin from ear to ear every time they did it.  

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The girls love dinosaurs and they’re crazy about flying a kite.  So we gave them each a dinosaur kite.  Now we just have to sit and wait for the wind to blow.  They also got a couple of games, some dinosaurs, and The Peanuts Movie.  

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I just can’t believe my babies are 11 years old.  I’m thankful for the progress they’ve made in the last year and I look forward to the progress they will make in the next year.  I look forward to hummingbirds and the wind blowing so we can make memories together.  Happy Birthday Hope and Mikayla!      

      

 

A Hexagon, A Fat Cat, And A Rubber Chicken

I allowed the words they spoke to keep me up at night.  They said the girls aren’t progressing.  They’re not doing as well as they were several months ago.  It was one of those times when I wished I could put my fingers in my ears, hum a tune, and drown out what they were telling me.  I know what they said is true and fear began to grip my heart.  But then I began to truly look at our girls and I noticed that they are progressing in everyday life.

Hope crawled into my bed with her iPad and asked me to watch her play Monkey Math.  The game showed her 3 different shapes and she was supposed to press the oval.  Every time she pressed the oval it gave her 3 new shapes.  She was pressing ovals like crazy until she accidentally pressed the wrong shape.  She said “Oops…..that was a hexagon.  I need to poke the oval.”  What?  She knows what a hexagon is?  I had no idea she knew that.

We were working on auditory memory cards.   This is the story that I read individually to the girls.

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These were the answers the girls gave me to the questions.

Who has a magic backpack?    Hope: Zack        Mikayla: Jack (Oh….so close!)

Why is it magic?    Hope: Because things won’t break     Mikayla:  Holds only things that aren’t heavy

If you look inside it, what will you see?    Hope:  A rubber chicken    Mikayla:  A cat.  Zoe’s too big for the backpack.  (Zoe is our cat)

We worked on these same cards last year.  The girls could never remember the name of the person mentioned in the story.  Remembering names has always been hard for them.  But Hope got it right and Mikayla’s answer rhymed with the correct answer.  I couldn’t believe it.  That’s progress.

Why questions are the hardest questions for our girls to answer.  I didn’t expect them to answer the “Why is it magic?” question.  But they gave me answers. They weren’t the correct answers but I thought they were good answers.

When Hope blurted out rubber chicken I laughed and she grinned.   When Mikayla said Zoe’s too big for the backpack it showed that she’s developing critical thinking skills.  Our cat is huge and she wouldn’t fit in a backpack.  That’s the truth.

As I was putting the cards back in the case I was thinking about how I answer questions.  If I don’t know the answer I will say “I don’t know.”  It’s safe to respond that way.  I’m certainly not going to blurt out an answer and possibly be wrong.  That would be embarrassing and risky.  But our girls aren’t afraid to risk.  If I ask them a question they’re going to give me an answer.  If it’s the wrong answer they don’t care.  They just go on with life.  If they don’t know the answer then they’re going to make something up.  And let’s be honest.  Isn’t a backpack with a rubber chicken and a cat in it more fun than a sock, a rock, and a clock?  Oh how I need to be more like our girls.  They live life and they don’t worry about what anyone thinks.

Progress doesn’t always show up in a 45 minute therapy session.  But it shows up in the moments that we’re just living life.  It shows up when a little girl recognizes a hexagon.   It shows up when a fat cat can’t fit in a backpack.  Progress is important.  But I’m learning to not worry so much when progress doesn’t show up on a piece of paper.  Worrying takes away the joy of living life.   And sometimes I just need to stop, laugh at a rubber chicken in a backpack, and savor the grins on the faces of little girls who make my world a better place