The Carefree First Time Joys of Parenting

Despite being my third child, William is really giving me so many joys of the first time parent.  He’s in that incredibly fun stage right now where his development is exploding, he’s just learned to walk, and the whole world is his oyster.  He oooo’s appreciatively when something interests him, whistles like a tea kettle when he’s happy, hoots like a train when he’s mad, and his favorite pastime is toddling around the house, waving items he’s found and yelling “Whoa! Whoa!”

We were sitting in the rocking chair the other day reading a book together when it struck me.  I had never been able to sit in a chair and read a book with Michael or Gabriel.  They just couldn’t do it.  Michael was three years old the first time he was able to sit in my lap, and Gabriel didn’t understand how the reading aloud activity worked.  Then some of the other differences started coming to mind.  At fifteen months of age, William already has about half a dozen discernible words.  Michael and Gabriel were well into their thirty month mark before we heard anything we could understand.  William mimics me and REFERENCES me, things I’ve never seen before.  He has more enthusiasm about exploring and engaging the world around him.  You can just tell it’s easy and fascinating for him.  I don’t have to work at communicating or interacting with him.  I don’t analyze everything he does.  It’s different celebrating a new skill acquired when it came naturally instead of after hours of teaching and practice.  It’s just fun.

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I thanked God for giving me these little moments, they were special gifts from Him, the wonder of learning and growing, the carefree first time joys of parenting.  It’s more meaningful and bittersweet watching Michael and Gabriel meet their own milestones because of the effort and years involved, and I am incredibly grateful that the Lord has brought as much healing and restoration as He has to them.  But little William is bringing me new and special joys of his own, and I’m loving it!

Box Boys

They’re like cats when it comes to boxes.  If you leave them out, they will come!

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Michael is a ridiculously skilled contortionist when it comes to boxes.  I was shocked when I saw this.  I couldn’t figure out how he folded up his legs into such a small box.

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And this would be Michael’s idea of playing with his baby brother.

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For those of you in the Northeast, may you enjoy your snow day!  If the kids get bored, may I recommend some boxes. 😉

Getting Back On The Horse

It seems as though last week’s craziness spilled into this week too.  But I see the light at the end of the tunnel!  I finished off my last business project and delivered it yesterday, and we celebrated my dad’s birthday last night.  Three projects, Thanksgiving, and four birthdays down!  Only one birthday and Christmas left!

It’s been a rough ride.  I don’t do sleep deprivation well.  The days of staying up late, falling asleep at the computer, and waking all throughout the night by restless children are a living nightmare for me.  Well, I hope to celebrate the end of my working days by going to bed at a decent hour tonight.  We got the baby an amber necklace for his teething (these are awesome, by the way!), and he’s sleeping better too, so a little extra rest seems within reach.

As I was coming out of this hazy fog of computer projects and no sleep, I realized that I really missed my quiet morning times, and it totally affected the rest of my day.  I had been getting up early, reading my Bible, praying over my day, and then blogging about it.  The writing had really helped solidify my thoughts.  Then we had the last few weeks of working till my body couldn’t take it anymore, and then sleeping in until crying, hungry children woke me (that’s a pleasant way to wake up, let me tell you).  I missed these quiet times, and the habits that I had just started to develop withered away very quickly.  I became that exhausted, cranky person that I really hate being.  You know, the annoying one that complains to my husband a lot.

I miss reading my Bible and receiving a word that carries me through the chaos of my day.  I want that strength back.  I’ve had a taste of victory, and now I need more.  I thank God that He is gracious and forgiving, and always waiting for me to come back to Him.  I’m ready to get back on the horse.

Surviving Boot Camp

It’s been a rough couple of months on this end.  Right now, we’re all just trying to survive.  I hope it turns around soon because I’d really like to just enjoy Christmas instead of being super stressed about life, but we’ll see how things play out.

In a nutshell, Nate and I have both gotten sick and gotten better from colds, plus we both have several projects for our side business we’re trying to finish before Christmas comes.  Nate is also taking an online course this week that runs from 8AM to 8PM all five working days, so that’s turning out to be not so fun.  It’s been rough for the kids because they know he’s home and in his office and they really want to see him, but he can’t come out all that often, and it makes them sad and upset.  Michael got WAY too overstimulated between Thanksgiving and his birthday and really slipped away from us.  He’s going through some crazy emotional cycles, stimming lots more, craving loads of sensory input, and wandering around the house listlessly and moaning.  He doesn’t want to do anything but watch TV, and he falls apart at the drop of a hat.  He screamed for 20 minutes last night because we couldn’t find his flashlight (don’t mess with the bed time routine, am I right, folks?).  William’s so cranky from teething that he can’t be set down for more than a few minutes at a time and he cries almost constantly.  Gabriel’s really feeling like the middle child from all this and has been acting out for his share of attention, and to top it all off, Michael’s insomnia came back, and he’s been sure to wake up Gabriel in the middle of the night when he feels like playing.

So everyone’s got a thing right now.  I’m really trying hard not to complain and just plow through, but it’s getting hard.  It’s mostly the sleep deprivation that I can’t handle.  I am at such a crazy level of exhaustion that I slept in the car in the school parking lot yesterday while waiting for Michael to have his therapy session.  I’m really trying hard to remember all these things God has been teaching me lately.  I’m trying hard to pray and not fall apart.  It’s a rough patch, and I get that we all go through them and it can’t last forever.  I know this is my boot camp for practicing peace and patience, but lately my stomach starts to hurt every time I hear one of my kids cry.  If God’s using this time to prepare me for something in my future, that something is going to be a doozy! 🙂

Right now, it’s all about prayer and survival.  I’m sure later on, I’ll be able to look back and figure out how we made it through and see the hand of God providing what we need, but as for this moment it’s all hands on deck while we weather the storm.  If you think of us, please pray for us, and if I miss a post here or there, I probably fell asleep holding a baby somewhere.

Not Again

I’m becoming that person that I don’t like again.  It happens every year around this time, and every year I vow to do better, and every year, I have to confess I blew it.  I love how the Eldredges translate in the book Captivating the 1 Peter 3 woman of a gentle and quiet spirit.  They say it means that a woman has a heart that is at rest, that is at peace in the Lord, and that is a place that brings refreshment and healing to those around her.  Thank goodness it has nothing to do with how loud her personality is!!

I’m like the opposite right now.  In addition to preparing for the holidays and the long list of birthdays that happen this month, I also have a couple of jobs I have to complete for our little side home business.  The kids don’t let me work during the day, and I’m too exhausted to work at night after they’ve gone to sleep (it’s like they know I want them to fall asleep and they just stay awake demanding attention).  It usually means I worry about it for a long time, and then panic and have to finish everything in a ridiculously short amount of time in a flurry of stress.  I’m not a kind person then, certainly not someone whose soul gives others room to breathe and be at peace.  I hate it, because that’s not the kind of wife and mom that I want to be for my family, and yet my own feeble attempts at being loving and patient are pretty much non-existent.

I can feel it starting to happen again, and I want to nip it in the bud.  I’m praying that God continues to show me how to live in His presence, how His joy can be my strength, and how He can be my peace that passes all understanding.  I’ve prayed that God would show me how to be loving and patient, and the last few weeks have been crazy.  Now I’m asking God to also show me how to be at peace, so I must just be a glutton for punishment, but it’s truly the desire of my heart to be the kind of person that nurtures a peaceful and patient atmosphere in my home instead of being a source of stress and tension.

I feel like I’m not getting any better at this yet, but I guess just being aware of what’s happening now instead of in hindsight is a first step in the right direction in the journey of a lifetime.  I’ve tried to cover my day in prayer now, at the beginning, as I’m slowly watching the laundry list of the day grow to an impossibly large size.  I know and trust that God is good and able to handle this for me, and I want to surrender this all now before I have a chance to mess it up myself.  I’m also going to have to give myself grace because I will fail at some point, but if God can forgive me, why shouldn’t I, right?

I would be grateful if you remember us in your prayers today.  We have planned to take Gabriel back to the Urgent Care to have his staples removed.  Putting them in was pretty traumatizing, and I know he’s not going to want to get back on the table again.  I’m praying that God would grant us both peace and help Gabriel (and me!) through this experience with a special touch of His presence and healing.

May your day be full of God’s love and peace in your own lives.

God Is Good

All the time.

I know it’s something we say in church a lot, but it’s really true.  We had a busier day yesterday than I bargained for, but in hindsight, God was prepared and took care of things for us.

After a nice morning walk with a friend, we were settling in at home for a day of cleaning and preparation for Thanksgiving.  Michael and I were trying to do some schoolwork, and Gabriel was finishing up his snack.  He shoved his chair away from the table like he usually does when he’s done, but this time the chair tipped over backwards with him in it.  This has happened plenty of times before, so I just picked him up and held him till he finished crying.  As I was cuddling him, I started to see blood in more and more places, and I realized he had really hurt himself.  I started checking him all over and found a gaping, bloody hole in the back of his head.  I panicked and called my mother-in-law who is my go to for all medical emergencies.  She came right over and helped me out.  My father came too, and they watched the children for me while I drove Gabriel to the Urgent Care.

He was perfectly fine, talking and playing like nothing had happened except for the gruesome wound he was sporting.  He got checked out by the doctor, and we muscled through seven staples (that was an absolutely terrible experience).  After a box of french fries as a reward, he has been back to his old self again.  My hardest job right now is keeping him from prying his head wrap off (I think it’s itchy) and making sure Michael doesn’t play too rough and knock him down (this happens at least three times a day).  He’s on close watch for seven to ten days until the staples are removed, and then hopefully he should be as good as new.

God really took care of everything for us.  He knew what was going to happened and arranged things just right.  I had put dinner in the crockpot that morning and already done my laundry for the day.  My mother-in-law and father both just happened to have some free hours in their afternoon schedules so they could watch my other kids so I could be with Gabriel.  The Urgent Care was empty except for one other patient, so we only had to wait a few minutes to be seen.  Even the smallest detail that he had just had a bath the night before as he’s not allowed to get his head wet till the staples come out was taken care of.  God truly took care of every little thing, and I’m grateful.  He does really love us and is interested in all the minutia of our lives.

Now we just need to stick a feather in his headband so he can be an Indian for Thanksgiving, and we’re all set!

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May you have a safe, happy, and blessed Thanksgiving!

My Number Two

Gabriel is my number two.  My monkey see, monkey do.

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I love this kid so much.  He was very healing to some places that had been left raw by Michael.  He’s my little comedian and mama’s love (I practice saying mama’s love instead of mama’s boy now for when he’s older!), and I think if any of my kids is likely to buy the house down the street, it’s gonna be this guy.

We started to learn that Michael was going to be a special needs child when I was about two months pregnant with Gabriel.  I got all the fears you could imagine.  How could I take care of Michael the way he needed with another baby?  Would this second baby also be on the spectrum?  How could I possibly raise two special needs kids?  I tried so hard not to worry, but I couldn’t help myself.  I was in uncharted territory.

When Gabriel was born, he was a balm.  Michael was in a very rough place.  His OCD was full blown and he had shut me out of his life.  I couldn’t read to him, hug him, or play with him.  I had a new baby to snuggle, and it was wonderful to feel affection from a child.  I really hadn’t had much from Michael yet.

Gabriel just lit up my life again.

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He craved affection.  His favorite spot was my lap.  He would just sit there indefinitely, sucking his thumb and fingering my shirt.  He loved hugs and cuddles.  He jabbered baby talk non-stop (while Michael has been silent), and he was a busy little fellow.  We had him tested for all the allergies, PANDAS, and conditions that Michael had, and he tested clean.  I felt like we had dodged a bullet, and I started to relax.

The conversation I had with my mom was like deja vu.  We’d had it about a year ago concerning Michael.  “He’s not talking,” she kept telling me.  “He’s a boy, he’ll talk late,” I kept saying, but the longer time went on, the more I knew she was right.  It wasn’t so much that he wasn’t talking, but he wasn’t communicating.  He never mimicked anything.  When you spoke to him, there was no sign of understanding.  He would stare at me blankly.  The only way he could tell me he wanted something was to scream hysterically.  At least with Michael we could teach him sign language and he could point to things he wanted, but Gabriel seemed to be an impenetrable wall.  Nothing worked.  I kept hoping he was just moving at his own pace and that everything was fine, but I finally had to give in and go get him screened.

The screener told me something was wrong and that he needed help.  He wasn’t even remotely where he should be.  She was very kind and gave me some suggestions and encouragement.  I had done this with Michael, and I knew what it meant.  I cried the whole way home.  I was already two months pregnant with William.

I remember being so upset I couldn’t even call my husband at work yet.  I called my mother-in-law and cried and cried.  Here we thought he would be OK, that he would be a resting place from all we were going through with Michael.  Now we had to start all over again.  And what about the third baby?  Would we have three special needs children on our hands?  I felt devastated and exhausted.

We made the moves to get him therapy.  The paperwork and evaluations (again) were depressing, but God sent the right people to us, and they were very discerning.  They didn’t set him up for a speech therapy but with a special instructor instead.  They recognized something was wrong cognitively.  I heard later that this is atypical and nonverbal kids receive speech therapy right away and that special instruction is rare in these cases.

Our special instructor was a Godsend.  She taught Gabriel a whole form of non-verbal communication, and I was seeing a twinkle in his eye for the first time in a long time.  He was very bright and eager to learn, but he even though he tried so hard, he seemed stuck.  It was time to take him to the doctor.  

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The doctor found scar tissue in his brain, and it had been stunting his development in speech, motor skills, and sensory processing from day one.  It explained so much.  She was able to treat it, and it was like we saw a wall fall down.  Suddenly, he was doing ALL the stuff we had been teaching him for months.  It had all been in there, but his brain just couldn’t act on it.

He has a lot of catching up to do.  We didn’t find and treat the scar tissue till he was 18 months old, and that’s a lot of critical development time there.  I take comfort in the fact that he can catch up and he will catch up, but he’s still a tough nut to deal with sometimes.  It’s not like Michael.  Asperger’s has rules.  They’re crazy rules, but they’re rules you can follow, that bring understanding to behavior.  Gabriel’s all over the map.  Some portions of his brain have developed faster than others.  In some ways he’s like a normal two and a half year old, but in others, he’s like a one year old.  It’s hard for me to know how to approach him sometimes, on what level or age he’s being.  Teaching and disciplining him have been mentally exhausting, but God has been good and answered our prayers for wisdom.

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He’s a beautiful boy, and he will always be my sweetheart.  I’m so happy and so proud of him to see the progress he’s making (even if he still can’t sit still for a picture!).  His name means “God’s champion” and I fully expect to see him live that out.  God has truly blessed us with him.

 

Learning to Pray

God has been working in me, and I’ve been praying more.  It’s been a rough week with all the kids being sick and then Michael’s behavioral fallout from that.  It’s good to know I can turn to Him first, and my attitude is slowly starting to change.

I’ve noticed though that while I’m praying more and it’s a good start, the prayers are for my own comfort, requests to make my life easier.  And while I don’t think God wants to make my life difficult just for the sake of it being hard, I’m not convinced my heart is in the right place yet.  I feel like the disciples all over again, asking Jesus to teach me how to pray!  I want to know what God’s will is for my life so I can effectively pray it into existence.

I was reading Colossians this week.  There are a lot of gentle reminders in there to serve the Lord and others with humility and love (something I needed when I just didn’t want to care for sick children anymore).  But hidden in chapter 1 was this nugget:

Colossians 1:9-10 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”

This is my prayer now.  I want my heart to be aligned with God’s so well that I will pray what He wants me to pray.  I want to see Him move miraculously so that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind who the credit goes to.  I want to live a life that glorifies the Lord.

Plodding Through

Croup’s awful.  I never had to deal with it before.  All three kids have moved or are moving through their own forms of it.  William and I spent the night alternating between the living room sofa and a steamy bathroom.  It’s amazing how babies suddenly and magically feel fine when morning comes around.  He’s still sick, but at least he’s happy now.  Gabriel’s the one who woke up feeling miserable.

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Though who doesn’t feel cheered up by seeing themselves in a webcam?

I’m grateful at how God is changing my perspective.  The old me would want to whine and complain (and I still have my moments, my  neck’s not a fan of carrying a child for two solid weeks and then sleeping on the couch), but as I’m starting to go down that road, the Lord reminds me that I’m right where He wants me.  I have absolutely no doubt of that.  So even if this particular stint’s a bit rough, why would I want to be anywhere else?  God is good, and He’s up to something.  I feel a little character shaping going on.