Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AHA...They are having a hard time.

"My Child is not giving me a HARD time. My child is having a HARD time."....

There are many sweet children who have Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Their sweet brains see the world differently than ours and it can make it a very overwhelming and scary place for them. The other day I came across a story about a mom who was out to eat with her autistic child. They were at a restaurant and the child was "acting out". Customers at another table were annoyed by this behavior because it was disrupting their meal. They spoke to the restaurant manager to explain the situation and asked him to speak to the parent about their child being loud. When the restaurant manager approached the table, the mom simply asked,"Do you know what it is like to have a child with Autism?." That comment stopped the manager in his tracks. Instead of asking the mom to tell her child to be quiet or asking them to move to another part of the restaurant, he asked how their meal was going and told them it was on the house. You can read the story here.

I love that story. The people at the table were so concerned with their meal being ruined by loud noises that they never pondered why there was a loud noise. What a difference it made when the manager understood the situation and treated the family with kindness instead of just reacting.

"My Child is not giving me a HARD time. My child is having a HARD time." As a parent of a child with SPD (sensory processing disorder), that quote immediately grabbed my attention when it popped up on my Pinterest feed. It took my breath away.  Yes, this quote is talking about children with Autism and SPD, but what a powerful truth for all people. When I read this quote, I thought of a text I had gotten earlier in the day. A text, that at that moment, I realized I had interpreted wrong. I know the person who sent the text was having a hard time, but didn't realize until that moment that their response was probably because of that and not because of me. Wow! How powerful are our words when they are intended for one thing and give you you an "aha" moment about another?!! It was at that moment my heart softened for that person. They weren't trying to give me a hard time, they were having one.

How often is that the case? Someone says something or does something and we take it personally, never acknowledging whatever difficulty may be going on in that person's life. I find my self guilty of this more often than I would like to admit. We have all gotten so caught up in our own problems that we forget everyone else has them too. Their problems weigh on them and cause them stress just like ours do for us.

How often do you find yourself being distant, sad, or snappy because you are totally overwhelmed by life? Do you ever stop and realize that your fellow travelers in this world are probably overwhelmed by life too and that is why they are distant, sad, or snappy with you?  I can't tell you how bad I felt that day after I realized I probably totally misread the text I received.

Later that day, I got another text from that person, explaining what a long day they were having. I was grateful that I had realized this earlier and had sent them a text of love and not something else. I'm grateful that, in the story, the mom spoke out with a sweet sincerity that, in one sentence, explained her situation and that the manager responded with kindness. He saw beyond the "hard time" they were giving the other costumers and respected the "hard time" that they were having. I'm sure the manager is grateful that he reacted with kindness and didn't make that sweet family move. I'm not saying I am perfect at this or that everyone who gives you a hard time is actually having a hard time, but I'm asking you to stop and think before you react. I can guarantee that while there may be a small percentage of people who are actually giving you a hard time, the vast majority are probably just reacting to whatever hard time they are going through.

I could write a very long post about this topic, but I'm not going to. I had a simple "AHA" moment and wanted to share it with you. I wanted to share this amazing quote and powerful story with you and remind you to stop and think when someone is not so kind to you. If you know this person is having a hard time....remember....

"__________ isn't giving me a HARD time. They are having a HARD time." (Just fill in the blank)

Most of my days are anything but sweet, but I continue to be amazed by the JOY I am discovering in these "not so" sweet times. Look for the JOY in people. Remember if they are not being "sweet" with you, it is probably not you. Their life is probably just packed with a lot of "not-so-sweet" times right now. Be their JOY, help them find their JOY, and please be kind. 

Have a JOYFUL week! 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Still Smiling

Life can be hard to swallow. It is a quote that has a very literal meaning in our home. I started this blog about life and food because for me they are completely intertwined. It starts with a husband whose one true love outside of his faith and family is cooking and trickles down to our youngest child who has feeding issues. That is where the quote "hard to swallow" is meant in the most literal of senses. At 3 months old, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with dysphagia. Dysphagia means difficulty or discomfort when swallowing. She can't drink any liquids that aren't about the consistency of honey. Drinking any liquid at regular consistency will cause aspiration. Aspiration is the medical term for inhaling small particles of food or drops of  liquid into the lungs. Aspiration may occur without anyone knowing if the amount of food or liquid is small (Silent Aspiration). Dysphagia is technically a symptom, but it is her diagnosis until we find the source of the problem. 

Dysphagia in itself seems fairly simple, but that little issue set off a ripple effect. Her main source of food for most of her life was milk and oatmeal (as a thickener). As you can imagine if you were full of milk and oatmeal all the time, it wouldn't leave much room for other foods. She doesn't really like to eat food and can go days without really eating anything. That causes a lack of proper nutrition.  If your main source of eating is milk and oatmeal, it causes you to have stomach issues that make going to the bathroom difficult. To go to the bathroom you have to have medicine mixed into your bottles.  The medicine eventually works and can cause diarrhea.  That leads to severe diaper rash. The cycle repeats over and over.  She prefers drinking out of bottles because it was hard to drink milk out of sippie cups. She doesn't really like to drink other liquids besides milk and is reluctant to try other drinks. The list could go on and on. It is a very frustrating situation and causes more tears that you can possibly imagine. It is also one of the hardest medical issues to get help with. There are limited resources and the resources that exist are very hard to get in to see. One of her doctors even told me at one point, "I know how frustrating this. It is a very long process and the answers aren't always simple. I would advice you to join a parent support group of children with feeding issues. They are going to be more help than us doctors through most of this and will be able to give you some advice." You can imagine those weren't the words of advice I was looking for. Thankfully, after a year of trying, we are finally going to get to see one of the best resources for feeding issues in the valley very soon. They only schedule appointments two days a month, so you can see how hard it is to get an appointment. I'm not sure what will come of it. It might make life easier or it might make it more difficult. They may be able to give us an exact answer or it may be years of therapy and trial and error. Hard to swallow, hu?

How often is this the case in life? There is one small issue that seems relatively simple, but it sets off a ripple effect that makes life difficult. It becomes a series that repeats and you aren't sure how to get out of it or if you can.

 ripple effect is a situation in which ripples expand across the water
 when an object is dropped into it.  

Just as you can't control the number of ripples that expand from dropping an object into the water, you can't always control the ripple effect of a situation in your life. The one thing you can control is the way you choose to see it and how you feel about it.  I'm not going to lie, it is HARD. It is possible though. My youngest has taught me a lot about how as I've watched her with her feeding struggles. She can't drink water, but she loves it. She loves the way it feels, the way it moves, and so on. The fact that she can't drink it (even though she really wants to) doesn't stop her from loving it, She has found other ways to enjoy it and appreciate it. As I've watcher her learn to love water, I've started to find joy in her struggles. The days she eats, make me want to dance. The first time she got to have a cup of water with her new (not oatmeal) thickener, I teared up a little. The days she goes to the bathroom without issues, I can feel a smile spread across my face. I've discovered how magical these simple moments really are. I've learned that just being able to drink water and swallow it is a privilege we take for granted. How we view any situation is totally up to us. We can choose to be grateful and find joy in the "not so" sweet moments of life. I hope you can find the JOY in whatever your current journey is.

It really is true what they say, "While we are trying to teach our children about life, they teach us what life is all about." 

Life can be hard to swallow, but our daughter is still smiling. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finding Hope on the Mountain

Many thoughts have been dancing in my head lately and yesterday they seemed to be dancing to a beautiful melody. The words were flowing poetically and beautifully. Did I sit down to type them out? No, but I should have. When my body becomes overwhelmed and needs to release, my mind begins to form words and continues until I physically type or write them out. This is how you know you are a true writer. I'm not saying I'm a great writer or was born to write masterpieces. I'm saying words are the way my body releases emotions and writing is a part of being. Words find me, I don't find them. It has been this way my whole life. I pray the words that were dancing so poetically yesterday find me today.

My soul has been heavy lately, with what feels like the weight of the world pressing down upon it. A few years ago, it probably would have caused me to crumble. The powerful thing about weight though is that it makes you stronger. The last few years have prepared me for this new weight and new mountain to climb. I'm sure this new weight will make me stronger and prepare me for an even bigger mountain in the future. It is how life works. Each step propelling you to the next. Each weight strengthening your heart, your mind, and your spirit. You use that strength and you battle to the top of the mountain. What a glorious view it is when you finally arrive.  You breathe it all in and then prepare for the next mountain. 

The last few years I've climbed quite a few mountains. I've climbed the high risk pregnancy mountain, the deep depression mountain, the scarlet fever mountain, the getting laid off of work mountain, and more. I never thought at the time I'd ever say I was grateful for any of them. I'm still not saying I'm grateful for the event or the agony they caused, but I am beyond grateful for the view each mountain provided. I'm grateful for the lessons they taught me about myself and others. I'm grateful for showing me strength and endurance I didn't know I had and for making me even stronger. 

This new mountain I'm climbing is going to be full of many hills that take me up and down and probably take me to heights I've never been. It is going to be quite the journey. It is going to be a journey that strengthens not just me, but my whole family. This journey is full of the unknown. I am not a fan of the unknown and so it scares me. It is those fears that make my soul feel so heavy. I think fear is what causes most of our souls to be heavy. Perhaps that is why life is about climbing so many different mountains. Reaching the top of the mountain gives us joy. We can take that feeling of joy and turn it into hope when we reach the bottom of the next mountain. We can hope that we will conquer this new mountain. We can HOPE when we do the view will be even more beautiful than the last. 

I'm hoping as I write that my fear will turn to HOPE, and my soul will become lighter. I'm going to invite you on this journey with me. Why? Because we are all climbing some mountain. Your mountain may be as tiny as a hill or as big as Mt. Everest, but a mountain is a mountain. Instead of comparing whose mountain is higher or steeper or more rocky, let's build hope together. Let's hope that we will take it step by step, slide by slide, hill by hill, and we will make it to the top of the mountain. Let's hope that the view from the top will be worth the climb. Let's hope that it builds muscle and strengthens our inner being. Let's hope that because we climbed this mountain, we can climb the next. 

Here is to HOPE conquering FEAR and showing us a world more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Believing is Seeing

Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing.
                                     -The Santa Clause

What do I tell my children when they ask if Santa is real or not?

The sweet little Elf Judy from The Santa Clause reminded us that, "Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing". It is my belief that believing in Santa is a choice. I am 32 years old and with all my heart I believe in Santa Clause. I was born the first day of December and spent my first Christmas in the hospital. I have always felt like Christmas was a part of my being. Santa is a great part of Christmas to me. He has been apart of my life as far as I can remember and is a part of almost all my great Christmas memories. 

Every year a man dressed in a red suit showed up to hand out presents on Christmas Eve. His eyes sparkled with joy and his smiled filled the room with love. You can ask anyone who was present on those Christmas Eve's and they would tell you...Santa was indeed there. 

There were a few years on Christmas when my parents had no money and the gifts were limited. Somehow there was always a package from Santa. One year it was a box full of gifts for my whole family...even my mom and dad. Santa was indeed there.

We are only a few days in to December and Santa has already answered a wish on my Christmas List. It was a gift full of love and generosity and one I will never forget. 

You can question a man living at the north pole who delivers a billion toys in one night. You can question whether reindeer can fly. You can questions little elves making countless toys... And do those questions really matter? I don't think so. All that matters is what you believe. If you believe he is real, he will be. You will see his presence in a strangers eyes or feels his joy when a loved one is near. 

He reminds believers of Christ and all that he stands for and teaches non-believers about the true reasons we celebrate Christmas. He makes them feel the spirit. They may not be able to put their finger on it or tell you that they feel Christ...but they feel something.

In my home, we believe. When I tell my children Santa is real, I believe it. I believe and because I believe I have seen. I can't imagine going through a Christmas and not seeing Santa's hand at work. 

"It is a glorious thing to have old St. Nicholas in our hearts and in our homes today, whether he enters the latter through the open door or creeps down the chimney on Christmas Eve. To bring happiness to others without seeking personal honor or praise by publishing it is a most commendable virtue. . . .
Good old St. Nicholas has long since gone the way of all mortals, but the joy he experienced in doing kindly deeds is now shared by millions who are learning that true happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service." 
-David O. McKay

I hope this season brings you great JOY!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I was scrolling through FB when I saw a challenge by The SITS Girls to post 10 things you are thankful for. It was a challenge I just couldn't pass up. I gave a lesson on this exact subject recently. It was about being thankful/grateful no matter what situation you find yourself. I think it is one of the hardest things to do. It so easy to get weighed down by life, to become exhausted from climbing whatever our mountain may be. We just pray to reach the top so we can see the beautiful view. However, it is the climb that strengthens our muscles. With every step, we feel more fatigued, beaten, out of breathe...but what we don't feel or see is the strength we have gained. It makes us stronger. It is the long, difficult journey up the mountain that makes the view much sweeter when you finally get to see it. It is also what gives you the strength to face the next mountain. I needed to see this challenge today and to remind myself to stop and be grateful for the climb.

The Ten Things I am Thankful for Today...

1. My husband- He is my rock. I was truly blessed the day he walked into my life and have been blessed every day since. 

2. My children- Some days they are my greatest challenge and some days they are my biggest joys. They make me smile, cry, and scream...sometimes all at the same time. :) They each have their own personality that brings a special spark to our family. Yes, they are a handful. They are also a heartful and my heart wouldn't be complete without them. 

3. Family- I am blessed to live close to my family. Some days this is a blessing and some days it is a curse. Haha!! Most days it is a blessing. :) I was taught at a very young age how important family is. Growing up I didn't know that's not how it is for everyone. I am incredibly thankful I was born into a family who loves each other as much as mine does. We may not feel as close as we used to, but we are so much closer than most families...both in distance and love. 

4. My Faith- Faith is a very sacred and personal thing. I hold my faith very close to my heart. It is the center of my family, home, and life. 

5. My Mom- I know I already did family, but a Mom deserves her own space. My mom just popped by today to bring a little treat to our daughters. I love that she loves my children so much. Really, what would we do without our Moms? She is always there for me when I need an extra hand. 

6. My Nana- She deserves her own space, too. :) This week I found my journal from when I was 16. This is what I wrote: Some of my fondest memories are clearance shopping with my Nana at Target. My Nana and I are very close. I don't know what I'd do without her. Going to Target may seem simple but those are priceless memories I never want to forget. 

7. Nap Time- Nap Time. I really, really love nap time. It brings a quiet to the home that doesn't exist any other time of day. It gives me time to blog, spend one on one time with E., catch up on deep cleaning, etc. I know nap time will soon be going away and I'm really going to miss it. :)

8. My Cell Phone- It is my connection to the world. It brings me close to voices I need to hear, lets me see pictures that warm my heart, and reminds me of all those I love on a constant basis. Plus, being shy...text messages are a lifesaver. :)

9. Baking- I really am thankful for baking this time of year. It helps bring the scents and colors of the seasons into our home. Baking is also very therapeutic for me and some days the best way to forget about all my worries. :)

10. Blessings- All the little blessings we often forget to be thankful for... I am thankful for a sink that works, a bathroom that isn't flooded, an oven to bake in, a washer to wash clothes, a dryer to dry them, a ceiling fan to help cool down the house, A/C, a table to eat at, a bed to sleep in, a roof over our head, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car that runs, a yard (even a tiny one) for our kids to play in, toys to spark my children's imagination, and so, so MUCH MORE! There are more tiny things I am thankful for than I can list. These little things we forget about everyday...they are REALLY BIG THINGS!

This is my list of thankful things. It really is good sometimes to remind yourself how awesome life really is. Whatever mountain you are currently climbing, remind yourself that YOU can CHOOSE to be GRATEFUL NO MATTER WHAT.

Have a JOYFUL weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Skylanders Elements Birthday Party

Since the very first Skylander game came out, my son knew that would be the theme for his 8th Birthday. First, it his very favorite thing in the whole world. Second, the game is based on 8 elements. It was the perfect fit. He has been counting down to his 8th birthday and was super excited when it finally came. He knew exactly what he wanted...from the invitations to the games. We did our best to bring his ideas to light. I did try to keep the party more about the elements than the game.

Elements Banner (made by my awesome hubby)

The Invitations:

My awesome husband designed them. T. wanted invitations to look like the Skylander cards that come with the characters. Honestly, we were supposed to work on his invitations sooner than we did. They ended up being more of a last minute project. Luckily, they still turned out super cute.

The Party: When the guests arrived they were greeted by a chalkboard sign that read, "Welcome Portal Masters".  Each guest was then given a passport to wear. The passport listed each of the 8 elements.

Next, it was time to journey through the 8 elements. We did 4 stations in the house and 3 outside. 

#1: Life Element- Stink Bomb's Stinky Cheese Nachos and Stink Bombs (house)

We used this as the food station. My son chose the life character Stink Bomb to be the center of this station. We served Stink Bomb's Stinky Cheese Nachos and Stink Bombs (sherbet and sprite).

 #2: Tech Element- Magna Charge's Nitro Magna-Tech Lab (house)

We used this as a science station and taught the kids about the power of magnets. We used super strong Rare Earth Magnets to demonstrate some neat tricks. My husband also showed the kids how to make a monopole motor out of magnets,copper wire and a battery. This station was a HUGE hit with the kids.

#3: Undead Element- Chop Chop's Super Chop Shop (house)

We filled plastic buckets with "body parts" and then covered it with black plastic so you couldn't see what was inside. The kids had to put their hand in the buckets until they found a skeleton ring. The buckets had organs (pudding in a plastic baggie), brains (spaghetti), eyeballs (peeled grapes), and skin (pickled pig skin from the store). Some of the kids figured out what the items inside the buckets were, but the kids still loved feeling gross stuff. 

#4: Earth Element- Terrafin's Shark Out of Water (house)

The kids were split up into two teams. They were each given a thick paper straw. At the end of the table was a stack of paper sharks ( 8 to be exact!), the team had to get all their sharks from one end of the table to the bucket at the other end, and they had to use their straw. No hands.

#5: Air Element- Pop Thorn's Balloon Pop Chase (outside)

Each kid was given a balloon with yarn to tie around their ankle. The goal of this game was to pop everyone's balloon without getting your balloon popped.

#6: Water Element- Gill Grunt's Water Toss (outside)

We had the kids stand in rectangle. They were then given a water balloon and had to pass it "hot potato" style. Once it got back to the B-day Boy, the kids had to take a step back. If you popped or dropped the water balloon, you were out. As the number of kids went down, the further the water balloon got tossed. The kids really loved playing this game.

#7: Magic Element- Pop Fizz's Super Fizz Magic Potion (outside)

This station was the big finale before dessert. My husband taught the kids how to make a special magic potion using pop rocks, sprite, baking soda, and lemon juice. The potion foamed up and the kids loved that. Some of the kids wanted to sample the potion...gotta love 8 year old boys. It was then time for the Big Pop Fizz. We took a 2 liter of Diet Coke and added a package of Mentos to make a huge geyser. The kids thought that was awesome. We then let the kids team up in twos, to make their own geyser using smaller bottles of diet coke and 3 mentos. The kids loved it. Some of the kids got a bit over excited and tried to drink the soda...I hadn't planned on that. It was fun, but sticky!

#8: Fire Element: Fryno's Birthday Candle Blow Out (inside)

We went back in the house to sing "Happy Birthday" and have dessert. We bought sparkler candles for the birthday boy to blow out. The kids loved the fun candles. We had cupcakes and donuts (The Skylanders eat donuts in the video game).

The Prizes:

What would a party be without the prizes?! We had prize for every element that was completed.
The prizes were sorted in bags with a picture for each element.

Life Prize- Shuriken  
Tech Prize- A bag of "Micro-Chips"
Undead Prize: Choice between a plastic bug or candy body parts ( Halloween candy )
Earth Prize: A Rock
Air Prize: Choice between a punch balloon or an airhead candy
Water Prize: Capri Sun Roaring Water
Magic Prize: Pop Rocks
Fire Prize: Atomic Fire Balls

The guest were each given a bag to collect their prizes. 

The Treasure Chest:

Instead of doing a prize pinata, we made a Punch Box. This is actually being re-used from another party. The kids loved punching the box to get a surprise treasure.

The party was suppose to end with a big water balloon fight, but the sun popped the balloons :(

It was a fairly simple party to put together,but SUPER MAGICAL!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Penicillin Challenge

What happens when you have had a reaction to EVERY antibiotic you have ever taken? You have to take the Penicillin Challenge.

Why? Because if you are truly allergic to all these antibiotics, you are in serious danger.

What do I mean by truly allergic? Well, the truth is many people who think they are allergic to an antibiotic are just sensitive to them. Many antibiotics, such as penicillin, cause a rash. In fact, there is such a thing as the Penicillin Rash. In fact, most children who have developed a rash a few days after taking an antibiotic at home are just sensitive to it and do not have a true allergy. Once your child has a reaction the doctors usually just try to avoid the medicine because it is not worth the risk. That is until your child runs out of antibiotics to take. That is what happened to us. If our son was to get sick again he would have to be hospitalized. That didn't sound like a fun option. The only way to know for sure was to do an allergy challenge. Penicillin is the the only antibiotic they can test for and so the Penicillin Challenge it was.

How do they do a Penicillin Challenge? They do it in 3 phases. First, they do a skin scratch test. T. had five scratches on his back. They stamped his back and then dropped some of the liquid medication on some of the markings. Then, they took a plastic needle and scratched his skin. He was monitored for 20 minutes to see if there was any type of reaction. Thankfully, he passed. 

It was then on to Phase 2. This was the brutal-and I mean brutal-part of the test. They had to give him five intradermal injections in the arm. Three on one arm and two on the other. An intradermal injection is when they put the needle just under the skin and put in the liquid until it creates a bubble (like a TB test). He screamed and screamed. It was awful. Thankfully, my husband was with me. He held him in his arms so he couldn't move. It took him, two nurses, and myself to get this part done. Thankfully, he passed this part too. His poor arms are pretty bruised up though. 

Phase 3: They had him take penicillin pills. They started with a small dose and increased the dose every 20 minutes for an hour. This was the easiest part of the test. Luckily, he had no big reaction. 

What does all that mean? It means He Passed!!! He can now take penicillin and any other antibiotics in its class without going into anaphylatic shock. It does NOT mean he will have no reaction. The medication can still cause him to break out in a rash. We are still avoiding all other antibiotics he has had a reaction too. The results of this test means we have an option in case he gets sick and really needs an antibiotic. As you can imagine, we weren't too excited about the hospital option. :)

This test was very scary for us and we are very grateful for the happy outcome. I have gone into anaphylatic shock twice after receiving antibiotics. Luckily, both times I was in the hospital and they were able to treat me promptly. It is two of the most scary and intense moments of my life. What happens when you go into anaphylatic shock?  Your entire body begins to tingle and itch, you break out in a rash on your entire body, your tongue swells and the back of your throat begins to close so you can't breathe, your heartbeat speeds up rapidly, and your blood pressure drops. It is horrifying! A true antibiotic allergy is a very serious allergy that can prove deadly. If you are allergic to an antibiotic, I encourage you own a medical alert bracelet or Item. It can save your life.

**All the comments in this post are based on our own private experience and should not be used as medical advice. If you or a loved one experiences a reaction to a medication, please contact your doctor.**