Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grieving on this Holiday Weekend

I had a Thanksgiving post planned. It was going to be about heritage. I am so thankful for my heritage and it's been on my heart lately since recently Ezie was dedicated in the same church and by the same pastor where I was dedicated as a baby

Our church is even called Heritage Fellowship so heritage is of great importance to us.

The reason I did not get this post published is because on Thanksgiving day before we sat down to eat dinner tragedy struck and we had been informed that our pastor's granddaughter who is 18 months old suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, stopped breathing. She still had a pulse so we, along with all those connected to this family from all around the world, began to pray. Unfortunately later that evening we read this update from the pastor (I put the initials of his granddaughter instead of her name).

Today, I am thankful that my son and his wife know the Lord. It is in times like this we are very grateful that they have family and friends who love them. Thankful for the support system they have, a support system of people of faith who will be praying for them as they are passing through the valley of Baca (the valley of weeping).

Earth has no sorrows, that Heaven cannot heal. God gave them beautiful little twin girls. Today the Lord who does all things right, chose to take PK home earlier than the rest of us. We are thankful for the blessing she has been, the joy she has given us, and the place in our hearts that she will always have. Thank you Lord for the privilege we had to love this special God given baby. We thank you because we know that you make all things work together for good.

Since then both of their other daughters were admitted to the hospital. I have no information on what type of illness this is (if that is even what it is). I do know that their oldest daughter who is Z's age (6) has been discharged and this is the latest update about PK's twin.

PL is still in Children's Hospital in Cincinnati. They will finish their testing today, late last night they were planning on a spinal tap this morning. 

My heart has been broken over all this. Pastor and his family were there for us when we lost my little brother 22 years ago. In fact my dad even pulled out a letter of sympathy that he had saved, which was written by Pastor's son (the twins father who is shown standing beside pastor in the photo above). 

When we moved here almost two years ago our Pastor's daughter-in-law (the twins mother) was pregnant with the twins while I was pregnant with Ezie. We had plenty in common just from motherhood and pregnancy, but we bonded more when SJ was diagnosed because she happens to work for an ENT. In fact she "moved mountains" to get us an appointment with one of the best ENTs in the nation and then she got the appointment date moved up so that we could see him sooner. He is the Doctor that we go to today and I am so grateful that we had this connection. My friend also recently wrote a letter on SJ's behalf to an association that gives scholarships to children with hearing loss. The letter brought me to tears, and I was so grateful for her friendship and how she has been there for me in the midst of such a difficult time.

 I had no idea what she would have to go through though. I can't even imagine being in their shoes on Thanksgiving day. As a church we are all mourning this loss. I worked in the nursery for the Friday night service and knowing that PK is gone is very difficult to process. This is a little shot of her and Ezie hanging out in the nursery a few weeks ago. 

I know all of you mothers and friends reading this can imagine the blanket of sorrow that is covering the church right now as we grieve the loss of this precious little life. PLEASE pray for the Keith family this Holiday season. This is a hard enough thing to go through without it happening on Thanksgiving day. This family has walked through some difficult times with us, and now we are ready to walk along side them, and just be there for comfort and support knowing that, as pastor said, God makes all things work together for good. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Was Fall

When I think about what the seasons feel like here in middle America I feel like it's mostly winter and summer with little slivers of transition that we call spring and fall. I know all about the solstice, yeah, yeah. But summer this year, although very mild, lingered into October

On a school field trip to the pumpkin patch in October. Feeling totally comfortable in shorts and a tank top! 

and as Halloween drew nearer I wasn't sure if we were going to see much with the fall foliage this year, but it did happen,

I could have an entire album of photos of the trees with how gorgeous it was this year, but I'll just have to hold onto my mental snapshots because I was way too busy to venture out with my camera. 

just in time before the first snow in mid November.

So the postcard-worthy autumn lasted barely a month, but I still enjoyed every bit of it.

We pressed and ironed leaves that we collected earlier in October.

When the leaves started falling and Z asked if we could make a big pile to play in I told him we didn't have a rake. We actually don't even have a yard, but the next day as we made our way to the bus and rustled through the crunchy brown layers on the ground he said "mom, I know you said we don't have a rake, but could we just play in the leaves?" How could I refuse? We found a patch of grass where autumn leaves abound and those three had the time of their lives. I am so glad we stopped to enjoy this season, however brief it is.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Recap of the First Year with Cochlear Implants

It's been a year since SJ had her cochlear implant activated. There have been a lot of highs and lows, but I feel like FINALLY, we are getting some momentum and everyday SJ is saying new words and responding with a new level of understanding. In order to document what's happened this past year I wanted to do a little recap. And even though SJ's situation is not typical, especially compared to a baby diagnosed at infancy, I still hope that this time line could be informative for parents of deaf children researching what to expect. Here is the progress from SJ first 12 months of hearing beginning at age 2 1/2.

1. On November 21, 2012 SJ cochlear implant was activated. They call this the hearing birthday. It was not the party I was expecting. She barely responded and she did not want to wear it. I tried to be positive and I didn't even expound too much about my disappointment on my blog, but I actually cried a lot after we left the audiologist that day.

What may look insignificance was a huge milestone for SJ. It was exactly 6 months a

4. February was a big month for SJ because even though the surgery was scheduled the audiologist was not on board (because she is, in her words, conservative about these things) and we had to write to her respectfully disagreeing with her decision. We had run-ins with insurance as well, but following the advice of SJ's ENT, teachers, therapists, and our own intuition, we pushed through until we could get 
was going to be best for our daughter and had the surgery approved. 

After all that we geared up for surgery, and it was successful.

At this point I was able to see a little more response from SJ in terms of hearing, but not much and her school was concerned because their professional diagnosis showed that she was not even detecting speech sounds and needed a new mapping. And they were right!

5. At the end of February SJ was activated on her left side and hearing bilaterally for the fist time. Despite the direct requests from the school and ENT, SJ's audiologist still hesitated to add much volume to SJ's implants (again she was self proclaimed "conservative"). In the meantime SJ's was healing well and we were becoming more comfortable with the cochlear implant devices.

6. The school volunteered to have their audiologist take over with SJ's mapping and it was like NIGHT AND DAY! It is so important to have the right mapping (in layman's terms this is basically the setting/volume, it's a complicated process). When SJ had her CI's remapped in March she was really hearing most sounds for the first time and it was amazing to watch. She even said her first word, "up"


7 & 8. SJ continued to grow leaps and bounds once she had the proper mapping she was consistently turning to environmental sounds and to her name. She started saying uh-oh, more, and some animal noises on her own and many other words with prompting.

9. We raised money for SJ to be able to go to summer school and her vocabulary continued to grow to up to 20 words. Some days were better than others as far as communication related frustration and cooperation with even wearing the implants, but we were excited about the upcoming school year where SJ would be going full time.

10. On SJ's first day of school we had to pick her up early to have a CT scan at the children's hospital because her right implant was causing her pain. The scans came back fine, but apparently she had some shifting that is not traumatic, but does take a few weeks to heal before the scar tissue sets the device back into place. This was scary, but praise the Lord everything turned out fine.

11. At this point between IEP meetings, a research study group, and observations. I felt  like things were at a stand still again. It's hard to see your child be so far behind her peers, but luckily I now know that it gets better.

12. In October SJ had a breakthrough. She can now refers to several people by name and she knows over 60 words. Everyday I hear her saying new things and I really, Really, REALLy believe that the worst is behind us this time.

*I am going to get a better video up soon! One where she is talking on her own without being fed all the answers! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is Your Girl Man Enough?

I've seen a lot of content online lately that is trying to give more credit to young girls by not limiting them to be a little beauty queen in the making. Yay, this sounds good! Here's the deal though I HATE to be THAT mom that takes a good thing and finds something negative to say about it, but here goes nothing. I've kind of touched on this before in my response to anti-dove campaign when I said "I am not about to relinquish femininity just because it's been distorted". 

On a similar note I saw a kickstarter campaign last year that talked about a construction toy for girls that would promote building and engineering skills the same way Legos and Erector sets do for boys.

 I loved how creator, Debbie Sterling, did her research to find that making a building toy pink isn't good enough. She found that girls are prone to enjoy reading so she incorporated a book so the toy would be both spacial and verbal and that's how Goldie Blox began. I also love what Sterling has to say about her invention because she acknowledges that girls like to be princesses and play dress up and she embraces that, along with broadening the scope of what girls can do and be! The kickstarter talks about how only 10% of the engineering field is made up of women and Goldie Blox is determined to change that.
Fast forward a year and Goldie Blox is now funded and on the market! I just saw the commercial for it yesterday and I don't want to pick it apart because it's really cute. I even voted for it to be shown during Super Bowl and you can too if you want. 
The commercial shows a group of little girls creating a genius contraption, set to the tune of a Beastie Boys song except the lyrics are changed to 
"Girls! You think you know what we want. Pink and pretty it’s just like the 50’s. You like to buy us pink toys, and everything else is for boys, and you can always get us dolls, and we’ll grow up like them- false. It’s time to change. We deserve to see a range, cause all our toys look just the same, and we would like to use our brains. We are all more than princess maids..." 

The only thing I would urge parents to consider when trying to inspire and cultivate "spatial skills" in their daughters is that there are a lot of girls that may use these skills and have no interest in engineering. Believe me when I say that I am all about girls using their brains! I am just saying that the fact that the majority of girls are into horses, reading and writing more than rockets and forts isn't necessarily a problem to be fixed. 

My sister-in-law is an engineer of sorts. She has a computer science degree and works in a male dominated field as a programmer analyst. I am extremely proud of all that she has accomplished in defying the odds and I would be thrilled if SJ followed in her footsteps. I also have 7 other sister-in-laws and several adult nieces  Most of them are nurses and teachers. The statistics for these jobs are the same as the engineering fields, but in reverse (way more women than men). Is it because we are stuck in the 1950's like the commercial boasts, or is it that something inside of men are more inclined toward building and something inside of women wants to nurture? Sure there may be more men inventing, but behind every great man is… a mother that got him out of bed every morning and read to him every night. Or perhaps a female teacher that challenged him and kept him on track, or a wife that makes more money then he does as the CEO of a company (I am not totally old school here)

I may not be an engineer, but I am certainly not a brain dead trophy wife. After having 3 children I know enough about breast feeding to be a lactation consultant and I've blogged so much about SJ's diagnosis I could write a book about genetic sensorineural hearing loss or first language acquisition. It's street smarts YO. Don't be hatin'. Okay, that last part was a joke, but I am serious about the part that says we do not need to demean or discredit girls for following a more traditional roll as a woman. I know that even mentioning the "tradition roll of a woman" doesn't fall in line with the more popular politically correct, abstract gender rolls of the 21st century, but I'm okay with that

Just to make sure I have been clear I think the Goldi Blox toys look amazing and I would definitely get something like that for SJ if she were a little older. We love the educational toys, always have. I like what Debbie Sterling is doing because there is so much garbage out there marketed towards our girls. But when I read on Forbes that “Ideally every occupation would be 50/50, with both genders bringing different perspectives to the table.” I beg to differ. We don't have to make girls into builders to build and empower girls. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oh A Girl Will Be So Fun To Dress… They Say

This time 4 years ago I found out I was having a baby GIRL! From the moment we received the news everyone, whether they knew me or not, had something to say about the gender of the baby on the way. "OOOOOH a baby girl! They have the cutest stuff out there for little girls. Get ready to go shopping... the bows, the dresses, the shoes! You are going to have a blast".

Now, I am not too much of a girly girl. I never have been that type, but I definitely got into the idea of having a little mini me sporting some trendy hipsters styles.

Then the sweet little baby doll arrived and for a brief time I got to play dress up. But SJ started dressing herself when she was a year old and since then it's been like What Not To Wear child edition. In place of the secret footage like they do on the show, I have phone photos from the past year. 

She is wearing about 6 layers in this photo and her baby brother's tie! 

More layers (that's a fleece sweater underneath a short sleeved sweater) with flip flops. 

She's got a Dora phone in her pocket, this girl is ready to do business. 

The plastic bag makes a good cape. 

Another cape? 

The white band across her forehead is backwards goggles. She went through a big time goggles stage. 

A baby romper as a shirt and a gazillion bows on the the neck and in the hair. 

Regular socks pulled up like knee highs and the usual conglomeration of color. 

I know a lot of kids like to do these kinds of things at home, and that's one thing, but who on earth would let their child be seen in public like this?

 Me. I would. Why don't I just pick out clothes and make her wear them? I will show you. The kids got I love Paris shirts from their grandma as souvenirs. I thought it would be a nice gesture to send her a photo of the kids wearing these gifts. SJ did not want to wear the shirt. These are the results. 

I never did get her to smile or look at the camera, but at least there is one shot that doesn't look like she was being subjected to hellacious torment (the purple shirt in her hand is what she wanted to wear. I could not remove it from her kung fu grip). 

She doesn't always get her way, but I choose my battles and I think we've both learned to compromise. So maybe getting to coordinate outfits for my daughter isn't what I thought it would be, but I love her for the unique, determined individual that she is. Let's just hope the worst is behind us and with any luck she'll get it out of her system before she's a teenager. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Look Whose Talking (and walking, and reading)

 I feel privileged to be able to watch my children grow, develop, and blossom on a daily basis. I remember when we had a garden in Texas and I would get that giddy Christmas morning feeling everyday before I would go out to see if there was any knew growth. Maybe some seedlings have come up, or a flower bud on the summer squash vine, or a watermelon that is ready to pick and eat. It was my happy place. 

I think I am candid enough about my imperfect life that I don't even need to go into how challenging motherhood can be, but right now I wake up with a Christmas morning feeling and it's not because of the Holiday season. It's because my children are on the verge of something new and I am anxious to see the growth. 

Ezie is walking and talking more and more. I finally got some of it on video. Excuse the mess. It's like an obstacle course for the poor little fella. 

SJ is at a really fascinating place right now. I will do another post with more details, but the winds have changed for her recently and she is starting to really take off with oral communication. Since her vocabulary is so limited she will be very broad in how she uses the words she does know, and for me it is cute and exciting because I can literally see her learning to talk! For example she called a lobster a spider (lots of legs and exoskeleton),  a donkey is a horse (similar), a lollipop is ice cream (they are both sweet things that you lick). She says mommy or mama now! Be still my beating heart, I have waited so long for this. Like I said, I have a lot more to share about SJ, but for now the short story is that we have had some major breakthrough. 

Z is really excelling with his reading and writing skills, but he claims that math is his favorite. I met  with his teacher for a conference a couple weeks ago and it turns out that it is not my imagination, Z is a really bright kid that is testing above his age level (we are still keeping him in kindergarten though, for those wondering). She said he started out having some typical discipline issues at the beginning of the year, but now that he knows the expectations he is fine and he hasn't given her any problems. I wish it were that simple at home! He's doing well though. I love that he is at a place now that he can dress himself completely, including picking out his clothes. He can help load and unload certain parts of the dishwasher, and bring in light loads of groceries which is like Hallelujah Thank you Jesus! It's so cool to have a big kid on my team!  

So that's the latest with my 3 little bears. There are times you don't even notice your children changing until you look back at a photo or something because it's so subtle. Then there are times that you are watching them embark upon the next milestone right before your very eyes. I LOVE that! I can't wait to see what they start to do next.

Monday, November 11, 2013

10 Ways To Feel Loved and Adored By Your Spouse

Imagine your husband brings home a rare painting in an ornate frame and he wants to hang it up in the living room, but you can’t find any nails, or hooks so you try to put this heavy piece of art work on the wall with some double sided scotch tape. It is not going to work. Even if you put rolls and rolls of tape it might stick for a moment, but then it is going to fall off and you’ll be in worse shape then when you started because there may be damage to the painting.  

That’s how it is sometimes in marriage. Some women are made of rubber when it comes to receiving compliments and affection. We can blame our husbands all day long, and they probably deserve some of it, but like I tell my kids “you are responsible for yourself”.  There are a lot of husbands out there that are geniunly in love with their wives, but dare I say we aren’t feeling it. 

I started thinking about this yesterday when I talked about my marriage and said “What is this thing that I have, for various reasons, never really allowed myself to feel for the longest time? Then it occurred to me. I can feel his adoration. I have learned how to be adored and it feels good.”

I am not an expert on marriage in any way, and if this post were viral then everyone could tell me why I don’t know what I am talking about, but nonetheless, I have some advice for how to start feeling the love.

1. Quit dodging his compliments

JoAnne Summers (a pastors wife in Dallas Texas) shared at a women’s conference years ago that when responding to compliments you should try saying “That’s a nice thing to say”. My mom and I have joked about this for YEARS and we can’t say it now without bursting into laughter, but it has stuck with us. The point is, just take the compliment. Obviously “thank you” works too. Just keep it simple. If you want to resist a compliment for example:

I like your hair- “Are you kidding, there is so much humidity today, it's a disaster” or 
That soup was tasty-  “well, I probably shouldn’t have put so much salt in it.” 

Instead revert to these tried and true lines, "Thank you, that is really nice of you!" The end. 

2. Be quiet 

Since my daughter receive her cochlear implants I have had to have training in learning how to talk with her and encourage a response. Sometimes when teaching a young child or baby to speak we may repeatedly say “Mama... ma ma... say mama sweetie. Can you say ma ma?” All the while the child may be like, I would, but I don’t want to interrupt, you seem to be having a lot of fun. I was told this is a common mistake for parents with special needs children. You want to encourage them so badly that you flood them with language and forget to pause. A really nice long pause that is adequate enough for them to process and digest, and then potentially speak. Similary, women often have a tendency to talk a lot more then men and so maybe the reason you feel like you aren’t hearing what you need is that you aren’t giving him the chance to say it. 

3. Shoulder to Shoulder Contact 

A guy doesn't like to feel cornered into being emotional. Fishing for compliments isn't ideal either. One way of encouraging the opportunity to bring back that loving feeling is through shoulder to shoulder contact which is covered in the book “Love and Respect”. Women like to chat face to face, dudes are more into doing an activity like golf or video games side by side. When I heard this it really made sense for my relationship. Men are more likely to open up and share some of there feelings when they aren't on the spot. So I encourage you (and I) to try some shoulder to shoulder quality time together. 

3. Love Yourself

Maybe the love and adoration you aren’t feeling is really coming from yourself. I know as women we feel obligated to put ourselves at the bottom of the list and put all of our duties and obligations first, but the list is so long that you never get to the part where you get rest and are nurtured. It’s time to show yourself some love and you may feel instantly more “adorable”. 

4. Believe Him

When your husband tells you look nice, or that he is happy in your relationship, just believe him. Rule number one about excepting the compliment is just the first step. Kind of like fake til you make. The next step is to receive and believe the compliment. Easier said than done.

5. Know the truth

We all know how much the devil loves to beat us up and even more so how he loves to tear down a godly union. When you start doubting yourself as a wife, or your husband, or marriage turn your focus on God’s truth. There is a long list of references and truth verses here if you need some. 

6. Know your love language

  I think everyone is familiar with The 5 Love Languages by now. It is a must read. If you can figure out what makes you feel loved then you and your husband can work at gearing your activities and exchanges toward that thing. Also know what his love language is, because bless his heart he is probably trying to tell you he loves you in his own language.  When you realize that you can see just how much he has been loving you all along. All the little cleaning up he was doing that you felt was undermining your domestic role was really his way of loving you with an act of service (not that I would know anything about that). 

7. Be Yourself

Sometimes even full grown married women find themselves so desperate for affection that they try to put on an act. It’s never as appealing as the real you. If your funny be funny, if your quiet that’s cute, if your into sports cool, but if fashion is your thing, great. Being yourself is adorable.  

8. Don’t Be Deceived By Chocolate Covered Roses  

What does that mean?!? It doesn’t even make sense, and I guess that’s the point I am trying to make. We watch the bachelor or read Nicolas Sparks and think romance comes looking like a Ryan Gosling Hey Girl meme. It’s really just a bunch of gunk. Don’t hold your husband up to these unrealistic standards. I love what my blogger friend said to women about this “ Channing Tatum’s abs weren’t created to love you like Christ loves the church.” It makes me laugh, but it’s true. You may find yourself feeling more love and admiration when you stop limiting romance to chocolate and roses. 

9. Stop husband comparing!

 So Billy Bob writes poems for his wife every week and posts them on Facebook, whoop-de-doo! I have fallen into the husband comparison trap before because my husband is an introvert and I have compared him to the extraverts that just live for PDA which made me feel like my quiet husband was ashamed of me. So the man that would stand on a roof top and declare love for his bride is better than the man that actually lives it out behind closed doors? No. This is only one way we compare, yours may be different, but none of it’s good. So don’t do it! 

Alright, well, this turned into a self help book fast. Oopsie. I could drum up a list of things a man could do for his wife to let her know she is adored, but I don’t have that many men reading my blog so I can’t help you there. However, back to my analogy of the big painting representing your husband's love I just want you to get rid of the double sided tape. I don’t care if your husband comes home with a cheap little poster to hang up, I want you to get a drill and bolt that sucker to the wall, ya hear? 

Then just remember that no matter what, you really are adorable. I mean it. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

13 Year Makeover

J and I just celebrated 13 years of marriage.

Photo by Cracker Jack Photography taken on our 10 year anniversary

I feel a little guilty because what should be a celebration of the two of us as a couple, felt more like pamper the wife day. But J insisted and I am only going to resist the offer so many times, right?

They recently added "What Not To Wear" on Netflix and I have been ripping through each episode since I don't have any other shows that I am watching right now. Watching Stacy and Clinton work their magic has definitely inspired me to spruce up my own look. Even though it's a superficial endeavor I really feel like there has been one blessing after another allowing me to do something for myself.

First off I have a super sweet friend send me a gift card for clothes for me and the kids. I was able to get this sweater, the boots, and sooo much more for this upcoming season (Gap Clearance Store all the way!).

 I am honestly overwhelmed with gratitude.

 Then yesterday my parents watched the kids so that J and I could go out. First we hit up the mall and as soon as we walked into Dillard's a lady handed me a card promoting Clinique's latest offer which was to have a consultation and get lipstick and perfume free. It took me a minute. You want to give me a  makeover and free stuff? Right now? I don't pay anything? Okay, where do I sign!?

The consultant was fabulous. I sat there with my eyes closed and mostly just forgot where I was. It was wonderful! At that point she could have given me clown makeup and I didn't care. I was just happy to be sitting down and not responsible for anything. As the makeover progressed the other ladies at the counter starting commenting, and oohing and ahhing.

I was so anxious to see what the results would be. This lady spent more time on my eyes than I do on my entire face (and hair actually). Then it was just like on What Not To Wear with Carmindy, she was done and I could look in the mirror. It was dramatic and SO different then what I would normally do (on the days that do anything), but I loved it. I had a blast and J loved it too.

After the makeover we did some more shopping and just had an amazing time together. We love our kids, but do I even need to explain why we were thrilled to be childless?

Right now I would rate my marriage as a 10, but not all days are a perfect 10 you know? I don't even like to think about the tough times our marriage has been through, let alone announce it on the internet, but there is no denying that there have been ups and downs in the past 13 years. It's definitely not like the fairy tale you read about, and I think it's important that we are honest about that. In fact, to quote a friend that has been married for over 30 years, "there were times if he were a fish I would have thrown him back in the water". The good news is though, he is not a fish, and I am glad because I would have missed so much. J is the best husband I could ever ask for. My favorite thing about him, if I had to pick, is his integrity. I feel like we are finally learning how to express our love for each other and my love tank is full! If you would have seen me at the mall yesterday you would have caught me beaming, maybe even floating. I have tried to pinpoint what this feeling was. What is this thing that I have, for various reasons, never really allowed myself to feel for the longest time? Then it occurred to me. I can feel his adoration. I have learned how to be adored and it feels good.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday and Happy Hormones

I shared about Ezie's first birthday last month, but it was all about the party. I definitely need to get caught up on his latest milestones before he takes off into toddler hood.

I can't believe how much Ezie has changed in the past month (maybe I should just copy paste that sentence into all of the one month updates at this age).

At 11 months he said his first word. It's hard to say which one came first because sometimes he is imitating, and sometimes it's an approximation, or you think he may be babbling. Or maybe I am over analyzing because I do speech therapy everyday.

Anyway, here is a list of the words he can say

bye bye
uh oh
ma ma
da da

He has also taken his first steps and is on the verge of walking. We started doing the step counting. I don't know if anyone else does this, but first you count how many seconds they stand without falling. Then when they even lift a foot and move it an inch that counts as the first step. Every time they attempt walking from then on you see if they can break their previous record. Z and I have counted up to 17 steps, but crawling is still his forte for now.

Last month I reported Ezie's love for straws, but he is really into more complex play now. He likes to put on other peoples shoes, or take my keys and try to put them in the door, or act like everything is a phone and talk on it. It is absolutely one of my hearts greatest joys to see him explore and discover the world around him. And that is where the hormones come in.

Admittedly, if you would have talked to me right after he turned one you would have caught me at an emotional time. I NEVER lamented my other two kids growing up and doing new things, but this baby has been different. I have been through so much change already that I really felt like having him as a baby, like he had been for the past year, was the best thing for me. I knew it was not realistic, but baby Ezie was so easy to handle. He didn't resist direction, he didn't have an opinion, he mostly just sat there and looked cute, and I was okay with that. Of course I wanted him to grow and develop in a healthy way! I was just struggling with the idea of chasing a toddler around while already being exhausted as it is.  I just have had to trust God to believe that it was even doable at all. That's how I felt, and granted I may feel that way again on certain days, but the Lord has a way of molding a mother's heart and I feel completely different about it now.

The other day Ezie put a box on his head and would crawl around like that until he bumped into something (or the box fell off) then he would say "uh oh" and repeat the whole process all over again. This month as I watch Ezie try to join in during playtime with his siblings, or I heard him sing, or saw him stand up on his own, or dance, I remembered that this is actually one of my favorite ages and I am so looking forward to this next year! I can't wait for him to be a full blown walking talking toddler.

Then I think about him being two, but I stop, because right now I have a whole year before I have to worry about enjoying that stage.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

31 Excuses

Can I just say that with as much as I loved the 31 day challenge, I thought about giving up several times. I just barely inched my way across the finish line on October 31. The topic writing really stretched me and I feel so accomplished by having completed the challenge. It wasn't easy though, and I didn't even manage to blog every day. Honestly, it was a miracle that I even did 25 posts with how crazy October was for me. I thought about giving 31 excuses for why I didn't blog everyday in October, but I thought a little recap might be more suitable .

First of all, at the beginning of October I started working again. I always tell people that being a stay at home mom is a full time job and being a special needs mom is like working a second job on top of that! So I haven't been working outside of the home since we left Texas. However, when my brother in law offered for me to take on a part time administrative assistant position from home with the luxury of setting my own hours, it was hard to pass up. J and I discussed and prayed about it and so I've been working for 4 weeks now!

On top of that I worked 3 weddings in the past month too. I haven't done wedding photography since, well, since I said that I stopped working, but my brother has started getting into videography so I have been assisting him on occasion. You can see some of our work here and here.

 Then I had a chance to fill in as a photographer at a wedding that was desperately seeking someone after there original photog bailed. EEK! The theme was masquerade, so that was a really neat opportunity.

I've enjoyed hitting the wedding scene again. Maybe I'll go back to that someday when things settle down.

Besides all the extra work that's come in, the kids school schedules have kept me on my toes, let me tell ya. Between field trips,

parties, conferences, fundraisers,

and dress up days I am lucky that the worst mix up I made was more of an embarrassment than a real problem.

It happened to be one of the days that SJ was out of school. My afternoon alarm went off on my phone signaling that it was time to go. So I raced the two little ones down to the bus stop, which I was bummed to find completely vacant. I couldn't believe I missed the bus! I was so stressed out. I put the kids in their car seats and started to head to Z's school, but on the way there I called to find out where I needed to be. When I explained my position to the lady on the phone she informed me that school was still in session and they had not released the kids yet. Doh! My alarm was set for when I needed to pick up SJ (who gets out first), but since I had SJ with me already I automatically felt like it was time to get Z.

  Both kids have had enough schedule changes lately for me to rip up the original schedule and just wing it. When one has the day off the other has a special assembly to attend. Or when one has early release the other has a parent teacher meeting. One has picture day the same time the other has crazy hair day, and thank goodness I didn't get that one mixed up.

I have had to enlist my mom on several occasions because even with as super as I may try to be,

This was my "costume" for SJ's school party. I took this pic as a joke because I have snot on my shoulder.

I CANNOT be two places at once. Today for example Z is off, SJ is at school now, but needs to be picked up early to go to an ENT appointment. Then tomorrow is book fair for SJ and the 50th day of school for Z (so he is supposed to dress in 50's attire). Then I have a scheduled observation at SJ's school, AND I am scheduled to go to the auto body shop because when I was writing my series in October I never got to mention that I was rear ended in the middle of a down pour! Bahhhh!!!

That's enough details about how busy and chaotic my life has been. I did want to catch up though because I have two more weeks of an extremely packed calendar, so I might not be writing as much as I would like to. Although, I at least hope to touch on some very special milestones soon; like baby Ezie's first steps, my 13 year anniversary which was yesterday, and the year anniversary of SJ's cochlear implant surgery which is TODAY! So lots of wonderful things are happening. I just have to figure out how to juggle it all. I am sure many of you can relate.