Thursday, December 18, 2014

five tips to help your child's behavior

Our house has been a revolving door of Behavior Therapists over the past almost four years. Both boys put in about 20 hours a week of intense therapy. I never thought a kidless 20-something year old might be able to teach me something about my own children. The presence of autism in my life has grown my mind a thousand times over. So much of parenting children with autism is counter-intuitive. I say and do things I never thought would work- but they do. Here is a small list of techniques that we use daily that help reduce tantrums, increase understanding, direction following and happiness (theirs and mine). There is no one thing that works for all children-and there is no one quick fix, however, many of these techniques will work for many children. Whether or not they have autism.

Use Time to Decrease Transitional Tantrums: Many children have trouble leaving preferred places and activities. This is a BIG one for my 5 year old. There were times I wouldn't even take him to our neighborhood park because I was so scared of that moment we had to leave. He was unpredictable and erratic. Sometimes he would scream and fall to the ground, or try to run into a busy street to get away from me, or lash out to hit me. It broke my heart and downright scared me. One thing that has been life-changing for us is using Minute Warnings/Timers: Your child may need a 5 minute, 2 minute, or 1 minute warning before there is a change of activity. These warning help the children prepare. They will begin to learn that the warning comes and then the change comes and they get used to this. Eventually, the minute warnings become routine, even if the next task is not.

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We set a timer on our iphone. "In five minutes you need to take a bath." "In two minutes we are leaving the park", we say as the seconds begin to count down. This helps a child feel more in control without controlling us. When the timer goes off you have to carry through every single time. We did this continuously for two weeks before we started to see results. Now it's been years and it still works. Set your boundaries, stick to them, and follow through. 

FIRST/THEN: Many of our other tantrums are over wanting something they can't have at that moment. A toy, a snack, a trip somewhere RIGHT NOW. For many of these situations we use first/then.  “First___, then____” statements are used to help a child finish a task before getting something motivating.

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First we finish our lunch, then we can go outside.
First we will clean up, then we can go to the park.

Depending on your needs and your child's skill set- you can either do this verbally, use pictures, or write items on a dry erase board.

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Many children with autism think in pictures, so that is our go to method. It's a simple phrase that provides structure in a child's mind and helps them follow the directions at hand. It can help decrease a child's frustration because they can understand exactly what is expected of them. This works like a charm for my 5-year old, Greyson. It probably took about three months for him to understand that he would get what he wanted as long as he FIRST did what was asked of him. This does not work for Parker who is three. He does not have the same understanding of language that his brother does and he hasn't grasped anything other than he's NOT getting what he wants RIGHT NOW. We still use this language because one day when he grasps language a little better it will work.

Reward positive behavior: Reinforcing language identifies and affirms childrens' specific positive actions and encourages them to continue their appropriate behavior. For example, to a child that shared their swing at the park you might say, "I really like how you shared and played so nicely with that little boy at the park." It's especially important to recognize behaviors that a child usually struggles with- sharing, being quiet, following directions. With these words, the adult lets the children know that their positive behaviors were noticed.

We continually point out good behaviors in areas the boys struggle. "I like how you are sharing your truck with Parker." Good job cleaning up your blocks Parker." Recognizing good behaviors increases the likelihood that they will happen again. (Please note: this also works with husbands). In an environment with small children you are frequently saying: no, put that down, don't do that, put that back, you can't have that- you can't eat that, NO NO NO NO- sometimes it's so nice to recognize and focus on the good. Praise is one of the best reinforcers around.

For some children- praise means nothing. It's not rewarding, therefore, it does not increase the good behavior.  In this case you must find something that IS rewarding. Sometimes a small reward is offered- a piece of candy or a token or sticker that when accumulated can be used towards a greater reward. I've heard some people say, "I don't like to bribe my child." To me- it's like getting a pay check for work. We all work for the reward, whether it be emotional, financial or fiscal. 

Focus on what you want the child to do- not what you want them to STOP doing. How many of you have screamed at your child, STOP SCREAMING?!!!!  with crazed eyes and clinched fists? (Guilty) Minimize the use of ‘don’t’ and ‘stop.’ For example, ‘Please stay on the sidewalk’ can be much more effective than ‘Don’t walk on the grass’ for a child who might not hear the ‘don’t’—or for one who isn’t sure where the acceptable place to walk might be. This lets the child know exactly what you WANT them to do. 'Stop screaming' becomes, 'Quiet please', 'Don't color on the table' becomes 'Only color on the paper'. It's counter-intuitive to the ways most of us usually parent but it works. There are times when there's NO WAY around a don't/stop statement. DON'T COLOR ON THE DOG. STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER. Use your best judgement- you'll figure out when you need to lay down the DON'T law.

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Here I ignore his screaming because he doesn't want to share his cars with his brother.

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Here I praise him, "Great job being quiet and playing with your cars."

I know- it feels a little weird at first, ignoring your child while they are screaming or throwing themselves on the ground. But when they do that- they are attention seeking and giving them any kind of attention reinforces that behavior. They will learn it doesn't work and realize they get more attention when their behavior is good.

Remain Calm (YOU!): This was a hard one for me to learn and is still a hard one for me to remember! This one is especially hard because what usually happens is your child goes out of control and then you quickly follow. It's exhausting, draining and frustrating. I take deep breaths and make sure my words sound calm- even if I'm not feeling it. I remind myself that I am the adult and if I expect my child to modify their behavior then I must too. Children don't always have the language to explain what they want and need and that can be extremely frustrating for them. I have had many, many more years of practice so I need to be much better at being kind, calm and patient while I lead by example. 

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I can't believe how much happier they are since beginning Behavior Therapy. They are so much less frustrated and so much more understood.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to parenting. However there is research and data supporting the above methods, therefore at least one of them is likely to work for you. Remember, parenting is a ride wild, and for the most part- everything hard we are going through with them is only a phase. IT WILL END. Sometimes all that is standing between you and your child's happiness is a little extra structure and control. If you have any questions or tips of your own-  leave them in the comments.

Love someone in your village, 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

be you

I am a life enthusiast.

Life frequently makes me cry. It makes me clap my hands and jump up and down in the middle of Target because something is just so ridiculously amazing. It makes me notice that your hair looks different and I can't even believe how beautiful you are at this exact instant. It makes me see sunsets and commercials and sob. Because I am a life enthusiast I must connect with you on a level so deep it intimidates some- and annoys and confuses others. But isn't it all just so amazing? Everything life? Don't we need to think and feel and discuss while 3,632 adjectives roll out of our mouths and fall to the floor and explode into feeling? Being a life enthusiast makes me describe the sky as pink and purple cotton candy or cartoon clouds or warm and golden glittery. It makes the moon make me think about God and life and death and what it really means to be infinity. It makes me describe and feel and see trees as thousands of shades of green, with rough, textured honest bark- each tree complete with its own personality. Sometimes I label them as I drive down the road. Look at that happy tree- all fluffy and symmetrical. And that one that is tip toe tall and skinny with long dangling arm branches is so wise.

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Sometimes everything IS amazing, and sometimes I just think it is. Either way- it ends up amazing. Amazing for the win. Also- the tree directly behind Parker is scared, and the one to the left of it is organized.

My husband is not a life enthusiast. He describes trees as green and brown. 

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He may mention that they give us oxygen- like this diagram shows- not in a way that makes him cry at the full circle insanity of God's BRILLIANT plan called life. He would find it so very hard to understand that a tree had the power to make me cry. I think it's safe to say he has never jumped up and down out of sheer joy inside a Target...or anywhere. 

This has always made me quite mad, but I didn't really even realize until recently. I get mad at him for not noticing and commenting and loving all the that I love and get excited about daily. I thought this meant he was doing it wrong. Like if you are more subdued about expressing yourself- you are doing it wrong. I get mad at him for not living LOUD and enthusiastically. I also thought this meant I was doing it right. Not right for me- but for all of the earth. Like this is how happy people live life- enthusiastically. 

I love being a life enthusiast, as do most others who share this role with me. Each day I feel as though we are all our own hero standing on the edge of our very own great adventure. There are hard parts too. Parts that make no sense to my soul. There are demons and dragons to slay; some created by man and some by nature. The ones created by man make me unbearably unsettled. There are lessons for me to learn- again and again and again- because it seems like the really important ones often slip away from me. Sometimes it hurts to be a life enthusiast. There are times I feel empathy so deep it carves out a vast empty hole in my middle. I can't watch the news. I can't hear about tragedy to children. Sometimes I want to cry when I think about the fact that one day my dog Jack will die. He's only 7 and hopefully has a long life ahead of him- so I don't know why I think those kinds of things but I do. When life fills me with sad I just want to go to sleep. Even if it's 2pm. But I can't always do that so I'm left not knowing how I'm going to function in this less than enthusiastic state. I get my feelings hurt more often than I would like because they are too big to fit under my skin. They lie on top of my skin therefore anyone and anything can get to them. No sir, being a life enthusiast is sometimes quite painful.

I embrace all of it. I believe that for the most parts- there are no gifts without burdens. I've realized that the gifts that God has given us are always worth the cost. I am becoming more aware that there is no ONE way to be, no ONE way to live. In fact, life would really be awful if it was run by life enthusiasts. After a Life Enthusiast Doctor lost their first patient they would go home and go to bed for days. They wouldn't be able to function. They would stop saving lives and instead collect golf balls from the golf course. Life enthusiasts could never be an accountant because that is so extremely only one way to do it and uncolorful.

This whole wide world runs off the practicality and utter beauty of different. The older I get the more I look for and connect with my people. The more I also try to work with and appreciate those unlike me. They have something to offer my perspective, just as I have something to offer theirs. 

I like labels as long as they are applied loosely with room for exception. I recently found these lists and it has helped me understand some differences between my husband Michael and I. 

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Differences I might have once thought were things he did wrong. Differences I thought meant I was doing it right. I think I'm a big mesh of many different personality types- but when it comes to social relationships, trying new things and pride and shame- I connect with this Introvert list.

I am doing it right- FOR ME- and that's kind of a beautiful thing. To give yourself permission to be exactly who you are. I need frequent reminders that I am allowed to be exactly who I am- remember- I need to learn and relearn the important things. And I must tell you- you are perfectly wonderful and complete exactly the way you are too. I give YOU permission to be you.

Maybe we both can remind each other that we are allowed to be us. This lesson is an important one.

Much Love,


PS- If you have two minutes, check out these ADORABLE little tiny Life Enthusiasts giving their Poppa a lesson after he gives them the "worst Christmas gifts" ever. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

salty and sweet

On Friday night we went out for fast food at one of those joints with a germ infested playland. I'm not at all a germ phobic (okay- so I was Grey's first six months of life but that's normal and thankfully over) but even the grime here is grimy. It's thick and soft and almost wet. If you scrape it- stuff comes off. There's an occasional used bandaid on the floor. It's covered in dust. And they want the kids to take off their shoes to - I don't know- keep it clean-ish? My kids feet are four jillion times cleaner than that play structure.

While we were there this family poured in. Six little beautiful children all with bright golden heads of blond hair. Something about them was decided different than other children. They were so sweet with each other and so all-around polite. When the oldest 12-ish year old girl saw Doodle her face lit up. Hiiiii, she happily exclaimed, which of course made me love her. He was trying to climb some stairs and he started to slip until she quickly caught him and stopped his fall. She followed him the rest of the way up the stairs and then looked over at me and smiled. Thank you for helping him, I told her. Are these all your brothers and sisters? I asked. We are cousins, she said. My Grandma and Grandpa brought us here. 

I was enthralled by this little perfect family. I watched them play and interact; continuously polite and hilarious. The Grandma and Grandpa were funny and loving and stern. I wanted to be adopted. I wanted to be a part of this group of family and love. I wanted desperately for Greyson and Parker to have THIS. This sibling-ness. I wanted four more kids. It would be so EASY, I thought. With all these kids I would be so busy I wouldn't even have time to be tired! I reasoned. I want that so much my skin ached.

It's so easy to idealize other peoples lives. We imagine all that would be good about it without realizing that there is so much we don't know about. We easily assume that others have it easy and perfect and exactly like they had planned when really- we are all just creating life as we go along. Making the best out of the crap parts. Being aware and then grateful of the parts that are beautiful. We have to believe that there are so many details in our own life that we DO get to choose. So much that IS up to us and we have an obligation to create a life that makes us happy. It's not always easy but it is always important and it is always worth it. It's easy to compare our lives and feel like we are unlucky. Maybe we could compare as a reminder to be grateful too.

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On Saturday I was dying for some of my favorite chewy chocolate chip cookies. We were cleaning and packing and it wasn't the best of times to start baking but I didn't care. Michael- will you help me for five minutes to make some cookies? I asked. You put all the dry stuff in this bowl. I'll do the sugar and the wet stuff and we will be done in no time. We both went about our portion, measuring, pouring and stirring. 

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I excitedly pulled them out of the oven and they were still hot and gooey as I grabbed one off the cookie sheet to take the first bite, already so excited. I waited for the familiar taste to flood my mouth and I was shocked when I felt- nothing. Blah. They didn't taste awful....they just tasted...wrong. It hit me almost instantly.

Did you put salt in your mix? I called out to Michael.

Was I supposed to? He responded.

Mmmmm-hmmmmm, I said. So that was it- the cookies were missing salt. I was SHOCKED at how weird, wrong, flat and yucky the cookies tasted to me without something as little and simple as 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt. Cookies- which by nature are sweet- are not very good without the contrast of salt. Just like life my friends. A good, easy, perfect flat life is never ever as good as a life with hard times, with contrast, with meaningful lessons and longing. Without the salt, we can't really ever appreciate the sweet. 

I'm sorry I forgot to add salt- Michael yelled from upstairs. That's ok, I called back. I didn't have delicious cookies but I did have a small epiphany about life. 

Some sweet scenes from the weekend...

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Saturday night out with some of the most amazing women to celebrate my birthday. After we moved to this new city I prayed and prayed and prayed to find people who felt like home. People who showed up. I am grateful for answered prayers. 

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We all stayed in our pajamas until noon today. 

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"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life". John Lennon

I hope you create an amazing week. 



Thursday, December 11, 2014

one dot at a time

When I was little I loved doing connect the dots. I always tried to figure out what the image was before I even began, squinting my eyes and turning the paper around to examine it from different angles. Left curious and giddy from the uncertainty.

Half way through connecting I would think- what?! How is 11 all the way up here and 12 so way far down over there?! This isn't going to look like anything but a bunch of scribbles. I wonder if I made a wrong move somewhere.

Skeptically I would follow each dot from number to number. And sure enough, the dots would connect and I would start to see the vague semblance of something real. And then at the very end- suddenly the image was revealed and it all made sense.


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This is life. We are in the middle of connecting all the dots. That is a beautiful, good thing. It means we are alive. It means were are trying. Frequently the things that happen to us in life doesn't make any sense. We don't know where the heck we are headed to next, and we are desperately and urgently trying to see, to know, to control the whole big picture.

The image will be revealed to you but not a second before it's supposed to. Don't think about the final picture- just look for the very next number and make your move. Maybe it's time we felt curious and giddy about our own future, instead of anxious and uncertain.

Some scenes from this past Wednesday...

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We are lucky because we get THREE visits from the trash truck on Wednesdays (trash, recycle and green waste which is Frank!). Trash comes first thing in the morning.

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Grey does just as much for Frank's heart as Frank does for him. Love is one sized fits all.

I love you and I am so glad we get to share some dots together, 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

don't forget to weeeee

Let's just start at the middle. For me that's always the best place to begin. Sometimes the beginning is too far from memory, too speckled with details. The end makes no sense without the middle. So let's just start there.

It's December. The 12th month of the year. Right after November -like always. And shot out of a cannon into right now. I haven't written in a week because life has been on fast forward and the less I write the less I can even remember HOW to write. And THIS happened last Tuesday.

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My first and (better be) LAST root canal. The drill the entire middle of your tooth out- all the way down to your roots. YUCK. And now I need a crown for the top of it to make it strong again. Merry Christmas to me.

I highly recommend NOT skipping the dentist for 6 years. From the moment I got pregnant with Greyson until six months ago I didn't go to the dentist once. I'd love to blame it on autism or selfless motherhood- but I've made time here and there for shopping and pedicures and alone time. When I finally went a few months back the good news is I only had one cavity. The bad news is it was deep. The Dentist filled it but warned me that he was close to a nerve and I may have to come back for a root canal. About two weeks ago I woke up with a tingly numb right side of my face. My muscles worked fine and I wasn't in any pain but I was freaking out. Even the dentist wasn't quite sure what in the heck was going on. I had a root canal last week and finally over the weekend my face returned to normal.

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Our weekend fun strolling down a local neighborhood called Candy Cane Lane. All the houses decorate Clark Griswold style and it's so much fun to walk and drive through the neighborhood. I have to remind myself- sometimes the holidays DO look exactly like I expected and hoped for. Sometimes I'm so focused on what isn't that I completely miss what IS. That's one of the reasons I love writing. It helps me organize my thoughts and bring what is important to me to the surface.

And BAM. It's December. And we put our house on the market and last week it sold. And we are in the middle of buying another house locally. And Christmas shopping and should we even bother putting up our tree? and marriage and I have to send out the Christmas Cards and life and root canals suddenly felt incredibly overwhelming. And today I made myself take a deep breath and really tackle these feelings of feeling so overwhelmed.

MOVING. PACKING. Which also means the purchase of an adorable, amazing home overflowing with mid-century character that is going to be ALL OURS. With a big back yard for our boys. The move was instigated by our need to move school districts for Greyson and ultimately Parker, but with it comes a million more perks too. Yes moving will suck. But it is a thing with an end. I can't wait to show our new pad to you.

I haven't done any Christmas shopping. Chrissy meet Amazon Prime. You are quite familiar with it already. You can do everything in one evening. That plus one evening at the Mall and you will be doneso. (Annie- do you want to come with me one evening in the next week or two?) Sorry, it's really that easy. And PS- Your kids are happiest with an empty box in the back yard. It's ME that has unrealistic expectations of perfection. Don't push that onto them.

Isn't it hilarious how EASILY we can turn blessings into some of the most insurmountable problems in the Universe? Like will it really matter if we put the tree out or not? I think not.

So here we are now.

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Taking deep breaths and enjoying and stressing over life. Because there will ALWAYS be life and marriage and root canals. You just have to enjoy the good stuff too.

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When Parker is doing something fun he calls it a "weeee". A slide is weee. Every time he goes down it he says it with gusto. WEEEEEEEEE. A swing is -of course -a weeeee. The other day it escaped his little puppet mouth every time he threw a ball. He jumps every time he throws - like he has to or the ball won't work. That's the great thing about playing with him. He reminds me to weeee. When we are older weeeee turns into: I don't have time for this fun. Or, I'm scared. And This isn't practical.

And yes, it's December, but let Parker remind YOU to take time to weeeeee.

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Doodle throw back, 2013

Happy December Friend.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

helping carry

Sometimes I don't even know how I feel because I'm trying so hard to already feel a certain way, that I can't see beyond the line of what's real and what's hoped for. Pushing myself to a place of existence that suddenly, one day, inside a moment feels like make-believe.

Once a week Greyson goes to typical preschool. Autism is a disorder that affects communication, socialization and behavior- and one of the best ways for Greyson to work on all those skills is to be around children who do not have autism. Yesterday I went up to Greyson's school for a very special visit from the one and only Frank the Trash Man. We love our angel Frank, and the kids loved Frank and his shiny truck.

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Boy am I proud of that kid. Every single day I feel the warmth of pride on my skin.

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I picked up Greyson from school later in the morning after school was over. 

Did you have so much fun at school today? I asked.

I saw the K's you drew! I'm so proud of you Buddy! 

What was your favorite part of today? I bet it was Frank visiting.

And I talk. And I talk and talk because that's what I would want you to do to me. And I talk because I need him to know I care and notice all those things about and around him. Same with Parker. Just like I wish people would notice of me- all the little details of me. And I talk because sometimes the silence blankets me with a loneliness that never really let's me get warm and I'm just trying so cold.

And it usually feels normal-the talking and not answering- the silence of words. The quiet IS our normal. But sometimes all of the sudden it doesn't feel normal at all and I can't believe I'm not in a dream. I keep talking and my voice cracks and echoes back to me; suddenly sounding ridiculous and empty. No one is listening or understanding or answering. It's all just so too much. My chest rips open and out pours loneliness. I throw more fuel to ignite the embers. No one is calling me momma or even answering "nothing" in an annoyed voice when I ask "what did you learn at school today." 

And I do not complain about this. I will never complain about this because I am grateful for the two perfect boys that I sometimes have to pinch myself over because I can't believe they are really mine. And because them having autism is harder on them. And because it's about them, not me. But it's not what I had and what I pictured and what I need so deep in the marrow of my bones. Not what my ears ache to hear. I'm so sad my skin hurts.

And I used to feel this ache every damn day. And then the times between the ache got longer. And then it's mostly just acceptance; often speckled with this insane love and joy and happiness. But sometimes, rarely but still true, it hits me and I hold onto it tight. Heavy in my arms until they ache like jello. And I don't understand why it's the way it is. And I cry for the way life isn't and for the mother I'll never ever ever get to be. I cry for the funny stories I don't get to hear and then repeat about the funniest thing that they said on the way to school this morning and I cry because I'll never roll my eyes from hearing "mom" over and over again until I want to lock myself in a bubble bath. I cry because I don't answer a million questions in a row. I cry for all the talking I do that goes unanswered.

And it's hard writing this. All of it. It's hard sharing it too. But vulnerability is an important part of connection and healing. Honest and vulnerable is who I need to be to be the person I want to be. And my boys damn well deserve a mother who gets out the sad when it makes its appearance. Writing provides the kind of connection I crave. A connection that reminds me (along with God and life and my boys) just how lucky I am. There are people that long for my particular brand of lucky-- and I KNOW that I am blessed and lucky. And you can be blessed and grateful and lucky and deeply sad sometimes -all at the same time. I know because sometimes that is me.

Most of all I forgive myself for being human and for having human thoughts. Thoughts and feelings are vacations not permanant homes. I remind my friend ME that we are all human. We all ache in the places we are bruised - and we are all bruised.

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Give yourself permission to FEEL. All of it- not just the polished and perfect parts. Don't disguise yourself to others- but even so much more importantly- don't hide yourself from you.

I give YOU my sweet friend permission to feel and share the parts of you that you keep inside. The parts that say- don't think that and certainly- don't say that. Share what weighs heavy on you. The load instantly gets lighter. 

Thank you for helping me carry mine.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I will not resist

At the beginning of last week I found myself sitting at my Dentist's office.

It started when I woke up on Sunday. My face felt vaguely weird but I didn't really stop to think about it for hours. That evening I touched the right side of my chin and realized just how different it really felt. I could kind of feel it but not really. It was like it was partially numb. That sensation went up my cheek and to my ear too. And then I realized I really couldn't feel my teeth on the right bottom side of my mouth as either. Hmmm. In my annoyance and confusion I contacted Google. (never do that). By the end of my computer surfing I had MS and a stroke and cancer and Bells Palsy and a brain tumor. I told Michael and he wasn't NEARLY as concerned about my impending death as I was. On Monday morning I asked him if he would stop by the dentist to see if they could fit me in.

After describing my symptoms the Dentist referred me to an oral surgeon who wasn't available for TWO MORE WEEKS. That is when I officially started to FREAK OUT. I drove straight to the Dentist to see where else I could go. The Receptionist was so sweet and asked me to wait so she could chat with the Dentist.  I sat in the waiting room trying not to freak out. Everything about life felt out of control and suddenly it was not okay. I want to pound the ground with my fists and scream. I'm not worried about me. I'm not in pain. I am angry. I am ABSOLUTELY livid. I am mad at God because I've had ENOUGH uncertainty and waiting and now THIS. THIS that I am feeling RIGHT NOW. I am mad that it's almost Thanksgiving and I don't want to have a weird numb face for Thanksgiving. I'm mad that the Dentist doesn't have answers. I'm scared that I may have to go to a scary doctor. This is the part of life I simply can not handle. I hate the absolute loss of control that comes with uncertainty. I am resisting my life with everything in me. I do that all the time.

But NONE of this is about dentistry or teeth or anything remotely to do with any of that. (Turns out an old filling hurt a nerve and now I need a root canal). It's actually about ALL of us and the in between moments in life. Did you know that research shows you know it takes TWICE as much energy to swing and miss than it takes to swing and connect? It takes ten million times more energy to resist what is true in your life instead of just accepting it. I have an impossible time at making uncertainty my friend. Some things in life- uncertainty- dental crap- road blocks are just a part of the journey. I don't know how to do it but I know words so I start there. We must pick up uncertainty at the airport and invite it to live in our house. We must welcome it with a big grin and open arms. We must make nice with it. Because it's never going away. Let me repeat that.

Where there is life there is uncertainty. ALWAYS. If you want to be alive- AND if you want to be happy you must also be at peace with uncertainty. You must welcome it in advance. OR you must simply be okay being an angry, awful, miserable person.

Next time I am in a moment like my moments in the waiting room I will repeat- Yes- I embrace this part too. I am open to this. I will not resist my life and the lessons it contains. Slap that on a tshirt and call it my mantra for the week baby.

The past week has been a good one. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my best friend, Annie and her whole big family. It felt like home.

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I didn't take any pictures after this because I was too busy eating, laughing, talking and child wrangling. 

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Our time off was relaxing and brilliant. We took a long time doing things that we usually do in a hurry.

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Happiest in water. I even had him pick out his own outfit and get dressed every day. I usually do most of it because we are always in a hurry which is a terrible way for him to learn. I don't want to be dressing him when he's 42 years old because I'm so impatient.

We spent much of our time outdoors...

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Vibrant leaves danced with shadows while with the trees danced with light.

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Let life fall like leaves. Don't resist a bit of it.

And here is our THIRD ANNUAL Un-Holiday card at Target.

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I gave up getting the picture perfect family Holiday card after last year. 

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At this shoot. I am still laughing although I wasn't then.

Our family is FAR from family-portrait-perfect and our holidays look nothing like I imagined they would. Sometimes that feels like a sucker punch and I just want to fall to the floor and cry. It's hard to let go of what you want. It's hard to let go of resistance. But the more I let go of expectations and embrace REAL LIFE the easier and better life is. 

Life is a blessing for every one of us; it's a roller coaster of fear and joy and uncertainty and embracing the unexpected. It's filled with imperfections. No one's holiday is perfect. Maybe you are like me and haven't yet bought a single gift and you are a tiny bit freaking out. Guess what? IT DOESN'T MATTER. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing- find what works for you and learn to LOVE IT. The Holidays are HERE and time is zooming in on us with lightening speed- don't forget what this season REALLY means to you. Don't let what you expected stop you from loving what is.

Much Love,


Monday, November 24, 2014

lazy weekend

The weekend was filled with PJ's, pancakes and fun.

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In fact on Saturday I let Greyson keep his pajamas on all day. At 6pm we just switched him to a fresh pair. He works so dang hard Monday through Friday that he deserves a break from reality just as much as I do.

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I FINALLY found the right recipe for my FAVORITE kind of chocolate chip cookies. (Chewy and flat). HERE it is.  That Martha Stewart really knows what she's doing. 

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So I did some baking too.

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Until I ran out of sugar.

And a few weeks ago I shared this story on Facebook. 

Grey spotted the carousel from the parking lot. "Hose" he said. He barely speaks- so when he asks for something I rarely say no. There was a quarter jammed in the machine and it wouldn't work. I was urgently using my keys to Macgyver the money out. I wouldn't leave that damn parking lot until he rode this horse. A homeless man walked up to us and I tensed. I was holding my wallet and I knew he was going to ask me for money. "Do you need help?" He asked. "No thanks," I replied keeping my head down. "Do you need a quarter?" He asked digging into his pocket. I couldn't believe it. He was offering me money. I was so wrong before. I humbly smiled up at him- "No, we are good. But thank you so so much." My eyes filled with tears. I hear you God. We are the same- that man and I. Do not judge. You never know who God is going to show up as in your life.

Today we finally went back to ride that horse. I think he has asked for  it every single day since then. 

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Sometimes happiness is free, and sometimes it costs fifty cents.

Hope you have a great short week. It's crazy just how much we all have to be THANKFUL for.