Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Avoid the Wrecking Ball At All Costs!

I came up with an analogy that I often share with my friends when they are going through a challenging time.  When God wants us to work on something that is broken inside of us, He will continue to get our attention in interesting ways until we are ready to look at what needs to be fixed.

First, God starts with a whisper.  If we ignore that, He moves on to the tap on the shoulder.  If we continue to ignore, He moves onto poking us with the stick...then the 2x4....etc., etc....until He gets to the wrecking ball.  And I always say,
"You want to avoid the wrecking ball at all costs!"

Well, right now I'm following my own advice.  I would like to say that I listened to the whisper or the tap, but I'm a stubborn, capable, multitasking woman that still has a lot to learn!

I would like to say I responded to the stick, but no.  I can say that I acknowledged the stick and said to God, "Yah, yah, yah....I know I'm not dealing with "x" or "y" very well, but I will work through it.  I wasn't ignoring or stuffing the issues....just procrastinating.

When God decides that the time has come.....well, let's just say there's no avoiding Him!  

After last week's stress and Thursday's migraine, I didn't rebound very well.  The fact that we had a fundraising gala on Friday night and a close friend's birthday party on Saturday was tough because I didn't get the rest I needed.  (For the record, the only drink I had both nights was water!  Taking ibuprofin was much more important to me than alcohol!)

Based on my head pain by the end of Saturday night, I'm pretty sure I had another mild migraine.  I was a mess by Sunday morning.  I barely made it through Mass.  Afterwards, I came directly home and put on sweats and stayed on the couch most of the day.  I felt foggy, exhausted, and my depth perception was off.  Feeling so terrible was also triggering a small handful of panic attacks over the day which just made all the other symptoms even worse.  I was praying before bed and the image of a wrecking ball came in my head.  I think God was warning me to 'avoid the wrecking ball at all costs", and I was determined to do that.

I thought I felt better Monday, still a little foggy and still struggling with the panic attacks and eyes that were sensitive to light.  All the kids but Luke went back to school(kindergarten screenings), and my friend, Laura, invited us for a morning play date.  The kids had fun and it was a good distraction for me to hang with friends.  I rested Monday afternoon and felt a little better by bed time.

Tuesday was a set back.  Panic attacks, even worse feelings of depth perception, light sensitive eyes, and exhaustion.  I decided to get an eye exam and was able to schedule it for early afternoon.  I also called my primary doctor who wanted me to go for a ct scan to make sure there wasn't something serious happening.  I did both with the help of my parents, and thankfully both the exam and the scan were fine.

It's hard for moms to take care of themselves...but we have to be honest with ourselves and what we need because if we stop functioning, everyone suffers!  Emotional duct tape only lasts so long!  Sometimes we have to actually fix what is broken......

I'm feeling better today.(Thank you, God!)  I'm trying to lay low and keep calm.  I had a follow up doctor's appointment this am, and while my mother-in-law and sister-in-law had Kate, I took advantage of the moment to spend a little quiet time in adoration.  I also shared what was going on with some friends, and it always helps to know people care and are praying for you!

I'm going to see a therapist for a bit as well.  I just need a little help to work through some of the major causes of my anxiety...particularly the fact that turning the big 4-0 in June doesn't seem to be 'agreeing' with my emotions.  It sounds so silly, really, but the extreme anxiety attacks are no laughing matter!  It's hard for me to ask for help.....

Sound familiar to any of the wonderful, strong-willed moms I know?  (And my dad guys are even worse!  But that's a whole other post....:)

If any of my readers feels a little lost or confused or you are going through a tough time right now....I urge you to listen to God's whisper...or tap...or poke...or 2x4!

I am determined to avoid  having God resort to using the wrecking ball to get my attention!  Asking for help is a much better alternative. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Best Version of Ourselves

This has been a tough week for me.  I'm not actually sure why...

Maybe it was just the perfect storm and all my separate worries got mixed together like ingredients for soup!  Then came that "one more thing" that brought the pot to a boil and things got a little ugly!

I mean, it wasn't a bad week.  Every mom knows that there are benefits to the 'unroutine' of vacation week. 

There are also extra stresses, too, of having everyone home all the time...constantly eating, making messes, wanting to be entertained(Luke) or wanting to hide(teenagers).

Add to the mix that we were all coming off of the busy Easter weekend, (and the subsequent sugar crash), and I was definitely not starting my week with a full emotional tank!  

Lately, there has been a lot of emotional neediness in our house.  It hasn't really left time to work on some of my own emotional needs....and an issue or two....

I am not good at asking for time for myself.  Just like most moms....I am always last to sit down at the table, I always pull night duty, and my needs come after everyone else's if there is any time leftover.  

And with our crew of 8...there isn't a whole lot of "extra" anything!  (Except laundry!)

Honestly, even when there is a little time, I almost always take the opportunity to just snuggle with Jay on the couch for 10 minutes before he falls asleep.  Serious, depressing conversations can wait a little longer, can't they?!?  

Of a point.  Because, after a while, if you don't deal with your emotions then they deal with you.  That isn't a pleasant feeling.  Unfortunately, I have had past experience.  Some therapy I did years ago taught me quite a lot...but sometimes I still push the limits of what I learned trying to be Supermom and Superwife and just trying to make sure I hit the 'eject' button on my super suits before I explode and things get ugly.

Kind of like waiting as long as possible before pulling the rip cord on a parachute....that could get messy!

So...what was the 'one more thing' this week? 

It was Peter.

Sometimes I do really good with taking Peter's disabilities and special needs in stride.  Sometimes not.

The sometimes not usually happens when his behaviors affect some of the other kids and our ability to do things or go places like a 'normal' family.  

Peter is a very affectionate little guy who is really not so little anymore.  Peter will be 13 in July and is sporting some underarm hair and is starting to change into a teenager.  He is on his way to catching his brothers in his 5'3" frame.  Emotionally he is still at a preschool level and cognitively around a 2nd or 3rd grader.  He is severely affected by autism.

The fact that he has a lot of affect and is very loving is one of his strengths.  The problem is that he is always...and I mean always... trying to hug people and rub people's arms.  He's like a big German Shepherd puppy around people....bouncing around with limbs all over the place!  With every hug he gets more excited and laughs maniacally and his 5'3", 115 lb body is quite a lot to try and redirect.

Most people, especially our friends and family, are very understanding and patient with Peter.  We are working with Peter on only hugging family and friends, only giving one quick hug..."hug and release", and then just trying to enjoy people's company.  

It's a process......

Sometimes it's just a lot to try and manage.  When the kids' friends come over, we have to give lots of reminders to have Peter keep his hands to himself and give people personal space and keep him out of the room they are hanging in.  Sometimes we try and have Peter spend time with my dad at his house when there is a crowd over....or one of the older kids will bring Peter to my parents' and hang out with him if Ellie or Sarah has friends over.

On Wednesday, I took all the younger kids with Jon to Mass.  It did not go well.  Kate was her usual wiggly, noisy 2 year old self.  Luke sat with Jon and actually did a good job.  Peter was awful.  He was super wiggly, kept talking out loud, and the 22 minutes we were in the Church was not much of a spiritual experience....

In fact, the experience left me with a feeling of discouragement that I couldn't shake for the rest of the day.  It also didn't help that it rained and was dreary  Or that Peter asked me to go outside every 5 minutes  And, in between asking to go outside, he repeated the same phrase all day long.(The phrase he was repeating was mimicking my mother getting upset at my father over something...and Peter mimics voiced really well!  It's his super power!)

My nerves were pretty frayed by Wednesday night.  Thankfully, candy car bingo with Ellie at her school, and getting to sit with friends, was a nice distraction. 

My mistake was that I pushed some emotions about Peter aside instead of dealing with them.  And they dealt with me in the form of a migraine on Thursday afternoon.:(

Even though Peter has had a diagnosis of autism since he was 2 years and 3 months old, every once in a while a 'grief patch' catches up with me.  Sometimes, when life with Peter feels especially challenging,  the 'what if's' start to grow in my mind and around my heart like out of control vines.  I start to wonder what our life would be life if Peter wasn't autistic.  I think about what a "neurotypical" Peter would look like and sound like.  I wonder whether he would love Legos and sports.  I wonder what his relationships with his siblings would be like.  I wonder whether he would be playing little league and basketball like his big brothers.  

I especially think of how much easier it would be if Peter acted like a regular 12 year old at Church, at home, and out in public!

My plan is not God's plan....just like lots of other areas of my life(!)....and I know God has a plan for Peter.  

I read a really great blog post today that showed up in my inbox this morning.  Nicole Jankowski talks about her acceptance of who her son is within his diagnosis.  At one point in the post Nicole wrote, "Dominic didn’t seem to really mind being autistic.  In fact, he kind of seemed sort of…really….happy."  

I know that a lot of higher functioning kids with autism struggle with being different from their peers.  Peter is not high functioning and that comment by Nicole reminded me of him.  Peter is a really happy go lucky kid. The things that make him happy are riding his scooter around our block, playing "Where's my Water" on his IPad, watching Daniel Tiger, getting hash browns from Dunkin Donuts after Mass, going to Disney World, watching Southwest Airline videos on Youtube, going for a ride on the highway and getting off two exits later in the neighboring town, and eating Grandma's chocolate cake. 

Jay and I will never stop praying for Peter's healing, or ever stop making sure he gets the therapy he needs, or is in the best environment to help him continue to learn and be safe and happy.  What I am always reminding myself of is that Peter's happy is much different than my happy, or his siblings' happy.  

At Christmas, our Pastor gave everyone a copy of a Matthew Kelly book in which the author talks about becoming the "best version of ourselves".  Peter will reach the best version of himself long before I ever get there!  His capacity to be happy and love is much simpler...and more pure...than mine!  

One way or another, if not by healing in this lifetime then in the perfection of our Heavenly home, the veil of Autism will be lifted for Peter.  

Jon said it best in a conversation he had with Jay a while ago.  Jon made the comment, "I can't wait to meet Therese and see what Peter is really like when we are all in Heaven one day......"  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday is Here!

We made it to Friday of vacation week!  It's definitely been a full week!  We've been to the zoo, out for ice cream, a birthday party for Ellie with her friends, a disastrous daily Mass bc of Peter and Kate, surviving a rainy day, candy bar bingo, book club, and an unfortunate migraine yesterday afternoon.:(  Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as last time!  Tonight, Jay and I get to be grown-ups and go to the fundraising gala for Ellie and Luke's school.  I get to dress up and everything!

I'm linking up with Jen for Quick Takes Friday!  I'm going to share some really cute shots I got from our Easter preparation on Holy Saturday:)

1.  Baking
We made lots of special desserts for Easter.  In these pics the girls are making sugar cookies:)

2.  Outdoor Prep
Jay surprised me by ordering mulch after he and Jon raked out the front yard.  Luke was really eager to help and was able to maneuver a little wheelbarrow with a little mulch to do it just like the big boys!

Luke worked hard!  I love that I caught Jay drinking coffee in this pic and.....

in this pic!  Makes it look like Luke is doing all the work!lol

Back for more!

Just so you don't think that child labor was involved!  Dad worked super hard, too!
 3-7.  Coloring Easter Eggs
It's our family's tradition to color Easter eggs the day before Easter every year.  Even the big kids still enjoy getting in the fun! 
Jon and Luke(who was super excited!)

Mike and Jay...with the same grin.  There's no doubt they are father/son!

High five for egg success between Kate and Andrew!

Peter, who had been talking about coloring eggs for days, got in on the fun!

Sarah and Kate

 At one point in the egg decorating Luke became a super spaz!  I think it was a combination of his excitement over coloring eggs and a little sugar rush from the ice cream he had for dessert.  Luckily, I got the evidence on camera...these shots will be really fun to show him when he is a teenager!

What a goober!:)

I hope that your house has gotten over the sugar rush from Easter candy!  Have a great weekend:)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014, cont.

Our Easter is a 'hopping' one!  (sorry...I couldn't help myself:)  After our own family egg hunt in the early hours of Easter morning, we go to the 8 o'clock Mass.  When we get back from church, we head over to my parent's house for another little egg hunt and a short visit.  I forgot my camera and didn't get any pictures over there:(

Then we head over to have lunch with Jay's family.  The little kids have yet another egg hunt and my mother-in-law has special baskets made up for the kids.  I remembered my camera and got lots of family shots....which makes me feel really bad that I didn't get pics at my parents house!  I will have to do better next year!



Kate and Mya ignoring all the eggs and fighting over a toy!

Luke and buddies:)

Action group shot because getting them to pose wasn't going to happen!

Sarah, Julie, and Jay's mom with a goofy Mike

Couple shot

Dad and his girls

Brayden and my brother in law Robbie

Julie and her fiance, Tom.  Their last "single" Easter!
Wedding date is 10/25/2014:)

The guys

The girls

Mom and Jon

Mom and Mike

Mom and Peter

Mike and Jackie

Love the "duck" face

sister love:)

 After lunch and visiting, we went back to my mom's house.  My dad's side of the family were there and we got to visit.(and some of the teens crashed and napped!)

It was a full....and!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Morning 2014

Easter Morning...our house

Mike's not a morning person.....

Jon thought that maybe the Easter Bunny hid an egg in his favorite ice cream...
he had a spoon in case he had to "dig the egg out".....:)

Sarah's proud egg creation before she exploded it in the microwave tried to eat it.

The older crew getting ready to go out for their special "money egg hunt" 

Kate trying on Sarah's shoes....did I ever mention that she has a shoe 'thing'?....
I think I'm blowing up this pic for her wedding day!

All the kiddos...don't miss Andrew blending into the background!

the boys
the girls

And the mishaps....Luke scraped his back being silly.  All eyes on Luke, except for Jon, who is still ready to snap the picture!  Ahh...the memories:)

Stay tuned for more Easter pics tomorrow!(or Wednesday if tomorrow is too crazy:)
Happy Easter!