Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stories, stories

Ohh, we've had a week of appointments.  Mainly for Blake. With one therapy session for Leah.  The worst part of these appointments is that they always seem to be scheduled during naptime and require at least an hour's drive.  Might I add, this is with two kids strapped in car seats that don't understand when they throw their snacks or pacifiers on the floor...I CAN'T jump over the seat immediately and get them.  Autum seriously has no understanding of that...I am beginning to think she does it so she can test how long she can hold one loud shrill scream...I believe 55 minutes is her new record. At least it was last Friday on our way to Wichita for Blake's eye exam.

That was just the beginning.  We saw a new specialist, who I might add did great with my 2 littles.  She let Autum participate in the exam, just like Blake, as her jealousy was becoming obvious with each passing minute of attention being on Blake.  It started with a small whine..."mooommmmy, I do it, I do it..."  Then it turned into, "MOM! I DO IT!"  Then it ended with this, "BOBBY! MINE!"  And a personal attempt to remove him from my lap as we were sitting in the large exam chair.   So the doctor allowed her a chance to look at the light and point at pictures, etc.  Well, we made some conclusions, pretty much ending in us coming back without Autum to do further tests...because it was 3 pm by this time.  WAY past naptime.  I thought we were good and we could get out of there...but the doctor gave each kid a high-five and Blake held his arms up in a hug--which is his usual fashion.  So the doctor just assumed Autum would want the same...she reached in for a hug and Autum cold-cocked her with her famous 'left hook'.  (we warn everyone that she has a mean left-hook that comes out nowhere) The doctor stood up, stepped back, as I tried to figure out what to say or do at the moment.  The doctor told Autum "we don't hit." Which I am still not sure how I feel about, but we left the office and she and I had a chat on the way to the car...but her eyes were already closing to sleep as I strapped her in her car seat.

And to think she was going to be my quiet, shy, laid-back child...

Fast forward a few days. It's Monday morning. Need I say more.  I barely got Leah out the door on time.  Still needed a shower, had 2 kids running around in pee-filled diapers from the nighttime before, breakfast was a scattered mess on the table and I needed to have Blake ready for school in 40 minutes.  I opted for a shower because I had another appointment to be at by 11, in another town, of course.  I plopped the kids in front of Elmo and figured I had at least 8 minutes to get my hair washed.  So I rushed through my shower only to get out and get met with this feeling of "uh oh...its too quiet..." I was planning to quickly dry my hair but my mom instinct took over and I ran to the front room.  I got their to find an empty room, no kids, no noise, no nothing.  That gets a mom's heart rate going...I then noticed the front door was cracked open, so I looked out the front door to see them standing at the end of our driveway, with hoola hoops around their waists...just a singing and carrying on.  You see, it was a little after 8 am...which is when school starts and when people are heading to work...you know the busiest time of day on our street...SO my heart rate went up even more as I realized I was faced with a dilemma...go put on my clothes and then go grab my kids...hoping my yelling would bring them back to the house...or hope my measly towel would be enough coverage for me to sprint across our front yard, scoop up both kids and sprint back.  I opted for the latter, as I knew my yelling would only be met with Autum's adament "NOOOO!"  I held my towel in place, chose not to look either right or left, sprinted to the street, grabbed both kids by the arms and drug them back to the house, hoping I wasn't revealing too many things to the surrounding audience waiting for carpool at the school.  I stepped inside, shut the door, and took a big breath.  And held it the rest of the day as I awaited someone posting the scenario that I just experienced play out, be made available to the world.  Phew...so far, so good.

Just another day in the life of...
PS--Blake is the culprit who I now know can unlock our doors and escape.  I've seen him do it twice.  Little booger.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I haven't spoken on this in a while and for some reason I have been getting lots of questions about it lately...and it could be because swimsuit and wedding season is right around the corner. All the sudden we can't hide under baggy shirts and loose-fitting boyfriend-style jeans...

What we have been doing or not doing over the past 5 months will be dictated by our appearance in only a few short weeks...as the sun warms up the land and we break out the shorts and tanks.

Anyway, a few things I want to suggest and then I'll link articles from the true experts with the scientific data behind the why/how...
1. Most people suffering from acid reflux have TOO LITTLE stomach acid in their stomach to digest the food properly.  YES!  Either we aren't chewing our food enough.  We have a bad gut to begin with due to eating highly processed foods, dairy, legumes, or grains for most meals.  We've been on antibiotics for a length of time.  We have a food allergy that is triggering inflammation.  And on and on...
Here are a few of the symptoms related to having too little stomach acid:
  • Bloating, belching, and flatulence immediately after meals
  • Heartburn (often thought to be caused by too much stomach acid)
  • Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Undigested food in stools
  • Acne
  • Rectal itching
  • Chronic candida
  • Hair loss in women
  • Multiple food allergies
  • Iron deficiency
  • Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Various autoimmune diseases

Read these articles for ways to help: Repairing GutYour Stomach Acid is a Good Thing, Really,
How to Supplement for Low Stomach Acid

2. Suffer from anxiety? Kids act depressed, unmotivated?  It may be a gut issue.  The brain and the gut are connected via the vagus nerve.  The gut is made out of a plethora of neurons that make up the enteric nervous system, which scientists call the Second Brain.  So guess what, one effects the other!  Think about if you get nervous or anxious, what do you feel?  Butterflies in your stomach, right?  See...they are connected.  Think of it this way:     

"Stress, anxiety, depression and strong negative emotions decrease your brain activity, which decreases activation of the vagus nerve.  This will reduce pancreatic enzyme secretion and cause poor gallbladder function, thereby reducing stomach acid production, as well as decrease gut motility, decrease intestinal blood flow, and suppress the intestinal immune system."
--How Mood and Gut Health are Linked
What I'm getting at is, stress, anxiety, fatigue, overworking all effect your digestion.  And vice versa..if your digestive system isn't working properly you aren't feeling well.  (and you may not even know it)

"Actually, about 90 percent of the fibers in the vagus nerve carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around.  There is scientific evidence to suggest that the gut can communicate directly with the brain, perhaps having a direct impact on emotions and moods via the nervous system."

"Now, for the vicious circle part:  an inflamed brain has decreased nerve conductance which manifests as stress, depression and/or anxiety."
        --How Mood and Gut Health are Linked
3. Most people in the United States are malnourished.  As crazy as that sounds, its true.  What we picture and assume to be malnourishment is starvation.  And that's exactly what it is...for several reasons.  One being, our bodies are 'starving' for good wholesome, non-chemical foods.  We keep filling our mouths with chemicals that our body does not process or recognize as food--this produces a histamine response (aka inflammation) and then we begin a trickle down effect of all kinds of issues.  Congestion, yeast infections, candida build up, 'allergies'...etc.  But also, because many of us undereat.  Seriously, how many of us 'diet?'  In our minds, diets mean deprivation. Unfortunately that's the last thing we need to be doing.  When we eat in a calorie deprivation, we get brain fog, we lose energy, we can't sleep, we are hungry, we set ourselves up for a metabolism shut down, which means fat storage, which leads to cortisol spikes, which leads to more stress...and on and on...NOT what we want.  We need to think of feeding ourselves in terms of performance.  We want to have more energy to exercise, we want to think straight, we want to sleep well, we want to avoid getting sick...we NEED calories.  We need to be eating at or near the daily suggested caloric intake for our body type.  This means MORE fats, eating protein per pound of lean body mass, and lots of fibrous vegetables!  Fruit post-workout--because yes, now you will have energy to push yourself in the gym.  Read more here:
Dialing Things in a Bit 

Those are just a few of the things I want to throw out there right now...I will share more specifics about my kids experience, etc. later on.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

To Be Completely Honest

I've been holding onto this blog post for a while now...just unsure what to say. How to say it.  If it needed to be said.  Who it would affect.  How would people react.  How would we feel.

But this morning I woke up early and was thinking of what I should write...evidently I was going over it in my subconscious and what I was telling myself as I came out of my slumber was that I've been honest about every other step of our lives up until now.  I've shared the funny, the messy, the silly, the sad, the scary, the truth.  Almost everything. Our infertility. Our fears.  Our adoption.  Blake's Down Syndrome.  Our birth of Autum.  And I've given you hints of this truth, but not the entire thing.

But today, I feel I need to say it.  Because only then will other people feel like sharing, talking, praying, and understanding.

You've heard so many funny stories about Leah.  My literal, fiery red-head.  Ornery, and crazy, and joyful all at the same time.  Almost every adult I know, loves to be around her.  She is very mature in conversation and very endearing--most days.  She has a huge heart and loves to be around people.

But most people don't know what goes on behind the scenes, and to be honest I won't share it all, for her sake. And some I've already shared. She is very sensory sensitive.  In that, she can hear things most people don't--and it irritates her.  She can feel things most of us don't--and it drives her crazy.  She remembers every detail--most people don't.  She is very observant so much so she can remember what a man's shoes look like 3 months later when we see him again...after only seeing him once, in passing before.  She can memorize anything, in a hurry.  She cannot stand not having a routine--it elicits a fear inside of her, that sparks a panic, that leads to anxiety, that cannot be controlled once it hits a certain point.  She has to know everything, at all times, going on around her...to find out, she asks question after question--because she is fearful of the unknown, out of control, something she can't handle situation.  And just to be sure she will ask again, and again, and again.  She is very passionate and that passion leads to anger.  Anger that keeps her up for hours at night, as we try to find ways to calm the uncontrollable behaviors down.  For years, night time has plagued our household because bedtime meant a 2-3 hour routine of trying to relax, calm, and soothe...remove the over-stimulation that only a glimpse of non-routine could invoke.

What most people (especially adults) peg as 'cute', we now recognize as an inability to understand social cues.  She may not know a stranger and to most that seems like a great 'problem' to have--but what we now know is she really HAS NO idea what a stranger is--and could care less for that matter.  She will stand in front of your face a foot away, and ask you personal questions you may not want to answer...she may have never seen you before.  She may ask you why you are fat...why your hair is sticking up...why your kid looks the way he/she does...

She may not leave you alone.  Even if you ask.  Even if you don't.  She might jump from the highest point on the playground at the park and not bat an eye...I might not even...as you and all the other mom's jump from your seats.  Seriously, no fear.

She will go days without showering, brushing her teeth, cleaning her room, changing her clothes...because she just doesn't want too...and doesn't really care what others think. And this is a battle.

And there's so much more.  But not until Autum came along in our lives, did I realize that these things aren't all 'normal' kid behaviors...that most parents aren't making the accommodations we are/were to keep our child from the ledge of 'no return' in meltdown world...that most parents weren't reading every book by Dr. James Dobson and every other Christian author that writes about parenting and shaking his and her head saying "nope, doesn't work. been there, tried that."  And that most parents weren't pleading for help from doctors, nurses, teachers, and others for help--only to get told there isn't anything wrong..we need to change our discipline...That most parents weren't changing their child's diet in hopes he/she might settle down and act quote "normal" in public situations and in private because a food allergy was causing the issues.  That when a parent complained about their child talking back...we were secretly wishing that was all we were dealing with. 

So we sought out help, and have been for the past 4 years...but have only recently, FINALLY, found someone who believes us.  Who truly thinks that what we say is going on at home, is truly going on.  And that it isn't our lack of parenting skills, it isn't our choice to adopt Blake, it isn't our inability to spend time with Leah, our lack of discipline of prayer...and on and on I could go with the reasons we've been given for what we see with our oldest child...but that there is something going on..inside of Leah that we can help her with...


Validation...in all its glory...has finally given this mama's heart a break. (sorta)
And tools to help...the words I have been thirsting for...

We have been seeing a child psychologist (*sigh...big release of pressure here)...there I said it.  In this small town of secrets, I have let one out of the bag...we NEED help.

We do.  We admit it.  And we are seeking it out.
And it has been helping.  Probably me, more so than Leah.

We are working together on a plan.  On a program.  One step at a time.  To help my girl out.
And progress is being made...in both our hearts and brains.

I'm learning to view the world through the eyes of a child with high-functioning Aspberger's...

Pfffffttttt....another big release of pressure.  You have no idea how many times I have typed these words only to feel like puking.  Because for some reason I am okay with accepting one child into our house with special needs, I am perfectly willing to sacrifice my 'needs' to help a child with no home, into ours.  I am OKAY with that...but the minute you tell me the child I gave birth too, the one who I love insanely but drives me insane...could have special needs too??  TWO CHILDREN IN MY HOME WITH SPECIAL NEEDS... That very thought makes the acid in my stomach rise up into my esophagus...and sharing it with you all makes it reach my throat.

But then I realize, the label, the title, the diagnosis...doesn't change anything.  I've been living with this child for nearly 7 years and have lived in a house with 3 children, 2 with special needs unknowingly, for a year and a half...and I HAVE SURVIVED.

So why now, does it seem like I can't handle it?  Not sure yet.
But we will keep learning, keep helping.
And I will keep sharing...because the release of pressure I just felt lift off my shoulders is worth every written word here now.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bad Karma

So Leah was having a rough evening last night..
You see, we went to the first high school softball game of the season--where there is lots of stimulation...people yelling, parents getting excited, lots of people (we are State-defenders so there are more people at these games than the typical high school girl's fast pitch game)..lots of old people giving her candy, there's a big playground area usually swarming with kids, there's lots of open space...LOTS to overstimulate a child like her...

So we were ready to leave, well...I wasn't...the two little ones were cold and tired.

I gave Leah the countdown..."5 minutes....okay, we are leaving in 2 minutes....okay 1 minute...okay we are leaving..."

I knew it wasn't good when she sprinted to the van, not paying any attention to the cars driving by, the busy street she ran through...etc.  She was in 'crazy-girl' mode..


Well, we get home and I decided to have her take a bath to help calm her down.  When she gets in this mode, we can not do anything to help her 'come down' from her high.  No reasoning.  No consoling...nothing.

She tends to talk back, mouth off, not listen, scream, speak/yell loudly, literally climb the furniture, push/pick on Blake and Autum...and Jerad and I...just pushing buttons. 

So, like I said, we put her in the bathtub for some alone time and because the water around her is soothing, its compressing on the body.  Sometimes I'll even put some lavender oil in it to help.

Well, she began to quiet down, doing her typical routine...laying on her back with her head completely submerged...talking to herself.  So I knew it was working...

I took a deep breath and went to the kitchen to get a pot of chili cooking on the stove.

Not 5 minutes later I hear loud screaming..."MOM!"  "DAD!"  "ahhhhhhhhh!"

I have no idea whats going on, so my first reaction is to keep on cooking...LOL.  I have 3 children, by this point you don't rush into every screaming situation...(I know, parent of the year, right here)

Jerad runs into the bathroom...then I hear "Anna!"  "Get in here, NOW! I need your help!"

By this point I realize my services are needed.  As I walk into the bathroom I immediately start laughing...

Leah is straddling the top of the tub, hanging into the dowel rod, screaming "Look! Look!"

Well, I then look down at Autum, who is standing naked, soaking wet, with her hands behind her back, head tilted to the side, ,looking at me with those eyes saying "what's the big deal? why is everyone screaming/yelling?"

I look into the tub and see that she has made 3 brown deposits into the warm bubbly water.

I am nearly in tears of laughter by this point, because my guess is that she walked into the bathroom, stripped down, got into the tub, made her deposits, and got right back out....


I'm sorry, but this left me in stitches all night.
I told Jerad, that incident would be enough punishment for Leah's mouthing off earlier, that we were planning to address post-bath.

Autum just took matters into her own hands....
Bad Karma, sister, bad karma...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Completely Random

I have so many thoughts, ideas, pictures, and commentaries from this past weekend that I just decided to explode it all onto this blog page instead of trying to organize it into a 3-part series, like most people would..

So here it goes!

Saturday morning we awoke early and got on the road for a day trip to Hutchinson.  We had 3 bags packed full of clothes, snacks, shoes, diapers, wipes, toys, pajamas, bath stuff, etc.  But we were on our way.  I decided to stop in at Dillon's Warehouse on the way to my grandma and grandpa's house to surprise my dad at work.  I still get excited about seeing him at his work every time we go.  I have nearly grown up on that warehouse.  I remember making trips out there every Halloween, dressed up, to trick or treat, as a kid.  I remember popping in to surprise him on Sunday's after church, with my mom and sister...sometimes to deliver a lunch-so he didn't have to eat hamburgers out of the vending machine. I worked out there as the 'pop girl' as a teenager, filling the pop machines in all the buildings on site.  I worked as a checker/bagger in the grocery store on 30th street through high school.  So its almost euphoric for me to walk through those glass doors into the freezing, perishable warehouse.  So many memories.  Now my favorite part is to take my kids into visit "Papa" at his work.   On this particular occasion, we got a tour of the warehouse...and its been years since I've experienced this tour.  On our way, we taste-tested grapes, strawberries (which according to Blake's reaction-must have still been sour), and then we went into Blake's Banana Heaven.  As soon as stepped foot into the banana room, and he realized he was surrounded by bunches and bunches of bananas, he was overwhelmed!  He raised his arms up in the air, stomped his feet, and yelled in excitement...then took off running to get his hands on a few. 

My heart was full after leaving the warehouse, as I was able to watch my kids experience the same thing I had so many times over, as a child.

We then headed to my grandma and grandpa's house for an annual Easter egg hunt.  

Pay attention to that yellow basket in Autum's hands...it will appear in every picture from the rest of the weekend...in fact, as I'm typing this, Autum is sitting in it, to keep Blake from stealing her 'goodies!'

Then, the tree cutters came to take down a dead tree from their yard and the kids were mesmerized.  I was actually impressed, myself. The men would climb up to the top of the tree, strap themselves on and swing around from branch to branch.  SO we set up lawnchairs and made an event of it!  After a limb would fall, Blake would stand up wave his hands, clap, and yell in excitement!

It got even better when the man got down from the tree and Autum yells "DADDY!" (note the similarity...haha, the only thing I can figure was he was wearing tall boots, with hooks, a leather tool belt, and a hat)  From there on, there were NO similarities...haha, just a red face on his part...

From there, we moved onto my mom and dad's house for naptime and more playtime in the country.  What is a weekend without T-ball.  My parents bought my kids a whiffle ball pitching machine for Easter so Kate, Jeremy, and I had a homerun derby for hours that afternoon...with my dad coaching from the sidelines.  Its amazing how he can remember how to push all our buttons with his coaching cues..."hands up", "pull your head out", "eyes on the ball"...and on and on... luckily Kate and I have matured enough to not throw the bat anymore or yell and stomp inside and lock him outside...we were all still laughing at the end, thank God!

Then we headed home to regroup for Easter Sunday...I had been feeling guilty all week about not making time for repentance, for quiet, for complete focus on the reality of what this week meant.  1 of the saddest and 1 of the happiest days in history, took place this past week and yet, I didn't find time to meditate on it.  But, I refused to let Satan hang this guilt over my head. I tried to be meditate in the brief moments I had during my day to worship and praise God up until Sunday.  And I tell you what, by Sunday morning my heart was full...it was rejoicing, and joyful!  As we sang the song with words that go, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death, come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave, Christ is risen from the dead, we are one with Him again, come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave!"  I seriously wanted to jump up on my pew and yell it to the Heavens...we have a life in Christ because of Easter, we have a new relationship with Christ because of his resurrection, we have a new relationship with other believers because of his conquering of death...these realities just poured down over my head like cold water...awakening my soul.  I seriously cried tears of joy throughout the worship time.  I honestly have no idea why, except because I was finally getting a chance to rejoice over my Lord.  Whew...what a morning.  I had episodes of near-tears all day long as I sat with family, as I partook of a meal, as I did my workout, as I drove in the car...I just felt the Holy Spirit's presence all day long.  It was an experience I haven't felt so closely since our adoption of Blake. 
Which made my thoughts wander to his orphanage, during the lyrics of "I see Jesus"...to what was the reality of so many of his bunkmates...to those children who seem to have no hope.  Do they see Jesus?  Do they have a childlike faith in a spirituality we never experience in our busy-filled lives?  Who will be their "Jesus" if we aren't?  Oh my soul anguishes over these thoughts...which probably lead to more of my tears..

I told you this would be random.