Welcome to My Corner of the World

I hope you find humor, inspiration and something worthwhile on this blog. I plan to be as candid as possible. Life is hard. I know, I've overcome a lot (and still have a way to go).
It doesn't help others if the rough things are glossed over.

I will no doubt fill this blog with stories of my achievements as a mom as well as my personal struggles.

I have an incredible husband whom I call "my sanity." I have two great kids with strong personalities. I struggle with anxiety and depression and I have had a colorful childhood.

I also have an addiction to Gilmore Girls, A&W Cream Soda, and Starbucks peppermint mocha.
I have recently added biking to my list of hobbies and also love to read, knit, and play tennis.

Welcome to my little corner of the world!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let The Good Times Roll

  There has been much drama in my life lately and it's been stealing my sunshine.
  I decided to drag the family on a vacation (not really, we were all actually excited to go!) so I could re-center myself.  My focus needs to be My immediate family: The Hubby, A, and Bug...and me, of course.
  It's been hard to keep that perspective with so many other things trying to demand chunks of my time.
  Vacation was just what we needed.  Even though we were tired when we got home, we had a wonderful week together.  No other worries, just spending time with each other!
  Things have been falling into place for me since our return home.
  I was really struggling with A and found myself doing more research, reading, digging, discussing, etc, to try to find a solution.
  She grew 1.5 inches in about 5 months, and as a result, her psychiatrist increased her anxiety medicine about 3 months ago in order to catch up with her growth spurt.
  I saw some difference at first, then we stalled out, but the last 4 days have been amazing!
  A has been happy.  Genuinely happy for more than 30 percent of the day!  She's giggling, making up her own jokes, and acting goofy.  Quite honestly, the first day she was like that, I was convinced I was living in the Twilight Zone.  It really threw me off not having to tiptoe around her.
  She has been taking initiative.  This kid who had to be regularly coerced into doing even the piddliest of chores is now racing me to the kitchen so she can set the table without being asked.  She's putting away laundry without being asked.  She's cleaning up without being asked.  Notice a trend?  Initiative.
  A has been helpful.  She has done what I ask when I ask without whining and carrying on like I'm killing her.
  She has been affectionate.  Running up to me, The Hubby, and Bug at random times and giving us hugs, kisses, or words of encouragement--"You're the best little brother, ever!"
  Honestly, even her hugs and kisses were awkward for me because it was so foreign.  She's never enjoyed giving or receiving kisses--I always assumed it was an SPD thing.  Perhaps it still is, but it's obviously not as big a deal anymore.
  It's times like this when I remind myself *this* is why I never stopped asking questions, digging, searching, and getting evaluations when I wasn't happy with the answers I was getting.
  *This* is why I sort through my own traumas and work hard in my counseling sessions: so I can be there for A and support her like I need to.
  *This* is why I'm ok with my 7.5 year old seeing a therapist regularly, being on anxiety medication, and seeing a psychiatrist.
  *This* is the A who has been buried under SPD, anxiety, timidity, etc.
  I live for moments when I get to see that precious, kind-hearted baby girl.
  The last 4 days have been well worth all the struggles we have endured together over the years.
  I love my little girl!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Logic In My House 101

  I found this gem in a journal entry of mine from about 5 months ago.
  Since the last post was a bit heavy, I thought I'd follow it up with a funny story.
  A little history before you read: A had been struggling with her SPD, which led to this (something I can laugh at now...)

"This morning we were getting ready for Church and A wore a new dress.  She tried it on without an undershirt first.  Then she put a t-shirt under it.  That worked, but it was a VERY delicate situation.  
Apparently I messed that up when I touched the tag. It took her 10 minutes to settle down after completely melting down.  When I fixed her hair, she *gently* reminded me to be careful of the tag.
So I was very careful.  And when we were done (we made it without a complete meltdown) I said “look, I didn’t even touch the tag.”
Ya know what she said?????
“What tag?”

What the….?
What just happened there?????  
I know, “WHAT TAG?!”  The blasted thing wasn’t touching her because she had an undershirt on to serve as a buffer.
Oh for crying out loud."

  And that's how logic works in my household...

Tough Love

  My family seems to be getting a head start on the whole "winter is the season to be sick" mentality and so we've started in late August/early September.
  Over the last six weeks, I have noticed that while the maternal instinct in me wants to cuddle A and pull her onto my lap when she says "I don't feel good," I can't do that.  Not with A.  We, as mothers, can easily fall into the trap of thinking that we are a bad mother if we don't pay attention to our child's every ache and pain.
  For a lot of parents, that's an ok approach.  Unfortunately when it comes to me and A, I can't afford a reaction like that.
  Let me explain:  A comes to me multiple times a day with various complaints from tummy aches (could be anxiety, could be gas, could be a stomach bug), to her eyes not working right (she saw an eye doctor last year--her vision is perfect), to bumping her toe on something and now not being able to walk right, to miscellaneous scrapes/bumps/bruises.
  Don't get me wrong. I don't brush her off.  I know that won't send the right message.  I do, however, have to make sure that my reaction is a good balance of loving concern and confidence in knowing she'll be ok.  I acknowledge her discomfort and offer an appropriate low-intervention (read: not medication) solution (usually ice or rest), and go on.

  Not only have I had practice in tough love w/ A lately, but with my mom, too.  Life hasn't been easy for the past month, and one of the issues has involved Mom's health.
  I have come to the hard realization that I don't actually know how to love my own mother (another post for another time).  As a child I was shown conditional love.
  Over the past month people who know my history have been saying "hey, you've gone above and beyond the past few weeks for your mom,"  while the child in me says, "she's your mom" and encourages me to say yes to things I shouldn't agree to.

  I've had to set some hard boundaries that seem cold to others.  I've had to stop being concerned with what other people might think of my choices, and draw the line.  I've come to realize that this is in the best interest of everyone involved (me, A, Bug, The Hubby, and Mom).
   The best way I can show my mother deep, unconditional love is to set boundaries and let her figure some things out on her own.  Enabling her to be dependent on others isn't helping anyone.

  Positive take away:  I'm doing what's best for everyone involved...even if it is hard.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Bit of Creativity

  I am naturally a creative person.  In the past I've been so bogged down by emotional junk, that I haven't been able to accomplish much...or I would go through spurts where I was productive, shortly followed by being intimidated by projects.
  I finished a project a few weeks ago, and true to my nature, I put off the finishing touches for a while (not avoiding it this time, just busy).  I'm finally Almost finished (just waiting on The Hubby to hang it).  So in honor of this momentous occasion (I may be exaggerating slightly ;) I thought I'd post pics.
  One reason I'm so pleased with it is because I only had a picture I found on line (I'll post that, too) to go off of.  No how-to instructions.  No tutorial.  Just a photo.  And I'm happy with the outcome.
  IF any of you beautiful readers would like a written tutorial for this (or any other project I post...because I plan to post loads now that I'm so productive!), let me know and I'll do my best to put one together.
  I have another project to work on, and will be excited to share it with you when it's done.  But it may be a bit time consuming....

  This one is the image I found on line.

                          This is my version (PS--It's a peacock, in case you had a hard time seeing it... AND it's made out of toilet paper rolls!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Never a Dull Moment

  So in light of me feeling better, I thought I'd write about something funny instead of the usual "heavy" stuff.
  So today I had 5 kiddos which makes my van Full (all are boys, except A).  But we like to get out and go whenever we can.  There was a park play date I was planning to go to...
  Things didn't quite go according to plan so we ended up arriving at the park 15 minutes before it was "over."  I figured it was a laid-back kind of thing, lots of families were supposed to be there, so my crew would just enjoy the park even after the others left.  We had a picnic lunch and were set to go.
  When we got there, I discovered there was only one other mom who came.  Oops.  They sat with us and chatted, and then had to get on with their day.
  My kids finished their lunches and then begged me to take them on some walking trails.  I had never been to this park before, but some friends were leaving the trails earlier and assured us that their 2 yo made it just fine.  We should just stay to the left and it would just make a nice loop back around.
  I figured, we're in the middle of the city, a 2 yo can make it, what can go wrong?  So we headed out.
  Well the first 20 minutes were enjoyable.  It was shady, there were bridges over a creek.  The kids dipped their hands in the water.  We even saw an owl in a tree.
  The unfortunate thing was that about 3 feet into the hike there were 4 forks.  We went left (the lower left, I think).  We stayed left-ish.  But there were Tons of intersections and such that had at least 3 options.  No maps.  No "easy trail, this way" arrows.  No "snail trail .10 of a mile that away" signs.
  Finally I decided we should turn around.  We took a break.  I encouraged the children to sit, drink their water, and chill.  What did they do?  Played tag.  Then we started walking...and walking...and walking.  The kids were sweaty, tired, and whiny.  We found the only other trail head and a map!  It was THE WORST map EVER.
    I took a picture of it with my phone in case I needed to refer back to it.  According to that, we stay right... So we did.  I even stayed so far right that I led us all up a steep embankment (I promise you, it looked just as worn as the paths we'd been following), only to find it was a dead end.
  So the kids trekked back down.  One was in flip-flops, one was in rain boots, one was in tennis shoes, one was in crocs, and one was in well-worn play shoes.
  We wandered and wandered and wandered.  And wandered.  The kids were whiny.  Their legs were tired.  We were dripping with sweat.
  There had been absolutely no other people on the trail, but I found myself thinking "if only we could find someone to point us in the right direction."  And around the next bend (to the right.  We were staying right!) there were 3 teen-age kids putting hammocks up.  YAY!!!
  I totally interrupted them and admitted my stupidity and begged for directions.
  Turns out we were a stone's throw from our trail head. One of the kids started to give me directions, and then just said "here, I'll just show ya.  I'm headed back that way."
  And naturally the minute we arrived back at the park the kids had tons of energy and ran around like little lunatics (cute little lunatics) asking if we could stay around for a while to play.
  After 40-ish minutes of wandering around in the woods, Miss Alexis went with "no."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still Alive...

  So some of you might be wondering where I've been.  To be honest, I've been avoiding my blog.  I was intimidated.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I really liked the 30 day photo project I did.  There were several reasons, but we'll just leave it at that:  I really liked the project.  Just the thought of trying to come up with something to follow that was intimidating.  So I did what I do best:  I avoided it.
  Thankfully, even though I've been quiet on the blog, I've done a Lot of self examination.
  I've had a couple of great counseling sessions, and I've made a lot of changes in my perspective.  Somewhere in the last 3 months I hit a major turning point, and it's been nice!
  I realized that these past few years I've still been depressed, just not nearly as badly as I was initially.  Now I'm even coming out of that and it's nice.  It feels good to be happy.  It's nice to have a clean house.  It's nice to have happy-ish kids and a happy dog (yes, on bad days I even felt guilted by the dog).
  I am blessed to have a husband who has loved me when I didn't even love myself.  I've always thought he was amazing, but to realize that he saw something in me that I didn't even discover in myself until 10 years after we got married....that's almost unfathomable.
  I feel like I'm finally coming into my own.  I'm becoming happy with the person I am.  I'm a little socially awkward, and that's ok.  I have quirks, but that's what makes me fun!
  In some ways I feel like I have been mature beyond my years, but in other ways (like being comfortable with who I am), I feel like I was Very immature.  I've finally started to grow out of that phase in my life, and I like it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hello Monday!!

  Ok, so technically today is Tuesday.  I must admit, I forgot about posting yesterday.  Oops!
  But I'm only one day off, so I thought I'd go ahead and post for the weekly segment =)

  This week I am saying Hello!! to:

  • Getting the ball rolling on taking care of A's cross bite, even though it's not going to be an easy process for her (or us...).
  • Making some potentially hard personal discoveries that will help take care of these anxiety-induced chest pains.
  • My birthday.
  • Doing some more spring cleaning and organizing.
  • Crocheting.  I have a fun project I've been working on for the kiddos in my life and am looking forward to Finishing it!
  What are You saying Hello!! to this week?


Monday, March 3, 2014

Hello Monday!

  Good morning!
  I'm not sure what the weather is like where you are, but it snowed and sleeted here.  Again.  It's done that enough this winter that even A is ready to see the snow go!
  But in keeping with the optimism of this segment,  I shall focus on the positives of this week (even the snow has it perks).

  Here is what I am looking forward to this week:

  • Playing in the snow with the kids
  • Crocheting a few small projects
  • Tapping into my creativity to make some changes our master bedroom
  • Taking care of some more de-cluttering
  • Getting into a good home-schooling groove 

  What are You saying hello to today?


Picture #30

Friday, February 28, 2014

Worst Mom on the Block

  Valentine's Day.  What fun!  There are boxes to be made, cards to be chosen, crafts to be done, and school parties to enjoy.

  I think it's safe to say that by now we all know that I'm not the most organized person.  I'm not always on top of things.  I forget a Lot.  I'm not a planner.  Like the title of my blog, I take life one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time.  Please keep that in mind as you read on...
  So Bug goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-11:30.  The Thursday before Valentine's Day was his party (makes sense, huh?).
  I knew this...it was floating vaguely somewhere in the back of my mind.  
  However, it was only after Bug had been home from school, had lunch, and was laying down for rest time that it dawned on me: I bet he should have taken some Valentines to school today.


  I felt like a Complete Idiot (pretty sure everyone agrees I totally earned the capital "I").  

  So, while he was able to enjoy the festivities and eat goodies and get Valentines from all of his sweet little friends, those friends got nothin' from my kid.
  Thankfully he's not the kid who cares much.  That's certainly not an excuse for my faux pas, but thankfully he won't be going to therapy over it.  
  Lord willing, I'll have a chance to redeem myself in about 351 days.  Not to worry, I'll be ready.

  That's probably the most heinous mommy crime I've committed in a while.  I should be good for another year, right?


Picture #28

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Twitter?? Scary!

  Ok, I'm going to let you all in on a secret.  I joined Twitter.  The thought of that terrifies me a bit.  Fast pace.  Short, concise tweets.  New hieroglyphics to learn.  New password.  New user name.
  Whew.  I get a bit light headed thinking about it.

  But I want to get my blog out there and was assured by Alyssa over at Near Normalcy that Twitter was a great way to do that, so there ya have it.

  I'm a survivor (and a wee bit dramatic), so I'm determined to learn it all.
  Feel free to follow me, but lower your expectations while I learn.  Some day I'll master it and be great, but until then, please feel free to pass along any Twitter insight and wisdom!
  You can find me at: @AJfrizzell (I think.  I hope.)

  So, the first part of this was all fun and games.  But interestingly joining Twitter actually brought on a panic attack.

  I was researching it and it's highly suggested that to be successful at Twitter, one needs to tweet about things they're knowledgeable about.
  So then there's the question: What am I good at?  What do I know about?

  That's what caused the panic attack.  I couldn't figure out what I'm good at, or what I like, or who I am.

  After I calmed down, I did a bit more looking.  Both self-reflection, and at other tweeters.
  First, I looked at me.  What do I enjoy?  I enjoy kids.  I love crafting, doing projects, reading, and exploring together.  I love working for the local MOPS group--last year I was with 1-2 year olds and this year I'm with infants--I love both age groups.  I love preschoolers.  I love the knitting class for 3rd-5th graders I'm assisting with at our home school group.  I love kids.
  I think that will be my main focus for Twitter.  Kids.  Quotes about, things to do with, humorous interactions I have with them in my life, etc.

  Second, I checked out a few other tweeters and saw that there are other things to tweet about than news and techie stuff (thank goodness!--I would totally fail at those).  So I'm gonna put a bit more focus into who I follow and work my way into the loop.

  Now that I have that all cleared up, I feel a bit more confident about Twitter.

  Happy Tweeting!


Kitchen #26

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hello Monday!

  So I entered a cool challenge for bloggers here.  It's called Boost Your Blog in 100 Days, and I thought it'd be a fantastic way for me to do a bit of networking among bloggers--and it has.
  It has been neat to read other blogs, get ideas for my own, and see different points of view.

  I found one idea that I liked a lot, so I thought I'd snag it and incorporate it into Living One Day at a Time.  The idea: a blog post titled "Hello Monday!" (when I first saw the title, I thought perhaps it was a satire about miserable Mondays.  But it wasn't, and I was ok with that!) that highlights what the blogger is looking forward to in the up-coming week.  I found this all right here, thanks Lisa!

  So today will be my first "Hello Monday!!" post.

  Today I am looking forward to:

  •  Spending one more week with my kiddos before the babysitting comes on again full swing.
  • Being able to keep some appointments that I would normally have to reschedule because of babysitting kiddos.
  • Taking care of other not-so-fun-but-necessary jobs.
  • Taking A to her counseling appointment.
  • Enjoying a date night with The Hubby!
  Haha, apparently there's a theme: keeping appointments! 

  So what are YOU looking forward to this week?


Picture #24

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stickin' With It...

  I've been monitoring my blog views...it *may* have been an obsession for a week or two....
  Anyway, I noticed the other day that the page views dropped drastically (not that they were very high.  If you start out with 10 or less page views/day and go up to an average between 60-200, that's kinda big, though).
  Then I realized I haven't been keeping my kitchen posts going.
  Ah, you guys just want to see how messy it gets, huh? I quit posting pictures and you quit reading!  Just kidding...
  As much as I would love for the content of my blog to help, encourage, amuse, or advise someone, it's become such a therapeutic activity for me to write that even if the traffic stops, I'll keep on writing.

  For those of you who know me know that I kind of have a hard time completing projects.  I get excited and motivated and attack it.  And then I lose interest.  And then the project gets hidden away and forgotten (the reason I have yet to finish knitting a baby blanket I've started--I love the idea of knitting a blanket, but let's face it, I get bored with 9x9 wash cloths and potholders...).

  So take my kitchen picture project.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.  I was excited!  I was motivated!  I made it to day 15 (half-way to my goal!) and sent an excited text to a few friends because I Stuck With It For 15 Days!
  Then I get to picture 21 and 6 days go by before another.  Sorry 'bout that!
  It did kind of fall by the wayside.  I think perhaps I was avoiding the end of the project.  I love adding a visual to my blog, but what to do after the kitchen?  Sure I could keep posting pics of different areas of my house (believe me, the kitchen isn't the only area that gets a wee bit neglected), but that seemed a bit redundant.  By now most of you get that I'm real, that I'm not perfect, but that I'm still pretty awesome ;)

  So if anyone has any ideas of any good photo projects for me to add to the blog, I'd love to hear them!

  That brings me to my main point.  At the risk of sounding like a hypochondriac, I'm pretty sure I have ADD.  I would say "who knew?!" but it appears that several people in my life had a bit of a clue.  As usual, I tend to be the last one to know these things.
  I freely admit it may not be ADD, but something needs to change.  Whether it's my meds, adding a diagnosis, or something else, I'm not sure.  But I plan to find out.

  The Hubby gets annoyed when I make a comment and he asks what I said (let's face it, we women have to repeat a Lot of what we say to our husbands...), and I look at him for a second trying to remember, but I can't.  His response is always an incredulous "You just said it 3 seconds ago!"
  That happens A Lot to me.

  Another annoying thing (because not being able to remember what I said 3 seconds ago, and not being able to follow through with projects isn't enough) is spending a solid 5 minutes lost deep in thought, really working through a problem, or creating something in my head, and 30 seconds after returning to the real world, I can't remember what I was thinking about.
  I actually saw my new nurse practitioner last week and was telling her about my suspected ADD (something I've put a lot of thought and time into researching) and she asked why I thought I might have it.  I honestly couldn't remember why.
  But not to worry, I didn't want to look flaky in front of her, so I came up with a valid reason.  It was a bit thin, but there ya have it!
  Enjoy the new kitchen picture that's up ;)  I'll finish it and do 30 days.  Really, I will!


Picture #22

Saturday, February 15, 2014


  Surprisingly the title of my post is not gibberish, or another language, or even a mistake.
  It is however, intriguing and a little amusing.

  When we started homeschooling A, we thought it'd be good for someone else to teach her every once in a while.  So I signed us up for a local home school group and Bestie and I arranged a time once a week for A to hang out at Bestie's house so they could do some academic things together.

  The other day when A was over, Bestie did a little "evaluation" of A's spelling, reading, and reading comprehension.

  What we saw from that was very intriguing.

  That's where the title of this post comes in to play.  Have you figured out what it's supposed to say?

  When A did the spelling part of the eval, Bestie noticed that A confuses her lower case "b" and "d."  It's not just a matter of "I got ahead of myself and got confused and wrote the wrong letter" kind of thing.  A actually thinks it's right.  She had written a word and used the correct letter, but started to change it because she thought she wrote it wrong.
  A honestly believes "b" is a lower-case D and "d" is a lower-case B.  Something happened when she was learning them and she learned them wrong.
  So the title of this post is actually how A wrote the word "blade."

  Now, I have to work Hard not to borrow trouble from tomorrow, so I'm reining myself in.  Is it a sign that A has dyslexia?  Possibly.  Am I stressing over how to get a diagnosis for that?  I was, but I talked myself down off that ledge (thanks Bestie!).  
  It's now been broken down into smaller, more manageable steps for me.  
  For now I will continue to expose A to reading and books and writing.  I did a bit of research and found that letter-tracing games for my Kindle and iPod can be helpful, too--so I've downloaded some of those.

  I've known since A was 3 and "rhymed" like this: "the ants go marching 2 by 2, the little one stops to climb a tree," that she had some risk factors for being dyslexic.  That list seems to be growing, not shrinking, as she gets older.  However, for now, we are settling into a good home school routine and working hard to get her anxiety under control.  I think around the beginning of school next year, we will be able to address any potential learning disabilities.

  I'm sure this will be something I'll be addressing in later posts...I'm also sure you'll be on stand-by, anxiously waiting to hear what develops. ;)


Picture #20

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Picture #18

Wednesday Go Home, You're Drunk.

  Yesterday was Wednesday.  We as a society have embraced Wednesdays with open arms since they represent the week being half over.
  I must say by noon yesterday I was giving my Wednesday the cold shoulder.

  It all started way too early for anything like this.
  I was getting in the fridge for some milk for A's breakfast.  I realized I was reaching for the wrong milk (hers is soy), so I corrected my mistake.
  My ring caught on the handle of our very full gallon-pitcher of tea sending sweet tea cascading down the shelves of the fridge door, all over me, and finally stopping in a large puddle on the floor (which Dog loved drinking).
  Happy Wednesday to me...

  I'm pretty sure this, now lovingly referred to as The Tea Incident, will be referenced a lot.

  So what does one do immediately following something like this?  Post it on facebook and send a text to friends, of course.
  I got my phone out of my sweatshirt pocket and saw it had some tea on it, so I wiped it off.
  As I tried to send my very humorous text, I realized the tea had caused a short (or something) in my phone.  Yes, the tea damaged the phone that was in my Pocket.  Ugh.
  I took the phone apart and put it in rice, hoping that would dry up whatever may have gotten inside.  Unfortunately, while that was a great idea, it was not helpful.
  Not to worry, Wednesday wasn't done with me yet.  The phone will turn on...and even get calls and texts.  But that's where the mocking begins.  You see, there's nothing I can do about those calls/texts.  The buttons won't work.

  The fridge is also suffering some (hopefully) short-term effects...the light-button thingy now sticks, so when one opens the door, it's dark inside for the first few seconds.

  As we all know, I like to look on the bright side of things, so here's my list from The Tea Incident of 2014:
  I got to wipe down all of the condiments that were in those convenient shelves-in-the-door.
  I will be getting a new phone.
  I survived yesterday (there was a point where I wasn't so sure...)


Monday, February 10, 2014

Quality Time

  A loves to spend time with me.  Just me.  She loves to play dollies, Barbies, and house.
  I love my kid and I love spending time with her, but those are not my favorite things to do.

  The other day she requested we spend some "Girly Time" together.  I fought back a grimace and agreed.  She picked the activities and I really, genuinely enjoyed myself.
  She decided to play a memory game she made up with her yoga cards.   
  During this time I was reminded what a great kid I have!  It's so easy for me to lose sight of that.

  For one, I saw that she has a wonderful memory.  One day she will be fantastic at Catch Phrase (one of my favorite games) or other similar games/hobbies.  I was surprised at how awesome she is at coming up with different ways to describe something.
  Interestingly enough, as I write this I am even more amazed at this newly uncovered ability.  When she was just starting to talk one of the biggest meltdown triggers was her inability to come up with other ways to help me figure out what she was saying.  She was unable to give me the context of what she was talking about, or even use a different word to give me a clue and help me out.  I got two chances on a good day (mostly I only got one) to figure out what she was saying.  Even when she was 4 I was constantly reminding her to use her words, and it was still a struggle.
  How amazing it is for me to see this part of her unlocked and free, and realize this is one of her strengths!

  As we were playing, I noticed her body language was stress-free.  Her brow wasn't furrowed, her muscles weren't tense, and her eyes were clear of worry.  It was then I saw how beautiful she is.  I saw her warm, caring brown eyes.  I saw her hair for its beautiful waves and dark color--not the mess of tangles I'm used to fighting her about brushing.

  This is why we're sticking with therapy, nudging her out of her comfort zone, coming to terms with our 7 yo seeing a psychiatrist, and are ok with medicating her.
  Catching a glimpse of A, the true A, is rare.  Her beautiful personality has been overshadowed by overwhelming anxiety.
   There's a wonderful kid under all of this emotion and we're seeing more and more of her.  Words will never be able to describe how happy that makes me.

  I was also able to see that despite all of these meltdowns, stressful days, and moments when I doubt myself, I must be doing something right!


Picture #15

Thursday, February 6, 2014


  So I have this dog.  I love him.  He's just so happy.  He's this typical happy-go-lucky kinda guy, and that just makes me happy.
  He's also quirky.  He fits right in to our family.  He has anxiety issues and jumps all over the family room, snapping at imaginary flies when he feels unsettled (which is rather frequently).
  I'm fairly convinced that if he was a human, he'd also have ADHD.
  He loves to play in the snow, and we've had a lot of it lately.  He loves to catch the snowflakes as they fall from the sky and has some pretty cool acrobatic moves to get them (and yet he can't learn to sit...).  He loves to eat the snow off the ground.  He loves to dig in the snow.
  Apparently if he was a human, he'd also be a member of the Polar Bear Club.  You know the one where people go swimming outside in the winter...?  Yikes!

  The other day we took a family walk to the lake that's down the hill from our house.  There was snow on the ground, and some ice on the lake.
  Dog was determined to get in the water.  I let him get close at first because 1) I wanted to see what he'd do, 2) I thought he might like a drink, and 3) I thought he'd be surprised at the cold temp.
  Well, I was wrong.
  Dog wanted to swim in the water.  Swim.  In 20 degree weather.  Yep, my pup, a little short-haired Boston terrier/chihuahua mix, wanted to swim.
  I had to fight him to keep him out of the water...even when we walked far away from it, he was pulling to go toward it.

  Now some might deduce from this (and admittedly other incidents in Dog's life with us) that he's not very bright.
  I maintain, however, that it's just a sign of his ADHD.
  Silly pup!


Picture #11

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Good Day? Bad Day? You decide.

  Lately A has been a bit obsessive about asking how she's been doing throughout the day and how I think the day has gone.  Has it been a good day?  Have she and Bug done a good job?
  It took me a while to catch on, but I finally realized that she's worried about getting in trouble.

  Her primary concern is that I'll give The Hubby a negative report about her behavior when he gets home from work.  Of course, I think she also wants to stay in my good graces and stay out of trouble.

  No kid likes being in trouble (at least they don't start out enjoying it... some do seem to seek it out, but it's usually  because that's the only way they know to get the attention they crave).  As with many things for A, she's just beyond the range of what's considered "normal" for kids.  She's becoming obsessed with it because she can't stand the suspense of not knowing the answers to the questions that constantly run through her head: "Will I get in trouble?  Will Daddy be upset with me?  Will Mommy have to talk to me?"

  "Has it been a good day?" is a hard question for me to answer.  Most of our days have ups and downs.  Some days I really have to search for the ups while other days they're really obvious, but I refuse to leave her with the impression that she's a bad kid, or that she's the reason it's been a bad day.
  Her behavior definitely affects how I feel about the day.  Some days I can handle her meltdowns.  Other days something that was big to her, was just barely a blip on my radar.  And, yet, other days I can't rebound because I feel too bogged down from helping her through her behaviors, staying caught up on my own emotional stuff, and keeping the house running.

  So how do I handle this?
  Thankfully I have a wonderful bestie to bounce ideas off of.
  I now keep a dry-erase board with two columns.  On one side is a smiley face, and the other is a sad face.  I make sure to have at least one positive thing from our day on the board at the end of the day.  Now when she asks me how the day has been, I can show her the board and she can decide for herself.  My hope is that she'll focus on the positives (which I can reinforce by talking them up) and be encouraged to repeat them in the future.
  I also love the fact that at the end of the day we erase the board.  That's primarily her job, but sometimes we forget and I do it.  How symbolic and meaningful is it for her to wipe away her "transgressions" (to her that's how major they feel)?
  The Hubby saw the board and asked what it was all about, so I explained it to him.  Later that evening I gave A the board to erase and The Hubby asked if we were going to sit down and talk about the things that were on it.
  I just smiled at A and said "nope.  We don't need to talk about it.  It's just so A can decide how the day has gone."

  The other day she asked me how I thought the day was going (mind you she almost always asks after she's been acting out).  I directed her to the board.  At first she refused and was adamant that I tell her what I thought about the day.  I gave her the same set answer "you can go look and decide how the day has gone" and after a few times of hearing that, she did go look.
  I could tell she felt better!


Picture #10

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Picture #9

My Silly Bug

  Ok, so I know that my kids are quirky.  They make me smile, scratch my head in wonder, leave me baffled, and drive me nuts!
  That's all just part of being a parent.  Sometimes it's fantastically hilarious and other times it's annoyingly frustrating.

  I thought I'd share one of Bug's biggest quirks. It's funny, but also a bit puzzling.

  Bug likes to smell things.  Sure everyone loves to smell pleasant things: cookies in the oven, flowers, perfume, soap, etc.
  But Bug doesn't stop there.  He loves to smell birthday cakes that are fully frosted and waiting to have the candles lighted.  He frequently gets frosting on the tip of his nose.
  He likes to smell books.  I'm sure we've all noticed the smell of a library and the books that we check out kind of have a smell of their own.  Bug loves to smell library books, Bibles, song books, and coloring books.  He doesn't just notice the smell and move on.  He opens the book wide, jams his nose against the spine, and takes a big whiff (or two...or three).

  In case that wasn't enough.  He also enjoys sniffing his gum before he puts it in his mouth.

  I think I saved the best for last.  It consistently puzzles me and makes me chuckle.
  During communion at Church every Sunday morning he will lean over after I've taken my pinch of the loaf and ask to smell it.  He doesn't smell the piece I have in my hand, rather, I eat it, then lean over and cup his face in my hands and he smells my breath.  Weird?  Definitely.  Funny?  I certainly get a laugh out of it.  Gross?  Probably.
  He does the same thing when the grape juice is passed.  Last Sunday the look on his face was one of pure contentment.  So. Odd.

  His honorary Nana got him a Scentsy monkey for his 4th birthday.  To some that might seem like an odd gift for a 4yo boy.  But for my olfaction-obsessed Bug it was perfect!  He loves to smell it, and it doesn't seem quite so weird.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Trauma? I Think Not!

  Since the beginning of the year I've been struggling with staying on top of things.
  We were travelling, then we were sick, then we got snowed in, then my babysitting schedule/daily routine was changed.
  So, basically, Life happened.
  I adapted.  Ok, I adapted-ish.  I just had such a hard time getting my feet back under me.

  As I mentioned in my post, Depression, life goes on.  It doesn't wait for one to feel better.  The house still needs to be cleaned, the kids still need help with chores/activities, there are still meals to be cooked, etc.

  So I saw my therapist a few weeks ago.  As usual I didn't have anything in particular to discuss.  I was feeling down, and I knew a session with her would help me flesh out the issues that were bothering me.  I also knew it would leave me with things to think about.  I knew ultimately the appointment would help me feel better.

  We have discussed many times that I struggle when  A struggles.  I can handle the meltdowns and all the "extras" that help make life bearable for A, but eventually I reach a point where I can't rebound.
  That's where an appointment with Jeanine comes in to play.

  As we were talking, I came to a harsh realization:  my subconscious viewed raising A as a traumatic event.

  I certainly don't want to continue on this path.  I've been making pointed effort to make our relationship one of love and trust.  How can I see my precious daughter as trauma?
  Well, the definition of a traumatic emotional event is: damage caused by a severely distressing event.
  That helps put it into perspective a bit.  Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that my subconscious would default to that.  Meltdowns are hard to endure, especially when we do it several times in a day.

  I'm not ok with that, though.  Yes, raising a special-needs kiddo is stressful.  Yes, enduring meltdowns time after time after time is exhausting.  Yes I'm at risk for depression.  Yes, it's hard raising kids (no matter how easy their personalities are).
   BUT, raising a special-needs kid is also rewarding.  Meltdowns can be helpful.  I have great tools to beat the depression.  Raising kids is also fun!

  So, re-training my subconscious won't be easy.  But it is doable.

  In the meantime I'll be praying and working to overcome this default setting of mine.



Picture #8

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Picture #7

Little Squirrel? Are you ok?

  Mom has been making up stories for the kids when she comes to visit.  They're about this sweet, adventurous squirrel who lives in our back yard, named Little Squirrel.
  The kids love it!  Mom's a great story teller.  I love it.  It reminds me of the stories my grandma used to make up for me about Chickory Chick, a little banty rooster.  Grandma even made up a song to go with her stories.

  Now, I have this adorable dog that I convinced The Hubby to let me adopt 9 months ago.  I love Dog (not his real name.  Naturally we were a bit more creative).  He's happy, exuberant, and care free.  He makes me happy.
  Unfortunately he also annoys me from time to time, pretty much for the same reasons that I adore him.
  So.  The other day Dog got out.  When he gets out of the house, there's no sense in chasing him since he's fast and has no interest in coming back with all of this freeeeeeeedom! ahead of him.
  This time while he was out, he caught a squirrel.  Gross.
  He decided to bring it into the garage before coming inside.  Naturally he dropped it right by the van.
  The kids and I were on our way out....and I had this dead squirrel to deal with.  In 9 years of marriage, I have discovered one of the many perks of having a husband is that he can reach into the disgusting abyss of the garbage disposal, he can kill nasty bugs (you know, crickets and other sketchy creatures), and he can remove dead animals.
  Unfortunately The Hubby wasn't home.
  I had told the kids about the squirrel, but on the way to the van, they stopped to stare at it.

  Now, you probably saw this coming, but I must admit A caught me off guard when she said "Oh No!  Dog killed Little Squirrel!"
  Really?  Of all the animals Mom chose, it had to have been a squirrel.  And of all the wild animals Dog could have killed, it had to be a squirrel.
  Thankfully I'm a quick thinker.  I promptly explained that surely it couldn't be Little Squirrel because she's way too fast for Dog.
  Whew.  Crisis averted!

  But now I had this disgusting dead animal to move. 
  Not to worry, I handled it like an adult.  I briefly contemplated leaving it there and just stepping over it until The Hubby came home in 5 hours, but ultimately decided to move it outside the garage.
I used a 4 foot-long stick to gently roll it out of the way, and I totally sissified the situation by squealing cringing, and squirming the entire time.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Me, Homeschooling? Really?

  I mentioned a few posts back that we began home schooling A in December.  
  I don't want this post to be about our reasons for our decision (although I'll talk about them because they're relevant), but to focus on the wonderful progress A's made in such a short amount of time. 

  I am not an organized person.  There have been lots of times in A's life that I have thought I've got to be the worst mom for her because I don't run on a strict enough schedule, or I'm not tidy enough, or I'm too spontaneous.  One thing I never saw myself doing, Ever, was homeschooling either of my kids.  None of the aforementioned personality traits bode well for a homeschooling momma.  I did make one concession: if we were ever in the position where we felt we had to home school the kids, then I'd find a way to make it work.  In other words: I would do it if we were backed into an educational corner.
  Surprisingly that's not exactly what happened.  Over the past year I had become a bit more comfortable with the idea of homeschooling.  By this November, it was becoming apparent that A's anxiety was beginning to escalate.  Interestingly enough, I think it was due more to social and environmental anxieties than anything relating to academics.
  By the end of November The Hubby and I had made the decision to begin homeschooling A after her winter break.  It just made sense for her to finish the last 3 weeks of the semester.
  Unfortunately shortly after that, we came to the conclusion that the heightened levels of stress and anxiety were not worth enduring any longer.  So, as of December 2, A was officially a home schooled kiddo.

  Here are the changes I've seen in 2 months:
   While she's still melting down, her recovery time is amazing! Just last Monday I had to carry her, kicking and screaming, to the van, but by the time we got to where we were going (about a 20 minute drive) she had settled down and was able to participate in the activity.
  Yesterday she had a meltdown, but in 10 minutes she apologized.  Voluntarily.  As in, with no prompting on my end.  If you couldn't tell, I was floored!
  Her reading comprehension and fluency has taken off!  She wasn't having problems, but she has improved so quickly that I have to say it looks as though her anxiety was preventing her from reaching her full potential.
  Her self confidence is improving.
  She's happier.
  I've been able to see that social anxiety is much worse than I realized.
  I'm also seeing how severe her anxiety is.  My bestie has told me many times that had The Hubby and I not parented A the way we have over the past 5 years (using the strategies from "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk" and a few other wonderful books about connecting with kids), she wouldn't be as well adjusted as she is.
  There are times I hear her say that and I think "yeah, ok," but lately I've had a glimpse of how severe A's anxiety is and I can see the truth in that statement.

  There have been days (and will be plenty more, I'm sure), where I think "what was I thinking?!" but those are the days I can look back on journal entries, and this blog post and remember that we made the right decision!


Picture #6

Picture #5

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Picture #2

New Project "rules"

  So I've come up with some guidelines for my photo project, and I thought I'd share.
  I will try to take a pic every day for a month (and post them, of course).

  I am not going to give any explanation as to why my kitchen looks the way it does.  I won't make excuses when it's a mess (we've all been sick, I've been feeling down, we were busy, etc).  And I won't brag when it's spotless.
  Sure, I may blog about things that affect the state of the house in other posts, but I don't want the "why" to be the focus of my project.

  I want to be real.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Kids' Happiness...

  Apparently today is your lucky day!  It's a two-post-in-one-day, kind of day. Yay!

  I would guess that most parents of spoiled kids don't think of them as being spoiled.  If they do, they think it's cute.  A comment like "oh, he's just so spoiled" is followed by a chuckle and a grin.
  I'm sure there are those who are a bit more realistic.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time it seems as though they're resigned to the *fact* that that's just how their child is going to be.  You may hear a comment made in frustration like "he's so spoiled, but there's nothing we can do about it now!"

  Of course, there are different kinds of spoiled. There are the kids who have every possession they ask for.  There are the kids who get every waking moment of their parents' time.  There are the kids who's parents do everything for them.  But no spoiled kid is fun to be around.

  I just realized as I wrote my post earlier today that I've been spoiling my kids by doing everything for them (or at least doing more for them than I should).  This is quite a disservice to them.  It ultimately robs them of having the chance become independent.

  I will tell anyone who will listen that neither of my kids is mellow.  I totally recognize it's a personality trait that will some day be an asset to them--IF The Hubby and I capitalize on its positive aspects now.
  I find it's easy (especially on days when I'm emotionally down) to just do something myself rather  than "fight" my kids over it.  Almost every request I make of Bug and A is met with resistance (partly, I'm sure, because I've inadvertently trained them that it works).  I get so tired of hearing them whine about picking up their toys, or clearing the table, or putting their dirty clothes in the laundry, that I'd just rather do it myself.

  The other trap I fall into?

  Picture this:
  Bug and A have been playing together and getting along For An Hour.
  Anyone who knows my kids knows that they spend more of their time together bickering than getting along (at least that's how it feels to me).
  What parent wants to interrupt something that seems so rare?  Really, who wants to interrupt kids playing happily?  In my house that's something that falls into the "let sleeping babies lie" category of wisdom.  What's more--who wants to interrupt a moment of peace in order to introduce basically guaranteed chaos (enter: the whining of not wanting to pick up/do whatever is asked)?
  Not this momma!
  There are also the times that the kids are outside, happily entertaining themselves by exploring and playing .   Who wants to interrupt that?
  Not me.
  Or there are the times when A and Bug are each playing their own thing, but they're quiet, happy, and letting me be productive.  Who wants to mess up that peace?
  You guessed it: I don't.

  Here's where a comment my bestie made the other day comes in to play.  "It's not our job as parents to keep our kids happy all of the time."
  Eh?  Come again?
  I didn't realize what I was doing, but I have been totally guilty of adopting the idea that A and Bug need to be happy all the time.  I don't feel that my kids are generally happy, so when I see them being happy, I hate to ruin it.
  However, my bigger motive seems to be purely selfish.
  I don't want to be told "no."
  I don't want to give up the quiet atmosphere.
  I don't want to have to spend 30 minutes cleaning up something, redirecting the kids the entire time, when it would only have taken me 10 minutes to do it on my own.

  See a theme here (I highlighted it, in case ya missed it)?

  It's kind of an ugly one when you're in my shoes.

  So, while it is a fight and it can be exhausting, I realize that I've got to push through all of that in order to help my kids grown into adults whom other people want to be around.  Adults who have good work ethic.  Adults who have respect for possessions.  Adults who have respect for superiors in the work force.

  And, while I feel that I have a pretty good perspective on this (in that about 97% of the time my requests are met with loud resistance), there are those times when A voluntarily cleans up her mess and Bug's mess.  Or when I make a request and it's met with a slightly reluctant "ok."

  So, I'm going to try hard to work on this.  My patience will be tested.  There will be days when my nerves are shot.
  BUT there will also be days when the house is tidier.  Days when the kids realize they are going to be accountable for what they do/don't do.  Days when my requests will be met with a simple "yes ma'am."

  For now, I'll keep my sights set on those days.


Stepping out on a limb...Yikes!

  Ok, so there's a neat little saying I've seen floating around Pinterest and facebook.  "Don't compare your movie to someone else's highlight reel." That will someday be referred to as an "old adage."  But for now, it's relatively new to our society.
  Facebook is a fantastic place to share stories, both the positive and the negative.  I, of course like to be optimistic, so a lot of my fb posts are, well...positive.
  I love to post fun things I do with my kids.  Crafts we make, special things I do for A to make her life easier, things we do in home school, things I do with/for my babysitting kids, things I do with my nieces and nephew, etc.
  But the truth is, that is totally just a snapshot of my life.
  My motive behind those posts is not to say "look at how awesome I am!" Rather, it lies in wanting to share the cool stuff we do and show us having fun.

  A honest, typical day in my life?
  Here's a brief run down:
  Since we started home schooling A, I frequently find myself struggling to get up in the morning (there's no bus to miss to motivate me).  As a result the kids get up late.  We are then running late.  Neither of my kids have a hurry bone in their bodies and being rushed stresses A out.  So then my morning is filled with me constantly nagging them about eating breakfast, getting dressed, getting coats on, and getting out the door.  My focus is poor, so nothing gets picked up before we leave the house--it's all I can do to just to get us to Leave The House!  We haven't been able to get school work done lately because I have been adjusting to ever-changing babysitting schedules.  When we get back home (we go somewhere almost every morning, even if it is just to take Bug to preschool on Tues/Thurs.) I feel like I have two choices: housework or doing school with A.  Unfortunately the 2 year old I've been watching interferes a lot so nothing really gets done.  I frequently feel like I'm in a daze when I fix lunch for everyone, since the feeling of being overwhelmed gets stronger as the day progresses.  Miss Alexis always takes a nap at rest time, so there goes another 2 hours (I'm being honest...don't judge!).  By the time I get afternoon snack and find something to occupy the kids after rest time, it's time to start thinking about dinner.  Of course the evening doesn't slow down until the kids are in bed since there are kids to entertain/play with, disputes among them to help settle, baths to take, pajamas to get on, teeth to brush, etc.

  Point being?  The vast majority of my days are not spent doing bead work with the kids.  Or making home-made play dough.  Or doing science experiments.  Or holding hands with the kids and singing Kumbaya.
  Sure I have days like that occasionally...those are what I post about!

  I say All of that to say this:
  I am starting a new project.  I am willing to step Way out of my comfort zone in order to help others out there realize that we are not failures if we don't cook everything from scratch, feed our families strictly organic foods, sew our kid's clothes, make elaborate costumes, or sell pies or crocheted/knitted/hand-made goods in order to bring in extra income.  We are human.  Another phrase I've heard that I can totally relate to: "Comparison is the thief of happiness."

  My project is simple, I will take pictures of my kitchen (one of the hardest places for me to keep clean...even though I feel like I spend half of my day in it--shouldn't it be easier to keep nice?!) every day and post them on here.
  Some days it will look fantastic!  Other days (ok, who am I kidding?--most days) it will not be pretty.
  Again, I want those of us who try our hardest every day to meet the demands of our families, but who still at the end of the day, have something big that was left undone (whether it's laundry, vacuuming, or some other "mommy" job) to realize that we are still amazing.  We are not failures.

  So, here goes.  Picture #1:


Monday, January 20, 2014

One Amazing Kid

  So today something amazing happened.
  A woke up in a fantastic mood!  She voluntarily got dressed before she ate breakfast.
  She voluntarily, and cheerfully, wiped down the table without being asked.
  She opened up the pantry and came up with her own breakfast choices.

  Then later, the kids and I were walking into the garage to put toys away.  A was riding a cute little toy and accidentally ran over my ankle.
  It hurt badly enough that I yelped and took a moment to mourn the loss of a patch of skin.
  A apologized, and then an amazing thing happened.  She carried on about her business.
  A, the kid who, two days ago, would have glued herself to me and apologized incessantly.
  She apologized once. Once.

  I was torn between throwing a small pity party for myself, thinking "where are all my apologies?" and being amazed at my self confident little girl!
  Being the wonderful, supportive parent I am, I threw a 2 second pity party.  Then I rejoiced over the changes in my beautiful kid!

  Then again, at dinner, I was recapping my day for The Hubby, and when I mentioned the heel incident A said "it was an accident"...then she moved on.  No downward gaze.  No running over to me and grabbing my arm desperately.  No repeated apologies.

  Yay!  What a big step in the right direction!