Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Christmas Letter to You

It's been too many years without a Christmas card and true to our family motto, the "Best choice" this year is to electronically send out the Christmas cards that I want so bad to appear in each hand of all our really dear friends and family members.

So, from the bottom of our hearts...Merry Christmas!  Justin and I are so blessed to have hundreds of friends, neighbors and family that have come and gone through the years.  We sit back and talk about all the places we've lived and realize how blessed we have been to know so many wonderful people!

Justin is an airline pilot and absolutely loves his office up in the clouds.  This is year 5 of flying for a regional airline and we're looking forward to what our future holds of making captain and then possibly a major airline.  In the meantime this man just ran a marathon with his 4 brothers and his mom.  He's discovered he loves running all over this nation and seeing new places.  This year he got to serve as a Sunday school teacher, help with the Cub Scouts for a little bit and is now doing one of the best things he has ever experience, he's on the High Council for our church.  I'll also mention that he loves training our dog, Sky.  Somehow he finally talked me into that extra little body to care for.

Among my biggest blessing of being a wife and a mother, I have had the opportunity to be our primary music leader for our church.   I love a good challenge of trying to keep those 160 kids entertained but also teach the truths of the gospel.  I'm still teaching piano lessons (for the last 6 years) and love it!  I'm finding that as I have 20 or so piano students coming and going in my home that my own children are building great friendships with these built in play dates everyday too :) Between dishes, laundry and cleaning I find time for my music, reading and blogging which will forever make me HAPPY!

Sarah has been experiencing life at the Intermediate School as she is now in 5th grade.  She feels so grown up switching between 8 different classes and owning her own locker!  She loves her teachers!  She reminds me every day that she is "almost 12 years old" and "almost in Young Womens (a group at our church)."  She has mastered her 1000 piece puzzles, figured out how to navigate her way through the computer, takes piano lessons, still loves to call all the grandmas without me knowing, takes "her baby" everywhere we go because "she's her daughter," has probably copied every book from our book shelf word for word, started a yoga and palates class, sings in choir at school and walks our dog, Sky, almost every day.

Spencer's mind is always going!  He's nine yrs old going on twenty!  He does multiplication and division problems for fun and is always found with some science book in his hand. He still loves Minecraft, Beyblades and his new love is Star Wars. Lucky he has a few great friends that are into the same things! He's learning to play tennis, play the piano and his Dad is teaching him all about football.  He is in 4th grade at our brand new Elementary School and is loving being in the Honor Choir.  It's special that his Choir Director is male and that made him want to join in the first place.  They have performed multiple times in the last few months and his voice and memorization skills are superb!!!  

Oh, our Allison!  She is constantly keeping us on our toes and keeping us laughing.  Her preschool teacher told me yesterday that she needs to start a journal for all the funny things she says.  Allison has mastered writing her own name and all the letters.  She loves counting everything and thanks to Spencer has learned how to add and even subtract a little.  She's just learning to read and loves to especially impress Sarah and Spencer with new words she has learned.  Her favorite things are swinging, climbing all over Sky (our dog), singing, reading with mom, running with Dad, dancing, helping in the kitchen, standing in front of the primary with me, teasing anyone around, playing with all Sarah's baby dolls, stuffed animals, dress ups and princesses.  Notice if she's moving--she's happy!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  We pray that you will feel the love of our Savior everyday, just as we do.

With Love,
Justin, Megan, Sarah, Spencer and Allison

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Family Nativity Outing

We visited a LDS church that was having a Nativity Display...and made one of our own!

We borrowed Ben Powell that day...Spencer needed a brother.

Spence and Ben took the star challenge...found all these little one inch stars throughout the entire church.

We all listened to the live performances taking place...makes me happy to see my children enjoy music like Justin and I do.

This is Allison's favorite manager scene...I'd never seen one like it!

This was my favorite scene...there must have been a hundred.

They even had a children's room set up.  Allison didn't last through the Christmas quilt room because she was so anxious to get her hands on these neat puzzles.

I absolutely love the month of December with all the special places to take our family--the recitals, programs, fun!  We rarely get enough sleep because there are too many fun things to do under the christmas tree and too many goodies to drink or eat...for some reason it's always way more fun before bed!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been making my own laundry detergent the last little while because of my neighbor, Whitney Prows.  I was pretty skeptical at first because I'm pretty picky with my laundry but it's turned out to be such a blessing!  

Love that it's liquid instead of all the homemade powder recipes I've seen before.  Oh, and it's super super cheap...comes out to probably $4 for each batch which last me about 3 months.  I think it may be helping with sensitive skin at our house as well.  Just passing it along...

Liquid Laundry Soap

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

Another idea-- put 3/4 to 1 whole bottle of the Purex Crystals in the soap. The Downy UnStoppable are more expensive and they don't dissolve as well.

I don't use a scent at all and rely on my Downy to give a wonderful smell to my clean clothes.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ideas to Calm Your Stress/Anxiety

I wanted to share a few "coping mechanisms" (shall I call it) to manage stress.  I gathered each of these ideas from a doctor and have found them to work wonders!

Magnesium is the secret!  Magnesium is involved in biochemical reactions that keep our bones strong, our hearts healthy and our nervous system functioning like it should.  It's a concern of mine to focus on my nervous system being that I have mental disorders.

Each night before I go to bed I take a Calcium & Magnesium supplement.  I naturally try to eat foods high in calcium and magnesium but this extra supplement before bed calms my mind and my body.

When I've had an extra busy day or an extra busy mind (feeling anxiety or panic setting in) I pull out a drink called "Calm."  You can get it at health food stores or just order it online.  I was nervous to see that it was lemon flavored because when I was super sick with my pregnancy it was "lemon" that got me through.  I avoid lemon now because I can't handle the memories it brings back of that sickness.  I love this drink though!  It really does taste good.  It's sort of like a lemon lime soda.  It has a little fizz to it.

And the last thing I'll share today is "epsom salt baths."  Hello!  It makes so much sense.  Do we not soak sore feet or injuries in this stuff?!?!  Why not our body?  You're supposed to dissolve 2 cups of epsom salt in a full bath tub and use 3 drops of lavender oil or my favorite--rose oil.  Climb in and soak for 20 minutes.

When I use these baths I literally feel a calm come over me from head to toe.  I've used "Lorazepam" medication to stop my panic attacks in the past and these baths give me that same exact feeling.  I'm so happy to have a much more natural way to help.

Hope these little tips help.  They sure have blessed my life!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

She Writes! It's a Miracle!

One of the most challenging things about being a parent of a child with special needs is definitely communication.  As the years have passed by,  I've wished and prayed that I could understand the thoughts that my sweet Sarah has.  I want so bad to know what is going on in her head.  The physical vibes or words out of her mouth are just not quite like my other two children.

It absolutely floors me when I sit and watch her put puzzles together.  Get this...she never uses the picture...not kidding.  She actually hates to have the picture even by her.  It shows me that her brain just works quite a bit different than my own or other children around us.

Just recently we have figured out that a "feelings journal" or "letter writing" does wonders for her and us.  When things are exploding or when she's frustrated we have her sit down and write to us.  It's taken us 11 years but between school, therapy, and hours of work at home we have helped her learn to write.  Check out her spelling, her penmanship and look how she's finally able to tell me what is going on in her head...

Sarah came running in from the bus the other day and before she even unloaded her back pack, jacket and such she shoved this in my hands.  It hit me!  All the work and all the pays off!  It really does give me that wish of knowing her desires/her thoughts.

So much of this list of thoughts makes me think how much she's just like me!!!  Seriously.  It's a flood of to do list items that are over powering her and she has to have them all done this second!  Cracks me up!

So, if you have a special needs child (and you feel like I have for years...the crying, emotions or physical or nonverbal ques are just not the same as the other children around you) know that it will come.  In some way or another, whether it's through hard work to get her to write like me, a bunch of little miracles or a big old giant miracle from heaven,  it will happen!  Hang in there! Pray, keep trying and I know miracles will happen!!!  I have felt it.  I have seen it with my own to eyes.

It wasn't very many years ago when I would sit and cry because I would sit in front of my daughter and ask her questions and get silence back.  I would read her story after story and ask what she heard and get a shoulder shrug.  I would stand there feeling helpless as a little girl would scream and cry at me while stomping her feet because she couldn't get through to me what she wanted me to know.

We still have many moments of terrible communication but I see this writing as such a beautiful miracle!  I treasure these words!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tis the Season to be Jolly!

For the last couple days, our 4 yr old Allison has been walking around singing these words.  Her very clear pronunciation in that little sing-song voice has got me is a great season to be jolly!

I'm pretty sure I've been letting a few stresses get the best of me for a month or so and I love that the same old Thanksgiving season came rolling around for me and knocked some happiness and gratitude into my heart.

I don't think I have ever been one to listen to Christmas music starting in October or decorate the house and tree in early November.  This was my year!  I decided to take a season of gratitude and throw it into the Season of Christ's birth and smother out the stress with pure Joy!  Thank you Alli for helping me realize what I've been doing.

I am so grateful for a fun and happy family!

I'm so grateful for a healthy body and mind!

This man...oh just fabulous and at the top of my gratitude list for sure!

I love her spunk and the way she sings about everything...

and she has some very special, quiet moments that I treasure.

Love this boy

and this girl that just simply make me smile every day!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sabbath Six at Six

As parents we were wanting our children to spend their time on Sundays really keeping it "Holy."  That means to us, placing other things aside they would normally do during the week and do things that would bring them closer to their family, closer to their Savior, build upon their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I had heard a friend talking about a "Six at Six" she did with her family and tweaked a few things to make it work for us.  I came up with this chart that I hang up on our fridge.  

Notice all the choices of things they can do on the bottom.  Things like:  read scriptures, write in their journal, read a good book, visit a relative, serve, write a letter, etc.  

Our children are supposed to do 6 of these items during their Sunday and can mark each off with their little "stick figure person."  I just put velcro on the back of each figure.  At six o'clock if they have done them all then they can have a family dessert with us.

Maybe it'll inspire for your Sabbath Days!  Happy Sabbath Days to all!!!

Good Rewards Home Runs

This is hanging on the side of our fridge...and has been for years!  I shared it a while back but I still have so much success and so many compliments about it that I thought I would share again.

My three kids each have a magnet and if we catch them doing something wonderful like helping each other, talking soft, doing a job without being asked, etc then we tell them to go move forward a base.  Once they hit a home-run they get to pick something out of the basket.

Our basket has a lot of little dollar store items in it, coloring books, gum, cars, but most of it is coupons that say things like:

bike ride with Dad
donut with Mom
pick the family movie
use of Mom's art supplies
ipad time
computer time
pick the family game

This started because we feel strong that children will model the things they are praised for much much more than the naughty things that they get in trouble for.

It's very motivating to the child that is watch the other sibling making a home run and they want one too.  The best part though is that it's not a set time that Justin and I have to follow through with all the time.  The kids are not allowed to ask us about it.  We just have to notice!  So, super easy for us and  makes them on their toes doing lots of good things if they have something particular in that basket that they are after.

hint: have your kids pick out what they want in the basket :)

Our Family Schedule (Really for the kids :)

I realized while I was sitting at the table eating breakfast with the kids this morning that this one little project right here has brought us so much peace around here!

I get compliments on it all the time too.

Notice the activities we are not doing today are just stuck on the flip side...out of sight!

-I started by listing all the things we do during our weekdays, weekends, special occasions, etc.  

-Printed them off the computer and made sure each one had a picture that our then 3 year old could understand.

-It was the perfect thing to use my laminator sticky fingers!

-I got the metal sheet from Hobby Lobby but I know I've seen them at Michaels and even Home Depot before.

-I had my husband just use his regular drill to drill holes in the top two corners.

-grabbed a ribbon from my stash and strung it through with two quick knots.

-I put magnets on the back of each strip and then done!

Usually Justin and I are very aware what each day, week, or even month will bring but we are often interrupted to find our children need to be caught up...and very quickly!  Usually it's our dear Sarah (that has Prader-Willi Syndrome) that does not transition from thing to thing or place to place very well.

This schedule was our solution.  We hang it right next to our kitchen table for us all to see though the day.  We switch around the slips each night during dinner according to what will happen the next day.  Our kids have no question what our plans are and it significantly decreases the anxiety of all but especially our Sarah!

It also allows my children to keep flowing through the day with jobs, practicing the piano and such without their mother right there to remind them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Are You Thinking About?

I've had many people ask me what helped me the most the last couple years as I went through therapy and tried to heal.  I would like to go ahead a share one thing at a time on this blog.

Today I'll share where I started in my therapy.  It was my journal.  This time it was a different type of journal but none the less, simple as that--journal!

I took a notebook around with me for a couple of days and literally wrote down every single thought that crossed my mind.  It helped that I committed to my therapist that I would do this (answering to someone else always helps, doesn't it?).

When I found myself sitting in the doctors office being told that I was having severe panic attacks, I honestly had no idea where it came from.  I kept thinking and saying over and over "I have no idea where this is coming from."  I truly thought that all was well and could not figure out why my body was showing this reaction to such a smooth life!

Well, those that have been reading and those that know me are probably chuckling about that! So many could or can see exactly why I exploded under all that stress and pressure in my life, but at that time, I really couldn't figure it out.  I was going to do anything to find out what was causing all this.

Lucky for me, I had this new little project with my notebook hooked at the hip.  I was to write every feeling and every thought.  I wasn't to hold anything back.  Things like "gross, I wish Spencer would pick up those dirty socks," or "I've got to walk up those stairs again," maybe "my hair is so crazy." How about "Justin will be home in a second; I can't wait!"

I wrote it all, knowing I was going to be the only one that saw it.  I could show it to my husband and therapist if I wanted to when it was done but it was only for my eyes.

Then, after a couple days when I had really put my best foot forward and felt like I had pages of really great feelings and thoughts, I took a red pen and wrote a few symbols next to my thoughts/feelings:

WPT= What People Think
AA= Anticipatory Anxiety
ND= Negative Driver

I could see where this was going and thought I should add one of my own:

:)= Positive Thought, My Father in Heaven would love this!

I must tell you all that I was shocked!  I did not realize that the things on my mind were there.  I didn't realize that I was feeding myself unpleasant thoughts that if I were to say out loud to my husband or my own mom or especially to my maker, Heavenly Father, they would all be so sad.

I was also shocked to see that I was making sooo many assumptions about things that weren't actually true.  I was having thoughts that never even ended up happening.  I was blowing things waaaay out of proportion.  I was not being the laid back, happy person I desired to be. I was holding in desires or opinions that I had that probably needed to be shared.  I was stuffing things down inside me that didn't need to be stuffed.  How's that for good English?

Lets just say that I didn't have as many smiley faces on those journal pages that I would have liked.  I was learning what my self talk sounded like and taking a step back to evaluate what was there. I was starting to see why my physical body was shutting down on me.

So, here's a challenge...grab some paper and whether you have some crazy health problem going on or not, start writing down all your thoughts/feelings.  I'm pretty sure you'll be surprised at what you find up there in your head.  You might like it or you might want to change it.  Just a thought...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Love Me a Saturday

I was so happy to wake up to this picture from Justin this morning.  It's proof he loves his job when he never tires of a beautiful sunrise and sends it to me to enjoy as well (of course he knows I'm still in my bed).

Another reason I love Saturdays...pj's as long as we want...a four year old little girl dancing to Christmas Music with her cape (her choice of dress-up for the moment).

A happy and clean dog!  He followed me to the garbage can this morning and came right back that!

A boy that feels free to do whatever he not hurrying him along.

A daughter that happily can change her clothes fifty times and comb and comb her hair to her little hearts desire.  Doesn't she look marvelous!

Best of all...I can tinker around and do things like empty the sink of dishes.  Love my Saturdays when no body is in a hurry and I can walk around and just smile at each of my family members just being themselves!!! Soaking in today for sure!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Choose Light or Dark

This painting hangs in President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's office.  The painting shows a dark room with an open door.  Light shines in that door; the light doesn't light the whole room but just that space directly in front of the door.

I sat reading the talk that President Uchtdorf spoke of this painting in, just the other night, and was so touched.  Mostly because he said:

"To me, the darkness and light in this painting are a metaphor for life.  It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might....have received a troubling medical diagnosis....we might be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved."

He reminded me that even though I feel these things, God promises me hope.  Like Pres. Uchtdorf said, "He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness."

If you've read my previous posts than you know this, but I know I was led and was starting to have the way for me illuminated.  That does not mean that I wasn't aware that there was darkness in my trial.  There already had been many dark days for me and would still be.  What I want to share here is that I had a CHOICE!  I had a choice to either dwell in the dark or a choice to dwell in the light.

Starting to take medication that completely altered my mood, made me feel super forgetful, extra hungry, unnatural and just plan out foggy was so hard!  I however, was choosing to have hope in the light I was being spirit was feeling that illumination and my body was just waiting to catch up.  I knew it would be anywhere form 4-6 weeks before the medication really started to help.

I had to really grasp onto that answer to my prayers that I had felt.  I couldn't forget it.  I had to remember!!!

It makes me think about when Christ asked the apostles "do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many loaves you took up?"(Matthew 16:9)

I had been shown a miracle as I studied out my diagnosis.  I may not have watched five loaves feed five thousand but I had felt an undeniable witness that I had Bipolar and Anxiety and I was to go forward with medication and therapy to be made whole again.

Pres. Uchtdorf mentioned that "spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch."  He said it "takes an act of faith!"  You hear that?  It takes an "act!"  I couldn't just sit there and hope that the medication would take it's course or that my friends and husband would pull me out of this.  It took my "acting," my "choosing"; it took me moving my feet!  So "act" is what I did.

I mentioned that I found a therapist.  It was definitely a Divine Signature or a tender mercy that I met a specific therapist I don't particularly ever want to see again but she pulled a card out of her desk that said TERRAP on it.  I had never heard of that before and went home to my good old friend "google."That program was just what I needed!  Once again a path was being lit for me.

I called the number that led me to a woman named Maria.  She was also a CHOICE.  I literally had to have Justin talk to her because at that point in my sickness I could listen to an audio recording but really could not have human contact.  I knew she was good for me when she told Justin to just put me on the phone and that I didn't need to say a word.  With just my ear pressed against the receiver she told me exactly where her office was, exactly where I could park so I didn't have to go in a parking garage, she went on to describe pretty much each step I would take inside, she made sure I knew there wasn't a sign on her door to say what kind of business she was running, she made sure I knew the receptionist had no clue why I was there and described exactly how our first meeting would go.

How did she know?  How did she know I couldn't go near a parking garage, let alone get in a car?  How did she know I was struggling going to places familiar to me but it made me suffocate to even think about going somewhere new? How did she know I was really really suffering from thoughts I had about "what other people think?"

There was one answer ringing in my head as I handed that phone back to my husband.  This was the light shining in my doorway.  I was being led by my Heavenly Father.  I knew I needed to make this appointment and to just move.  It was like walking through thick goo and it was very thick and very slow moving but it just took my effort.  It took my choice to keep on moving!

I went week after week to see this Maria and she led me through page after page of this TERRAP program.  It helped me step into my own mind and first find what thoughts I had there and then change them.  It not only helped me retrain my thoughts but helped me gain my life back.  Months later I was answering the door, talking on the phone, getting on airplanes, being a happy mom, a supportive wife etc.  I started to find the Megan that I am.

I don't see Maria anymore.  I have a binder and journals to refer to as often as I want.  More important I know more than ever that God is my Heavenly Father and I am is daughter.  I know that he wants me to be happy and feel joy.  I know that He wants to bless me and He takes joy in doing so.  I know that with this knowledge that I can withstand any diagnosis, any darkness, any anxiety that comes my way.  I have come out of these last couple years stronger than I ever was before!!!  I can actually say I'm grateful for that dark room that I once sat in.  The light has never seemed so bright and so radiant to me!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloweeeeen!!!

Not much makes me happier than seeing my Sarah feel beautiful!  Every single year she has desired to just simply be a PRINCESS!  I'm embarrassed to say that last year I finally talked her into being a Chef just to "spice" it up a little.  I learned my lesson.  She just did not walk around proud.

My beauty is back and MAN...I LOVE this girl!!!

Who is that crazy witch in the background?  That princess, cupcake and Mine-craft Steve better watch out!

I feel happiness to know that my Sarah does know she's beautiful!  I tell her everyday over and over and I just think it's sticking!  She is the most beautiful, special, dedicated little lady!  (Now I'll go on before I get tears all over the computer)

I can take no credit for this fancy's all Justin!!!  What a Dad this young man has!  He's a Mine-crafter at heart!  I have to admit that in his limited time we give him on that game I sit back and watch in awww his engineer mind at work.

The only peek at Justin we got this year...right behind that pretty little cupcake...clear up in the corner by the front door.  Yes, folks.  That's my man!  I didn't get one decent picture of that hunk of a news reporter.

Love that we had a little carnival at our Trunk or Treat this year!

You know what really got me in the mood for all this Halloween stuff though...oh, my heavens...this was soooo yummy.  A pinterest gone completely wonderful...

Just click right here for the recipe to this glorious goodness!  We had some friends over to eat it with us and you know it's good when everyones going back for seconds, thirds and fourths!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...