Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Special Needs" Conversations with my Allison

We were walking around Target a couple of days ago and Allison just stopped.  She was watching a little boy with severe physical disabilities.  He was wheelchair bound and couldn't move or speak.

In the sweetest little voice she asked me "what happened to him?"

I knelt down next to her right there in the aisle and said "you know how Sarah was born with Prader-Willi syndrome and we call it special needs sometimes?  Well, he has special needs too.  His body was born that way.  That's his challenge that God gave him."

That's all the explanation she needed for the moment because she said ok and just walked away.

About an hour later, we found ourselves at the park.  She was swinging on a JennSwing and after a minute she said "this is a new swing.  I've never seen one like this before."

I went on to explain to her that "remember when you saw that boy in Target?  His mommy could bring him to this park and put him in that swing.  He wouldn't be able to swing on one of the other swings.  It's a swing made for kids with special needs."  I even told her about "when Sarah was her age that she had just finally learned how to sit up on a regular swing.  When she was two and three years old she had to sit in a special needs swing too."

She sat there and then finally said "It's sad that I have a body and a brain that works right."

I remember having these exact same conversations with Spencer.  He was about that same age.  That age of Kindergarten seems to bring these questions of noticing the differences in others.

When Sarah was in Kindergarten, that was the first year that we were asked to go into her class and talk to the children about why Sarah "talked different, walked different, asked the same questions over and over and over again, why she wanted to eat all the time."

I often think that one of the huge blessings and learning experiences we gain from Sarah is being able to accept the differences in everyone.  Our children are so open to others and their physical disabilities.

Allison was at Walmart with me today and a sweet older woman drove past us in an electric wheelchair. Allison said right out loud "she has special needs, Mom!"  The people around us smiled and asked how old she was.  One lady commented "what a special child to realize that and not be rude and stare or point."

I agree.  She is a special little girl.  I know that Allison was sent to our family for specific reasons and one of them was to be Sarah's sister.  She idolizes her big sister and wants to be just like Sarah.  Allison will be so much more empathetic and understanding of others has she lives a life alongside her sister.

Not only Sarah, Spencer and Allison are learning, but Justin and I have also commented many times on how we feel so comfortable around others with physical disabilities or handicaps.  We both felt a little nervous and unsure at one point in our lives but this whole world has been opened to all of us.

Bottom line, we are all God's children.  We were all sent with different challenges.  Some you can see better than others, some are physical, some mental, some spiritual and some just hard to see but you know they are there somewhere.  I absolutely know that because of The Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ everyone of these challenges can be overcome and perfected.  I know my Sarah will have a perfect mind and perfect body in the resurrection.  I so look forward to that day that I can stand in front of her and have a heart to heart conversation.

How blessed we are to have our special Sarah.  We wouldn't trade even the hard times for anything in the world.  I especially love that she helps us teach our other two children how to love unconditionally and to solidify that we are all important.  That they can overcome any and every challenge that they are or will face.

If you don't walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won't! I won't!
If you don't talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won't! I won't!
I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev'ryone.
So I will! I will!
Jesus blessed all he could see,
Then turned and said, "Come, follow me."
And I will! I will!
I will! I will!
I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.
(Primary Song Book pg.140)

Fill Your Mind with Truth...Meditate

Counter your negative thoughts with hope and truth.  Your mind believes what you tell it.

These sentences came to my mind today as I sat and worked on my yoga for the evening after I tucked my children into bed.

While I stretch and do a few yoga moves I like to run memorized lines through my head that bring me peace, hope and strength.  My favorite is memorized parts of my Patriarchal Blessing.  They are too sacred to share here but I also repeat hymns, scriptures or primary songs.  I guess this is my form of meditation.

I fell upon these meditation rituals that work for me after much learning:

When I was stuck back in the middle of panic attacks and completely taken over by my anxiety I heard myself say:
"I can't do that"
"I give up"
"it's too much"
"I can't do it anymore"
"she does it better than I could"
"I can't believe I did that"
"I don't have the strength"
"I'm too tired"
"He hates me"
"it's not perfect"
"I messed that up"
"I'll never measure up"
"I'm never gonna make it"
"I yelled again...I'll never be able to stop that"
"I have no patience"
"I didn't accomplish one thing today--not one."
"that was a crappy thing to feed my kids"
"I know I'll forget something and then it will all be ruined"

My therapist, Maria helped me to catch those thoughts and helped me to counter them with things like:
"I can do that"
"its ok if it's not perfect"
"I only have to take a little step today"
"I am so blessed"
"God trusted me with 3 beautiful children"
"I can finish tomorrow"
"I can always come back. No big deal."
"My kids are happy and healthy"
"I'm amazing"
"I see little miracles in my life every day!"
"The most amazing man in the whole world, married me and still loves me!"
"I love myself"
"My Heavenly Father made me!"
"My mom thinks I'm wonderful"
"Justin still gets the butterflies when he sees me"
"My Dad is proud of me"
"I have so many talents"
"there may be others out there that can do this but I do it the Megan way and it's pretty great."

At first I had a really hard time saying these things to myself.  It was just sorta nerdy or maybe a bit braggy.  Like those words?  I really thought that to myself whether they're real words or not.

I started to push through the "nerdiness" of it all and really started to stand in front of the mirror like I was asked and just repeat them to myself.  It took lots of practice to do it without rolling my eyes at myself and walking away.  I don't think it was in front of the mirror itself that started to make the difference but I know for sure that that practice made those statements pop in my head later in my day when overwhelmed feelings started to creep up.

For instance, I would walk in the room where Allison had wiped poop all over the wall or Sarah had pulled off another one of her toe nails and before I started to repeat my thoughts of "I am a terrible mother" or "I give up!"  I would start to think things like "My kids are happy and healthy" and "I'm so blessed I have kids" and "I am a wonderful mom. I don't have to take care of this until I'm ready."  It's absolutely amazing the power that gave me to just counter those thoughts.  I was calm.  I was able to collect myself.  Because I could control myself, I was able to turn those particular moments into loving teaching moments with my girls as well.

May each of you readers find your own rituals of countering the negative thoughts in your head with hope and truth.  Maybe give yoga a try and whip out a little meditation?!?!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Roll It Out

My Chiropractor got me started on this foam roller.  It has helped for multiple reasons:

1. It reduces soreness and tightness from working out
2. It increases flexibility
3. It helps prevents injury
4. My Favorite, It helps to de-stress
It helps just like a massage would...the tension and toxins are all released.

I will use it before I walk, run or exercise.  I use it after exercise, while I'm cooling down and when it helps me the most is right before bed.  Justin loves it when I save his thumbs.

 This position right here takes the knots out of my shoulders and back.  I roll all the way to my neck down my entire back.

Then this angle is a little hard to see but if you angle the roller on the middle of your back you can roll right up under each shoulder blade and kill the knots up there...so great!

I will warn you now...it is not comfortable.  When you first start doing this it is down right painful and hurts.  Keep it up...you'll see great results though!

The Best Thing We Did this Christmas...

We decided with our kids that we would make homemade gifts for each other this year.  The rule was that we could not spend a penny.  We had to make the gifts from things we already had at home.

So, the work began earlier in November.  Sarah came up with the idea to make one of Justin's old shirt into roads...she can drive the cars on his back for a little massage.

Allison began with the idea to make a "Daddy jar for all his stuff."  We dug in my crafts and found an old can and popsicle sticks that she could paint.

Spencer asked to go on a walk around the neighborhood for rocks and this is what he came back with.  Of course, he had to get them all clean for his project.

Allison had just barely started to learn to write other words besides her name and one word is "Dad." She was all prepared to label her project.

And her final project for her Dad!

Sarah checkin it out to make sure it works before she wrapped it and put it under the tree.

And now we begin to see Spencer's idea come together.


Justin opened these three presents and all we could say is how fun it was to watch these three feel excited to "give" and loved their creativity. 

I made this hopscotch for Sarah.  She loves it, but I have to say I was probably more excited to give this to her than anything else Christmas Morning.  It really came from my heart.

I put together this shadow box for Justin.  I wanted to highlight his huge goal he accomplished this year for him.

I finally made this skirt happen for Allison!  I'd wanted to do this for years.

I have to add that I don't sew more than straight lines so I was quite proud of myself and thrilled that she wants to wear it everyday.  Project accomplished for her.

 I made this football target for Spence to practice is throwing in our backyard.

 Sarah made this coloring book for Allison and made blue snowflakes for Spencer.

Justin made coupon books for each one of the kids.  I love that these will help them spend one on one time together.

 Spencer was so sweet and made me and the girls bracelets.

It was completely Allison's own idea to make Spencer and Sarah "little wooden people" so we looked through what I had and I happened to have little wooden balls and golf tees.  This is what we came up with...our favorites Darth Vader and Spider Man.

Bottom line...I absolutely love that we all focused on giving instead of getting.  It was a very special year of Christmas I don't ever want to forget!
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