Tuesday, September 29, 2009

pushing buttons

At Sunday School there was an interesting table discussion about kids and pushing buttons. You know, how every time you go out in public, your kids start pushing your buttons? I think the gals I was sitting with thought I'd sprouted a second head when I said that my crew didn't push my buttons! But they don't. And after some thought and some discussion with Jim, I think I've figured out why.

First and foremost, pushing buttons is a form of manipulation that is not kind, respectful, or loving. At our house, those attitudes are not allowed. If you treat your siblings (or your parents!) with that type of attitude, there will be some discipline, ie training. And we will continue to work on correcting not specifically your behavior but your heart attitude until it is right. Expecting our children to give their siblings mercy and grace and to assume the best about one another also helps. It means that instead of escalation, there can be conversation about how the request sounded and felt, and what the person really meant. So on that front, we try hard to nip the ATTITUDE not just the behavior in the bud. That helps.

The other thing that struck me is that if my child is pushing my buttons, maybe I need to look in the mirror. What am I doing that is causing my child to behave this way? Do I expect too much from them? Am I being oversensitive? Is his/her behavior truly a problem, or am I bothered by it because of something in my own life that needs changing (the prick of conviction!)? How's my heart? I find that once in a while the problem lies with me, not with them! Ouch!! It's true--if I'm hypersensitive, feeling convicted, then it will be easier for them to "push my buttons." But are they? Really? Or are they simply behaving in an age appropriate fashion and my expectations are too high?

The more I work with young children, the more I see a trend that is hard to watch. I see parents modifying the behavior of their children without concerning themselves about the heart attitudes. I know that the popular parenting books these days tend toward behavior modification rather than heart purification. That's hard, because it's the heart that needs changing!! The best analogy I heard was this:

Imagine that you have an unexplained allergic reaction. You are itchy and have hives all over. So you take a dose or two of benadryl, and the reaction calms. Things go back to normal for you. At this point, you have 2 choices. You can either buy the Costco sized container of benadryl and carry it with you everywhere so that you can treat the hives when they appear, or you can visit the allergist and do some testing to know what you're allergic to and remove the trigger from your life. One's easy and straightforward, no pokes, tests, or waiting for answers. But it's also unsatisfying at some level since you never really know what might trigger the next attack.

So it is with children and their behavior. Modifying it is great, but unless you do the "allergy testing" you'll never truly fix the problem. And you'll spend the rest of your child-rearing days wondering when the next attack will happen, hoping that your bottle of benadryl is big enough to reduce the symptoms. Isn't it better for everyone to just address the problem??

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he..." Prov 23:7 KJV

Friday, September 25, 2009

too fast

We moved her out today. Into a dorm room on campus, one she'll share with 2 friends from high school. It's going to be tight, and they're going to have a wonderful year. And I'm going to miss her.

Hailey...my first girl. Where has the time gone? Just yesterday, it seems, we were bringing her home from the hospital. Way smaller than her brother, she was definitely her own person, even from the beginning. Independent, sometimes to the point of being "prickly," she never seemed to need the hugs and cuddles that others did. Truth be told, there were some interesting times with this independent little thing. As a matter of fact, I remember thinking at least once that if the preschool years were this hard, I couldn't begin to imagine how difficult the teen years would be.

I shouldn't have wasted my time. Her teen years have been a delight, and they've passed in the blink of an eye. So many things with her have been so easy compared to what others have dealt with, and yet with her we were so concerned about decisions WE made that affected her. As the second child, the one who had learned to "go with the flow" so well, we worried that having her change schools because it was best for her siblings would be hard. Not so. She blossomed and thrived in the new school. More than we dreamed possible. Even better, she's made life long friends. What a joy to see her grow, to see her servant's heart, to see her quiet leadership, her steadfastness, her faithfulness to those dear to her heart.

Now the time has come for another change. This time SHE made the choice. SHE chose the school. Watching her this summer has been fun. Always ready to lend a hand, she has eyes that see what needs to be done and a heart that is willing to serve. Those traits will serve her well as she steps out on her own. She hopes to study nursing. She'll be an awesome nurse, a good blend of compassion and authority. I can't wait to see what the next chapter brings my Hailey-girl. It's hard to step back, but this adventure is going to be fun.

So why is it that I got teary today when I took the leaf out of the kitchen table? Somehow, seeing the table so small (seats only 6 now) is harder than moving boxes into the dorm this morning. Guess it's a good thing we have volleyball all day tomorrow...I won't have time to sit and dwell on my little table. Or my big girl.

Have fun Hailey! We will miss you but we're cheering for you!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

and some pics

Ugliest volleyball match ever, but they won. Emily wears #6 on this team.


"Then Moses said, 'Now show me your glory.'

"And the Lord said, 'I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,' He said, 'you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.

"Then the Lord said, 'There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant..." ~Genesis 33:18-23; 34:29

Nearly every morning at 5:15, I lace up my shoes and head out. Some mornings I run, some mornings I walk. Every morning I enjoy the time and the peace and quiet.

The weather here has been amazingly beautiful. Sunny, warm days; cool crisp nights. It's a touch chilly at 5:15, but SO worth it. The sky has been gorgeous! For being in the city, the number of stars I can see makes me suck in my breath. And I always think of the analogy I heard either in the high school group or at a high school camp about God's glory. The speaker said,

Moses asked to see God's glory. Pretty gutsy thing to do. We know how God replied--that no one can see Him and live. So how do we understand how great God's glory really is? Imagine this. Imagine that the night sky is a piece of luxurious black velvet. Each star represents a pinhole in that velvet, a pinhole through which we get tiny glimpses of God's glory. You know how bright the stars seem. Now imagine what it would be like if the velvet were ripped away and the we weren't protected from the light. THAT is how bright God's glory is, and that is why no one can see it and live. His glory, His holiness is so pure and so clear that it would kill us instantly.

So every morning at 5 I am reminded of God's glory. Of how blessed we are to have a loving God who provided a way for us to know Him. I stand totally in awe of Him, of His glory. And the stars remind me just how little, how insignificant I truly am in this thing called life. It's GOD'S story that matters, not mine. My role in God's movie is short--2/5 of a second perhaps (in light of eternity), but when I keep my focus on Him rather than on myself, it can be such a delight and a privilege to have a role at all! And God WANTS me--and you!--to have a part in His movie. Isn't that amazing?

Will I remember all this when it's no longer crisp and clear and beautiful at 5:15? When the sky is grey and cloudy and the rain is falling? I sure hope so. Just because I can't see something doesn't mean it's not there. Stars...God's glory. Same truth applies. I just have to remember it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ROAD TRIP! (or, I have the most amazing husband!)

The boys are on a road trip. Last week, we decided that someone should go visit Brent (age 20) for a weekend. Because I went last time, this time it was Jim's turn. Calendars out, we agreed that he would leave today and return Tuesday. Although we had briefly talked late August about him going and taking the little guys, I didn't bring it up. It's over 8 hours one way from here to there, and that's a LONG time for one adult and two 4 year old boys. Late yesterday afternoon, though, Brent mentioned that he had made arrangements for Jim and the boys to visit his work and see the planes. So I said something to Jim. And he agreed to take them.

After bathtime last night, we asked Ryan and Logan if they wanted to take a ride with Dad today. Both were intrigued but not sold...until we mentioned seeing Brent. Their eyes lit up like Christmas trees! They could hardly contain their excitement. It was difficult trying to pack a suitcase for them because they were bouncing around the room like super balls. I was sure they wouldn't sleep a wink last night, but guess what? They both conked out quickly and slept through the night. This morning, when I passed by the bedroom door, two sparkly brown eyes peered at me from a pillow. Throwing back the covers and inviting me in to snuggle, Ryan grabbed my face with his little hands. His body and his voice quavered with excitement. "Today's the day, Mommy! It's today! We are going on a road trip with Daddy. BOYS ONLY, Mommy!! We're going to see Brent and you have to stay home. We'll be gone 3 sleeps Mommy. Try not to miss us too much. I promise I'll give Brent a kiss for you. ROAD TRIP!" I just hugged him and laughed.

Logan was much slower to wake up but no less excited once he realized that they were really leaving today. Both boys scarfed their breakfast and paced as Daddy finished some things he needed to do before they left. Tired of waiting, they finally climbed into the car and buckled themselves into their carseats. There they sat, waiting patiently, for nearly 10 minutes. They had a box of toys and books between them on the seat, and they talked excitedly about needing to share the "good stuff" while on the road. Lunches were packed and put in the car, then off they went.

Twice during the drive, Jim called home. On the speakerphone both times, I could hear the boys in the back seat. They thought it was hilarious to hold a conversation with me while they were in the car. Both times they promised that they were behaving, and Jim confirmed it. He said they were great travelers and that he enjoyed their company on the 500 mile drive. Now they're safely ensconced in my sister's basement, playing with cousins, visiting with an aunt and uncle, and spending time with their brother. They'll play and talk, read and run, and generally have a ball for the next two days. And hopefully they'll come home refreshed and fully charged from the time with Brent and Daddy.

After all, isn't that what having a REALLY big brother and an awesome Daddy is all about??

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SO blessed!

Thank you all for your kind words and your encouragement. I have been blessed beyond measure with friends, both "in real life" friends and cyber-friends. You have made a difference this week.

Thank you for being a blessing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

craniofacial clinic visit

See the scars on Logan's elbow and nose? Well, it seems that we should get used to them.

Yesterday, Logan had a visit to the Craniofacial Clinic at Children's. The reports were mostly good--everything looks great; he's healthy; no surgeries needed; and they don't want to see him again until next fall. That was the good news, and it came from all the doctors we saw. We were thrilled to know that what we see is truly what we get--a boy who is thriving physically.

The discouraging news came from the Speech Language Pathologist. Sara, the SLP, is an integral part of the Craniofacial team. As a a matter of fact, the SLP drives some of the medical decisions that are made about Logan's care, because she's the one who knows and understands how the procedures will affect his speech. Sara had great new for us: Logan does NOT need any revisions of his palate! His repair, though different than what would have been done here, is fairly complete and working like it should. She will continue to monitor it as he grows, but she believes that he may not need palate surgery ever. That was wonderful to hear. However, it was tempered by the discouraging news.

Logan has officially been diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. (For more information about CAS, look here.) In his case, he has both oral apraxia and verbal apraxia, which means that both his speech and his oral movement is affected. We see that in how he eats, how he manages ice cream cones and popsicles and suckers. Disappointing, yes, but it was not a huge surprise. The discouraging part comes with the talk of "cure" or "treatment." For the best chance, Logan really should have speech therapy as many as 4 or 5 times every week. It is best if he has that much speech from a single therapist in an individual setting rather than in group sessions. Right now, Logan has speech once a week. Getting more will be a major challenge. Fitting it into our schedule will be hard. No, nearly impossible. It's not that I don't WANT to go, it's that Logan is one of 5 children here and my time is spread amongst them all. There are, after all, only so many hours in a day! :) Plus, each session has a copay, and to add more costs to an already tight budget will be hard too.

Along with a diagnosis of CAS comes the likelihood of auditory processing disorder, or central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) as it is known. It is a problem of interpreting the messages received by the brain, and Logan displays many of the characteristics of a child with CAPD. Because of his age, it's hard to get an "official" diagnosis at this time, but everything points to CAPD compounding his CAS. In a nutshell, it means that we have a little boy who doesn't always understand things coming in, and can't always get his mouth or his muscles (limb apraxia) to do what he'd like them to do. (Check out this post for that news. Since it was written, we have discovered that his fine motor skills are affected too. The things he does well, like cutting and copying, are likely 'splinter skills,' skills that develop out of sequence. They are frequently not transferable, and that's true in Logan's case. Just because he can write the letters in his name doesn't mean he can use those same muscle movements for another activity.)

Honestly? It's been a tough day. Hard to watch this little boy who so desperately wants to be like his siblings, to talk, walk, run, and play like Ryan, and know that without years of hard work, he won't make it. Even harder is knowing that even WITH years of hard work, he'll likely never totally overcome all the obstacles. The hardest part is that there's very little we can do. I know he's better off here, where we can (and will!) work with and for him to get him every service we possibly can. I know that he will succeed. I know that we've already readjusted some of our expectations, and set our targets for him in different places. Out for my run this morning, I found myself in tears as I poured out my frustration to God. We've got a lot on our plates right now, and Logan is just one piece. I'm feeling overwhelmed. But even as I struggle, I know that God is in control. This time, these struggles...they're here as part of the refining process. Now, if I can keep MY focus where it belongs--looking toward God instead of inward at the difficulties--it will also be a time of growth. These are mountains I can't climb. But He made them, and He can get us over them!

By Bebo Norman

God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near calm my fear and take my doubt
Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
of the mountains I can't climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Don't forget to pack the camera...

...or you'll miss capturing once in a lifetime shots when you're visiting friends and family!

We spent Friday and Saturday in Newberg, renewing friendships, watching soccer, and power shopping. The weather was glorious; the company was marvelous. The power shopping is mostly done and Hailey's nearly ready to head off to UW in a couple of weeks. But I should have taken my camera. Yes, it would have been wonderful to get a picture of my friend and her daughter. Yes, it would have been fun to have pictures of my niece playing soccer. Pictures of Jim and his friend heading off to watch football? Yep, those too. But the one I REALLY wish I could have taken is the one that's hard to believe without a picture.

You see, when we left soccer and headed to pizza, we stopped at a stoplight on Highway 99 in Newberg. Waiting to turn left, I was letting my mind wander as the cars drove past. But something coming caught my eye. It was big--like 10 or 12 feet tall. (Actually, it's 15 feet tall) It was on a flatbed trailer. I looked again...couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was a WOOLLY MAMMOTH heading through town! Of course, even if I'd had my camera I wouldn't have been able to get it out quick enough to get a picture. But there it was, riding down the road on this trailer. An iron frame with twisted strands hanging down, a long trunk, and tusks that were probably 6 feet long--it was quite a sight. I glanced at Hailey, who looked at me and said, "Tell me we're really seeing this. A woolly mammoth in Newberg? What gives??" Of course we both knew it wasn't real, but it isn't every day that you see a woolly mammoth riding through town. If only I had pictures...

And there was one more time I needed my camera. For 23 years, Jim has INSISTED that he hates rhubarb. Grumbles if I bring it home. Gripes about having to have it in his car or in his house (teasingly, of course, but still...) Friday night, Aunt Rachel made a delicious rhubarb crisp. I LOVE rhubarb crisp and was hoping that there would be an offer. Of course, there was--Aunt Rachel is the consummate hostess. :) Anyway, I quickly accepted, then watched with a smile as Jim politely declined, saying that he didn't care for rhubarb. Immediately, he was challenged: "When was the last time you tried it?" Sheepishly, he admitted that it had been many years. More than 25, since he's never eaten it in my presence!! I took him to the kitchen and gave him a small bite off my plate. And guess what? He liked it! The look on his face was absolutely priceless!! Almost as amazing as seeing a woolly mammoth on Highway 99....

The lesson? Never go out without the camera. You never know what you might wish you had in pictures.

The woolly mammoth we saw driving through town. This pic was taken in Fossil, OR, where the "creature" apparently lives...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

waxing philosophical

"...and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14b

Those words keep going through my mind as I review Logan's ongoing issues. I've been having a bit of a pity party the last week or two--watching Logan struggle through his OT sessions, seeing him agonize over the pronunciation of words, and listening to him sob "I NEVER get this. It TOO HARD for me. I not smart." My heart breaks for him, and his hurt sends me ever searching for answers, solutions, help...ANYTHING to fix my guy. And as I thought about the words in Esther, I kept asking "Why God? What purpose is this going to serve--for him or for us?"

Friday morning I answered an email from a friend and shared with her some of our struggles with Logan. Her response blew me away! "I tried to call you, but no answer. My 9 year old son S*** was diagnosed with apraxia when he was 4 years old. I will be praying for you and would love to listen if you need to talk and process. We are celebrating him reaching the point of only having 3 sounds to master!" Talk about amazing!! I love this gal and can't wait to talk to her. Her son is darling, and I would have never guessed that they had walked the exact road we're on now. As I thanked God for his provision of someone who understood, the words in Esther came to mind. All the grumbling I've done about "Why us? Why Logan?" now has a much clearer answer: for such a time as this. I knew my friend had been down the path of multiple therapies for her son, but I didn't know what or how long. I can imagine she's had days like we have had, and I am so grateful for her! Someday, somehow...God will use our experience with Logan to encourage someone else on this path. And so we press on, trusting that God can use EVERYTHING to make a difference in the world.

Today I'm standing in the kitchen prepping peaches for canning. Brent's in Boise, Hailey's visiting her best friend at college, Emily and Tori are spending the night with friends, and Jim took Ryan and Logan on a flying adventure with a co-worker. Peeling peaches is not necessarily my favorite job, yet this morning I've had time to think and reflect. I've spent some time thinking about a comment I overheard some time ago: "There's no such thing as quiet faith. In order to be effective, faith has to be vibrant, visible, and loud." That hurt when I heard it, because I'm an introvert. I prefer small groups of people. I'm not loud. I prefer being behind the scenes. And that comment felt like a slap in the face, dissing who I am. Even though it wasn't directed AT me, it still stung. And I've spent time on and off thinking about it. Today, slicing peaches, something occurred to me. There IS a place for those of us who are quiet. For those of us who don't "live out loud." I want my faith to be visible, but I don't need to change who I am in order for God to use me. I'm not confrontational. I'm not "in-your-face" But this morning, God confirmed again that my quiet faith is important, that is does make a difference. A gal shared with me that I had made quite an impression on her with my steadfastness, my dependability, my attitude of "just do the next thing." I'll probably never be the life of the party. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I want to be! But there is a place for those of us who are more quiet. It's taken me a long time to get here, but I now recognize that quiet faith is sometimes louder than the vibrant, visible, loud kind. After all, didn't the commercial say "If you want to get someone's attention...whisper." Apparently my whisper is making a difference for someone. :)

Enough philosophy! I'm off, back to the kitchen. Gonna crank up the CDs, turn on the canner, and finish my peaches.