Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I can't do this . . .

How many times have you heard someone say, "I can't do this!" How many times have you heard about a situation that you thought, "I could never survive that happening to my family."

Daily I read Mamapundit's blog and read about her continuing journey to find justice for her son Henry who died of a drug overdose and a beating. I think. "Wow, how could I survive that?"

Daily I read Lori's blog over at Random Ramblings of a SAHM and read about dealing with the aftermath of her husband's suicide. A suicide he committed in front of her. How does one continue on after something like this?

I read so many Trauma Mama blogs that make me laugh, cry and hyperventilate daily. I can hardly imagine living in some of your shoes. You all have taught me so much. Whether you know it or not, you all have taught me that I can't do this alone. No one can. We need each other. We need support. We need to share our stories for those who are still coming.

When I take a step back I look and the things that I have been through, the trials we have already come through are all things I thought I could never handle. You do what you have to. You keep moving. You hang on by your nails and you fight. You fight for your family, for your child and for your sanity. You make it through because you have to. There is no going back, there is only forward.

Sometimes forward is hard and ugly and frightening, but it is the only way through. And perhaps you can breathe on the other side a bit better than you could before. You will make it. You have to. There is no other option. You do what you have to. You keep on plugging ahead, dragging your family with you because you have to.

Thanks for being here on my journey. Sometimes I am dragging, sometimes I am walking and sometimes we are flying. Each day is a brand new adventure. It may not always be fun, but it is mine.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

He has changed me . . .

I don't know if it is me getting older, or me getting wiser, but I think I am growing up. Hitting 40 last year was easy on me as I never have really panicked over my age. It's gonna happen whether or not I fret about it. I still feel like I am 20 in my head. But lately I have found myself with much more compassion that I have ever had before. I see things that would've typically thrown me for a loop and had me snickering and/or complaining about someone else and now I find myself thinking more positive thoughts about them. I see myself "cutting them some slack". I find myself looking for reasons instead of pot shots. I search their eyes looking for the good in the situation.

I would like to think it is me growing older and wiser, but perhaps it is me understanding my son and his disability. Perhaps I am finding that while I see others making assumptions about us and our parenting skills I am understanding what it feels like to be on that side of things.

I had a talk with Dustin this weekend that I am sure I will have to have many, many times in the future. It is a talk that I think is important enough to repeat over and over. We were working in the backyard and I had given him some stuff to take around front to the trash. I had no realized his sister was in the front yard. They are like oil and water. While she is is staunch advocate when someone messes with him, she really likes to irritate him to no end. They got into a scuffle at the trash can. In the 30 seconds it took me to put the rake down and head out the fence toward them it had already grown to a feverish pitch and he was whining at the top of his lungs. Turns out he had thunked her on the hand with a board and she was refusing to let him pass her and come back to me. He was in tears and jumping up and down, whining, hollering "Let me through you big meany!" She is 7 and he is taller than me. It was quite amusing.

I got him in the backyard. Of course the entire way he was hollering and whining. I got him quiet and asked him to think about something for a minute. I began by asking him about the kids in his class at school who "look different". We talked about the ones in the wheelchairs. We talked about his friend "T" who is physically disabled and drools constantly. We talked about people looking at them and immediately knowing they are different. I explained that we can look at his wheelchair friends and know right away that they cannot walk up the stairs. It is obvious they are different, not lesser, just different.

Then I asked him about our neighbors. We live in an area that has a lot of rentals. There are people that have moved in over the winter that have yet to be introduced to our brand of crazy live and in person. I asked him if they looked outside and saw him what would they see? We talked about how they would see a handsome, tall, teenager. They wouldn't know just by looking at him that his "brain is broken" from FAS. They would expect him to act like the 16 year old's they know. I explained that his disability is hidden inside him and people don't always understand that. I told him that if the neighbors had just been watching him with his little sister they wouldn't understand why he was whining and carrying on like a 4 year old. I explained that he needs to learn to control these types of outbursts in public, not because we care what others think, but because we don't need people in our business. He shook his head in understanding.

He said, "I acted like a baby.". I explained that I could sometimes throw baby-fits too, but I try to keep them private! He laughed.

I want him to understand that how we act when others are looking is impportant. I don't want him ashamed of his disability, but I want him to learn some self control. I expect the same from his siblings who are "typical". I want to temper that with the realization that when we look at other's outward appearance we are judging them with blinders on. We have no idea what their background is, their disability is or their day has been like. We cannot possibly understand the load they may be carrying. I want to teach my children to look at others with compassion and help.

Hard . . .

This is a hard row to hoe. Living with kids like ours, kids of trauma, is just plain HARD. I got a plee from a mom last night on facebook to call her. She is struggling. Talking to her I realized once again that we are just as traumatized as our kids.

Our kids share similar diagnosis.

Our kids share similar trauma.

Our kids both have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her's is a bit higher functioning than mine when it comes to IQ. I have said before that sometimes a lower IQ is a blessing in disguise. We qualify for some different services when it comes to school. Thankfully Dustin has fewer expectations at school and qualifies for a 1:1 aide. Hers does not.

Tonight when I called, I heard her desperation. Her frustration that she cannot help him. Her sadness that the world does not understand. She mentioned reading my blogs and asked me how I do it. How do I do this day to day and not lose it.

I admitted I am a failure.

I go to bed nightly thinking I could've done so many things differently. I could've tried harder, had more patience, said nicer things.

I lose my cool. I say things I shouldn't. I am not perfect.

But I keep moving forward. I have to. For him, for my other kids, for all of us. We start each new day with a clean slate. We start over with a new perspective. We give it one more shot.

We can advocate for our kids. We can fight for services. We can beg and plead for help. When it comes down to it, we are left alone to deal with the aftermath of the trauma they suffered as children. We can make it better, but it will never ever go away. My child's brain damage caused by alcohol in utero will not repair itself. We have to cut them some slack. Why shouldn't we cut ourselves the same slack?

It's hard. It may not be what I signed up for, but I keep going. What other choice do I have? You do what you have to and hope you get another day to do it a little bit better than the last.

It's hard. It's what I do.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Updates all around . . .

Robert . . . the husband. He is my rock. He is the eternal optimist. He always reminds me that things will work out for the best, and if they don't we will deal with it as it comes. I could not be who I am without him. He puts up with my crazy OCD, the kid's quirks and keeps us all fed and most importantly does all the dishes! I think God every day for giving him to me.

Dustin . . . Sixteen. Hormones of a sixteen year old with the brain of a 5 year old. Lord have mercy. Honestly, the hormones are no as bad as I had imagined. He is quick to whine and cry if he does not get his way. He is very helpful around the house and has several jobs he does regularly. He loves to help and this will typically distract him from something he is obsessing over. He is loving and kind for the most part. He is really struggling with what I consider attachment issues right now. He is constantly saying we don't love him and he wishes he lived elsewhere when he does not get his way. He still needs constant supervision especially around the other children and our animals, as well as with his 1:1 aide at school.

Harrison . . . almost nine years old. Where did the time go? He is smart as a whip and has the personality to match. He can be quick to anger when he is annoyed and likes to throw things when he gets mad (much like his mother used to as a child) He continues to amaze his teacher with his reading and comprehension levels. He is terribly sweet and loves to snuggle. He loves to play logic games and puzzles on the computer. The boy has a steel trap for a brain and can remember just about anything including tons of jokes! He loves to make people laugh!

McCarntey . . . seven. She is a joy. She loves to help and take care of people. She is a snuggler and loves to sit on daddy's lap no matter if he is one the computer or watching tv. She has to know what everyone is doing. She is nosey and bossy. She is a true girly girl and loves to dress up, sometimes wearin 2 different outfits per day. She is messy and disorganized (much like her mother at a young age) but always knows where everything is. She is funny and likes to make others laugh with silly faces. She can be shy and yet outgoing. She is a sweet child with a streak of orneriness!

I love my little chickies to pieces!

Gravy . . .

This weekend was a difficult one. Dustin is testing the boundaries. He is visibly anxious about vacation and is quite irritable. I tried my best to keep him busy on Saturday so that he could be distracted. Yesterday I began to get some things around for the packing so the anxiety amped up a bit. Robert was terribly kind and let me nap the afternoon away. I really needed that! The littles did a good job of keeping themselves busy so that the house was a bit calmer on Sunday.

I am certain we will see more anxiety today. I am going to start laying out clothing tonight. I hope to get his pills in him a little earlier than usual so he will go to sleep earlier.

At school they are doing a unit on taking care of children. He is convinced he will get a job babysitting in the near future. Lord help us all! They have made babies out of sacks of flour which he and his partner named "Oil". Swear. to. goodness. When I asked him about it he said it was named after the baby in Popeye. It took me a while to realize he meant Olive Oil and then I reminded him the baby was named "SweePea". He said, "oh, yeah." Robert and I have been quietly referring to the baby as "Gravy" (get it, oil and flour make gravy?!) It cracks me up, and sometimes laughter is by far the best medicine.

Anyway, this obsessions with babysitting is killing me! I love that they are teaching the kids skills, but there has to be some sort of tempering the learning with realistic expectations of what these kids are going to be able to handle. Dustin will NEVER be able to take care of a baby. It nearly makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. I cannot even leave him unsupervised with his 7 & 8 year old siblings! I understand the principle, but when a child like mine gets an idea in their head, it is difficult to get them past it! I immediately become the bad guy because I won't let him babysit and earn money taking care of kids. He gets angry and shouts at me when I tell him that is just not going to happen anytime soon (likely never). It just make me weary.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foster Care newbies . . .

There is a blog that I have in my google reader that I am really not sure how I came across it. Do you have those? They really don't fit in with your typical reads, and you are not quite sure how you got referred there, or why you ever added them in the first place? In my experience, I typically remove them from my reader if they are not "my cup of tea", but some remain because they have good insights and write well even if they are not truly a "part of my world".

There is one in blog in particular who has now moved into a territory I know far too much about. This particular family has a really good heart and has felt called to be foster parents. I recall all too well the yearning of wanting help kids in need and to become a part of a system that helps kids find a way back to a home that is now healthy or to a forever new home. I remember the excitement and the anticipation of being able to be a part of the solution. Do all you foster parents remember that? The point where you thought the system helped? Before you realized how terribly broken the system is? When you thought you could keep your young children safe? When you thought your family would be touted as "saviors" instead of being ostracized for being different even by your own family?

While I still encourage them to do what they feel called to do, I just think they would want a dose or reality. I would've LOVED to go into foster care with a heads up that all is not peachy keen. I would've LOVED someone to tell me that social workers lie. They you don't get the whole story. I wish someone had told me that I CANNOT make a child go to church who refuses. I wish someone would've told me that not everyone involved in the system is on MY side. I would've LOVED to go into fostering with my eyes wide open. Perhaps I could've kept my child safe from a perpetrator put into my home without my knowledge. Perhaps I would've known what questions to ask. Perhaps I would've not felt so very cheated by the system I thought was helping the children with my help. I could've be prepared.

Sometimes that dose of reality is a bitter pill to swallow. This family thinks it is a stumbling block placed in the way by Satan. Maybe it is a learning opportunity placed in their way by God. Maybe He wants them to slow down and learn before they do what they are truly called to do.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

F-You FAS . . .

I am tired. Tired of dealing with the impulsivity. Tired of the constant chatter. Tired of the fight or flight responses. Tired of the dysregulation. Just. Plain. Tired.

Dustin is really having a difficult time that I have attributed to the fact that we are leaving for vacation in a few days. While he enjoys going on vacation, he does still have some issues with leaving home. He does not feel as safe as he does at home. Things are different, routines changed, he does not know exactly what to expect. This all makes for a crazy cocktail! It does help that we are staying in the same exact condo we did last year. He has asked me about 100 times if it is the same. I have assured him that it is the same place.

Regardless of if I know the reasons, it is still really, really, REALLY hard to deal with on a daily basis. I am not sure that those of you who do not have kids with FAS or with trauma issues can possibly understand how very big of a pain it truly is. Logic does not work, no amount of patience can prepare you for it. You just have to live through it.

Right now I am in a good place. Two days ago I was not sure I could take anymore. We have gone from the obsession with food, to the obsession with the animals to stealing anything and everything he can get his hands on in a mere 3 weeks. Typically these cycles can take 4-5 weeks to ebb and change, but they are on full speed ahead! I am just tired.

Two days ago we stood in the middle of our street with the special ed bus blocking traffic with the STOP arm hanging out while I emptied his coat pockets of food he had stuffed them with. It was not fun and the screaming coming from his mouth was definitely drew the attention of the neighbors. Keep in mind that he is now a full inch or two taller than me, and I am going through his pockets in the middle of the one way street at 8:30 in the morning. Ugh! I called the school and gave them a head's up about the incident thinking he would get off the bus in a foul mood, and the teacher told him I called which made him even more angry at me. I cannot win!

I hope that with all this happening now that we will have a wonderful vacation. He loves the beach and the water and I expect to be planting my butt in the chair in the sand for the week. He can walk up and down the shore with his net and try to catch fish in his bucket all his little heart desires. He will talk to himself and ignore everyone around him all day on the beach. He will chase the sea birds and swear he sees sharks and dolphins in the water. I no longer care that he looks like a "normal" 16 year old boy and seems completely nuts! I want him to enjoy himself. For the most part, he will tire himself out in the pool before dinner and he will eat and go straight to bed after some tv. The smaller kids will sleep at my mom's condo so I don't have to worry about him bothering them in the middle of the night. He doesn't mind them not being there because he will get all our attention. The next day, we will do it all again. I pray he does not run, and I hope he has a good time.

We sure could use one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Crock Pot Dinner . . .

Today, I made a new crock pot recipe. It was super easy and everyone enjoyed it!

I put 2 cans of cream of chicken soup in the crock pot. I added a full can of water and 2 T of lemon pepper seasoning. I wisked this together well. Then, I tossed some boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot and cooked on low for 6-8 hours.

We served ours over mashed potatoes and it was fabulous!

Easy Peasy!

A wonderful surprise . . .

I was contacted a week or so ago about trying out Easy Canvas Prints. I ordered a canvas from a competitor over the holidays and I found their customer service lacking and when they had to ship me a replacement canvas, it was tossed in an envelope with no padding and nothing to protect it from the moisture so it was warped. I was less than thrilled. Out of the three canvas (two ordered and one replacement) one had warped wood due to bad packing, one was stapled badly and had to be replaced, and one came with no hangers. My mom's canvas made a tour around the eastern United States before it found it's way here.

Anyway, I placed an order with Easy Canvas Prints last week. I chose a 16x20 canvas. The one thing I liked right away was that you could chose to either wrap the image over the edges or not. I liked the option of not wrapping it and chose a black border for the edges. They also offered a 3/4 inch wrap and an 1 1/2 inch wrap. That way, if you chose not to frame the canvas it creates a bit more of a presence. I did want to frame it, so I chose the smaller wrap to match the others that I had at home.

Their turn around time was quite fast. They processed my print quickly and I received my canvas only 3 days after I was sent the email saying it was on it's way. I arrived Saturday by FedEx. The box was much larger than the canvas. The canvas was wrapped in plastic and taped to the inside of the box, suspended from the center of the box so that even had it been dropped the canvas would've been protected. I was thrilled with the quality for the canvas. It felt sturdy and the canvas felt thick. I loved it.

I will definitely order from them in the future! You should too! I added a link to the Easy Canvas Prints website over to the right in my sidebar. Right now they are offering 25% off and free shipping.

The large canvas is the new one, next to the two from the other company.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend fun . . .

Dustin is unable to ride a bike due to his balance and coordination issues. We tried and tried. He even did a full year of physical therapy specifically for learning to ride a bike. It never worked. When we originally qualified for this program I considered getting him a 3 wheel bike. But then I thought that may be a bad idea since he would have to obey traffic rules and watch for traffic etc. His low IQ would complicate that as well as his impulsivity making it an accident waiting to happen.

We decided on a tandem and received it last week. I took it out with Dustin for the first time on Thursday. It was awesome! We only rode about 4 blocks, but it was wonderful. He was able to peddle without having to worry about balance. He freaked out, but he did really well. I cried that my boy rode a bike for the first time at 16 years old. I was touched.

This Saturday I decided we were going to take a real ride. Our city has a wonderful system of trails that are paved that wind all over the city near our three rivers. It's called the River Greenway and there are 2 portions very near our house. We took off and rode and rode. It was awesome until I realized I had to ride back home. Ugh! I had the bright idea to leave the Greenway and loop back through downtown to our home. I had no idea it was that hilly! I am so out of shape!

We stopped a couple times so this asthmatic could catch her breath. Then I decided I had to get off the bike and sit down. I got off, sat on the park strip and laid down. It was a glorious sunny day. I thought I was going to die! LOL I actually considered calling Robert to come meet us and switch me places! I decided to put on my big girl panties and make it home! Dustin kept saying, "Mom you can do this! I believe in you!" It was funny and so very cute.

He did really well. He pushed hard and really pedaled. We made it home. What seemed like forever was a little less than an hour. I can't wait until next time, we will rock!

I am so thrilled for my boy, who felt a little more normal this weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Retreats . . .

I understand the Orlando trauma momma's retreat went swimmingly, and the Utah retreat is shaping up, and while I would love to go to one of those, I likely will not. It isn't social anxiety either, I've got that covered! One, I have a hard time spending money for me. Two, I would not be happy leaving my family behind (and spending the money to do it - see a theme?)

I am not judging anyone who can by any means! I just wouldn't for my own reasons. I am THRILLED that you ladies that gone or will soon go have connected, felt rested and rejuvenated!

I say we make plans for a family meet-up that we can take our kids with us. That way, our kids can act crazy and we can connect. I say someone rents a campground or a few cabins in the north east-ish area or maybe even central (like Missouri) and put something together.

I know you wanna.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Run, Run, Run, Run, Runaway . . .

Dustin took off this Saturday. Robert was home alone with the younger two kids. I was photographing a child's birthday party. He had to call the police.

I live in fear that we one day soon they will tire of trying to hunt him down and they will take him to juvenile detention. This would be a very bad thing. They are ill-equipped to deal with his issues and his mental capabilities.

This time he was gone nearly a half hour. He was found in an abandoned house in our neighborhood. Nice.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Living Room . . .

This weekend I had to rearrange the living room. The sectional that we got a month or so ago only fit in one place until I moved the cable for the tv. It blocked the only window in that room that opens. I hated that. The dog hated that. She has taken to sitting on the top of my new sofa watching out the window. I HATE that. I am afraid she is going to ruin it.

Sunday, I decided it was time. Due to my OCD, when I decide it's time for something to happen, it must happen or it is constant running in my head. I moved everything out of the living room space yesterday with the exception of the armoire and the sectional. We have a very large and heavy armoire in there that has not been moved for years. It moved yesterday!

I had the opportunity to clean all the wood floor around the edges of the room that is not covered by the area rug! This made me terribly happy! (It's the little things) Everything in the room got a new placement. We have never had the TV on the eastern wall before so it seems so very weird, but it works. The windows are open, the sectional fits, and the dogs are happy. (that's all the truly matters!)

It did get me to thinking about recessed lighting. I would love to have some recessed lighting installed, but I have 12 ceilings. What do you think? Would that work? I would want something simple, but I am not sure it would work in my 120+ year old house.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Haircut! . . .

Harrison has been growing his hair out for about a year. It was getting kinda scraggly. His hair is babyfine and it just didn't look very good most of the time. Of course if I washed it, blew it dry and flat ironed it it was fine. But who has time for that with your 8 year old?? I asked if he would like a big kid haircut tonight and he agreed. I freaked out at first because it is NOT what I asked her to do, but I think it is cute.

What do you think?

Car conversation . . .

Harrison: Mommy, did you know I chew to a tune?

Me: What?

Harrison: When I chew, I chew to a tune. It is usually Campton Races.

Me: What other songs do you chew to?

Harrison: I have chewed to Bust a Move once and I chew to the Pledge of Allegiance too.

Me: Harrison you are an odd boy.

Harrison: Thank you.

Monday, March 07, 2011

A new me . . .

We are trying to make changes to our life. I am fat. Plain and simple. It however truly does not bother me. I am ok with who I am. I don't fret when I look in the mirror and I am comfortable with who I am and how I look. I would prefer to be smaller and more fit, but I don't stress too much about it. I am pretty stinkin' active and I don't think that my body holds me back from too much that I want to do.

I do however have small children and I would prefer to be around for a long time. I need to be more fit. I need to be even more active in a intentional way.

I have been changing the way I eat for about a year. It has been an evolution. I feel like I am eating better than I have in my whole life. I am not dieting, I am simply choosing better options, looking at portions, and trying to be conscious about when I am full. I am giving soda up this week. I have done it before and I fell off the wagon after about 6 months. This time is for real. It is hard and I really don't want to have to do it again.

A friend has been doing a T-tapp exercise program and it looks like it would meet my needs. "T-Tapp is a series of copyrighted, sequential movements designed to put the body in proper functional alignment. Its special sequence of comprehensive, compound muscle movement helps establish better alignment as well as increased strength and flexibility of the spine, better neuro-kinetic flow, lymphatic function, and increased metabolic rate. Its physical therapy approach to fitness makes it safe for those with shoulder, hip, knee, neck, and back concerns. Yet, it delivers a challenging workout for all fitness levels!" It seems right up my alley. Quick and to the point. It will kick my booty! I only have to invest 15 minutes per day and my hubby can do the same workout. Cindy and her husband are rocking the T-tapp! You can see some of her progress here. Looks pretty amazing! And with NO dieting, just intentional eating.

I have no desire to loose a ton of weight. I just want to be healthy and fit and perhaps a couple sizes smaller. We shall see, of course with my over-sharing personality, I will likely share the process and the progress with you all here. (whether you like it or not!)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Quinoa Tabbouleh . . .

Yesterday I attended a baby shower and had a wonderful quinoa tabbouleh. I decided to make some today since I has a date with the grocery store last night. I read about 6-7 recipes on web and kinda "winged" a combo of them.

I chopped up about 1 1/2 of flat leaf parsley
3 chopped roma tomatoes
1 chopped cucumber
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c lemon juice
2T of mint or more if you like
sea salt and white pepper to taste
pinch of garlic

I cooked 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups water and let it cool. Mixed all ingredients and I ate with blue corn chips.

Quinoa is a grain-like crop that contains a balanced set of amino acids with is a rare find in the plant world for a complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and high in magnesium and iron. It is great for those on a gluten free diet and is easy for your body to digest.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Sewing for baby . . .

I have a wonderful friend who is having another baby. Eeeek. I am so excited for her! I decided I wanted to make her something special from my sewing machine. I saw this tutorial for burp cloths over on Homemade by Jill quite some time ago and saved it in my star folder in Google Reader. I knew it was time.

I began by making the burp cloths in some super cute flannel fabric. The only changes I made was that instead of putting quilt batting in the middle, I used white fleece. It was something I had on hand and it was cheaper. I think they turned out super cute!

Then I decided she needed some matching bibs. I like this pattern (from the same link) because it's pretty tiny so it will work well for a newborn. (My friend loves turtles so this fabric is perfect!)

I decided she really needed a friend to play with so I also made a little stuffed fleece kitty. I got the idea from this post over on Obsessively Stitching. Care's are way cuter, but I like mine too, especially since they were an afterthought.

These onesies** were a take on the little tie applique onesies that I have seen around the web. I simply cut a heart (with the cute little turtle in the middle) and stuck it to the onesie with a piece of double sided fusible webbing for one and a butterfly shape for another. I then took 3 strands of embroidery floss and blanket stitched around the edge. (I found a cool tutorial that helps the stitches not to curl under the fabric here. ) The third one has some butt ruffles made out of the remaining polka dot fabric. I just sewed a tube, flipped it right-side out, ironed it flat and sewed it to the butt. While I was sewing, I took my seam ripper and scrunched up the fabric and pushed it under the presser foot. I think it is adorable!

The flowers are, of course, homemade flower head bands.

I also decided that I needed to make a matching receiving blanket. I have never quilted, but I did not have enough fabric to make a solid one so I decided to do a patchwork. I tried to get handy and put a border around it even though I am sure that there was an easier way to do it. I did a half hearted attempt at a google search for quilt bindings and in the end just decided to wing it. The back is simply white flannel. Since she is a spring baby, I decided not to do any batting. I stitched around all the patchworks on the top of the blanket and once it was together and flipped right side out I stitched 3 squares to hold it all together.

I am pretty proud of it! There is nothing like a soft, pink blankie to make me want to hold a baby!

** When I ran into Target for a pack of onesies, I run right into the expectant mommy that I am making it for. Her shower is a surprise! It was difficult to tell her I am buying onesies for a project. I don't think she was suspicious, I just thought it was funny!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Marriage . . .

Marriage is hard. I went into marriage knowing that divorce was not an option for me. I would fight tooth and nail to save my marriage, and while I know that the other person has some say in remaining in the marriage I knew I would do everything in my power to stay married.

Let me interrupt by saying that I am not saying that no one should get divorced. I know there are always reasons. I know there are things you cannot make the other person do. I understand that. This post is not meant to point fingers in any way! It is simply my story and my thoughts from my own personal experiences, you may have your own.

Marriage is hard. It is not all sunshine and lollipops. Two people cannot possibly understand one another and each others choices every moment of every day. There will always be miscommunication, misunderstandings and just plain grouchiness thrown in for good measure. That first year of marriage, when you are trying to really get to know one another, living as husband and wife, truly SUCKS.

Robert and I were married nearly 14 years ago. In that time we have both changed. We have changed due to experiences and through wanting to be a better person both for ourselves and each other. I am not the person that he married. Thank goodness! In those fourteen years, I was diagnosed with having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and went on medication, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had it removed. We have fostered children, adopted a child and had our own biological children. We have learned how to parent together. We have learned what sets one another off and what makes them happy. We have learned to understand subtle mood changes and learned when to support one another and when to back-off. We have learned that we cannot always agree but that we need to respect one another. We have learned that his sarcasm and my pessimism are a part of who we are and they are not going away anytime soon so we learn to deal with them and embrace them. All of these things changed us.

Marriage is not easy. It is a constant dance of give and take. I think the biggest breakthrough we had was about 6 months ago. I have always said things like, "You know that's how my brain works." But I don't think he ever really got it. We sat down and talked through different scenarios and I explained the way my brain processed the information, what I was thinking and how I came to the conclusions I did. I asked him to do the same. We talked at length about my OCD and how that throws a wrench into an already female mind! I think for the first time he understood that I was not being horrid and jumping to wrong conclusions just to be difficult but that it was a process and it was different from his. I learned that he was not just shutting down, but he processed things in a completely different manner which meant that he was sometimes coming to different conclusions. We finally understood one another. We understood which questions to ask to get our answers. We respected each others process. We stopped assuming we knew what the other was thinking.

At the time it really didn't seem that Earth shattering. But as we looked back, we realize how much smoother our life is today. Now, I don't want you thinking it wasn't good before that, we just realized that there is alot less misunderstandings that there were. I think for me it means we have more tolerance for him and how he thinks. The assumptions I may have made before just aren't valid any longer. I can't just assume he is being a "butt" just to make me mad, I can understand his thought process.

This is what marriage is to me. It is a constant process of growth. It is constant give and take. It is understanding that while you think you may KNOW someone, you really have no idea what is happening inside their noggin unless you understand how they function. I am thankful we have come to that point, it makes a good marriage into a wonderful marriage.

I think sometimes people think they "don't deserve" this or that, or they could "do so much better". But sometimes, I think that is terribly one sided. Yes, your spouse could be totally unsupportive, but how did it get that way? You cannot tell me that it was simply one sided. Perhaps there is some changing needed on both sides of the isle. Perhaps what you deserve is the chance to make it work instead of throwing it away. Had I listened to some advice I was given before I was diagnosed not only would I not be married today, but I wouldn't have the wonderful children I do. I chose to put my marriage before my selfishness and do everything I could to save it. Now of course that wouldn't have worked if Robert hadn't worked equally as hard to make it work. We both had a lot of learning to do. It all boils down to our willingness, we were willing.

I cannot imagine my life without Robert. He is a rock. He is the encourager. He is the optimist. He injects humor into every situation. I am happy we worked our butts off to stay together way back then. I am happy to be his wife.