Tuesday, November 27


i know i'm a little late on the thanksgiving posts, but it's still november, so i am in the clear. right? ok, good.

so this year, i am thankful for choices. i think a lot of times i dwell on what i don't love about my life at a particular moment in time. but when i step back and look, i realize i am only dwelling on the negative because i have a genuine choice or opportunity to go a different direction. those choices may not always be realistic or possible in the moment, but they are there.

i am thankful that jason has a job that provided us with the choice for me to work or not. i am thankful that i found a job that i like and had the opportunity to make a choice of working or not.

i am thankful for the choices of doctors that we have for hiba. i am thankful that we were able to make the choice to get her tested, to have her evaluated, and for the resources that made that all possible.

i am thankful that i can choose where i want to live. i am thankful that, even though i don't love everything about the house we have, it is because we have the choice to look at other houses. i am thankful that i can choose to run the heater at night or use a big down comforter. i am thankful that i can choose which warm pjs to put on my kids. i am thankful that i can choose if we want to have them share a room or have their own rooms. i am thankful that i can choose which house project i want to do first.

i am thankful that we can choose how to save our money. not just how to spend our money, because there is a lot of room to make fun choices there as well. but how to save it, as well. i am thankful that we have dreams and ideas of things to do, things that will create memories and a fun life for us and our kids, and that we get to choose which of those to pursue at a certain time.

i am thankful that we can choose what treatment options we want for hiba. i am thankful that we live in a place that has so many different options available to choose from. i am thankful that we have the ability to choose where she goes, what she needs, and how we think we can help her best.

i am thankful that i get to choose how to give our time and money. sometimes it seems overwhelming, all of the good things we want to support. but i am so thankful that we have the time and money to help support some things and that we have to make the choices about who and what we support. i am thankful for the thoughtfulness and conversations that those choices bring, and the way they help me look at my life and see what is important to me.

i'm sure there are a lot more choices that i make everyday, without even realizing how lucky i am to have to make those choices. there are the obvious things like what food to eat, what clothes to wear, how high to have the heater on in the car, if i want to go out to lunch or not, what tv show i want to watch. but i am also thankful for the less obvious choices. like realizing that i get to choose to pay for our sewer line instead of going on vacation, but i don't have to choose between paying that and eating. i get to choose to keep our crv, even though i don't like it, but i don't have to choose between walking and riding a bus. i get to choose to be content in our house right now even though there are more exciting choices that we may get to make down the road - choices that will take work and may seem annoying, but that are choices that so many people don't get to make.

now the challenge is to continue to be thankful for those choices. to continue to be content with what i have, when i have it, and realize how blessed i am, even when i have to choose between two things that i really want. most of the time those are not two things that i need, but things that i want. choices of leisure is not something that i want to take for granted, and something that i often do. so i am thankful for all the choices in my life and hope to continue to focus on the fact that i have choices, not the fact that i don't always get everything that i want.

Monday, November 26

thanksgivning recap

we had a great thanksgiving break. so much to be thankful for right now, and hopefully that will come soon in another post. with matthias being sick at the beginning of the week, i got sort of an extended break, even if i did have to work on wednesday. jason had the whole day off thursday, and then only had to work friday night, so we got a lot of family time, a lot of relaxing time, and a lot of fun time.

thursday morning kicked off with watching the macy's parade and cooking up a storm, since we spend wednesday night out with friends instead of actually getting ready for thanksgiving. totally worth it though. and everything got cooked in plenty of time.

the parade was a big hit
making a thanksgiving card - a picture of mommy and the pool, the two things she is thankful for.
we had thanksgiving meal with jason's family, which is always fun and there is always so. much. food. we still have enough leftovers to feed a small village.
beating up aunt lizzie
tryptophan strikes again
the rest of the weekend was spent doing little things around the house, raking leaves, cleaning, watching football, things like that. it's nice to have time to get those things done and still have time to relax.

saturday, matt and ashley - two of our best friends from the barnabas days - came to visit. it was so fun to see them and catch up on life.

love these people!
breakfast of champions. yes, that is bacon in the bloody mary.

Wednesday, November 21

this week (or a little longer) in review

 Ozark Rugby Tournament. A whole weekend of rugby to wrap up the season.

date night with hiba - reading at the library, followed by dinner at chickfila.

hiba talking to herself in the reflection.
thanksgiving feast at preschool!

"don't take my picture, mom!".

birthday party at build-a-bear with friends from preschool.

sick day for matthias, which hiba talked me into letting her stay home for as well. it was actually a good day. they played well together when matthias was feeling well, and hiba and i had a good time together when he was sleeping.

making rolls for thanksgiving
oobleck! (cornstarch and water)
hiba's rock collection
and matthias'. i'm pretty sure it was just one big rock.
building a christmas tree and listening to christmas music.
and now, it's time for thanksgiving! time flies when you're having fun!

Friday, November 9

a slow opening rose

i started volunteering with teen mops two years ago. when i volunteered, i figured that it would be a once in a while thing that i helped out at as needed. but that first meeting sucked me in. and so now, in the third year of helping, i'm co-leading the group.

the first two years were rough. not a lot of organization, not a lot of outside support, not a lot of volunteers, not a lot of feedback from the teen moms. it seemed like they were basically coming for the free stuff - food, diapers, baby clothes. many of them would talk through meetings, text, get up and walk out and come back ten minutes later. they would see what the food we had brought was and then leave to buy chips and coke. they would not really participate in many discussions. to be honest, by last may, i was about done.

but for some reason, i stayed. for some reason, i thought i would give it another shot.

and this year has been amazing.

we finally have a great team of plenty of volunteers. we have a childcare coordinator and enough help in the nursery. our baby store is literally overflowing with donated items. we have diapers each week.

and most importantly, we have a lot of teen moms who desperately need to hear about how Jesus loves them - and who are willing to listen. we are up to 22 girls on the roster. 22 young moms who have been coming, who participate in small groups, who help with set-up and clean-up, who pour their hearts out to us, who tell us thank you for how we are helping, who ask for Bibles so they can read them, who ask us to pray for them and their baby daddies, who are taking an active role in being better moms and making their babies lives better.

i know that serving God is not all about me (or even a little about me). i know we are asked to follow unconditionally, and often don't see the results of our work. but, every once in a while, God is gracious enough to allow us to see how we are part of His plan, how we are part of building His kingdom, and how we have helped to share His love. and that's what He has let me see this semester.

C is a young mom who joined our group last year. she has a little boy who she loves and is doing her best to be a good mom to. we know she wasn't going to school as regularly as she should and she wasn't very involved in the meetings. she didn't talk, she didn't answer questions, she would text or leave in the middle of speakers. we had some issues with her that made us question if she should be allowed to be part of the group. and honestly, i was kind of hoping she just wouldn't come back.

but she did come back. i don't know what clicked, but God did something in her life. she now gets to most meetings early to help with the store. she is the first one to offer to clean up after meetings. my co-leader goes to a teen mom group at C's high school once a month, and C is constantly talking up teen mops, saying how great it is, talking about how she is learning to pray for her son and learning how to be a better mom.

night and day.

i'm so thankful that God didn't give up on her like i would have. and i'm also humbled and thankful that he allows me to continue to be a part of his plan and to see that he doesn't give up on these girls.

Thursday, November 8

it's been a long week.

well, this week has been rather, um, crappy. for lack of a better description.

we realized on monday night that we needed our sewer line replaced. literally, a crappy realization.

we actually realized this a few months ago, but we've just been snaking out the clean-out valve anytime that the sewer backs up into our bathtubs. and by we, i totally mean jason. i had nothing to with any of it.

but monday night, after two hours of trying to get it unclogged, in the dark and the rain, we came to the conclusion that now is the time. unfortunately, this was realized at 8 p.m., after the kids were in bed and the toilets were backed up. so, thankfully we have super awesome family close by, and we loaded up the kids and headed to jason's parents' for the night. the whole chaos was only made better by hiba and matthias getting up at 5:30 a.m. on tuesday. which i should complain about just as much as i complain about snaking out the valve since jason totally had that situation covered as well.

tuesday was a long day. luckily, we found a great plumber who had already looked at the problem and was in the process of giving us an estimate. he also said that even though he probably couldn't get to it till friday, he would come and reuter it out for us, so it would be functional until he could fix it. but after a long morning, a super long day at work, a mix-up with the car-seats when they were needed in one car but far away in another, the sun setting at 5 p.m. thanks to the stupid time change, and the plumber not being there at 6 when i finally got home - i was about to lose it. but, thanks to an super awesome friend, a quick trip to target, and dinner at senior tequilas, the day was survived. and the plumber did come that evening, so we were able to stay at our own house.

the plumber ended up being able to come on wednesday, which was great. and he finished in two days, and we were able to stay at our house because he made it functional by the end of the first day. so other than the thousands of dollars that we got to spend on the job (which was still literally thousands less than we thought it would be based on an early estimate), it was pretty painless once we got the process started.

what? you don't have a huge trench and small backhoe in your yard? 
and now, we are back home, with a brand new sewer line, and we get to enjoy these, which jason so thoughtfully got me on monday as an extended birthday celebration, right before all the literal shit hit the proverbial fan.

Thursday, November 1

happy halloween!

yesterday was "super crazy day!", according to hiba. halloween definitely lived up to expectations this year, and i think even exceeded them in many cases. here are the highlights:

-hiba actually getting a costume that lived up to the picture in her head. she wanted to be "super hiba", but i am not crafty, nor do i plan ahead, so i'm pretty surprised that i pulled it off. i only pulled it off because of some last-minute, much needed help from my mother-in-law - ya know, little things like making the cape, mask, and belt. it's only 3/4 of the outfit.

super hiba!
 -trick-or-treating at preschool. the kids paraded around the building, which was super cute. matthias refused to wear most of his costume, but he is easily bribed with candy, so he stuck his hat on for a minute.

-halloween parties at pre-school. pre-school sure takes some of the pressure of when it comes to holidays. they have the party thing covered there.

-dinner and trick-or-treating with friends. we went over to john and carol's, which was so fun. utter chaos was the name of the game, but why have it any other way?

-matthias, once again, realizing the greatness that is trick-or-treating. after each house, he would ask if we were going back to john and carol's. when i told him no, he would get super excited and say "we get MORE candy?!?". each time. he was thrilled. 

matthias did eventually let me take pictures of him. he's a pretty great looking pirate. especially with his ratty, un-brushed, uncut hair. we totally did that on purpose. ya know, to add to the costume. 

i didn't get a great picture of hiba (mom fail!), because i was too focused on getting a good shot of matthias, who was too focused on refusing to wear his whole costume and/or look at the camera all at the same time. he wanted to be a pirate, but didn't want to wear his eye patch, hat, belt, or sword. hiba did love her costume (and wanted to wear it again today), but i kept getting distracted and forgot to get a good picture of her. but, you can still tell that she's pretty awesome looking.

and now, hiba announced to me this morning that it is fall again (apparently halloween is not fall) and my birthday is tomorrow, which is way more awesome than halloween. i may or may not have been feeding her that line throughout the week. :-)


so hiba has been great lately.

i realized the other day that i cannot even remember the last time she had a full hand-shaking-falling-to-the-ground-kicking-screaming-hyperventilating meltdown. and i really can't think of many little meltdowns that she has had recently. and that is something that i have not been able to say for a long time.

i think being at easter seals as has a lot to do with it. her day is relatively scheduled; she has plenty of time to play with friends and interact with people, but also has lots of time to be by herself and swing if she needs it; she has one-on-one time to work on being flexible with plans, following others' directions, and bending "the rules". and because of this, i think the level of anxiety that she has in life has dropped dramatically. so she still doesn't love it when we change dinner plans or she skips a bath on her bath schedule, but she is able to with little fits and low anxiety, because so much of her life is structured now.

there are still things that we are constantly working on - staying on task, not worrying about everyone else following the rules, not putting everything in her mouth - but i think that's how life is going to look for us. we will find her help where she needs it and constantly be helping her to figure out how she can best cope with living life in this chaotic world. and for right now, that is working well.

which, actually, stresses me out. because in a few short months (eek!!), we will have to make some pretty big decisions about where she will be going to school next year, what services we want for her, and all that good stuff. and from an outside perspective, she looks like she is doing great. because she is doing great. but i think it's because of the services and structure that she is constantly getting that she is doing great. take that away and i would bet a million bucks that it would be back to meltdowns and anxious eyes. so i'm just nervous about having to ask for things that it doesn't look like she needs. i'm worried that she has made so much "progress" this year that she won't get the help she needs next year. i'm worried that since she is fitting in so well with her regular class that she won't get the individualized attention that i think is helping her so much this year. i've read on other autism blogs that progress is such a double edged sword - it's great to see, but at the same time it's often because of services provided, services that could be taken away once progress is made. so while i am glad to see her doing so well, it also makes me nervous.

the good news is that hiba is at a great school right now, one that has teachers and administration who really know her and who have seen her over the months and who will be advocates for us when we transition to public school next year. they will be able to see the progress she has made and know, much better than me, how that relates to the services and how it relates to her growing and learning. i think a lot of times, i don't give her enough credit for things she can handle because i don't want to stress her out. so i'm glad that we have a good team on our side for when this transition will happen.

so for now, i'll focus on the good. hiba loves school. she talks about her friends. i see her playing with, not always just next to, peers. she loves her teachers. she thrives on the structure of her days. she is less anxious. she is getting more flexible. and those are all good things.