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Archive for the ‘A Day In The Life’ Category

When God Tells You Who You Are BELIEVE Him!

The other day one of my kids came in the back door crying because someone called him a “big fat jerk”. I asked him if he was in fact a big fat jerk, and looking at the floor he slowly shook his head no. Hugging him I said that when people say bad or untrue things about him he should stand up tall, and confidently say “Those words are not true, and I don’t care what you say about me.”. I encouraged him to practice saying that sentence. The first time tears were still streaming down his cheeks and I could barely hear his voice. We said it again and again together until his head and shoulders were high and there was conviction and strength behind his words. We practiced because he could say that sentence 100 times, but until he really took it into his heart and BELIEVED it to be true, the words would have no power.

A short time later I found myself in a funk. I was anxious about all the never ending house hold chores I hadn’t completed. I felt insecure about looking older, and worried that I wasn’t spending enough time with my husband. I felt like I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids, teaching them enough, making them eat enough good foods. In short I felt unworthy of my house, my marriage, my children……basically my life. I allowed these thoughts to seep in through the cracks of insecurity and unworthiness in my heart, and pool together at the bottom of my soul leading to feelings of failure and despair.

Mercifully I was doing a women’s Bible study by Pricilla Shirer called “The Armor of God’, and the idea of using the “Helmet of Salvation” to “take every thought captive” was fresh in my mind. (An amazing Bible study that I highly recommend) I began to break down and evaluate these thoughts, and compare them with His truth as found in the Bible. I realized that most of these thoughts were rooted in lies of deception, guilt, and unworthiness. None of witch comes form God, and in fact are used by the Devil to deceive us and shield our minds from the truth.

Every time I identified a thought or someone else’s words as untrue I stopped what I was doing. Bound that untruth in my mind, and purposefully rejected it. I then asked the Holy Spirit to replace that lie by speaking truth to my soul. Over time I began to identify these lies more quickly, and I made room in my heart for God’s truth. We tell our children they should be confident in who God made them to be. We tell them to ignore and stand courageously against lies they hear from others. Unfortunately, we don’t always apply that wisdom to our own lives, because deep down although many of us already know God’s truths we don’t really BELIEVE it in our soul. So……

When He tells you he loves you, and will provide what you need BELIEVE HIM!

When He tells you you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that He knit you together in your mother’s womb BELIEVE HIM!

When He tells you not to be anxious about bad seasons in life, but to see it as an opportunity to grow in wisdom and strength knowing that He will see you through it BELIVE HIM!

When He tells you eternal salvation is as easy as accepting Jesus as your savior and putting Him first in your life BELIEVE HIM!

Anything contradictory to His truths are lies conceived to destroy you peace, your faith, your hope, and your calling according to  His purposes. Once you know these truths and you BELIVE God is who he says he is, and you BELIEVE you are who God says you are in Him, you can easily identify and reject the lies seeping into your life. In doing so you leave room in your mind and heart for the Holy Spirit to speak TRUTH into your life. You start to BELIVE in your heart that you are a child of God, as in the CREATER OF THE UNIVERSE GOD, and any outside approval you may or may not receive becomes insignificant in comparison.

A favorite mantra of mine is “If it is good enough for God, I don’t care if its good enough for anyone else”. I’ve been saying this to people as an encouragement for the last few years, but I didn’t  really BELIEVE it in my soul. I would say it, but just like my son, the words had no power behind them. I still had feelings of doubt, insecurity, unworthiness, anxiety , and fear. Once I started rejecting the lies behind those feelings, and BELIEVING that what God says about me is true I found a inner peace and joy that I have honestly not had since I was a child. Now I can hear the lies whispered into my ears intended to settle in my heart, and say with confidence ” I am a child of God. Those words are not true, and I don’t care what you say about me.”

 

 

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You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Parented A Child That DOESNT Speak Your Language!

A month ago we became the parents of a little boy from China. On the day we legally adopted him he spoke no English. Well, that’s not 100% accurate. He could count and sing “Happy Birthday” and the “ABC song”. He also knew how to say apple and chocolate, but that was IT. We had been working towards this adoption for a year. So of course we spent that year studying Mandarin until we were perfectly fluent to aid in communication. Right??? Ummm, no, we knew less Mandarin than he knew English. We tried to learn it before we left, but discovered that it was very difficult if not impossible to learn the tones. It scared me to think that a mistake in my inflection could be the difference in telling my son I am his mom, and I am his hemp or horse. Sooooo we quit after the second lesson. We got to China knowing how to say “hello, how are you, and thank you”.

In China you take custody of a child the day before you actually adopt the child. When we returned to the Civil Affairs Office to complete the adoption one of the ladies asked Kai what he thought of us. He told her he liked us, and we were nice. BUT he was concerned that he “didn’t understand a word we were saying”. It was funny, because he was a little surprised to learn that likewise we couldn’t understand what he was saying. For about the first week he’d repeat himself slower or whisper in my ear thinking it would help me understand him.

Within two weeks we developed a kind of Manglish language between us. One interesting thing about language acquisition is you develop the ability to understand another language before you can speak it. Thus he would say something in Mandarin with am intermittent English word, and I would answer in English with an intermittent Mandarin word. In the beginning he was teaching me more Mandarin that I was teaching him English. When we’d do flash cards together or read picture books he would teach me the Mandarin words for things. I ended up learning the words and phrases for most activities of daily living, and words for many foods. Of course I also learned the words for important things like air plane, police car, fire truck, crash, car, and ice cream. When you’re a five year old boy those are very important words.

Now that we are home we are using less and less of the Mandarin each day. When we first came home he watched his Mandarin cartoons several times a day. We’ve been home for three weeks now, and he hasn’t watched them in several days. Instead he watches English cartoons especially Toy Story. It is amazing how quickly he is learning! Incidentally our other children are starting to pick up a few Mandarin words here and there. The language barrier hasn’t really been a problem with the kids. Play is play in any language. The biggest issue we have is when the boys are playing, and one of them suddenly gets mad over a perceived injury of some kind. They can’t really negotiate the rules of play. For example, they’ll be playing cars. One will grab a car that appears to him to be sitting off to the side thinking it is open for play. Well in reality one of them had just parked it there, and was pretending it was being worked on. These kind of details cannot be worked out so usually one gets mad, and brings their grievance to mom. They are learning each other’s play style, and working it out little by little.

I would have to say all in all it really hasn’t been as difficult of a transition as you’d think. It has really helped Kai and I bond because we have to pay very close attention to each other for nonverbal clues to understand each other. It has taught me a lot about compassion, patience, and picking your battles. I feel like it is making me a better parent to all my children. Kai is an extremely smart child, and I have experience working with kids that are nonverbal. We are making it work.

Funny Story:
Last week we were riding the bus. Kai was sitting next to a somewhat inebriated homeless man. I gave him some instructions in English, and of course Kai didn’t respond as he didn’t fully understand me. The man, who was trying to be helpful, told Kai to mind me while repeating my instructions. I explained that he was from China, and only spoke Mandarin. So the man repeats my instructions to Kai in Spanish! Ummmm, he doesn’t speak Spanish either. Lol

Reality Can Be A Bit… Well, You Know.

With each of my four kids I have had a moment in time prior to meeting them when the reality of the parenting journey I was about to embark on hit me square in the face. With my oldest daughter it was the night before I was admitted into the hospital for an induction. She was just nearly two weeks late, and was showing no signs of coming out EVER. As I was falling asleep I was admiring my HUGE belly when it suddenly dawned on me…this huge belly actually contained a human that was going to have to come out…of where?!?! I had taken all the classes, and read all the books, but it wasn’t until that moment the true reality of the work and pain I was about to endure become real to me. Needless to say, I got very little sleep that night.

With my second pregnancy that moment came in the midst of a knock down drag out fight with my oldest (by then just nearly three). We had gone round after round that day, and the situation devolved into her being locked in her room behind a baby gate. Once she determined that she couldn’t stack toys up tall enough to scale the baby gate the said toys (and everything else she could get her little hands on ) came catapulting over the gate into the hall way. As if this wasn’t enough the screaming, stomping, and door slamming would rival any gorilla on a rampage. I was sitting in the hall way just around the corner out of sight. I was a puddle on the floor crying as I had reached my limit when I realized that in about six weeks I’d be dealing with this little tyrant, AND nursing, washing, changing a new born all on about 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep. I remember sitting there seriously reconsidering the thought process of purposefully having another child.

I must have forgotten those moments as I happily decided to get pregnant a third time. I was carpooling to Vacation Bible School with a friend of mine who had a baby. One morning I found myself holding her baby on my hip, carrying the stroller and a diaper bag, and trying to corral my other two into the church building. Now, if you’ve ever tried to get more than one young child to do anything just through verbal commands you know it is similar to herding cats. I was standing there with my foot propping the door open trying to balance everything while screaming things like “Get out of the parking lot!” “Don’t touch the tires!” “ Get that out of your mouth!” It was then that I realized that this would soon be my everyday reality with three children under the age of 6. Again I wondered if I should make a phone call to the men with little white jackets for evaluation.

Well after three kids my husband and I (and frankly my endocrinologist) decided we were done being pregnant, and done with infants. However once again we seemed to forget the difficult moments, and decided we needed just one more child. In about two weeks my husband and I will be traveling to China to finalize the adoption of our little boy (5). Although I have not been pregnant with this child, we have been completing mass quantities of paper work, planning for, loving, and praying for him for nearly a year. The reality that I was about to be the mother of four hit while I was at back to school night for my oldest daughter. I was watching parents lug large boxes of school supplies into the building with two, three, or more children lagging behind them. It suddenly hit me that eventually I will have FOUR sets of school supplies to not only buy, but schlep to the school. Now, you haven’t fully lived until you’ve experienced school supply shopping. It was such an eye opening experience that it inspired this blog post. Anyway, watching parents make multiple trips to and from their car made me realize that I have no earthly idea how I am going to get school supplies for four kids from the store to the house and then to the school while using the bus. The good news is that I am confident that it will all work out. It always does, and despite the not so hallmark moments of parenting that I’ve had ( and will surely continue to have) I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am so happy and blessed to be the mother of my four cheeky little monkeys.

Have Cane & Kids Will Travel

I love traveling during Christmas. It helps keep my children focused on spending time with family instead of gifts. We do not participate in the tradition of Santa so it is easy for us to have Christmas morning anywhere. Plus it is exciting to be a tourist during the holidays. Streets are beautifully decorated, and people are generally in a more cheerful mood.

When we announced our plans to travel with three children to Germany last Christmas most of our friends thought we were crazy, and maybe we were. It took two city busses, three plains, nine carry on bags, two strollers, and nearly 24 hours to get us there. At the time our children were 14 months, 4 years, and 7 years old. It wasn’t always easy. My son, the middle child, fell nearly breaking his eye socket, got electrical burns on his fingers TWICE, and fell through the train platform onto the tracks. Every time we moved between cities ( four times) we had to load everything up…walk to the rain station….get on the train….get seated…entertain the kids…get off the train…and walk to the new hotel. We didn’t always know where we were going, and our vision makes it difficult to see street signs. We didn’t even always find seats on the trains as reservations for all of us would have been expensive. Oh, did I mention we don’t speak German? It was all part of the adventure, and I would do it again in a heart beat.

True our kids were too young for activities like historical walking tours, Concentration camps, and the like. However, there are children everywhere, and we found plenty of interesting things for them to do. We went to five different cities, countless Christmas Markets, a perfectly preserved walled mid evil town, a chocolate museum, a salt mine, a zoo, two King Ludwig castles, the Duches Museum ( think German Smithsonian) , two fortresses, and several playgrounds we accidentally found. Just flipping through our scrapbook ( that I just completed by the way) wears me out.

There were also those everyday cultural experiences like eating at the Hoffbrauhaus, hanging out at the local laundry mat or grocery store. Watching German cartoons ( often Nickelodeon or Disney in German voices). They learned that Germans have two kinds of apple juice, one carbonated and one regular. We figured out very quickly the words for each as the kids hated the carbonated kind. They loved drinking juice from wine glasses, and trying all the different pastries in the doughnut shops and Christmas markets. They played on awesome playground equipment that you’d never see here in the States due to liability issues. Our hotel in Munich happened to be in a Middle Eastern ethnic neighborhood so my kids experienced a little of that culture as well.

They had a great time, and regularly ask if we can go back. I think the most valuable thing they learned is there is a great big world out there. People have, and do different things. Some you’ll enjoy, and some you won’t, but it is fun to experience it nonetheless. I am very fortunate to have been able to share my love of travel and experiencing different cultures with my children. I hope to take them all to China someday to experience the culture tha gave us our second son.

Hoffbrauhaus Muunich

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Salt Mine Salzburg Austria

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That’s A Slide!! Munich Zoo

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My daughter and I ridding on the train steps because all the seats were full.

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School Supply Shopping Or Sadistic Scavenger Hunt?

This will be my daughter’s first year in public school. As such it is my first experience with school supply shopping. I had listened to my friends complain about this aspect of child rearing, but never really understood what the big deal was. It seemed fairly straight forward. You get the list, you go to the store, you buy what is on the list, right? So I print the list for First Grade off my district’s website, and make what I expected to be a short trip to the WalMart.

I was completely unprepared for the sadistic scavenger hunt I would soon find myself in. First, the school supply isle was covered up with people. I didn’t expect the crowds because school was still a good three weeks away. I still managed to get everything on the list without much trouble. There seemed to be plenty of the things on my list, and I was excited about the adorable NEON pencils I’d found for her.

I was somewhat pleased with myself that I had printed the list before hand, and had completed my task quickly. UNTIL… I walked by the real school supply list. Apparently each school produces its own list each year. Neat! So I looked at the list ( after digging out my magnifier to read the poorly copied ant sized font) and nearly fainted. Not only were there three times the items on this new list, but the items were completely different! The only thing the lists had in common was scissors and pencils. Not just any scissors, but Fiscar scissors. AND not just any pencils, but yellow boring No2 pencils. Good bye totally awesome NEON pencils. Now, not only did I have to completely start over, but I had to put EVERYTHING I already got back! Ugh thank God my husband was there, and offered to return the original supplies.

Long story short we developed a system. Scott stood a little outside the chaos and read the list while I collected the items. Fully sighted school supply hunting is fun on its own, but it is super fun doing it with limited vision. I cannot stand in the back, scan the scissors, and reach over someone’s shoulders to get the brand you need. I have to fight my way to the front, grab a pair of scissors, pull it close enough to my face to read the brand. Then if it is not right I have to put it back, pull the next one down, and check that one. This went on item by item for about an hour and a half! See, super neat!

I was finally down to pencils and hand sanitizer. My heart sinks when I see a huge completely empty box where the boring yellow No2 pencils should be. Really?!?!? I can’t just hop in my car and go to a different store. Just then I hear my husband shout ” She’s got pencils!” the crowd suddenly stopped what they were doing, and descended on the poor woman like seagulls at a picnic. There laying on the floor was a box of unstocked pencils! Now I am normally a nice wait your turn kind of girl, but you better believe I pushed my way in to get the pencils I needed. I was finally DONE!!

As I sat back and surveyed the $60 worth of school supplies in my cart I was incredibly humbled and great full that we were able to buy these school supplies. My daughter’s school is 80% economically depressed, and struggle to get the school supplies they need each year. As difficult as it was for me to gather all the supplies at least I didn’t spend the time worrying how i was going to pay for it all. After realizing this I felt very silly about how frustrated I got over something as temporary and ultimately unimportant as school supply shopping.

So I Married A Blind Guy

Today my husband and I are celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary. In those twelve years we have bought a house, had three wonderful children, and suffered the loss of my parents. I am sure that each of us had family and friends who were skeptical when we announced our engagement. Some wondered how on earth we would build a life together as two non-drivers. Others worried about our ability to care for future children, and if we would pass our visual impairments on to them. In fact I had an Opthomologist jump down my throat because I was being ” irresponsible” enough to possibly ” create limited offspring” when I politely declined her suggested genetic fetal testing options.

The truth is that I love being married to a visually impaired man. He gets exactly how I feel about my own struggles. He knows how frustrating it is to not be able to easily read street signs or to have to wait on a bus that’s exceedingly late. He also thinks our children are wonderful, and has no worries about our kids inheriting my Aniridia. I never have to wait on him to get home to drive me to the store or take the kids to the park. Don’t get me wrong, I know other VI people who are happily married to fully sighted people. It’s just that we are both fiercely independent, and I doubt that either of us would be down for a relationship with that sort of power imbalance.

There are good things about being a low vision couple. We have to work as a team, and we do a lot of things together that most couples do separately. For example, it takes a long time, and quite a bit of walking to get anywhere. We have hours of uninterrupted conversations just walking to the Walmart. Sure there are some challenges that come our way. Our kids get sick in the middle of the night, we cannot get somewhere on the bus, and we cannot run to the store for something we need last minute. We face these challenges head on together. We trust each other and we trust God. Between the three of us I know there is nothing we cannot accomplish! I cannot wait to see what things God has in store for the next twelve years of our marriage

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Trying Something New

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I come form a long line of brilliantly creative women on both sides of my family. I love to craft, and am constantly working on a project or two. As you can imagine my low vision limits my abilities. For example, seemingly simple task like threading a sewing machine takes me forever. I also have a hard time seeing the marks on measuring tape/cutting boards. It takes me about two to three times as long to complete a task than the average person. I try not to let this discourage me, and have developed my own methods of doing things.

I know there are great products out there meant to make sewing easier for people who have limited vision, but with a baby in the house I am having a hard time finding the blocks of time I need to sit down and sew anyway. My sewing machine is close to the bedroom so nap time sewing is out. Boo 😦 I need something that I can complete in 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Just by accident I ran across a felting video on YouTube. it looked like fun, and looked like something I could use to make embellishments on hats, scarfs, and denim. Well this led me down the crafting rabbit hole to knitting my own scarfs and hats to embellish with the felting. I have tried crocheting, but it is very difficult for me to see the stitches, and decide where to properly place the needle each time. Knitting on the other hand looks easier to see as the working stitches are separated on the knitting needle.

I googled ” knitting for low vision”, and discovered something called a loom. It is a round or rectangular piece of plastic or wood that has pegs in it. You knit by wrapping the yarn around the pegs, and pulling loops off in a specific order. This seemed very easy, and a good place to start my knitting adventure. I bought one, and am now well on my way to completing a scarf for my son! I also bought some large knitting needles to practice knitting stitches. I hope to be able to bust out some simple sweaters for the kids this winter. I live in Texas where it doesn’t get to be sweater weather until January or February so I have some time:-)

I was encouraged to learn from a friend that he regularly knits with a woman who is completely blind! I figure If she can I can. I have always had a determined spirit about me. I might have to do things a little different sometimes, but once I set my mind to it there is usually no stopping me. Of course there are things, like crocheting, that I cannot do. I also cannot measure or cut well, so quilting is out. However there are lots of things, like bow making, that I can do. I hope to add looming and knitting to that column soon. If not, than oh well, and on to the next thing. It is totally OK with me to fail, but absolutely not OK to not try.

Here are some things I have made recently…

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Hair Bow

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Super Hero Shield

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Covered Wipe Case

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More Bows

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Scarf I’m working on for my son. He chose the blue yarn:-)