Saturday, November 30, 2013

counting my blessings - november 30, 2013

number thirty and a confession or two

so...we went to the treehouse yesterday. i was impressed with the progress but discouraged by the amount of work that still needs to be done. the most overwhelming thing to me was balancing keeping my boys entertained and trying to be productive. i did not find success at either. 

i woke up in the night with pain in my temple, behind my left eye and in the left side of my neck and shoulder. i drove the boys home this morning. my brain felt foggy and it probably wasn't the safest decision to drive, but it was certainly saner than staying up at the condo, longing for a dark quiet room, while my boys get into papa's tools and try to kill each other.

confession #1: my migraines do not always make me more patient with my children. this morning i yelled at them and freaked out and caused lots of unnecessary stress for everyone. pain + construction zone = crazy mommy.

confession #2: there are two types of people in this world - those who like to do things themselves and those who like to pay people to do things for them. i am 100% totally and completely the second type of person. god bless DIYers, but i am not one of them. note even close.

as i was lying in bed last night, covering my nose with the sheet and blankets because the dust is SO THICK in the loft and i wanted to create a protective layer between it and me, i was planning how i was going to vacuum the ceilings and all the beams and every inch of that condo. when i was driving home this morning i was daydreaming about who i could hire to vacuum the dust from every square inch of the condo.

i carry a lot of stress. confession #3: i create a lot of stress for myself. when i feel stress my brain and my body freak out. i just don't handle it well at all. and listen, i'm working on it. i'm in therapy. i'm trying to become more zen. but i think part of becoming more zen is 1) to know myself better, to understand how i operate 2) to focus more on the positive and learn better how to cope but, most importantly, 3) to not put myself in stressful situations in the first place!

it is much healthier for me to pay someone else to carry the stress for me.

so that's where i'm at today. longing to hire someone to just finish the dang condo already. stressed because i know that's not going to happen.

what am i thankful for?

i guess i'm thankful that my mother and father-in-law are better able to handle the stress of this project than i am. i am thankful they are able to focus on the positive and continue to persevere through the dust and through my drama. i am thankful they have a vision for what the condo will be - a place to bond with each other, to create memories, to relax after long days of skiing, a place that will be a blessing to us and to others.

i am so very blessed to call them mom and dad.

and here are the photos of how the treehouse looked yesterday:

 boy's room

 master bedroom

 living room, you can peek into the bathroom which is blocked off by stuff




 living room


 kitchen floor

the loft. we got the rug rolled out and the boys were actually able to play up there. with toys. not with power tools. thank you jesus.

Friday, November 29, 2013

counting my blessings - november 29, 2013

number twenty-nine

i'm feeling a bit better this morning! thankful!

i am thankful for the treehouse.
we are headed up to our condo at some point today. meme, papa, jer and zach have been at the treehouse every weekend since september 20th, working so hard. much of the work is complete -

MANY trips to haul off thirty years of junk
hardwood floors sanded and polyurethaned
old tile pulled up and new laminate floor laid in kitchen
old carpet pulled up and new carpet laid in the rest of the space
all new paint
new sliding glass door and windows
new electric in kitchen
lots of cleaning and dusting and vacuuming
the entire kitchen demolished and a new kitchen waiting to be installed

it has been a huge undertaking!

today will be the first time the boys and i have seen the treehouse since we closed on it ten weeks ago. i'm so excited to see the changes. i'm so excited to take some after photos!

here are the completely unedited, very poorly lit, before photos. pretty much everything you see in the pictures below is now different. and, for that, i am VERY thankful! ha!

 boys bedroom

 boys bedroom, wall with closet

 master bedroom

 master bedroom, private bathroom and closet

 hallway from bedrooms to front door

 bathroom. the two bathrooms won't be renovated until next summer, i'm guessing

 eat in kitchen

 view from kitchen into living room

 loft, which will be our bedroom and a play space for the boys.

 living room, stairs to loft


 living room

 there used to be a mural - a photo of the mountains - on this wall. seriously.



i am so very blessed.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

counting my blessings - thanksgiving day

number twenty-eight

i am thankful for a god who gives us freedom of choice.

a week or so ago my friend michelle sent me a link to this blog post, a lovely reminder to be thankful for the things we normally despise. the author dared her readers to "find the blessing within the curse." she went on to detail her own "unthankful thankful list" which included things like a messy house, financial discomfort, and too much laundry. my list would look fairly similar - thank you for dirty dishes because it means we have full bellies, thank you for the chore of making my bed because it means i had a warm place to sleep...and what about thank you i got stuck behind that infuriatingly slow car because it meant i didn't get caught speeding.

i've written my negative thoughts about my headaches. normally, they are not at all something for which i give thanks. but, today, i'm choosing to find the good in it.

"i place before you life and death, blessing and curse.
choose life so that you and your children will live."
(deuteronomy 30:19)

i am thankful for my migraine headaches. 

i am thankful for migraines because when i have one:
they make me long for heaven
they make me appreciative of my husband
they make me have a quiet and gentle spirit
they make me more patient with my children
they force me to lie down and really rest
they make me compassionate toward others who suffer similarly
they make me realize i'm not in control of things
they give me the opportunity to practice the art of letting go
they make me value my pain-free, energy-filled days so much more

it's thanksgiving day. i am at home, in a great deal of pain. my family is together, eating and lounging and being a family. it would be easy to be bothered by that and, yet, instead i find myself choosing to think...

i am so very blessed.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

counting my blessings - november 26 & 27, 2013

number twenty-six and twenty-seven

i'm just going to have to second the things my boys said they were thankful for yesterday.

while i was cooking dinner i asked harrison to help by setting the table. he was placing a fork near each plate and, out of the blue, said, "mommy, can we decorate for christmas?"

"no, we have to wait until after thanksgiving," i replied.

"but why?"

"because we need to concentrate on the things we are thankful for first. we need to have grateful hearts, during thanksgiving, before we can truly celebrate christmas."

he worked silently for a few minutes then walked into the kitchen and said with a smile, "mommy, do you know what i'm thankful for? that i have a good daddy."

i hugged him, kissed his hair, and responded, "i sure am thankful you have a good daddy, too, buddy."

not much later, while sitting around the table filling our bellies with tacos (one meal i am VERY thankful everyone in the family eats), harrison brought up the subject again. we all started discussing the things we are thankful for.

graham volunteered, "i have one. i'm thankful for god, for jesus."

ditto, little mister. ditto.

i am so very blessed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

counting my blessings - november 25, 2013

number twenty-five

i am thankful for an intelligent god, who created human beings in his image - intelligently. intricately. masterfully. i am thankful for a god who allows us teeny tiny glimpses of his work - a bit of understanding about brain pathways here, a snippet of knowledge about the brain/gut connection there, a peek of awareness regarding how play therapy and listening therapy physically change the brain's "wiring". i am thankful for a god of transformation.

i am thankful for how harrison has been transformed.

he finished therapy in july.

he started school in august. he did not adjust well to school. it was not easy.

in september i was sending full-on panic mode, frantic text messages to his occupational therapists with statements like "should i be seeing WORSE behaviors since completing treatment? he had his worst meltdown EVER today."

he seemed so angry. he did not seem like harrison. i wondered what in the world had happened to my sweet, quiet boy.

i am thankful for rachel ottley who, after deeper discussion, texted back this: 

"he should feel things deeply - frustration, anger - because then he will feel joy and love that deeply too." 

that was all it took. that one comment and i was all in. no more worry or fear about what was happening inside my son. i understood then my task was to help him feel all his emotions deeply, help him identify what each one was and deal with it in an acceptable way. the rest of september, october and even now we are working on this. 

we are seeing transformation!

a couple weeks back jeremy and i picked up harrison from school and actually ended up calling him a chatterbox! my son, a chatterbox? we were astounded!

i was equally as astounded by the number of circles of communication he had with my dad while in iowa. heck, i'm still floored at the circles he has with me. while at church the sunday we were in iowa, harrison and i wrote notes back and forth during the entire sermon. question and answer kind of notes. conversation kind of notes. keep them forever kind of notes. 

the other day i was lying on the couch and he came over to me and held my face in his hands for no reason at all except just to touch. he reached out and touched me and held the touch. it was powerful.

he's asking for hugs. asking for hugs! transformed, i tell you.

last night he and i gave each other zerbert kisses back and forth a few times. it tickled him and he had to "wipe off" the tickle each time, but he kept asking for more. astounded.

last week the boys had their regular dental check up. dental cleanings are hard for harrison but he's always handled it well. my hunch is that he does so well because his body goes into "freeze" mode rather than into "fight" or "flight". the same thing happens during haircuts. the stylists always (always!) comment on how still he sits. little do they know it's because internally his body is freaking out. but...during his tooth polishing last week he actually raised his hand to ask the hygienist to stop (before the appointment i told both boys they were allowed to do that). she gave him a moment to breathe and then he was able to continue on. i was pleased and surprised he was able to express himself by raising his hand. but there was one bigger lesson that came from that dentist visit.

harrison has never been able to have tooth xrays taken. the've tried each time for the past two years. he gags. he can't handle holding the little bite piece in his mouth. last week he was finally able to get one good, non-blurry xray! but it took him four tries. he gagged, he didn't like it, but he kept trying. our sweet dentist, after the fourth try, said there was no need to continue and praised harrison for what he was able to do. 

graham has never had dental xrays taken. they would have taken some last time had he not had the vomiting disaster. but anyway. last week graham was able to hold still for two xrays. he did it perfectly on the first try. it was easy for him.

harrison was not happy about this. while leaving the dentist's office harrison said, "ugh! i'm so frustrated! it's not fair that graham only had to do two xrays and i had to do four!" i explained that "graham was able to hold really still so his xrays weren't blurry but you kept wiggling so your xrays were blurry so they kept taking more in hopes of getting a good picture." harrison replied, "i hate that thing and i keep touching it with my tongue!" i told him that's exactly why the pictures were blurry.

this lead to a good conversation about how every person has different strengths and different graham's mouth is not as sensitive as harrison' god created all our bodies it's brave to persevere even when something is we can do hard things!

but that's not the point of this post. the point is this: do you know how awesome it is that harrison was able to 1) get frustrated 2) identify the emotion 3) verbalize why he was frustrated 4) deal with it appropriately 5) have a conversation about it 6) move on?

i walked away from that moment thinking wow! my son is frustrated because life isn't fair! that is just. so. NORMAL!


in november i am seeing lots of evidence that harrison's body has changed. i feel as though my sweet boy is back. but he's not quiet anymore.

i am so very, very blessed.


counting my blessings - catching up

so this is what happens when you take a trip to iowa and your parent's computer crashes every time you try to login to your blog. and this is what happens when you get home from iowa and your husband decided to tinker with your computer while you were away. total blog silence. i have been counting on my facebook page but feel the perfectionist need to repeat my blessings here so the list will be complete. and because it's just a perfectionist need. sigh.

number eleven - i am thankful for a husband who took a day off to hang with us and drive us to the airport.

number twelve - i am thankful i was able to HUG my sister-in-law, brother, nephew and niece.

number thirteen - i am thankful for a husband who makes a run to the store while i'm out of town to buy gluten-free pancake mix while it's on sale for one day only. ($8 off baby!)

number fourteen - i am thankful i can tell my niece how beautiful she is and play "make-up" with her. little girls are fun!

number fifteen - i am thankful we can celebrate my grahamer's FIFTH birthday in iowa. i am thankful for the super fun, super loving boy he is.

number sixteen - i am thankful for a lovely trip to iowa and back. some fun memories were made. "oh, baloney!" and "bad grandpa!" and "where's my hat?" were the favorite phrases of the week.

number seventeen - i am thankful to be home and back to a routine.

number eighteen - i am soooo thankful for a husband who wakes up early to make me coffee!!!!!

number nineteen - i am thankful harrison's body seems to have stabilized in a "just right" level of arousal. we've had some really great days. weeks, even!

number twenty - i am thankful for a husband who does hard things and makes hard choices to honor me and our marriage.

number twenty-one - i am thankful i can drop my boys at school, skip Pilates, ignore the dishes and climb into bed with a cup of coffee, a book and a down comforter. it's a beautiful day!

number twenty-two - i am very thankful for a person of integrity who turned in my missing billfold with cash in it. i am thankful "a little voice" told me to call target to see if i left my billfold there. i mean, where else would it be?!

number twenty-three -

 i am thankful for love notes.

number twenty-four -

i am thankful for a crazy messy house because it meant i was able to ignore my kids (aka: let them play on their own) and read a book! 


Monday, November 11, 2013

counting my blessings - november 10, 2013

number ten

i am thankful for a god who made all creatures great and small...and who gives perspective in the midst of chaos.

life has been closing in. harrison had scarlett fever, then a bout of strep throat. he's on his second round of antibiotics. graham had an mri of his brain (under sedation), and now has scarlett fever. he's on his first round of antibiotics. we've attended oodles of appointments, a birthday party was hosted, dinner plans cancelled, a husband out of town, a house that is a disaster, so much laundry, and somehow we are supposed to be on a flight to iowa in the morning. i have not packed one thing. i have not even planned to pack one thing. i have not even thought about planning to pack one thing.

i am thankful that just as i was texting jeremy "i am feeling completely overwhelmed...putting out too many fires lately", he was texting me these photos...

two very large moose were grazing just ten feet outside our treehouse this morning.

i am thankful for this gentle reminder that Beauty is always surrounding us.

i am thankful that even in the midst of all the closing-in things i can chose to look for it.

i am so very blessed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

counting my blessings - november 9, 2013

number nine

i am thankful for a god who gives us grace.

i am thankful i am reaching a place in my life where i'm finally coming to terms with the fact that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

normally being a day behind on my "writing one thing each day" posts would drive me so crazy i'd just give up completely. if the numbers don't line up - posting my 9th blessing on the actual 9th day of november - it's not worth counting at all. i'm a bit of a perfectionist, no? but this time i'm showing myself grace. i'm letting go of the perfection. i'm continuing on in the journey, remembering that the blessings are always worth counting. remembering that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

i am so very blessed.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

counting my blessings - november 8, 2013

number eight

i am thankful for a god who puts specific people in our lives at specific times.

i am thankful for harrison's first grade teacher.

ms. johnson is so special. she has a quick wit, which harrison loves. she is goofy with the kids, which harrison loves. she has high expectations for the kids, which harrison loves. she's the kind of teacher who stays late every night, grades papers on weekends, uses her lunch hour to call concerned parents. she's the kind of teacher who, every single day, receives hugs from kids who were in her class years who still think of her fondly and come back to say hi. she's the kind of teacher who even reaches the tough kids. she's the kind of teacher who bends over backward to help a sensory kid adjust to school, who allows him to crawl under her desk and hide out whenever he needs to, who schedules early morning meetings to learn more about what she can do to help him, who adapts her teaching to benefit him.

she's the kind of teacher i prayed for.

we are so very blessed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

counting my blessings - november 7, 2013

number seven

i am thankful for a god who heals. in lots of different ways.

i am thankful for therapists. speech therapists. occupational therapists. feeding therapists. cognitive behavior therapists. actually, let me rephrase. I AM SO STINKING GOSH DARN HUGELY OVERFLOWINGLY THANKFUL FOR THERAPISTS! I WOULD NOT MAKE IT IN THIS LIFE WITHOUT THEM!

the specific therapists who have touched our lives in order of appearance are: rachel ottley, stacey barnes, rachel ottley, juliana padilla, rachel ottley, bethany kortsha, and dr. matthew ver miller. 

i am so very blessed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

counting my blessings - november 6, 2013

number six

i am thankful for a god who made mountains.

i am thankful we live in the mile high city!

we have the best of everything here - from the city to the mountains, the museums to the trails. this is a boy's paradise...skiing and climbing and biking oh my! and it's paradise for me too...hiking and sunshine and no-make-up-and-yoga-pants-everyday oh my! 

i am so very blessed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

counting my blessings - november 5, 2013

number five

i am thankful for a god who gives rest.

i am thankful i was able to take a quick nap today.

and i am thankful i am able to crawl into my warm, cozy bed tonight at 8:30 and sleep peacefully.

i am so very blessed.

Monday, November 4, 2013

counting my blessings - november 4, 2013

number four

i am thankful for a god who cares about families.

i am thankful for my family. jeremy, harrison and graham make my daily life so rich.

i am thankful for my parents.

i am thankful for their long, faithful marriage.

i am thankful we get to go visit them next week!

i am thankful for my brother. he's influenced me more than he knows.

i am thankful he chose an amazing wife who is a joy to be around.

i am thankful my boys have two cousins whom they love very much.

i am thankful for jeremy's parents.

i am thankful for their legacy of long, faithful marriage too.

i am thankful they live nearby and are always willing to help with the boys.

i am thankful for jeremy's brother. 

i am thankful my boys have an uncle zach and aunt val who love them dearly and who are dearly loved.

i am thankful, too, for my grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins (those still here and those passed on) who hold such a special place in my heart and who have filled my life with many fun moments. i am smiling just thinking of them.

i am so very blessed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

counting my blessings - november 3, 2013

number three

i am thankful for a god who is relational. relate-able. who relates to us and reveals himself through our relationships with each other.

i am thankful for true friendships with women older and younger, near and far. with women smarter and funnier and prettier and braver. with women i talk to every day or catch up with once each decade (but it feels as if no time has passed). with women who are unafraid to relate, to reveal their authentic selves, to share their triumphs and trials. with women who allow me to do the same. i have some amazing friendships!

i am so very blessed.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

counting my blessings - november 2, 2013

number two

i am thankful for a god who chose to make me a mom and who continually teaches me how to be a mom.

i am thankful for my two incredible, hilarious, fun-to-be-around, drive-me-crazy-sometimes, love-them-so-much-my-heart-might-burst sons.

i am so very blessed.

Friday, November 1, 2013

counting my blessings - november 1, 2013

number one

i am thankful for a god who always provides for our needs - especially so this past year, miraculously providing for very costly therapies.

i am thankful for a husband who works hard to provide for his family and who wisely stewards the money he earns so we can afford to live on one income.

i am so very blessed.