Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding Rest

The other day I was sitting with a friend telling him how tired I have been lately - that I can fall asleep on the floor for 5-6 hours without even meaning to. Basically anytime I stop moving my body is demanding sleep. He pointed out that when I do things I usually give 164% - meaning I'm not satisfied with just getting things done, they have to be done to the best of my ability and then some. "Give yourself a break."

Then yesterday a firetruck drove by our house - not at all unusual - but the siren wasn't on. The child and my boy saw it and told me about it. When I told them I didn't hear it, the child said, "The siren wasn't on because fire people need to rest sometimes, Mom. That's what God said."

If she gets it, why can't I?

There is a lot to do around here, and I really have been trying to keep up with my regular work plus catch up on a long list of deferred projects. None of it is worth losing rest over, though. So these are some of the things I'm trying to remind myself to do:

  • Take it when you can get it. My twins still take a nap almost every day. It is one of my favorite times of day. They share a room, and without some supervision at the beginning of nap time they will talk and play (and body slam) with each other instead of going to sleep. Some time ago I started sitting in the room with them, watching them only peripherally while I read or worked on my laptop. If I did not take this time to stop each day I would undoubtedly just run myself ragged. I still get stuff done, but it is quiet, sitting, and it's as close as I get to me time each day.  Now what I will do when they stop napping? I dunno yet.
  • Listen to your body. When it says it is tired it means it. I'm still hoping it's just sleep deficit that has me so drained, but soon-ish I'll be up for my annual check up and will ask the doctor to check for any underlying concerns - anemia or thyroid issues. Meanwhile I'm trying to be good and sleep when I need to. Easier said than done.
  • Pat yourself on the back for all that you do. This goes to the 164% problem. I have a weekly to do list (seriously it's a spreadsheet that tracks what I do/don't do each week). It's kind of like the half-full/half-empty glass question. Which one will I focus on? I tend to get after myself for the lingering project from November and the other things I didn't do. For some reason I forget the 21 meals (plus snacks) I prepared, the 7 loads of laundry I washed (OK maybe didn't fold), the daily fun activities for the kids, the writing, the office work, etc. etc. etc. that I DID GET DONE! At the end of the week there's way more that I did than I didn't. I need to remember that.
  • The ultimate source of rest is God. So the main reason I focus on what I didn't do is worry. It always has been my biggest struggle to keep from worrying about things. I used to worry when I didn't have something to worry about. Really. I'm getting better. Still I need to remember that God wants to and will take care of me and provide what I need for each situation.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

How do you find rest?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Digest 33

Hard to believe it is time for another Sunday Digest already. To be honest I am more than a bit behind on my blog reading...just like everything else. Summer hits and I get busy with the kids and trying to keep up with the dishes and laundry (failing at that, too) many other things get put aside for "later". Here are a few things I've stumbled across that I want to share with you, though...

1) Shortly after my own foray into the "R-word" battle, Autism and Oughtisms posted this lovely piece. I think you will find it quite enlightening.

2) How many times have I wished for someone to help me find resources, set goals, meet milestones? We were quite blessed a couple of years ago to be met in our hour of greatest need by a couple of "experts" who were willing to help us define and achieve some basic behavioral goals for our daughter. Their input made all the difference for us. I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog without them. Autism Speaks published a guest post from an organization trying to get a "life coach" program started for families in need. Here is more info.

3) We had fun last week making our own tote bags following the directions here. I made three bags (one for each kid) from some canvas left over from another project and some cotton webbing I bought last Summer (see how far behind I am??). The sewing took about 2 hours for each bag (I am slow) but it was all really simple - straight lines, you can't go wrong! We decorated ours with fabric paint/marker and some old buttons I found. I will try to post some pics in the art gallery soon. I'm encouraging the kids to use them on our weekly trips to the library this Summer. They love them!

4) Hopefully this week my daughter and I will begin writing a story about how everyone is different. This will be step one in beginning to explain her own challenges to her I hope in a very positive way. On that topic, this post by Resident Alien caught my eye.

That's it for this time around friends...feel free to share your favorite links or fun Summer things to do in the comments below. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jumpin' Jehosaphat - and other such nonsense...

Figures of speech are so fun. I use them all the time. It is probably one of the weaknesses of both my speech and my writing. I love a good cliche. I do try to use them in unique ways or to make a funny point about some little piece of wisdom I've gained, but you know what they say about cliches...

The really fun thing about figures of speech is watching my daughter try to process them. The not so fun thing about it is trying to explain when she asks what I mean.

We were all driving in the minivan the other day, or I guess more accurately we were all stopping in the minivan. In fact we had been sitting at an intersection for quite some time waiting for the light to change and there was no traffic coming from the other direction. Of course I was running late and thus a bit impatient to get going. I spoke to the traffic signal to spur it to action (I do also have a way of speaking to inanimate objects that is quite fun). "There's no one here but us chickens!" and immediately regretted my pronouncement. "What chickens, Mom? I don't see any chickens. Where are the chickens?" Yeah...try explaining that one.

The other day at the breakfast table I was being peppered by requests from the twins. More this, please...can I have some banana, please...I want some milk...and I wanted to remind them that Mommy only does one thing at a time, but instead I said, "Hold your horses!" I could see from the blank look on the child's face that she wasn't holding a horse, she didn't see any horses in the vicinity, and even if she did see a horse it wasn't hers and she didn't have any idea how to hold it. I asked her if she knew what I meant and she said, So I explained that was just a funny way of saying 'I need you to wait," and she grinned at me as if to say "Why didn't you say so?"

The best piece of this is when she picks up on some phrase and starts using it herself, in some truly creative ways. Usually it's just a word that she latches on to and carries around with her for a few days...sprinkling it into her conversation wherever she may go. One day, quite a while ago, she overheard me talking on the phone and I asked, "Well what are my options?" Oooh she loved that word "options." All day long and for quite a few days afterward she would ask about her options - even when there weren't any - just because she liked the sound of it I guess. Recently she likes the word "lucky" in "I was lucky that I got to use that pencil because I really needed to write." As if there is a vast shortage of pencils and she has stumbled upon one just in the nick of time. Not that I can ever find one when I need one mind you...

I'm wondering if I should introduce her to Jumpin' Jehosaphat...she might find him kind of fun. What do you think?

This post is brought to you by the letter in Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Please visit the other posts Jammin' on the letter J this week!
Jenny Matlock
By the way, sorry I took a week off there. I had a post in mind for Saturday, but haven't managed to research it and work it up. I guess every once in a while I need a week off, but I wish I could see it coming instead of just abandoning you to cyberspace...hopefully I'll get more into the swing of the Summer schedule soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review - Sammy the Classroom Pet

Sammy: The Classroom Guinea PigSome time ago I decided I wanted to host our preschool's pet guinea pig for part of the Summer months. While I was thinking about it I spied this book at the library and brought it home to see if it sparked any interest with the kids. I had three pet guinea pigs when I was growing up (one at a time) and Sammy looked a little like my favorite one, who was named Charlie. It turned out to be a really good idea to get this book for a couple of reasons.

First, we did end up bringing home Pepper for at least a couple of weeks, so reading the book ahead of time heightened the kids interest in helping to take care of her. The first few weeks of Summer while we are decompressing from school and waiting for our Summer activities to start can be a little hard to keep fun. Pepper has added some real interest to our "hanging out at home" times.

Second, the story of Sammy is more than just a story. It weaves a lot of small animal care information into the story. It talks about the noises they make (WHEEP!!) and what they need in their cage. It talks about how excited they get, and how they are very social and love attention from their caregivers. It even talks about some of their favorite foods, which now has my kids searching the yard for dandelion leaves which are apparently a guinea pig delicacy. The illustrations are adorable, and the text is easy to read and understand. My struggling reader picked it up independently several times. She even read Sammy to Pepper. Fun!

Sadly Sammy had to return to the library today, and Pepper will only be with us for a short while, but I think together they have made a great impression on all of my kids, and made Summer very sweet.

Here's hoping I haven't fed the "can we get a pet" fire...not ready for that...yet.

Friday, June 10, 2011

He is There

I want to take a break from the Proverbs 31 series to share an insight gained in my small group Bible study earlier this evening. We are studying Jesus Christ: The Greatest Life Ever Lived, which combines the four gospel accounts into one amazing story of Jesus' life and ministry. We were reading the fairly familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. Here is the account from Mark 4:35-41 (NIV). You can also find the story in Matthew 8:18-27 and Luke 8:22-25:
     That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
     He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
     He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
     They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
There were several thoughtful questions in our study guide, but the one that hit me the hardest was, "Why do you think the disciples waited to wake up Jesus?" You need to remember that a good number of Jesus' disciples were fishermen. They were quite confident of their ability to handle a boat. You also need to know that the Sea of Galilee is geographically prone to sudden, intense storms. Warm, humid air over the lake intersects with cool air funneled in by the nearby mountain passes. These men had probably handled storms before in their boats. There wasn't a lot of time or warning when this storm started, so they just got busy bailing water and taking in sail, and doing whatever else they needed to do to stay afloat. Waking up Jesus seems to be an afterthought when things were getting desperate. Maybe they thought he should help bail water, or at least be ready to abandon ship. In any case they are baffled that he is sleeping through the whole thing.

It's easy to think in my 21st century perspective that these disciples just didn't get it....until I realize that I do the same thing. When "storms" arise in my life I get busy. Maybe the challenge is unexpected, maybe there is just a lot to do, but for whatever reason I throw myself into the activity of making it through the storm forgetting that the One who can help me calm the storm is there the whole time. Quite often my boat is nearly swamped before I turn to Jesus with my favorite prayer, "Help!" Why do I wait so long? Because I think I can handle it, because I'm busy, because I forget that he is there.

In the story Jesus is sleeping. His physical body was fatigued from the many hours of teaching and touching lives that he had just experienced. We, however, can be assured that he does not sleep, nor does he slumber (Psalm 121:3). He knows the storms we are passing through and he is there, waiting and wanting to help. We just need to ask. In the story Jesus rebukes the wind and waves and everything becomes calm immediately. I don't think we are promised this same result. There are storms that He asks us to go through, but if he will not calm the storm he will calm us.

He is there and he is in control.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Digest 32

I hope, dear reader, that you will enjoy these lovely links as much as I have. While I don't have time to read everything that is out there (who does?) when I find something I like I set it aside to share it with you. These are the best that I've seen out there. Be sure to let them know you found them through The Simple Life...and thank you!

1) Here is a great post about enjoying life with our kids...loving being a Mom instead of being a therapy coordinator and advocate. Not that those parts of special needs parenting aren't important. They are, and we really can't avoid them, but taking a step back to snuggle on the couch or do some art just for fun can be just as important - for us and for our kids. (By mom2spiritedboys at Hopeful Parents)

2) Interesting how different diagnoses can lead to This post (also at Hopeful Parents) is about a little boy with Prader Willi Syndrome who likes to have the same conversation with his mom over, and over, and over. We have similar conversations at our house. It gets old. For my daughter sometimes there is just a communication breakdown - either I'm not understanding what she's asking or she's not understanding what I'm answering. But sometimes it is just comfortable to re-tread the same conversational path, like slipping on your favorite shoes. Why try anything new when this works so well? (By Lisa Peters)

3) So the DSM is due to be revised in 2013. The DSM is the big gray book on Doctor's shelf that is used to describe all the various conditions and disorders so that everyone uses the same rules when they give a diagnosis. Or that's the idea anyway. This is where the criteria for autism, high-functioning autism, PDD-NOS, and Aspergers Syndrome (the full spectrum)  are outlined. There will be some changes which are already being hotly debated in the autism community. I haven't spent much time reading or thinking about it yet, which is partly why this post at Autism and Oughtisms intrigues me. There's certainly plenty to think about here, and useful links regarding the specific proposed changes at the bottom.

4) Something no one wants to think about, but we all should - what happens to our special needs children when we're no longer here. Of course we all plan to stick around, but no one is promised tomorrow and no one is immortal. My fellow 5 Minutes for Special Needs contributor, Lee, posted a great piece about some key things to put in order. This is a must do.

5) Lastly, I love this story about a teacher encouraging one of her students to use his skills to benefit other students. Isn't this what education is supposed to be about? (By Joanna L. Keating-Velasco at OUR Journey Thru Autism)

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Simple Life Is Getting Around!

Whole Body Listening Larry at Home (Whole Body Listening Larry)Fellow blogger Nancy Hird at Books 4 Christian Kids re-posted my review of the book Whole Body Listening Larry at Home on her site. Be sure to head over there and check out Nancy's other recommended titles. Thanks, Nancy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


G is for giving.  Giving gifts is one of the ways that people express love for one another. My husband loves to give gifts. My daughter also loves to give gifts. I'd like to think it is something I've taught her, but really I think I am learning from both of them. I think it is an innate part of their personality to be so generous and to want to express love in this fashion.

It's been more challenging lately to Give gifts the way we'd like to. Between the economy and the several challenges we've faced over the last few years, we're still finding ways, but the gifts have been more "from the heart" lately instead of from the pocketbook.
  • Last night my daughter decided to draw portraits of all four first grade teachers at her school to thank them for being such good teachers. She drew them, colored them, and wrote her little message to each teacher. The effort that she put into this was heart-warming. It was fun watching her deliver them this morning.
  • The other day I made "Cheesy Vegetable Pie" for our family. I enjoy this recipe but hadn't made it for a while because I wasn't sure if the kids would like it. They've been enjoying vegetables more, especially zucchini, and that's one of the main ingredients, so I decided to make two pies (I always like to cook enough for two meals). Wouldn't you know it the kids' tastebuds still aren't quite ready for this one. The child liked it, but the twins did not. So my husband Gave the other pie to some sweet friends who have been through thick and thin with us the last few years. They are vegetarian, so it was a perfect match.
  • Our favorite children's librarian from our local library is retiring, and we wanted to let her know how much we would miss her. She, again, has been a real Gem for our family for so many years now. Storytime just won't be the same without her. At a recent craft day she showed us how to make ziplock bag books, so we made her a ziplock bag book as a parting Gift. We used some nice scrapbook paper to make the pages, and added photos of her and our family. I had each of the children make a picture for her. I delivered it today, and it was so fun to Give it to her.
These are just a few examples that haven't cost us anything, but hopefully have meant a lot to the recipients...Giving is so important. It blesses others and in return it blesses us with fun, creativity, and joy.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 (NIV)

One last Gift for you...the recipe for Cheesy Vegetable Pie. Enjoy!

This was originally published in 1992 in the Wall Street Journal by Millicent Nathan
2.5 C thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash
0.5 C thinly sliced mushrooms
1 C thinly sliced carrots
1 C chopped red onion (sweet)
2 T butter
2 T parsley flakes
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t basil leaves
1/4 t oregano leaves
2 eggs, well beaten
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz can refrigerated crescent rolls or prepared pie crust
2 t prepared mustard

Preheat oven to 375. In large skillet, cook carrots, onion, zucchini, squash and mushrooms in butter until tender, 8 minutes. Meanwhile, beat eggs and mix with cheese in a large bowl. Separate the crescent roll triangles and press into an ungreased 10 inch pie dish, sealing seams and covering the bottom and sides of the dish (or use your prepared pie crust). Spread the crust with mustard. Add spices to the vegetable mixture and mix. Add vegetables to the egg and cheese. Pour egg and vegetable mixture into the crust. Bake 22 minutes. Rest 10 minutes before serving.

This post is participating in Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.
Jenny Matlock
To check out the other creative G posts, click here.


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