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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My top 10 Ways to Love on Yourself!

I've been seeing a trend in the blogosphere. Many posts I've read lately reveal that moms are in need of a break! We have to take time for ourselves, Ladies! Even if it's only for an hour. Or heck! I'll take 15 minutes if it's going to be something quiet!

I think "mommy guilt" takes over, and we forget we need to refuel. Perhaps we're on a tight budget? Maybe your husbands schedule doesn't allow for much freedom for you? Whatever the reasons for not taking care of ourselves, we all have them. But, how can we fight through the impossible and still leave room for us?

So, this is my list of my top ten ways to get some "Me Time". Although I love a trip to the spa and long days sitting in the sun with girlfriends, those days are not a realistic option for me at this stage in life. I need things that are tangible everyday, short in length of time, and don't cost a fortune. I think we tend to stock up our break time and save it for planned events that only come around once in a blue moon. What are we supposed to do to keep our sanity in the day-to-day routine? Before we know it, we're blowing up over the smallest thing.

These ideas may not be the most glamorous of choices, but they are simple recipes for stress relief.

1. Me and My Jesus.
If I don't my quiet prayer time at the start of my day, it's a guarantee things are going to be messed up! This doesn't have to look any particular way. Some days it's simply submitting to Him in the morning when I get out of bed. Some days it really is me behind a closed door, or writing in my prayer journal. There's something spectacularly different about a day that starts with Jesus.

2. Set my alarm to get up earlier than the kids.
Make a point to get up earlier than the kids a few times a week. Set the alarm, make a cup of coffee, and go sit on the patio for a 1/2 hour. Bring the baby monitor if needed. Just take in some peace and quiet and fresh air. It's a sure thing the birds will be chirping. When you sit outside and listen to the world around you, it gives you a sense of how small we really are. Your biggest problem is not too big for our Great God. That's what a fresh morning cup of coffee on the porch gives me. Perspective.

3. Eat a good breakfast
Ok, you would have to actually make this. So, it's not exactly that relaxing. But, hear me out. Sometimes when we make ourselves something healthy and delicious, you feel good about eating it, and good about yourself. There are often days I forget to eat! much less, make myself something nice. We cook for our family all day, all week, all the time. Why not make something special for us? Start the day with some fresh fruit or an omelet. Yum! Something you wouldn't normally eat. Love on your body first thing. We need endurance to get through this day, and a healthy breakfast is a simple and realistic step to relieve stress throughout the rest of the day.

4. Regular Exercise
Ok, some of you may be cursing me right about now. So far, I've had you get up early, cook breakfast, and now exercise?! I know, I know. However, these are things that really do relieve stress and add up to me being able to make through the day. If I don't do the things on my list thus far, I'm stressed by 10:00AM. Heck, I just got stressed making breakfast for my son. Every task here requires thirty-five extra steps because of his Asperger's. I feel like I'm working overtime. I've got to get my exercise. I run like Forrest on an elliptical! I plug in my ipod, get going, and sweat! That's what makes me feel good! I've finally gotten to a point in my life where I'm not doing this to look better, I'm doing it to feel better. I'm not checking the scale or worrying about my calories, I'm simply running my butt off! And ya know what? I think I might be starting to look better by accident. I don't have to leave the house, I can go out in the garage and run at anytime. It's realistic. It works.

5. Read a good book.
Not a book about SPD, or Asperger's. Not a book about how to be the best wife and mom in the world, not a book about anything except something fiction, unimportant, and enjoyable. A real book! A novel you can get lost in for 15 minutes here and there. I love a good Bible study or anything that helps me learn about my son's difficulties. But, I enjoy escaping in a novel too!

6. A nice warm bath.
Ahhh....Get some cheap bath salts or bath bubbles with aromatherapy. I love chamomile and lavender. When hubby gets home get in and stay there for a while! I don't make a habit of throwing the kids at my husband when he gets home. I usually make a point NOT to do this. But, some days I know he's getting home earlier than usual, and I make dinner ahead of time for him, feed kids before he gets home, and arrange this bath appointment with myself ahead of time. Sounds crazy I need to make an appointment with myself, but you gotta do what you've gotta do to get some peace and quiet. These days, It's all about keeping my sanity. A bath helps.

7. Have a designated lazy day each week.
Pick a day of the week that you plan on doing absolutely nothing! I mean nothing. No errands, no shopping, no post office. This is the day you lay around in PJs, play with the kids, or let them play and do their own thing while you work on that novel. It's summer. It's ok to be lazy! Make sure you choose a day each week. Mark it on the calendar. Involve the kids. Make it fun! Watch movies all day. Designate the "Lazy Day"!

8. Take a walk...alone.
Remember that bath appointment? Well, do the same thing for a walk. Set aside an evening that hubby knows you need to leave the cave. A walk is free, relaxing, and nobody calls your name. Thirty minutes alone goes a long way. Enough said.

9. Find a hobby or special interest.
Sometimes we need to do something that's selfish. An activity you do for you! We need a reason to leave the house. It can be anything! Look up your local community calendar online. You'd be surprised what you can find that's low cost or even free. Check your local library, community center, or county leisure activities. Many associations offer classes on photography, pottery, scrapbooking, and so on. Get out. Meet people. finding a special interest doesn't have to break the bank. Maybe you can even find something that offers childcare? That way hubby doesn't have to be involved.


10. Schedule time with IRL friends.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned those special days that only come around once in a blue moon. Maybe a couple times a year. Well, even though we can't do them all the time, we still need them! No, you can't run off for the weekend every weekend, but you could at least once or twice a year! Schedule it! Save for it! Having something special planned with good friends gives us something to look forward to. I have plans in the next few weeks to simply spend the afternoon with some old friends. We're going to lunch, shopping, maybe a movie. Just a day with the girls. I'm totally looking forward to it!

What do you do to keep a clear head during the week?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as I've taught my 6 year old this past week, is a time to remember those who have died fighting for our country.

What way do I decide to drive that point home? A clearance sale, no doubt. Teacher fail?

Well...
Not exactly the most educational activity, but I couldn't resist.

My Memorial Day recipe for success...

A trip to the store with mom only, two brand new Webkinz for a grand total of $6.82, top that off with a Slurpee, some Skittles, and an afternoon at the beach...you've got one happy kid!


According to him this was the "Best Day Ever"!

I'll take that!

Happy Memorial Day all!

I hope you were blessed with friends, family, and great memories.

And yes, I thank all of the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Technical Difficulties: Surprise! Expired Domain!

So, Yesterday I logged onto to Blogger to find that my blog was gone. Panic Much?!

After I emailed some bloggy friends with a desperate plea for help calmed down I realized it's probably time to renew my domain name. Who would know? I never got any type of email notification! What the heck?!

I just logged onto to see my cute little space in the blogosphere and saw this...
http://www.storiesfromtheshoebox.com/ <=Now working great! Woot woot!
A girl I don't know, and links to a lot of websites to buy shoes!
AHHHH!!!

So, I'm going to be workingon to fix this. Which, I have no idea how to do!?

In the meantime, I've switched to dot blogspot to keep up appearances. Some links don't work, and I'm sure there's other stuff not working too.

Wish me luck!

EDIT (Saturday night): Thanks to Krystyn @ Krizzy Designs, I'm all fixed up! Thank you so much Krystyn! You are the best! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Being a Sibling to a Child with Special Needs

One of the hardest things about having a child with special needs is balancing the attention I give to his sibling. I find myself feeling extremely guilty that most of my time is sucked dry on only one of my children. My youngest is only 6 years old, and he's still at the age I wish I could freeze. The last thing I want to happen is miss out on these precious years. I'm distracted. He gets a fraction of my attention, and it's not his fault.

If I'm honest with myself, I can even admit that I am struggling with some resentment toward my oldest because of it, and that's not his fault. They are both innocent in all of this, and I have to find a way to bring joy into the home everyday-no matter what! For both of them.

I've spent the last two weeks on the phone trying to schedule appointments, line up occupational therapy, find the right team of professionals to work with. Because the move has been so traumatic for my oldest it's recommended that he takes an anti-depressant for 3-6 months to get through this transition period. I totally agree with this which says a lot about his behavior. I'm not usually one to go with medication unless it's absolutely needed, and I believe it is. His anxiety is very high, and it's manifesting itself in some very disturbing behaviors. He's washed his hands so much in the past few weeks that they are literally rubbed raw, and a completely different color from his arms. So now we have to find a psychiatrist to work with in order to get a prescription for him...more calls...

I'm fine with the task at hand. His is my son, and I will do anything to get him the help that he needs to live a good life! I'm not complaining about the task at all. He needs me! I will be there! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! In my heart I know this. I believe it.

But, I'm tired, and it's only the beginning of a long journey. That can't be good?!

I wish I had more time. My little one is on the sidelines, and I hate it!

I already see that my youngest is affected by the situation. He's such a lover. He doesn't argue, or back talk. Yeah, I know he's only 6, but he is naturally soft-hearted. Being in the room when my oldest is having a meltdown would be hard for anyone. It's especially hard for his brother, who loves him very much. Who doesn't really understand why all of this is going on. He often covers his ears, and looks visably scared. What is all of this doing to him? How can I protect him?

The other day, I had reached my limit. I just sat with my head in my hands and cried. Right in front of him. He just patted me on the back and said, "Mom, it's not your fault, you're a good mom."

What 6 year old should have to tell their mom that? It's not his job to console me. Even so, it did. I hugged him and said, "Thank you, baby. Thank you."

In the end I have to believe that each child has their seasons. Right now, my oldest needs the majority of my attention. Won't there come a time when it's the other way around? I have to tell myself that these challenges are opportunities to build our family stronger than ever. They are opportunities to teach my boys how to handle the hard stuff. Each day I have the chance to show my boys how to rely on God, how to keep faith in tough times. I have the chance to show them to stick together! To love each other, no matter what. I need to view these times as the opportunities they are.

I hope if I can do that. I've done my job.

This post is linked at Things I Can't Say for good dose of Pouring My Heart Out.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Morning

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
~Lamentations 3:22-23

Sometimes as moms we get it all wrong. We royally mess up.

Each day is a challenge with my son right now. It's taking a lot out of me, and I can see it's wearing on my youngest and my husband too. The attention he requires right now is exhausting, and I've got to keep my mommy endurance up, or else I'm not going to be able to run the race.

His behavior is especially hard to manage right now, and there are so many stress triggers I cannot keep up with them or even figure out exactly what they are. His episodes are increasingly scary. Bringing him back to a calm place once he's upset is extremely difficult and tiring.

Some days I feel ill-equipped for the task at hand.

The other day when I felt like I completely screwed things up by loosing my temper, I was encouraged by the reminder that God laid on my heart. His mercies are new every morning!

He will lead me and guide me when I seek Him first (Matthew 6:33), and I will rest in his promises for myself and my son. I believe with my whole heart that he has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11). I just wish I knew exactly what that was!

We're going to get through this.

When your mommy patience runs out rely on Him!

Are you running low on the patience meter?

What do you do to keep your mommy endurance strong?

Mistakes happen. We're not perfect parents. But He is!

Be encouraged today! It's a new day and His mercies are new every morning!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-New Beginnings Start Here















Wordless Wedenesday with 5 Minutes for Mom.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shocking! Or Is It?

So, I woke up this morning to the news that yet another marriage has been crushed by infidelity. I grab my cup of coffee to check email and this is what I see: Arnold Schwarzenegger Fathered A Child With Member Of Household Staff.


What?!

Just a couple of months ago I had dinner with an old friend and she told me about a dear friend who had just recently found out her husband of 20+ years left, ran off with another woman, and hasn't been seen since!

I've heard story after story of affairs. Long term, lying, deceitful affairs. Not that there's a level to an affair, but some of these stories are double-life crazy!

I have a few IRL life friends who have experienced similar tragedies in their marriages. Great women. Loving wives. No, not perfect, but so what!

What is going on???

I'm not sure where I'm going with this.

I'm always one to think that this will never happen to me. My husband is faithful, loving, and honest. Although, we have problems, they are not in the fidelity category. I can't imagine my husband doing that to me. He's not a flirt, he's quiet, he's always home, our marriage is important to him, our kids are important to him, I'm important to him, our future is important to him...blah, blah, blah.

But, I'm sure none of these women suspected that it would happen to them, either.

I have a dear IRL friend. She's the exact opposite. She thinks it's crazy to think it could never happen. She admittedly has trust issues. I do not.

I'd rather be naive, trust my husband with my whole heart and be wrong one day rather than spend the next 40 years waiting for him to mess up.

Even after I loose faith in humanity over a cup of coffee, I stand firm my man is different. If I'm wrong one day, then so be it. I want to trust him with my whole heart today, and I will!

Does this kind of headline strike a nerve with you? Are you one to think this would never happen, or one to think it could?

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Friday, May 13, 2011

My Top 5 Moving Dont's

This week has been interesting. Trying to unpack and get settled is no small task. I will say that UNpacking is so much nicer than packing. It feels much better to open those boxes and put things away, as opposed to boxes piling up with no place to go.

After getting through the majority of this move, I thought I could share a list of things NOT to do when moving your family to a new home. If I had to do it again, I would call a do-over on a few hundred things.

#1 Don't pack too early!
I thought preparedness was a priority, and I started packing nearly a month prior to the move. All this did was leave me with a ton of clutter to walk around, and I had to unpack and repack many of the boxes due to having no choice on finding necessities. It caused a lot of chaos and stress for the kids too. Who wants to look at boxes for 5 weeks?? Not me! Definitely not them! In the grand scheme of things, I could have packed the week before and been just as prepared and less stressed.

#2 Don't make a huge list of things you want to buy for the new house.
If you do, you're going to be sadly disappointed! I have all these great decorating ideas that I couldn't wait to implement in the new place. Little did I know the expense of actually making the move would just keep adding up. When it's all said and done, there are still many things on my wish list. That's OK! But, I wish my expectations hadn't been so high. Who knew that I would be paying the expenses for two houses for two months? I never thought about that. Deposits, extra fuel expenses from going back and forth, a ton of eating out and food on the go, cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching...Unless I make celebrity status tonight, I'm gonna be waiting on a few things.

#3 Don't bring in too many boxes at once.
Once we got here, I couldn't wait to unpack! I just started bringing in the boxes one right after the other! I would reccomend leaving them in the garage in an organized stack by room, and bringing in a few at time. Then once those are unpacked and the items are put away, bring in a few more. That way your new place doesn't look like mad chaos right away! All those boxes I was so sick of looking at found their way into my new place real fast. That totally stressed me out!

#4 Don't invite anyone over until you're ready!
It's ineveitable that people will want to "drop by" and see the new place. Come up with a nice way of telling them to give you a few weeks. Honestly is always the best policy. Simply let everyone know you are a raging mad woman and until your kitchen is organized they should stay far far away. It's a big hassle to have to worry with extra people during a move. Give yourself time.

#5 Don't feel like it all has to get done overnight!
All the organization, cleaning, and settling in takes time. Period. Take a breather! Do something fun with the kids. It's easy to neglect them when there's so much to do. They need some extra comfort during a big transistion and nothing is better than a mom who just stops for a minute! We've played a few board games, walked down to the beach, and just tried to enjoy the change.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My son is different

First things first! Thanks to Krystyn at Krizzy Designs, I have a new look for the Shoebox! Just what I need. Clean and fresh. Simplified! I love it! Thanks, Krystyn. It was so easy to work with you. Be sure to grab my new button in the side bar! Good-bye cartoon girl, hello me!
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A recent evaluation has confirmed some concerns I've had for years.

A few weeks ago we were told our oldest has mild Asperger's, sensory processing issues, and high social anxiety.

None of this was a surprise. In fact, it was actually a relief to get an opinion I trust and agree with. Even though the news confirms his behavioral challenges, it's nice to have some validation behind my own personal Google research diagnosis.

A while back I wrote a post about some of his issues and got a ton of feedback from all of you! It has been two years since we have gone down the road of trying to get a diagnosis for him that makes sense. It was hard to pick that ball back up. I was so afraid of being lead down the wrong path again. I was afraid of my assumptions being rejected, and discounted because I'm just some mom with too much time on her hands to research disorders online. But, thanks to Katie at Sack of Potatoes, I am learning about Sensory Processing Disorder, and thanks to many of your comments I felt encouraged enough to seek some answers again.

We will be lining him up for regular appointments with an Occupational Therapist, and hope to continue to help him manage some of the things he's struggling with. All that being said, those are the facts. It seems so simple to type the update and plan. But, it's not that simple. He has to get through this life. He has to learn to become an productive adult in this world. It's just not that easy. He's a very challenging child. Every day is a challenge. Every hour is a challenge. One minute he's fine and the next the world is crashing in on him.

He does not deal well with change at all. This move has been very difficult for him. That's putting it mildly.

It breaks my heart to see that he notices that our youngest son does not have some of the same struggles that he does. He can see the differences. He's angry and frustrated. Sometimes I think he's even jealous.

He feels misunderstood. He is misunderstood. By me. By others. He thinks I'm against him no matter what I do.

He's not a toddler anymore. All of these struggles come hand and hand with being a 12 year old. He's having to deal with entering his teen years-which is hard enough. It's just not fair.

I watch other kids, other parents with their kids. My son doesn't "appear" to have anything wrong with him. He just looks like a healthy, handsome, young man. People don't really know what to do with him sometimes. His behavior can be misleading.

You never know what a child is going through. They're not just disrespectful. They don't just have a bad attitude. Sometimes there's more to it than that. Sometimes they don't know how to act around others, but aren't able to tell you that. So maybe they don't want to shake your hand? It doesn't mean they don't respect you. Sometimes they don't know what they feel. They just know they're uncomfortable.

Like many Wednesdays, I'm linking this up with Shell at Things I Can't Say.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Memory Lane Takes You Places

This is a picture of my new hall closet. It's home to these.
Years and years of family photos.
How can I just unpack them and not spend hours flipping through them?
Answer: I can't.

 Thursday was a hard day. I couldn't stop crying.
It was pretty pitiful. The ugly cry. The waterworks just wouldn't stop.
I know...I'm a big baby.

It's not the house we're leaving, it's the memories it has carried.
Almost ten years later, and I find myself wondering where the time has gone.

I have enjoyed a trip down memory lane this weekend.
Hubs and I spent Mother's Day morning flipping through album after album.
The boys slept late and we drank coffee and looked at our life in pictures.

It was therapeutic. I thought I'd share a few pieces with you.

This was the very first day at our old house.
My oldest looked like this...
He was four.

Nine years later...
...almost 13 years old and taller than me.

I brought my youngest home from the hospital to the old house.


Today he looks like this...

...6 years old and growing fast!

I realized why I am so emotional over this move.

A season of our life has passed.
Although, I'm ready to embrace whatever God has planned,
it's bittersweet to say good-bye to the last chapter.
We've shared so much life, and so many memories.

But, I'm ready to make more!
God has something good ahead!
I know that.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

In the meantime, enjoy a few more pics from my trip down memory lane.






Embrace today. Tomorrow comes so fast!

Easter Sunday 2011

Today memory lane took me to a place where I'm ready to embrace the new!

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This is it.

Tonight is the last night we will be in the Shoebox.

All month this move has pretty much sucked every bit of life out of me that is physically possible.

It's been a long month. That's putting it lightly.

I packed way too early. I thought preparation was the way to go. Little did I know nothing would go as planned, and we would continually unpack and repack everything from dishes to school supplies.

But tomorrow the moving truck will be pulling up in my driveway and we'll be making the big move. I'm not sure how I feel about it tonight. It's the strangest feeling.

I'm not sure I've been this tired in a long time. I'm pretty sure I have never felt this quiet. Lots of thoughts, no words to put them to.

Tonight as we wrapped up a few odds and ends at the new house I got to sit on the back porch with the boys for a minute. We could hear waves crashing. amazing.

So why am I sad?

It's leaving a season of life behind that's hard. This move signifies a transition period for my family. We've spent the last decade here at the Shoebox.

It's going to be hard to say good bye to all the wonderful memories we have had here.

I know the memories go with us. I get that.

But this is where they all happened.

Blogging has certainly taken  a back seat  in the past week. Forgive me for not coming by. I have a lot to catch you up on. My son's appointment went well, and I thank all of you for your kind comments and prayers. I will be posting a follow up soon to let you know all about it. 

What would it be like to be her?

The last time I visited my grandmother, I found myself wondering...what it would be like to be her?

So many memories.
So many experiences.

She's 86 years old, and as of recently, a permanent resident at a nursing home. What was initially a positive transition for her has quickly turned to the opposite. She says she isn't happy, and I can see that she's fading quickly. I'm shocked at how fast this past year has worn on her.

She's not mobile at all. Which means I am unable to pick her up and take her anywhere. I hate that!

She may never get see our new house.

On Sundays my parents take her to a pizza restaurant near the nursing home because it's the only restaurant within walking distance. Thank God the food is good!

On Easter we had pizza! My son was very happy about that.



She doesn't smile as much as she used to, and she gets lost in conversation easily. It's hard to watch.

She has 15 great grandchildren. That's amazing!

When she pointed that out to me I told her how amazing I thought it was and that I hope I'm blessed enough to see my 15th great grandchild.

She just looked up at me and said, "Getting old isn't easy."

I'm sorry Grandma.