Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A New Diagnosis For Our Family

Please view my newest blog about Type 1 Diabetes

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Here I am, naked, broke, hungry and exhausted... but you matter!

On any given lunch break, I'll sit and scroll through facebook to see adorable pictures of my friend's kids.  I love facebook because in some shallow way, I have a clue as to what's happening in my friends' lives near and far.  It's sad... I'll admit it but I call it like I see it so there you have it.  Lately, I've been seeing a lot of posts that say something like:

It's 8:30 on a Tuesday night and I just had to turn down a weekend away with a dear college buddy for her very fun birthday party in Portland.  She was gracious and understood and for that I'm very grateful.  Missing her party on the other hand?  I'm so disappointed but... honestly... I'm really relieved too.  With one weekend left before Thanksgiving, I'm totally and completely overwhelmed.

I'm past my days of trying to create a meal that Ina Garten would brag about.  I'm done with having the house that Martha Stewart would showcase.  To be clear, I'm not talking about a prison cell.  I want my Thanksgiving to be fun, laid back and about family.  That said, I'd like the house to be warm, welcoming and clean.

I just spent 4 hours doing homework with my son.  His teacher is awesome... seriously awesome so don't go blaming him for my son's homework.  My daughter, at least another hour of homework... her teacher is wonderful too.  The dishes are piled to the ceiling, my laundry is almost caught up... believe it or not, my floors are covered in inches of dog hair and I'm pretty sure if Haz-Mat showed up, we'd be kicked out of our home.  My bills aren't paid, I haven't talked to many of my best friends in days and I had to cut my evening conversation with my dad short by quite a few minutes.  My husband hasn't seen much of me today and I just got a notice from my homeowner's association telling me I get to "donate" $50 to them because I had a patch of ivy growing my in my front yard that wasn't to code.  I worked all day in a job that I love and I really don't have many outside interests at the moment except Bible study.  You can imagine how seeing posts like these on facebook makes me stay up until the wee hours of the morning wondering if my friends feel this way.  Really??? I know at least 2 of them did because they aren't in my life anymore.

These messages are a bunch of garbage.  Do you deserve to be a priority? Yes!  Do you deserve love, affection, attention and whatever else your love language is?  Yes!  If your good friend isn't showing you this does it mean she/he doesn't love you with all of their heart?

I'm sorry.  I'm so very sorry.  I have said these same things, questioned friendships and had many conversations with God and my friends about whether or not I'm a priority in someone's life.  God answered with humility.  God showed me that there are so many hours in a day and far more tasks to accomplish.  Could I go to Portland this weekend? Perhaps.  I'd show up at my friend's party naked because I didn't have my clothes washed.  I'd be a complete wreck because the bills wouldn't be paid and I'd likely be facing collection calls while I was there.  My family would be hungry because there wouldn't be any food in the house... I'm lying here.  My husband would cover this one.  My husband... oh year, that guy that I share a house with that makes sure my kids are fed and that we have a roof over our head.  I should probably make time for him this weekend too.  My dear friends and loved ones, I write this for you.  I love you and I will spend time with you when I'm once again clothed and sane.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dear Bank of America,
Today was a difficult day. I watched from above as my daughter remembered my death, 11 years ago to the day. She recalled losing me to a long battle with cancer. She grieved my loss and worked with her father to take care of arrangements.

My husband worked for you for over 40 years. He was loved by his co-workers and quite well known within the SeaFirst/ Bank of America community. When he and my daughter sat down in your Kirkland, WA branch to close out my account, they were surrounded by many longtime friends and colleagues. They provided my death certificate and closed all of my accounts.

I’m sure you can understand my frustration and confusion when I tell you that my daughter, *****, receives a credit card application from your bank at least twice a year. What’s odd is that I never even lived in her home. The address you send the applications to didn’t even exist 11 years ago when I made my move to heaven. *** has called the bank several times to get this stopped but she hasn’t had success. She has been told that she needs to furnish a death certificate and prove my death. Didn’t she already do that?

I do not need a credit card in heaven. I have everything I need and more. What I do need is for you to stop sending these painful reminders of my absence. I don’t need you to bother my daughter or my husband anymore by telling them this problem is theirs to solve.
Thank you ahead of time for taking care of this. I will appreciate a mailed response from this letter to my daughter,**** at the address indicated.


C/O ****

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Speech Apraxia, Our story

Today is National Apraxia Awareness Day.  Have you heard of Apraxia?  The term was entirely new to me when my son Nick was diagnosed 8 years ago.  Back then, it was quite rare and the only resources available were related to autism. 

Apraxia of speech: A severe speech disorder characterized by inability to speak, or a severe struggle to speak clearly. Apraxia of speech occurs when the oral- motor muscles do not or cannot obey commands from the brain, or when the brain cannot reliably send those commands. Children with apraxia can be helped significantly with intensive speech

10 Signs of Apraxia
1.  Struggling to get words out
2. Underdeveloped muscle tone.  Drooling as a toddler, feeding issues, etc.
3. Small and gross motor delays
4. Social avoidance
5.  Clearly understands language but can't use it
6.  Displays greater speaking difficulty when nervous or anxious
7.  Sensory issues (hates loud noises, can't stand hair cuts, wears the same shirt every day)
8.  Hyperactivity related to sensory issues
9.  Seems to speak his or her own language
10.  Reading, spelling, and writing difficulties

Nick was an adorable, healthy 9 lb 4 oz baby that was always happy.  He came into this world just as my mother left... but that's a story for another time.  Nick had a normal birth history without complications and everything seemed to be going along very well.  At about 14 months, I walked into Nick's room one morning, flipped the light on and something felt different.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it but Nick seemed different... more reserved and not as easy going.

We'd go to playgroups and other baby/ toddler activities.  He'd play well with other kids but he wasn't talking like they were.  He wouldn't make eye contact and his motor skills seemed behind.  Well meaning moms would ask if I had heard about Autism.  They'd tell me about articles they'd read, they'd point out the milestones that their children were achieving and raise an eyebrow as if to say, "Do you realize your kid is different?"   
YES!  I realized and YES, I was terrified.

Having quit my job early on in my pregnancy, I found myself isolated and trying to find other stay at home mommy friends.  My mom had passed and very few of my friends were mothers.  Nick and I would drive many miles to meet moms and other kids but still... we just didn't fit in.

We put Nick into speech therapy at about 15 months.  We saw small improvements but we were still so far away from where we should be.  I was having lunch with a former co-worker one day when she hit the nail on the head.  She said, "Lisa, it's like he knows what he wants to say but can't get his mouth to form the words.  I know he understands you and wants to talk."

I've been known to create a disease or two after spending hours on google.  I'm sure my friends and family thought I had created a new disease when I told them I suspected Nick had apraxia.  I emailed the speech therapist to see what she thought.  She wasn't sure because Nick was so young.  We continued with therapy and wondered in the back of our minds if we were dealing with Apraxia or Autism or both... we seem to be straight A's when it comes to disorders.  Asthma, ADD, Arthritis, Apraxia.  After being asked time and time again be friends, strangers and even my daughter's pediatrician about a possible autism diagnosis, we consulted a neurologist.  She spent an hour with Nick, turned to me and said, "Nick does not have Autism.  He has a severe speech disorder called Apraxia which also impacts his gross and fine motor abilities."

I burst into tears.  The tears were tears of relief.  We finally had a diagnosis that was treatable.  Nick would get better.

The neurologist connected us with a social worker who got the ball rolling for speech, OT, special schooling, book lists, you name it!  The next few years we exposed Nick to every extra curricular and social experience we could find.  Of course Nick didn't want to make eye contact!  If he did, he'd be expected to speak.  We did it all!  Two preschools at once, gymboree, little gym, gymnastics, golf, soccer, t-ball, swimming, social groups, speech, OT, vision therapy, the list goes on.  We read every book we could get our hands on.  When one speech therapist would tell us Nick had progressed as far as he could, we'd politely move on to the next therapist.  Public school tried to slap an autism label on Nick even though every therapist and neurologist we saw said he was not on the spectrum.  Nick hated school and ended up in the ER with an anxiety attack because there was so much focus on what was wrong with him instead of what was right.  Our son is brilliant... seriously.  We pulled him out and put him in private school.  When that private school stopped working, we put him in another.

My shower became my crying closet.  I'd worry if Nick would ever speak a proper sentence.  I worried that maybe we had missed a really scary diagnosis.  Would his social skills ever develop?  Would his motor skills ever catch up?  Would he ever be happy or would he be consistently bullied?  Would I have to home school?  I cried out to God and asked him why He would take my mother and allow Nick to have apraxia.  It just seemed too cruel.  I was brought to my knees in prayer and my Sundays changed from "football and pajama day" to church... and then football and pajama day.  I started studying the Bible and found community with the women I studied with.  We began volunteering for a ministry outreach, Young Life, and found support from loving and caring friends.  Nick started to get better.  He'd make huge jumps and then plateau for a while.  

Nick was 8 and I found myself standing on the playground, talking to a new friend as we watched our kids run around and have fun.  I told her about the challenges Nick had experienced and she said, "Are you serious?  I never would have known!"  That's when it hit me.  Nick beat apraxia! I joke now that we prayed too much because the kid never stops talking. 

Nick is 10 now and doing wonderfully.  He has straight A's in school... the right kind of A's, has several close friends and he's very happy.  We occasionally deal with stuttering but that too shall pass. He writes as well as a ten-year-old boy can, reads at an 8th grade reading level, plays basketball and soccer and is insanely good at the hula hoop.

I share our story and our journey with you in hopes that someone might find inspiration for their own difficult road.  Early intervention was key for our son but it's never too late to get help!  


Apraxia Mom
Apraxia Kids- Every Child Deserves a Voice
This journey has been incredibly difficult.  As much as I hate apraxia, it has blessed our family in ways we never would have experienced.  The tribe of people that support us is a miracle.  Therapists, friends, other special needs families, the list goes on.  I've lost a lot of friends along the way that didn't understand why I didn't have extra time.  I've angered more than one teacher, principal or school board member.  I'm pretty sure I'm on a few government lists for the phone calls and letters I've written demanding more resources for public education and special ed.  I've been called a barracuda mom, momma bear and a few other things that I can't share here.  It has been worth it!  Advocate for your children because nobody else will!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Top 10 Last minute gift ideas

Lisa's Top Ten Favorite Things

Looking for a last minute gift idea?  Here are some of my favorites.

10.  Sugar Lip Balm by Fresh
     Dry lips?  This is absolutely worth the money!  A must have in your nightstand, handbag and car!  Buy an extra just in case they stop making it!

 9.  Scentsy Plug In Warmer
     As if the wonderful scents of Christmas cottage and Apple pie weren't enough, this adorable warmer projects butterflies onto the walls. 

8.  Down Throw from Pacific Coast Feather
$80.00 marked down to $19.99!!!
Stock up on these!  I was unsure if we'd like these because they were a bit crinkly at first.  These relaxed and are the coziest, warmed throws you'll find.  It's big enough to throw over a twin sized bed but condenses nicely for a family room throw.  Think you'll like it? Buy an extra because these are almost gone!

7.  OPI Nail Polish (Vampsterdam)
GOR-JUS!!!!  Had to run out and get nails for this one.  The most beautiful deep purple with a subtle hint of metallic... wonderful!  This shade is from their Holland collection. Check out their Skyfall collection as well!

6.  Chloe Perfume
A beautiful blend of floral and amber scents for a light but wonderful perfume. 
Great for a signature scent!

5.  Geometric necklace from Nordstrom, BP
This fun necklace goes with nearly everything.  Subtle in color but enough to make an outfit pop

4.  Perfect T (Lush)
Oversized but flattering.  I bought this in 3 colors for layering.  Throw a cami underneath and a jacket on top. These are even on sale!

3.  UGG Adirondack Boots
No question these are a HUGE splurge.  However, they will keep your feet warm and toasty through out the next ice age.  Hopefully the last snow boots I'll ever buy, these are a favorite that was worth the wait!

2.  Donate to a charity that has special meaning for a loved one
"What do you want for Christmas?"  How many times have you counted your blessings and realized that you have nearly everything you could ever want?  Ask for a donation to your favorite charity.  Want to save lives? 

Consider Auburn Young Life, Saint Jude's, or American Cancer Society.

1.  Jesus Calling
This daily devotional speaks to my heart every day.  The greatest gift you can give is God's Word!

All of these gifts are fun to give and fun to receive.  Let us not forget that we give in the spirit of God giving his only son who gave His life for our eternal salvation.  Jesus is the reason!

Merry Christmas my friends!  Thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What is in your heart?

Tonight, my kids got on stage in front of over 200 people. They sang, spoke and celebrated the birth of Jesus. This is heartwarming in and of itself but my tears seemed out of place to those that didn’t know me.

My son has speech apraxia. It’s a nasty disorder that makes people unable to articulate their brilliant thoughts and emotions. My son understands everything that is said to him but he can’t always speak his mind. Sometimes his motor skills are delayed because of this apraxia. I hate this disorder and we fight it with everything we’ve got everyday. Just when we thought we were out of the woods, a severe stutter plagued my son this past October. His progress has been steady but slow. I know God will fully restore his speech and give him a confidence that lacks arrogance.

Many people have insisted on labeling him. I have fought to keep him from being categorized as someone that should be pulled out of class and thrown into a “special needs environment.” Why? I have seen how people quickly pass judgment on children needing these services.

So imagine my rage tonight when I read a post on a friend’s wall.

"Remember the boy in our children's class last year with a mental/social disorder and his "violent" outbursts? Well, my oldest has another one in her class this year. He always has a Para following him, too. “Daughter’s name here came home last month and told us she almost got jumped by him. During class, she felt a pair of eyes blazing at her while listening to the teacher's lessons. She glanced to her left and all of a sudden he lunged towards her! Good thing she has quick reflexes and got out of her chair fast. Got escorted out with the Para. He had another episode during PE where he grabbed a girl and scratched her arm. And NOTHING is provoking this kid! I DO have a problem with the parents thinking that their child with "special needs" needs to be integrated with the public when the child has violent tendencies. I am all for meds if they need them. Private school is tempting and might have to research the high schools nearby. Not worried about the guns, but those "kids" with the guns and their future."

Our nation experienced one of the worst, most horrific tragedies ever this past Friday. We later learned that the shooter had aspergers. We learned that he had serious mental health issues and yet our nation decided to engage in a huge debate about gun control rather than how we help those with poor mental health. I don’t know this person so I can’t ask her questions to clarify exactly what she meant. However, I’ve heard so many people say things like this and have come to learn that their motives were hateful and ignorant.

The first boy mentioned in this post was a child I encountered quite often. He was scared, overwhelmed and out of control. The first time I experienced one of his outbursts, I went under a table because I thought a shooting had broken out. When I got to know more about his story, I tried desperately to help de-escalate his fears. It took courage but my heart broke for this young man. I felt that the school was taxed on personnel and resources to properly help this child but I never considered him “another one of those.”

America, wake up! Stop wishing that children with special needs would disappear into the back rooms of the school... or attend a different school entirely. All children are blessings. All have special talents and gifts. Many of the children with special needs have incredible gifts and talents that this world misses out on. Stop referring to children by their diagnosis. Your child is not an aspie, autistic, a stutterer, or bipolar. Your child is a blessing that might be afflicted by a disorder. This is not their identity! Children that experience spectrum disorders are not automatically a risk of committing atrocities like those witnessed over the past few weeks. The children at risk are those that are ostracized rejected, judged and made to feel that they aren’t good enough. The biggest problem in this country isn’t guns, a fiscal cliff or other political issues. It’s a lack of compassion and an unwillingness to help those at risk. Before you write to your senator, examine your heart and your actions.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

10 Things I've Learned From My Kids

1.  Penmanship really does matter

  • If you write and spell well, it's all lost if nobody can read it.  In our world, penmanship is so much more important since we have become accustom to reading everything in perfect print online.
  • The letters "c, k, o, s, u, v, w, x and z" will forever frustrate me for the reasons mentioned above.
2.  2 wrongs don't make a right
  • He told me to
  • Painful but true, "but you did it too"
3.  There is a time to be focused and a time to daydream.  Don't discount the importance of either.
  • Listen to and encourage the dreams of your children
  • Help them learn to stay focused in even the noisiest settings
  • Take time to daydream
4.  Expect the best, understand good enough and never settle for anything less.

5.  Prayers work... always.
  • Sometimes the things we want the most would be the worst for us
  • Even when we are unaware, things will work out the way they are supposed to for the greater plan
6.   Sometimes, less is more.
  • Don't become so over scheduled that you can't take time to enjoy the little moments that life are made of.
  • If you expect perfection from yourself, your children won't attempt new things unless they too can be perfect.
  • If it doesn't make a difference, what difference does it make?
7.  Hold children accountable
  • Much past the age of 5, allowing them to blame Mom or Dad for a forgotten coat or misplaced assignment isn't acceptable.  Turn it back on your kids... make them accountable!
  • Chores are not slavery
  • Every once in a while, a failed assignment is worth the teachable moment.... I need to remember this one!
8.  Focus on the positive but don't be afraid to set boundaries and enforce rules
  • When your child is listing of negatives, make them say at least 3 positive things about the situation (thank you S.C. for this insight!)
  • Be consistent in rules, discipline, and never miss a chance to praise.
9.  Don't be afraid to cry in front of your kids
  • Don't be a basket case or make your children serve as the parent BUT show them it's okay to express emotions
  • Showing emotion makes your children more comfortable to show their emotions

10.  If you mess up, say you're sorry