Wednesday, March 28, 2018

An Open Letter...

to all my friends who don't have medically-fragile children,

   First, let me start by saying I miss you. This stage of life we're in, raising tiny people, can sometimes feel like a run-out-the-clock (until bedtime) sort of situation. I know we're both busy. I know life is crazy. It doesn't make me miss you any less. I think about you more than you know.

   I realize I am MIA from time to time. And, I know there are times you take that personal. I'd like to ask you to take pause before you let it hurt. It's not intentional. I promise. Sometimes I can answer your text right away. Sometimes I open it and immediately have to drop my phone and run. And, unfortunately, I never know which one it's going to be.

   I need to apologize. I know that there are times it seems like I think I'm superior to you because I'm going through something you can't understand. I'm sure I've unintentionally given off the vibe that "I know your life is stressful, but look how much more stressful mine is..." I also know I probably seem selfish because of how often I talk about my family's needs. You are probably tired of hearing about how hard my life is or how painful it is to watch my child go through this or how frustrating insurance and doctors and big pharma are. I'm sure you are tired of hearing the same prayer requests at every church service or prayer meeting (and if you're not, that's because I'm afraid you are so I don't bring it up anymore).

   I am really sorry if you've ever felt that way.

   I'm sorry for the times you have felt overlooked because it's 'always about me'. I try to not let this be the case. But, to be honest, when those moments happen, more often than not, it is a desperate plea for you to SEE ME. For you to notice me. To hopefully be understood on some small level. And, to be shown grace for all the times you've felt like I've let you down.

   Because the truth is, you can't know what this is like. You cannot understand. And, to be really honest, it hurts when you say you do. Because that's when I know you really don't see me.

   The really hard thing is that, as much as I want to feel understood by you, I know the only way for that to happen is to have you going through the same thing. And, there's NO CHANCE I'd EVER wish this upon you. I would never wish upon you the constant worry and wondering when the next seizure is going to strike and never being comfortable or at peace if she's out of your sight and the nonsense of dealing with medicine schedules and refilling prescriptions and fighting with insurance and doctor's appointments and tests and more tests and not enough tests and wondering why in 5 years we've never had her seizures under control and giving every ounce of yourself every single day just to have to do it all night too and yet fearing sleep and slides and swings and pools and bath time and food coloring and candy (and trick-or-treat and valentines and christmas candy and easter egg hunts and birthday treats at school) and trips in the car and having to go to meetings at school to educate the staff on epilepsy and emergency procedures and writing protocols and changing EVERYTHING every few months because nothing works and trips to the ER... so many trips to the ER and dealing with soiled bed sheets and clothes because seizures take away her ability to control it and holding your unresponsive child and not being able to hold your other children because this one NEEDS you again and watching her be unable to form coherent sentences even though you can tell she knows what she wants but cannot find the words or seeing her blue and convulsing on the floor and begging God to heal her because you know that every single seizure has the potential to take her from you forever and still always hearing "not yet."

   Nope. I really don't want you to understand that.

   I know there are things that you have experienced that I cannot understand because I have not walked through those same trials. And, I apologize for the times when I have cheapened your experiences by presuming that I know what it was like to be you in those scenarios or, worse... made you feel like that matters less than what I've dealt with. Please, please forgive me.

   So, I guess what it comes down to is this... dear friend, I'm asking for grace and patience. Before you allow yourself to feel hurt that I don't initiate, consider the possibility that it was a bad epilepsy night and we didn't get much sleep. Before you mentally roll your eyes when I start venting about things, please consider that I'm trying to let you in on a very challenging and painful thing we're experiencing and I'm trying to help you understand. Before you tell me you "get it" or that you understand, maybe consider the possibility that you don't. And, know that I think that's ok. I don't need you to understand. Some days it's all I can do to simply make sure my family successfully makes it through the day. If I somehow am blessed with the energy to not only go out with you, but also have the mental capacity to hold a grown-up and coherent conversation, please, at some point during our time together, just listen. That's all I really need. I need someone to hear the hurt, to hear the stress, to hear my heart, and to be ok with me just as I am that day.

And, please, always remember that (even when I can't express it well) I love you and am so grateful for your friendship.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Two Words that are Saving my Motherhood



I'll be honest, this whole being a mom to littles and having one with special needs thing is exhausting.

Especially since I'm one of those weird extroverted introverts.

I love and am so grateful for my friends, but I NEED peace and quiet to recharge so that I can keep loving my friends. ;)

I get frustrated with myself that my family gets the worst of me. But, for an introvert, it is so hard to have people around CONSTANTLY. And, when you're a mom of littles, there are no breaks... especially when one of them has health issues that require more hands-on than most other kids require.

So, I've had to develop some coping mechanisms.

One of those is simply showing myself more grace. Being ok with being the World's Okayest Mom.

But, another one of the BEST things I've done as a mom was actually pointed out to me by my husband a few nights ago. I honestly didn't even recognize that I had started to do this.

He thanked me at dinner for starting to do this simple thing with our kids because he knows it has saved a lot of frustration, impatience and yelling from happening in our home. (By the way, I'M the yeller,... not him)

My secret?

When the kids are whining or being rude or not speaking how we've taught them (i.e., please, thank you, etc), I simply ask them to "try again."

I'll say that over and over until they ask me the right way.

We've done this enough now that they get it and are usually giggling when they rephrase their question or ask it with a better attitude.

Also, I'm stubborn. (my pooooooor kids)
So, I don't budge until they've tried enough times to get it right.

There's no nagging, no impatience, no frustration.

Just, "try again."



And, then we all get what we want.

I get polite kids who are learning how to respect adults and get to experience grace.
They get a calm, kind, gentle momma who is learning to show grace to others (and herself!).

Win-Win

Try it out in your home. I bet it'll work for you, too.

-kt

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm fine.

How often does this happen to you?

You run into someone... could be an acquaintance, could be a very close friend... and you ask, "How are you?"
And, they reply with the super vague, "Fine!"

It seems the closer you are to the person, the less likely you are to be happy about such a flippant answer.

But, let me give you something to consider.

As a mom of a child who has had a long battle with epilepsy, sometimes "fine" is all I've got.


Please don't take it personally.
It's really no disrespect to you.
It doesn't mean I don't trust you or that you are not close enough for me to be honest.
I'm not purposely withholding information from you as some sneaky judgment against you.

Often times there is just not a simple answer to that question. Kids with long-term health issues have such complicated daily lives that, especially in a store or a restaurant where I've run into you, I don't know what to share and what not to. I never know how many details people want.

Every parent with a kid who needs extra care has seen that look of terror in people's eyes when you start to share too much too soon and you realize too late that they were actually hoping things were just "fine."

And, do you want to know how she is or how I am or how our family is doing? Because none of those are mutually exclusive and ALL of those can be loooong answers.

If you really want to know, I'm happy to share. It's always a relief to have someone truly listen. I can put on the tea kettle or a pot of coffee. Just give me a 10 minute heads up so I can make sure my kids are also ready for a guest. (and bring donuts... or muffins... *wink*)

And, there are times when "fine" is the truth.


Every moment my daughter is not seizing on the ground, I am fine.
Every moment my phone is not ringing with school on the other end, I am fine.
Every day we get her out of her morning clusters in enough time to get to school on time not too late, I am fine.
Every day the red-tape isn't an issue and all the paperwork goes well, I am fine.
Every time I get to hear her giggle, I am fine.
Every day there isn't a new procedure or test or medicine to try, I am fine.
Every moment that her brother and sister are happy and feeling loved despite all of this, I am fine.


It doesn't matter what is going on with me most of the time.... I AM fine.

*NOT GREAT*

But, I'm fine.

The truth is, life is hard. We live in a fallen, pain-filled world. God didn't promise that life would be easy. He NEVER promised that He would protect us from more than we could handle. The exact opposite really. He confirms over and over in scripture that this life would be hard and full of challenges and He encourages us to face these things with courage and bravery, knowing He'd be right there with us, every step of the way...
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."   Jesus speaking in John 16:33
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith,..."   1 Peter 5:8-9
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."   James 4:7
     *See? It's our responsibility to actively resist the enemy.*
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"   Psalm 27:13-14
So, I'm fine.

God is with me.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."   Joshua 1:9
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."   Psalm 147:3
Therefore, I'm fine.

I am fine.
   *promise*

So,... how are you?
-kt

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Simple Saturdays - Finish What You Started



This simple phrase has been a game-changer for me.

How easy is it, as moms, to start something but find ourselves pulled in a million other directions?



I mean, just when I finally get around to *fill in the blank* the baby needs changing,
which makes me notice that the garbage needs taking out,
which makes me see that the rug needs vacuumed,
that makes me remember that I shoved things in the closet and I should put them back where they belong,
and then the toddler spills something,
and that makes me remember that I didn't wipe the table off after breakfast,
and the dryer buzzed so I throw the clothes on my bed and see that my coffee cup needs to be brought to the sink,
where I find more dishes that need washing,
but the kids are hungry so I need to make lunch...

and on and on...

and by the time the day is done, I have a bunch of stuff started, the house is cluttered, but nothing is done.

*sigh*



Enter my life-changing new mantra: FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED.

All it really takes is a little self-discipline.
You have to be ok with not getting A LOT done.

BUT, you get the satisfaction of knowing you actually completed something.



Some days, all I get done are the basics (preparing meals, doing the dishes, and general tidying).
And, some days, THAT'S OK!

This even applies to all those amazing working mamas.



Tonya Dalton of The Productivity Paradox (and the creative genius behind inkWELL Press) mentioned recently in her podcast that multitasking isn't really as productive as we might think.

"Experts estimate that switching between these tasks, this virtual tug of war that's happening right now in your brain, it can cause a 40% loss in productivity. You want to know the worst part? You tend to be more error prone. You're working slower and less effectively. People argue that multitasking is more efficient. They say, "I'm getting more done." But are you, if you have more errors, and it actually takes you more time? The more errors you have, the more you have to go back and fix those errors, instead of handling it one time, and being done with it. It's not really that efficient. The next time you go to multitask, ask yourself this, "Which is more important? To be efficient, or effective?" Because you cannot be effective, if your brain is continuing with this tug of war. Doing two things at once makes you miss obvious things." 


If I'm really being honest, I'd rather do a few things well than feel like I've started, but haven't completed, anything.

Don't you agree?

So, tomorrow, don't stress yourself out with a giant to-do list.
Finish what you started.

I promise you'll sleep better.
-kt


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rest

I figure that it's appropriate timing for this post since I started blogging regularly again at the beginning of the year and have since disappeared.

The last few weekends were crazy.

And, instead of stressing myself out to write something for all 5 of my followers, I decided to set an example of grace by showing myself some. Ha.

Plus, that first weekend was it was my birthday.

And, I'm tired.

Prioritizing sleep has been very important for me lately. The ironic thing about hypothyroidism is you can be completely exhausted yet unable to fall asleep. But, giving myself the opportunity to sleep is super necessary. And, as much as I hate to admit this, I get a much higher quality of sleep at night when I don't fall asleep to Netflix or Hulu. *insert sad face*



I am finding so much value in stillness and quiet. 

And, I don't just mean noise. But, quietness of heart and mind and soul, as well.

I try to take advantage of the quiet moments in my house so that I can quiet my heart and be more prepared for when the house gets loud and crazy again. Those moments are few and far between... and oh, so valuable. 

I am also trying to do so much more resting in the Lord and the unknown. Part of that simply looks like refusing to strive for the unattainable. So often I put more pressure on myself than ANYONE else does... including God. By showing myself more grace and giving myself more time, I also reduce the stress in my home. By not setting such unreachable standards for myself, I'm allowing my family to rest more, to enjoy our home, to just be.

(AND, one of the blessings of showing myself more grace and not filling up my schedule was that I had a whole day to work on curtains. Not the most glamorous of projects, but it makes our home so much nicer. I was able to hem our kitchen curtains, our bedroom curtains, and make curtains for our bathroom, bedroom and our girls' room! It's so fulfilling to have that off my perpetual to-do list.) 

Sure, I still want the sink to be empty of dirty dishes and the floor to be swept/vacuumed as often as possible. But, since those things are actually doable most days, it's ok! What's not realistic is to demand perfectly made beds and completely tidy, organized rooms constantly, or the opportunity to accomplish a bunch of tasks on my personal to-do list. There's no life in that. And, my kids are young enough that they're still learning how to do that anyway.

By being able to find rest in the mess (all the mess - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and in our home), we are learning how to really do life together. 

The time often comes for work. For decluttering. For teaching.

But, sometimes, all we really need is a rest. 

-kt

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Current Favs - March 2017

I've never really been one to embrace something simply because it's trendy.

If I take part in a trend, it's because I actually like it.

(Which is why I'm always a few months behind. Ha. I'm a BIG fan of leggings now, but it took me a looooong time to even try them.)

So, I thought I'd share some of my current favs with you.
These are some of my tried-and-trues.

Clothing:

As I'm simplifying everything, I'm finding that I'd rather have one nice thing (versus multiple cheap things) because then I always know where they are. I'm less likely to misplace something because I'm probably using it.
So, these slippers won. They are wonderful. TOMS recommends sizing down if you normally wear a 1/2 size. 7 1/2 TOMS fit me perfect so I got these in 7s and they fit wonderfully.



Sorry they are hard to see. It's the best picture I have.
You can find similar ones here discounted on Zulily today.

Makeup:

Several of my friends have talked about wanting to find a tinted lip balm because lipstick can be drying and lip gloss can be sticky.
I found it!
This stuff goes on light, is not sticky, and adds a nice subtle color. I got mine at our grocery store, but I'm guessing in more populated areas, they are easier to find.
This one is Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Rose.




Podcast:
The Memory Palace

There is just something about this guy's voice and the music he chooses and they way he tells these forgotten stories that makes me listen to every... single... episode. He takes a topic that most people would know a little something about and finds a nugget of history associated with it that most people have NO idea about. Plus, they're short. They usually are no more than 15 minutes. Look it up. Listen to it. You won't be disappointed.

Music:
Elevation Worship station on Amazon Prime. I've had to "thumbs down" several songs and there are a few songs I skip past, but for the most part, this is goooooood music. 

Food/Drink:
Pomegranate Tea with a few drops of Lemon Essential Oil and a half of a packet of Truvia. I'm obsessed. John even asked why I was having this drink every night now. Truth is, I'm trying to snack less at night and this is a good way to have something sweet, fruity and delicious.

Blogger:
I have loved Emily from Jones Design Co, for a long time now. She has beautiful free printables and as I'm getting more into watercolors and hand scripting, I definitely enjoy her posts. Plus, she's adorable and a fellow young mom. Check her out.

I hope you like these things as much as I do!
-kt




Saturday, February 25, 2017

Simple Saturdays: The Easiest and Yummiest Shredded Chicken Ever



This is absolutely the easiest (and one of the tastiest) recipes I make.



Four ingredients.

Chicken, water, onion salt and italian dressing mix.
That's it!



And, it's super versatile.

All I do is place enough chicken for our family in a slow cooker (this time it was one breast and 3 thighs, but it's totally your preference).

Add 1 cup of water (we need the extra moisture here at our high elevation).

Then, I sprinkle the chicken with a generous amount of onion salt and 1 package of this italian dressing mix. The whole packet.



If the chicken is frozen, I put the slow cooker on high for an hour before switching it to low.
It's a pretty standard slow cooker meal, so high for 4 hours or low for 6-8.

Then, shred and add more water as necessary.



Our favorite ways to have this are over rice or mashed potatoes or on rolls as chicken sandwiches.

My kids GOBBLE it up. All three ask for seconds, and thirds...

I like to double the recipe so I can do sandwiches one night and over rice or potatoes later.

Hope you love it, too!
-kt