Thursday, February 20, 2014

Getting Real: The Fish Bowl

When we were taking our PRIDE classes to get our Foster License we were told that we would be living in a fish bowl when it came to our parenting.  Everybody would be there to judge us.  We've seen the truth of that-caseworkers, people who go to church, teachers, family, etc.  We've even sat before a judge as lawyers questioned every aspect of it.

If this is true for foster parenting its three times as true for parenting a special needs child (including the lawyer part).  I have never felt so judged and attacked in my parenting as I have when it comes to Little Man.  You have those who view you as soft parents who let his behavior get out of control.  You have others who think you are too hard on him and his autism should be an excuse for his behavior.  You have others who think that if you just provided more positive reinforcement, high expectations, structure, etc then you he would do better.

We have two therapists, a caseworker, a nurse, teachers, social worker, counselor, and more working with him on a regular basis.  Everybody has an opinion, and few of those opinions take into consideration that I'm a momma to three other kids, two of them the same age as Little Man, two of them also high needs.  They don't consider that I'm trying to not drowned my marriage in all of this, and that my husband is my number 1 priority and no child will trump that.  They don't consider that my house hangs on the balance of falling to pieces at any moment and I can't allow that to happen (not with multiple people entering my home every week).

However, there are those people: therapists, friends, family, who cast no judgement and look at the situation in its entirety, whose suggestions are just that.  Many of those people have seen the tears roll down my cheeks, have listened to random rants that are sometimes angry and sometimes sad and sometimes a bit bitter.  They have listened for hours.  I'm beyond thankful for those people, they hold me up.

And then there is Tony.  What would I do without that man?  Not one week goes by that I don't tell him I feel like it's all my fault, it must be.  Not a week goes by that I don't scream at him as a result of someone elses behavior.  Not one week has gone by that something didn't get done for him because of something else that I had to do first.  But there he stands, beside me, leading this family.  I love that man and would have fallen to pieces without him.

I know I'm not alone in these feelings, I also know the opinions won't go away.  All of it is an aspect of raising a child with special needs.  Maybe I grow a thicker skin.  I hope not though.  I hope I learn to hear it but filter it through the truth of Christ first and his value of me, of my husband second and how he views me as a mother, and then those friends and families I treasure who have seen our lives in many different aspects.

If you want an amazing special needs blog post check out this one by Kate at Apply Pie, Anyone? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Picture Perfect: Winter

It has been one very snowy, VERY cold winter.  I'm not a big fan of winter, so to say I'm over this winter is a complete understatement.  Bring on the heat of summer (and the shorts, dresses, pool, and so many other wonderful things).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Getting Real: Praying Changes Hearts

One of our kids is a bit harder for us to raise then our other three.  We are on a constant roller coaster of emotions and behaviors with this child.  We have a week or two of good, followed by a week or two of ok, followed by a week or two of horrible, and on the cycle goes.

Recently, we found ourselves at the bottom of one of those cycles.  I was sitting in my room racking my brain to come up with ideas on what in the world to do.  Should we do time outs?  Are we missing something in our Love and Logic steps?  What will get the message across?  Does this child need more attention or less?  How do I keep my other kids safe?  And in all that racking and thinking and planning I completely left out God.

Not once during this cycle had I sat down to truly focus on God and what he would want me to do with child.  Everything was me and my answer.  Everything was by my own power and not the power that God had placed right in me, the Holy Spirit.

Tony and I have committed to taking a certain amount of time to pray specifically for this child and the issues we are having.  Is is helping?  I would say we are swinging up on that cycle but I haven't seen a HUGE impact on the behavior.  However, I have changed.  I have found that my prayers are for this child in particular, they are for my relationship with them.  I pray that I would find and seek out time to connect, that I would love deeply despite the behavior, that I would sit down in their mess and show them I'm not going anywhere.

Prayer changes things.  It's not necessarily in the way we think.  It may not change that person or that situation but it helps the person praying to align their heart with God and seek His will in what they would do.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Living Life with Littles: Meal Prep

One of the things that I am finding so helpful each week is "meal prep".  Every few weeks I go through our freezers and see what we have.  I then sit down and come up with about 15 to 20 different meals I can I make from what we have.  Every Saturday I take that list and meal plan for the week.  Based on that meal plan, I spend a chunk of time on Sunday prepping meals for the week.  I do as much prep work as possible at the beginning of the week to make the meals ready to go.

For the particular week I'm writing about in this post our meal plan looked like this:
  • Sunday: Non-soup Chicken and Noodle Soup (kids) and Steak and Pasta Salad (adults)
  • Monday: Lasagna, homemade bread, veggie
  • Tuesday: Hamburgers and hotdogs, sweet potato fries, pasta salad (left from Sunday)
  • Wednesday: Sandwich, applesauce
  • Thursday: Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Friday: Pizza
  • Saturday: Leftovers, extras, raid the cabinets
When I prepped this is what I had ready for the week:
  • Sunday: Supper made
  • Monday: Lasanga, flour mixture for bread ready for bread machine
  • Tuesday: hamburgers thawed and made, hotdogs thawing, pasta salad
  • Thursday: soup thawing
  • Friday: pizza dough made 

I learned a good lesson on why it's important for me to do this.  Nothing this particular week went the way I planned.  Sunday night I accidentally poked Sweet Pea in the eye, needing medical attention on Monday and Tuesday.  Tuesday and Thursday school was cancelled due to snow.  Tuesday Tony hit a snow drift on the way to work and wrecked his battery.  We had to drive into town (30 minutes) to get him on Tuesday night and back again on Wednesday morning.  On the way home Wednesday the van gave out on us.  Thursday Tony got it running well enough to get it to a shop.  Even with all that we had yummy, warm, home cooked meals, all week.  I know it saved us from going out to eat Tuesday.  We also felt like we were still eating well and didn't have the stress of scrambling last minute to figure out supper.  My weeks go better when I prep the meals at the beginning.