Monday, January 21, 2019

You Are Not Alone

Yesterday I cried. 

I didn't mean to.  It was a soft cry, gentle tears welling up after a discussion in Sunday School about exhaustion, depression, motherhood, and so on (you'd love my Sunday School women's class, as we are quite free to discuss anything).  We as a group were experiencing different levels of the aforementioned, and each one of us has a very different life that we live.

Most days I can hold it together.  I have to.  After 17 years of parenting special needs children, I try to keep myself in check as much as humanly possible in order to keep the household running half way efficiently.  It is above my abilities, and it makes me lean on the Lord.  Don't get me wrong--I'm not anywhere near perfect.  I'm the last person on this earth who can claim perfection.  I do, however, have somethings I'd like to share with you special needs parents out there...from the trenches over here. 

You aren't alone.

Seriously, you are far from alone.  We are out there.  We are in each city, town, rural area, you name it.  People like you and me, who are often isolated from the rest of the world while we handle the day to day issues of raising special needs children...there's more like us!  You'll not see us carrying signs proclaiming anything.  You'll not find us in the coffee shops sipping on the latest fad latte or milling around malls much.  You may find us in the waiting rooms of doctors offices, going to and from therapists, sitting in school offices for IEP meetings and occasionally meetings over behavior, maybe a drive thru lane at McDonald's. 

Mostly, you'll find us at home.

The majority of us are home bodies.  We didn't start out that way.  No one really does.  We started out with the idea that we'd be like other parents.  For some of us, it didn't take long to figure out we would not fit in to a "normal" parenting world.  In my case, it started very early in motherhood. 

You see, not many daycares and private sitters want to take care of special needs babies or toddlers.  It's so much work to care one on one, it takes the provider away from other kids in their care.  If the baby or toddler has issues that require monitoring, medications, special anything, the cost goes up significantly or the child is turned down completely.  More often than not, mom can't work and provide income needed as there are no options or very expensive options for child care.  So begins the home body.  In my case, I have been raising not one but 3 special needs children--one biological and 2 stepchildren--and finding care for all 3 so I could work also just is not affordable.  In fact we still have to have supervision for them at their ages now, so I can't really work outside until they are adults and in their own living situations. 

Most often our kids stand out from the crowd.  Everyone sees it.  They behave differently.  They may use equipment others don't.  We pack around monitors, wheelchairs, a child or three who is freaking out with noise and lights, handle meltdowns and aggression.  We feel the embarrassment of the other folks looking at us with judgemental looks and comments.  It's just easier and safer to stay home.  I personally have a habit of looking into the eyes of the special needs mom and smiling, nodding, trying to show I understand.  Sometimes I compliment them on something as minute as their blouse or dress or how cute their child is...something, anything to help that mom feel better for a moment.  I've even started doing this with young moms who are looking frazzled with little ones and trying to get done what they need to do.  Often times they apologize for how their child behaved, and I tell them not to worry, I've been there, and they will grow up.  Sometimes just that little bit seems to help relieve tension in mom.  Myself, I still deal with frustrating times in the stores when I have any of the kids in tow.  They are teens now, but they are not matured to teenage years.  I still get those looks, comments, etc even at 15, 16, and 17.  I wonder at times if it will end.  Each trip is a teaching time about personal space, appropriate behavior in public, how to use money, comparing prices, etc, and those I believe will continue on a long while. 

You're not alone.  We're out there.  You'll find us mostly on social media, blogs, etc.  We communicate with each other in the cyber world--we have to in order to find others with families like ours.  I'm sure in larger cities there may be groups for families with special needs, but here in rural America, it's not like that.  Rural areas tend to have little supports for special needs, which leads us to keep toward home even more. 

If you need a listening ear, by all means feel free to contact me here or on Facebook.  I'd like to be an encouragement to you if you're needing it.  I have been in the trenches for 17 years, and there's no leaving them for a long while. I'm here to support and encourage! 

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019


This year I'm focusing on gentleness.  I'm not a very gentle person, it goes against everything I know, been trained in, and so on.  I'm blunt, mostly tactless, and my filter is pretty flawed.

Needless to say this is a challenge.

Why did I choose gentility for this year?  Well, I honestly want to change, not only for myself but for my stepdaughter who behaves more like me than her biological mother (I have raised her going on 13 years of her 15 years).  Also for my husband who deserves a less abrasive wife.

My go to response for years has been a very blunt answer for many issues.  Again, lack of a filter.  I've figured if you don't want an honest answer to your question don't ask me.  Sadly, that's not exactly Christ-like. The bible  says a soft answer turns away wrath.  My answers have been seldom soft.  For this, the Holy Spirit has been doing a lot of convicting. 

Gentleness is something  I haven't known much in my life. My own mother did not model it at all, quite the opposite.  My "adoptive" mom, also my cousin...she and her daughter  modeled gentleness.  I needed that softness in my world where softness sorely lacked.   As I got older and into church, a dear friend showed me gentleness on display in a home setting with children and all the duties of a wife and mom.  She is still a dear friend and still displays gentleness  that I can only dream of having. 

I'm finding  the more I pray for help in giving a kind and soft answer, the easier it is becoming .  Don't get me wrong....I used to be able to make grown men cry with my words and tone, so this is something that is taking a lot of prayer and practice .  With God's guidance, I can become   a gentle and softer woman. 

Do you struggle with harsh answers  or words?  If so, I would   be glad to pray along with you.  With God all things are possible . 😊

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Old Kitchen Sink

From Happy Housewifery

Sometimes I dream of having a built in dishwasher, ready to accept all of our dirty dishes and clean them all without me scrubbing.  I was just thinking that today as I worked on the 3rd load of dishes through the old kitchen sink.

But then, another thought entered in.

Where would I do my prayer time at?

Each day I stand at the old kitchen sink, with its chips and stains from years of use, and look out the window that overlooks our back yard.  The old double hung window faces west, and from there I can see the storms as they work their way in, or a sky clearing off as a system passes by.  I start my day at that old sink, pouring water into the coffee pot and measuring grounds to make into "instant human".  Right beside the sink I keep close at hand the stand mixer, blender, and coffee pot (and a second coffee pot, the old fashioned perk pot, on the stove top).  My world seems to revolve around those things and the sink.

Lots of time passes by standing at that old sink.  It's not unusual to find me there, washing dishes, preparing various ingredients to put into the day's meals, etc, and listening to the radio.  The time at the old sink allows me to hear bible studies, preaching, and good old hymns.

The old sink has also seen a lot of tears-- tears of anger, sorrow, joy, and the occasional cut finger.  It's weathered my frustrations with a child, anger after an animated discussion within the home, sorrows in missing loved ones or heartaches from circumstances beyond our control, and joys of prayers answered.  It's been the place of many prayers, and it seems more often than not, that's my "prayer closet".  No one bothers me while I stand at the sink, as I'll hand them the sponge and allow them to take over.  So, in wide open view, I am able to stand and pray, quietly while the noises of the home go on, and take my cares, worries, fears, praises, and worship, to the Lord.  Since I average 2 to 3 sink loads of dishes a day, I have lots of time I can spend with the Lord, mostly uninterrupted, where I can talk with Him.

Looking at it this way, that dishwasher doesn't look so appealing after all....

This is an old home, well over 100 years old, and that sink has been there a long time.  I'm sure a couple of other women before me have stood there, sharing many of the same sentiments.  We use(d) what is considered one of many chores, and put the time taken for it to have a dual purpose.  That time with the Lord may not have been there had we popped the dishes into a machine, turned it on, and walked away to find something else to do.

Maybe it's all about perspective......

Shared at:  Darling Downs Diaries, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, What Joy Is Mine, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Mom's The Word--Living For Him

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Friday, August 22, 2014

She Loved

This is something I have to share.  This song brings tears to my eyes, as this is my dear adoptive mom, my cousin Anna all wrapped up in a song.

Someone once asked
If only you knew
How short life would be
What would you do?
What would they say
When God called you home?
What would they engrave
Once you were gone?

I hope they would see
What I've done in my life
Who I've cared for
And how I survived
I hope they'd say

She loved more than anything else
She loved with all of her heart
She loved everyone she believed in
She loved...oh she loved

She loved the Lord
And served all her life
A sacrificial mother
And an honorable wife
She gave all she had
And through every trial
Made life much sweeter
Because of her smile

Everyone will see
What she's done in her life
Who she cared for
And how she survived
I'm sure they'd say

She loved more than anything else
She loved with all of her heart
She loved everyone she believed in
She loved...oh she loved

She loved...everyone she believed in
She loved..oh she loved
Oh...she loved


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Dip in the Floor

If you've ever lived in an older home, you know the slightly uneven floors, the dips, the creaks, the small imperfections that come with age.  I like the charm and fun of starting a little ball at the top of the floor and letting it roll down the incline and watching the cats and kids chase after it, with laughter and skittering claws playing chase together.  You learn by trial and error which way to mop in order to avoid pooling, and you get used to the odds and ends of the home.

We moved into this home almost a year ago now, and so far I've adjusted to the little quirks that come along with a 100 plus year old home.  Sure, the floors slant a little, there's steps that took only once to remember their presence, but there's one place that caught my attention after a while.  It didn't dawn on me until not too long ago as to why it was there...what caused that flaw.

And I think we need more of that particular flaw....

There's a dip in the floor.

 It's located in front of the old fashioned gas stove.

It's one that came about from years of feet standing in front of that old stove.  Those old boards have over the years slowly compacted as the weight of the woman of the house stood over it, creating  countless meals in that one place.  Oh how many hours the women before me must have stood there, stirring soups and stews, frying meats, cooking vegetables, using the canner to put up the season's surplus.

I can picture in my mind's eye women from eras past in their aprons, moving to and fro between the old stove and the old white sink, dashing about as they worked to prepare the family's meals.  I can smell the fried chicken of Sunday dinner after church, with mashed potatoes and gravy and all the fixings.  I can see the meatloaf fresh out of the old oven and sizzling hot, and a pan of gravy up on the burner staying warm and waiting.  I can see a flat griddle in the early morning hours patiently frying pancakes for bleary eyed children.  I can smell the coffee percolating on the back burner for the caffeine needs of cook and husband.

At first, upon moving in, I saw this dip as a small nuisance, mainly due to drying time and the puddle that sits an extra hour or two longer, especially in winter.  As I've discovered a reason for that dip, I've come to appreciate it.  I can handle the extra drying time.

Today in a lot of homes, there's no one there to stand at the stove and stir a pot of soup, to make a goulash, mash potatoes, stir some gravy.  No one is home to pull a loaf of bread from the hot oven.  The stove top becomes dusty, the floor gets no use.  While life was harder back in the years past, with older ways of doing things, less to work with, and so thing could be counted on--mom at home with a hot meal or a batch of cookies, or something freshly made.  When at all possible she was home, tending to home and family, nourishing her husband and children with home cooked meals.

And slowly, one meal, one loaf of bread at a time, one cookie sheet at a time...creating a dip in the floor.

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Shared at:  The Modest Mom, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, What Joy Is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, A Proverbs 31 Wife, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions A Wise Woman Builds Her Home So Much At Home

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Learning to Quilt--Hand Stitched Quilt Top

I finally did it.  I began working on a quilt.

This is something I've been wanting to do for years, using fabrics that I've held on to for a good 10 years.  I wanted to make something to hand down to the kids, but never thought I could do it.

Then I stumbled on to this little beauty--English Paper Piecing.

I really don't like using rotary cutters, and I have not learned how to make exact seams, even though I can make dresses, skirts, pants, you name it, with ease.  The exactness of quilting befuddled me.

With paper piecing, it is much different.  There's no machine.  No rotary cutter.  Just a hand needle, thread, scissors, and pieces of paper cut to the template you choose.

And fabric.  Lots and lots of fabric.

I dug around out in the shed and found the stash of clothes I'd saved from mom's possessions.  She had left behind clothing still with tags, and some that had cigarette burns and such (yes, she was a smoker).  She had an array of prints that reflected a 1930's to 1950's era, and although these were reproductions, they worked.  So, I added these to the stash to make a quilt to hand down.

I found a site that talked about Grandma's Flower Garden, and how it worked to make it, and the site had many links to other areas that discussed this as well.  So I made a hexagon template and went to work making the little pieces that go into this "block".

Actually, I cheated and traced this pattern to cover a sheet of regular paper, and copied the page multiple times onto card stock and basic paper, to get a few hundred of these babies.  It sure beats tracing it over and over and over and over and over and over again.  If you *do* want to trace over and over and over again, you can use up note cards, scrap paper, etc.

Basically you take this template, pin it to a piece of fabric slightly larger than it is, fold the fabric over the template, and baste the fabric to the paper.  All the instructions I've seen have the seam allowance at 1/4 inches, but as I mentioned before, I can't do exact seam allowances...not even in the ball park on this one...but the extra folds over just as nicely and leaves plenty of room for the stitching to come.

When you get some of these together, put them right sides together (pretty fabric sides together), and whip stitch them at the edges, catching fabric and preferably not the paper/cardstock.  If the sides don't match up perfectly, you can ease the longer side to the shorter side using the hand stitching, making the pieces work.  Isn't that a great thing of working by hand--you can fix errors with little to no effort beyond what you're already doing!

When you have your pieces stitched together, remove the papers from the "block".  Remove the tacking stitches that you put in the papers to hold the fabric in place before you pieced them together, and then slip the papers out.  Then, you can reuse these papers for more piecing.

Folks in the older days used papers from letters and such to make these, and sometimes left the papers in for extra insulation.  If you want to do this, by all means go for it.  I will pass this time around.

I have yet to go around mine in a solid color, like white or beige, to create the "walking path" that goes around the colored "garden" blocks.  i haven't decided which color I'd like to do for that at this point.

My plan for this quilt is to put the solid color "walking path" around the blocks, then put them together.  For the edges, rather than leave them as hexagons, I plan to make more of the templates, and cut them in half, so that when they are put in place on the edges, it creates a solid line, which will make it simpler to quilt layers of the top/batting/back and then bind it.  I'd like to make matching shams to go with this as well, using up pieces from loved ones, scraps from my scrap bag, well loved and worn clothing, reusing what is here already.  I'd like to make one for each child and pass them down through them to their kids.

So, if you like to work by hand on crafts, this is a good one to try!

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