Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hair Didn't

You know us girls and how we just love to get our hair did.  Nothing like a good hour or two with my favorite stylist to give me a new perspective on life!  I swear there is just something about sitting there talking about everything and nothing and letting someone make you beautiful that is better than just about any other therapy I know!  Which is why I it doesn’t really make sense that I always leave the scheduling of hair appointments until I’m about to get Britney Spears with a pair of clippers crazy on my head! 

Right now the status of my hair is so pathetic I’m pretty sure my wonder-stylist is going to kick me right back out the door when I get in.  You see, the optimum time for a new-do on this old girl would’ve been sometime in early-mid December.  Well, we all know how slow and easy-paced December is, right???  So, c’mon, I told myself we’d get through the holidays and then I’d call the salon and beg for mercy.  Whelp, then we all know I decided to plan that spur of the moment trip to Disney … just days after the most expensive month of the year.  Which already had my husband shaking his head as he poured over our account (if you don’t know what that is you should.  You’ll thank me).  I knew better than to push my luck and throw a cut and highlight on top of the receipt pile so I thought I’d just grit my teeth and  make it a little further.  And then we got home and it was time to get ready for deployment and ramp up marathon training and blah, blah, blah.  So I finally called in an explained to wonder-stylist that no, I had not cheated on her and found another person to do my hair, yes, I did look pretty horrific and please, could she fit me in as soon as possible.  I also threw in a whole bunch of other unverifiable nuances that may or may not have led her to believe that I was kidnapped by a band of gypsies while trying to rescue children from poverty in the gritty underbelly of Pinehurst. 
But can you blame me?  If your roots looked like this I bet you could make a pretty good case for an insanity defense ….
Update!  Thanks to the intervention of my parents I was able to get my hair did TODAY!  Yay!  Aside from having to listen to the snide comments from wonder-stylists and her sidekick (think something like: well we better do Lacey's summer color since we won't see her again til next fall") it was purely heavenly.  1 hour and 40 minutes of peace and quiet and the best head scrub this side of ... I don't know what.  Yeah me!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Long Silence

(Warning: This is a long post.)

For a long time, my blog was my baby.  I was proud of what I had written and the way it allowed others to connect to me.  To have a peak into my crazy life without having to get messy themselves.  And then my life changed in what feels like a single lunch date with a friend.  After that, I began to travel a road that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing far and wide.  You see, I was fine at laughing at myself and laughing at my kids’ antics.  Sharing my own insecurities and failures.  All of that was fair game as far as I was concerned.  But real issues for my very real kids?  I wasn't so sure the world wide web was the place to be airing that particular bag of laundry.  But during a God-ordained lunch almost 3 years ago, pieces started falling into place in the puzzle that was my son Jake’s development…and everything changed. 

It seems like it was right around the time that Jake was born that autism became a major buzzword.  What is it? What causes it? Who has it?  Celebrities began to write books about their own children’s struggles.  Fingers were pointed at vaccinations and doctors.  There was lots of scrambling trying to figure out what was going on and what could be done to fix it.  I looked at my gorgeous baby boy and prayed to God that he would be spared from this.  I scrutinized his development, his interactions.  I talked to another young mom, a former teacher, who had studied and dealt with autism.  She assured me I had nothing to worry about.  My loveable son was in no danger.

So, when Jake took longer to babble then most babies do, I reminded myself that it wasn’t a contest.  When he finally started to babble at 9 months I breathed a sigh of relief and chided myself for being so silly.  And then other toddlers his age began to speak their first words.  I waited.  And waited. And waited for Jake to also begin using words.  As his ear infections raged on, I figured all that fluid must be preventing him from hearing properly, thus stunting his speech growth.    Finally, after many more months he could say a word or two and I again reminded myself all kids develop at different rates.  After all, Jake was SO physically capable.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t talk, it was that he had too much adventure in him to bother with words. 

I mentioned my concern, finally, to Jake’s pediatrician and she referred us to audiology for a hearing test and to ENT to discuss tubes.   After his tubes went in I thought, “This is it! Finally!! We are going to have a new kid on our hands.  One who talks in complete sentences and expresses his desires and wants using his vocabulary!”  Ah, but alas, it was not so.   And a referral was made to Tennessee Early Intervention Services.  People came to test him, he qualified for speech therapy and again I felt that all was going to be right with the world.  He just needed a bit of extra help.  What else could I expect from a kid who hadn’t heard properly for so much of his life. 

Jake made great strides with speech therapy.  It was exciting to see him put together a three word phrase (More fish, please!) as his therapist played silly games with him.  When Jake aged out of the program at 3 years old, my parents were so impressed with his progress they (and my grandparents) paid to keep him in therapy.  I kept waiting for it to all fall into place now that he could speak.  I thought play date offers would start rolling in and Jake would be the big man on the preschool campus.  I waited.  And waited.

Shortly after we moved here, I had my friend Lisa over for lunch one day after our boys finished preschool.  We sat and got to know one another and she shared that her son was on the autistic spectrum.  As she began to share more, I felt like the room started to spin.  Jake was one room over eating lunch under the dining room table so that no one would look at him.  I looked at Lisa and asked her, “How did you know?” And then the tears started to fall. 

That night, I called Ryan in Texas and told him we needed to have Jake evaluated.  That I thought he may be autistic.  Or have Aspergers.  Or PDD-NOS.  Or SPD. Of ADHD.  Or…..any of the other things I’d read in a frenzy during that afternoon’s naptime.   My husband was, as usual, calm and reassuring.  But this time I knew that I needed to keep some of my frenzy alive.  I needed to not be soothed into inertia but have just enough fear in me to keep my feet to the fire.

Thus began a very long process of appointments and referrals and appointments and phone calls and incorrect referrals and more phone calls and tears and insurance issues and…I could go on but let’s be honest, you want me to stop.   Many months later, we met with the developmental pediatrician to finally get our answer.   We had been back and forth to Chapel Hill many times by this point.  Had current and former teachers, as well as ourselves,  answer pages of questions.  Jake had been through evaluations and the near constant scrutiny of his parents (ok, parent, it was mostly me!).  And finally we were ready for an answer.  By this point I knew that there would be an answer.  I knew it wouldn’t be a smile and, “There is nothing wrong with your fine son.”  The more we delved into our concerns and talked through them with the team of professionals, the more we could see that many somethings were not right.  And so it was with a mixture of sadness and relief that the Dr. told us that she was going to give Jake the diagnosis of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It wasn’t an easy call for her, we came to find out.  She had really struggled with whether or not it would be more or less beneficial to Jake to stick him with this label.  On one hand, he would, obviously, have a label (duh), but, on the other hand, this label would qualify him for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) from school and open up a whole world of services to him.   In the end, she felt that the benefits outweighed the risks and we agreed with her. 

The Spectrum is really vast.  Two kids can both be labeled as “on the spectrum” and yet have almost no overlap in delays, issues, sensitivities, etc.  Two years later, I can say that I’m grateful she carefully weighed the decision and made the call to label. 

There is really  no end to stories to share.  Some are for laughter, some are stories of answered prayers and others are, in some way, a plea for more understanding and awareness for the children who don’t fit the mold.  

If you think you have room in your heart for a little more empathy and understanding, then please keep going on this journey with me.  I don’t have lots of (any!) answers but I have lots of stories, hopes, fears, answered prayers, lessons learned, and love for my dear boy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It Ain't Always Pretty

So I know you all think my life as a runner is glamour and gloss.  I mean, you've seen a couple race photos of me and of course I've got on my best outfit and my best smile.  Doesn't it look fun? And easy? And carefree?  Does it make you just wish you could jump up and go run a marathon?

Well folks, I've promised you real on this blog and today that is just what you are going to get!  You see, the fine folks at the Marine Corp Marathon have photographers stationed every 5 feet or so along the course.  There are ENDLESS opportunities to find out exactly what you looked like at every minute of the race.  I try real, real, real (read that in your best hick accent) to straighten up and look purty every time I see a paparazzi ready to snap a shot.  I was pretty successful during my first marathon.  I was feeling good and having fun.  Plus, as noted, I knew when they were coming so I could pull out one of these:
Yes, its a proof.  No way am I spending $ to buy pictures of myself running.

But folks, that photo was a fluke.  A nice shot on a good day.  This last MCM I felt like death for about 25.7 of the 26.2 miles.  And I've got proof.
Seriously - don't you want to run out right now and register for a race?  What I love is #34840 also has this picture on his race photos.  If I was  him this picture of me would be all over facebook so everyone could laugh at it.

Or here.  I think I'm looking at a mile marker in disgusted disbelief.  And check out those headlights.  Gross!

And the piece de resistance ...
Doesn't that look like I'm having fun!?!?!

Now that I have provided you with your laugh for today (and frankly I'm tapped out) here is a link to a site that really made me laugh

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Truth About Fear

Every time Ryan leaves it’s hard and sad and I worry.  For whatever reason, this time around the build up to deployment has been different. Worse.  I feel my heart being gripped by fear on a regular basis.  The more I let that fear work its way into my mind the worse it becomes.  Is it a premonition? Possibly.  Is it Satan? Certainly.  So what should my response be when I know that the Devil is at work? 

Thankfully, I was reminded this morning, by a dear lady,  that the answer is clear. I immediately need to turn to prayer.  What if it is a premonition that something bad is coming?  Then I need to storm the gates of heaven with my heart and soul and tears to ask our Sovereign God to protect us in the midst of danger.  What if it’s just my mind running away with me?  Then prayer is exactly where I need to focus my energy to make my mind less of a playground for the Devil.  You see, I can do nothing to change what God has ordained from the creation of the world.  I am in control of nothing.  Nothing in Afghanistan, nothing to keep a crazy from my kids’ schools, nothing to keep a distracted driver from mowing down my minivan.  But, I can be in control of my mind.  I can take every thought captive.  I can seek truth and shun lies.

I allow my mind to be deceived every single day.  I believe that I am too busy to spend time in the Word.  I believe that I am too distracted to dedicate myself to praying.  And I believe the lies whispered in my ear by the great deceiver … that I’m not likeable, I’m not special, I’m not worthy, I’m not ENOUGH.   But, when I breathe in deep and take a moment through the haze and grit of those lies, I see the Father shaking His head NO.  Telling me to come to Him and to lay my burdens down and listen as He whispers truth into my ear.  That He created me.  That He finds me beautiful.  That to Him I am enough.

You see, if I would just give His love one tenth of the time I give the Devil in my head, He would overwhelm and overtake me with His truth.  And that is where I am going to leave this for today.  Because there is no neat wrap up or cherry on top.  Just the deep truth that fear and insecurity are not from my Savior.  And for today, and for each day, I will try to lift my eyes above the fog to His welcoming embrace.

 Jake watching Daddy float down out of the sky.  Circa January 2009.