Friday, May 31, 2013

Where Have We Been?

So remember how I posted about being better about writing, and keeping you all informed of the M's lives.....sorry about that big old lie. We've been a little busy with life. In some ways, life is kicking our butts daily. In other ways, life is showing us how strong we are, and how much we've grown together. Let me begin with telling you how blessed we are. We are surrounded by people that love us, that want the best for us, and that are helpful. We have family and friends that bend over backwards to pray for us, laugh with us, and sometimes, even get teary with us. If you are one of them, thank you so much! We probably will never be able to tell you how much your love and support means. We are all healthy, pretty happy, and seeing successes in each area of life. We are together, in our apartment, building our family unit even stronger than it has been. We have plenty of clothing, plenty of food, and even get to do some extra fun things in life. We are blessed. With all of that said, we want to tell you of our struggles. Many of you know, but more of you don't, of the struggles we have been having with Mavvie. You know of her tummy troubles, allergies, intolerances, facial nerve issues. You know she is a fighter, tough as nails and so, so funny. She is the perfect Mavvie that God intended us to have. She is made in HIS image, in HIS knowing that we were the family that HE should bless us with her little self. In the last several months, Mavvie has been struggling. Wait, we all have been struggling. She is extremely aggressive, to the point of bruising those that she loves the most. She is out of control, one rage after the next, struggling with sensory issues, fighting something that we didn't understand. She is obsessive, anxious, angry, loud, yet still loving and sweet. She is confusing and heartbreaking, and the little one that makes us crazy with anguish and happiness. She is tough, oh so tough. She can bring each of us to tears that stem from every emotion we know. She needed help. We needed help. We waited, and waited, and waited. I thought I just needed more time with her, more time to breathe, time to spend with her. I kept getting phone numbers for therapists, people that could and would help us. But I waited. And waited. And waited. Until one day, when I was smacked in the face with reality. She needed help. We needed help. It hurt. I felt like a failure. I went through the spectrum of emotions of failing as a working mother, failing as a person, and thinking that I was insane for thinking the things I was thinking. Deep down, I knew she needed help. I knew we needed help. I knew it would get ugly in so many ways, that I would sit with her and cry and cry and cry. That I would feel guilty for how she treated others, for how she is treated by others, and for not being a good enough mother to her and for her. I sent a text to a dear friend. "Help," I said. "She is out of control. Even her daddy is done. She smacked us all. She is violent. She has no empathy. HELP." I cried. Our friend was amazing. She was sending me messages at the same time she was sending messages to the woman that would become our lifesaver. She sent me a phone number, explicit directions on what to say, and how to say it. So I did. I called the next morning, with tears in my eyes. Fast forward one month later. We just finished our fourth therapy session. After the first one, Mavvie was diagnosed with Anxiety NOS, and a behavior disorder. Our therapist is amazing, and we often e-mail throughout the week about good things, of which are great, and bad things, which I now have in perspective. Mavvie loves her therapist, and asks to go to see her daily. She is safe there, I am safe there. I can cry. I can be angry. I can be honest. I love her therapist, too. On Wednesday, we went to an evaluation for Mavvie, to explore the possibilities of a severely emotionally disturbed label and medical card waiver. It was exhausting, for both of us, and yes, I cried again. It feels good to not feel crazy, that I know what I've been thinking about deep in my heart. Mavvie was diagnosed with SED, and has qualified for the waiver so far, and we have a semi-plan. I am both excited and nervous. She has a long road ahead of her. But, we are working with the best people in town to help her. She is excited for the plan, for extra services, and to try her best. We are excited to watch her grow, to help her in any and all ways we can. Makenna is on board, and even came to therapy yesterday with us. It was great, watching them play and giggle together. They love each other, more than most sisters at this age. They also struggle, and we are working on those struggle days and times as they come. We are all working together as a team to help her. David is at work during therapy, and he is fine with me going as I always remember things better than he does. He senses when I need a break, and vice versa. Therapy has helped us grow stronger as a couple and as parents. It feels good to be on the same page with our parenting. Our support system is growing in the form of case managers for Mavvie, for David and myself, play therapy, and many other options that include other parents of children with special needs. We will go to KU Med in July to get her evaluation done for a spectrum disorder. So that is where we have been. We have been in crisis more often than not. We have been in some really not good places. But the sun is shining. We are blessed. We have a plan that makes all of us comfortable. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. Will it be worth it? Yes, yes it will. So if we seem distant in public, we're not being rude, we're trying to avoid a meltdown. We're working on social skills, but we still struggle. We will struggle. Struggling is hard, but sometimes necessary. We've had a few moments where the fruits of our labor have been so evident, and they are beautiful. We try to focus on those moments. To be honest, it's hard. But those moments bring tears to our eyes and joy to our hearts. We pray that we can continue to make progress, and are still so very thankful that our family was chosen to be the best caretakers of Mavvie and Makenna that we can be. We will work on getting better at blogging. I promise. We'll keep you updated on here or on facebook, if you follow us. (Sorry about the I/We language. I write for both of us, and am exhausted!)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Parenting....It's Hard

Parent: A person who cares for their child, biological or in bond. A person who knows the value of a hug, kiss, laugh, stern discussion and unconditional love. A person that must stand tall, tough in many situations and be an advocate for another person that might be able to do this for themselves. No, that isn't the Webster definition, but it is mine. That is what I think a parent is, plus more that I cannot seem to find the words for. Nearly eight years ago, I found my life changing for the better, I had Makenna. I was a single mother, who had no idea how hard parenting would be. I mean, I'm a teacher, this kind of thing is supposed to be in my nature. I'm well-educated in teaching, learning, development. I should know all of this. I didn't. But I learned through many, many mistakes, tears and hugs. Nearly five years ago, God blessed Makenna and I with David, a wonderful husband and Daddy. Soon after, Mavvie became part of the family. Again, I felt I should have known all of the answers. As I sit in the living room with my two little people, I think parenting gets harder as they get older. When they were babies, a snuggle, clean diaper or bottle would help them. But now, more issues happen. Feelings are hurt. Wounds happen. More feelings are hurt. This cycle seems to continue and continue and continue. There are a lot of moments where hugs and snuggles still help. But there are moments when they don't. Our girls are like me in many ways. They are stubborn, loyal, opinionated and love with their whole hearts. They are tough. Super tough. As in, Mavvie had an ear infection and we had NO idea because she never complained. Makenna had strep throat and wanted to go to school because she felt fine. However, they also have emotions like me. They can deal with these physical pains, but not when people hurt their feelings. I have been told that I'm too emotional. That, at 35, I should be able to deal with my feelings getting hurt better than I do. My girls have been told the same. That hurt feelings are a part of life, and to get over it. That they are being silly for being upset. This is what is hard in parenting. I know, I KNOW that hurt feelings are part of life. That everything doesn't need to have tears. But at the same time, I know that I'm proud of my girls for being physically tough. I'm proud of them for having emotions and showing them. I find this hard because I often want to defend my girls, to be stern with people that say these things. To remind them something we have strived to teach our kids, that physical pain happens, but hurt feelings aren't the same. Physical pain DOES happen, and usually it's an accident. However, emotional pain, hurt feelings, are not usually an accident. Someone has said something mean, or implied something unkind with the purpose of hurting. I don't know what to do about this. It makes my heart sad to know that people are like this, especially people that are close to us. Often, I've felt attacked by people that are supposed to love us, and I really try to let it go. I want to teach my girls that words are words, and yes, they can hurt, but not letting that person see you upset is important as well. This is a big struggle with me as a parent. I want to teach them, and feel they know that mean words aren't kind, aren't used to help but to hurt, that feelings are valid, emotions are strong and real, but unkind things happen. Parenting is hard. It's hard to believe one thing, and have a million other influences on our kids. It's easy to defend, defend, defend my kids, but to have them see other things. I want them to be strong girls, women, in all areas, but they are little. They are seven and three. They believe in Santa. They believe in the Tooth Fairy. They know that Daddy and Mommy are here for them. They know that growing up is hard, and that we do our best each and every day. So parenting, yes, it's hard. It's hard to be a "meaniehead," and not take it personally. It's hard to know that each time-out and discussion are helping to shape the people they will become. However, the hardest is watching them hurt because of words. I'd trade anything to take the sting of words away when they are hurting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some Time Away

Dear Friends, Oh gracious, it has been a long time since we have met. Please forgive my time away from you, from writing, from keeping you up-to-date on our lives. We have been busy, a little overwhelmed, and spending a lot of time together reading books, playing games, and just being a family. So this might be a little long, but I hope to get you a little snapshot of where we have been since last visiting. Makenna has been working very hard in second grade. She is constantly busy reading books, singing original songs, performing plays with her sister, and being a little helper. She is working on her art skills, thanks to many, many art kits that she received for Christmas. (Thanks!) She loves painting, coloring, drawing, building, and really, anything that involves art. Makenna is very caring and sweet, and is looking forward to volunteering at our local Harvesters again, and still wants to fight for all of the people in the world that face injustice. She is opinionated, stubborn, emotional, and just amazing. I am so proud of the little lady she has become. Mavvie is still our little fireball. She is completely in love with her dolls, and with real babies, even strangers. (Sorry to all parents that we have to get her away from when we see your sweet kids!) She still loves her books, and has taken a new interest in coloring and doing her "school work." Her health is doing well, as long as we keep her off of lactose and many other things. Luckily, she knows when she isn't supposed to have something, and will often tell people that she can't have a food. We try our best each day, and sometimes do really well with this, but sometimes, not so much. I know many of you won't and don't understand that, but we aren't perfect! We are currently working with our school district on some sensory issues that she deals with on a daily basis. She was re-evaluated and a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder was discussed, so she is going to a play group to work on some different things. The girls' doctor also believes she has hyperactivity, which fits into some of her sensory issues. We are struggling with some behavior issues, and constantly are working with her on so many issues. Mavvie is loving, sweet, and just full of life. Yes, she has some issues, but she is so tough and so willing to roll with whatever is thrown her way. I'm so proud of her zest for life, the milestones she has reached, and just her. She is much like her sister, opinionated, stubborn, and also, just amazing in so many ways. David and I are well. We are discussing me heading back to school to work on my school administration masters. We've talked and talked about this, but are within a few more talks of making a decision. I am so amazed at the willingness of David to take over the duties at home so I can have a few hours of time, along with going back to school. He is an amazing father, and is always willing to let the girls do his hair and dress him up. We are going back to "A Weekend To Remember," for our fifth wedding anniversary. (Thanks Bob and Karen!) We are looking forward to a weekend to reconnect, to relax and to continue our faith journey as a couple. We hope this letter finds you healthy, happy and blessed. We promise to be better at writing, keeping you up on our lives, and hopefully sharing pictures of our little people. Love, David, Wendy, Makenna and Mavvie

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Quilts

When we were in Ohio, we were lucky enough to spend some quality time with our Aunt Danine, Uncle Gary, and their daughter, Kara, and her family. Since we rarely see them, it was a nice treat to have this time together. Danine and Gary are such natural grandparents, and Kara and Andy are excellent parents to their three children. Makenna and Mavvie loved getting to meet everyone again, and to meet the boys for the first time. Mavvie often asks when we are going back to Aunt Danine's house, as Makenna asks when Sophie, Owen and James will be seen again. They clearly love family time as much as we do!

Many years ago when my grandma passed away, our Aunt Danine graciously offered her basement to store boxes of her things in their basement. She has since looked through some of the boxes, sorting things here and there. Recently, she found an old quilt. Danine is an amazing seamstress, making quilts, books, stockings, everything...while making it all look easy. She realized that the quilt she found was pretty old, and quickly e-mailed our Dad to see if she could use it in a neat way. He, of course, said yes.

So she did. She cleaned, by hand, repeatedly this old, old quilt. We think the quilt was made by our great grandma, and two of her sisters. It was in pretty bad shape, but Danine managed to save some of the squares. She then got to a project. A project that brought tears to my sister's and my eyes. She made us each a lap quilt. A lap quilt with our personalities in mind, and two squares from this old, old, revived quilt.

Overcome with tears, we were thrilled and touched in so many ways to have these precious gifts. I don't know that I can really put into words how thankful we both are to have these. These pieces of our family history, worked hard on so many years ago, and again worked hard on, just for us. These are quilts that will be handed down to my children, with stories of how we got them, how they came about, and a part of their family that they will only meet through quilts, pictures and stories.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Arch

(Emilie took this picture....which is perfect!)

Going to the Arch has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. We went there as young children, with our parents, and our Grandma Lunsford. We walked under it, around it, and some even went up into it. It is a calm place, a place of memories of some of my favorite times as a child.

Emmie and I were a bit nervous to take the girls, not sure how long they would stand the heat and this huge building. However, they loved it. They loved the walk to it, looking at the river, the boats and playing, "Red Light, Green Light." Walking into it was a treat, although the security scared them a bit. We went directly to the museum, full of rich history of the area, Lewis and Clark. There were talking wax-like figures, explaining historical points. The girls loved this.

We walked more, looking at a covered wagon, artifacts from when this part of the country was settled, tepees, tools, buffalo, horses, and just sat as they marveled at what life must have been like many, many, many years ago. They were excited about recognizing things, and learning about how our life now is so vastly different from those that came before us.

As we finished the museum walk, we bought postcards to send to family. Makenna picked them out, while Emmie wrangled a tired Mavvie. (Thank you!) We left the museum, looked up and saw what many before us and more after us will see. A giant Arch symbolizing so much of our country's history. More importantly to me, our history as a family. As I said, Emmie and I have fond memories of spending time there with our Grandma, our parents, each other. I hope in twenty years or so, the girls will take their families there, remembering this day as we remember ours from our childhood.

A Market

In late June my sister, Emilie, Makenna, Mavvie and I went on vacation. It was a trip reserved for family time. We headed east to Ohio to see our Mom's side of the family. The girls have taken to calling our Grandma, "Grandma Far Far Away." This is true since it is 600 or so miles away. We decided, with some discussion and commenting from our Dad, that we needed to break the drive into two days. We stopped about 100 miles west of St. Louis, in a small town called Kingdom City.

While we were on the road, Emmie read about an old farmer's market in St. Louis, not too far from the Arch. She knows my weakness for these kinds of places, so she suggested that we take a look. We weren't sure how well the Arch would go with the girls, but this sounded like something they would enjoy. It was AMAZING! One could feel the history, taste the yummy foods, and find just about anything. The best part was that it wasn't pushy. The vendors were friendly, kind, and very inexpensive.

Here is a small sampling of what we saw! Excellent pictures, Emmie!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Being A Christian

It is a windy day here in Kansas, sunny yet cool. Storms blew through fast and furiously last night. It seemed that the rain was what one might see in a low level hurricane, but it was a lot that fell very quickly from our normally calm skies. It had been hot, oh so hot, over the weekend. The storms were caused by cool air from Canada, mixing with hot air from the south. It was loud, damaging, but we were safe.
Days like today, the calm after the storm, sunny skies, gentle breezes cooling our apartment, perfect for the park and reading books.
Over the weekend, we went to Kingdom, as my girls call it. The place of fun, water fights, homemade meals, and Grandma and Grandpa Baruth. A small town, where most know each other, big news is the cafe burning down, and many churches. We love going to Kingdom, we can relax, the girls can play, get spoiled and extra loved by their grandparents. We went to church while there. They have a new pastor, who I found dynamic and amazing at making me think about my faith.
These thoughts continued, as David watched dvd's for Sunday School at our church, of Louie Giglio. If you don't know him, you need to Google, You Tube, whatever....him. His message is clear and concise. We are lucky. Lucky that God wanted us on his earth. He, in one breath, made the stars, and made us in his image. He tells stories that are sad, but amazing. Stories about how many golfballs it would take to fill a bus to make a certain star. Stories that make me, remind me, how important my faith is.
In 34 years of life, I have been through a lot. A sudden loss of many friends in high school, the sudden death of a grandmother fighting cancer, the sudden death of my mother, the sudden death of my grandfather, single parenthood, heartbreak, sick children, watching my spouse die to be revived, three heart surgeries of my spouse, ill family members, marriage struggles, and struggles professionally at work. In this life, I seem to have a lot of heartache, yet most days, I'm a pretty happy woman. I look for the good in people, or at least try to.
I think about how lucky we are, to have a place to live, two children that are growing, family that loves us, family that takes care of us in many ways, a husband that doesn't mind doing bath time, reading books, and handing over my Advil when I need it the most.
As I think about what I have endured, and my relationship with God, I realized something. My faith, is what has truly gotten me through all of these things. Bad things happen, awful things happen, things that can make me question, "Why me again, God?" Yet I now get it. My faith, faith in something, someone so MUCH BIGGER than I can even imagine. A being, that allows bad things to happen so that good can come from them.
When our mother passed away, it was awful, as you can imagine. But more importantly, good came out of it. She wished for her organs to be donated, and we did. Her eyes, bones, kidneys, whatever they could take, they did. We have gotten letters about people who have gotten parts of her. We haven't met with them, but I can tell you...that makes the pain so much better. Our God, my faith in Him, has allowed me to see this.
This weekend, in listening to a sermon, watching movies, I have seen this, and felt it, more importantly. I don't have to be perfect, I have to try, to put my life in his hands, while listening and watching for signs that will help me through each day. I find comfort that He is watching out for me, along with the angles mentioned above. I find comfort in the fact that his son, came here, to take away my sins, to love me enough to do that.
I find comfort in knowing that my children love God, Jesus to the utmost. They pray before meals, they ask for nightly devotions, they want to learn and sing about the Bible. My children tell people, "I love you to God. I love you to Jesus." Could there be a greater kind of love? I think not.
I'm sure not all of you are believers, and that is your choice. I just can't imagine my life, my marriage, my kids without the presence of the Lord in our place. I am thankful, blessed, and understand how my faithfulness has gotten me this far in life. In my life, I have learned that it is harder to believe than to not.....I always remind myself of this when things are tough. Yet I know, when I need someone at my darkest moments, when everyone is asleep, and I need time to talk, He is listening. For that, I feel that being a Christian is the best gift in the world.