Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't feel sorry for us...

Many times since the twins have been born we have heard things like, "wow, your hands are full" or "I can't handle my 2, how do you handle 5?" Then if they find out the twins have cerebral palsy, most people don't know what to say or they say that they are sorry. I'll be honest, I used to be sorry too. I was sorry for myself. I would think how this could happen to us and how are we going to handle it. Will the twins ever have a "normal life"?
Michael and Matthew were born 8 weeks early in 2008 and spent 7 weeks in the NICU. Once they came home and grew we began to noticed that something was not right. They were not doing the things babies would do normally at their age. Since they were early, we knew they would be delayed but, by a year old they should be able to rollover but, they could not do that! A couple of months after their 1st birthday they were diagnosed with cerebral palsy (cp). We knew something was wrong, but this? This would be something they would have to live with for their whole lives. Hearing that was a hard blow.  Many thoughts filled my mind, "will they ever walk? or how will they survive in this world?" How did this happen and why wasn't it detected when they were at the hospital? 
As time as gone by, things have changed, I have changed.  I've gone from feeling sorry for myself and sorry for them to accepting them for who they are and how God made them.  They really are the most amazing boys I have ever seen.  They are so full of love and joy.  They have no idea that they have a disability.  Don't we all have disabilities though?  Some are just less noticeable on the outside then others.  What is also incredible is how their brothers and sister treat them.  They know nothing different except that the twins were born early and they don't walk yet and that is ok.  They take care of the twins and love them.  What a great lesson for Abigail, Daniel and Christopher to learn:  to accept their brothers for who they are, not what they can do physically.  What we can do physically doesn't and shouldn't define us.  Don't get me wrong, Michael and Matthew are determined little boys.  They are the hardest working boys I have ever seen and they don't give up!  I know I could use to learn that lesson from them.  I admire how brave they are!
I have come to realize how blessed we are to have them.  I still don't understand, nor will I probably ever understand why God would give us such a great blessing and responsibility.  There are days when I am unsure if I can handle it all.  God continues to provide, one day at a time and that is all I can do, is to trust in Him that he will see all of us through (because believe me, I'm blind as a bat!)
So, if you ever see us out, don't feel sorry for us; we don't.  In fact, if you do see us, we are all usually pretty happy and happiness is hard to find sometimes in this world. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Costco and The Clows

Let me start off by saying, I love Costco.  I am probably there at least once a week and sometimes twice.  The kids love to go as well.  Who wouldn't like to go to a place where you can get free samples and for a $1.50 a foot long hot dog and a drink!  
In our visits to Costco in the last few months we have been eyeing a set of sectional couches.  We have been in need of new couches for sometime.  Finally, last week we were able to purchase them on Monday and bring them home.  The whole family was very exicted to have new couches to sit, jump and climb on :-)  I was exicted as well but, a little nervous to spend the money since this is one of the biggest purchases Mark and I have made in our almost 11 years of marriage (minus buying a car). 
Yesterday (Sunday) after church we stopped at Costco to pick up the usual...juice, bread, hot dogs for lunch and we walked by the display for the couches we just bought.  I had to take a second look at the display because the price was $200 less then what we bought it for.  I was surprised, to say the least since we just bought the couches only 6 days earlier.  Maybe it was a misprint and if it wasn't, maybe they could refund us the $200 since we just purchased the couches.  After going to customer service and speaking with a manager we were told that they couldn't refund us the money, but we could return the couches we had and purchase a new set of couches for the lower price.  Seriously?  For $200 we decided it was worth it to return the couches and get a new set.  Thank God for friends we ran into at Costco because they helped Mark return the couches while I watched the kids. Luckly, we live really close to Costco.  So Mark and our friend took all the seats out of our minivan, and loaded up the couch.  It took two trips. So, we returned the other couches and they gave us a $215 credit on a Costco gift card and they returned home with the last set of boxes. 
The story is over right?  Wrong!  As they unloaded the last piece of sectional, they found that underneath the couch was completely torn up and missing the legs!  What was even more ridulous is that it had an inspection sticker on it!  So, Mark and our friend, turned around and brought back the broken piece.  Thankfully, they just swapped out the broken piece for one of the pieces of the sectional we just returned! 
Our friend put it to us this way..."you got to try out the couch for a week for free to see if we liked it, returned it and got $200 back".  Pretty good deal, right?! 
What I can't understand was the manager told us they will lose more money on us returning the couch then it would have been just to give us $200 back but, that is there policy.  Sounds like a stupid policy to me!  Instead the only options they left the customer (us) was to not return it and not get $200 back or go through the trouble of returning the couch and purchasing a new one. 
I am glad we did it, having $200 back made the deal even sweeter but my view of Costco isn't as full of love as it was before.  I will still shop there but, it made me think about how big corporations are run and how much financial waste there is.  What is a shame is that to get a lower price on items, you have to scarifice on customer service.  Yes, ultimately we did get the lower price but, we had to be really inconvienced to do so.
We ended up having a really great day, despite the couch ordeal.  We ended up spending a wonderful day and evening with friends, with lots of time outside in the beautiful weather.  That wouldn't have happened if not for the couch.  
God works in mysterious and humorous ways!  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Healthy Heart is a Happy Heart

February is Heart Health month.  This month has me thinking more than just about how Mark makes my heart happy :-)  The truth is Mark and I really don't celebrate Valentine's Day because our wedding anniversary is 2 weeks later, so we celebrate that.  Besides, shouldn't we show the ones we love everyday how much we love them; but I digress... 
Just a few weeks ago my father-in-law had bypass surgery and that got me thinking more about what is means to take care of yourself, especially your heart.  Heart disease is something that doesn't happen overnight.  It can take years for problems to arise.  What's important is, if we make changes now, we can do our best to try and avoid problems in the future.  For me personally, I want to do the best I can to take better care of myself now so, maybe I can enjoy life better now as well as in the future. 
Here are some health tips I hope you don't mind me sharing with you. 
1.  Diet - a diet rich in lean meats, veggies and fruit will go a long way in keeping you healthy.  Think about how our ancestors used to eat...they weren't stopping at McDonalds or any other of the fast food places out there to eat.  Believe me, I am very guilty of getting fast food, instead of cooking healthier foods but, I am trying to change!
2.  Exercise-  that goes a long way in not only having a healthier body but, a healthier mind as well.  I am finding the more I exercise, the better I feel not only physically but mentally.  That is a positive for anyone!
3.  A good supplement full of Omegas.  I'm not talking about something you can buy off the shelf at Costco or Walmart.  I'm talking about one that you can be confident is coming from the best sources of fish, pure and a pharmaceutical grade.  Unfortunately when you buy from chain stores, it can not be sure of the quality that you are getting. I would recommend Shaklee's OmegaGuard .  With OmegaGuard, you can be confident of the quality of supplement you are getting.  You should always do your research though before taking any supplement to make sure you are getting all that you are paying for and doing what is best for your health.
4.  Laugh!  I don't know if there are any studies that laughter helps to make a happy heart but, it can't hurt.  I know that I find myself being too serious but, when I take time to laugh with my kids or friends, I feel much better!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Random Thoughts

Is it possible to have writer's block on your 3rd post?  That is how I'm feeling now.  I have too many things going on in my head all at once.  Let's see...tomorrow is my daughter, Abigail's first confession.  This is an exciting day for her and for us.   She told me that she only has 6 things to tell the priest and if that was enough!  I can't remember the last time I went to confession and had "6 things", maybe I need to take a lesson from her.   I can't believe my little girl is growing up and starting to mark these milestones.  It was just yesterday, she was a baby in my arms.  I wish I could remember those days better, but I can't and that upsets me.  I guess a remember all the important little moments in time. 
Also tomorrow is my first son, Daniel's 6th birthday.  Once again, where did the time ago?  Six years ago tonight I was waiting for him to be born.  He was due on Feb. 11th and I didn't want to wait any longer!  The next day, my water broke that morning and 45 minutes later he was born!  Thank God my husband is a fast driver and got me to the hospital otherwise, we would have had a home birth and I wasn't ready for that!  Daniel has been in a rush ever since ;-)  He is such a sweet and caring boy.  He is a little shepherd to his 3 little brothers and a great brother to his big sister; they are the best of friends.  
I wish I had more to say this evening but, the words are not coming to me.  It is hard to blog about anything when a husband and two children are arguing while playing Wii bowling.  What are they arguing about, you ask?  Anything from how it's not fair that Daddy is beating everyone at bowling (I think I llive in a house full of sore losers), who the brownies are for that are baking in the oven and when and where said brownies will be eaten. Just a typical night in the life and I wouldn't want it any other way!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Now for Something from the Light Side...

Well, my first blog was very serious and heartfelt.  I'm glad I did it; it was actually therapeutic.   But now, I need to muse about the lighter side of life.  Of course, the lighter side of life has to do with my children, in particular their OBSESSION with STAR WARS. 

Yes, Star Wars, we LOVE Star Wars in our house.  Now to be up front, it is Mark and I's fault that the kids love it, we are Star Wars geeks ourselves.  We introduced then to A New Hope before they could walk.  We didn't expect the "monsters" that would be created from it. 
For instance, a daily activity that happens in our house, is lightsaber fighting.  From the 6 year old to the 17th month old, lightsabers are a flyin.  You have never seen anything cutier then one of the twins (mind you, he can't walk), lying on the ground swinging his yoda (green) lightsaber saying, "I want to fight you" while he twin he on his knees fighting with him.  Then the 17th month old, Christopher, grabs one, knows how to open it and turn it on and joins in the fight.  Words can't express, how proud a Mother and Father could be ;-) 
Then, comes the asking to watch Clone Wars.  For those who are not, "into" Star Wars (though, I don't know how you couldn't be), The Clone Wars is a cartoon on Cartoon Network about Anakin and Obi-Won and what happens between Episodes 2 & 3.  It is awesome, I must say.  Mark and I look forward to it every week, just as much as the kids do.  I digress...  As soon as we turn on the Clone Wars and the music starts, silence falls across the house and for 30 minutes every child that is in the house is quiet and glued to the tv.  It is magical! 
At some point during the day, they all play with the Star Wars figures and ships we have strewn through the living room; even our daughter gets involved.  Poor thing, she likes Star Wars I think sometimes more than dolls (I was the same way though when I was a child). 
Then comes evening and the twins, Michael and Matthew, are ready for sleep.  Do our boys listen to lullabies? NO...they listen to a Star Wars CD that we have.  Yes, they go to sleep to the music at every nap and every bedtime.  They remind us before we walk out of the room after kissing them goodnight and blessing them that it is time for the Star Wars music.  It is precious. 
As a parent, I must say, there are good lessons to be learned from Star Wars.  Dark side vs. Light side, good vs. evil, redemption, sacrifice, I could go on.  But I must admit, I wish I could wield a lightsaber around as my job :-)  Actually, I can, I just need to go pick one up, we only have like 6 lying around the house.  In someway, I think this experience the boys are having are teaching them to be warriors and I think that is a good thing.  We need more strong men in this world to defend what is right and just.  My boys don't need to know all that now, they just need to use their imaginations and be our little pawadans:-)
May the Force Be With Us All!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Did This Happen?

Well, I never imagined myself writing a blog but, here I am ready to tell the world about my life and the lessons I learn everyday from it.  To start, my name is Allison and I am a wife and mother of 5 beautiful children.  My eldest is a girl, who it 7 and then I have 4 boys (yes, 4), there ages are 6, 3 year old twins and a 17 month old.  As anyone can imagine, life is never dull in my home.  My twins, Michael and Matthew have cerebral palsy.  They were born 8 weeks early back in 2008.  Despite their challenges (they do not walk yet), they are the smartest, happiest boys you could ever meet.  I will write more about them later.  Needless to say, life in our home is far from what "normal" is considered. 
The reason I thought to start a blog is simple, I wanted to share my experience in hopes of helping others as well as help myself.  A couple of months ago a hit the lowest point I have ever experienced in my life.  At the end of November last year I experienced THE WORST panic attack I have ever faced in my life and it crushed me.  After having it, my nerves were shot.  It was so bad, that I had to be hospitalized for a few days to get on medication to help me deal with it.  I had never been away from my children for that long and it was torture.  I had experienced anxiety/panic attacks since I was about 19 years old but, I had never had them effect me to such an extent.  After getting out of the hospital I thought I would recover quickly, the medication would take effect pretty fast and I would be back to "normal".  That is not what happened.  It has taken time and months for me to start feeling like my feet are back under me.  During this time, I have learned a lot about myself and what happened to get me here.
The day before I had the panic attack, I was fine.  I was laughing and playing with my kids and it was a normal day.  The next day I was hit with the attack at work and all I could think was, "where did this come from?"  Well, it didn't happen overnight.  It took years of broken sleep, not taking care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally and not dealing with my anxiety issues that brought me to this point.  As a mother of five young children, my husband, Mark and I are very busy and it is easy to lose yourself in the day to day of life in a big family plus, being a big family with two children with special needs.  This moment in my life has changed me forever and I believe for the better.  God always brings good out of even the worst situations and God has been carrying me and my family through this.  I have learned that if you don't take care of yourself, you are no good to anyone.  It is a big responsibility to be blessed with raising children.  I am a control freak and it has been a hard lesson for me to learn that I can not control everything.  It is a lesson that I am still trying to learn.  I believe though with time comes healing but, we must be patient for it.  In today's world, we are so accustomed to quick fixes and easy outs.  When things like this happen, we are reminded that there are no quick fixes in life (not that last anyway) and that part of life is learning to be patient and wait and during that time we can truly experience God's love and mercy in our lives. 
So , what have a started to do to help the healing process?  Well, for one, I am sleeping much better.  Number 2, I am exercising almost everyday.  Number 3, I am trying to eat better.  Number 4, I am trying to relax and have more fun with my family and Number 5 I am back on a daily vitamin regime that consists of a multi-vitamin, Omegas, B and C, carotenoids and a probiotic. All of these together, are pieces of the puzzle to make for a better life for me and for my family. 
I wish I could say I was all better now and the anxiety attacks have stopped.  It has gotten a lot better but, there is still a road ahead to travel.  Being with my family and friends has been a great way to help me heal.  That is all for now, the twins just got out of speech therapy and they are hungry!  Until next time...