Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I came across this scripture during our Family Home Evening.

2 Nephi 32:5
"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."

Now I just need to have the faith that I'll recognize those promptings. Easy, right?

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I usually like to keep my blogs upbeat and positive. But today I'm feeling melancholy and just don't feel like being upbeat. So please be warned... this is a long and not so uplifting post. Please don't feel obligated to read it. I won't be offended!

I was talking to a friend the other day who just celebrated a birthday. She mentioned that her 20's were difficult because she felt so self-conscious, but now in her 3o's she's so much more confident.

I feel the opposite. I feel less sure of myself now than I did as a new mother. Being an only child, I really had no clue about being a mother and I probably should have felt overwhelmed and insecure. Maybe I even did feel that way, I just can't remember. When I look back to my 20's, being a young mother, just starting my little family-- all I can think is, those were simpler times. Lately we've been recording our old home videos onto DVD and I really miss those days when my kids were young and our troubles consisted of an occasional tantrum or a boo boo.

Don't get me wrong. Life is not bad now and I really do enjoy it-- life is just a lot harder that it used to be.

My 12 year old daughter has High Functioning Autism. We went through quite an ordeal to get her diagnosed. I'm thankful for the diagnosis in a way, because for so long I felt like it was my fault that she wasn't developing socially. I felt like I was doing something wrong or that I wasn't teaching her right. Now I know it's the disorder. I don't have the mother's guilt anymore, but it breaks my heart to see her struggle.

In some ways, I think that having a severe disability is easier than having a mild one. Again, don't get me wrong. I feel extremely blessed that my daughter has so much going for her. With some help, she will be able to live a full and productive life. I am grateful for that. What I mean is that when you meet someone and they are severely disabled, you automatically understand and are willing to help or at least tolerate that person.

I think of High Functioning Autism as a hidden disorder. When you look at my daughter, you don't think something is wrong. You could even talk to her and yes, maybe she's a little odd, but nothing is wrong. So people meet her and associate with her, but when she does not behave the way a typical 12 year old would, (she behaves typical for someone with HFA) she is ridiculed, shunned, looked down upon, kids talk about her behind her back... the list goes on. And it breaks my heart. She wants and needs a friend so bad. Everyone needs a best friend.

The thing is, being her mother I can see all the wonderful things that she does. She tries so hard to please others. She's helpful and thoughtful and loving. She's so amazingly good at art. She focuses on the art because that's where she gets the most positive reinforcement from her peers. When people love her art, then she feels loved. I wish they could see the other wonderful parts of her too.

I'm the first one to admit that she does some pretty strange things. Both my husband and I try to help her learn the "social rules" that all of us are expected to follow (like you don't wipe your nose on other people's clothes or you don't just walk up and take someone's food because it looks good), but often she gets upset and feels that we are trying to "change" her. Sometimes I feel like putting a sign on her that says, "I am Autistic" just so people will understand.

A lot of times she feels bad because of the way others respond to her. Their reaction is really a normal one, but she doesn't understand that her behavior caused the reaction (like her peer calling her disgusting because she wiped her nose on the peer's jacket). She just doesn't get it. She feels like the peer is mean to her and doesn't understand why.

Another hard thing is that she has seizures. In order to control them she has to take medication. Sometimes the medication makes her aggressive, depressed and sometimes she even has suicidal and dangerous thoughts. We have switched so many medications, back and forth. One helps but has the negative side effects. The other doesn't have the side effects but doesn't control the seizures. One seems to be working and then two months later, we start seeing side effects. And... is it the medication, the Autism, hormones or just her? It's very difficult.

The hardest time I have with all of this is that I want to fix it. And I can't. I don't even know how. I worry that I'm not doing enough, or that I'm doing something wrong, so in the end I will totally screw up my family. Half the time I don't even know what to do-- how do I get my kids to show more love and compassion? What do I do when they fight constantly? How do I get them to love themselves and each other? What do I do when they are in the middle of a gigantic fight? How do I help them resolve their issues? How do I prepare them to succeed in the world today? Everyone else seems to have it all put together. I know there are tons of parenting books and advice. I actually hate reading parenting books. Some have good ideas, but...it's too impersonal and overwhelming.

Then my other daughter (9 yrs old) has her own emotional, social and friend issues to deal with. She also longs for a best friend and struggles not having one. She's close to her cousin, but they live so far away. She's constantly fighting with somebody and demands quite a bit of emotional attention.

Then you have the other 4 siblings who need their share of attention and love too.

Again, don't get me wrong. I love my children and I'm grateful for them. They each bring something special to our family. I know that I am so incredibly blessed. There are people who struggle so much more than we do. Everyone has their struggles and we're no exception. I'm a person who thrives on peace and hasn't had a lot of it lately. But I don't like feeling down, so I'm going to go do something to find my peace. Maybe this was it... just venting and writing my feelings down.

Thanks for listening/reading. If I've left you on a downer, I apologize and please, go and find your own peace.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I went to Kamary's Parent Teacher Conferences this past week. The teacher had a lot of great things to say and Kamary has made a lot of progress. One thing she mentioned though is that her students with younger siblings tend to be more socially immature than other students. She said that 4th grade is a transistion stage, where they leave the toys and make-believe behind. She suggested that I help Kamary with this transistion by taking Hanna and Kamary out to do "Big Girl" things together, like painting nails, etc.

So, I've been thinking about that. Kamary and Hanna already paint nails together, we made flowers to go in their hair (which is the "thing" now), I've taken Kamary to the mall and we shopped for 5 hours, she's taking an interest in her fashion and what she wears, and even yesterday I took her to Hobby Lobby where she looked at every little trinket possible. Really the only "young" thing she does is play with barbies (which she loves because it's a creative outlet) and watches "Hannah Montana". Is that really so bad?

It's hard to know what is truly age-appropriate when society is pushing kids to grow up so quickly. Kamary mentioned to me that she was the only one in her class that liked Hannah Montana or playing with barbies. Well, what are the other kids into? One girl is obsessed with Lady Gaga and wants the class to call her "Mini Lady Gaga". A lot of them talk about TV shows like 'Bones' or 'The Family Guy' and PG-13 movies like 'The Lovely Bones'. Hmmm.

Well, I don't think I'm a prude, but I am very careful about what both I and my kids watch. There are many PG-13 movies that I don't even watch because of content. I'm always amazed when I see 5 yr. olds walking out of movie's like 'Hitchcock' saying, "That was a great movie!" I mean maybe it is a great movie, but is it really appropriate for 5 yr. olds? With some of the TV Shows, we actually have to change the channel when the commercial comes on.

I see 12 year olds reading books that are riddled with sexuality, or really young girls wearing make-up, high heels, mini-skirts and tank tops. During the Summer it's really hard to find a one-piece swimsuit and hardly anyone dresses modestly anymore.

I think that Kamary (age 9) is feeling the pressure of standing up for her values, trying to find common interests with those that are growing up too fast and participating in things that she doesn't believe in. It's a hard thing.

Do I really need to 'help' my daughter grow up? I think she's doing fine on her own.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


"In these difficult economic times," is a phrase I hear almost everyday. The truth is that my whole married life has been a "difficult economic time". One of the great things that comes out of financial struggles is the art of trading services.

Lately I've traded music lessons for home organization and photography. I teach a girl clarinet lessons and her mom does family pictures for us. It works out well because both can be pretty expensive.

Here are some pictures that she has taken of my kids.





She just did pictures of Kohler and Lauren this weekend. I'll probably have more to post next week. She also did the family picture that's at the top of my blog. She does a great job and I think this trading thing has benefited both of us!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Going Retro!

Today was "All about 80's" day at school!

This is how our conversation went this morning...

Child: "What should I wear for 80's day?"

Me: "Well, let's see...I wore....."

I've had several experiences lately that have been letting me "feel my age" and this is no exception. It was very strange explaining 80's fashion to my kids. I kept saying, "Too bad we don't have converse shoes," or "Oh, if only I had a banana clip right now!"

I even wished I had some Jelly Bracelets! That would have been perfect!

I did have to say that I had fun ratting Alyssa's bangs! She was so embarrased to have "shaggy bangs", but I assured her that everyone would think that she looked "Totally Awesome!"
The picture doesn't show it, but Kamary is wearing Jelly shoes!! I tried to do her hair in a sideways ponytail, but it was too short.

When we got to the office, everyone gushed over Alyssa's bangs!!

Kohler wasn't in the picture, but he has longer hair on top so I feathered it back. We also rolled up his jeans (a must).

It's too bad that I got rid of all my concert T-shirts and jean jackets (Kamary's vest is as good as we could get). And my blue eye shadow and purple lipstick have been missing for years.

But it was a lot of fun to dress 80's. It took me back to the "Good Old Days!"