Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The last couple weeks I’ve been on a little social media break - cliche I know - BUT I was encouraged as some of my other friends were doing this and it’s one of those things you always think “of course I’m not addicted to my phone or social media or whatever” but until you try it’s hard to know. 

This was really good for me for a lot of reasons - realizing that it sucked me in was something I just needed to be honest about. 10 Min is nothing when scrolling (yet I coudln't seem to finish my bible study *insert that questioning face emoji haha*). I also wanted to be aware of my mindset after being on social media, was it more positive or lifted up or brought down and discouraged. I think about when we grew up and there was just no access to EVERYONE'S life like there is now. We knew what our friends and family had going on, but not how Cindy the friend from high school’s party went last week. I think there's obviously positives to that, it connects us to people from all over but it also gives our minds a influx of info that we probably don't always need. And of course.........we can be anything we want on social media which I do believe is part of it's appeal to us. We can present ourselves however we want yet only those who are walking through life with us know if those things hold true.

Before I sound like I’m on a high horse of ANY kind let me just say, it was pretty eye opening how often I would reach for my phone when waiting or bored for even a second -- or even more honestly not only when bored but when feeling overwhelmed or anxious. There is nothing about our phones or social media that is inherently bad, but I do think we need to pay attention to what, how and when we use them. I even had to delete the Facebook and Instagram app off my phone. 

As with anything, I think there as so many parts of social media I adore. Pictures and baby videos from those I love, connections with people around the world, and being able to gather people together for causes or prayers. I think especially if you are a stay at home mom those things can help you feel connected to the outside world haha. But I also know I have given social media too little credit for it's addictive nature. Realizing that we can have sweet family moments, fun vacations or special outings without everyone knowing and --- gasp haha -- it was wonderful! We remember them and have those memories. 

I don't intend to block social media or never go back but having a little break like that brings so many things to the surface that I think (for me!) were important to discover. I actually did have more time for reading, cleaning or being outside which is again embarrassing cause it shows how much time I was allowing for scrolling. I'm hoping that I can reengage with a much healthier and appropriate view of social media because those baby pictures are too hard to resist!

***this is written as my own personal experience with social media and in no way is meant to be applied to everyone***

 photo AnneSIG2_zps918a41ea.png

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The GAPS diet

I've recently embarked on something called the "Gaps" diet. It would take pages to describe the intricacies that make this diet unique so I'll leave you with a link. It was created by a neurologist to help treat her autistic son through nourishing soups and easy to digest foods. This diet is not for weight loss purposes but is rather a healing protocol that puts your body through a very intention process to begin healing many many issues including digestive disorder (extreme or minor), leaky gut, skin conditions behavioral issues, and so on. The base is homemade stock/broth made from well sources animals. With that stock you make soups with easily digestible veggies and boiled meats and graduallllllllly add foods in over the course of several weeks or months depending on your body.

Someday I will write out my health journey but it's hard to write that out so publicly! I have been wanting to do this diet for years after seeing the success of many I know going through it. My brother went through the entire program (which is a 1-2 year process) and had amazing results - I won't share his health story for him lol. Timing hasn't worked out until now because I was either pregnant or breastfeeding and can't be done during those times. I knew after the holidays was a good time to embark especially while it's still winter and soup is actually appealing. 



However, after all the waiting the idea of starting this was daunting to say the least. As the primary cook of my family I knew it was going to be hard to cook meals for them and then eat my soup. I began on January 8th which makes today day 13. WHOOOOO! This diet is broken up in stages, beginning with the most limited and ever so slowly moving forward to the "Full Gaps" diet which is similar to SCD/paleo diets. I spent several weeks reading the GAPS book as well as many guide gooks and cook books to make the process easier. The biggest trick for me was making almost everything before hand. This is has been crucial to my success in not slipping because when I'm tired and done from the day I can grab one bag of soup from the freezer. I expected stage 1 to be difficult, but this whole process has been even harder than imagined for me personally. There is something called "die off" which is essentially when all the bacteria/pathogens in your gut that live off of sugars/grains/etc begin to die because they aren't being fed they can produce flu like symptoms or worse. For me it was a couple days of living in the bathroom :/ tmi.

Since stage 1 is already incredibly limited to broth, meats boiled in broth and very very cooked vegetables, I was so bummed when my body wasn't tolerating the vegetables very well and that left just broth and meat. Don't worry, this stage is not meant to be long as it's not healthy to live on broth and meat alone - but it's necessary for a time in order to get that healing process going. It's giving your digestive system a huge break from having to break down foods and gives a great platform to rebuilding a broken wall. When I moved onto stage 2 soft boiled eggs tasted like heaven and I was eating so many a day lol!


Broths at work :) :) 

How am I feeling? To be honest, not good........yet. I'm holding out though. I'm praying it's just taking my body time to get rid of all the toxins and begin that healing process. I was sure the hardest part of the diet was going to be eating soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner ---- but it's by far been how sick I've been and felt. I lost 10 lbs in 10 days - this where I need that one teeth face emoji.

I believe wholly in this diet though and I am making adjustment with probiotics and such to hopefully get there. I can't believe I haven't slipped up, not one grain of rice not one crumb of bread!!!! My addiction to sugar was so so strong. I was positive this was going to be hard. The thing that keeps me from cheating is that then all those days were for nothing. It's not the kind of diet you can cheat on because any amount of the allergens keep those bacteria alive in the gut and they don't die off.


My plan was to blog my way through this intro diet but I've felt so crummy I've been taking care of the basic tasks of feeding my family and keeping my home somewhat orderly. With homeschool and work and doctors appointments thrown in there it's a good thing I'm allowed tea with a tiny bit of honey cause that is what keeps my blood sugar up!!!


Day 1 Breakfast!


Die off feeeeeels :( 


Just broth and meats :( 


Eggs - oh the joy!



Saving dishes - right out of the pot. 


 photo AnneSIG2_zps918a41ea.png

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Homeschool

A title I never thought I would write yet here I am! (Also a semi-controversial topic which I almost always stay away from writing about haha.)

As I begin the second half of our school year I've been able to reflect on the past few months of this adventure called homeschooling.
My daughter began kindergarten in the fall and we planned to have her return to the public school down the road where she attended TK the previous year. She seemed to like it and I certainly enjoyed the time with 2 kids instead of 3! She was struggling with a variety of issues but I never assumed those had any correlation to school or that environment -- and still don't make that assumption.

As last summer started I began to mentally think through the idea of jumping on the homeschool train. To back up, this was not the "plan" my husband and I thought would be best for our family. Even though we were BOTH homeschooled by amazing parents growing up and received amazing educations, we felt it was best to have our kids attend public school for several reasons. We really wanted to be out in our community and connected to those living around us. We also wanted our kids to be able to bring Jesus to the world along with us and not separate ourselves out into safe little bubbles. And then there was the reason I hate to even admit but it was that homeschooling just wasn't something that interested me. I don't have any formal teaching education and I was excited to use that time while my kids would be at school to work alongside my hubs at our job, grocery shop, clean, etc.


Before I go any further I want to be so so clear -  where you choose to have your children receive their education is an incredibly personal decision. It's only one that can be made by parents for each child. If there's something I dislike as much as mom shaming (well maybe not more but it's up there) is school shaming. I have witnessed both -- the notion that homeschool is the best and only way and you basically don't care about your kids if you choose public school. And the opposite - those that homeschool are taking their kids away from opportunities and resources and community to be schooled by a parent who's not qualified. Even as I write this post I'm like "oh man I don't want anyone feeling like what I chose for my kids means that they should be making the same choice", or that even my reasons for choosing to school my children at home apply to anyone else.

SO......All these things were going round and round my head over the summer (Yes, as in this last summer, weeks before school started back up). I felt my daughter was slipping through some cracks at her current school (again, no shame, they are a terrific school!). I was bummed that apparently kindergarten has changed from what it was when I was 6. Homework, sight words, writing, etc are now the norm (and she was in TK!). I remember lots of coloring, alphabet learning and art work when I was in kindergarten -- but now that's for preschoolers. It hit home for me one day when she came home from school and said "Today was the BEST day! We went outside for a walk!" ............which is so sweet but I was thinking ahhhhhhh you should be outside walking and running not sitting in a classroom for 6 hours every day. She just seemed to need more/different. At the time I was incredibly certain I could not provide that lol. I won't even mention some of the very basic things I have had to google (how have I forgotten so much since College??) So just to clear any assumptions that I am just super awesome and therefore would rock homeschooling. Wrong.

But even though I was feeling completely under qualified to provide "perfect" schooling for my child, I did feel that I had enough knowledge and support to give it a go. Plus, I kept saying, "it's kindergarten! Basically I can't fail this even if we do colors and alphabet all year". What is truly amazing to me is that I began this process with her in mind. I wasn't someone who ever wanted to homeschool. The idea of being at home the majority of my day teaching my most challenging child new concepts was daunting. So what's crazy, is how much I've loved it. I've fallen in love with going at our own pace because this means I get to go slower on things she has more difficulty with and allow her to be "ahead" in areas where she excels. It's so easy to customize for each child. We have a life that involves traveling overseas and I love the flexibility of taking our work with us and learning about the world and other cultures as we go. So many of the issues she was having last year have lessened or gone away completely. Of course that could be a mix of things but I do wonder if a classroom of 28 kids was just too much for her. I love that we have so many amazing resources as homeschooling families now and she can be involved in classes that I could never offer at home and we can incorporate the arts (music, dance, art classes) into our school day instead of working them around the edges. I love that our day starts with the Bible - and that she can color her way through the stories. I love that my kids are learning together alongside one another and that when it all feels overwhelming we get to take a break and get outside and find cool leaves or flowers. I could go on but this time that I thought would be so so hard has been such a surprising gift to me.

Are there days where it feels like too much and I'm failing? YUP! When my toddler is throwing a tantrum at my feet and my 4 year old wants to be involved in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g while I'm trying to teach math can make me feel like how will I do this when I am schooling more than one child! But just like with parenting, if I had jumped straight to 3 kids I would have a nervous breakdown haha. You start with one and take it day by day.


yes my youngest is standing on a folding chair :$

I think the common fear in new (and maybe experienced) home schooling parents is the fear that we aren't doing "enough". Are they behind in a certain subject? Are they writing enough? Are we doing enough variety? The concerns are endless and I am learning to let those go, within reason, and follow the laid out path we have. I think you also have to know yourself and as with anything be wise in your choices of input and resources. If I listen to too many podcasts, read too many articles, or compare to what others are doing it's easy to begin feeling bogged down and aimless. Honestly, I asked those around me I trusted for good curriculum, checked them out and went for it. I knew if I spent hours reading about different ones I would have a hard time knowing what to do. Everyone has a different teaching style and approach and that's the beauty! 


This has been our journey with public and private school this last year. Clearly by my years and years of experience homeschooling have given me the ability to write about it hahahaahahahaha. But I do stand by whatever is best for your family and the things you have going on in life to do only that.

Public school? Awesome! Private? Awesome! Homeschool? Awesome! No one likes to feel insecure about the choices they make for their kids because (unless you're not like me :/ ) most of us are already in some way concerned that we are doing "well" or "enough". Let's encourage each other and spur one another one to do good things! I'm exciting to blog my way through these fun years of schooling and the many ups and downs they come with.



Snack time :) 





 photo AnneSIG2_zps918a41ea.png

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kids Abroad

I can't even apologize anymore for how infrequently I post on this blog because I'm no longer in a "busy season"  --- this is just a new normal. When I had one baby it was so fun to be blogging away about life. With 3 now it's a whole new ball game. I'm currently convincing my 15 month old that hanging from my leg while I type is so much better than actually being held. Most of the time I start blog posts and someone needs a snack, water, to be wiped, you get it, and then I never come back to it or the time for thoughts has passed! This is a unique stage with 3 little little kiddos and while hectic - it's a blast. I wouldn't change any of it. 

We got back a couple days ago from a 3 week trip to a couple countries in Europe. We were in the Czech Republic, Macedonia and spent a few days in Greece. Our purpose was to support and encourage our existing missionaries on the field and facilitate ongoing training for them to keep them growing and healthy. 

Traveling to costco with 3 kids is an ordeal let alone going overseas so I wasn't sure how it would go! We learned so much (again :) about our family, our kids, and what works and what doesn't when traveling to change for next time.


 Let me begin with one of the biggest beasts of overseas travel:

Jet Lag:

ˈjet ˌlaɡ/
noun
  1. extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.

So-------Jet lag is never fun - kids or no kids. But honestly when you travel with kids and jet lag is involved you have to prepare for an entirely different situation when it comes to adjustment! I KNEW it would be a hard part of the trip but ohhhhhh man. Last time we did a similar trip our middle child was 2, so it was pretty easy to manipulate their schedules by pushing a few naps and bedtimes. It still took a good 4 days to really adjust but not terrible. Having a baby (well, toddler.....don't rush me) this time was a different story. I quickly learned you just CAN'T make a baby stay awake or go to sleep. Their clock is so so messed up that they don't care if it's 9 am, their body says it's midnight. He took about 4 days of waking up from 12 am - 3 am each night but eventually he got there! I do think it's beneficial that we were also going through jet lag (hear me out on this) because when your own head feels like someone is sitting on it and you're dizzy and grumpy you then realize why your baby wants to be held 24/7 - because it's a terrible feeling!! The Amazing news *so far* is how much better it's been coming back home. They were up for the day at 4 this morning but I'm optimistic it'll be done soon :)  

I love this jet lag picture haha. 4 am - Luke ready for the day and entertaining himself by putting on the kids headphone and rolling on Jeremy. 

My other favorite - the night we got home when you're wanting everyone to be happy WE ARE FINALLY HOME. But Moana didn't turn on for like 5 seconds and they thought it was broken. Wailing, crying and I'm not sure if Jer is asleep or wishing he was :) 


Those Travel Days:
Days between locations we call travel days. It's such a bummer that just getting from one place to the next takes a whole day but it always always ends up that way. Moving with 3 kids is so much sloweeeerrrrrr than most people haha. We did really well on luggage this time but it's still just so much to carry and transport along with 3 littles. In many places we had extra hands of help and that was a huge blessing. I never could master pushing two umbrella strollers at once - especially when we were sprinting for a train - without them smashing into each other or other people. One part that I completely underestimated was the "smaller travel" that lead up to bigger travel and how much it wore on us all. I would think "ok tomorrow we have a 2 hour flight then a 1.5 hour flight no problem", but didn't think about the 30 min taxi ride to the airport, the hours of waiting in lines for passport security/check ins/boarding, the bus rides they take to and from the plane, then the bus to the train station and the train to the city. We've tried to learn to give more space for those days cause they just add up and are almost always a stressful day. In our 3 weeks we had 5 of those days. You also can't control what time those flights and buses are most of the time. So we had one flight that left at 11:20 pm and a bus that left at 6 am which means keeping kids up or waking them up fairly often, which as we all know makes for the happiest children. 

On one of those flights all 3 kids were asleep on me - it was about 2 am and a fairly small plane. So Jeremy ran ahead to get the strollers thinking we could just transport each kids to the stroller once everybody else got off but then he got down the ramp and realized he obviously couldn't leave the luggage alone haha. Oh man, so I'm up there waiting and finally the flight staff is telling me I have to get off but I LITERALLY can't wake up the kids. I'm shaking them, standing them up, but they just fall to the ground still asleep LOL. This may be when you know you've pushed your kids too far hehe. So there I am, carrying Luke and dragging William with one leg and pushing Juliana along the floor with my other. When I got off the plane I then realized the whole bus full of passengers was waiting for me :l oooooops sorry!!! I'm sure I was their favorite person ever right then. 
BUT it is really really fun to watch how quickly our kids get so good at moving around. They would carry their backpacks and get on and off buses no problem and quickly learned how to navigate on planes and trains. When we take walks at home (we're talking around the block) our kids last about 5 seconds then try to crawl all over the stroller because obviously - their legs are "so exhausted" and can't walk another step. Their endurance totally increased as walking is the main way of getting around in most places we visit.

Effects: 

This is where I really do think the good outweighs the hard stuff. To watch my kids experience new places is a such a treat. Even though they are so young, I *hope* it will impact their worldview and scope of how the world works. From larger conversations about different languages and cultures to cute stuff like when they ask "why are there no toilet seats" we to get to have those conversations about how where we live is different - not better. The way our lives work is different - not superior. I pray that they grow up knowing that their little corner in the world is just one special spot among millions. That God loves the people in villages in India and cities in Europe just as much as he loves us. Taking 3 little kids to several different countries obviously has some negative effects as well. I won't lie that it was hard to watch them on those days - struggling, confused, so so so done with moving around every few days - and to know we did that to them. Our 4 year old began asking if we could go home about 10 days in. We always kept it lighthearted like "Home is the best huh, we will go back home in 11 days. Aren't you excited to see your friends and toys when we go back!" and it would usually help move him along lol sometimes :/ The travel days were the hardest on them. So much moving, so many lines to stand in, so many new and different things - it doesn't help that mommy and daddy are glorified stress balls on those days. There's a point where even as an adult I feel over all the changes and new people so for little ones it's all amplified. Our kids get more ice cream cones when traveling than they do in 6 months here hahahaa = parent guilt.  Our kids are also majorly detoxing from screen time. When they have to sit on a plane for 11.5 hours there's just no way I'm not letting them watch as much as they want. At that point you just need minutes and hours to pass! But for all the tears and tantrums that would make me want to say "ok I'm done, I want to be home!" the good times way outshine them. For me it's largely a mental game that I need to play wisely. I'm not a master at it - but learning more each time we do this.

Readjustment:
The wonderful part of being gone for a chunk of time is getting to come home! I love my home :) Every time we go away it's like the Lord shows me little things about our corner of the world that I so missed. Our kids are readjusting well and are so happy to see their family, friends and rooms. I am so grateful for my washer and dryer, highchairs and no longer sleeping in the same room as my children haha I mean......I love them :) Jeremy and I have started a new routine after we/he/I travel where we give each other a half day away to be alone once we get back and just have some reflection time. It can sound like a silly small act but for us it's huge. I came back to doctors appointments waiting to be booked, school books needing to be ordered, first soccer practice, weeks of mail, and the list goes on and on and on. We realized if we can't take some time to process through the highs and lows of an experience then it's hard to close the book on it and move on with life and jump back into this crazy routine. I'm so grateful that I got to see with my own eyes how God was moving all over the world. The people he is pursuing and freeing. I am humbled watching our missionaries - who don't get to run back "home" to the comforts of America but choose to give that up each day to serve those around them and make Jesus name known where no one has heard it. God is big, alive and moving and I although I feel empty from pouring out so much I also feel refilled by his grace and love I see moving in other nations. Happy Day! 


What troopers! I love them all and so love what we get to do with our lives!


Ahhhh the constant reorganizing of that bag. So happy to be done with that part :)  







Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Calm My Anxious Heart


"All our fret and worry are caused by calculating without God."

I've been s.l.o.w.l.y making my way through the book "Calm my anxious heart" by Linda Dillow and there have been so many thoughts I've wanted to share as I go through it. While I shouldn't be surprised that a book about worry and anxiety would hit my heart in all the right places - it's like I'm still surprised when the Holy Spirit shows up and burns in my heart. While at times I wish the author would empathize or give more emotion, I have to say I truly needed the blunt truths she writes about allowing anxiety to rule in ones life. Anxiety is ravaging our society and culture and I was deeply challenged in this book to live differently - to cut it out before it can sink in roots ** It can not only have huge negative impacts on our relationships and mental health, but even our physical health can begin to take a toll as I've also personally seen in my life.



 Anxiety is a vicious monster that many of us feel we are constantly keeping just at bay but never fully conquering. I believe we want to be rid of it - but feel powerless against it's strongholds. I love how in this book she begins with the counter to anxiety = Trust in Jesus and contentment in our circumstances. There's a reason scripture tells us to THINK about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, etc. Our mind controls so much of who we are, yet we forget that we are in control of our mind and often (I) have little diligence in taking thoughts captive and allow them to run all kinds of places.

She puts it this way:
"My worrisome thoughts are like impatient toddlers jumping up 
and down and screaming, 'Look at me, look at me.' Jesus and I
take the negative 'toddler thought' and send them to time-out so 
we can focus on the good thoughts. Sometimes they don't obey. 
They get right back up and out of the chair and once again scream 
for attention. Then Jesus and I take those thoughts back to the 
time-out chair, but this time we tie them up!" 

At this stage in my life this is such an amazing visual!!! (except for the tying up part - I promise I don't do that haha~) But it's such intentionality in regards to our thought life about what we will allow ourselves to fixate on and worry about. I have seen this play out both ways in my life. On days when Juliana begins to hiccup/spasm I have almost and instant physical reaction. That sound of a hiccup can actually make my blood pressure instantly increase now. So much so that when my other kids are hiccuping I find myself having to say "It's not even her! CALM down". There's been many days where she starts and I've let my defenses completely go. I'm not having any control over my mind or anxiety and it spills out over every person around me. It's not pleasant. Other times, by truly the grace of God I can feel my anxiety rising as her watch her spasming in her sleep and I can grab all the crazy out of control thoughts that want to come rushing in and bulldoze all my joy - and throw them at the foot of the cross and actually leave them there! I'm not talking about stuffing your emotions during stress or that it's wrong to have emotional reactions in terrible times - but to know the JOY of having a savior who will carry these for us if only we let him. The jail door is wide open and we can walk out or stay inside of the prison anxiety can create. When we can cast our anxieties truly on him - it's incredible the peace (though sometimes still heartbroken physically) he can give us and sustain us.

 "When difficult circumstances come into my lie, 
I hear God's voice saying, "Linda, let me be the blessed 
controller. Surrender. Accept my timing. Accept my way. 
Accept my outcome. Let your trust be in me alone. Make
 secret choices that will honor me. Thought no one sees 
your choices or knows how difficult they are, make them for Me."

How beautiful - we aren't good at doing much in secret anymore. Even as I sit here in a coffee shop I "had" to document it on instagram. While I'm not saying that there's something wrong with sharing our life openly or through social media (for heaven's sake I'm writing a blog haha) - I am challenged that we've lost some things done in the quiet, when nobody is there. Sometimes, so desperate to share our pain we seep out into every social media outlet or the people around us instead of falling on our knees alone with our savior. I have to stop and sometimes ask myself (when I am using self control) "Am I wanting to share this instance in my life with others so that they can walk with me through it (good), so that it might help others (good) or so that everyone knows how hard I have it worse than them OR gain praise for my lot from men (not so good) ---- these lines can be easily blurred and it's why I am wanting to be intentional about looking to Jesus FIRST. Giving him my first and often that is enough. It doesn't need to go anywhere else cause he's holding it now.

"God has placed our portion in our cup. We either
 choose to grasp it by the handle and lift it to Him, 
saying, "I accept my portion; I accept this cup," 
or we choose to smash our cup to pieces, saying, 
"God, I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right 
size for me and I don't like what You've put in it. 
I'll control my life myself." 

Yikes I've seen this in my own heart. When I look at things that aren't what I expected in my life {could be job, family choices, spouse/relationships, health, children} I often want to scream "NO! I don't like this is not ok" or "I didn't sign up for this" as if I was entitled to a suffering free life with perfect health and whole relationships.  How can I so easily forget which side of heaven I'm on.
Another quote - sorry so many good ones. You didn't think you were actually coming onto my blog to read a book?!? LOL Surprise!!

"Your life is out of control, so you give up. It's impossible
 to make sense of life, beyond impossible to be content, 
so you give up and give in. Most of us either try too hard or
 we quit trying. In both cases, we miss God. We miss
 His infusion of strength that leads to contentment."

Among the millions of things I've learned through Juliana's medical journey - is that my beginning mindset was for God to help "get us through it". And sometimes that's all we can pray right? - help - and he meets up there too. What he's been slowly showing me is that his desire is my heart and whole whole self. That through the process of pain he would be showing me more of himself - not a simple fix or aid. That the work he's doing IN me is so much better through it than out of it. I can't hold back pieces, clutching tightly saying, "no this is too fragile. If I give her over to you fully, what might you do?" and there - in that soft stillness it's where I see how much I can trust him. I can take all my precious parts and hand them full over to him WITH peace. It's a work in progress still.

In this book I love that she gives physical applications to practice this surrender. For her it was an anxiety box where she would write them down as they came to her and she would place them in the box, and every time she saw it she would remember she left them there with her Lord. She urges the reader to do something physical to be a visual of where you are placing your mind and worries. For we know we cannot do both right? We can't worry AND trust God. For when we allow anxiety to reign we are saying that we don't quite trust Him. My last quote:

We're familiar with the small trickle of fear that meanders through our minds until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. 

It gets us nowhere, much like a rocking chair worry is often described as something to do but with no progress. But it does do our emotional state, relationships and health harm. I've seen in my life that no amount of will power or "I will trust God!!" mentality will get me there - it's by him and him alone that we can live in peace free of anxiety.

Surrender - cast worries - trust. 

I'm excited to keep reading and pray that if this is something you're also struggling with you will read it, find friends to walk through things with and most of all that the Lord's tender love would settle deep your heart, casting all fear away. 



 photo AnneSIG2_zps918a41ea.png

**To borrow a description from her book - There are friends who I know who have experienced anxiety attacks due to a chemical imbalance in their brains and must be on medication to control their anxiety, This is a physical problem over which they have little control. This is not the kind of anxiety to which I am referring. I am talking about the everyday worry we allow to control our lives.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

~ Luke's First Birthday ~


Happy 1 year my precious Luke!



Crazy that almost this exact time a year ago we decided it was time to head to the hospital and a few short hours later you were born! #fastestyearever





You are such a joy and light in our family!
You have a sweet, mischievous spirit that I could sit and watch for hours. I adore when you see something you want to get to and speeeeeeeed crawl to get it. I love watching you chase your older siblings and especially when they are covering you in kisses - I can literally feel my heart swell at the way the 3 of you interact. Truly, you have brought with you such a new dynamic in our household that we love.
We really enjoyed this year with you! I think by the 3rd child parents are often able to simmer down and just sit and soak up each milestone - that's how it was for us at least! I enjoyed this *first* year probably more than any other one!
It's been a flow of emotions this year watching you grow - while we *plan* Lord willing to pursue fost-adopt- you are our last baby! That has been such a roller coaster I wasn't expecting. There are definite things I will never miss - sleeping to name just one little one. In the beginning I don't mind those wake up calls to snuggle with my newborn. But as the year goes on it gets less magical haha. The gymnastics nursing one year old is just not the same. sleep child - SLEEEEEP.

But the things I'll miss? How could I ever name them. The flutters of a baby moving inside of you - there's nothing like that. I could actually cry thinking back to each moment I grasped each of my babies onto my chest after they were born. I relive those moments often - I just love it!
That sweet baby smell - marveling at each tiny detail of baby. This has to be one of God's most special gifts to us. Celebrating each sit up, crawl, step with cheers of joy and a tinge of sadness that you can't go back in time. What will I do without the baby sleepers that are just SO cozy.
Like I said. Too much to get into.

We had a fun *little* celebration with our parents and siblings last night.



Had so much fun making this little cake for him!






Just a few drumsticks ;) 




Daddy making sure it tastes ok. :) 



He was a big fan !



Basically wouldn't stop giggling as he ate it :) He didn't the whole thing I couldn't bring myself to let him eat that much lol!!!!










 photo AnneSIG2_zps918a41ea.png

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Juliana Update



This update has been a long time coming, sorry about that. 
We have not updated as much as facebook lately for several reasons and I'm sorry that left many of you who care so much for her uninformed! 
It can be hard to "update" when it feels like nothing is changing, and I don't want to sound like "woe is me another awful hiccup day" but then I realize we haven't said anything about them in so long.

So where we are - in a nutshell, 
Not much as changed. 

She continues to hiccup/spasm every couple days. 
There continues to be no noticeable pattern about when or why they begin. (For about 1.5 years I kept a detailed log of what/how/when each day). But once they start we know they won't be stopping for about 24-48 hours. If something random happens that stops them short (like falling and hitting her head lol) and they stop "prematurely" say after 12 hours, they usually begin again the next day and go for the full 24 hours again. They are incredibly cyclical and it's like they follow that cycle no matter what you do. So usually the first night she has them (for example lets say she starts hiccuping/spasming in the morning sometime) then that evening at bedtime we know they will go all night and we won't try anything crazy to make them stop because usually:
1. It doesn't work anyways and just brought a lot of attention to them/stress her out
2. If we stop them that first night they will just begin again in the morning and be worse the following night. 
As the "hiccups" go on her stomach/esophagus begins to get very fatigued and begins to spasm per each hiccup. So for one hiccup it may go out several times looking like a muscle spasm. 

Needless to say - incredibly frustrating for her and our family! 
About 5 months ago she needed to have a crown put in *yes another one $$$$* and we opted for having that sedation in the dental office to spare her the trauma of going through the whole hospital routine once again. We were definitely nervous about it because having your child go under general anesthesia in that outpatient of a clinic is pretty nerve wracking if something went wrong. But after at least an hour on the phone with the anesthesiologist the night before literally asking every question I could we decided to go with it since he had done 100's a year and never encountered a problem. She started hiccuping on the way there but they assured me it wouldn't be an issue. I guess after she breathed into the mask and feel asleep her body went into one of her spasms but this time he said it was over 100 contractions and he couldn't get her oxygen up and it was dropping too low - so he was about to wake her up when her tried one injection of a drug that paralyzes the body and they stopped. 

When he called me in after he said to not call what she has hiccups anymore because it leads doctors/anesthesiologist to put them into a certain category they don't belong in. He said it wasn't quite a seizure but wasn't a hiccup. He called it an entire esophageal spasm. Anyways that's the main reasoning for us trying to refer to them as spasms now! He also asked how we manage them at home since he could see that during a long spasm her oxygen dropped. That for us, is one of the most stressful parts. For whatever reason they get the worst at night after she's had them for a long time. (Interesting to me that they got really bad when he put her to sleep and she has them the worst once she falls asleep.......I haven't figured that out yet) Usually on these nights if we check on her before we go to bed and she's having 5 + spasms per hiccup then one of us sits in there with her and makes sure that she can breath ok. If she has a really long spasm like 20 contractions we push on her stomach and it seems to stop that spasm. I get extremely concerned that we will go to bed and she will have a really long one and pass out - but try not to let my mind go there. And Jeremy is almost always the one that sits in there her these days to be honest, because it just makes my anxiety go - up which is hard to admit. In the beginning, when she would have really bad spells I wanted to be right there with her, but it's like now the very sound of a hiccup makes my heart rate increase :( He is great to give me those moments of protection when he can. 

She also continues to be on the steroids, strong antacids, and  an elimination diet (no wheat, dairy, eggs, soy) for her EOE. This is an autoimmune disease you can read about here
They still believe that the hiccups/spasms have no correlation to the EOE, at least they can't see any right now. She will have another scope in about 6 weeks to see where we are at. 

On top of traditional medicines she goes to the chiropractor, we use essential oils, she's had a year of cranial sacral therapy, and many other "wonder" drugs from natural sources that people have given us. And truly - Thank You! I know these all come from a wonderful place in your hearts to help! We try everything pretty much within reason at this point :) 

We've had quite a lull with appointments lately because frankly, I was pretty tired after the birth of Luke and adjusting to 3 kids!! And what is incredibly frustrating is that since every doctor we see has "never seen, heard or read" about anything like this they really just don't know where to send us. So it usually stops there. We have to continue to push so hard if we want things to move forward which is hard when I am just as in the dark as them about what to do next and when to call it quits. When we go through months like the last 6 months where we've taken "breathers" it's really really good for her sense of well being to not have so many appointments. But then it's very hard to have her tell me her stomach hurts and how she wants her hiccups gone and I realize I have to continue to fight for her to have a better quality of life IF possible. It's so much emotional energy each time to hope for a possible fix/cure/cause and to come up with none. It was a year ago this week where we shared that video of her hiccuping and it was viewed 14k times. While I'm not going to lie, it is very discouraging to get any hopes up only to each time have them fall, The Lord has truly given us peace this year more than any one previous - and that is a gift that gives our souls life. This is awful, but it's not the worst. He can sustain us through this and he will sustain her through it. 

Please pray for her heart in all this. As she is getting older and so much more aware she asks a whole lot more questions. "If I pray will my hiccups stop?" being the most frequent. -- tear--
Pray for us as we guide her through the fact that we have prayed and prayed and he still has her going through this - and for her to know that he LOVES her and sees her in all this. And better yet, he is very near to her in her suffering.

We've also had her begin seeing a child psychologist -- not really our thing at first I was pretty skeptical - but it's been great. She helps Juliana prepare for appointments - particularly sedation's. Jules has shown a lot of OCD behaviors that seem pretty typical with the out of control feeling she has about all going on with her body. Her Therapist has been amazing at working at all this with us. I am grateful we started when we did because it was so painful to watch her struggle sometimes the entire day by things she couldn't get past. Like if she wanted to open/touch the door first she wanted everyone to get back in the car and go back down the street so we could come back and do it right. And then once we got in the house I would look over at her and she'd freak out that I wasn't supposed to look at her until x, y, z. Obviously kids do weird things, I would say if your child shows ocd tendencies don't panic most kids do. They like stuff their way. But when it was getting to this point where it was 5 plus issues and hour I knew it was time to outsource for some help. And I guess it's incredibly normal for kids who'v had situations like this to want to control things in their safe zone = home. Her therapist also helps us know what and how much to tell her about each appointment. Juliana has to heal from past medical "traumas" as well as the ones she continues to need to have. Being held down against my will and put to sleep 11 times in 2 years would probably traumatize me too :( 

To end on a great note - her speech is improving so much! The decision to hire an in home speech therapist was SO GOOD. She has truly come so far!!!! She just needs to work up her confidence that her friends and family CAN understand her now ----- if she speaks loud enough :) 

This girl is a precious gift and we adore her. While we sometimes don't feel up to the task, God made us her parents and entrusted her to us. 
We LOVE APPRECIATE AND NEED all your love and prayers! Thank you friends!

Here's a peak into the binder I created for her:


 photo AnneSIG2_zps918a41ea.png