family, marriage

A Chord of Three Strands…

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Well, it has been a little over a year since my very open post on married life and all the things and I thought I might visit with you about where we are.  Steve and I have been married now for 26 years.  Last year we hit a pretty rough patch.  I confessed how we didn’t seem to be on the same page anymore.  At the time, it felt more like not even in the same library!

We have become more intentional in our relationship.  Praying together before we walk out the door to go to work, school or whereever happens every morning.  Every morning.  Do we still have moments of frustration with each other or times we don’t see eye to eye?  Yes, but it is less often and less intense.  We seem to have found a new rhythm.

It was really different with both the girls out of the house and just Michael under our roof.  I recognized Steve’s need for BMX and all that entails and I think he has recognized that I needed to decompress from my former job and just be mom and wife for a while.  I needed to get our home back together.  We have also discovered that I have been dealing with some health issues that explains my exhaustion all of the time and why I couldn’t seem to do all of the things and keep up like I used to.  I am feeling much better, sleeping again, which helps alot!  I guess the pace of the Bierman household has slowed down compared to when there were five of us here, but we still have plenty to keep us busy!

I have noticed that Steve and I both acknowledge what is important to the other more readily.  We definitley make time for each other.  We are much more intentional about our relationship.  I guess it’s just that it was easier before kids, multiple kids and all that goes with that.  It sounds so simple yet we somehow still wound up where we did and had to fight our way back to each other.  It was worth the fight.  It is easy to just build a wall and do your own thing when things are tense.  It is difficult to stay affectionate with someone you feel at odds with.  However, choosing to show our spouse love and affection, even when it would be easier not to, benefits the both of us.  I have found that when we do the hard work, God blesses that.

The most powerful change we have made is praying with each other.  To some people it may sound kind of corny, but to me, it has made a big difference.  I’m not saying that when we pray all of the clouds depart and a rainbow appears and all of our problems go away.  I am saying that I believe and trust in God’s word and that He is faithful to keep His promises.  According to Lamentations 3:22-23, His lovingkindnesses never cease. For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.

I began writing this post back in May or June, I think.  It is now August.  School has started.  Our college girl is not at school, but is home dealing with some pretty heavy health issues.  An unexpected change that we didn’t see coming.   We’ve had lots of unexpecteds this summer.  So the new rhythm will have to become a new, new rhythm.  Ha!  Anyway, new challenges and new stressors, but we still have the same God with us and I know that we will work through these new challenges together, too.  Praying all the way.

A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

family, health and wellness

…and then June happened.

Well, for two weeks we ate right, exercised, and were feeling good. We knew that Michael and Steve were going to church camp with the youth group the second week of June, so Paleo was kind of out the window. Camp food is camp food. Early mornings and late nights. Just as it should be. Lauren and I stayed home because she is home from college and we had a room in the house to get cleaned out. Her room. I had used it as a storage room for all the things when we had wood floors put in and I had not emptied all of the boxes by the time she was home. She has been none too pleased to be sleeping on the top bunk in Michael’s room. So, we had plenty to do. There was no reason for us to stop exercising or eating right, but somewhere in between getting the boys packed, snacks purchased, and them sent on their way, I lost my mind and abandoned the exercise/eating right routine we had begun to establish. 

Lauren and I did get the room cleaned out. I even got the yard mowed while they were away. However, exercise was non-existent, as was the healthy eating. Somehow, I convinced myself that a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and binge watching Dowton Abbey (yes, I know everyone else watched it like six years ago) was the new order of the day…every day…like four seasons worth. I know. I know, but we could get back on track next week. Right?

Life has a funny way of marching on where it will, even if the direction it marches isn’t where we intended. Steve and Michael had a good week at camp. They walked all over the Charleston Southern campus and despite the bus having a bit of trouble on the way, they all made it there and back home safe and sound. I thought that we could just get back into the swing of things when they got back, but God had other plans. Steve received word of a sweet family member’s passing in St. Louis and a couple of days later, I received word of my dear Uncle Jim’s passing. It was a long week, but we are so thankful that the services fell so that we were able to attend both of them. Trips were soon scheduled for Mississippi and Illinois and we got busy cooking Lauren’s meals for the trip and packing. 

Attending funerals has a way of presenting a crystal clear picture of how quickly time passes. I was reunited with cousins I had not seen for twenty to thirty years and met some of their children, who are practically grown themselves. I gave hugs to aunts and uncles that, in my mind’s memory, are 50, but in reality are now in their 70’s and 80’s. Waters muddied as we little cousins took for granted seeing each other at big family get togethers every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Fourth of July. Somewhere along the way, we all grew up, got married, had children, raised them, and are living our lives in respective states all over. Some of us have sons in law or daughters in law. Some of us have grandchildren now. It seems that life is so busy as we raise our own families that we have lost touch…or at least it feels that way to me. It makes my heart ache a little. I am grateful for seeing those I was able to see for the short time we had to spend together. It warmed my heart to see the new little family members and meet the teenage cousins that reminded me of what their parents looked like when we were growing up. That made me smile. 

We arrived home just in time to get ready for another good-bye. Our beloved pastor of our church in Alabama is moving on to a new chaper in his life. We were blessed to have him for fifteen years. I was blessed to sing with our choir at his last service with us. It was a nice celebration of him and his family. We love them. We will miss them, and we are grateful to have served with them. 

As I finish writing this post my family is on the road once again. We are coming home from a visit to Arkansas to visit my father in law and step mother in law. We have travelled like crazy this month. None of it planned, but all of it necessary. Time absolutely does march on and we are being more intentional about taking time to visit more often and spend time together. We had a good visit with our family in Arkansas. We showed our kids our old stomping grounds like the high school we graduated from, the college we met at, the church we got married in, etc… We had good conversations along the way. 

Over the month of June, I have been learning that balance and flexibility of all the things are the order of the day. Eating healthy and exercising are what we strive to do most of the time, but traveling to spend time with loved ones and pay our respects to loved ones that have passed on is important, too. The burpees, sit ups, wall balls, and paleo food will be waiting on us when we get back home.  For the month month of June, they turned out not to be the most important of all the things.

family, health and wellness

A Bierman Summer

Well, the first week of Bierman Bootcamp is done! We are all still alive! Actually, I think this is the most compliant my kids have been about something of this nature. Of course, Michael asked for it, so… He has been willing to try new combinations of foods. That isn’t to say that he has liked all of them, but he eats whatever the meal is and keeps going. That’s saying a lot for a sensory kid! So far, most of the meals in the Paleo In 28 book have been very tasty. There have been a couple that aren’t my favorite, but we are trying something new and the way I look at it, we can stick with most anything for just 28 days. By the time this is posted, we will be finished with seven of them.

As far as the workout is concerned, we have started out super slow and easy. I don’t know that Michael even broke a sweat the first day. Ha! We stretch every single day. You know those people who can do the splits and walk-overs, and when they stretch they lay down on their legs to touch their toes? Yeah. We are not those people. Our immediate family is not flexible. Several years ago, I tore a calf muscle. I have no fantastic story, unfortunately. It simply tore with one hop. Thank goodness it wasn’t so bad that I needed surgery or anything, but I did have to go to physical therapy for a few months. I learned so much. I had no idea how long the calf muscle actually is and how our muscles overlap and how tight they said my muscles were. I was told that if I didn’t stretch every day, my other muscle would probably tear, too because it was tighter than the leg I was there for. Well, now I stretch every day. I can touch my toes. That may not sound amazing to you, but I could not before. I don’t want my kids to have the same flexibility issues I have had, so we stretch- every day. We work out three days a week. What do I mean by work out? Running, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, wall-balls. I think that’s it, so far. We have just been doing two sets. We each start our timer and then stop it when we complete two rounds of the exercises for that day. It’s kind of like a mini- WOD (work out of the day). Of course, I plan on upping the reps and sets next week. Do more for longer. I know none of this is professional or anything, but at least we are moving. We are out in the sunshine and we are getting our blood pumping. That, to me, is the important thing.

As I told you in my last post, Lauren is our resident couch potato. I don’t know that she has ever “worked out” in all her almost 20 years of life. It is not really her thing. She has been to a few Refit (think Zumba) classes with me, but that’s about it. So, working out is out of her comfort zone. Thursday was a day full of “out of her comfort zone” things. Lauren had her annual allergy appointment Thursday afternoon. It was a workout day and so she did the workout that morning and got ready for her doctor appointment for the afternoon. Allergy appointments take several hours. They do blood work, scratch test, which is extremely uncomfortable, and discuss results and medications/treatments. Lot’s of decision making, especially with all of the health issues she deals with. Asthma, food allergies, and eczema, oh my! What made this appointment different is that for the last fifteen years she has been going to a different allergist, so this was a new office, new doctor, new staff, and she is considered an adult now. She is always nervous about all of the tests they run, but she was also going to be in the driver’s seat this time. They speak to her, ask her the questions, etc… She is used to Steve or me doing that. Growing pains. I am proud of her for taking charge, finding her voice, AND getting a workout in, on top of it all.

Michael has already begun his summer reading for school. He has two books he has to read and works data sheets to do on each. This is great considering last year we were cramming in his two books the last couple of weeks of summer! Don’t judge. It was a crazy summer. It snuck up on us, so we decided to be more intentional this summer and get it all done early. He has also been studying for the Alabama driver test to get his permit. He should be behind the wheel soon!

Steve and I took a bike ride (the Harley kind) down to Clanton Sunday afternoon. We just got on the highway and headed south. It was nice. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think we actually had a destination. We just rode. The next thing I knew, we were turning into Peach Park. We ate some peach cobbler, picked up some peaches and headed back home. (this was 2 days before we started Paleo, thank goodness, because that cobbler was delicious! 😉 It was fun to get out and just ride. We don’t do that often enough.

For the most part, our summer is starting out nicely. We have some decisions to make regarding Lauren’s health and mine (more on that later), but other than that, it has been a relaxing summer. Just the kind I like. I hope you are enjoying all the things of summer, too!

Uncategorized

Bierman Boot Camp

Michael has been asking over and over these past few months to “work out” over the summer. He said he wanted to eat healthier and build muscle. He is sixteen and skinny, just like his daddy was when he was his age. Michael has muscles, just not big ones. Noone in our family is on the tall side, so there is that, too. Steve told me that he used to work out and eat things to gain weight and get bigger to no avail and that Michael most likely will be the same. However, yesterday we all started on a little summer journey of getting healthier. Steve and I are both older and heavier than we used to be, so it will be good for us. Lauren is our resident bookworm/couch potato, so she could use some exercise, as well. She is home for the summer and none to pleased, but she is going along. As she says, she was “voluntold!” Michael and I are eating Paleo. Lauren already has a diet free of wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, so she is just continuing with that, although I would like for her to eat more fruits and vegetables and less sugar. Maybe we can get her to work on that.

I found a great little treasure at the bookstore that has made the food part of our journey quite simple. It is called Paleo In 28. The author explains the Paleo way of eating and has 4 weeks of meals with 5 ingredients or less recipes in her book. I’ve eaten this way before, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back into the swing of things. It has been great having everything so conveniently planned out in a book, and so far the recipes we have tried are really tasty. Our first Paleo breakfast was a tropical green smoothie with spinach and some delicious organic frozen fruits. Now, Michael doesn’t like green smoothies and the one fruit he really doesn’t like are bananas, so I didn’t know if we would even get beyond breakfast, but he surprised me. He drank every bit of it and said it wasn’t too bad. Ha! Meal one down!

Before we made our smoothies, we went right outside and proceeded to do our first work out. All four of us participated. We went to the end of our cul de sac, started our timers and ran to the stop sign and back, did burpees, sit ups, and squats. We did two rounds. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a start. I don’t think Michael even broke a sweat, haha! The rest of us? Well, we did! I believe our son is stronger and in better shape than he thinks. We have decided to stretch every day and do a “work out” 3 days a week and see how that goes this summer. Our lunch was a cobb salad with a simple olive oil based lemon dressing. It was very filling. Our dinner was baked chicken tenders with spicy sweet potato fries. We snack on fresh fruit, and dried fruit and seeds. There are some delicious looking dessert recipes toward the back of the book that I am really looking forward to trying. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, Michael will have his bigger muscles, Lauren will be a little stronger, and Steve and I will be a little lighter. Between getting healthier, stronger, summer reading, learning to drive, and of course downtime of playing video games, and looking at all of the lightning bugs that fill our back yard on hot Alabama June nights, I think our summer is going to be super full and super fun!

special needs

I See You

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While contemplating what to write about this Mother’s Day,  I have been thinking about all of the moms that I know that have special needs children and I want you to know that I see you.  Really see you.

I see you – dressed casually with a ball cap on and a weary smile on your face as you walk up to the group of parents bringing their children to another youth function.  You make kind small talk and give a hug to another mom that  needs it.  No one knows that you have had a hand full of hours of sleep over the last 4 days because your child’s health has been on a roller coaster.  You get her stabilized but then continue to lay awake worrying about when she is older and how you may not be near her when she needs help and how it is all going to look.  You’re the mom who always has a protein bar and a juice box in her purse, a thoughtful expression, and kind word for others even though, right now, you could really use a nap!

I see you – It’s field trip time and you are enduring the eye rolls and sneers of other parents as the teacher explains at the details meeting that they can bring any snack they want to eat on the bus, except for one with peanuts in it.  You leave one more meeting wondering if one of those parents will decide that this is the time they will assert their God-given right to send peanuts for their child’s snack because it’s their favorite.  Little do they know that your child is anaphylactic to 3 other foods, but you know you can’t and wouldn’t expect an entire class of kids to accommodate to that extent.  You just pray A LOT and have taught your daughter to be keenly aware of her surroundings at ALL times and to use the stew out of baby wipes on seats and after she touches almost everything.  Her life literally depends on it, but you know you can’t keep her in a bubble.  Those parents  weren’t with you when your daughter ate a spoonful of cereal that was cross-contaminated with peanuts and she started to go into anaphylactic shock.  They didn’t see her eyes glaze over.  They didn’t see her stop responding to you.  They weren’t with you the first time you had to administer her epi-pen, antihistamine, and call 911 and pray that the reaction got stopped in time.  They weren’t with you when you sat beside her at the hospital for hours praying that the numbers would go up and that the IV medicines the doctors used would work.  The relief you felt as you were finally able to take her home was temporary, as each day you cannot let your guard down as you prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, make an allergen free snack and try to make it  comparable to the other kid’s food at a birthday party, youth function, etc…  If you let your guard down that is when a mistake happens.  You’re the mom that has allergen free communion wafers in her freezer for special Sundays and a look of compassion, instead of intolerance when others are in need of grace from a group you are a part of, because you have been there…you are there.

I see you – It’s a new day, but it looks like every day.  You’ve overslept because you are so very tired and you forgot to wash his favorite bowl that he eats his cereal in.  The same way, at the same spot, every morning.  What’s the big deal.  Well, now he is in the middle of a major melt down.  There could be something else wrong too that you just haven’t figured out, but your brain is too foggy to figure it out at the moment because you were up with him most of the night, as he just could not sleep. He rarely gets more than 4 hours a night.  While other 16 year olds are driving to school and talking about picking up their tux for prom, your 16-year-old struggles to function with the slightest deviation in their routine.  He spends hours rocking back and forth, hitting himself in the head, and biting his hand to the point that it is raw and he is now on antibiotics for an infection that you know will also affect his gut that you have been working on relentlessly to try and heal.  Anything to help him any way you can.  You have done all of this research on your own, reading books from the library, reading articles by doctors, asking in online groups of other special needs moms what works for them.  You are just trying to help him get relief from some of the anguish he is in every single day.

I see you – Sitting in yet another IEP meeting, being promised that everything is taken care of and all is in place.  You are kind, soft-spoken, and pleasant, as always.  You leave your frustration at home.  You respond with understanding that it is baseball season and  that the teacher is a coach.  The teacher is a new mom and nursing.  The teacher thought your child seemed good and didn’t need any help, and didn’t see the need to follow-up with you to see if this really is the case.   I also see you, because you are so understanding, sitting up with your child every single night at the table doing homework for hours because assignments haven’t been reduced, as promised,  and your child will work himself into oblivion to get it all done.  I see you wondering when someone, anyone, will be understanding of his needs, when someone will recognize how hard he works all. of. the. time.  You are the mom that the school knows when you walk through the door, or when they see your name on yet another email, not because you are demanding, not because you want to be a bother, not because you won’t let your child learn responsibility, but because sensory processing disorder and autism are real things and your child needs help and you are his advocate.  So you continue to advocate, because you are a good mom.

I see you – standing and clapping, as tears stream down your face, watching your son bow during curtain call at the school musical.  The people around you don’t know how hard you worked to get him to talk when he still didn’t speak at the age of 3, let alone sing.  They don’t know how far he has come, how hard you have worked to get him there.  You are the mom that has worked tirelessly to rid his body of toxins and fill it back up with vitamins, minerals, and supplements, to learn how to cook foods that don’t tax his system, so he can focus and function inside and outside of the classroom.  You are the mom that is constantly researching all. of. the. things. to help your child be all that he can be.

I see you – scrolling on social media, a pit in your stomach as you read the angry rant of a “friend” that doesn’t know that it is you they are posting that snarky meme about.  You are that mom that has the audacity to question medical procedures.  You are that mom that shouldn’t be allowed to take your child to the doctor for a broken arm, if you don’t just blindly trust and willing obey whatever you are told to do to your child in any other area.  I see you hold your tongue, exhibit mass amounts of self-control and not defend yourself and genuinely hug that same person the next time you see them, recognizing that they don’t know the struggle.  They don’t understand.  They are not in the same situation and although it hurts when they attack, you love them anyway.

I see you and know that you wouldn’t do a thing differently.  You just want to be the very best mother you can possibly be to your child.  At the end of the day, you want them to know that you did everything you could to show them that you love them with every fiber of your being and that you are there for them, would go to the ends of the earth for them, just like any other mother who loves their child.

I just want you to know that I see you – the mother of a special needs child.  I see the hours that you put in, day after day.  The sleepless nights.  The concern for their future.   I see that you are tired and sometimes you feel discouraged because sometimes the day just feels like Mount Everest!  Know that you are seen, you are loved, and you are a good mom.

Happy Mother’s Day