Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snippets


... squirrel helping koala prepare for daddy's upcoming birthday...


... Clementine and Azul catching some rays (is it nice of me to let them have some sunshine and fresh air or am I torturing them by letting them have a whiff of freedom?)...


... freshly laundered summer clothes (I'm preparing - only about 3 months to go)...


... a sunny day and a light breeze, a "new" coffee table just awaiting good weather so he can be stripped and stained (sounds painful)...


... lettuce, lemon juice, chickpeas, cucumber, just mayo (vegan), salt, pepper and dill - my new latest obsession ... throw in some walnuts and black olives just for spite...


... first viewing of The Wizard of Oz (on VHS no less.) I waited until they were 7 and 9 because I didn't want them to freak out - turns out they are both much braver then their mother. They loved it and didn't think it was scary in the least. 

Happy Last Week of January Friends, only 51 days till spring.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Intentional


My habits are changing this year (my habits are TRYING to change...) 
"What habit?" might you ask. Let me tell you. 
NOT Taking care of me every single day. 
Yep. That one. 


I've always been against the whole "take care of yourself" mantra that I feel like our society screams at us on a minute by minute basis. I know self care is healthy...needed, I think for me the reason why I have always stood against the idea is because I've kind of witnessed the whole "going overboard" with the notion. Instead of self care we have a lot of people who are just plain self absorbed. I would rather not be like that - I would like to focus my life on loving and serving and taking care of others. 
But - I've noticed this little teeny problem over the last 3 years. I've gotten to a place where I actually don't feel like I have much of a choice anymore in taking care of myself. The last few months of 2014 were rather hard for my body - I noticed that my once high energy levels were completely gone and instead I felt fatigued almost everyday. I didn't feel creative, my skin started breaking out and my scalp got all flaky and disgusting. I had other problems but a little TMI. 
I realized that in an effort to put others first, I had completely neglected myself and then because of this...I was no good to anyone. I didn't feel like playing very much with the kids (like, at all...) and I was extremely up and down emotionally. So, then because of the fatigue and the moodiness and the bloated belly and the bumps on my face  and not being able to sleep and yada yada yada - I became self absorbed because all I could think about is how crappy I felt...which then became a cycle of not being able to see the light, not feeling hope, not feeling ANYTHING except for "poor me." 
When Mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy. 


So, 2015 brings a lot of self care for me...without neglecting others. That's what I would like. 

Self care for me starts in the kitchen. I'm a strong believer in getting out the bad and replacing it with good (mind, body, and spirit) and so I'm going after health in a whole new way. My diet gradually started getting worse and worse towards the end of last year - I was eating a lot more salt, a lot more gmo corn, a LOT of cheese - I ordered pizza at least twice a month. Yah - cravings were getting out of control. I definitely needed to change basically EVERYTHING about how I was fueling my body. 

So - my focus this year is nutrient dense foods. The most nutrient dense foods on the planet are plants - so I'm gonna eat tons of them.  I'm trying to juice everyday even if it's just carrots and apples with spinach (a little cheaper then other juices.) I like to add beets sometime, ecspecially after my cycle because beets have a TON of iron in them. I also make smoothies almost everyday with lots of bananas and almond or coconut milk - these smoothies give me instant energy and almond milk has way more calcium in it then cows milk. 
 I've cut out all gluten and dairy - almost all sugar....I have been vegetarian for over 3 years and I'm still cutting out meat. I had a doctors appointment and they did extensive blood work and they said ...shock of all shock..that me, a non eat eater...has perfect iron, cholesterol and I have no deficiencies in any of my B vitamins. Thank you and thank you. 
 One word about cow's milk - when you have a cold what to doctors tell you? Take out dairy...it's mucus forming. When you are constipated...what do doctors tell you? Take out dairy. When you have cancer what are you not suppose to drink EVEN if it's organic? Dairy. Yet everyone says to drink dairy. Interesting. Dairy causes inflammation and for most people is very hard to digest - it's got a ton of fat in it and not the good fat that you would find in avocados, coconut, or olives - it just has fat. You can't really absorb the calcium in dairy - and in order for a milk cow to be able to produce enough milk to meet our standards at the grocery stores they are having to be given hormones and antibiotics, and then are being milked ALL day long - a good milk cow now days in a milk factory only lives about 4 years at most and then is ground up for beef. That's just plain sad. 
Oh...and just to finish the cycle - most people these days have candida. Look it up and see if you might have any of the symptoms - there is a pretty easy spit test you can do to test for it. Guess why most people have candida? Well, besides sugar consumption it's because of antibiotic.Now...what's in milk again? Oh yes...
Sorry - that paragraph was way more than "one word." I get carried away sometimes. 


My other change is I'm drinking a lot more water and even infusing it sometimes with fruit for a little treat. I love eating the fruit AFTERWARDS - so rewarding. 
I'm happy as a clam. 


I'm also having a lot of fun finding simple face mask recipes online and even figuring out how to care for long hair. I'm treating myself when the kids go to bed - instead of snacking on corn chips and salsa all night I'll make myself some cinnamon tea and put a honey cinnamon mask on my face. Simple but makes my skin super soft. I ordered a shower filter for our shower head to get rid of the chlorine that is soaking into my scalp and skin everytime I shower (supposedly once you remove the chlorine from your shower water your skin feels a lot softer) - I can't wait for it to get here and my hubby hook it up for me. I'm also excited that Brady won't be absorbing as many toxins through his skin every morning when he takes his ritual 20 minute soak. :) 


All of these things that I'm doing "for me" don't actually take that much time, and the goodness ends up flowing directly on to my littles. They drink the carrot juice, they eat healthier snacks, I'm more mindful of their skin when I think about MY skin - I'm not as tired so I'm in a much much better mood which means more smiles directed toward them. 


The last little bit for my self care is that I'm trying to focus on gratitude. I'm thinking of my blessings, I'm noticing what's around me more (whether it be a bird on the window sill or someone else's feelings) - I want to be intentional. I want to be intentional about what goes in my body, about where I buy gifts, about how I use my dollar as my vote, about the words that come out of my mouth, about the products I use in my home, about the time that I spend...I just want to be intentional. Balanced. Grateful. 


There you have it - my little changes that are having huge pay offs thus far. By the way, the top picture was of my lunch today - zucchini noodles with a mango, avocado, cilantro sauce. Pretty tasty - not gonna lie...it's no waffle fries - but my body feels good after eating it. :) 
What do you do each day to make sure you are being nourished inside and out? 

~ Alyssa Spring

Friday, January 9, 2015

What We've Been Doing - and a Message for a Special Reader


We've been cuddling, enjoying a blanket of flowers even in winter...


We've been being kids...being goofy and creative and growing mustaches (wait...can kids do that?!)


We've been having fun helping out around here, working hard, learning new skills...


He's been admired a few times through my camera lens...and off "lens"...


They've been playing...I've been watching...


...and playing some more...


We've been baking gluten free casein free yumminess - they've been saying things like "this isn't so bad at all" and "I love our new diet, we're so healthy!" I've been smiling. 


We've been twirling...


Boys and girls prancing and dancing and spinning and skipping - loving leggings and the feeling of movement when all cooped up... we've been fine with boys doing ballet (the hubby says ballerinas make the best soccer players. No sexism in this house.)


We've been experimenting with nature - keep your fingers crossed those pink flowers change color from their rainbow inspired drinks. 
We've been doing our best with what we have. 


* one of my dear blog readers asked me how it is that I don't get overwhelmed with having four kids. I would like to say in a blunt loud way (kindly of course) - I DO! I get very overwhelmed. I'm learning each day that motherhood is just a roller coaster of emotions, some days I want to spend every second with my kids, some days I would like nothing better than to fly the coop (and I have...just got in the car and sped off. Don't worry...there was an adult left at home haha). I've had the torrents of hot tears from "why can't I be more kind and patient? I'm so lonely...I want to have a conversation with an adult! One moment in the bathroom without explaining WHAT I'm doing in step by step fashion would be awesome." I have had meltdowns that I'm not proud of, I have hurt feelings, I have laid in my bed under covers just because I couldn't find a hole that was big enough to cover my body. I don't always know "how I do it."
  I think what it all comes down to is how we handle ourselves as moms when we are overwhelmed - but there should be no guilt in feeling anything. I think what we want to overall know is "how will our kids describe us when they are adults?"  Will they remember that mom sometimes got upset but that she also apologized and learned from her mistakes. Will they remember that mostly we smiled and played and were creative and that we were good listeners? Will they remember acceptance? I think what matters is the OVERALL picture of your motherhood style...not the teeny mistakes and the tid bits of actually being a real human and letting children see that we are just that - human.
 I will tack on to this just one more bit of advice that I'm also going to apply to my own life (starting next month)- when mom's are overly tired and hormonal it's never really a good time to teach or do crafts and things that are super hands on, messy, several steps...for me that spells disaster.
  There can be days when cups of tea, small treats, coloring and even long movies are perfectly appropriate - if you are a stay at home homeschooling mother you never have a day off...a hour off...a minute off. If you don't give them to yourself and also teach your kids EMPATHY towards YOU - they will miss out on the opportunity to be considerate. Have grace for yourself as you do for others.  There...that's it dear reader - if I come up with more I'll write a book. :)  We are all learning and usually the pics that I post are of the good times, not the meltdowns and the dirty dishes and the pee stains on the carpet. Blessings *
~ Alyssa Spring

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A New Year...and Some Teeny Tiny Not Resolutions


 Zac and I celebrated our 11th anniversary this past week. The whole occasion was rather "chill" - just a drive with our littles to look at neighborhoods and have a coffee, but it was perfect. Sometimes the perfect date is being alone and just focusing on each other...but this anniversary was nice to just do something low key and celebrate what we have built in the last 11 years ... a strong marriage and a lovely little family.


 I guess what 2015 holds for us is the possibility of buying a house, Zac beginning paramedic school in the summer, and the continuation of helping each one of our children with their trials and celebrating their triumphs.
 We have started the gluten free/casein free diet - so far so good! We all feel really well and within two days I was already feeling more energized...my stomach feels awesome and even my skin looks better. Zac also seems to feel better and has been enjoying our vegan lifestyle. That's saying a lot for a steak lover ... he watched the documentary Earthlings and it changed his perspective on a few things - we will just leave it at that. He is more energized however on this plant based diet and I think i'm on my way to helping my candida situation. The kids hopefully will also reap benefits as we work on strengthening their bodies and figuring out their vitamin deficiencies.

  We have finally kind of narrowed down the area that we think we would really like to live - and we've pretty much decided that it won't be in the mountains. I do love being in the trees and seeing the deer but I'm NOT a fan of curvy icy roads. Zac and I went up to look at a house, and although it was in a good location and the house was lovely, all we could think about was our teenage daughter someday trying to drive to youth group on those roads and....shudder. No thank you , I don't think I could take the stress.
 What we both really would like to have is just an old little house that we can fix up. Somewhere that we can have a massive garden and learn about agriculture...somewhere that we can have chickens and have really good quality eggs by hens that we love and that actually get to have fresh air and awesome living conditions. We can't help it...we are just country at heart - but also love to be able to go get a coffee or utilize rec centers for our kids. So, that's what we will try to find.

 Zac going to paramedic school will just add to his list of skills, will give him a raise, will make him better at what he does. NOW, what this DOES mean is that it will basically just be me and the kids for at least 6 months - our summer and fall might feel and bit bland and lonely. I'm very supportive though and would like to remain that way - sacrificing 6 months so that Zac can be better at what he does isn't that much in the long run (we'll see how I feel around October...).

As for helping our kids besides their diet, we are focusing on building up our homeschool curriculum and also finding them a few more social outlets - we would love for Brady to have a friend.
 We are trying to read more to the kids, play more games, include them in what we do around the house. They are all doing really really well at NORMAL family activities which is very encouraging to Zac and I. We went to a big indoor place for our nephews birthday party and my kids participated in laser tag and ice skating and even bumper cars and did incredible.
 We are still helping to build life skills with our boys...from tying shoes to pulling up pants, to brushing teeth...just some things that are kind of simple but challenging for them. We are trying to be understanding and even accommodating with some of their sensory issues and their OCD - we are trying to embrace thoughtfulness instead of changing them to suit our needs, and at the same time we are having to try and teach them healthy ways to deal with some of their challenges (like wearing headphones when a room is too loud, or calming down in different room when they are overly sensitive to the noise and lighting...things like that.)



  As for our little miss, that's a whole different ball game. I have had comments from a LOT of people that seem to make me think that THEY think that Zac and I don't consider her needs...that we are so caught up with our boys that Trinity gets left behind. I can assure anyone that ever wonders...this is far from the truth. Yes, when you have several special needs kids a child that is neurotypical may feel not as "special." Trinity has said to me that she wishes she had autism and we have very open conversations about this with her. Her reasons for wanting autism are pretty much the same as a blond little girl wanting brunette hair like all of her friends. It's wanting something that sets someone else apart from everyone else. I'm pretty sure that we all struggle with this in some way or another. I spend SO much time trying to make sure that Trinity has play dates with little girls, one on one time with me or Zac, that she can pursue her dreams and so that she can also see they things that are special about her.
   In all of this however we still do not feel like it's best for our family or even for her at this point to go to school full time. Yes, she would get out of her house and meet more people. Yes, she would like the activities and she is a social butterfly.
 But...she wouldn't ever have us. When she would come home from school, her parents are still going to be taking care of three special needs boys. Her weekends...same thing. That will always be a part of her life. Homeschooling allows me to have tid bits of the day with her. When the boys are chill and occupied with something I can take her aside and do a craft or bake with her or watch a show and cuddle on the couch. If she were gone all day, and then also involved in activities, the chances of me having that kind of relationship with her goes to about a zero. We are not going to let her get lost in the mix and school would make that mix even more concentrated for our family at this point.
 We also love the fact that Trinity loves to be around the house helping and being productive and that she has value in our home - kids need to feel accomplished and needed. Most childhood depression comes from kids not feeling like they have worth, like they are forgotten or when they are so busy they can't ever just "be."
  As far as the social aspect, I don't think that it matters what quantity of friends that one has, it matters the quality. She has said that she would really like to learn the violin so we have kind of made a "deal" that when Zac is out of paramedic school and she is eight that we will start the ball rolling on voilin lessons. I'm excited for her!
 So, for now, homeschool is still the right choice for our family. Zac was telling our kids how lucky they were yesterday because it was freezing cold outside and they were all cuddled on the couch reading their lessons, smiling and having fun...in their jammies. Jammies are definitely a perk.
 This doesn't mean that this choice will stay constant - it could definitely change someday as the kids get older and we sense different needs that maybe could be met at a nice school.
 So, ways that we are resolved to being...
1. To continue to be open with our kids, to have a home where they feel secure and where they can be themselves.
2. To look for opportunities to do good, to give more.
3. To be mindful of what we put in our mouths, in our minds, in our hearts.
4. To make education fun and meaningful yet not let it consume us...but instead to focus on good character and raising children that our stable emotionally, hard workers, and love those around them.
5 To survive Paramedic School

Happy belated New Year friends!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Little Favor to Make a Little Boy Smile Really Big...


Dear Readers,

As many of you already know,  I have a little boy who loves to make videos. When I say "videos" I mean crazy fun videos of him acting out scenes from Mario, replays of the latest soccer game he's watched, or his own type of interpretive dance to his favorite songs.  He works very hard dancing, writing scripts, uploading photos and music...to create small (okay, sometimes not so small when you are the viewer)  youtube videos and gain "views. "
 Brady has Aspergers. People with Aspergers  are usually fascinated and obsessed with things that neurotypical people don't really care about, don't really notice. Brady has been obsessed with Mario and Luigi since he was four years old and I don't see the fascination every really going away. I envision myself with a 16 year old son running around my house with a fake mustache and overalls smashing make believe Gumbas.  My gain? I always know what to get him for Christmas and  I get to watch a little boy constantly be delighted with the same video, the same costume...even the same pastime and I've learned a lot, let me tell you.  There's something to be said for sticking with a love instead of being easily distracted and going on to the next thing. Consistency and Loyalty...two amazing qualities. :)
 However, because some people don't really understand his fascinations or the value of them to him,
my husband and I have to be a little protective. He has had videos on youtube (he actually has a channel) but we had to turn off comments just because of some rather distasteful remarks from viewer - bullying instead of encouraging his differences.
 Brady values views and even though HIS value isn't based on how many times someone clicks on a video...it REALLY makes him happy when they do.
I have a favor...if you could click on this link and watch his latest little conglomeration of songs and dance, he would be ecstatic. I think the video is about 1.5 minutes of sheer energy. If you would go one step further to possibly share his video on facebook that would be amazing. He works so hard at the things that he loves, I would like for him to rewarded for his effort and his talent.
 Thanks!
Love,
Brady's #1 Fan

Saturday, December 20, 2014

And Then He Was Nine...

One day I woke up, rubbed my eyes...and realized that he was nine. 


He said it was the greatest day of his life because he's now closer to being ten and getting his brown guinea pig. 
There was a trip to an overstimulating restaurant...with Mexican food, thousands of  green and red twinkle lights wrapped around trees, fiesta music for all, and an overcrowded arcade. He was in heaven.


Then it was back home to have my leaning tower of gluten free chocolate cake and a few gifts. My awesome hubby found our little man a couple of authentic soccer jerseys at the thrift store...BRAND NEW... for mere pennies. Brady's heart was won. I made the little soccer peg men last minute as a cake topper - Brady was super pleased with their simplicity. 


Happy birthday my Little Love...may you be wrapped in the arms of God and protected by His spirit. May you find joy in the little things in life (as you already have), may you grow to love others and be loved in return....I wish you lots of soccer playing years, cups of hot tea, and next year  - one brown guinea pig.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Remembering, Regretting, Learning, and Hoping.

  I spent a lovely morning with my Brady angel, going from store to store, explaining prices and nutritional facts and why the aisles are numbered...every time he would look up at me and try to make conversation about things that I like - I felt uncontrollably happy. I couldn't help but to hug him several times in the middle of a store, couldn't keep my hands off of his long thick hair...couldn't get enough of those freckles and blue eyes. My Brady...my heart. 

I found a post this morning from almost three years ago and it pretty much sums up the way I have been feeling this last week. Brady hasn't been doing super well in the health department...he is very washed out with dark purple under his eyes. He is congested, then his nose runs...then he is congested. He has a little...errrr...itching problem. He seems very distracted... I have to ask him a question about three times before I get a response. I guess because of all of this I've started searching for answers again for our boys...searching what could be out there to help them with some of the "side effects" of having autism. My search brought me to the book Healing the New Childhood Epidemics, Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. I expected to be bored...to be reading a bunch of medical jargon that is totally NOT understandable for a creative brain like mine - but it hasn't been that way at all. It's been mind blowing, eye opening, heart moving...it's been a lot for me to take in. This week has been pretty emotional for me. I've struggled a lot internally with a super strong love and hope for my boys, but also just a sadness that you would only understand if you have a special needs child. I have three...this is overwhelming to me sometimes. When I read a book that has ideas that I can try and that tells me that their issues come from their gut, their brains, and their nervous systems and that each child with autism is affected in all three areas, I just feel like there are NINE puzzles to solve. I essentially have to work on all three areas for all three boys. 

 Brady will be nine tomorrow. My baby boy will be nine tomorrow. I think I have a hard time when he has a birthday. Okay, I KNOW I have a hard time when he has a birthday.  My husband has held me several times in the last two days and just let me cry. I love my little boy so much and am so proud of him and his strength. Reading the book about how kids with autism PRIMARY emotion is fear and anxiety is hard to read.  It makes me sad that most of the time that's the FIRST thing that my boys feel, and it's true. I've seen it. 

I'm so happy that my boys also experience a lot of joy. I'm so happy that they seem pretty comfortable in their little worlds and in our home. BUT...after Christmas we are going to pretty much go hardcore with a whole new diet ... first starting with gluten free and then moving on to yeast....again (insert a big sigh.) We will be supplementing them and also detoxing them for heavy metals - I'm a little scared of the changes. For any of you that think your kids might have any of the four A's...autism, adhd, asthma, and food allergies I really recommend this book. In fact, for anyone that has a child and would like to prevent the four A's...I challenge you to read this book. I had a very alert little baby, a very comical little baby...and then I didn't. I wish I would have known some things then that I know now. 


 The most precious little lips, big blue eyes...


 ... engaging, soft chubby little arms, loved to play peek a boo...


... and then one day he just became serious, stopped looking at the camera in photos, had fevers often, a messed up tummy but doctors couldn't figure out what the issues were. I know now what the issue was. People like to encourage and say things like "God made him perfectly." God made my boy perfectly...God didn't make autism. 
I will share my past post at the end here, it's relevant to me today. The love that I have for this little guy is stronger then ever. As he and I were driving home this afternoon and I was watching him look out his car window I wondered what he was thinking about. He see things differently than I do...his world is pretty amazing yet pretty confining. I thought about how much I've changed over the past nine years, my ideas of parenting have changed. I thought when I had a baby that kids were basically good for making you laugh, making you feel loved, and to basically just do whatever you tell them to do. I learned fast that this is completely wrong. Kids are made so that you can love them, so that you can grow, so that you can change things about YOU in order to help them lead fulfilling lives. I have changed...I'm better because of Brady. I love more fuller and more deeply because of Brady. I'm more thoughtful, more sensitive, more sacrificial because of Brady. I nicknamed him "Little Love" when he was a teeny tiny guy and I think that even when he is 180 lbs he will still be my Little Love even though my heart has never loved any other person more fully and more deeply. Thanks for listening....

-Alyssa

  






He sits, perched on one of his favorite spaces - Papa John's old truck, daddy's new one. His eyes are blank and staring into space and I can't help but wonder what he's dreaming of. Is he walking on the moon today, surrounded by all of his planets (he knows all of their names and colors) or is he a samurai....imagining himself karate chopping and taking out the enemy? Is he in school....having a conversation with a friend that he can't have in real life? Is he eating something delicious......or maybe worried that we'll be late to the party on Saturday? I wish he could tell me.
Somedays there are glimpses of hope....he hugs me, awkwardly but sweetly. Somedays he comes up to me, his finger pointed and his face a little nervous and says "I love you Mommy" and then he looks around quickly - I can tell it was hard for him to say those words and he was unsure of what my reaction would be. I hug him and tell him he is the sweetest boy in the world, and that he will always be my very favorite first born. :)
Other days are hard, and I don't know how we are going to get through this...this childhood and this life...as a complete family. I wonder how we are going to meet his special needs, how we will ever learn to communicate with him the RIGHT way...how we will prepare him for his future. I wonder how Zac and I will stay together in spirit and in harmony, stressed beyond our limits on a daily basis?
Someday he will be a man...a strong man with a lot of expectations of his world...some expectations that can't always be met. I worry.


In the end, I know that Brady is perfect. He was made this way for a reason and I don't understand it...but it's real and it's my life and it's not ever going away. He will always need me, and I guess that feels good. It's comforting that my six year old still needs to hold my hand in a store, he needs the security that only I can provide him with in a public space. There are times during my day that I see that as a hassle, and I'm slow to recognize it as a JOY that he's so bonded to me...that he wants me and that he feels safe in my arms and in my sight. He is teaching me things about myself I would never have learned....everyday I have to grow more, I have to get to the next level of understanding....I'm stretched and made stronger...because of him. Thank You My Brayden Allen.
April is autism awareness month. I challenge you to google autism, autism spectrum disorder, Asperger's Syndrome and become *learned.* There are so many children effected by autism today, I know that it is a relief to me when someone can say "oh yah, I know what that is...I read something about it" or "I watched a show about that." Even though they aren't living with it daily, it's nice to know that they know. I don't feel as alone in this journey...and I know that people will be more understanding of my little love and the challenges that he faces ....and they will be SHOCKED at the things that he can do!!!!! He is the smartest little kid that I have ever known and he has a sense about him that is different than other kids....he is COMPLETELY honest.