Another Weekend Passed

It seems like the weekends go by in a blur. Between school work of my own, the kid’s school work, friends, activities with our church, and just trying to keep up with everyday life, Friday through Sunday all run together. Our lives are run by schedules, deadlines, and appointments that it feels like there is little to no time to stop and enjoy the life we have been blessed with.

I suppose being busy is better than being laden with boredom or solitude. Although, there are days when the idea of having nothing to do and nobody or obligations to attend to seems like a lofty dream, one I find myself wishing to come true. Don’t get me wrong, my life is full and good. I love my children, husband, and the family and friends that are a part of our lives. Lord knows where I’d be without any of them. However, I don’t feel it’s entirely selfish to want, and need, some personal time away from the hustle of everyday life. A day without kids complaining or fighting, a day without my phone ringing or an assignment being due, a day where my biggest concern is staying hydrated and enjoying my massage.

The blessings in my life are numerous, this I cannot deny. I’ve even learned to see blessings in things that would not be considered ‘good’ or even a blessing in disguise. It’s those moments, those encounters, and those situations that I see the opportunity for growth or to gain knowledge- both of which are blessings. Trials strengthen you. Hard times put your life into perspective. Worry, while I don’t see the feeling or manifestation of it as particularly beneficial, can bring you closer to sources of support and encouragement. I have learned to pursue God in these times of worry or uncertainty, to take difficult situations and use them as a guide for the future, and to take hard times on the chin because, if I can make it through (insert something less than enjoyable here) then I can make it through anything. It’s like strengthening an emotional and psychological muscle with God as my spotter.

But, muscles tire and hit a point of failure. You feel it a short time before it occurs but the signs are clear. Things you were doing with very little effort or thought start becoming harder to push through. There’s a little uncertainty in the choices and decisions you make, like wondering if you can really push through the next set. I get tired and weak, but at the same time I’m energized. My sleep pattern is all over the place because of this. My body and my emotions are spent but my mind doesn’t shut off.

Like regular exercise, it gets tiring after awhile; the routine, the monotony, and having to fight through everyday, sometimes by the hour, in order to provide a life to my children and to hopefully modeling to them how to live their own life. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t day where I wanted to quit; days when I would love nothing more than to not have to answer to “Mom” being called through the house, days when I didn’t end up in an argument over the words I say and how they were said, and days where I don’t have to hear the members of my family complaining or crying over the actions of another member in the family.

Peace. Calm. Just shut it all off. A long drive through the canyon. A weekend in a cabin. Focusing on refreshing my mind, body, and spirit. I could do all these things. I could find the time. It would be reasonable and justifiable. But, I don’t think I could shake the “Mom guilt” that is so often felt when I, or most mothers, do something for themselves. That’s the hard part.

So now, as the hours until dawn are getting closer, I’ll take a breath and ready myself for tomorrow. I’ll remember that this is the life I chose and I’ll remember all the good things that have from it. I take advantages of the learning opportunities as they present themselves, and I’ll flex my muscle. I talk to my spotter because without Him, nothing gets accomplished and I am at risk of hurting myself by pushing too far. I’ll finish my sets and complete the circuit. I’ll remember that the long-term rewards of my efforts far outweigh the short-term sacrifices I make. And I’ll see the blessing of it all.

When You Just Don’t Know What To Do

If you’ve been following my blog then you know that my life is full of normal family issues, plus the added not-so-normal issues that come with having a child with mental illness. I love my daughter, I wish I could help her more, I wish she didn’t have to struggle they way she does sometimes, but mostly I wish she didn’t have a mental illness.

Most well-adjust people realize that when you become a parent, there is a sudden switch turned on in your brain to love, protect, & provide for your child. It’s primal, innate, and you can’t ignore it. It’s what tells you whether a crying baby is hungry or tired, needs a diaper change or has a gas bubble. It never goes away, it just adjusts to your child’s changing needs as they get older. Most people do anything in their power to make sure they are the best parent they can be and ensure their child is prepared to become an adult. It’s your job to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV).

When you have a child with a fairly severe form of mental illness, you can do all the right things and still end up feeling like you’re failing. Some days, you just don’t know what to do. Take all the parenting books, advice from friends and family, and even some of the suggestions of doctors and toss it out the window. None of it will apply. You have to research and ask questions and advocate and get familiar with trial and error and make your own plan. In my case, you have to tell 3 different doctors that they’re wrong and keep looking for answers, get the right testing, get the right diagnosis- only to realize that things have gotten so bad that you have to have your child admitted to the state mental health hospital because everything you’ve done on an outpatient level isn’t effective. You know that despite your best efforts nothing outside of intensive inpatient treatment will benefit your 13 year-old daughter at that moment. So you make the hardest decision of your life and send her 80 miles away because you can’t help her anymore, you can’t protect her from herself, and you can’t provide what she needs.

Six months go by and great progress has been made. It’s like having a new child- literally 180* turn around. She’s happy, she’s smiling, cooperative, insightful, kind, loving, and has gained knowledge about herself. She has learned a bag full of “tricks” to be able to function outside the hospital. She gets to come home EXACTLY six months after her admission. As a parent you’re just so thankful to have her home, to have some sense of normalcy, and to have her feel better. Things are great and everyone is getting along and life is feeling right for the first time in a long time. Then the honeymoon ends.

Everyone has good days and bad days, and if they don’t they’re not normal. But recently I’m starting to realize that we’re (as a family) back to walking on eggshells and worrying about how to phrase even the simplest of words. The ups and downs have been more frequent and the bad days are starting to resemble life before hospitalization. I can tell when she’s letting her illness take over and speak for her and when she’s being a typical 14 year-old kid- most of the time. Then there are days when I just don’t know what to do anymore. I feel like maybe I’m dropping the ball somewhere, maybe I’m expecting to much, maybe I’m not expecting enough, or maybe her illness is evolving.

There are no easy answer when dealing with mental illness, especially when it comes to children and adolescents. Even more when it’s your child. I wish I could take it all away from her. She puts on a face of fearlessness and bravery, but she’s fragile and can be easily broken. I’ve cried so many tears over the last 18 months I don’t think I have any left, even when a good cry would really be nice. I worry about her future. I worry if she’ll be able to “adult” normally. I worry what will happen when I can’t make sure she takes her meds everyday or that she’s taking care of herself appropriately. Even when she makes me angry or upset because she’s said or done something to intentionally upset her sisters or mouths off to my husband, I keep telling myself silently that it’s going to be o.k. I remind myself that she can be kind and caring, compassionate and tender, my child yet a stranger.

I’ll never give up. I’ll always be pushing for more resources, more education, more awareness, and more strength. I’ll, WE, will get through the changes and the bad days. We’ll continue to celebrate small victories and learn from our setbacks. I’ll remember that this is my purpose her one earth. We’ll see the blessing in anything and everything, even the things that seem like they may break us.

I’m trying harder to “Let go, and let God”. I know that whatever I cannot handle only makes my trust in Him stronger and my faith even fuller. Even when I just don’t know what to do, He does.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”- Jeremiah 29:11

Lately…

Lately life has been, well, busy. Between three kids in school, being school full time myself, having our new fluff-ball Paisley, balancing being a mom & wife…

Lately Audrey has been stable. Ups, downs, good days and bad days, moments of sincere love, happiness and kindness, and also moments of confusion, blind anger, and disappointment in herself. Paisley starts her Puppy Obedience 101 in a couple weeks so I am hoping this will give her a sense of purpose and pride.

Lately I have an overly emotional middle child. She loves everyone so much but then would give anything for a few hours of peace and quiet. She would be content reading books in her sweats or riding her bike alone for a while. She tries so hard to be understanding and tenderhearted in a house where even the most patient person might get twitchy.

Lately my little eight year old has been dramatic. Like, really dramatic over little things. The puppy  scratched her- time to amputate. She has her behavior corrected- all the problems of the world are her fault. She is asked to do her chores- she’s an underpaid maid. She is told she needs to practice her addition and subtraction facts- she can’t do ANYTHING right. I’m not sure why she reacts the way she does. Everything is approached in a level headed manner and in an age appropriate way. The other day I literally just stared at her after trying calm her anxiety over something- I didn’t know what else to say or do. I just stared. On a positive note, she started swim classes and is loving them!

Lately my husband and I barely get anytime to be together alone. The kids are SLOW to get to bed, he works terrible hours (6 am to 330 pm), and has to be in bed by 10 pm in order to function properly the next day. I miss watching our guilty-pleasure TV shows, having time to just talk uninterrupted or to take a day off from everything and just be lazy together. Even with the kids in the house on lazy days we can still give each other some much needed attention. Tomorrow (or today, rather) is his 47th birthday. We’re going to try and get some one-on-one time in.

Lately school has my head spinning. I have a year left, and I just applied for an international internship to Israel. I prayed about it, thought about it, and considered all the logistics of how things would go here at home if I am accepted into the program (which is a short term trip of only 11 days). Deep down I know this is a chance of a lifetime for me; I want this internship so badly. I also became a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts, a company specializing in organizational products, storage products, small purse & wallet line, and a small jewelry line. I was drawn to this company after a friend hosted a fundraiser for our family to help with the costs of getting a service dog. I loved their products and when I realized how much they give back to other organizations every month, it nudged me over the edge. This month they are donating  $75,000 to the Nationwide Childrens Hospital to fund behavioral health research & treatment for young girls. Clearly a topic near and dear to my heart. I am already off to a great start- and no I’m not plugging my business info in here. If you want it, just ask.

Lately I have realized that my family and I are blessed. Yes, life is difficult at times and there are days where I do want to “quit”, but when I put things into perspective it becomes clear that things could really be so much worse. I can get an education and so can my daughters. I can walk safely down my streets without worrying about a civil war going on in my town. I can worship freely. I can help others even when I’m having a bad day. Everyday I am given a new chance to be a better version of myself; to love better, to parent better, to learn better, and to give better. I can access healthcare for myself and my family. I wouldn’t mind a few upgrades in some areas but I have a good life and am thankful in all things.

Lately, when I think I have nothing left to give, God gives me the strength to keep moving on.

Lately, life has been good.

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Asking for Help When You’re the “Strong One”

If you’re like me you have been described as “so strong”, tough, or capable of overcoming anything that comes your way. These descriptions wouldn’t be wrong, either. For a long time, I prided myself on my strength and ability to remain resilient during life’s hard times. I found my way to calm waters or a safe harbor in many of the turbulent tides life often surrounds us with. In most of these situations I didn’t have to ask for help because the need was obvious. Divorce, illness, unemployment – these are all situations that people recognize and offer to help in some way, small or large.

But what do you do when you could really use some help but just don’t know how to ask for it? Humans often take their friendships and support systems for granted. For the most part they are always just “there” and often do what they’re supposed to do, in their respective roles, without having to be prompted. Sometimes the things we need help with prevent our help from coming to us, rendering most of us “strong” people in a conundrum. We don’t know how to ask for help or reach out. It’s a blow to our self-esteem and makes us feel weak. I don’t know about you but I am not particularly fond of feeling weak or vulnerable, but I also dislike not getting feedback or advice when it’s needed most.

Overcoming this fear, yes, fear of asking for help is anything but easy. It actually takes practice, rehearsing in your head, and making a plan of execution. Before any of that can even happen we have to recognize and accept that we need help; which is exhausting all on its own. I know to some this may sound like a lot of work for something that most people do without too much thought. Oh how I wish asking for help was more automatic or kicked in with auto-pilot type features when necessary.

Over the last 18 months I have had to learn to recognize, admit, and accept help from others. This ranges from my parents, friends, people at church, and at times God. Luckily, God knows our hearts and needs without words needing to be spoken. Psalm 34:18 (ESV) assures us that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” We don’t even have to speak a word but when we do take that time to pray, to speak to God one-on-one, we can be even more assured “And this is the confidence we toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).

Family and friends are great when the problem is familiar and tangible, but when problems take  on less noticeable attributes there is One that knows our needs before we do. This is probably why our friends and family are so keen at just being there when we need them. However, we it feels like we’ve been forgotten maybe that’s God’s way of letting us know that we just need to take that time to turn our heads to heaven an make that direct connection with the One who connects us all.

So, so tired…

I love my life. I love my family. I love my kids. I love who I am and what I am.

But I am tired.

I am not using this blog as a place to be negative or complain about my life. I know that my life has a plan and a purpose, and in the long game everything will make sense. But sometimes even knowing that can’t help me get past days like today.

I’ve regained my desire to help at the kid’s school, something I couldn’t do much of last year given my family situation and trying to just be there while my daughter was being diagnosed. I’m doing some testing with elementary kids, getting to interact with adults again, and even have about a week of substituting lined up over the next couple of months.

I love subbing. Seriously, I never imagined I would enjoy subbing for high school kids as much as I do. Then again, this happens to be an exceptional group of kids. I’m in my fall term of classes and have one year left to get my B.S. in Developmental Psychology. I love school and am proud of how well I have done this far.

My husband and I are trying to have more couple time and even branch out to make new friends or join a small group at church. This is kind of a big deal since Shane isn’t super social nor was he raised the same religion as me (he was raised Roman-Catholic, we currently attend a Bible based non-denominational Christian church). Together we are trying to make time for each kid one-on-one, along with family time. This can be a bit of a task due to Audrey’s disorders but we try as hard as we can, using the best methods that we know.

I know this all sounds like normal family stuff, normal life stuff, normal human stuff. But it’s not. It’s takes every ounce of my strength mentally, physically, and especially emotionally to make life happen sometimes. Now is one of those times. I feel beat down, somewhat defeated, and I am almost positive someone is playing some kind of psychologically based warfare with me. Frankly, today they’re winning.

I’m a touch chick. I’ve been baptized by fire, graduated from the School of Hard Knocks, fought back against intellectuals in order to get the right treatment and diagnoses for my daughter, and I’ve faced down some proverbially ugly people quite successfully. But I’ve never faced an adversary quite like this. Attempting to hold some semblance of sanity and normalcy while having a child with mental health issues.

My daughter Audrey didn’t ask for her disorders and I am by no means resentful, upset, angry, or otherwise irritated that she is who she is. I’m just tired. If you read the links, it’s no easy task caring for a teen with these mental health disorders but we manage. I think the challenge of trying to balance everything else in life concurrently is where it gets complicated. Trying to share yourself, your time, and pieces of your life as equally as possible is like a second job. Trying to have friends and hobbies is almost impossible. Making sure you have friends that truly and genuinely understand your family life and who also want to be a part of your life regardless of the possibility of seeing the not-so-great side is even harder.

I look at people who deal with just “normal” teen stuff or “normal” family stuff, parents who can leave their 14 & 13-year-old at home without sitters, or those who can have the older sibling watch the younger sibling, and one of three things happen.

Scenario one: (a good day) I remember that we are each given the life we have for a purpose and I am doing a pretty damn good job with managing my purpose. I try to be a supportive friend with insight and advice.

Scenario two: (a “meh” day) I actually wish I had their problems. I wish for “normal” issues, I almost envy what they are dealing with. Pretty pathetic.

Scenario three: (a not-so-good day)  I have literally said “I know exactly what you mean because this is what I am currently juggling…..” and then proceed to try to convey that their life may have ups and down but I literally live in a state that inherently comes with an amount of uncertainty. I don’t like those days or how it feels. I’m pretty sure nobody else does either.

So, for those of you who have had to deal with me on those days- my deepest apologies.

I feel like I could sleep for 4 days. Sometimes I want to start crying at things that don’t warrant my tears. Certain days I want to use my mini-van in a demolition derby (which I feel pretty confident that I could win). I could also use a month-long vacation somewhere quiet, kid-free, sunny & sandy with an endless supply of umbrella garnished drinks.

The saying that “God never gives you more than you can handle” is one I have never subscribed to. I truly believe God gives us more than we can handle in order to learn to lean on Him and allow Him to guide and strengthen us. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

I am reminded by this passage that I can find rest and comfort by letting go and letting God be in control (as He should be). It’s not easy; no human wants to admit weakness or the need for help. But I don’t have the energy to be prideful *laughing*.

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And Then There Are The Days Where I Just Can’t Win

Today I was pretty sure a cage match was going to break out between my oldest girls. Hormones weren’t even involved. We were all doing a little cleaning and organizing, and I was trying to catch up on some school work (did I mention I am in college full time, online of course). Basically everything Laila did set off Audrey; either crying, yelling, accusatory, or suddenly dragging me into it demanding I correct my parenting skills. We hadn’t had a day like this is a long time.

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Audrey couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me what was causing her irritability. Things ranged from “I hate you!” to “I can’t stand being near her, it makes my blood boil” to “I hope you move to California!” (this is where their biological dad is). Anger and deflection is a key trait and defense mechanism of someone with DMDD and BPD. Intentionally saying things to hurt, demean, and otherwise be unbearable to put it simply. Laila is very sensitive, she’s not always innocent and is a typical younger sibling, but gets very hurt by her sisters words and actions. So I also had to manage the emotional 13 year old in the midst of what was becoming Mt. St. Audrey. When I step in to try and get them to communicate I’m either taking sides, or didn’t witness everything so I have to do my best with what information I have (and can see as plausible, possible, or probable). Stuck in the middle.

Audrey can’t take Benzo’s (Xanax, etc) as it causes a severe allergic reaction in her nervous system. We have to rely on her using her DBT #DBT skills, us using our family skills, and a homeopathic route called Bach Flower Therapy. It works great and has no interference with any other meds or side effects.

She had a few “collect yourself” moments, a phone call to Gramma to get everything off her chest. She eventually calmed down and apologized (still don’t know the root cause of it all).

I had a few “I’m a terrible parent” & “I’m not equipped for this” & “Why can’t she see I want to help?” moments. I may have shed a tear or two as well. There are days I want to quit. Not leave permanently but go on holiday, call in a sub, tap out for a round…you get the idea. I love my kids. I love my kids. (repeat, repeat, repeat)

Since that’s not an option I usually get my husband to make a run to Fiiz (a soda joint with fabulous recipes) and to pick me up something sweet because I love all things sugary.

Today was a rough day, tomorrow will be better (?).

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What is Trapped Amazingness?

“I wish I was dead so I could stop feeling like this!”- Audrey, 8 years old

Yes, before life was ever complicated or hormones or boys or the angst of the teenage years started, my sweet child wished for death. She didn’t understand the anger, the confusion, the pain, or how to reconcile knowing she was different but not knowing HOW she was different. She had just begun to experience all the wonderful things life had to offer in the microcosm that was her world in our small town in Northern Utah.

Audrey had always been a little “different”. I had inquired over her early years about various attributes that seemed a little off but was always told that since she was developing within the norm that I shouldn’t worry, so I tried to squash the feelings of concern and did my best to be a good mom. She was loving, active, a little quiet and reserved, but enjoyed life. She had a great imagination and in general got along well with her younger sister, Laila.

As she got a little older, her silly and playful demeanor started to give way to surprising anger and an overall feeling of being difficult for the sake of being difficult. She was had become overall unpleasant with moments of normalcy in between. Meltdowns, refusal to wear certain clothing, anxiety at new or unplanned activities, and a lack of empathy  or understanding of other people’s feeling began to appear. These emotional highs were eventually followed-up with crying, guilt, and serious feelings of worthlessness. I didn’t understand what was happening to my daughter, so I clearly couldn’t expect her to explain it me nor understand it herself.

It was at 8 years old she began outpatient therapy. It seemed to help even her mood out and gave me and me husband tools on how to deal with her in the most effective manner possible. This type of therapy went on for 4 1/2 years with adjustments being made as her symptoms changed in type and severity. Her only official diagnoses were unspecified anxiety, mild depression, ADHD inattentive type, but these didn’t explain the meltdowns and the mood related issues. Over these 4 years, we watched her slowly change from a flourishing child to an awkward, insecure, and floundering young lady. We were beginning to have explosive arguments that came out of know where and stemmed from what would be considered small issues to your regular child.

Finally, at almost 13 in March 2015, Audrey came to us (her parents) and admitted to wanting to die and having tried to do so on several occassions. This would be the first of three emergency admissions to the adolescent mental heath unit over the next 8 months. The first stay was 4 days with a one month period of recovery. Her second admission lasted 17 days due to the severity of the incident that put her in the hospital and how long it took to stabilize her. Her diagnosis was changed to anxiety, depression, and Disruptive Mood Dyregulation Disorder. After that she was in a residential facility for 2 months due to how much she had deteriorated mentally and emotionally. My husband and I had little to no resources or help in educating ourselves in this change of behavior and diagnoses. Her residential facility was not tailored to her specific needs and she came home in July of 2015. From there we put her in a day treatment program; she attended school half-day and then had theraputic  activites for the other half. She had group, one-on-one, and family therapy, and came home at night. She attended this program for 6 weeks and made some progress, and eventually went back to her regular school in the fall just 2 weeks after it started. While she had made some more improvements and showed signs of making a cognitive connection to her behavior and how it related to it effected her path in life, relationships, and future- we were guardedly optimistic. We had been able to get a full psychological examination by a highly recommended and respected clinic in our area.

Six weeks after leaving day treatment Audrey had her final admission to the inpatient unit. It was the worst night of my life, and one she actually barely remembers. Multiple police officers were involved, a physical altercation, an attempt at hitting my husband with and iron fence rod, trying to run away at 10 pm in her nightgown and barefoot, & cocking back to punch a police officer. She actually threw an item at a social worker and ended up with security posted outside her room.This stay lasted 21 days and less than a week later we got the results of her psychological testing back. She had co-occuring diagnoses of Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, anxiety, depression, and emerging traits of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The entire word stopped and everything made perfect sense but was also spinning out of contro at the same time. The hospital would not release her without a long term treatment plan due to the threat she posed to herself and others (at the time). This resulted in her admission to the state mental health hospital. She was gone for 6 months. Audrey lost out on the last 6 weeks of 7th grade, basically all of 8th grade, missed out on a couple family trips, could not come home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, and missed visiting her dad during her normal visitation time. She missed her sister’s birthday.

So, what is Trapped Amazingness? It’s the person and possibilities being suffocated by their mental illness. It’s all the abilities they poccess but cannot execute because of the strangling set of emotional and mental ties that hold a person back on every level of life. It’s the loss of friendships, the institutionalized behavior that a child develops after being hospitalized for 6 months. It’s feeling like you’re labeled as “broken” forever and not being able to do anything to change their minds. Trapped Amazingness is losing the passion you once had for things like music, art, and theatre because of not wanting people to see “YOU”. It’s making incredible, amazing, and mind-blowing progress in your therapy but ending up in the same place in your head- paralyzed with fear, filled with doubt, angry for no reason, and wishing you could avoid the whole world.

Trapped Amazingness is all the beautiful things Audrey is and able to do being wrapped tightly in her head, stuck as ideas and dreams. Trapped Amazingness trickles down to the effects it has on her sisters and family. It’s trying to explain to family and friends the situation she’s facing, and the situation your family is dealing with. Trapped Amazingness is breaking down the walls of being stigmatized. It’s knowing she may miss out on the wonderful, beautiful, and life changing places, chances, and people of this world. Even more troublesome is that Trapped Amazingness is having her light shadowed enough that the world may end up missing out on a truly amazing young lady with so much so offer.

Don’t get me wrong, we now have hope for Audrey’s future. She has a real chance to live a productive life and accomplish those goals and dreams. We have faith that since she has come this far, God will take her even further. I’ll explain the changes that took place during her treatment in another blog.

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So, blogging…

It’s like having a job but you don’t get paid, and you have to set your own hours. And since you’re the boss nobody’s going to write you up…

Which means it falls low on the priority list unfortunately and it really shouldn’t. I find writing quite therapeutic, outside of school assignments, and could have really used this outlet over the last year or so. I have a lot to catch you all up on but I figured that for those of you who don’t know me or my totally amazing life that this would be a good time to fill you in before I delve into the deep stuff.

Annie! (me)

I’m 34 years old and married to an incredible man, Shane. I had been married before and have three great daughters, all of whom have their own unique personality that truly adds to how our family functions (or dysfunctions at times). I’m one year away from completing my bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology and am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom. I get to substitute at my kids school occasionally and do volunteer work there- it’s one of my favorite things! I’m a CA native but have been in Utah for just over 9 years and love it. I like going back to see my family and friends, and to enjoy the things CA has to offer but Utah is home for me. In what little spare time I have I like to cook and bake, take walks and go bike riding, travel, shop, hang out with my family including my parents who live near by, listening to music, movies, and being an adrenaline junkie. I’m not overly deep but I’m not completely superficial either. I like honesty, integrity, people who are real, food, and my animals- which consists of one lovable German Shepard and four birds (don’t judge me). God is my rock and my strength; without Him I wouldn’t be here finally writing this first blog.

Shane (my main squeeze)

I’ll keep this short and simple because that’s how we roll. Shane is amazing. He never had kids of his own and he volunteered to marry me and my brood after multiple warnings. Seriously. My own father made sure he had done some soul searching, I warned him about life with girls, and I’m pretty sure other people questioned his sanity. Six years later, including four years of marriage, and I don’t know where I’d be without him. He’s nerdy, smart, funny, crude (which I blame on being in the Navy for 6 years), loving, patient, kind, sarcastic, & doesn’t pull punches. He’s stepped into the roll of dad and has done a great job. It’s not always easy, especially with teenage girls and a younger sister who emulates them, but he’s still here. He works hard and enjoys nerdy games on the computer or in the form of board games (which has grown on almost all of us). He adds a nice perspective to things and brings in a calming nature to my, um, rambunctious tendencies. He’s the peanut butter to my jelly.

Audrey

Audrey is my oldest daughter. She experienced all my inexperience as a parent and taught me how to be a mother to an actual human being. She’s brilliant and kind, loving and difficult, sees beauty in things most of us don’t even notice but if often trapped inside her own mind. She is the reason I decided to blog and finish my college degree. She is the reason I made a lot of personal changes and decided to grow as a person. Being her mother made me see a side of society that was ugly and unnerving, while seeing a side that offered support and kindness. She made me develop a deeper understanding of God, the world, what brokenness is and what it has done to humanity. She’s one of the bravest, strongest, most resilient people I know. I’ll save her story for another blog. Audrey loves animals, reading, art, crafts, her grandparents, and swimming. She’s a beautiful girl inside and out.

Laila

I don’t even know where to start with this kid. She’s independent, smart, funny, charming, daring, loving, a butthead, tender, and tough all in one. She’s always been m easy going child with grand ideas. She doesn’t worry much about the future and pretty much goes with the flow. She loves special effects make up and practicing on Shane. She has a caring and serving heart but will also irritate her sisters with the same level of commitment. She’s artistic and great in math and science, but loves history and theater. She’s my social butterfly and mini-me. She keeps me grounded and reminds me that life is not just what is going to happen but is what is happening now. She’s got a sense of humor that would make a Buckingham Palace guard break.

Tessa

My baby. This little red head is basically too smart for her own good, in part of the 258 questions she asks on a daily basis. She loves her sisters and Shane. She’s a little less adventurous than her sisters but loves roller coasters. If you look up the definition of “rock hound” in the dictionary you will find her face. She brings them home from everywhere! She’s as stubborn as the day is long but also loves to help me do things in the kitchen. There’s a good chance she’ll grow up to bean evil genius but I’m working on changing that. She’s incredibly funny but again, stubborn. She’s very loving but can also hold a grudge like I’ve never seen before. I wouldn’t change her for the world.

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Tessa and electricity…questionable combination
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Me and Laila (mini-me)
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Old picture of Audrey, but still one I love.
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“It’s real love, yes it’s real…” -The Beatles
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I’m the one on the left. I was chaperoning prom and it was awesome!