Sunday, January 23, 2011

may the force be with you, luke

Planning a birthday party for Luke was easy.

The requests:

combo/bouncer at Nana and Pop's house (huge yard=tons of fun)

friends and cousins


Yep, that's all he wanted. Well, and Lego sets. Lots of them.

However, this girl likes to party so I threw in a bit more. The force was definately with us cuz' this party was out of this galaxy!

And for cake time...we don't mess around. Can any one say Clone Trooper?

Just in case you need a closer look.

Let me tell you, my husband rocks. He can throw down with the Cake Boss on TLC any day. Bring it Cake Boss.

So they jumped, survived light saber battles, and made master plans in the tree fort. Could any boy ask for more?

Well, one boy could...

He only cared about the balloons today.

And well, this one. He's an animal. He did it all and did it BIG. He's like his mama. And to prove that he woke up at 5:00 a.m. and skipped a nap...

As Yoda would say, "Excellent the party was."

Monday, January 17, 2011

luke's birth story

Today Luke is 8. His story has been a journey for all of us. So much of the journey has been unexpected. We didn't plan for a pregnancy of extreme morning sickness, induced birth, or Asperger's diagnosis. But, that is life and life is full of unexpected. You either choose to sink or swim and we are swimming like there's no tomorrow.

I've battled for a long time with sharing Luke's birth story. It was complicated. It was bittersweet and I have always chosen to dwell on the sweet and not the bitter.

However, life is about the bitter too. Without the bitter, we cannot not fully experience the sweet.

So here it is. The bitter. The sweet. The story of my Luke's birth...

When you are pregnant, you are told to expect the unexpected. Doctors and childbirth educators encourage a "flexible" birth plan.

I had no idea what I was in for.

Despite the lupus and 6 months of horrible 24 hour sickness, my pregnancy was rather typical. I had more doctor visits and ultrasounds than most mamas to be, but really it was uneventful.

In fact, I taught softball to 20 first graders the afternoon my labor was induced.

After work on January 17, 2003, I stopped by the hospital for my fetal monitoring, which was a precautionary step due to my lupus.

I had been doing it for weeks so it was routine at this point. Really, it was just one more thing to check off my To-Do list for the day.

Except this time was different. My blood pressure was alarmingly high. The nurses calmly informed me that I would not be leaving the hospital until I had a baby in my arms.

I was a bit surprised by the level of concern and politely asked, "Can I please go home and quickly take a shower?"

Obviously, I didn't realize what was a stake with preeclampsia.

Kevin was at a conference 90 minutes away and I was not allowed to have any visitors in fear that it would raise my blood pressure. No lights, no TV. It was just a scared first time mama to be in a dark hospital room freaking out.

Eventually Kevin arrived and they started the meds to bring down my blood pressure. They also started the induction.

This was not on my birth plan.

I had a severe reaction to the meds and ended up excessively throwing up throughout the night.

This was not on my birth plan either.

By the morning, I had stopped dialating and there was concern that I was too exhausted from the night before to labor. The conversation of C-section was brought up. My doctor gave me one hour to progress or she was making the call.

This was not part of my birth plan.

Fortunately my body kicked into gear and all went well. Luke was born just before midnight on January 18th, 2003.

And as any 1st time mother knows, the instant the doctor puts your precious new little one in your arms, you know this was all you ever wanted.

Luke and I spent our time in the hospital bonding, struggling with nursing, and sleeping. I just remember staring at him all the time. I could not believe he was actually ours.

I was delighted and frightened at the same time.

The day that we brought Luke home was first. Shortly after arriving home, Kevin went to his parents for a quick stop. I was a bit afraid to be left alone with Luke so soon, but I figured it would be fast.

Suddenly, as I was nursing Luke, I felt this intense wave of sickness come over me. I rushed to the bathroom where I began to violently throw up. I knew this was beyond anything typical. I called Kevin and laid down with Luke swaddled next to me on the carpet right outside the bathroom door. I just prayed that he would not start crying because I didn't know how I would get up to hold or feed him before Kevin got home.

After calling the doctor, we headed to the ER. There was discussion of many possibilities...infection, flu, etc. However, it was my rhumatolgist who quickly solved the mystery. I was having a severe lupus flare up which is common after delivery.

I was admitted to the hospital and instantly started on IV steriods. For the next several days I drifted in and out of sleep in the hospital bed. I knew where I was and that I had a baby, but I was too sick to even give it too much thought.

Once I was out of the fog, Kevin brought Luke in to see me. It was such an odd feeling and I was devastated that I was not the one providing Luke's care. Even more painful, I was no longer allowed to breastfeed given the toxicity of the meds.

That was not part of my birth plan.

And when I was finally released from the hospital, Kevin and I quietly drove home. I didn't know what to expect.

As I weakly opened the front door, I found my gracious mother-in-law who was taking shifts with my mom and sister, washing dishes in the kitchen. Luke was swaddled peacefully in his bassinet. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I quickly rushed to the bathroom, locked the door, and wept. I didn't want anyone to know that I was crying in fear of seeming unappreciative.

I felt foreign in my own home. In only a few days so much had changed and I was absent for all of it. There was such a strong level of disconnect. Although I was truly grateful for the wonderful women in my life who stepped up to provide care for Luke and Kevin, I was devastated that it wasn't me.

That was not part of my birth plan.

However, over the next few weeks, I got stronger and began to heal. It was not an easy journey, nor is it still. Luke's birth rocked my lupus to a whole new level. 8 years later I am still trying to decrease the prednisone. I take more than 21 pills a day and have a bald spot and weight gain which I have to combat from the meds. Neither of which are good for this girl's self esteem.

But I get over it because I have Luke and his brothers. And I never want the shadow of lupus to cloud over the brightness of Luke's birth.

Those are small things when I look at my Luke. He was perfectly made and perfectly matched for me to be his mom. And I know he is from a God that is good despite circumstances that are not always good. And to be perfectly honest, this is coming from a girl who constantly struggles with faith and does not find it an easy path to follow.

So today, I give thanks for my Luke. My heart is filled with gratitude for the person he is shaping me to be, for the sweet he brings to my life, and for the gift it is to hear him call me Mom.

Happy 8th birthday, Luke. May each birthday remind of you of how much you are loved and treasured.

(coming home from the hospital)

(1st birthday)

(second birthday)

(3rd birthday)

(4th birthday)

(5th birthday)

(6th birthday)

(7th birthday)

Much love,

Monday, January 10, 2011

some words to chew on

Today I wore this to work out...

Except half way to gym, which is 30 minutes away, I decided that the lil' guy in the back was hacking to much to bring him to the kids' club.

No work out for mama: Bummer.

Sick kiddo: Bigger Bummer.

Solution: Do Zumba on the wii at my friend's house after I tutored her third grade son.

Simple enough, right?

Well, clearly not so much.

Her son has autism.

Just like my Luke.

And no they are not like Rainman (written with a smile).

Autism is a spectrum of behaviors that range from very mild to very severe.

My friend's son saw my shirt and asked me one of the most difficult questions I have ever had to answer in my life.

"Why would they want to take down autism?"

For him and all the others with autism, finding a "cure" doesn't make sense. They are quite content being who the are. They don't need to be changed.

They need acceptance.

So I explained to him that autism makes his brain see things differently from others in the world and that it makes him extra special.

I also explained that each one of us has traits that are different from others. We each have talents and we each have weaknesses.

Autism or not.

I spent the 1st few years of Luke's diagnosis desperately trying to cure him. Shame on me.

Having Asperger's (mild form of autism) gives him incredible talents. Why would I want to cure that?

Instead I want to spend my energy fighting to make the world know that different is okay.

As my friend's son so simply asked, "Isn't autism part of my personality?" He couldn't understand why I'd wear a shirt that wanted to take down who he is. This is a 9 year old. Amazing.

Instead of taking down autism, I want to take down discrimination. I want my friend's son, our Luke, and all the other spectrum kiddos to know that they are loved and accepted for who they are.

We don't want to change Luke and we certainly don't want to take down his autism. After all, we don't want to take down Luke. We don't want to take down his amazing talents and perspective. He was put together and perfectly made. We don't doubt that for a minute.

The power of words is mind blowing. And the insight and question from an introspective 9 year old, made me think harder than I have had to for a long time.

I hope you think about it too.

Much love,

Friday, January 7, 2011

not your teacher's chalkboard

I'm not crafty. At all. Which is a sad fact considering that I taught elementary school for 4 years before having my babes.

However, the blank wall on my staircase has been speaking to me lately. I was inspired by this mama and her super cool idea, but modified it to work for my lonely wall.

I have a vision. More to come on that in a few posts.

But for now, I'm starting with this frame from IKEA...

And a bottle of this from Lowe's...

I am a spray painting fool. I can't control myself.

Then I bought a little can of this...

and painted a poster board from the Dollar Tree. I have to admit, this girl digs a bargain.

Warning: I had to use tape to get it to stick since my frame thingys (don't judge on that word) that hold it in place broke. That's okay, if there is one thing I have learned as a mom, it is to always have a plan b. I'm used to it by now.

It still needed a little somethin' somethin'...

Really, you can put anything. Scripture, poetry, or a quote about love, life, or family. This casa is all about family. And I like that think that we have a sense of humor so this quote is a perfect fit...

And just so you know, I have absolutely no doubt that we fall under the nutty category. It's all good.

My wall is starting to crack a smile, but he still needs more. Much more. Keep you posted.

I'm linking up to Life Made Lovely over at Heather's Blessed Little Nest. Please come on over here and take a peak.

nothin' like homemade cns

I'm holding myself accountable to my 5 goals for 2011. One of them is to cook more from scratch. I truly hold firm that fresh and organic is best. However, I get busy and tired and then I rely on my personal chef Joe, as in Mr. Trader Joe. I have the frozen bagged dinners down to a science.

And on the nights when I do cook from scratch, you can pretty much bet that it is one of 5 meals that I know how to perfect. I feel so sorry for my poor husband. His dad is a professional chef and his mother comes from a long line of Italian mamas who kill it in the kitchen.

And then there's me. Not only am I a picky eater, but if a recipe has more than 5 ingredients, I usually brush it off as too tedious.

But, my lovely hubby has been requesting homemade CNS (chicken noodle soup) since the shift of seasons. Yeah, this meal is so legit, it can be given an acronym. It was time to get myself into Martha mode.


4 cups chopped, cooked chicken meat (I cooked a whole chicken 1st for 1.5 hours @ 350 degrees)
1/4 c. chopped carrots
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. butter
8 ounces of egg noodles (I prefer whole wheat penne)
12 c. water
9 cubes chicken bullion (not large ones)
1/2 tsp dried marjoram (I skipped this)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dried parsley
*I also added a bag of organic baby spinach and cut up stewed tomatoes. It isn't your traditional cns, but try it!

In a large stock pot, saute celery and onion in butter. Add chicken, carrots, water, bullion cubes, majoram, black pepper, bay leaf, and parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add noodles and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Serve with corn bread muffins and salad.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

i should get paid for this

I L-O-V-E the rain.

The sound. The sight. The smell.

I have wishful thoughts of living in Portland or Seattle. I could hack it. I know I could. No doubt.

I am especially grateful for what the rain produces: vivid green grass, moody skies, and an excuse for extra movie watching, sweat wearing, and hot cocoa drinking.

However those favorites only last a short minute in my house before all chaos breaks loose. My guys have a lot of energy. A lot. As in, I wish I could pad all the walls in my house and lock myself in a sound proof room on rainy days. Anyone else with me???

Despite my crush on rainy days, my kids don't deal well with home confinement. Suddenly I turn from Mary Poppins into Mrs. Hannigan (sans intoxication).

After a bit of crafting...

and staring at the dishes I was avoiding putting away like a case of mad cow disease...

I got my second wind. We brought out a new Christmas toy that all kids should have.

No Joke. All. Kids. Should. Have. I'm hard core on this one.

Check it...

And just as they were starting to knock each other's creations down, I spotted some rays of sunlight peering through the slider.

Just in time. The rain knows me and my limitations so well. We're good like that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

here I go, can I do it?

I am not big on New Year's resolutions. But, I constantly have things floating through my crazy mind so I figure today is as good as day as any other to put it down in writing and commit.

My top 5 goals for 2011 in no particular order:

1. Less pressure: on myself, on my husband, and on my kids. In simple words: learn to CHILL!

2. Read for pleasure (People Magazine not counting)

3. Learn to properly use my camera.

4. Run my 1st 5K. I've walked plenty of them; now it's time for this girl to step it up!

5. Increase my cooking abilities. No more same old-same old.

What about you? Please share!

Much love,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

i see the light

Today we renewed our passes to Legoland.

It's been a year since we've been; for a very good reason.

Last year it was 3 kids, 6 and under. It took a lot of work. Diaper bagging, stroller pushing, and tantrum throwing. I know you get it.

One year later, we were stroller free, sippy cup free, and diaper free.

One word...AMAZING.

(Sorry for iphone pics-dang I've already broken one goal for 2011.)

It was so easy and enjoyable. Not that we didn't squeeze out all the fun possible before. Because we did. We're those kind of people.

And although my heart would melt a little, okay a lot, when I saw mamas holding their little babes, I know that we are movin' forward and I have peace about it.

We're a good group of 5. It has a good ring to it.

The Fabulous 5.

The Spencer 5.

Party of 5.

Just the 5 of us.

Me likey 5. I'm a content mama.