Free Fall Printables! Because Your House Isn’t Seasonal Enough.

The temperatures are dipping, the leaves are changing and the wood stove is cooking (at least occasionally.) It finally feels like fall in Jersey. We even got pumpkins carved and placed out on the front steps before October 31st. Inside, as usual, things are rather sparse. Once again, I turned to my mainstay Pinterest for some cheap decor ideas and I noticed tons of free fall printables, and a bunch of suggestions on how to display said printables. Who needs cobwebs and plastic leaves and hand-felted wreaths when I can just click, print, and tape? Make it washi tape for some extra gusto (and because apparently fancy duct tape will remove the paint from your walls)!

Because I’m always looking out for my readers I thought I would help you spruce up your homes this fall with my own line of free seasonal printables. Get your frames / corkboards / fancy clipboards ready! (Click each image to view it as a download ready 8×10 pdf.)

 

1. I noticed lots of printables that were just a bunch of words all jammed together on one page. Whatever. If you like crowded, seasonal words, this is for you.

fallwords

 

2. Those ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ knock offs are still going strong too. This one is dedicated to the endless chore of raking leaves, most of which still wind up as large soggy piles of compost that leave dead spots around our yard come early spring.

keepcalmrakeon

 

 

3. Lots of folks also like to display uplifting scripture. I thought this passage from Job was perfect for Halloween.

jobverse

 

 

4. Lastly, chalkboard printables: for people who have still managed to not hang or paint an actually chalkboard anywhere in their house. (Good for them. It’s a huge dust mess, which NOBODY tells you about until kids are tracking the stuff through the house.)

givethanks

 

 

If the response is good, stay tuned for Christmas and eventually printables about my least favorite season, winter. I’m also available for custom work! Let me know if you need something special whipped up for a birthday party or special feast day!

 

{WIWS} Dusting Off An Old Favorite

For the first time in months (a year??) I’m linking up with What I Wore Sunday over at Fine Linen and Purple. Bonnie jumped back into it a couple of weeks ago and I thought, “Well, if Bonnie’s doing it, I gotta get back into it.” (And for the record, I’d totally follow Bonnie off the Brooklyn Bridge too.)

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gifted jacket / target dress / gifted tights/ target scarf / shoes by penneys

I just got this dress and one exactly like it in navy from Target. They are the most comfortable things EVER; they stretch AND have pockets. Plus, I got a compliment on this dress from a young person today (under 21!) so it’s a definite keeper. I’d really like to get a belt to wear with them both, but haven’t found any I like thus far.

If you read Friday’s post, you know that I’m trying my hand at a capsule wardrobe. Dingy robe aside, I’m seriously trying to turn over a new fashion leaf. Don’t worry! This Ain’t the Lyceum will still maintain a majority of posts that have nothing to do with fashion, or mock of my lack of, but I’m hoping to use Sundays to post how I’m using my capsule wardrobe to look good at Mass and beyond!

Long winded back story + ramblings…

When some things in my life seem out of control, I tend to reorganize some other aspect of my life in order to feel more in control. I stumbled upon the capsule wardrobe idea at a time when, things felt a little hectic (like back when I started sleeping more.) Cleaning out my closet, and filling it with only 37 items was cathartic and revealed that I had lots of clothes that are embarrassingly stained, do not fit or I simply do not like but still wear occasionally for some reason.
I compiled a list of the ideal capsule and with some birthday gift cards, I’ve been able to shop with more direction, and discretion, and I’ve been feeling better about how I look day-to-day.

My baby also just turned four. I’m not currently in the losing / gaining weight phase that I was for so. many. years. I feel like I can finally buy good, high quality clothes for the long haul. I’m not looking to buy clothes for this season, but for many seasons to come. While my days are hectic, I’m no longer in survival mode and I don’t need to look like it.

Plus, my oldest daughter is twelve. I want to be an example of stylish, lady-like and modest fashion. I want her, and perhaps other young ladies I know, to see me and realize that being open to life, and choosing to stay at home doesn’t sign you up for 18 years of yoga pants, ratty t-shirts and unkempt hair. I want her to know dressing modestly doesn’t really mean denim jumpers and prairie dresses.

I don’t think it’s vanity to want to look put together. Could obsessing about my wardrobe lead down that path? Possibly, but for now, I have enough make up free days spent in my pajamas to keep me humble.

Have you linked up with FLAP lately? Why not share your mom style with the rest of us! I’m still looking for more inspiration besides “buffalo plaid” for this fall, if you’ve got any. Leave your thoughts then head back over to WIWS for more clickety clicks. 

After 13 Years, It’s Still Serious

Today, my husband and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage. Clearly, we’ve left the honeymoon years and thankfully, survived the seven-year itch. Since we’re entering what can only be called the teenage years of our marriage, it seemed only fitting that we mark the day as adolescents and act out in wild and rebellious ways.

Tony had Columbus Day off from work and we decided to ditch (home)school and go out for lunch with some money we pocketed from our parents (which was contained within an anniversary card.)

When the kids asked where we were headed I screamed, “What’s wrong with you? Why do you keep asking so many questions?? Don’t you trust me!? I’m not a little girl anymore!” Tony, rolled his eyes, and just shrugged, “Whatever.” and added that’s he’d meet me in the car after I’d touched up my Wet n’ Wild lip gloss.

In a fit of teen angst, I climbed out the bathroom window and ran out to the car which he had cranked to Mix 106, so we could hear all the best tunes (from the 90’s to now!). Can someone say Stone Temple Pilots?! WOOT!

Every time we pulled next to a car at a red light, I would wave or make faces, and Tony would rev the engine. One time we even started kissing, with tongue! just to freak out some old couple walking by on the crosswalk! Loosen up squares! There ain’t nothing wrong with expressing my love for my man! I’m gonna do it anywhere I please. It’s a free country!

We parked really close to the car next to us and then both got out the driver’s side door. We laughed too loudly about it then loitered for a while in the parking lot to see if we could catch the other drivers face when he returned to his car, but no such luck.

We decided to hit a Chinese /  Japanese / Thai restaurant cause it sounded real adult and we’re totally mature for our ages. Every time I met someone, I was all, how old do you think I look? I had tucked some baby socks into my bra and gone heavy on the liquid eyeliner so I knew I was looking hawt.

Walking to the restaurant with hands in each other’s back pockets? Check!! Except when I was recounting all the drama from the last homeschool mom’s social and needed my hands, because “You would not believe what curriculum she is using now! That girl should know better than to go and mess with a good thing when she’s got it!!!”

And then some guy “accidentally” bumped into me, and Tony had to set him straight about getting too close to me (aka Tony’s boo.) It was totally hot. We stopped to make out on a park bench for five minutes before I could continue to the restaurant.

It was a good meal, but the waitress was totally disrespectful towards us. I mean come on, if you don’t want people talking selfies with the koi, don’t put them in the lobby. I didn’t try to drop that slimy fish on the floor. Maybe you should be more considerate and keep your pets at home! I bet it’s not even sanitary to have koi inside. And then I almost slipped and fell on the way out because they still hadn’t cleaned up all the water. I’m going to complain to my dad, cause he knows people and they should totally shut that place down.

When we got home, the kids tried to get all up in my face and I was like, “I need my space!” and ran upstairs to my room, locked the door and put on  The Cure. Meanwhile, Tony tried sneaking some liquor from the cabinet but then his mom (who’d been babysitting) offered to get him a glass.

Tonight we’re going to stay up all night reading poetry we wrote to one another and/ or reciting song lyrics that really speak to our hearts, like totally. I wrote his name on my hand in pen with a big heart around it so everyone I see tomorrow will know it’s serious.

The Book I Love to Hate

People, this book has ruined my life.

I read several good reviews and was totally stoked when I picked it up in Barnes and Noble on a date with the hubs. I needed it so bad I spent full price on it. I cannot even tell you the last time that happened, cause me and Amazon used booksellers are tight yo.

I couldn’t put it down and finished it within a few days. IMMEDIATELY I became obsessed with studying my own bad habits and figuring out their root causes. The author Charles Duhigg asserts that we all have habit loops. When exposed to a certain cue, we fall into a set routine which rewards us with a predictable outcome.

My number one bad habit? Stopping throughout the day to check Facebook or Instagram on my iPod and getting caught up in something and ultimately wasting precious time that I should be using on teaching, eating, showering or hauling someone to the toilet. As I went through my day, I made a mental note every time I felt compelled to sit down and take an online breather. I quickly realized my cue, what set me into my routine of wasting time online, was fatigue, or more accurately downright exhaustion.

Every time I completed something that needed to get done (make breakfast, feed Fulton, lift Teddy from his chair to the sofa, etc.) I would feel tired and want to take a break and escape. Until I stopped being so tired, it seem inconceivable that I could break my habit.

Remember how I posted awhile back I was rising between 5-530 to start my day? Well, I was still trying to do that, though admittedly it’d been getting harder and harder. But I relished that time in the morning by myself and I cranked out some great blog posts in the morning silence, as well as trained for all seven of my runs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to bed until after 10 p.m. and Tony and I still wake up multiple times a night to tend to the boys. I really thought I could manage long-term on less than seven (or more likely six) hours of sleep a night. I thought my drifting off to sleep at 10 a.m. while Edie read to me on the couch, or my falling asleep in the waiting room at physical therapy at 2:30 might indicate a thyroid issue or something. Seriously, who thinks that? Obviously my brain was a mess.

I decided, in order to be less tired during the day I needed to commit to sleeping eight hours a night. Even with the wake ups, I needed to schedule eight hours for rest. I was going to give up my early morning writing, not resume any late night reading and, ideally, sleep from 10 until 6. Mornings consisted of getting up, praying, drinking coffee and getting dressed. (By 6:30 the kids are being schooled in Latin by Tony, and inevitably the little boys are up around 7.)

The results were almost immediate. Within a week or so, I knew that sleep deprivation had been at the root of many bad habits I’d slipped into. Suddenly, I didn’t need to constantly sit down to rest or escape upstairs to try to hide from the kids before noon. I was getting dressed more days than not, and sticking to our school schedule. I was singing our phonic songs without gritting my teeth.

But when, dear readers do you suppose I was finding time for myself? For writing, reading, catching up on my favorite bloggers??? Well, I’m still looking for it. My free time has been sacrificed to sleep.

I’d love to say, I don’t need ‘me’ time. I just feed off the love of my children and the satisfaction of staying home and educating my brood. I’d love to say my vocations of wife, mother, teacher and nurse completely fulfill me and I haven’t been a whiney witch at all. Who needs to blog or read a fascinating non-fiction title on world poverty when you can just read stories aloud and organize the pantry and help your kids with their chemistry experiments?!?!?!?

Me apparently.

I keep trying to squeeze some writing in here or there, or one night I’ll stay up too late. The next day I push-off breakfast a half hour so I can just finish something up.

But then, because I’m so rushed, and my train of thought is broken a million times by the needs of my children,  who do deserve my time and attention, I wind up getting angry. I don’t like what I write. I can’t write about the things I want because I can’t focus. I can’t take pictures or edit pictures because there is no time for me during the day without sacrificing something that is actually important.

Reading has become what I do while waiting for the kids at music practice.

I’m trying to not be bitter. I feel like I’m a better, happier person when I have a regular creative outlet or quiet time. I haven’t figured out how to have that right now and although I’m trying so hard to just be happy with my vocations in life it’s a frustrating situation for me personally. Especially because my husband is so supportive of my desire to carve out time for myself and I do get some help during the day. The increase in sleep is helping me deal with the overwhelming nature of what I need to get done on a daily basis, but it’s because my day is so crazy that I started waking up early in the first place.

This first world mom, with her fully stocked fridge, nice home, happy family, loving community, devoted husband doesn’t have a right to complain about her ‘me time'; I get that. (Especially when there’s people like Mary with real problems that need your prayer and support.) But damnit, what I do day in and day out is hard and I’m not asking for recognition, money or material goods. I just want some quiet time for myself; to think and to unload my thoughts so I can give my family the best of me the rest of the time.

So thank you ‘The Power of Habit’ for helping me discover the source of my bad habits. Thank you for helping me to become more alert and productive during the day. But curse you for forcing me to sideline my favorite time of the day for the sake of my health. My sanity is undecided on the matter.

Pumpkin Guts and Spice and Everything Nice

 

blog hop final for real

I’m linking up with lots o’ lovely ladies today to share some of my favorite fall decorations. Namely, pumpkins or jack o’ lanterns. Growing up, my parents were never keen to carve pumpkins, so my sister and I would each decorate a pumpkin with paint or markers. I vowed that when I was older and had children of my own, we would carve pumpkins. They would not be denied the joy of putting their hands through mountains of pumpkin goo! My love of pumpkins became a brief obsession when I filled in on a seasonal basis as Pumpkin Spice with the Spice Girls in the late ’90s.

pumpkinspicegirl

By the time we all went our separate ways, I was a bit burnt out on pumpkins, but still broke out the occasional gourd and hay bale when fall rolled around. By the time Tony and I had kids, my love was rekindled. Although my kids couldn’t do much in the early days, we made pumpkin carving a big family event, and to this day everyone looks forward to it. (Although now I TOTALLY understand why my parents restricted us to paint or markers.) We still break out the tempras and even glitter occasionally, but we always carve out a few pumpkins and roast the seeds. Tony also buys several smaller pumpkins to make into pie; none of that canned stuff up in here! Eventually, we haul them out to the compost pile where the chickens take pecks and eventually the get worked back into the land. Circle of life!

Every year I try to get a bit more creative with my pumpkin carving, and as a result the older kids are getting more daring too. I maintain a collection of pumpkin inspiration on Pinterest. When it comes to fall decorating, I can never seem to get more than some jack o’ lanterns carved, but that’s probably because I’m using the rest of my free time to build insanely complicated Halloween costumes. Even though it’s not a lot, a half dozen illuminated pumpkins on our front steps are all the fall decorations I need to be happy.

Enjoy this gallery of some of our family’s greatest pumpkin carving moments from the past. It includes pumpkins (and costumes because sometimes I forgot to photograph just the carving process) from 2007 to 2013. 2010 is missing because that’s the year Teddy was born and in the NICU so I was a bit preoccupied. 2012 was the year of Hurricane Sandy and while I have several pictures of wind damage, there’s no pumpkins.

We haven’t bought our pumpkins for this year because, inevitably, we’ll get a heat wave yet some time this month that would reduce them to mushy, black blobs. You can follow me on Instagram if you want to be kept abreast on the latest developments on Pumpkin Carve-alot 2014.

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I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. I really, really, really wanna visit the rest of the ladies on Bonnie’s Autumn in the Home blog hop! What do you think about that?  Now you know how I feel; say you can handle this link up; blog reader are you for real? I won’t be hasty, I’ll give you time to try, but if you really bug me then I’ll say goodbye.

Clan Donaldson  

Svellerela 

Surviving Our Blessings  

Mama Needs Coffee 

Team Whitaker

House for Five 

Better Than Eden 

Two O’s + More 

Fountains of Home

 

How Can I Pray for You?

It’s 40 hours this weekend at my parish. Time to bring up a couple oldies but goodies from the archive!

 

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(For the record, she is still concerned about the length of the Mass.)

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Leave your prayer requests in the comments for me to take to my holy hour. Happy weekend readers!

UPDATED: DONE!

Choose Your Own Adventure, or Take Control of Your Life For Once

Who remembers the original ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books? I read every copy from our school’s library, but admittedly, I had a love hate relationship with the whole premise. I would go through and rather than select one path, I would preview both to see which would allow me to continue on rather than die. Nothing bothered me more than untimely death, so I would ignore a bad choice and follow the choices that kept the story going. And I’m pretty sure I even read straight through a book once, against the instructions  just to see what all the choices were. Once I found some copies at our local library I tried to get my kids interested. “Look! Books I read back in the dark ages filled with old-fashioned drawings!” Or at least, I think that’s what they heard because I failed to ignite a spark.

But you understand the excitement that comes with ‘Choosing Your Own Adventure’ don’t you dear reader?! Your pulse has quickened at just the thought-admit it! So, just in case your library does not carry the original series, I’ve composed a CYOA blog post for today! Obviously, it won’t make sense if you just read it straight though. Start at the beginning, select a numbered paragraph and move forward, if you dare! But watch out for the Yeti!

You are a smart and beautiful woman chosen to raise five children, a terrier and an angry cat. It is a beautiful Friday in October. Your husband is out-of-town on a business trip. Your mission is to scour the house from top to bottom before he arrives home Sunday evening and grocery shop for the week and help complete your oldest child’s CCD diorama about the scourging at the pillar by her class Sunday afternoon.

While trying to throw together dinner for everyone Friday evening, you realize you’re out of milk and a couple other essentials.

If you run to the convenience store to just pick up a few things for dinner, continue to paragraph 2. 

If you decide to just pick up get everything you need now at the store to prevent another trip later, continue to paragraph 3. 

#2 In packing everyone up to go to the Quicky-Mart, you realize that child #5 has pooped his pants, child #2 has no clean shirt to wear and your keys are missing. Thankfully, you manage to negotiate these challenges and still get out the door in 45 minutes. Everyone is starving so you toss them a bag of old half melted Easter M&Ms that you found in the center console. You park and decide to leave everyone in the van and just run in yourself. Your 12-year-old locks the doors behind you and you enter the store, pick up five total items, and exit within four minutes and find your van surrounded by a SWAT team and several news media vans. Instantly, lights are on you and you’re thrown to the ground and charged with neglect and child endangerment. Your children are led tearfully from the van and your husband is forced to come home early, post bail and hire an attorney. YOU FAIL

#3 You feed everyone hard-boiled eggs and saltines then pack them into the van with promises of sour gummi worms if there’s no shenanigans at the store. You arrive at the store, cram as many children as possible into a car cart and then realize that in your haste you left your shopping list at home. You manage to grab the milk and other essentials and hopefully enough other food for the week. As you start checking out, your oldest reminds you that you forgot to pick up ketchup to use as blood in her diorama.

If you run back and pick up the ketchup, go onto to paragraph #4.

If you decide to forget the ketchup and just use the red tempera paint you have at home, go onto paragraph #5. 

#4 Taking just the youngest child in arms, you sprint for the condiments aisle. You reach for the store brand jumbo sized bottle when the babe reaches out, grabs a smaller bottle and manages to deposit its entire contents down your front. You scream in anger and turn to quickly run back to the check out, when a well-meaning gentleman with bad eyesight assumes you’ve been attacked and runs up to you, pushes you and your child to the ground and attempts to administer first aid. Pretty soon most of the store has crowded around to witness you trying to push this stranger from your arms while convincing everyone that you and your baby are not bleeding to death. Having been abandoned at the check out for almost a full ten minutes at this point, your oldest attempts to make a break for the van with all the kids and the groceries and is stopped for shoplifting. Your husband is forced to come home early, post bail and hire and attorney. YOU FAIL

#5 “Honey, we’ll use the red paint we have at home. We’ll just have to be really careful because it’s not washable,” you mutter while staring at the conveyor belt and wondering how you can discreetly discard three boxes of Count Chocula. Then you notice you forgot the gummi worms so you declare late night TV and Count Chocula for everyone! Once you’re home, the groceries are away and the kids are snacking you start pulling out art supplies to help give your daughter a head start on her project. The phone rings and it’s your mother.

If you roll your eyes, shame on you. Go to paragraph #6

If you pick up with out thinking, go to paragraph #7. 

#6 You let out a long sigh and decide to let it go to voice mail. Just then, a loud shriek sends chills down your spine. “Oh no,” you think. “Did the kids remember to feed the Yeti today?” Of course they didn’t and there he is standing in your kitchen, looking mad with hunger. He eats you in his rage and your husband is forced to come home early, kill the family Yeti and begin a new life alone. YOU FAIL

#7 “Hi Mom. What’s up?”, you ask, distracted by the lightness of the red paint bottle in your hand. “You’ll never believe it!” She screams so loud the kids hear and come running to the phone. “I’ve won the lottery!” She adds hysterically, “And I’m buying you and your siblings new houses, house keepers, private tutors for the kids and setting y’all up with trust funds for life!” You laugh and share the good news with the kids and you all commence dancing. Your husband quits his miserable job, comes home early and you pay someone to complete the CCD diorama for your child. YOU WIN

The moral of the story; don’t roll your eyes at your mother. 

{SQT} Seven Things To Do When A Loved One’s Child Receives A Life Changing Medical Diagnosis

Lately I’ve been receiving a bunch of emails from people facing difficult medical diagnosis’, either of their child or the child of a close friend or family member.

First, I’m deeply humbled that these people haven chosen to reach out to me (of all people) to seek advice. I mean, how do they know I’m not going to drop some tasteless joke or selfie on them? God bless their trusting hearts.

I thought it was time I wrote up a post to share the thoughts and advice I’ve been giving. I pray you’ll never need it, but I’m finding the need to bring comfort to parents facing a devastating, and usually surprising medical diagnosis is, unfortunately, all too common.

advice for helping a friend

 

1. This seems obvious, but pray. Ask for a specific intention (a miraculous healing, positive lab results, to regain the ability to swallow, etc) and even for a specific saint. If they don’t have a specific saint, you can look it up yourself. Pray unceasingly. In my experience, I went through times when I was so angry at God, I couldn’t pray. During those dark times, I’m sure it was the prayers of my friends and family who carried me.

Ask for new intentions and follow-up on the old. You might learn that while things didn’t go exactly as planned, God’s presence was clearly felt. I’m a strong believer in little miracles.We were told Teddy would present SMA the same as Fulton, maybe a little better, maybe a little worse. Even though we didn’t get the big miracle of a total cure, Teddy is more than a little stronger and his first year of normal milestones provided so much healing for me.

2. Quietly listen. Don’t judge, don’t offer advice and don’t try to relate to how they’re feeling. Don’t. say. anything. And, if possible try not to cry. Just listen and be strong for them. Parents dealing with dire medical predictions are going through a wild range of emotions which are perfectly normal. Their feelings may seem extreme to you but I can say from experience that it is common. If you can provide a safe ear to confide in, you needn’t do anything else. If you are concerned, suggest professional counseling but don’t offer clichés or share stories to “help put their experiences in perspective.”

After Fulton’s diagnosis, many people I talked to would get visibly upset when I explained the reality of his diagnosis. I felt the need to be strong for them, and bottled up my own feelings of sadness. I started helping others deal with the trauma of my son’s disease rather than relying on them to help me. Needless to say, I would eventually break down, usually to my husband but sometimes to a couple of my closest friends who even tolerated the dark humor I relied on in those early days to get me through the pain and uncertainty. Those friends never said “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” or “My child was hospitalized for an allergic reaction once so I understand what you’re going through.” Some of the kindest and most well-meaning people said things that hurt me the deepest. Unless you are a parent with a child facing the same diagnosis, less is definitely more.

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3. Offer help in concrete ways, but don’t push charity on someone. Learning to humbly accept charity is part of having a child with a serious medical condition. It can be very difficult for hard-working, self-sufficient people to accept money for hospital bills, frozen meals and the like. If you ask them how you can be of service, they will most likely refuse and say they’re fine. Learn to offer specific gifts. Is there an upcoming appointment? Offer childcare for siblings or gas money if they need to travel. If the child needs to be hospitalized, organize meals or offer to sit with the child for a bit so Mom and Dad can take a break. See if there are routine medical supplies not covered by insurance that you can help purchase on a regular basis, or help them set up a wish list online for these items.  If they need a major medical item or home renovations, offer to organize a fundraiser.

However, if they say no, respect that. Let them know you’re willing to help in any capacity. Eventually, they’ll need help. Keep offering and they will ask or take you up on your offer. But don’t offer if you’re not willing to step up. If you say you’ll organize a beef and beer, you’d better damn well hold up your end of the bargain.

4. Understand that even after the shock of the diagnosis goes away, and the family settles into their new normal, there will be tough times. Your friend may seem fine, and things may look great on the outside, but the hardship of the day-to-day is there. Your friend probably doesn’t want to be considered a saint or someone who is “doing it all”. He or she is probably still struggling in many ways. This is where continued prayer and listening is so important. It is an ongoing juggling act to care for a special needs child. Things never stay the same for long. Never assume your friend has it together.

5. This is more for the parents of special needs kids themselves: don’t forget about your marriage. (If you are Catholic, facing a genetic diagnosis and not so good at practicing NFP, this goes triple.) Caring for a child, or children with special needs, can suck up all your time. It is very easy to put all your time and energy into your disabled children so that your spouse gets completely neglected or only viewed as a fellow caretaker.

Friends, you can help by offering to babysit so Mom and Dad can get a night out, or if that’s not possible, surprise them with a gift card for a restaurant and some cash so they can find medically suitable help and get a break.

My saving grace through everything is my husband. I often say that I can handle all I’ve been given because I have Tony as my husband. I hesitate to call it a perfect marriage, but God knew what He was doing when he gave me such a wonderful man. I don’t know how anyone deals with a difficult medical diagnosis without a rock solid marriage. Please, make it a priority and friends, help your friends make time for one another.

Teddy Standing

6. Father Benedict Groeschel’s book, ‘Arise From Darkness’, for all the reasons I mentioned already.

7. I’ve also gotten a few emails regarding families facing a second major medical diagnosis. My heart goes out to you all especially. As a friend the worst thing you can say or imply is that it will somehow be easier because “you’ve been through it before”.  A second diagnosis is worse in many ways because it feels like God is striking you with lighting twice. Why must two of my children suffer? If I was angry with God with one diagnosis, the second pushed me to the brink of disbelief. In some ways I still feel shaken by the second diagnosis more than the first, especially in regards to family planning.  Parents in this situation instinctively know they will learn to live with it, because they already have, but it is so hard to see that silver lining. Continue to listen and see where you can offer help.

I realize this in no way is “quick takes’  but lastly I wanted to add a foot note for parents in my shoes, staring down the barrel of a scary medical diagnosis that promises to change their lives and all the dreams they had for their children in one fell swoop. One might not be ready to hear it now, but your life, or that of your child’s, doesn’t end with a diagnosis of SMA or anything remotely similar. You will feel joy, and laugh again. Your child, however long he or she is on this earth can understand all the love you pour into him or her. Hold your child close, smile together, look at the clouds, a book or a favorite stuffed animal. Enjoy it all, because they will too.

My boys understand they’re different, but they’re not unhappy. And I think it’s because we’re happy with who they are. My older three children have never seen anything wrong with their siblings. Fulton and Teddy can’t walk, but they can enjoy playing cars, or an iPad, as much as the next 3 or 6 year old boy. They don’t ask to do things they can’t do because they’re busy doing everything they can do. *I* wish they could walk, but they don’t give it much thought because they’re busy crashing their powerchairs into everything. My situation isn’t the same as everyone’s but my point is, don’t let your sadness or anger ruin your child’s life. Enjoy the here and now and don’t dwell on the what ifs. Be responsible and plan for the future but live in the present.

In conclusion, never trust that my quick takes will be short. Swing back to Jen’s for those who follow the rules. Do you have any additional questions I can answer? Leave them in the comments or shoot me a private email at kellymantoan(at) gmail (dot) com.