Thursday, June 26, 2014

Girls On The Edge by Leonard Sax M.D, PhD

Girls on the Edge -- he breaks it down into 4 areas where are girls are being attacked and we need to really watch and help guide our daughters.

* Sexual Identity -- Our girls are being way over sexualized.  He discusses the difference between being sexual and sexualized.  Bluntly put, many our little girls look like hoochie mamas.  Many of us think it's cute that they wear clothing that makes them look like little adults...but is it going too far?  His argument would be yes, and that we need to be really careful how we not only dress our children, but the images they see of other women.  It does send a message that we need to be "cute" (at best) or "sexy" (at worst) for boys.  When girls dress for themselves, they usually pick much different clothing.  Is it ok to look nice, of course...but keep it modest.

* Cyberbubble -- Any surprise here?  Facebook and other social media is out of control for many of these kids, and it's damaging.  Cyber Bullying, comparisons constantly being made, etc.

* Obsessions -- Girls have a tendancy to want to be perfect.  Boys don't struggle with that as much.  (These are generalized statements of course.)  For boys, the overall problem seems to be increased laziness while girls are pushing themselves more and more to the edge until they fall off.  What is the result?  Massive increase of eating disorders, cutting, drinking, academic stress, and sports are just a few he names.  The ultimate issue here, though, is girls just not know who they they tend to cling to these obsessions to form their identities with potentially catostrophic results.  I'm a runner.  I'm the top student.  I'm thin.  I'm the party girl.

* Environmental Toxins -- Girls are starting puberty earlier and earlier -- so much so that doctors are now saying, "Yep, starting puberty at 7 or 8 years old is in the normal range."  Whaaaat?!  Girls who start puberty earlier have an increased risk for drinking, sexual promiscuity, etc.  Furthermore, they are at a higher risk for other health problems such as some cancers.  He makes a good case for environmental toxins that are invading our lives with some suggestions on how to avoid some of them.  

I read Boys Adrift a few years ago.  Loved it.  Looooved it.  At the time I didn't have a son but felt it would be an overall good parenting book.  I was right.  I found wisdom in his writing and the points he made resonated with me.  I decided I would read his next book, Girls on the Edge.  Afterall, I have daughters and liked what I had read about boys.  It took me until NOW to sit down and read the book.  And, again, I loved it.

The concept is this: Boys are girls are different.  They are facing so much more than we did because our world is changing.  Girls on the Edge addresses the problems facing girls...because, it is different.  What is the same between the boys and girls --

* They face different challenges than the ones I did (and my gneration)
* They are becoming depressed at alarming rates
* There seems to be a missing piece -- self-worth
* Somehow, we (our society) is failing our young people

But what is different is how boys and girls internalize these problems and then how they are acted out.  We seem to think that "fixing" something, or someone, is a one-size-fits-all approach.  Therapy.  Reasoning.  Et cetera.  In some ways, I wonder if all these theories that exist to "help" our wandering children are clouding our own vision as parents, grandparents, and adults who interact with children and young men and women.  When Samantha was born, I read a few parenting books.  It was so distracting.  I tried to follow the book and do what research recommended.  It was miserable.  I listened to the theories and advice of professionals, and in doing so, I didn't listen to the inner voice -- my own intuition and the Spirit -- that could tell me exactly what MY child needed.  Are we neglecting the individual child, different gender specific strengths and traits, and not listening to the inspiration we need?  Because if we do slow ourselves down, a lot of what he's talking about seems to be common sense to me.  I think as parents we get too rushed and we rush our children.  Someone else is doing this, and their kids are great must be good.  Let's do that too.  Oh, off to this next practice, dance recital, and special tutor.  You're not getting an A?  Let's "fix" that and get you to be head of the class.  How damaging is this?

So, even though Girls on the Edge IS another parenting book and DOES offer theories and ideas of what we can do as parents to help our young daughter grow to be self-confident, happy young ladies -- this also resonated with me because I feel he is perfectly aligned with my own spirit.  Does that even make sense?  What he writes and has researched, along with his own experiences with patients, seems to be more of a reminder that our daughters are important, need to be treasured, and that our job is to help them discover themselves.  It's more than that, but I really liked it.  And I haven't met a person, yet, who doesn't also really like his books.

Now.  Maybe I haven't found someone yet who hasn't liked his books because my friends seem to be like-minded.  One bit of controversy could be that he does believe that girls are inherently different than boys and should be treated differently.  He never says they should be given less, talked down to, set in their place, or dominated.  No.  They need to be approached differently, talked to differently, taught differently, guided differently.  I can see how some "feminists" would say this is unequal or wrong.  But since when has different been unfair or unequal.  My daughter, Samantha, has a severe disability.  I feed her.  My daughter, Callie, does not.  She feeds herself.  Is that unfair to Callie that I don't feed her myself?  My son, Micah, also does not have a disability.  He feeds himself.  I don't think that's unfair either.  It's common sense.  And to me, gender issues like this are common sense.  It allows both our sons and daughters to thrive when we allow them to blossom into the young men and women they are meant to be.  When we understand that they are different, and that is a good and beautiful thing that makes our home, communities, and world buzz as it should.

Anyway.  Off my soapbox...I could go on and on.  Last comment: I'm so grateful to be a woman.  I embrace it.  I don't want to be a man.  I don't want to think like him or be him.  I want to become the best I am meant to be, and that includes loving the fact that I've been extremely blessed to be a woman.  Because I am a woman there are some things that I will not have or do with which men are blessed.  But, because I am a woman there are some things that men will not experience or have.  It's not a bad thing.  It's a beautiful thing.  I learn so much from my husband and honor who he is as a man and loving husband and father.  Likewise, he honors my womanhood and finds joy in the things that I find joy in.  I have never felt like being a woman has inhibited my growth.  I know that there are ways that I'm not even aware of that BECAUSE I'm a woman, I've excelled...better than if I were a man.  As a girl my mother instilled in me that anything I wanted was possible.  I still believe that.  I also believe in the proper time to do all things.  And so, there may be things I want to do, become, experience...and I will wait until the proper time.  Is it because I'm a stay-at-home mom....because I'm a woman with that responsibility?  Absolutely it is!  Have a struggled with putting aside some of those desires until the time is right?  Yes!  Am I grateful that I AM a stay-at-home mom and have to put some of those bigger desires down for a season until the time is right.  100%.  And I will teach both my sons and daughters that they too are here to fulfill their own divine mission of becoming who their Father in Heaven has planned for them to be...and being male and female comes with different challenges that will help them reach that potential.

I'm off the box.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Seconds Feel Like Minutes...Minutes Feel Like Hours

Sammy had a seizure last night.  Callie and Micah were jumping on the trampoline.  I was cleaning up dinner.  Sammy was in the family room playing with some items.  I looked over and noticed she wasn't moving.  I had already given her her medicine, so I expected her to be sleepy.  I went over, sat down by her, but I couldn't get her attention.  Her head was turned, her eyes looking off to the side.

It was a seizure.

I laid her down and began to talk to her.  I stroked her hair.  Callie came inside and asked what was wrong, and we had a very calm, normal conversation about how I knew Sammy was having a seizure.  I casually pointed out how her eyes were fixed to the side, how her pupils were dilated.  I addressed the fact that her body was beginning to convulse, and do you see there?  Her lips are turning blue and the color in her skin is fading.  Callie sat close by Sammy, putting her hand softly on her head, and began to talk to her.

The details I omitted include the following:

The surprise I felt when I realized it was a seizure.
The pit in my stomach when her lips began to change color.
The panic when it seemed to last just too long...when the seconds were turning into minutes, and then too many minutes and I wasn't sure what was going to happen.
The images that ran through my mind of calmly calling 911 to get help quickly.
The bad feeling I had.

I got up to grab her Diastat and administer it so we could attempt to cut the seizure off, but the seizure seemed to stop.  She took a deep breath and she moved her head from one side to the other.  But then, once there, again I couldn't get her attention.  I'm still not sure if this was a continuation of the seizure or if this was just a part of her postictal state.  It was odd though.  I pulled out the camera and took video to show the doctor.  Micah had come up and been kneeling by me and Callie for what felt like awhile, though it was probably only a few seconds before he wanted Sammy.  He was concerned.  I could see it in his eyes as he approached.  He didn't understand and started stroking her arm.

You can see her here
And afterward here.  She was so still, and I kept watching her tummy to make sure she was breathing. 

After awhile, I picked her up and just held her.  Callie and Micah sang along to Frozen and danced while I rocked a sleeping Sammy.  I didn't feel comfortable laying her down to bed quite yet.  So I didn't.  After about 1/2 hour, Marcus got home.  She had just woken up and you would have never known her brain had gone haywire shortly before.

She was smiling and happy.

After some time we were able to get her back to sleep.  This seizure wore her out.

It's so disappointing.  I really don't like seizures.  They steal joyful moments and peace from my heart, and that makes me feel pretty resentful of seizures.  At the same time, in those moments I'm granted a gift.  Normally, I would have already laid Sammy to bed.  Tonight, for a good 45 minutes I held her in my arms and stroke her hair.  I sat on the couch, laid her next to me, hand my left arm on her body as she slept, Micah cuddled up to me in my right arm, and Callie holding my right hand from her chair as we watched Peppa Pig.  Was watching TV on our evening agenda?  No.  But it happened.  And I loved the connection we all felt.  We were this chain of I-got-your-back-no-matter-what-and-whenever-you-need-it family love.  And it was good.

We hope we know why she had this seizure.  Yesterday morning I forgot to give Sammy her medication.  Now that school's out, it's easier for me to mess up on our routine, because I'm establishing a new one.  I mentioned it to Marcus as I headed out, but he forgot's not a part of his routine either.  So by today, though she had her normal doses, it was low in her system.  We hope that's why, because it often helps when you can answer "why?".

The "Why" "W" Why...Why she has seizures, Why she was born with microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and has to deal with a load of other stuff...that WHY I'll never know completely until after this life.  But, I'm pretty confident I know the partial answer.  She's doing a mighty work just being here, giggling and smiling us into submission!  She's such an angel.  So perfect.  And I feel so blessed to be her mom.

Seizure yesterday, smiles today.  As long as I still get the smiles, I can take it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

To The Beach!

Marcus took yesterday off work, so to the beach we went.

Callie has been asking me to go, and I want to go.  I do.  We live so close that you'd think I'd be like the slew of other moms who live here and make the weekly trek to the sandy beaches of beautiful California.  But, my friends, this is not the case.  I can't go to the beach without Marcus.  I just can't.  At least, not with all the kids.  Three.  Count 'em.  I have only three kids.  Yet, the task is just too much for me.

Sammy hates the beach.  It's cold, windy, and there's this material there that really bothers her...sand.  There's kind of a lot of it and it bothers her.  Is it the texture?  No.  It's just the fact that it's hard for her to move around and being that all things go in her mouth...well, maybe it is the texture.  It's like chewing on sand paper for a few hours.  Nasty.

Callie loves the beach.  Not the frigid water, but the beach...the sand, the seagulls, the running around, having the waves chase her.  It's great fun.

Micah has never been before.  Before yesterday, he was a beach virgin.  If you asked for his opinion, he'd respectfully give you a mixed review.

Onto the pictures:

Sammy has about 0% body fat.  So to combat the cold, I came prepared.  Were we going to go swimming?  Absolutely not.  But I brought 5 towels nonetheless...all to layer on Sammy!  And it worked.  For awhile she sat on a chair, bundled up, eating the wind.

Callie, Micah, and I ran down to the water right away.  Micah thought it was hilarious.  Callie screamed in delight.  After I stepped away, they were adventurous and checked it out themselves, of course with Callie in the lead.

After some time, Sammy needed a change of pace.  We had a really great location, actually, right by a log.  That was the backrest we needed.  I laid out a sheet and she and I sat down together while Marcus and Callie worked on a sand castle...and Micah ran back and forth from the waves up to me "Mommy!  Mommy!  Mommy!"  Then back down he went.  He was loving it at this point.  He would stop and eat some crackers or bits of sandwich and then rejoin the action.

Look at that boy's hands.  They are massive!

It was time for Sammy to try out the water.  I'm not sure why Marcus thought she would enjoy it.  Well, probably because when we first got down there and I was holding her close by the waves, she was hysterically laughing.  She loved the wind and the rushing noise of the water.  The water was too cold and when Marcus brought her back up, she needed some serious bundling.  Her toes only got wet, but still, it was enough to put her over the edge.  However, she was still far so good!

We went to the beach at Natural Bridges (should have gotten a picture of it), so Callie wanted to hike over some of the rocky land that goes over the water.  I asked Marcus to take Micah too so I could keep Sammy warm.  Off they went and for about 45 minutes, Sammy and I stayed just like the above picture.  I kind of loved it.

As time went on, though, it was getting windier and windier.  I had to keep covering her face and cleaning out my ears from the sand!  It was just too much.  But where Marcus, Callie, and Micah was protected and really nice.  So when they came back, Micah was upset and kept saying "Mommy!  Oweee!  Hurt!"  He laid down on me to protect himself.  Not too long after, we packed up.  He was distraught.  The wind whipped the sand against your skin and it just hurt.  I laid him down and covered him in did the trick for awhile, but when it was time to hike back up to the car...oh heavens...he wouldn't walk.  He just wanted to bury his head in my chest to protect his face.  Carrying him, and our gear, and hiking up the ridiculous sandy hill back to the car just about killed me.

But it was all worth it.  I'd say it was a successful beach trip.  Sammy seemed to actually enjoy herself this time.  Callie and Micah had fun and aside from being severely exfoliated, really loved the adventures you can find at the ocean side.

And this wee fellow...he was completely wasted after so much fun.  I couldn't keep him he slumbered on the couch until he was ready for some more action.

I can't wait to go again!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child's Financial Future

Oh brother!  If you thought taking care of a special needs child was difficult...emotionally and physically...let us not forget the confusing road of special needs finances!  Seriously.  I thought we were ahead of the game creating a Special Needs Trust for Sammy, but something came up that caused me to do more research to make sure I fully understood what we had done.  I may be more confused than ever.  I mean, things are fine, but the words "simple," "easy," "no problem" don't go with Special Needs Trust.  

This is a great book that I read on my kindle but will buy to have in our bookshelf so I can grab it as a quick reference.  Great book to read for all those who have children with special needs and may be interested in helping them financially while still allowing them to be eligible for insurance benefits and SSI.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

However Long and Hard the Road by Jeffrey R. Holland

A couple weeks ago I had dinner with a friend.  I hadn't seen this friend in a long time.  Though I knew she was facing challenges with her children, I had no idea how deep the pain went.  I listened to the concerns, struggles, and sadness.  I didn't know what to say.  I felt that I had nothing to offer her.  I couldn't help in any way, and I left that night feeling sad.  So sad.

When I got home, I couldn't fall asleep.  I got up and tried to find a talk by Elder Holland.  There was a time when I was struggling with something and a friend gave me a copy of this talk.  I read it.  I reread it.  I read it again.  Those words filled my heart and mind with peace that I was unable to find previous to reading this.  And I thought that, perhaps, these words may help my friend as well.

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But that night, I didn't get to this talk.  Instead, I bought this book -- However Long & Hard the Road -- and began reading, immediately.  Reading these words also brought peace to my heart and mind.  I felt my burdens become light.  I recognized the power and truth in what I read.  There are too many quotes that I marked...but here are a few that buoyed up my spirit and reminded me to push forward:

"IN the Church we ask for faith, not infallibility."

"In the gospel of Jesus Christ we have help from both sides of the veil.  When disappointment and discouragement strike -- and they will -- we need to remember that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see, riding at great speed to come to our protection.  They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed.  We have been given this promise from heaven."

"The past is to be learned from, not lived in, and the future is to be planned for, not paralyzed by."

"Light, like truth, forsakes the evil one, that prince of darkness who was cast out of heaven into the earth."

"We should cherish our spiritual burdens, because God will converse with us through them and will use us to do his work if..."

How grateful I am to be living in a time when there are living prophets who lead me and my family through word and example.  I feel lighter and happier when I fill my day with light -- and this week, part of that light came from the words of Jeffrey R. Holland.


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