Sunday, February 21, 2016

deep water.

many days we are in over our heads.
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over the past six months we have been working with teachers, leaders, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and excel spreadsheets to piece together clues in ossi's struggle.
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we have been both his great advocates and his perceived enemies. matthew and i tag team as his 24-7 life coach, scratching our heads and praying that God can help him through us.

we're quite imperfect. and terribly humbled.
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the other day i was driving liam and his cub-scout buddy toward our home for a playdate.

friend: i will not play with ossi
liam: (no response)
friend: he's mean
liam: he's usually pretty cool he just struggles sometimes
friend: he's always bossing and fighting
liam: when he's his normal self he's really cool but he just goes up and down a lot. when he's up he's like crazy and silly and when he's down he's cranky.
friend: i hope he's up
liam: uhhh, i hope he's normal
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we made a chart that goes from deep blue to light blue to white to light red to deep red. the labeling presents a number line from -10 to +10. ossi can slide a button up and down a string to show how he's feeling at any given time. i can usually guess where he'll place his feelings based on how he is treating everyone.
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when he's dressed in some sort of costume, launching himself off of furniture onto people, and yelling, "i'm the king, worship me!" that's a positive ten.
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when he's angrily packing his bags to run away, going on about how everyone hates him, and carrying conflict like a cloud over his head he's probably a negative ten.
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when he's obedient, thoughtful, nurturing, and loving. when he's able to manage frustration and use good problem solving skills. when he's cheerful and snuggly. that's a zero.
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his siblings are getting better at knowing when to stick around and when to hide. which is terrifying. i worry about them and the way they are growing up thinking that it's normal to live in a state of uncertainty about the people they love.

on the other hand we've been so open as we've confronted these issues that they understand this mental illness in a remarkable way. liam told his friend that ossi was pretty cool even though he has every reason to resent him. liam knows that ossi is struggling. he meets each day with compassion for his brother.
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a few weeks ago, after extensive observation, ossi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started taking medication. so far we're not seeing a change but we're keeping our hopes high.

this is a one shot deal, childhood. everyone only gets one. evy gets one, finn gets one, liam gets one.
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ossi gets one.
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amidst great affliction and persecution joseph smith, a religious leader we greatly admire, spoke these words:

God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth.
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ossi came into deep-water. from his earliest years we've been swimming with him. holding him up at times. sinking ourselves. growing in strength through great exertion and struggle.  learning to keep our eyes on the Savior.

deep waters are becoming second nature, though we falter and lose focus at times. deep commitment. deep compassion. deep forgiveness. deep repentance. deep prayers. deep faith. deep love.
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better deep than shallow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

memories for a rainy day.

I remember sitting here.

Doing this.
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 photo ketchup 260 of 306_zps3dyoxffp.jpgLook through the archives of my blog. Look at how many entries there are for each year.
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For every one of those entries there's an unpictured messy woman sitting at her computer screen.

Her teeth are unbrushed and her feet are cold.
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As that woman sorts and edits and ponders and reflects she ignores the dirty dishes.

For each of the hundreds of posts on this very blog there are small stories behind the stories.
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It doesn't make much sense that doing something like this over and over, sitting here in pajamas, putting off daily tasks of living, letting kids run amuck would be the best choice.
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But it is. Not always. But often it is.
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It is because we are too loud, crazy, busy, wild to enjoy our blessings in the moment.
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These posts are a collection of choices. Each post represents a choice to let demands wait for a bit so that I can count each blessing and preserve precious memories.
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The other night the kids were crowding the computer giggling at old posts.
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Matthew and I came to join them as we read about their births and the funny things they said when they were toddlers. They laughed when they read that Bald Baby Finn used to find dirty laundry, toss an article onto his head, and keep right on crawling like it was a make-shift wig. They chuckled when they discovered we'd listened through the baby monitor as Liam gave Ossi speaking lessons in the middle of the night. They smiled so big at the pictures of newborn Evy with all her bows.
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As they scrolled I definitely did not think to myself, "Oh, I should have done the dishes on October 11, 2012."
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So I'll let the dishes pile up and instead I'll tell you that...
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When we leave the YMCA after swimming the kids run up the stairs before me and hide in alcoves around the lobby. Workers at the front desk keep the hiding spots a secret but laugh and come clean after the first child jumps out. They apologize for not warning me, which provides the perfect distraction for a patient hider to come up behind me and almost make me pee my pants.
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Finn smashed aunt katie's lighter with a hammer. When he was caught he cried, "I don't know what happened! I saw it and I just had to smash it." He also chewed the erasers off of every pencil in his class at school. When the erasers were gone he chewed the metal off of them. When the teacher asked who'd been doing it he fessed right up. His came home with a backpack full of eraserless pencils and a request for a school donation of new ones.
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On Thursday Ossi wrote the "i love____________" all over his arms with about six different girls names filling in the blanks. He also claimed he was compelled beyond self-restraint.
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Liam formed a group for the Battle of the Books at school and has been reading in every spare moment. One of the books on the list is called "No Talking" by Andrew Clements. So now instead of telling people to be quiet Liam says, "Andrew Clements!" in true bookworm fashion.
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Speaking of books, I ought to mention the lovely adventures we've been having.

In fall we took a trip to Narnia and stayed for a long while.

After that we met Mary Lenox and Colin Craven, but Dicken was our very favorite.

We traveled back in time for a while to visit Daniel in his fight with the Romans.

I can't say what was scarier about our adventure with Aerin, the dragons or that part with a man's bare chest.

Sam Gribley taught us how to run away and live off the land.

And now we're back to see what Brandon Mull has been cooking up.
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Eveleen can swim underwater. She plugs her little nose and takes the plunge. She insists on wearing the locker key pinned to her suit every time we hit the pool. I love to throw my goggles on and dunk under to watch her little body bob around.
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Yum, pictures. Yum, words. Yum, memories for a rainy day.
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

an acne experiment.

My face has been breaking out in acne spots. This has been going on for weeks and I've tried all sorts of things to clear my skin. New face wash routines, creams, heat-pads, more sleep, more drinking water, different diet. All these things.

Symptoms. Symptoms of stress. I've been trying to treat symptoms instead of addressing the underlying issue. I don't think I am alone in my folly here.
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Today I am thankful for acne. I'm thankful that our bodies try to speak to us.

Mine is asking, "What happened to your smile? Where is the bounce in your step?" My body put a post-it note on my face that says, "slow down and try to find yourself."
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So I breath in big gulps of air. I sit down now, if only for a couple of minutes.

I'm trying to do good things for the right reasons, too.
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You see, I feel this weight to teach my children wisdom and goodness and truth. The danger comes when this responsibility to teach them becomes my main motivation for everything I do.

Like when I read my scriptures just so that the can see me read my scriptures.
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I've stopped doing things for the sheer joy. Instead I have been doing things out of duty.
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This past Saturday was the fist day that I made a strong effort to work from the motivation of personal joy.

I learned a few things that day.
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I learned that I want to do good things. The things I'm drawn to doing are happy and peaceful and loving.

I found myself in ballet class, working hard, thinking about ballet and only ballet in that moment. I watched myself in the mirror and smiled at me.

Then I felt like cleaning around the house, so I did.
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Later that day I found myself getting out of a swimming pool with Ossi when he was being impossible. I wanted to get out and get him dressed so I did. I didn't stew about all of the moral consequences or what I was teaching him. I just got out of the pool.
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At home I braided hair and rubbed feet with lotion. I put everyone down for quiet time and sat with each of my children and my niece and nephew for a little bit of time. I liked just being still and not talking. I liked the way the lotion smelled and the way their little toes wiggled.
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I stopped mid-sentence reading to our kids at bedtime and kissed matt for like five solid minutes.

There were other good things about that day but the ones I already mentioned were my favorite.
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I was also pretty honest about the help I needed, the feelings I was experiencing, the direction I wanted to go.

I told kids in the pool that I don't like to be splashed and I asked them to stop.

I let my mom help me with dinner instead of being stubborn and prideful.

I asked my husband to act less like a little boy and more like my strong, protective man. (He'd been pulling little pranks on me trying to get a little attention.)
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In this balancing act I would never want to become selfish, unaccommodating or all-demanding. That's not what I'm trying to say... I hope you can see what I mean.
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I just mean that sometimes I put too much importance on trivial things at my own expense. When I stop thinking so much and just try to follow my body, my heart, my spirit... life works out.
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There are things in this life that naturally bring unforced joy if we don't overthink things too much...
Relationships. Self-Mastery. Service.

So here's the experiment... I'm going to listen to myself when I want to build or heal a relationship. I'm going to obey my urges to practice and learn new skills. And I'm going to serve others, especially my children and husband, in ways that bring peace.
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