I never really thought too much about sensory play until my kids were past their toddler years. Sensory play is important to a child's development according to many experts and although my kids are of preschool and elementary age, I decided to start doing a sensory activity with them every week to find out how they responded to it.
My mom, knowing how much the kids love tiny things, sent these little rubber dinosaurs to each of my kids. Each one is about the size of a quater! They are TINY!!!
Have you ever played with this stuff? It is amazing! It doesn't dry out or have a foul odor like playdoh. You can keep it in any container really and most playdoh toys work well with it! It's called Sands Alive from Play Vision. It is awesome stuff!! It is sand but soft and it sticks to itself. I got mine at JoAnn Fabrics but I am sure you could find it other places as well! Here's a link if you want to check it out.
Next thing I had them do was stick all their little dinos into their tray of sand. They quickly started making their own game of, "Paleontology, Dino Hunting." Since they are older, they didn't really need my help but I stood there and watched for awhile soaking in their giggles.
After awhile they were asking what else they could do, so I showed them how to make teeny tiny dino tracks. This added another fifteen minutes of sand and dino play. They really like their mini dinos and adding them to the sand that they already love to play in was a definite win!
What are some of your favorite sensory activities or games? I am just starting this so ideas would be great! This is going to be, "a keeper," activity! They are already asking to play with their sand and dinos again!
Happy Birthday Dad!
I miss your smile, your laugh, your deep voice.
I miss your goofiness, your puns, your worn out IU shirt, and watching you mow your front yard.
I miss seeing my kids call you Papa, how you tickled them with your beard and hearing them squeal.
I miss watching you hug my mom and love her like only you could.
I miss the way your cared, and how you were always there.
You embedded the truth in, "Love is thicker than blood." I wasn't yours, but you loved me anyways!
I miss you Dad.
Eat the biggest piece of cake you can find up there! It won't spike your sugar anymore!
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2 (ESV)
Do you know what happens when you shoot a rock? The bullet ricochets and bounces off.
Same goes for a person with a "rock complex," right?
That's what I thought anyways!
When the bullets start flying, they don't ricochet like I have always told myself, they pierce and bounce around inside my rock-like shell, tearing up my innards.
When you hit a rock enough times it will eventually crack and crumble.
The sad thing is, I've only been pretending to myself!
It's time to stop.
Stop pretending it doesn't hurt. Stop holding back the tears. Stop acting like you(I) are(am) fine! Stop it!
It's ok to not be ok!
Did you hear that? It's OK to not be ok!!!
Suffering in silence is lonely! Trust me, I've been doing it a long time.
Understanding that I am not a terrible/weak/unchristian person for having depression and anxiety, has taken me a long time! I am still grappling with them.
I don't want my children to mimic my own emotional hardness. I want them to be ok with sad emotions.
I tell them all the time that it is ok to cry, or to be sad about something. But kids learn the most by example and I have not shown them these traits. Because mommy is a rock and rocks don't cry.
I'm tired of being a rock. I can't hold my walls together anymore and I'm tired of pretending to myself and everyone else.
I'm full of broken pieces and a weary spirit! I want to be renewed and find a strength I know I cannot supply for myself.
But I need to remember that grieving isn't instantaneous and it's ok to not be ok!
I'll be spending a lot of time clinging to the REAL rock!
For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.
Jeremiah 31:25 (ESV)
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
Psalm 143:10 (ESV)
Last night I woke up to loud voices coming from my kids' room... I know! Slight panicking!
Their radio is always on KLove at night and it was a little loud, hence waking me up. They were talking about a 90 year old man that had run a marathon. How cool is that?
I didn't catch much else except for something he said in the interview. He said, "You just get comfortable being uncomfortable." I don't know if he said anything else, but that is what I caught while turning the volume back down.
Wow!! That hit me like a sledge hammer! The kind that makes you think when you are trying to sleep, kind.
If you haven't heard all the new stuff in my life on facebook; my husband, Daniel, has been at basic training in Texas since mid April. Our lives have changed drastically and will continue for a decade or more.
The reason this simple sentence hit me so hard is the fact that I have and will continue to be uncomfortable, a lot! This new adventure we are on will require me to move (a lot), meet new people (often), learn and use military lingo (every day), be separated from my spouse (hopefully not too often), and be away from family and friends who have become like family.
None of these things are at all easy for me and the realization of what it will take from me to adjust to this new life style will probably keep me spinning for awhile.
This concept isn't just for what is to come in the near future though. This is totally what God asks us to do every day! He calls us to be uncomfortable, to step out of our safe little bubble of security and reach out to others!
Would you get uncomfortable adding that extra $20 to the offering plate? Do you get uncomfortable talking in a group of other women/men? Does extending that invitation to the annoying neighbor kid make you uncomfortable?
Let me tell you how uncomfortable I am in a group of people. It takes me forever to assess my boundaries. And that neighbor kid,...I struggle with that one, big time! That extra $20 is gas money or to cover grocery overflow. My excuses are always pretty convincing to my own ears!
I am not saying that you should blow your budget. They are important and we should be good stewards of our money. Setting up boundaries when the neighborhood kids come over is a great idea so you know and they know they are safe and can still have fun. Using wisdom with your words in a group setting is healthy and can save some serious hurt, misunderstanding, and just plain averting awkward and inappropriate conversations.
What I am saying is that we are so often trying our hardest to feel comfortable. Everything we do and say are centered around if it will make us feel safe, secure and comfortable. Staying firmly in my little safe bubble of me-ness.
There are times for rest, for healing, and times when we need to be filled up. But Oh Man!, it isn't comfortable reaching out to others. It requires doing uncomfortable things, or saying uncomfortable things.
You know the best relationships are the ones that have trudged through the yucky stuff, the stuff that made us uncomfortable, and stuck with it to see the other side!
Those relationships are so valuable!!
The story of Esther comes to mind when I think of God asking me to do something uncomfortable. She, a young virgin, was taken and placed in a harem with a bunch of other young virgins; all trying to win the affection of the king! Talk about your biblical times, 'The Bachelor.' Only this same king had just cast out his previous wife for embarrassing him while he and his friends were at a party.
Did she know what would happen to her there? Her cousin, Mordecai told her not to reveal that she was a Jew! That had to have caused some fear! She had to have felt very uncomfortable! She was completely out of her elements!
Yet God used her to save her people, God's people, from slaughter!
Oh, the things that make us uncomfortable! Yet it is these things that help us learn and help us grow.
Jesus made a very uncomfortable decision to suffer a very uncomfortable death to save us from a very uncomfortable eternity without Him!
God doesn't want you to be miserable! But He does want you to trust Him and share His love with others. That means we have to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.
Here's to my adventure of being Uncomfortable for God's kingdom!
Cake All Around!
My minions turned a year older this month! Being born a day apart makes it difficult to express individualism in the birthday themes. This year will undoubtedly be the last year for joint birthdays. Although more cost effective, I can not imagine topping this one! See those Pinterest ready creations?...I almost committed murder when my husband got too close to them when I was done....he is still alive if you were wondering.
**Disclaimer** Two minions were cannibalized in the making of this birthday party. It was inevitable as they were made of sugary goodness. The remains were buried together.
No Turning Back
When we moved here, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet a marvelous young woman at a MOPS group. She happens to write an inspirational and encouraging blog on pretty much any subject. I heard about something she does every year and I wanted to do it too. She picks a word, phrase or such that speaks to your heart about truth. That is the gist of it anyways. Last year I chose the word "Fearless," and let me tell you did I indeed struggle with that one! Still am actually. Anyways, after much thought about my life thus far and the things I have always struggled with, I decided that I would do what any tat-loving person would do...I got a forever tattoo to remind me for the rest of my life, that no matter what others did, no matter what I did, and no matter how I felt about myself, that I am forever Cherished by my heavenly Father!
I haven't found my word yet for this year, but I can and always will remember that I am Cherished, no matter what!!
This past Christmas and New Year, a lot of things were going on. The 21st was my husband's 26th birthday, and we celebrated with his father in Toledo. It was a long drive, but we talked and laughed the whole way. (Ok, I might have shrieked a few times at his driving antics, but it was snowyish!)
Daniel's vacation got hacked into pieces so he had to return every couple days to work. He dropped us off at my parents' on his way back home. It was Sunday evening and I was really starting to enjoy the holidays with my family; who we hadn't seen in a couple months. Daniel worked Monday and then came back to my parents' that night. We had to get a good night's sleep because the next day was going to be busy!
In our family we have a really cool meal we call "Munchy Lunchy." It consists of some of our favorite finger foods of all time and we all gather around the table and in the kitchen and create the meal together. When everything is finished and the table is decorated, we all sit and Dad thanks God for our blessings throughout the year. Then we feast....and most often, there is so much food, that we eat it for a few days. (But that is ok, because we live for leftovers!)
It is Christmas Eve, our bellies are full and we just got done opening presents. We hear a knock on the door, and my cousins are here with their baby girl. We live far away and we don't get to see them often. We are all catching up and the phone rings....
It's my aunt. We need to come because my uncle took a turn for the worse. Mom, Daniel and I throw some things together, kiss the kids and head out the door. We follow my cousin and his family down to Greenfield.
We spend the remainder of Christmas Eve holding my uncle's hand and keeping him as comfortable as possible. We slept in shifts so that he would always have someone there if he needed something.
Christmas day. He is still declining. Mom and I go back home with my cousins. Daniel stays with my aunt so she isn't alone. (Thank you Jesus for that man!) Mom packs some more stuff and takes her car back down to Greenfield. Dad takes the rest of us to Auburn where my grandparents live. I hadn't been up there since last Christmas.
We had a nice lunch with that side of the family and I got to help my grandma, who hadn't been doing well in the nursing home. We opened presents and the kids played.
I was in a fog, trying to sleep. It was late and Daniel called...
My uncle was gone. He went peacefully.
The minutes, the hours, the days are flowing together like the fishy fog from Grand Lake St. Marys. We came back to Celina some days after that.
Trying to sleep is like a wakeful nightmare. The kids are disturbed and they whimper in their sleep. They are seeing and hearing but not grasping the pain in everyone. It's somewhere around 4 or so in the morning and I am still not sleeping. I have to go to the bathroom really bad but I'm cold, so laziness is foremost in my mind. The phone rings...
There are things you remember because of how they affect you. I will forever remember that ring. I will never forget the sobs coming from my parents' room. No one told me anything. I knew.
Mom and Dad pack and go back to Auburn. We all have a viewing to go to in Greenfield. We repack and head to Greenfield.
We went to Uncle Johny's viewing and funeral. I don't cry very well. I laughed a lot. That sounds morbid to some, but we all cover our grief differently.
After that, we left for Celina again. We washed some things and repacked for Auburn.
My sister and niece are on their way from Missouri. I haven't seen them in 2 years. I hate tragedy reunions. There's always that dark thing hanging over every laugh and conversation. Like we really shouldn't be having a good time catching up.
Another viewing and funeral, only this time, it's Grandma's. There is a snow storm happening and it stays nice enough for one day for travelers to get home. Then it hits again in a flurry of Alaskan-like temperatures. (It was actually warmer in Alaska at the time!)
The power goes out. I just finished chewing my last bite from dinner. The kids are screaming and terribly afraid of the sudden darkness. We found a tank load of pillar candles and lit them, dispersing them throughout the rooms. We go into survival mode and pile blankets on beds. The temperature got down to 55 I think when the power came back on at 11:30 or so. The heat ran all night long trying to reheat the house. I had flashing thoughts of people finding me frozen solid with my arms wrapped around my kids protecting them from old man winter. (Drastically imaginative? Welcome to my mind!)
We were stranded for a couple more days. We finally got back to my parents' and were again stranded with no way of going home....because we didn't bring 2 cars and Daniel was working. We waited until his next day off for him to bring us home.
4 weeks... 4 weeks of hopping back and forth from one grief to the next. Never really grieving myself. I've had almost a month now to process and reflect and the grief still won't come. In my years as a long term health care provider, my inner sense of relief is higher than the grief. Not relief in the sense that I'm happy they are dead, but relief in the sense that the suffering is. I'm a bit numb to, death. I have been since before my grandpa died, when I was in high school. In and out of hospitals with my grandma, then the nursing home. I began to see death differently for those who suffer before they go.
In the midst of the funerals, I was asked by my 4 year old if I would cry if she died. She equated death with tears and heartache since she had witnessed so many people crying....but not me. Even her daddy cried but mommy didn't shed a tear. I had to explain to her why mommy couldn't cry. She seemed to understand and I assured her that I would indeed cry if she ever died and that I hope she didn't. She was ok with my answer and went back to her playing.
Bitterness tries to seep in from time to time because of how 2 deaths and a snow storm ruined the holidays for me. But then I started to take hold of a few thoughts....
I was at odds with my cousins and had decided to delete them from my life. And God said, "love them." It's awkward still but not so much now. I still have a wonderful aunt that cherished every moment with my uncle. Who has a wonderful heart and spunky personality! I have a husband that never left me alone mentally or emotionally through all of it, and was there with Uncle Johny in his last moments when I couldn't be. I have amazing siblings and am thankful for them and our relationships because so many don't get along with their own. I was able to spend a week with my sister and niece. I got to show love to my grandma the only way I knew how. And lets face it. That snow storm was so we wouldn't go rushing back to our lives. We needed to be there with Grandpa!
I did a lot of inner pouting those 4 weeks. I was tired, I was emotionally and mentally drained from everyone's grief. The kids were exhausted from no regular schedule. I was sore from sleeping on floors, blowup beds, strange mattresses and piled blankets that didn't smell like Daniel and our cat....whom I also missed. But in all of it, one thing stayed true throughout...family will weather the storm with you. And even more importantly...
God never left my side, and He promised that spring was on its' way!
When God gently whispers, "I'm here and I love you."
When the tears fall because you don't know what to do, and He says, "I'm still here and I love you."
When you stop fighting against something you can not control, and He says, "I'm still here. I've got this and I still love you"
When you feel so free and you can see the joy again, and He says, "I am always with you. I will always love you"
When you allow Him to renew your heart and mind, and He says, "I love you, welcome back."
A place called Home