Monday, August 21, 2017

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Once upon a time, there was a blog. Started by a wife and music therapist who longed to be a mom, the blog was a place of processing, sharing, community, and love. There came a blog fellowship, and even a blogging community called Held: A Hannah's Prayer Ministry. When the children came, the blog fell away, since parenting understandably took over my life.

Almost 11 years ago our first child came to us by adoption. Just a year later came a brother and we were done with babies. I went back to work part-time as an independent contractor with a local music therapy business when the boys were in a Mother's Day Out program, and promptly became shocked to be pregnant again at age 41. "I ruined our family," I cried to my husband one evening, and that turned out to be false. God's plans are not our own! (Isaiah 55:9)

That little baby girl turned five years old in June, and we began to prepare for kindergarten. This will be our one year when our three children are all in the same school!

I planned to go back to my contract after the summer, but I recently found that it would be discontinued. The school district for which I subcontracted chose to go another way with providing music therapy services. I am so pleased that they will continue to provide music therapy, and was actually not disappointed at all that I would no longer be providing services for them. I had ideas!

I do love a good reinvent, I always have. I used to love to move, the bigger the move the better! New areas, new friends, new surroundings, and new understanding of the world and of my Creator and how He made me. I've lived some really fun lifetimes, and here comes a new one!

Last week, Oak Song Music Therapy and Consulting Services was born! It's a leap of faith, as right now it's just little old me trying to start getting things going, with a whole lot of music therapy experience, but no clients, no marketing materials, and little to no business know-how. Sounds like a recipe for excitement to me!

My prayers are that I would be smack dab in the center of God's will for life and business; that I would develop a satisfying client base and a beautiful website where I can share information and ideas; and that I would honor God in the process and get to know Him deeper. It would be so easy to keep my faith to myself and become overwhelmed with developing a business, but this is my new baby and I've got to be a good parent. This includes honoring God and His precepts in parenting it.

Eleven years later, there is to be a blog started by a mom who desired to start a music therapy business and brand. Until then, I will use this place to share my thoughts and feelings about this new venture. I've realized that aspects of my personality that I was starting to think looked a lot like ADHD were really more a result of parenting requiring short bursts of attention. I don't think I've focused on anything but changing diapers, breaking up spats, and feeding children snacks for the past 11 years!

Back to business. I am honored that you might join me.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hi, Whitney!

I have this friend, I'll call her "Whitney," because that's her name. I think it's always a good idea to call people by their correct name.

Whitney and I love bagels. I don't eat many bagels these days because now I'm more than 10 years older than when she and I first met and my body does not like carbs. (Let me clarify, I like carbs, my belly does not like carbs.) My now 9-year-old son loves bagels, too, so I'll eat one whenever I can as a show of solidarity with my middle child.

Once I was at Einstein Brother's Bagels in Austin, Texas before classes for a masters degree in music and human learning from The University of Texas at Austin. Then twice I was there, and I kept seeing the same lovely face. The third time, Whitney and I introduced ourselves and a long-term friendship was born.

I was keeping this blog as an infertility and adoption blog in those days, and Whitney was probably my biggest encourager. When she was pregnant, I was a little envious, but she was so gracious about it, and I think we had adopted our oldest son by then so the sting wasn't as painful as it had once been. At Whitney's baby shower for her first son, I was about 8 weeks pregnant with said middle child and got to tell her so. It was sweet.

Time passed, we each had two boys by then, and even though I had moved, we kept up. Then when I was suddenly, shockingly pregnant with our youngest, a daughter, and I looked for a doula, I couldn't resist hiring one that was a childhood friend of Whitney's. (Also at her baby shower was a music therapist mutual friend who I see regularly at Central Texas Music Therapy Association meetings, but I digress.) The last time Whitney and I saw each other was when Jenna was just a few months old and dear Whitney drove over an hour in San Antonio traffic to come visit. Hopefully we will remedy that since all of our five children will be in school as of August 28.

I am pretty sure nobody remembers this blog much anymore, the infertility posts dried up as we had children and got into full-fledged parenting mode, but I'm guessing Whitney remembers. Hence, my post.

Hi, Whitney!

Love,
Your faithful friend,
Amy

Mercies

I have never been a morning person. Understatement. There have been times this has been more painful than others.

When I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day to jump into a cold indoor pool when it was zero degrees Fahrenheit outside.

When I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day to jump into a cold outdoor pool when it was zero degrees Celsius outside.

When I was going through a divorce and woke up every morning in a drab dorm room in Topeka, Kansas feeling broken but had to go to work and be a people-person. Truthfully, I would go into my office and lie down on the floor and weep. That was a hard time.

Still, when the alarm goes off and it's still dark outside I sometimes flash back to those times and do feel grateful that I am getting up to a cute 2-year-old and a nice hot cup of coffee.

I'm bleary-eyed as I type this morning - I stayed up too late last night as usual - and what I meant to do was open my Bible to spend some time with God. His word states that we are to give us our firstfuits. I'm not sure that means exhausted, going-through-the-motions-before-coffee thing or a give Him our best thing. He deserves it.

__________________________________

The above was written three years ago when I had a 2-year-old to wake up to. I've gotten better at the morning thing, by the grace of God, and in one week I'll be up bright and early to take that girl to kindergarten. "God is close to the brokenhearted," Psalm 34:18.

I have hastily posted this one in preparation for a new adventure. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

ADHD in da house!

I'm an ADHD mom! I don't have it, as far as I know, although there are some moments I wonder!

I'm in the club now - the special ed mom's club. Eh - it's okay, there are a lot of nice folks here, but it's not what I would have chosen.

But do you know who did choose it for me? The Lord. My son has ADHD - he is A Dude Heavenly Designed.

My son is fun and exciting! Things would be a lot more buttoned-up around here without him. He can do flips on the trampoline, gymnastic front supports on any surface before him, and he has mastered every physical task he's ever tried.

He has memorized every word he has seen on paper. He is a great reader when he can sit in one place to do it. He is fast at math, he understands science concepts easily, and he has amazing hand-eye coordination. He is smart and engaging, he has rarely met a stranger, and he's as sweet as pie to his loved ones. My mom would never forgive me if I didn't also mention that he loves nature and the environment.

He is not a great writer, attention deficits make it very hard to get ideas from the fast brain into the physical realm to write. Handwriting is difficult for him, given his druthers he won't do it. He frequently does not finish work at school, has little concept of time, and forgets that you've told him to get dressed within seconds after you've said it.

And God has a perfect plan for him.

The first step was to figure out if his exuberance was a part of an organized personality or was there something else going on? We then officially adjusted to an ADHD diagnosis. It was hard! Hard to accept that your child is not "normal," whatever that looks like, and that he might struggle with this for his whole childhood and into adulthood. Then as school became more demanding we had to get a feel for what kind of special needs he'll have and what kind of learner he is. Did we want to try medication or behavioral support? Therapy? An IEP? What is an IEP? Section 504 plan? What is Section 504? Are there other disabilities?

In our case we don't currently qualify for special education services like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; PL 94-142). He will have the same education plan as his neurotypical peers (my new favorite word - neurotypical) but with accommodations.

Maybe he'll complete all odd or even problems, maybe he can type instead of hand-write, maybe he can have a special chair that helps him receive the sensory feedback he needs to sit still. There are a lot of things good teachers automatically do for different students, like giving preferential seating for students with glasses, and a 504 plan will allow those accommodations to follow the student from teacher to teacher so that each one does not have to reinvent the accommodation wheel.

I've been involved in special ed for over a decade as a music therapist, so I understand a little bit of some of the legalese and history behind these educational protections for students with special needs, but most parents don't. How on earth are we supposed to figure this out on our own? There are groups and agencies, yes, but that doesn't make it any less overwhelming.

So this week we are going to have a 504 meeting with the Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP), the classroom teacher, an administrator and little old me to start discussions on how to best help my child succeed in school, how to "level the playing field" so he is able to benefit from his education as much as his peers who are able to sit still and complete their work in an organized fashion.

This kid will likely not have the school success that some neurotypical (love) students have. We will struggle with homework, remembering to bring home assignments, tests, behaviors, teachers who may or may not "get" the kid with ADHD, medication levels, therapy techniques, insurance issues, which parenting books to read, and finding activities he will enjoy and be successful.

We know that school is not a measure of life success! It's a measure of academic success for students who are made for school.

We will always have to deal with the reactions and expectations of other people who sometimes don't believe that ADHD actually exists and that it is a result of low intelligence, disorganized behavior, or poor parenting.

This can leave me feeling very alone.

But we are never alone. No matter whether my son is the only young man in the world who has ADHD or if there are millions of children who live and excel with it. I'll never be the only one to love my child, protect him, stick up for him - I will always have his Creator to do those things. A Dude Heavenly Designed by a heavenly Creator.

I was also heavenly designed to be a parent to this kid. I might trade the ADHD for perfect attention if that didn't change my child. I might. But it is a part of him just as having musical talent is a part of me. Can we be the same person without our idiosyncrasies? I don't think so.

I'll be trying to make sense of this as time goes on, and my guess is I'll probably be entitled to a degree in special education by the time schooling my children is done! I'll take it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Little One

I once had this precious friend. We looked out for each other and protected each other fiercely. I called her "Little One" and she called me something untoward, but out of love!

She is gone now, into the arms of Jesus too soon. I usually think about her with a smile and a shake of my head, but sometimes I still feel overwhelmed with grief, even years later. I miss her.

I have a new friend for whom I have similar sweet feelings. It's different - we're older (I'm way older) and both have families, so it's not as all-encompassing as those feelings were for Little One.

This sweet sister is a Little One, too. I just love her and want to protect her fiercely.

My new friend just lost a long-desired son, also into the arms of Jesus too soon. Not too soon for him, but maybe too soon for us here on earth. And my heart breaks for this sweet woman. She is funny, smart, honest, transparent, and man, is she a fierce lover of Jesus.

I'm feeling overwhelmed today - that God would have given me all of those years with the original Little One, who I loved so deeply, and now has reminded me He still gives me sweet friends like her. He gives us the ability for this deep love and that is a gift.


As my new friend continues to release her sweet son into the arms of His sweet Son, we are held by Him, too. He gives good gifts to His children. Sometimes those gifts are only ours on earth for a season. That is hard - really hard. Thank you, God, for my Little Ones and their little ones, on earth and in heaven.

We pray for long relationships and yet still consider you merciful when you call them back to You. See you later, Little One, give this sweet baby boy a ribcracker.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sugar and spice.

Sometimes I still can't believe this happened.


Not the movie night, but the three children. So grateful.

It's not always like that, there are those days! Sometimes I could just not be bothered. When I'm tired, when they're fighting, when homework is hard. But this - wow.

"He has restored the years the locus had eaten." Joel 2:25.

Sometimes He restores years in a way we hadn't imagined - as a family of two, as a parent of a child with special needs, as parents of children already in the arms of Jesus - but he restores.

Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Begin parentheses.



Ah, vacation! Love to go, love to come home. Praying for a good night's sleep for all tonight.

Know what will help me to sleep easier? Knowing that tomorrow about 100 items of clutter will be leaving my home. Buh-bye now.

Under kitchen cabinet #1 - decluttered! I got rid of two stacks of papers (one in that yellow bag), and several appliances that I don't currently use, I don't love, and I wouldn't buy again ("Clutter Free", p. 144).


After! I even had room to stick a box of baby wipes that I always use to clean kitchen surfaces (and baby surfaces).


So what, right?  Maybe. But I have gotten tired of thinking, "If only I were better organized I would get so much more done." The bulk of the problem likely isn't organization at all, but clutter - too much stuff.

Kathi (you know, my new virtual BFF) writes, "Yes, you are giving away clutter (anything you don't use, love, or wouldn't buy again), but more importantly you are creating room for the things you value. The things that make it possible to do the work you're called to, the things that remind you of all your people and blessings" (p. 146).

But it's a KITCHEN! You're right, but it's a start. I love my family and love being fed. Tomorrow for dinner, chili in that red crock pot!

You are blessed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Simplify

When Andrew was about Jenna's age I decided that it was time to get back to work and ministry. The first few years of The Brothers lives went by in a haze for me and suddenly they were both in preschool and I had two days a week to do something for myself. Frankly, I can't remember what I did!

Fast forward to last May when I once again felt like I could take on some professional activities now that Jenna was about to go to Mother's Day Out twice a week. I agreed to do some music therapy assessments in the fall for a local school district. But it was May, right, so I thought I would start a couple of other new things, too.

And now? I have too many things I am trying to do and I need to streamline! Currently on my professional roster, in order of appearance, I am a Creative Memories/Ahni & Zoe consultant, a Legacy Republic Independent Consultant, a Music Together instructor, a Young Living distributor, and a music therapist. Too much.

In searching for life significance in activities other than serving my family, church, and community, I have made a crazy busy life for myself. As a result of that I feel like I do a lot of things with mediocrity and little with excellence. Rather than being a good steward of the little things with which God has entrusted me, I have sought out bigger things and don't have enough time and energy for the really important things - marriage and family.

And admittedly, my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and time spent in fellowship with God have also gone to the wayside. There is just so much to do, and I push my quiet time back later and later in the day until the day disappears.

In my circle of friends many of us decide to choose one word to live by in the new year. I think my word for 2015 will be "Simplify." I want to simplify my home, and simplify my life so that I can do the things I believe God has called me to do and say goodbye to things that are good and healthy and not for me to do.

I am starting with the book "Clutter free: Quick and easy steps to simplifying your space," by Kathi Lipp. I heard Kathi speak at my local MOPS group last spring and decided we should be best friends. Perhaps not in real life, but at least virtually. The thing I love about this book so far is that it's not just another organizational system. I have tried organizational systems. They work for me for awhile and then it just gets overwhelming because I have too much stuff and too many irons on the fire. This is a book about getting rid of stuff. I feel like if I have less clutter in my life that I can concentrate on the things that really matter.


So, here I go. Simplify. Starting to blog again is not simplifying, it's adding another thing to my to-do list. However, accountability is important and if I am not vocal about what I am doing, I know I'm likely to not do it. I will simplify, I promise, but it is going to be a work in progress! My hope is to chronicle it here, but if that doesn't work I will have to let it go.

Aren't you glad my theme is "Simplify" and not "Let it GO." Oh yes, she went there.

You are blessed.