Sunday, January 29, 2012

Living in the Storm: I miss the little things...

"Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life."
Joan Didion

i read this quote the other day. some days it is true to my situation, other days it bears no relevance on my daily life.

this week i was telling a new friend the journey of my mom and our family.  the beginning, when it all started, until now. i finished the story and she honestly just stared at me. her face communicated, " i can't believe you aren't sobbing!" i had to explain to her that the process of the disease has been coming on for so long that the grief is not necessarily in your face all the time. however, there are moments i come completely undone.

like last weekend. my aunt jane and uncle randy came in town for a visit. it was so WONDERFUL to see them! watching my aunt move about the kitchen and prepare dinner seamlessly, made me yearn for the days that mom busied herself in kitchen duties, all the while talking, feeding people, laughing-that unforgettable laugh, cooking, cleaning, mopping the floor with apple vinegar, and just filling the room with this noticeable fullness of life.

i couldn't let the sadness go for days.  i felt totally insecure, weak, and vulnerable all week long.

it is an odd concept to miss someone so badly as if they were dead, but still be able to touch them, talk to them, and see the color in their eyes. it is hard for the heart to process the quick reversal of being the one whom has been cared for all these years, to the one caring for the caregiver.

alzheimer's is like experiencing two deaths. the first death, is a slow death of a person you love more than words could ever express. inch by inch,  day by day, that person slips away from you, there is no bringing them back, there are no re-do's. the second death, is the actually physical death that you dread with your whole being.

it has been a sad, hard week. not for any specific reason, it just aches all over. i miss my mom desperately. it is the tumble dry effect of life, when two such opposing emotions must face off and intermingle in the depths of your soul forever, round and round they spin until the buzzer beeps.

we are not promised an easy life. a life protected from deep pain and hardship. but to quote one of my all time favorite lyrics from a song that haunts my mind... 

"Who told us we'd be rescued?
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares?
We're asking why this happens to us.
Who have died to live, it's unfair.

This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held.

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows.
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held.

If hope if born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior?

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

tough mudder.. (part 1)

next to crossfit, tough mudder competitions seem to be the growing fitness rage. while i have yet to participate in a tough mudder competition i have competed in a tough mother competition.

i will be the first in line to tell you how much i adore my children. but even more than adoring my children, i ENJOY my children. i think unfortunately, this is becoming a rare sentiment amongst parents of young children. i will also be the first to tell you that without reservation, i am tough mother. and my husband is a tough father. before we even conceived our eldest, mark and i talked endless hours about how our home was NOT going to be a child centered home, rather, family centered. with our relationship with our Jesus at the core, our marriage on the surrounding loop, and our children following...on the edges.

practically speaking, this is what the evolution of family centered living has looked like for the Littlejohns.

day number one of life- welcome to the world precious child!! eat, sleep and be with us all you want.

day number 3- welcome home from the hospital precious child! welcome to your room and your bed, isn't it GRAND!? and welcome to your new eating and sleeping schedule. while, this schedule was not highly regimented; typically changed daily for us, and had TONS of flexibility built in, the underlining tone was that we were going to initiate and determine our children's schedule from the very youngest of ages. again, before katie was ever born we spent hours researching the science behind breast feeding, baby's stomachs, gas patterns, sleep patterns, baby whispering techniques, happiest baby on the block techniques, etc..etc.. really it's very simple patterns that our children need in order to sleep and grow. no, my children were never under weight, never malnourished, and we are emotionally bonded deeply with each of our children and see no signs of them being scarred from our tough mother/tough father approach. yes, our children were amazing eaters, they all slept through the night by 3 months old, and on the whole the were happy and easy babies. yes, God forbid, they were allowed to cry and self soothe for appropriate amounts of time at appropriate ages. we enjoyed our children's infancy because we were equipped with a plan, a family centered plan. and i am pretty sure i would have never had a second child if it wasn't for this plan.

moving on.

right around 4-6 months each of our children attempted to bite the hand that fed them. (now, that was such a modest way of putting it, wasn't it? i didn't say nipple, or aureola, or anything :) and each of them were met with the same yelp from me, followed with a stern, "NO! STOP BITING" and that was the end of that. i didn't hesitate to say the big, bad, "N" word. because really that's exactly what i wanted them to do... STOP BITING ME. while many believe a baby this small has no way of comprehending what such a word means, i am here to tell you, i beg to differ.

6-9 months offered another turning point. inevitably, baby begins to flip over when their diaper is being changed. this was met again with a firm, "NO!" i figure at 9 months old, i had at least 18 more months and 3,000 more diapers to change.  it can either be a miserable experience 5 times a day, or it can be an experience full of peace and poopfulness. :)

9-18 months offered the throwing food from the changing table stage, refusing foods he/she didn't like, arching their back when placed in a car seat or grocery buggy. all met with age appropriate tones and corrections, "mom and dad are in charge, you will have one bite of everything on your plate, you will not kick or arch your back when placed in a car seat or buggy. how many times in the life of a child do you have to eat with them, put them in their car seat or grocery cart? thousands upon thousands, why not make it enjoyable by correcting these inevitable things early? not waiting for them to turn two or three when we REALLY see their opinions and defiance come to light.

people are extremely passionate about their child rearing techniques! and i say "hey, it's nice to see people passionate about their children" many people will whole heatedly disagree with us and our "ways!" and that's totally ok. i am just writing about how we have implemented these easy steps which have made a WORLD of difference for us, and i figure why withhold information that could lighten some worn out, broke down, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted set of parents?

to be continued...
literature plug "One Tough Mother" by Julie Barnhill

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the interrupted life

this week i am feeling extremely A.D.D.  i can not for the life of me complete a task. for instance, clean half the kitchen, fold part of basket of laundry, put on a day shirt and still have PJ pants on for the whole day, forgetting to close the washing machine lid or hit start on the dryer, put on some makeup but not all of it.. the list goes on and on. i was getting really concerned. evaluating things; "what's wrong with me? am i pregnant? (I AM NOT, BTW) have i lost my focus, my drive? do i need to re-read the purpose driven life? do i need to increase my vitamin b? am i getting lazy? are these the beginning signs of alzheimer's? ( this is suppose to be a joke! ;)

but then it dawned on me this morning. for the last 8 1/2 years i have been doing things in five minute increments.
for example:
five minutes in the shower until i hear a large thud and run from the shower partially dressed to find a child or children is some type of crisis.
five minutes picking up dirty clothes until someone runs in with a boo-boo that needs immediate attention.
five minutes of cleaning pots and pans until a child with a hungry belly comes looking for a snack.
five minutes praying that God will give me sanity until a child escapes from their bed and comes looking for someone to comfort their nightmares.
five minutes of marital lovin', until (ahem) someone knocks on the bedroom door.
five minutes of eating lunch until spaghetti goes flying all over the dinner room floor.
five minutes of folding clothes until someone has an accident on the clean pile of laundry...

you see i have lived a lot of life in five minute increments. and as of late, my kids have just grown up into little people that can sustain being without me for much longer periods of time. like 20-30 minutes. remember, like i said here, i am 3/4 done parenting. :) which means i have all of this unexpected time on my hands to actually complete projects. if a camera was following me around this morning you would have laughed as i just paced from one room to the next completing half projects.

i wouldn't trade in my "five minute" years for anything.
tough? undoubtedly!
unrewarding some days? totally.
brain numbing moments? LOTS OF THEM!
worth the sacrifice so that i could be the interrupted party? ABSOLUTELY!!!!

here is to the interrupted moments in our lives that we can never get back!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Living in the Storm: Update

thank you for your continued interest, prayers, and concerns for Mama.

as of right now we have seen little, if any improvement from the procedure nearly two weeks ago. i didn't update for a while hoping that maybe time would alter the outcome.

yes, we were discouraged when we realized it didn't work the way we had hoped. so we did what we always do when we get discouraged; rallied as a family, spent a lot of time together laughing, tapping into our inner-therapists, (retail therapy, exercise therapy, juicy fiction therapy, relational therapy, and my favorite... crying therapy etc...)

next, we just re-evaluate mom's condition, her needs, her care, her quality of life, and pray for wisdom in how we proceed.

we are not abandoned. we are joyously surrounded with family and friends that offer sweet support and sweet therapy, and a High Priest that ministers on-goingly to our hurting hearts.

i'll post if there are any changes...
in the meantime, thank you!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

pictures galore...

well, this very hot and sexy computer technician helped me get the picture thing straightened out. well, actually he just sat down next to me and WAL-AWE, everything worked. so, there's no telling how long it will work. in the meantime, have some pictures of the last 3 weeks....

Baby Jax

 four monkeys in a tub

 be still my beating heart

i can't remember if i've mentioned it much on the blog, but mark and i returned to KG for new year's. it was wonderful, as expected.. it was like coming home. although, we don't live there any more, it felt like we had never left. we saw a lot of people we love and dearly miss.  we played CORN HOLE! and rang in the new year true to our old ways. ed earl, even made an appearance (sorry, kellie :) it was ridiculously fun and refreshing...

 the above pic is us playing xbox connect... SO, SO, FUN! thanks mr. lou!

 we returned home from KG to be greeted by larry, jere', and aunt sue. we had such a fun week together continuing our Christmas celebration with them. one of the things i have DEEPLY appreciated about the littlejohn family is they are so flexible and gracious when it comes to the celebration of holidays. they believe the day doesn't matter, but the time spent together is of far more importance. so, we have celebrated Christmas as early as Thanksgiving and as late Martin Luther King, Jr Day. what a GIFT! thank you, littlejohns!

 i can hardly believe there are only tens days left in january. what a whirl-wind start to 2012.

happy day,

Friday, January 20, 2012

yee-haw! i bought a cow....

ok, well i bought a large portion of the meat from a cow.

we continue to grow in our understanding of food, REAL FOOD, around here in the littlejohn home. one of the things we are really looking to do is eliminate a lot of the middle men and buy straight from butchers and farmers. today, i talked directly to the sweet, sweet, farmer who has raised our cow. how cool is that? i know everything that the cow has been fed, and exactly how the meat processing will take place. he assured me his meat is the best around, and the cow has been feed zero anti-biotics and zero hormones... PERFECT for my four growing babies.

it doesn't hurt that the farmer is a life-long friend of our family's, and we get to financially contribute to his everyday work.

i feel so country! i feel so liberated! i feel so fresh and so clean, clean!


now, to find a goat....
happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Today's New Years Resolution:Being more intentional with the moo-la!

it s no secret that during our cross country move we encountered more than a few hiccups along the way. which, in turn caused us to have some moving debt we did not anticipate when we budgeted for the move.

with this additional debt we have had to reevaluate our money system multiple times. today's resolution is "be more intentional with our money". making the decision for me to stay-at-home and for us to function solely on one income automatically requires a different way of thinking and living. One of the ways we have done this is through a concept  Dave Ramsey talks about. naming EVERY dollar in your budget. If you don't, small sums and large sums of money will just end up floating away into financial oblivion. You will lose them long before you ever see them. I like that way of thinking. I am still learning what that looks like day to day, but even if i only have, say, 75 dollars to my name, it's so much more peaceful knowing how i got there instead of freaking out when i see the account statement and wondering, "where did all my money go?"

january tends to be a tough financial month for lots of people. we are running our vehicles a little bit longer on E, we are cleaning out the cabinets with creative meals and stretching techniques, and we are saying no to our "wants" and our children's "wants" a little bit more. now, don't hear what i am not saying, we are very blessed! we have a warm roof over our heads, food to feed our kiddos, A JOB, and every single one of our needs is being met. that is HUGE!

so on to today! i have been battling our trash company in VA because they claimed i never paid a bill and sent my account to a lawyer. anywho, long story short, we did in fact pay the bill a long time ago and today they informed me that they were crediting my bank account for the sixty dollars i had unfairly been charged. when the lady on the phone told me that, you would have thought she had given me a million dollars. in my head i was thinking that's a half a week of groceries, over a tank of gas, 60 more dollars that i did not have before i made this phone call. i was SO grateful for those extra 60 dollars. two months ago i would have scoffed at such a minimal return, but after purposefully watching and claiming EVERY dollar, i am far more aware and intentional with our money... and for that i am thankful!

happy wednesday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

calm my anxious heart...

some of my alone time with jesus went a little like this these past few days.

Day 1
me: " i have nothing to say, nothing to offer except a lot of anxiety, frustration, and incomplete, hormonal nonsense"
God: "cast all of your anxiety on Me, Sara, I care for you more than you can comprehend! i created your hormonal nonsense and can make perfect sense of it, you don't have to utter a word" 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 139

Day 2
me; "i have nothing to say, nothing to offer except a lot of anxiety, frustration and incomplete hormonal nonsense"
God: "Sara, aren't your tired? does carrying around all of this worry do anything except make you sleep deprived and weighed down? you were not made to shoulder these things alone. please lay them down and come to me and rest" Proverbs 12:25, Matthew 11:28

Day 3
me: " i have nothing to say, nothing to offer except a lot of anxiety, frustration and incomplete hormonal nonsense"
God: "Sara, the anxious thoughts in your heart are being fed and are growing as you function independently  from Me and try and combat this on your own. Let me console your soul. Delight in my consolations!" Psalm 94:19

i am humbled that i serve a God who continually meets me right where i am. He does not ask me to read some more self help books, or enroll in some "do better-be better" conferences. rather, He pursues my aching heart and offers me a healing agent; Himself. He deals gently and intimately with me. He is not stand-off-ish, but uncomfortably involved.

He is not intimated nor thrown for a loop with my frustrations or questions. He does not panic when I feel insecure in my relationship with Him.

He knows the hurt and disappointment when medical interventions do not seem helpful to the human eye....


He does not do good... He IS good.
He does not show love.. He DEFINES love.

who am I that He should show such mercy on my putrid heart?
i am blessed beyond all measure.

Friday, January 13, 2012

In Other News:

julia lost her first tooth this week... *SOB* something about that means that she is shedding all things baby, toddler, preschool, and moving forward... obviously, she is 6 so she should, but still it always makes me catch my breath and realize how fast the years are flying by.

speaking of years, anderson is already dreaming up his THIRD birthday party; trains, cakes, and more trains are on the menu thus far.

we had our first dusting of the year... the kids were thrilled to actually see the white stuff i'd been telling them about. we are ready for a real dumping.

with snow in the air we have been using our fireplace a lot. did i tell you we have a fireplace? it's been one of those things i've always dreamed of having in a house. we had one in the house i grew up in. i just LOVE it.

after 9 years of living in southern-ish states our skin is feeling the effects of dry, cold air. between handling raw meat, wiping poop bottoms, mopping up spills of sticky juices, and any other number of nasty things my hands get into, i wash my hands A LOT...  so i have been using just a dab of olive oil to keep my skin moist. it's A.MAZING!

speaking of olive oil... if you live in the kansas city area you MUST visit The Tasteful Olive not only because the owners are the most wonderfully, sweet people you'll ever meet (we are a little bias), but everything they sell is A.MAZING! stop reading and GO VISIT!

well, that's enough random for now!

hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Update on Mom (day 2)

spent all morning with mom.  she complained some about her head hurting. a common side effect after a spinal tap. she rested, ate lunch, and laughed at the kids.  while there is not an immediate sign of improvement, she told me that she senses that her brain is better. hopefully, this is an accurate description and not a way to make us all feel better ;)! and hopefully, her brain can communicate to the rest of her body to do better also...

now, off to make my brain feel better :)

happy wednesday,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Update on Mom

Dear Friends,

Mom came through the procedure just fine.  They had to sedate her a little more than they anticipated, which means that her recovery will be extended. They were able to remove 20 cc's of fluid from her brain. We should know in the next 24-48 hours if they procedure was helpful in any way.

We will keep you posted.



Friday, January 6, 2012

Living in the Storm: Say a little prayer for you...

"The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair, now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you"

Several weeks ago we found out from a MRI report that Mom's brain was retaining fluid, and some pretty immediate steps needed to be taken in order to relieve the pressure.  This coming Tuesday, January 10th, Mom will have a spinal tap in order to try and drain the extra fluid. In the last year Mom's stability, mobility, and overall physical health has declined at an rapid and increased rate. The doctors seem to think that this is because of the fluid build up. The good news is, is there is potential for this procedure to REALLY help!

We are asking that first and foremost you pray for Mom's protection during the procedure. Second, that the doctor will have a steady and precise hand. Third, that Mom's heart and mind would be stilled with an overwhelming sense of peace. And fourth, that this procedure would in some way, shape, or form allow Mom to regain some stability and mobility.

In order to keep from stirring up anxiety in Mom, please don't mention it to her unless she initiates conversation regarding this issue.

Your continued support and encouragement for our family is so much appreciated.

If at any time you have further questions, please don't hesitate to send any of us siblings a personal message. 

Many have asked, "what can we do?", and as simple as it may sound we just ask that you pray for us, that you engage in continued relationship with our parents, that you come along side of us and walk through this valley WITH us.

We firmly lay all of our hope at the feet of our Savior, whom is ALWAYS faithful to us, whom is ALWAYS good to us, and whom desires to capture our hearts with His forever and perfect love!

Thank you friends,
P.S. Now for a lovely youtube video of our quoted song :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Drum Roll Please....

first post of 2012. funny, it feels like just another post. i am not really a big "new year" kind of person. i think it's interesting that people hold their breath 364 days a year for January 1st, 12 am to show up so that they can shed the old and begin anew. pretty sure, "His mercies are new EVERYDAY" is suppose to give us the same "ANEW" feeling. and if we woke up each morning with an ounce of the intensity and motivation that people start January 1st with, it would be a much different world. so in 2012 i am going to begin a new segment called "Today's "New Year's" Resolution". with the idea that every day is a new day to begin a fresh, renewed, rejuvenated, and intentional. and, if you are like me and your "today's" sometimes blow up in your face. well, hey..we can start again when the sun comes up.

i was a sprinter all through high school. therefore, i am much more inclined to set realistic, short term goals, then shoot the moon, a long way off, kind of goals. it's just who i am. now, mark is a marathoner, so you know how his brain works... which means, we make one fantastic team... imagine that.

any who, enough of my blabbering. i know why you all came here.. for some eye candy. here are a few teasers for some upcoming posts.
so, i am running into some technical difficulties.. can't post pictures b/c i have maxed out the picture storage, blah, blah, blah... until then enjoy my words :)