T is for Twelve, Temple, and Tourette

**I had a heart-to-heart with Nate in preparation for this post. I wanted to make sure that, since he is getting older and everything, he is still okay with me blogging about him and his experiences. I want to respect his privacy. He thought about it and told me he really is fine with it but if he ever changes his mind, he’ll let me know.**

This birthday was a big one. Nathan Robert turned 12! All he wanted to do was take his friends to see the new Star Wars movie so that’s exactly what went down. What a fun, great group of boys surrounding him! They learn a lot from each other and always enjoy hanging out and being typical boys. Personally, I’m grateful for these boys’ parents who are raising fine young men. Nate is very blessed!

Nate graduated primary. Although not required, he decided to work and earn his Faith in God certificate by developing his talents, serving others, studying and journaling, and teaching his family about some of the principles of the gospel.

For his Aaronic Priesthood ordinance, my parents and Rob’s parents came for the occasion. After the ordination blessing, the bishop gave the grandparents an opportunity to say a few words. Our dads said some nice words and helped keep the spirit in the room. Then it was my turn. Nate and I both got emotional as I told him that I don’t expect perfection from him, that we will both make mistakes through this new “teenage” phase of our relationship, and that we will keep loving each other no matter what. It may not sound like much, but since I know my son and I know myself a little better these days, it was exactly what needed to be expressed. We had a special mother/son connection happen in that moment and we both felt safe, accepted, and loved. It’s a memory I will never forget.

The next Sunday he passed the Sacrament for the first time and it’s been awesome seeing him take on that responsibility.

Next up was his first trip to the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead. Rob and I have been using the Take a Name LDS Family History app which searches for missing ordinances in your family line. It’s found quite a few for us so we had some family names to do. Nate chose to go to the Draper Temple. Rob stood in to baptize and confirm him. It was a great experience. Afterward, we went out for Utah scones.

Now, for the Tourette Syndrome portion of the post (most people say Tourettes with an S, but technically that is incorrect). I noticed Nate’s first tic when he was around four years old but just recently took him in to be officially diagnosed. A tic is an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Now, Tourette is usually recognized as bursting out swear words uncontrollably. Yes, that’s possible, but only in the most severe cases and is not very common at all. Here are the more common tics, all of which Nate has had over the years (Little Cara is also developing her own tics, including face and eye movements and arm jerks):

  • Throat clearing
  • Sniffling
  • Repetitive eye blinking
  • Stretching eyes wide open
  • Nostril flaring  
  • Stretching mouth open
  • Crunching face
  • Tongue clicking at the back of the throat
  • Different breathing patterns
  • Overemphasized (almost violent) head shaking
  • Stumbling repeatedly over the first few words of a sentence

Each of these tics come and go and he experiences at least two of them simultaneously. Each phase lasts a couple of months before moving on to the next batch of tics. They get really activated by stress, fatigue, excitement. They calm down when he’s relaxed. At their worst, he tics a couple of times per minute for a couple of weeks straight. This is the hardest time because it’s harder for him to concentrate, gives him headaches, and is exhausting both mentally and physically. As he’s reached puberty they have really kicked into high gear, which is normal. If his tics get too obtrusive or the social implications get worse as he goes through junior high and high school, medication is an option. Although he will always have this syndrome, the more noticeable tics usually slowly fade away in severity until adulthood.

The cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, but genetics play a clear role. TS commonly co-occurs with a number of other conditions, including ADHD, OCD, anxiety, sleep problems, etc. Nate has some obsessive-compulsive tendencies, but they haven’t been too serious and we’ve been able to manage them just fine.  

Nate is fairly easy-going with all of this (unless his tics give him a headache). He understands that everyone has “something” that is “different” about them and this just happens to be his “something different”.

I have to give praise again to the parents and teachers in this neighborhood. Nathan has NEVER been made fun of for his tics, even when they’ve been at their worst at school. All the kids in his classes accept him just the way he is and that has made his life with Tourette so much easier on him. I’ve meant to thank some of you personally, but just know that you have touched my mother heart. Thank you, thank you for teaching your kids and your students to be kind.

Nathan has always pretty sensitive, but through our own emotional immaturity, Rob and I used to push him to “buck up” and not feel things so deeply. Through heaven’s help, we’ve learned how unfair that can be so we’ve done a bit of a 180-degree turn on that way of parenting. Now, it’s fine if he feels sad or upset over something…even if we don’t understand why. Now, we listen. We hug. We empathize. We try to understand and help him to understand his own deep feelings. This approach has been incredibly rewarding for all of us.  

I find myself saying, a lot lately, “He’s twelve now…” This is my way of reminding myself that he can make more and more of his own choices. He gets more freedoms but also more responsibility. It’s also a way of “pinching” myself that my little boy is not so young anymore. As I look at his pictures and videos of past years, I just can’t believe his intelligence, kindness, and humor. This boy is MY boy and I love him so dearly. He’s really close to all of our hearts.

A Drowning Duckling Dies: How We Deal with Sadness

One beautiful summer evening our family walked around a park full of trees, flowers, and a pond. In the pond lived some fish, turtles, and ducks. The children love prancing around the perimeter of the fenced-in pond, interacting with the little creatures as much as humans can.

Rob and I wandered off and left the kids to play. I returned a short time later and all three children ran up to me, frantic and full of feelings. They told me of tragedy, taken place right before their innocent eyes.

One of the little baby ducklings was missing patches of down (probably the result of bullying, the kids concluded). This little guy had caught their eye and they’d been keeping a close watch on him all evening. Suddenly, the duckling found himself too far from the shore and unable to catch his footing on the rocks. Stuck in deep water, he tried, helplessly, to swim. Still new to this sport and being further impeded by his missing built-in flotation device, his bitty head slowly dipped lower and lower into the water.

With big eyes and the inability to save the duckling through the fence, Nate, Madeleine, and Caroline looked on in helpless horror as the dear little duckling drowned to death.

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Now, a few different morals to this story could be had here, but I’m not here to talk about morals. Instead, I want to focus on the dissimilarities in emotional response encountered by each member of my family. For an event that was experienced together, it’s interesting how they individually coped with it.

Once the retelling of the event took place and the initial shock wore off, each child was left with the horrible (yet completely natural in nature) scene stuck in their brains. I found myself empathetic to their plight and immediately initialized my comforting-mom mode.

When Rob arrived at the scene, the children frantically retold the happenings once again. Caught off guard and unprepared to respond appropriately, Rob laughed. I chided him with “the look” and he composed himself, then offered due comfort. Once the children’s trauma was acknowledged by both parents, each of their true distinctive emotions became evident and began to show and seep.

Each child reacted to the same trauma in starkly unique ways. Nate became suddenly quiet. He was solemn. He worked hard to hide his tears, even after Rob and I assured him it was okay to cry. After some minutes of allowing himself to feel really sad, he was able to come back up for breath and refocus on moving forward.

Madeleine, through brute force, instantaneously allowed her spunkiness and goofiness to override any of her sorrow. She didn’t want to feel anything unpleasant so she ignored the fact that something bad even happened. She became hyper, silly, and tried so hard to get everyone else on board. She wanted to move on, pretending nothing was wrong. Even though her brother and sister were feeling deeply, she wouldn’t allow herself that opportunity.

Little Caroline openly bawled, unconsolably, for 30 solid minutes. No amount of hugs or listening ears or words of comfort had any effect. The terrifying image replayed itself over and over again in her head and she kept saying, “I just like the word death…I don’t actually like death in real life!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Don’t you find it fascinating how each child responded to the same event? Of course people cope with hardships differently, but to see these three contrasting emotional responses by three different children at the same time was an eye-opening glimpse into their hearts.

Nate needed reassurance that it was okay for him to not be a “brave” big boy, and that feeling sad isn’t something shameful. Madeleine, in addition to learning how to allow herself to feel a completely natural response, also needed to understand that others may have different emotional needs to be acknowledged instead of ignored. Caroline needed to feel the full extent of her grief and given enough time (and patience on our part) to do it.

As the father and mother of these sweet souls, Rob and I are working harder than ever to not only listen to them, but to feel with them. We are working harder than ever to not only be in their proximity, but to truly connect them to us through honesty and a sense of emotional safety.

Rob and I both used to believe that this type of parenting would raise weak personalities. However, we are slowly learning that the opposite is true. We are now beginning to see the differences between coddling and comforting, cajoling and communicating. We are now beginning to understand that the intentional act of consistently offering a feeling of emotional safety and emotional acceptance are, indeed, at the core of confidence.

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I’m really sorry that an innocent little creature had to perish and that our children had to witness it, but I’m also grateful for the glimpse it gave us into who our children really are and what they each really need. It is an understanding that we will need to tap into throughout many future occasions, I’m sure.

For the last 6 months, Rob and I have been working so hard at becoming emotionally whole human beings.  We have a long way to go, but these little moments of clarity are the fruits of our labors and the motivation that keeps us moving forward together.

Us

  

This last month has been an odd one for us. First, Rob was assigned to work nighters for a couple of weeks. After the kids went to bed, he would head out the door in sub-freezing temperatures to work out on the freeway. His assignment? Oversee grouting underneath I-15 and US-89 in North SL. Then, in the blink of an eye (my eye, at least) he would be home. He’d sit at the table trying to finish his reports and not fall asleep until about 10:30 when he’d head upstairs to sleep in interrupted abundance until 2:30 or so. We’d all enjoy the afternoon together, he’d go back upstairs for an early evening nap, and then leave again. It was a weird schedule, but doable temporarily. It was fun having some extra daytime hours with him.

Then came the assignment for Rob to go to Morenci, AZ for 3 weeks. Rob has worked hard to avoid travelling for work too much. I have worked hard arranging for me and the kids to go with him whenever it’s unavoidable. This time, Rob needed to go and, this time, the family wasn’t able to go with him. Nate has already missed 3 weeks of school while we went to Denver, it is a drive of 13 hours to Morenci (which is basically in the middle-of-nowhere desert of south-eastern Arizona), and we already have a family trip planned for the week after he gets back. So, he was stuck going and we were stuck staying. He did, however, negotiate to be able to come home for a few days in the middle.

Before he left we had a few days together as a family to hang out. Rob and I also went on a really great date to Park City where we shopped and ate dinner. I also wanted to get some portraits together. Our wall has some spots that need filling-in and I decided I wanted another one of us up there. 

The first week he was gone was so busy for me planning a birthday party and all sorts of other to-dos. It went by relatively quickly, even if it was a little stressful.

Then his weekend home came and it was so filled with fun! We celebrated his and Madeleine’s birthdays (post to come later) and just generally enjoyed being together as a family.

Now he’s gone again. But, he says the work is going quickly and he is hoping to come home a few days early, so that’s fantastic! The kids and I sure miss him. His happy-go-lucky spirit is such a joy to have here.

I’m so grateful for the technology now that enables us to communicate so readily with each other. He and Caroline even shared some chips together over FaceTime (video chat app). Nate prays every day that his dad won’t get bit by a rattlesnake or fire ants or get stung by a black scorpion. Madeleine misses wrestling with him.

Rob, I love you!! So much!

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ZCMI Friends

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Adrienne White Ericksen, Julie Raines Snow, Dustie Thorne McDonald, Whitney Mason Barney

 

I worked in the ZCMI shoe department (first at the Foothill store and then at Cottonwood) from age 16-18. Some of my favorite memories of all time come from that era. I made many friends while there but the above three gals are my favorites. We’ve been good friends ever since (13 years!). We’ve been through boyfriends, jobs, cars, and marriage together. Granted, we haven’t always stayed in touch as well as we’d like; life just seems to get in the way. But I KNOW that if I ever needed ANYTHING, Adrienne, Dustie, and Whitney would be here in a heartbeat.

I love you, girls!

Various Notes to Have Documented

Creative title, no?

This post is dedicated to emails that I want saved in our family blog.

 

 

8-22-10

Today during sacrament meeting Nate asked me if he could bear his testimony. I said that to bear his testimony he needed to say what he knew was true about Jesus Christ and the Church.  He told me that he knew that Jesus was real. This was a great moment for me. I told him that we would practice during family home evening and that he could bear his testimony soon in primary or maybe even sacrament meeting.  He would prefer to do it in sacrament meeting.  Unfortunately, I didn’t help him recognize the spirit because it didn’t occur to me at the time.  I’ll be sure to do it during FHE. Rob

 

4-2-10

Robby,

I sure love you. I REALLY appreciate all the time you spend with the kids. It gives me “refresh” time and they just love you soooooooo much!!! You’re a wonderful, involved dad and there’s no better out there. You’re also a caring, sweet husband who lets your tired wife sleep as much as possible. Sorry I’ve been somewhat neglecting you lately. It’s not on purpose. How about we have a beautiful and quiet night together on Sunday.  Sounds nice, huh? Let’s do it. Let’s spend some good husband/wife time together without distractions. I promise to be less selfish and more giving to you and the kids. Love you with all of me!!! Julianna

 

Thanks for the nice note Julie.  I understand how tired you are.  You are growing a baby after all!  Sunday sounds great! Love, Rob

 

 

3-17-10

Julie: Thank you for all the work and love that you put into our family!  I love you for all the big and little things you do, for you care, for your sacrifices, for your love. You are an amazing woman, AMAZING! Love,  Rob

 

 

2-9-10

Rob, We really had a lot of fun with Nathan. We understand the sacrifice and the trust you placed in us. He is a wonderful traveler, so mature. He found many ways to entertain himself while on the long drive. It was great to see Joseph and Nate play together. Joseph never would stop smiling. Nathan has so much patience and loved to show Joseph just how things worked. He literally would lead Joseph by the hand. We were so impressed how special, smart and kind he is. We were so overwhelmed. We wanted to share our experience with your young Son with you on Sunday. But things were a little rushed. Sometimes words fail to express feelings. We spent the whole trip smiling and laughing. What a Joy he is. What a wonderful child to start your family. We know he will be a great example to Madeleine and the rest of your family. Just the way you have always been to ours.  Love Bob

 

 

12-18-08
A short list of times when I have found myself incredibly in love with my you, my husband:
Our first drive down to St. George.
Hearing you converse in French in France.
Listening to you serenade me “Angel” for my birthday.
Reading books to Nate and making faces with Madeleine.
Anytime you’re in a suit.

 

 

3-16-10

Julie, I cannot express to you the kind and tender feelings that I hold in my heart for they are beyond compare.  I hope your hand feels better really soon!  As I have begun my wonderful life with you, I feel my love and devotion for you increase and develop without bounds.  Your smile, companionship, and endless love make my heart melt like fondue and my heart to swell with joy. I love you and our love will never fail. Never. I cannot begin to convey the deep bond that I feel with you. My Lifeforce is bound up in you. I love you.  Rob

So Long. Farewell.

There are many reasons we are excited to move. These reasons include being closer to our family, closer to work, and buying a new home with a backyard. We’ve known this day was coming since the day we moved in. We knew it would be a five-year venture here. But those 5 years have brought so many friends and happy memories which makes it hard to leave our home here. Some of the milestones we’ve passed while in Layton are:

  • A son growing up from 6 months old to 5 years old and having 2 beautiful daughters born into our family.
  • Our oldest 2 children learned to walk and talk and all three have become *perfect* little individuals.
  • Rob got a job with URS, a great company he will probably be at forever.
  • Rob and I graduated with our Bachelor’s Degree and Rob earned his Master’s Degree and Professional Engineer Certification.
  • We’ve had various ward callings such as Primary Music Leader, Cub Master, and Organ Accompanist for me and Elder’s Quorum Teacher, Elder’s Quorum Secretary and Young Men’s President for Rob. Rob has especially enjoyed his calling with the young men. He was nervous going into it but it changed rapidly into joy. He loved getting to know these boys and they will be who he’s going to miss most.

We love our ward friends and we love our other Layton friends. Please continue to check our blog and please keep in touch. We’ll miss you.

Love, The Snow Family

Status @ 6 Months

-Already got asked tonight if I am having twins.

-Feel like I have a 10 lb bowling ball with limbs sticking out the front of me. Look like it, too.

-Not only do I waddle, but also limp.

-Feel like all the bones in my lower back are disconnected, just floating around in pieces.

-Frequent cramping of my round ligament causes sharp pain in my pelvis. Sometimes this happens when I haven’t even moved.

-Restless leg syndrome at night.

-Uncomfortable to sit straight up because my belly creases and rests right on top of my lap which also causes cramping. Uncomfortable to slouch because of back pain.

-Constant dizziness for hours each morning.

-Never having enough protein.

-Had weird, fading in and out pain above my uterus the other day. I woke up the next morning and felt a strange, narrow, fleshy protrusion horizontally across the same area I was having pain. Gently pushed on it and it went back inside of me.

-Braxton Hicks contractions.

-Have been trying so hard to be surprised with the sex of the baby but the nurse practically gave it away at my last appointment by saying things like, “Whoa. It’s very obvious!” and, “I’ll need a big note to remind me not to tell you!” Grrrrrr!!!!! Now what fun is the surprise??

-Emotional. Pretty much every day.

-Unable to fall asleep until between 1am and 2am every morning.

-Still have a low-lying placenta. Five more weeks for it to move before a c-section is in the plan.

-Stress. Trying to sell a house, needing a new car, wanting to go on a babymoon, and a divorce in the family.

-Feeling guilty all the time for not being as grateful and positively happy as I should be.

-Basically feeling like I have NO control over my body or my life.

 

 

There. Consider yourself updated.

So It Begins…

At just over 5 months along, it has begun. The comments. “Boy! You’re sure filling out, aren’t you?”

AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

I could stop there and every woman who has been pregnant understands. But I’m in a poor enough mood today to rant. Do people not think I own or ever walk by a mirror? Do they think I haven’t forked out good money for ugly clothes that I’d never wear otherwise? Do they seriously think I don’t feel every muscular fiber in my midsection shredding? My joints popping out of place? My skin stretching so thin you can see right through it?

“It’s a girl. It’s a girl.”

I know I’m going to get this ALL the time since I’m not finding out the sex of our baby beforehand. But why do old ladies think they know so much? Just because you have grandkids doesn’t make you able to see right through my uterus and determine if my baby is a boy or a girl. It doesn’t matter if I’m carrying high, low, to the left side, or backwards. There’s a 50% chance either way, ladies!

And why do people think that my pregnancy is the ONLY thing I ever want to talk about? Political preferences? Personal finances? Deep, dark family secrets? Bring it on. This is my third time around and my expectancy isn’t nearly as exciting for me to talk about as you might think (although I guess I’m talking about it right now…).

I know I’m small. I know I carry straight out. I know I’m going to be humungous beyond belief. I can’t even walk halfway down the mall without cramping up and getting so sore I can’t go on. I’m stinkin’ hot all the time and what makes it worse is that there are no maternity clothes that fit me. Apparently, no one who is XS has EVER been pregnant in the history of mankind. I have to wear a camisole underneath everything just to keep covered up. So that’s 4, count them, FOUR layers I have to wear throughout this wicked summer.

And just think, it’s going to get soooooooo much worse before it’s over. Good luck to you all.

Boredom: My Experience

I (Julie) was born bored. My whole life I’ve had this gnawing feeling of boredom and restlessness. It’s innate.

And I found out today that I’m going to die from it.

I read an article on MSNBC today on how “Research suggests a link between chronic listlessness and heart problems.” Following are a couple of excerpts that apply directly to me:

  • Experts say there’s a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early.
  • Those who reported they had been very bored were two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who hadn’t reported being bored.
  • Boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and suppress the body’s natural immunity.
  • It was only people who were chronically bored who should be worried.

Although, it did say that people who are bored are more likely to lead an unhealthy lifestyle, which isn’t me. But even taking that into account the above still applies, especially since I would classify myself as chronically bored.

Most of the time I am somewhat bored, but when I get really, REALLY bored (about once every 6 weeks), I am pitifully grumpy and mope around the house. Nothing is interesting. I’m in a complete funk. In the moment, the only thing I feel could cure me is a trip somewhere away from this “hole” (as I lovingly refer to it). So since I’m rarely able to make that happen when I need it, I just have to slowly endure until my hormones equalize themselves and I start to feel normal again. I do blame some of it on hormonal fluctuations.

But I guess I better get my act together so I don’t die prematurely. Besides, the wrinkles caused by my furrowed brow are quite unsightly.

Dee Datt!!!

Anytime anyone does something Madeleine really doesn’t approve of, she yells,

Dee Datt!!

What she’s saying is, “Don’t do that!!” but Nate never realized this. So when they argue and she yells

Dee Datt!!

he thinks it’s a derogatory name aimed directly at him. So he mopes and tells me, “Mom, Madeleine said

Dee Datt!!

to me!” So he’s started yelling

Dee Datt!!

back to her when he’s really angry. I’m afraid it’s his way of calling her a bad name.

Guess it could be worse…