December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours. May the peace of Christ dwell richly in your hearts.

Shriners Hospital For Children Christmas party

December 5, 2014

Work It, Baby Part II

Continuing on from my previous post, I'm becoming acclimated to doing a large portion of my work at home. In theory, this sounds super convenient and easy. In reality, it can be very frustrating. In order to write, I need complete uninterrupted time. Otherwise, the tons of puzzle pieces and statistics I'm trying to juggle around in my head get lost in one split second of, "Mommy?" or "Lisa?"

Because our computer is in our main living space, it was not providing the type of environment that I needed to focus and be efficient. We don't have space for an office in our home. We didn't know we would need one at the time that we bought it. If we knew I would be working from home, we would have definitely made an office a priority. But oh well. After thinking and talking about as many different options as we could, there seemed to be only one solution that was acceptable to all of us. We had to turn one of the closets (particularly, the guest room closet) into a workspace. I did not want to make the guest room or the play room a half-office, and there wasn't room for that anyway. BUT there was a small space in the closet that held promise. After lots of digging around, I found a desk that was the perfect fit for the closet, and with the attached hutch, it made use of as much space as possible. So we picked up the little guy (Micke from Ikea), and after I cleaned out the closet we created my workspace! I can close the doors when I'm done and you don't even know it's there. And it's at the end of the house so I can hole up for a couple of hours at a time, which is what I need most. I had to run an extension cord into the closet to create an outlet. I also had to get a laptop, something I really did not want to do. I hate laptops, but I really need one for this job. I found an HP on Craigslist and so far it seems to be working fine. Fingers crossed.

Here's my new space! I love that I can write all my stats and norm ranges on the white board, so I don't have to look them up each time.

There's my beloved DSM-V desk reference on the shelf:

December 1, 2014

Work It, Baby: Part I

I have been at my new job for three months now, and I love it. It's not a perfect job, and it has its frustrations. I don't get compensated nearly enough for the time I put in. But I truly enjoy it. It's like this part me that has been dormant for a long time is alive again. I always thought that I should be fully satisfied with only staying at home with the girls. And don't get me wrong, I love being with them and am so thankful that I've had the opportunity (and still have) to be here as much as possible. But now that I've started working again, I realize that it is important to me. To have that part of myself that can help the 'outside' work, to be able to use my skills and learn and grow and get better. I think one of the reasons that I never realized this before was because I never had a job that I truly enjoyed and was good at. So it was a relief for me to stay home and get away from things that I didn't enjoy. But I always knew that once the girls were in school, I didn't want to stay home all day. I wanted to be able to drop them off and pick them up; to be there after school and for all of the special school events. But not stay home all day. I knew that if I stopped working for too long, especially in my field, that I would have to find a different kind of job, one that wouldn't use my degree.

I love talking about my job. This might be boring to some. But most people don't know what I do, so it's fun to explain because it's something I'm passionate about. I work for a child psychologist. When parents bring their kids in, they have either been referred from a doctor, the school, or sometimes, they make the decision to bring them in themselves. Kids are brought in because it is suspected they might have Autism, because they are having trouble paying attention in school and might have ADHD, because they have extreme anxiety, or depression, or have been through a trauma. They come in because they are failing in school and seem to have problems that they shouldn't; they can't read properly. Numbers don't seem to make sense to them. The psychologist meets with the family, and gets all the pertinent information from them. Then I get a referral, and I get to evaluate, or 'test' the child. Most people think testing involves giving a child a piece of paper and having them fill it out. It's so much more than that. Giving an intelligence test, to see at what level a child is functioning, can tell you so much. And they are so hard to give. You have to do a million things at one time and it all has to be done perfectly to be valid. I get to do observations, play sessions, achievement tests (testing their listening skills, oral language skills, phonetics), and I have an intern do a school observation and their teachers give me information.

I haven't been able to come up with a term that describes exactly what I do. Some descriptions get at part of what I do, but not all: psychometrist, psychological evaluator, psychological diagnostician, to name a few.


The Stanford  Binet

I also talk to the child and get their own thoughts about what's going on. They complete tasks that reveal whether they are experiencing anxiety symptoms, and to what to degree. And so on and so forth. Then I score and interpret the results, and write a report stating what I found, and what we believe is going on with the child, which sometimes (often) includes a diagnosis, and other times doesn't. Then I give treatment recommendations and the the psychologist reviews everything and signs off. Then she presents the report and discusses everything with the family. It's technically considered the psychologist's report, because they have the license and the degree, but I don't mind. I love doing the work. When I see a child who has been struggling in school for years, and it has made them depressed and anxious, and I can help try to figure out what is causing their difficulty and communicate that to the parent, I feel like I'm helping that child get the treatment that they need so badly.

Each child is so different. There are so many pieces to the puzzle. It's challenging each and every time I work on a child's report. I learn so much. And the cool thing is, I have one of the best psychologists in the world (my sister) who is always available to advise me when I get stuck (which happens all the time).

Ok so some of these are more adult problems, but you get the idea

The great thing about my job is that I set my own hours. I put on the schedule when I'm available, and I change it as necessary. So right now, I work while the girls are at preschool, which is two mornings a week. Then I do the rest of the work at home. When the girls are off for a holiday, I don't have to work. When I have an extra Saturday and I feel like working, I can put myself on the schedule. I don't have to ask for time off or answer to anyone. It's awesome!!! And as the girls get older, if I'm able to keep the job, I can work only when they are in school, as many days as I want, so that I can still take care of all the things that are important to me about being a mom and a wife.

I realized recently that my work is included in the score of practice of professional counseling (yay!), which means that after three years, I can obtain my full licensure as a counselor. Even with working part time, and with (free!) supervision from my psychologist. Words can't express how big of a deal that is! It's so hard to get licensure, and I had given up that I would ever get it. It opens so many doors for the future.

One other really cool thing is that my psychologist specializes in trauma counseling- a specific type that is proven effective and being endorsed by the government (for people coming back from Afghanistan). I have always wanted to do this kind of therapy, and now I have someone who will teach me. I can start to do it myself whenever I'm ready and however often I want. And once I have my full license, I can bill insurance for my sessions. I know how important trauma counseling is, particularly for children, from personal experience. So even though I love the evaluating process, I'm excited about the future prospects of counseling again., in the way that I want.

I spend about 4 hours testing, and then 5-8 hours writing the report over the course of several weeks as information comes in. I do all of that at home, so technically I'm considered work-at-home.

You know how sometimes you feel like all the good things happen to someone else? Well, for the first time in a long time, I feel like something unusually good has happened to me. To ME!!!!

This was probably boring to many people; I just felt like sharing :) I'll write a Part 2, where I'll talk about the aspects of working from home that have been a challenge, and how I've been managing it and finding ways to make it work best. It's not as easy as it might sound.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

November 3, 2014

Wedding Part I

Our family wedding was this weekend, and we had a blast. I had to take the opportunity to get lots of pictures of us dressed up, and pictures with the beautiful flower girl, of course.

October 14, 2014


Doing my first every "Currently" post!

Feeding: Banana chips. I have a hard time finding snacks that don't make me feel yucky. Banana chips, at least the ones I eat, consist only of bananas, coconut oil, and a tiny bit of sugar. They are perfect for in between meals.

Reading: Just finished Red Rising. Loved it. Can't wait for the next book to come out! Right now I am reading How to Listen so Kids Will Talk and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen. Love, love, love it! Adding it to my top parenting books along with Simplicity Parenting and Love and Logic.

Needing: To slow down my mind. I usually rarely have trouble sleeping, but lately I've had several bouts of insomnia because I have all these things I want to do and think about. Not bothersome things, just things. And they keep me awake.

Conceding: That I need to appreciate the city I live in for what it is instead of moaning about what it isn't. There are no mountains or wonderful outdoor activities. It is pretty commercial and ridiculously hot. It isn't pedestrian friendly at all. But it has almost every resource/store you could ever need. It only takes 15 minutes to get from one side to the next. It has a great medical community. And it is only several hours from great vacation destinations: Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, Greenville, Asheville, and Charlotte.

Gearing up for: a family wedding. I love weddings, especially family ones! I'm a bridesmaid, Ben is a groomsman, and Anna is a flower girl! Should be lots of fun and lots of celebrations!

Procrastinating: Cleaning. For a while I was so good about it, following my little schedule. Lately I have been seriously neglecting it. All the 'detail' cleaning that needs to be done is overwhelming and I have no desire or intent to tackle. So lately I've been doing the bare minimum.

Thankful for: My new part time job. I've never had a job that I truly love, feel good at, and feel satisfied with because I'm making a difference in the lives of others. For right now at least, this is my dream job. I get to set my own schedule, I don't have to answer to a boss for much of anything, I don't miss any time with the girls, and I get excited about each child I test and each report I write. It's mentally stimulating, always interesting, and a great responsibility.

October 6, 2014


A few week ago Ben and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe it has been that long. It's hard to believe only six years ago we were saying, "I do." Anniversaries always give me a reason to pause and reflect on life, love, and God's work.

The season that Ben and I have entered recently has been one of joy. Our children are thriving, my mental health is the best it's ever been, our marriage is thriving, we have a wonderful living situation. We have finally found true community: a church we love, good friends, and two discipleship relationships that we've prayed for, for a long time. I've found my place in the church and have started a ministry that I'm passionate about. The girls attend a church school that is wonderful and affordable. Ben's job is not perfect, as no job is, but it's good and he has a supervisor who cares about him as a person. I've found a part-time job that allows me the opportunity to use my skills without sacrificing my children's care.

Things are in no way perfect, or always easy, but for the first time in our marriage (and honestly, in my life) things feel good. They feel healthy, and easier. They feel more natural. This feels much different from the adversity we have gone through in the past. Both in our marriage and in life in general. I honestly never knew that things could be this good. I have been so used to expecting the worst and thinking I didn't deserve much better; that it would never happen for me. And now that it has, it is easy to see God as loving, kind, good, and present.

But God is always good. Not that I haven't felt that way in the past, but it feels so easy at this time in our lives. When things go well, when we experience 'blessings' (that word is not always appropriate, for easy things are not the only form of blessing), we walk around saying that "God is good."  We know in our minds that God is good. That he can never be anything but good, however, if we are honest with ourselves, this doesn't always ring true in our lives. We don't always believe it in our hearts, and we don't always act as though it's true. It's hard to believe that God truly, truly cares about us when we are walking through the fire. It is hard to believe that God truly hasn't forgotten us, that he hasn't turned his back from our pain, that he is the epitome of lovingkindness. During this season of my life, I don't want to simply sit back and relish in the beauty of today, right now. I want to sink my roots in God's goodness no matter the season. No matter the circumstances.

When my father was killed.
He was good.

When I was depressed as a child.
He was good.

When my heart was broken by a man I loved.
He was good.

When Ben and I experienced deep brokenness overseas.
He was good.

When we struggled in our marriage.
He was good.

When we lost our first baby.
He was good.

When we almost lost Anna.
He was good.

When the nurse came back to tell us that our daughter's amputation was complete.
He was good.

When I wept over the effect of life-threatening allergies on my family's life.
He was good.

When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
He was good.

When I battle with the risk of losing my daughter to anaphylaxis.
He is good.

He wept with me. He cared. He loved. 
Just as much then as now.

Just. As. Much. Then. As. Now.

He was good. He is good. He will be good. For all of eternity. Today, tomorrow, and yesterday.

I know that I will again walk through difficulty, sorrow, and adversity. But I pray that my faith will not waver; that I will not experience God's goodness any less, any less tangible, than I do right now. That I will believe and act in my heart as though God is truly who he says he is. That I will know that my experience of reality does not affect the reality that God is who he says he is.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say,

 Blessed be the name of the Lord

- Matt Redman

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

September 5, 2014

Lessons Learned

Anna's first day of Pre K-3 was last week! Prior I had a discussion with her teacher about keeping her safe in terms of her allergies. I also briefly explained her leg and suggested I come in and do a quick lesson with the kids so that she didn't have to deal with nonstop questions.

The day I came in the teacher thanked me because she said lots of kids were already asking questions and a couple even tried to touch and pull at it (grrrr).

This is one instance where my school counseling experience paid off- I am used to giving classroom guidance lessons!  Here is how the lesson went for those of you who want to talk to your child's class, which I definitely recommend!

The key with young kids is to keep their attention by being short, concise, and keeping them involved (no lecturing). First, I played a little game. I had all the boys stand up, then all the girls stand up, then those with a sister, a brother, blond hair, brown hair (this was about all you can do with three year olds' attention span). If you are teaching older kids go into more depth like interests, height, etc. 
I talked about how everyone is different; some in ways we can see, and some in ways we can't see.

Then I read "It's OK to Be Different", a really cute, funny book.

After the book, I talked about how one way kids are different is that they have different arms and legs. I showed them some pictures from the book "Imagine: Amazing Me!" and asked what was different about the arms or legs of the kids in the book ("she's missing her arm!"). I pointed out how the kids were all doing what every other kid can do (ballet, soccer, climbing, etc.).

Then I brought up Anna and explained how she had a different leg; how when she was born she was missing part of her leg and so the doctors had to do a special surgery on her, and now she has a leg that allows her to do everything other kids can do. I asked them their favorite animals and their favorite characters and I told the kids how Anna can get anything she wants put on her leg! ("cool!").

Next, I brought out her past three legs and asked two 'helpers' (to involve the kids and keep their attention) up to help me hold them up. I explained how each time she grows she needs a new leg, and I asked the kids which was the smallest, largest, etc. Then we passed them around for each kid to see ("Let me see! I haven't seen it yet!")

After that we talked about how Anna's leg is a part of her body, and just like we don't touch other people's body parts, we don't touch Anna's without her permission ("hands to yourself"). I said that anytime they have a question they can ask Anna and she will answer; they don't have to ask anyone else but Anna.

Lastly, I brought out Anna's doll Sarah and showed them how her leg came off. We passed her around, and they thought that was pretty cool.

Finally, I had copied some coloring pages of kids with prostheses (both boys and girls) and I left them with the teachers so the kids could color them and talk more about being different. The teacher later had the kids make their own self-portrait.

Here are some of the resources I used for the lesson: