Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tackling Football and TIME Magazine

It seems that football can't stay out of our newsfeed right now.  From NFL players' personal issues, to new tackle rules, to Fantasy Football...even if you're not into it, chances are you have seen or heard some of the touchy topics.

Welcome to football season in America.

photo credit
Practices, protein meals, mouth guards, and calling plays dominate a whole lot of time and discussion in our home from August till December. We watch football, kind of.  But mostly, we play.  Well, ok, I take that back.  I watch--the boys play.  Our two oldest are playing their 4th season of tackle and our three youngest are playing their 2nd season of flag, chomping at their chance to grow big enough for tackle.  Their daddy played high school football and even started spring training with his college team, unfortunately a nearly fatal car accident ended his playing career early.  Football is serious bonding time for my husband and our boys.  I don't understand the desire to hit and sweat, but I also don't understand any uncomfortable physical contact in terms of sport.  In my opinion, it's clearly a guy thing.

Which is why I steer clear of the emotional side of things.  Would I rather my boys enjoy a "safer" less contact sport....like golf?  Sure, if that's what they wanted to play.  Do I enjoy sending them to practice and telling them to take their aggression out on the field?  Absolutely.  But do I want my kid to be on the receiving end of another kid's tackle?  Um, it's not my favorite thing.

Sorting through my mail the other day, the cover of TIME caught my attention.  Setting aside the rest of the pile, I immediately opened the magazine.

photo credit
Even football's youngest, smallest players are susceptible to brain injuries.  Virginia Tech's biomedical-engineering department tracked 19 boys ages 7 & 8 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  The researchers counted 3, 061 blows to the heads of the boys, 60% of which occurred in practice.  None of the kids suffered a concussion, but some of the shots they took were brutal: 
11 of the hits registered a g-force of 80 or greater. 
"That's the level you might see in car crashes." says Stefan Duma, a Virginia Tech professor.

This statistic got my attention.  

The next paragraph asked a haunting question.  Would you let you son play football?

As much as the TIME article made me want to have a different answer.  The reality is Yes.

I acknowledge that this is a highly controversial topic.  I will do my best (without writing a book) to maintain the position that ultimately every parent and child have to come to a conclusion that works best for their family.  

With that being said, I acknowledge my responsibility as a parent to protect my boys the best that I can until they turn 18.  One of the largest debates of our generation is, how do we keep our sons safe while at the same time teaching them to be men?  I want to protect my child just as much as the next mom does.  I do not however wish to over-protect and coddle my sons resulting in inhibiting their growth from childhood to manhood.  Crass interpretation of that last statement: I don't want my 20 something boys still living in my house someday because I over-emotionally parented them and shielded them from the extreme blows that boyhood slings.  Not happening here.

I can hear your rebuttal now.  "But, boys do not have to play tackle football to become men."

And I would say, You're right.
But it helps.

From the beginning of time, men have violently used aggression to deal with their physically charged energy.  You can say what you want to counter this, but boys were not born to sit still.  They weren't even born to move on their own.  For some reason, they really, really get a rise out of crashing into one another.  I have very personal experience with this.  I live with six of them.  

Also, there is a reason why football is a multi-billion dollar contributor to our culture.  People love to watch big dudes crash into each other.  Its not pretty.  But it's reality.

Which brings me back to why I allow my boys to play football in a respectable league that upholds the integrity of USA Football and its stance on safer ways to tackle.  If we don't spend the time to teach our boys the correct way to protect their own noggin, there is no way that I would be able to trust that they could protect themselves in any sport.  Moreover, if I restrict their energies to "safer" sports that they are clearly uninterested in, I fear that I would run into several more risk factors than allowing them to play a game that they love.

It is imperative that our children know the rules of the game and enter into every practice and game with the knowledge of their own body's limits. As parents, we attend most practices and games and watch our children closely for signs of fatigue and injury.  With my husband's medical degree I feel confident that his personal interpretation of their hits and the hits they receive is enough.  

Our boys know that there is no win that trumps their safety.  If they feel tired, or short of breath to the point of needing a personal time-out we have encouraged them to let the coach know and be their own body's advocate.  I feel confident in their maturity and respect for themselves that they would in fact make the right choice if they needed to.

So, TIME, thank you for your article on the awareness of the dangers of the sport.  I am saddened for the Stover family who lost their son while playing a game he truly loved.  Awareness brings about change, and in this case, change has the potential to save lives.  As for the parenting scare tactics...no thank you.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adoption Update: Miracles Still

For a moment I hesitated titling this post 'adoption update', because now, after almost 4 years in our home, when I look at my children I see less adoption and more and more Lang.  Our two adopted littles will always have certain characteristics that are unique to themselves and their heritage, but with each passing day, healing inches its way more into their souls and their thriving personalities are what make make up our days.

This is another layer in the miracle of adoption.

Which is why I will never stop writing 'adoption updates', and why I will never be silent about the God ordained miracles in our family that have been a result of our obedience to the call of adoption through foster care.

Do we still have rough days?  Yes.

Do I ever wonder what my life would be like if we had stopped at the discussion phase of turning our family inside out?  Yes.

Do I wish I could do it all over again?  NOPE!!!  Some of those first few days/months were pretty tough around here.  But we are doing it!  We have moved from survival to thrive and I will always talk as openly as I can about walking our adoption road.

Our family is a unique blend of characteristics and pain and past all rolled up into this beautiful, chaotic home. We are better for it.  My kids know empathy.  They know compassion.  They can look past their noses and relate to other human beings.

This was supposed to be an update......

Another summer has passed and a school year has begun.  I am thrilled to tell you that my babes are absolutely amazing.


This picture is my favorite from his party because it is symbolic of many things for Holden.  He is fully enjoying the attention on him as we all sing.  
No more of the wide darting eyes that were hyper-aware and unable to enjoy simple things like birthday songs.  
This is a picture of freedom for a six year old.


Our birthday princess has reached so many goals this year we seriously cannot keep up.  She amazes us every. single. day.  She started back at her developmental preschool this fall as well as continuing on with therapies to help her with coordination and speech.  Earlier this year she was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder which has been helpful in knowing what she needs to be her best Hope.

Hope
4 years old
first day of Pre-K

Holden
6 years old
first day of Kindergarten

Crazy days mean blogging less and i-photograph more.  
Join us on our journey (with a lot less noise) 
Instagram: @langgangmama





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

6 Things I will Miss Once School Starts

It seems like on every social media newsfeed there are mommies counting down the days until their kiddos are back in school.  I am right there with them....most of the time.  We are the same mommies who were counting down the days until summer started 3 months ago.  Before you read any further, tell yourself that if any of this rings true for you it doesn't mean anything except that

You Are A Good Mom.

Counting down the days till summer is just the same as counting down the days till school.  Why?  Because we put our heart and soul into raising our littles and It. Is. Exhausting.  So at the end of the school year we are totally over it.  Same as end of summer.  Yep.  Over it.

As I lay in bed this morning enjoying waking up leisurely, I realized that there are some things I am really going to miss once the house is again quiet for a few hours every day.

1. Sleeping In.  Ok, so this doesn't mean the same thing that it did when I was 21, but waking up on my own is still one of my favorite things ever. I am not a morning person.  But when school starts next week my alarm will go off at 5:20.  Why so early?  Because as previously stated, I am not a morning person.  It takes me about 45 minutes of coffee and quiet meditation before I can face the chaos that can become the morning.

2.  Impromptu Outings.  Hey guys, let's go to the movies.  Actually, I feel like the pool today.  Let's drive to California so we can actually relax outside.  These are the outings summer is made of.

3.  Deep Conversations.  There is time to crawl up on the couch next to the kid who seems to be having a down day.  We have time to really chat it out and talk about life.  I have learned a lot about my kids this summer.  I really like hanging out with them.

4.  Reading for Fun.  No due dates.  No required reading.  Just plain fun.  We love talking about books around here.  Even I take the summer off from my serious books and enjoy books for fun.  The kind that don't need to be interpreted by a counselor.

5.  Breakfast in Pajamas.  It seems like our breakfast time has grown by the hour this summer.  It's probably because I don't have infants or toddlers demanding cereal when the sun breaks.  I have fully embraced the breakfast hour and have taught my boys the art of eggs, omelets, and coconut waffles.  Once school starts it's quick meals, homework check-offs, and synching calendars every morning.

6. Minimal Laundry.  Let's all be real.  Kids only wear clothes in the summer unless they are going somewhere.  Even then, clothes are minimal and socks are...well, never.  Flip flops and a t-shirt and we are all out the door in seconds.  School starting doubles if not triples the laundry load.  Socks everyday.  School uniforms. Play clothes.  Sports clothes.  And yeah, I have enjoyed hanging swimsuits and towels over the back fence and calling them clean. And of course, all good moms know that swimming in the pool is equal to bathing that day.  

Enjoy your last few days before the mounds of papers and signatures come home, packing lunches replaces a hobby, and driving is your new free time.  Only 9 months till summer.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Transform Your Faith Journey: a book by Jen Hatmaker

My very first introduction to Jen Hatmaker was back in 2011 when I saw this video of her standing in an airport waiting for her son Ben to arrive home to the U.S.  Something about her anticipation and emotional reaction (rightly so) made me feel like I knew her personally and I promptly found her email address and introduced myself.

Within a few days I actually got an email back.  And I will quote, she started it with "Hi Friend!"  Even though that was the extent of our interaction (except for that time she signed my first copy of Interrupted, oh, and that time she and her husband served communion at the IF: Gathering....) ok now I just sound creepy.  Let's just say that her enthusiasm for Jesus and people has influenced me greatly.


I read Interrupted when it came out in 2009.  And it changed things for me.  I had already read life changing books like Crazy Love and Weird, but Interrupted was different.  Jen was a woman with passion who was also a wife and a mom.  Nothing about her message made me feel like I needed to wait until my kids got older to use my spiritual gifts.  Even though I already knew that, watching her do it through books, bible study, and her blog felt like someone was giving me permission to dive into my passions.

And I did.  And I have.  And I will never be the same.

I am constantly reminding women that I meet with/mentor/etc. that now that they have knowledge of the scriptures they can never again go back to not knowing.  In other words, they are now held to a higher accountability than before.

Same thing I told myself after finishing Interrupted.  I can never un-learn the facts and scriptures that Jen lays out about how we are to love our fellow humans.  No matter what their story is.   She dives into some pretty hefty topics and isn't afraid to call us comfortable Christ-followers out.


This year Jen revised and expanded Interrupted.  I have read through it again and the publisher sent me an extra paperback for one of my readers.  If you would like to read it, let me know.  Whoever contacts me first will get my extra copy.  I am thrilled to share it with you.



Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Still Me, But I'm Buried in Legos and Laundry

Hi Friends!  If you follow my Instagram (@langgangmama) you at least know I am alive.  If you don't, you have probably wondered if I have quit blogging altogether.  The answer is no.  At least I don't think so.  I still write a lot, but lately it is all in my head, and on sticky notes, on the pages of my planner, and even in the notes section of my iphone. Sadly, none of it has made its way onto the blog in awhile.

The good news is this:  I have had an INCREDIBLE summer with my family.  We have traveled more than we ever have before in the last couple of months.  To some of you that sounds like a nightmare, but for me and my gang, it has been glorious.  I figure the kids are going to need to eat, sleep, and argue anyway, so why not do it on the road?

This year we have been given the gift of time as a family, and we are soaking it up.

With that being said, school starts in two weeks and I am not counting down the days.  Part of me is SO DONE with family togetherness and all the Top 10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Summer stuff.  Yet, categorizing and planning school supplies and lunch boxes puts a little pit in my stomach.

They'll go to school.  They will be another year older.  And my work load quadruples.

So keep me around.  Once the brain fog of chlorine and sunburns begin to fade my mind will eventually crave the tapping of keys.  The crazy Jesus girl will eventually eek her way out and I will have time to dive into my commentaries again. I find great joy in writing and talking with many of you who have become my friends.  See you soon.  xoxox



Thursday, May 8, 2014

Adoption Wrecked Us

Adoption wrecked us.  And we are still putting the pieces back together.  The wrecking ball started its destruction the moment we had the talk that would change our lives forever.

our family of 6 in 2010, two weeks before we became a family of 8
I can't think of one facet in my life that was untouched by the decision to bring another family's pain and loss into our own.  We are still in the rebuilding stage; working together allowing God to put the crumbled structure back together.  It is way harder than we thought it would be.  Adoption through foster care moved us past the zone of cushy thoughts and rainbow dreams; romantic ideas that look good in promo videos and travel flyers.

Adoption wrecked our picture-perfect life.  And I am so very glad it did.

We live in a broken world where bad things do happen.  We spend so much time cleaning carnage, that we very often forget why we do it at all.  Why?  Why am I writing about my wrecked life for all to see?


I didn't move toward adoption because I thought it would make things easier.  I knew that there would be big changes and that they wouldn't all be easy.  Brandon and I were both on board that this would change our family's landscape forever.  After weighing the cost, we went for it.  Passionately.

The word passion involves emotion.  And that's where is gets messy.

When I step back and take a look at the road that lead to adoption for our family, I can see that there is no perfectly good or easy answer as to why we chose this path.  We had four healthy sons.  We were blessed.  We were happy.  

All I can really say was that the desire to step into something greater than myself had taken over.  I longed for the valley of the unknown, trusting that losing myself in a place where I couldn't rely on my friends or husband to make life feel good was where I longed to be.

I wanted to taste the breath on my tongue that could only exist because my Creator willed it.  
No other reason.

Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. -Mike Yaconelli 

I got what I wanted.

3 1/2 years later, I can tell you that adoption provided a new lens from which my eyesight will never recover from.  And I don't want it to.

Looking at the photo above of our family pre-adoption stirs up emotions that I still cannot define.  I want to grab her (the pre-adoption me) neck and tell her that in a few months she will question everything.  

And it will get hard.

And she will be scared to death that she has ruined everything that used to be easy.  I want to tell her that eventually life will feel normal again and that her marriage will be stronger because she stuck to her convictions.

Her idea of who she should be will transform.

Her children will be more compassionate.

Her perfect parenting skills will all be out the window.

And that He showed up.  Jesus did.  And he continues to.  My faith in his promises never waivers.  We stepped past the shroud of picture perfectionism and God transformed our family.

We actively live a life that would have never been ours to embrace.

Yes, adoption wrecked us.  And it has been hard.  But we are only beginning to see the tiny glimpses of light that losing ourselves to a spiritual wrecking ball can bring.

God doesn't leave us wrecked.

It is his pure joy to re-build our family for his purposes.  He makes beautiful things out of us.










Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Adoption Update: Sensory Processing Disorder

When Hope came home to us at 10 weeks old the first things I noticed were her rosy cheeks and head full of curly back hair.  She was a cuddle bug who slept and ate well.  She was born with two holes in her heart and because of that her hands and feet would occasionally look a little blue.
Even so-

Everyone commented on what a good baby she was.

And she really was a good, easy baby.

But, babies are supposed to cry, and wake up at night, and not be so floppy and holdable all the time.

I loved that she was easy.  I didn't love the feeling that something wasn't right.

Going on mother's instinct I made sure that the early intervention team knew her name.  Even though her health was improving (both holes in her heart closed up by 6 months old), she was still not meeting regular milestones that other babies her age were.  I began documenting every physical attribute and behavior that didn't set well as I learned my little girl's cues and patterns.

We had no health history.  Not from either parent.  No pre-natal anything.  All the questions that well-meaning doctors and specialists asked me were followed by more questions.

Finally, at two years old when she still wasn't walking, along with consistent nagging, the right people began to take notice.  She started extensive speech, occupational, and physical therapies.

At three years old she started school at a developmental preschool 3 mornings a week.  She made incredible progress.  But she still struggled.

A few months ago we met with a developmental pediatrician for an entire afternoon.  More paperwork and a lot of tests.  And finally some answers.

Your daughter struggles with a disorder that we are still learning about.  Up until a few years ago, it wasn't even being properly diagnosed.  This is something that she will never  grow out of, but with the right interventions and therapies, she will have the tools to learn to overcome the obstacles that Sensory Processing Disorder throws her way.

Sensory Processing Disorder.  I had done enough research to suspect it.  But now the professionals were confirming it.  She was also diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder.  I had never heard of this one, but it really is a thing.  It goes along with her sensory issues.

I am still digesting all of the information that I came home with that day.  My latest companion on the nightstand is The Out-of-Sync Child.  Chapter by chapter I am highlighting Hope's struggles and digging through the rest.  I am learning as we go, and realizing that even though we have a diagnosis my sweet girl still doesn't completely fit into one mold.  And I am ok with that.

Thank you for being a part of our journey.  I have no idea what the future holds.  But I do know that God has a plan for this super-special baby girl (whose not really a baby anymore).



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Matilda Jane Spring Collection


We Adore Matilda Jane Clothing!









We love it even more when Hope gets to model new collections and this time it's their new spring collection called It's A Wonderful Parade.  All MJC pieces are interchangeable and durable for those girly moments at a party or on the playground.  Hope is always comfy and adorable skipping around in her MJC outfits.













Hope (and her adorable cousin Penelope) are wearing the Love Bug Knot Top.  Hope fancied it up with the Cloudy Puffer Tee and the Sweetheart Ruffled Leggings.  As you can see, the knot top looks adorable with or without a tee underneath.  The details on each piece is what give this clothing line an edge to the other boutique styles out there.  The quality keeps us going back for more.












For a chance to win a $50 gift card to Matilda Jane Clothing go to my sister-in-law's blog becoming Julie Griffin and follow the instructions on the post.  She will be drawing a winner in one week.

Photography by the amazing Julie Griffin.  Arizona peeps book her for your next photo session!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Answer {Update on Hyatt}

Have you ever met someone or read about a person who always seems to be in plain view when miracles appear?  As a skeptic, those people cause me to question my humanism, my skin that wonders how and when miracles happen.  Do they really happen all around us?  Or are those just the "glass-is-half-full" people who even think that the sunrise is a miracle (the more I think about it, I actually do).

Which leads me to my issue with myself.  I am that person.  I don't know quite when it happened.

Maybe it was when I was only 9 years old and I was drowning and cried out to God to save me.
And then I was safe on the shore (I still have no idea how I got from the middle of the sea to the sand).

Maybe it was witnessing my little brother's healing of a very high fever within moments of praying a little child prayer.

Maybe it was when I got pregnant for the first time?  Or witnessed my newborn's first breath?

Maybe it was when my toddler was underwater and blue, then hours later he was slurping a root-beer float.

The more I recall these -appointments- the more I wonder why I feel the need to explain a miracle.
These stories are just a few from my life, and aside from Jesus, would have a very different ending.

10 days ago my rambunctious 6 year old lay semi-conscious in a hospital bed at Phoenix Children's Hospital.  Hours earlier he was running around like the crazy boy he always is.

Then, bam.
He was on the floor in the middle of a church service, hitting his head pretty hard when he fell.

He didn't wake up for seven hours.

He mumbled a little in the beginning, and he tried to open his eyes (but said it hurt too much).  And then he didn't mumble again for a long time.

We took him into urgent care hoping for quick answers, but upon initial testing, the doctors decided to emergency transport him to children's hospital.

People started praying.

When I finally got into the room to get my hands on him I anointed his head and feet with oil and did not stop silently crying out to Jesus.  Our friends came.  Our church prayed.  Our family hunkered down.

Tests, and blood work, and suction cups and needles.  I was living a mother's worst nightmare.  I prayed that the doctors would find....answers.

The final test would reveal something, we were all sure of it.  And then, about 5 minutes before they came to wheel him away for the cat scan...

He. Woke. Up.

His eyes opened, he tried to sit up.  He wondered where he was.

My heart leapt.  Peace reigned. Color was coming back into his face and perfectly shaped lips.

About 3:30 a.m. that evening they gave us the choice to stay the rest of the night in the hospital and the next day run some more tests.  But as we held our son who was waking up more and more, I knew the look in his eye.  He was asking to go home.

Brandon and I shared a bunk bed with Hyatt that night, both of us taking comfort in his little boy breaths.  Neither of us wanting to be more than an arm's length away. Both of us silently taking in the life of our child.

You can say what you want.  But- my child was sick.  And then he wasn't.

There is my answer.  I don't need anything more than that.  I prayed.  You prayed.  And then he woke up.  All tests came back normal.  And that Miracle?  It's our answer.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Holiday Takeover {Easter 2014}

Kindness begins with one single act.  And what better way to point our children to the cross in a tangible way but to teach them how to put aside their desires for the good of another?

Serve on another in Love. Galatians 5:13

We can talk our little people's ears' off.  But, what they want to see is action.  Last Easter you may recall that I took back all their basket gifts and purchased breakfast foods to deliver downtown on Easter morning instead.  You can read the story behind our Easter Holiday Takeover here.  And how it actually went here.

We did it again at Christmas by giving them less (gasp!) and then using the unspent money to purchase items to families in need at our local church.  We gave comforters, grocery cards, and other necessities.  I had my 6 load it all up and take it with me to deliver the items a few days before Christmas.


This year we are going to switch it up a bit and put the giving into their own hands.  Instead of Brandon and I telling them how they will give, we are giving them each $5 to pay it forward for someone else.  We will encourage them to be creative, and then be available to help them out with whatever they come up with.  I am really excited about this one.  Can't wait to tell you how it goes.