Adventures in Las Vegas!

“An aunt is a safe haven for a child. Someone who will keep your secrets and is always on your side.” 

– Sarah Sheridan

Day 323.

Hello stranger! Wow. Time has flown by since my last posting to Life Unimpeded, I hope you all can forgive my absence. The holidays have come and gone, and though I yearn for calmer, more peaceful moments, it seems that my expectations have once again eluded me. 

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are very busy times for our family, why? Because here in the Malone household, we choose to focus on two very important things, each other and building memories. I must say, we most assuredly accomplished that very thing.

So without further ado… I would like very much to share with you our latest family adventure!  

Her big, chocolate brown eyes watched carefully as my fingers worked effortlessly to connect the two straps of the seatbelt. 

Click!

An expression of sheer joy and excitement blanketed her beautiful face upon hearing the belt click. Her soft, pink lips curled up in one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. Her tiny dimples made their appearance and the melodious sound of her giggles filled my ears! 

Mommy I’m so excited!” My daughter exclaimed, proceeding to make a soft squealing noise as she clapped her tiny hands. She turned her back to me, gazing out the small ovular window. It was not hard to see the excitement, bubbling over in my five-year-old. Her little body bounced up and down in the large, leather seat. The only thing keeping her there was the heavy seatbelt, pulled tightly across her small waste. Heaven only knows where she would be right now had she not been strapped in! 

Mommy are we going to go up in the air like Superman?” She asked, reaching both her arms in front of her, attempting to imitate the famous “Man of Steel!”

Unable to suppress a giggle of my own, I met her gaze with mine and replied, “We sure are Ladybug! Do you know how you will know?” 

How?” 

You know that funny feeling you get in your tummy when we drive over a hill?” 

Yeah!” 

Well, when the plane starts to lift off from the ground, your tummy is going to feel REALLY funny! If you look out your window, you will start seeing everything become really small. Then all you will be able to see are clouds all around us!” 

She balled up her hands into tiny little fists, bringing them up around her mouth. Her eyes squinted, and another soft squeal escaped her lips. 

Mommy are we going to see Aunt Nancy in Las Vegas?” 

That is precisely where we are going, and we are going to have so much fun!” 

It was the first time either of our children had been to an airport and flown on an airplane! Several weeks prior to Thanksgiving, we made plans to spend a week in Nevada, visiting my Aunt Nancy. It had been years since I stayed with her and my Uncle Kelly. When I was younger and living with my parents, my Aunt and Uncle would often fly my brother and me out to visit. We always had a wonderful time, and this trip was no different! 

The children did beautifully while we waited to board our plane and on the two-hour flight. However, I must admit, being the mother of an Autistic 8-year-old, and a rambunctious 5-year-old – I was nervous. 

The biggest thing on my mind was my son. I had no idea how the hustle and bustle of an airport, the different smells and sounds would affect him. Logan often has meltdowns when it comes to sensory processing. He is very sensitive to loud noises, strong smells, or certain touch. Would the sound of the speakers bother him, or the crowds of people? Would the different smells increase his anxiety? Would the constant, bumping into others, set off a meltdown?! I had no idea, however, I did know that my worrying would only make things more difficult. When you have a child who struggles with anxiety, the worst thing you can do is become anxious yourself, or let on that you yourself are worried or feeling panicked. 

We brought both coloring and reading books, their favorite stuffed animals, as well as games to keep them occupied. Things went beautifully, and the children truly enjoyed the new experience! 

Once we arrived in Las Vegas we were greeted by the warm, welcoming and VERY missed arms of my Aunt Nancy! Our day was filled with the hustle and bustle that comes with travel, so we drove to her home… and then proceeded to pass out! 

Our week was filled with exciting adventures, such as our trip to the Springs Preserve Park! We saw the Origen Museum which featured an indoor theatre, and lots of interesting information about the history of the park. The park was enormous and had other different sections as well – Boomtown, a small recreated town that tells the history of Las Vegas between 1905-1920. Being the “old-soul” that I am, this was my favorite part! 

As I stepped into the fabricated hotel, the boards beneath my feet creaked, almost as though they were centuries old. The walls displayed a beautiful ornate wallpaper, along with the rod iron bed in the back room, and an old antique pram. Inside was a beautiful antique baby doll, dressed in a long linen nightgown and a lace bonnet. The attention to detail was easily noticeable!

We also took the children to the Circus Circus AdventureDome, where they had a chance to ride a plethora of roller coasters and other amusement rides. At the end of the day, I lost count how many times they rode on one particular ride – a green helicopter that lifted high into the air and slowly came back down.

We visited the Discovery Children’s Museum and even the Hoover Dam… I definitely met my step-goal that day! We attempted to cross the bridge, but my poor son just could not stomach the height and had a pretty big meltdown. Poor guy! 😦 

We had an incredible Thanksgiving! Although, as I predicted, it was quite difficult for each of us to say goodbye… especially Logan. During our stay in Las Vegas, he made a new friend, Olivia, my Aunt’s dog! They both spent most of their time at home snuggling together on the couch. Once the time came for us to say goodbye, our poor son fell to his knees, sobbing uncontrollably. 

“Sweetheart, we have to say goodbye to Olivia now!” I said. My voice cracked as I fought to contain my emotions, watching my son’s heartbreak play out as he said goodbye to his new best friend. He knelt beside her, his face red and damp with tears, he looked up at me and replied, “I can’t mommy, she’s my best friend!” 

“I know honey, I love Olivia too!” 

What happened next forced me to turn my back to my son, because I could feel the knot forming in my throat and the tears threatening to fall. I truly believe that Olivia could sense my son’s heartache because upon wrapping his tiny arms around her neck, she herself began to cry. Whimpering and nudging him with her nose. 

We managed to separate them both and hugged my Uncle Kelly goodbye. My dear Aunt drove us to the airport, where I had every intention of wrapping my arms around her and saying goodbye… alas, I could not bring myself to do it. I knew if I did I would begin to cry as hard as my son did back at the house. 

We arrived home safe and sound, however, it is a well-known fact among my family, that part of my heart will always remain in Las Vegas with my Aunt and Uncle. I love you both, forever and always!

10 Ways to Reduce Stress From Your Life

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Day 122.

As I stood in the walkway between our kitchen and living room, I watched helplessly as my eight-year-old, high-functioning, autistic son had another melt-down. What had triggered this melt-down I can’t recall, but what I did know is that things were quickly beginning to escalate!

This beautiful, lovingly little boy was currently waging a war within himself, fighting to control the crashing tide of emotions that assaulted him. He threw himself to the ground; contorting his limbs and eliciting a sound that I simply cannot put into words. His brow furrowed in seeming anger, and a look of hopelessness quickly splayed across his face. His crystal-blue eyes began to fill with tears; I felt my own chest tighten and a knot formed in my throat… my strong reserve was beginning to crumble.

I fell to my knees, gathering my son into my arms, “Shhh…” I said, “take a deep breath… in your nose and out your mouth!” As I attempted to wrap my arms around him, he fought me, springing back with force. He threw his head back and howled, “it doesn’t work!” If I were to describe the current scene, I would say that I looked like Steve Irwin, attempting to wrestle a crocodile!

After what seemed like an eternity, he relented. “I’m just stupid… I’m a piece of crap!” He said. His words were scarcely audible as he softly sobbed into my chest, desperately attempting to catch his breath. Upon hearing my sons words, I swallowed thickly. “You are NOT stupid, and you are NOT a piece of crap! You are an incredible little boy… God loves you and so do we!” I said, placing a light kiss upon his temple.

Needless to say, this entire situation was incredibly stressful, and one we face as a family on a regular basis. Life is not easy, and no one ever promised it would be.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.

– Ronald Regan

Each day we are faced with different circumstances, some of them soothing and some of them stressful. What is so vitally important is how we choose to handle those circumstances.

Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.

Buddha

I am not only a mother but I am also a wife and if any of you are married or have children, then you know that it can be a very difficult job. It can also be one of the most rewarding! I have three children, my step-son Aaron who is 11 1/2, my middle son Logan who is 8, and my daughter Kinlee who is 5.

Five years ago Logan was diagnosed with ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Aspergers Syndrom. When we first received word of his diagnosis, both my husband and I were devastated. We had no words… and no direction in which to go! For so long, we buried our heads in the sand, hoping his diagnosis would simply vanish. We were distraught, and truth be told, we were not handing our stress or the situation appropriately. We needed to allow the emotions that we had buried to surface. We went through a period of anger, grief, mourning, empathy, and sorrow. These emotions were all normal and needed to be felt, especially if we were going to help our son!

Things are much less stressful now in our household, not because we do not experience stressful situations, but because we have learned how to handle them.

Here are 10 ways we can reduce stress in our life…

#1. Choosing Your Emotional Response 

This can be difficult, especially in the heat of the moment! If you find yourself face to face with a stressful circumstance, take a step back, breathe and ask yourself, “How could I best respond to this situation?

#2. Exercise

Our bodies are created to move, and what better way to combat stress than by going for a bike ride, a nature hike, or a peaceful walk. You don’t have to push yourself to the breaking point, you would be amazed to see what 20 minutes a day can do for you!

#3. Deep Breathing 

Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath as in enters your body, hold it for five seconds and then slowly push that breath out by exhaling through your mouth. This exercise has put a halt to many panic attacks I have experienced in my life.

Through many hours of research and advice given to me by therapists, I have learned how detrimental Cortisol can be to your health. Deep Breathing Exercises can stop that flow of Cortisol!

Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his revolutionary findings in a simple seventy-four-line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaptation syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action — but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood, which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

If we do not stop the constant flow of Cortisol in our bodies, it can lead to serious health problems; anxiety, depression, learning and memory problems. It can lower immune functions, cause weight gain, and raise blood pressure. In many cases, continued stress can bring on auto-immune diseases.

#4. Laughter 

I am so thankful for my husband because he is one of the funniest people I know! When I am feeling down or stressed, he almost always knows how to make me laugh. I challenge you, the next time you are stressed, listen to someone/something funny and try not to laugh! 😉

#5. Meditation

I have spent countless hours in meditation, and each moment spent has greatly helped reduce my levels of anxiety and stress. I ensure that wherever I go, that place is peaceful and quiet. I personally choose to reflect on scripture, or on a recent book I have read.

#6. Music

Music is good for everybody. They say it soothes the savage beast. Well, I think theirs a beast in all of us. So let’s get some more music and soothe all the beasts out there.

– B.B. King 

#7. Positive Affirmations

Positive Affirmations can do wonders for the body, mind, and soul! Years ago I began what I called a P.R. Journal (Positive Reinforcement). I did not allow myself to write down anything negative, only positive things that helped uplift and restore me. I as well read aloud what I wrote, and even went as far as to write some specific things on my bathroom mirror.

#8. Relaxation 

One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling stressed is to take a long, hot bath! I dim the lights in the bathroom, turn on soothing music and toss in some of my favorite bath bombs. This truly helps to soak away my stress!

#9. Talking

Keeping things bottled up is not only detrimental to your emotional and physical health, but it can also damage your relationships with others. Find someone you trust, and talk to them about how you are feeling. If you do not feel comfortable with that, you can always reach out to a counselor, either online, through your local church or in your community.

#10. Scripture & Prayer

In times of confusion, stress, sorrow, or worry I have turned to scripture and prayer. In many ways the Bible has become a roadmap, paving out the path in which I should go. Contrary to what my children believe, I do not have all the answers, nor do I claim to! I do however know where to go when in need of comfort and peace…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

 

 

January Clarity

50.

This is the number of days that have passed since I woke up with a renewed sense of purpose. A realization that things needed to change. I felt an urgency to transform my quality of being. Almost animalistic desperation to find happiness in my life that I have yearned for all these years.

Everywhere I looked, and everywhere I turned, I could see nothing but chaos and clutter. Mayhem and Mess. Things were strewn about our home. Our days were empty and exhaustive. Our lives were what I would define as, mere insanity.  We were doing the same things over and over again… and expecting a different result.

We asked ourselves the same question every day, “what are we going to do?” Neither my husband nor myself ever had an answer. We would stand silent, for what seemed like an eternity, staring at each other with vacant expressions on our faces. “I don’t know,” was always our answer.

We were what I would call a, “fly by the seat of our pants” family! There was never a plan, never a schedule, never a clue what we were going to do. It wasn’t working. Life wasn’t working. The maelstrom of war… a war going on at home. We were fighting amongst ourselves, and my husband and I weren’t the only casualties. We had unknowingly and unintentionally enlisted our two children into the same battle.

My 7-year-old son is Autistic, he has Asperger’s Syndrome and both he and chaos mix together like oil and water.  My 4-year-old daughter is not Autistic, but she no more needs chaos in her life than my son does. Children need a place they can call home. A place free of chaos, clutter, and calamity. They need clarity. We need clarity… and January gave us just that!

Fifty days ago we began a minimalistic journey, one that would lead us on a path to acquiring more by learning to live with less. Less chaos and disorganization, less time spent in front of electronics, and less junk-food and unplanned meals. Acquiring better health through less processed foods, and more healthy meals. Acquiring the answer to the age-old question, “Mom where are my shoes?” Acquiring more unforgettable moments spent together as a family…

and acquiring a life that is truly unimpeded!