Aug 27, 2012

Happiness Week 34

Today my post is a bit late because I spent some time talking on the phone with my good friend Lisa. It was time well spent(for many reasons) but ate up the time in the earlier part of the day that would have been for blogging. I wish she didn't live so far away (in Canada) but it seems to be that way, my trach mom friends are scattered across the world. Even so we provide support to one another that is so valuable. Anyway, she gave me the secret to how she finds her wonderfully inspiring quotes that she puts on her Facebook Photography page.  It helped me locate this quote that I want to share because it is so fitting to my happiness project which has been challenging this summer.

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  ― Abraham Lincoln

I often wonder what makes people unhappy. The answer seems obvious but it really isn't. People are capable of finding happiness in the most adverse situations. I'm sure they do not like their situation but their minds still allow themselves to experience happiness in spite of their situations. On the flip side we see people we think "should" be happy who aren't. I think it boils down to the above quote. We are as happy as we decide to be. I think where people get into trouble is when they think that their situation is "unfair" or it "shouldn't be this way".  It's almost as if when we fixate on the unfairness it's a form of self-protection to keep us from having to acknowledge that it's true, whatever the "it" is that isn't fair. "It" could be anything big or small. Someone cut in line at the grocery store or that someone we love died before their time. Or maybe the anger we feel gives us the fuel we need to seek change. The problem comes in when there is no action that can remedy the situation or the cost is too high.

Most of the time I can move past the "it shouldn't be this way and it isn't fair" feelings that come with having a child whose needs are so demanding and still find happiness. That's not to say that my life is an unending stream of happy emotions. That type of happiness is a myth. But years ago I came to recognize that my life as I knew it "pre-Ainsley" was over. It required a period of mourning and adjustment and eventually I was able to acknowledge that even though it was unfair, it was the way it was. Life got easier after that and I could then see that I still had much to be thankful for and happy about. But there are times that the "unfairs" creep back into my head.

I hinted at this in my post last week, but I've been making a big push to increase Ainsley's ability to eat orally. It takes a LOT of time. Time that I'd rather be spending a hundred other ways. Most people believe that eating comes naturally and that in the case of tube fed kids if you stop tube feedings hunger will take over and the child will eat, simple as that. Unfortunately the reality isn't nearly that simple. Eating is a skill like walking or talking that most of us find easy and take for granted. The truth is that for many kids like Ainsley it is hard work. In the same way that I can't expect Ainsley to "just walk" because she wants to, she is not going to "just eat" because she should be hungry. It takes work and practice, and that requires a lot of effort on both our parts. That impacts the whole family.

The good news is that even though it's been incredibly tough we've experienced some progress this past week and a half.  I would like to write an entire post about feeding. Next week is the final week of summer break and I'm still trying to squeeze in some happiness too. Tomorrow we're taking a trip to the zoo and we have a lot of items left to do from our Summer Staycation Basket so that post might just have to wait.

I always love fall and the fresh start of a new school year. I sense that it will be easier to get back on track in a lot of ways. It's not been the summer of my dreams. Yes life could be worse but it could also be better. My goal is always to work toward living a life I will be satisfied with when my time on earth is done. I wish you all a fabulous week, whatever it has in store for you.

Daily Happiness Photos - Week 34

08/20 Mexican Casserole
I love it when I have all the ingredients for this dish because the kids like it and it's made with leftovers and requires no "cooking". Mexican rice, corn, black beans, shredded chicken layered with cheddar cheese and baked in the oven.

08/21 Family Band Time
After I made a stink Steve arranged his work schedule so he could work late(r) other nights and come home for dinner once during the week. After dinner we played a game and the kids made up songs with their dad accompanying them on guitar. Even Ainsley had a blast "singing" along.
08/22 Grown Up Sleepovers
My dear friend Melanie came and stayed the night. Her kids were out of town so she came over on her own and stayed the night (she didn't have to worry about drinking and driving). We had dinner and drank wine on the patio and had grown up talk when I sent the kids to watch a movie. It was fabulous except we made strawberry shortcake and forgot she's now eating gluten free. Sorry Mel! The best part was the strawberries and whip cream anyway.

08/23 Menchie's
 I had never heard of Menchie's but I have a feeling I'm going to be hearing that name a lot from now on.  It's not a cheap indulgence at $15 for 3 servings but it sure was a fun special treat for summer. We found it by accident when I went to pick up my glasses so it was nice to add some happiness to a day full of errands. (I also got to try on some fabulous vintage 1950's French frames from the doctor's collection. Lucky me.) They let you have taste testers before you buy. I think we tried every flavor and then the kids put a little of each in their cup. It was delicious!

08/24 Apple Strawberry Crushers
You would think applesauce would be a food any kid would love but I've never been able to get Ainsley to eat much of it(It's a texture thing.). Until now that is. Now that I found the new flavor of Trader Joe's Crushers - Strawberry Apple. She'll actually eat the whole package of this stuff. I'm considering buying a lifetime supply just in case they stop selling it (TJ's is famous for discontinuing products.).

08/25 Mashed Potatoes
Another food you would expect any kid to love: mashed potatoes, especially buttery ones but Ainsley doesn't. But after working on textures this week I was finally able to get her to eat a couple ounces of mashed potatoes at a sitting. She didn't like it but she ate it with minimal gagging. Some day I hope she'll learn to like them. After many years of trying this is a big deal.

08/26 Breakfast
We love to have a big breakfast of eggs and the whole works on the weekends. We don't always do it but Steve promised the kids this weekend. He cooked, and even made pancakes too. Instead of the usual sausage we had bacon and it was a big hit with Ainsley. She chewed it into bits. I have a feeling when she does start eating table food she's going to love breakfast too. I know she's not going to miss eating the mush.

To view a slideshow of the entire Happiness Photo Project click here. Confused about what this is or why I'm doing it? Click here for an explanation of what it's all about.


  1. I love your happiness postings. Someone once explained to me the difference between "happiness" and "joy" - while happiness can be somewhat fleeting and circumstantial, joy is eternal. It's helped me hold on to joy through even the most difficult of times, when being happy isn't always easy. Thanks for sharing!
    - koko

  2. I just love seeing you all having good times with one another. It's the most awesone thing in the world to be able to just forget everything else for a bit to spend time with family. I also love that Ainsley is trying more foods with texture. That's awesome! Way to go Ainsley! Hopefully this will help get her used to eating and maybe she will be able to eat things. That would be great :) I'm sure that's what you are hoping for too. Well, I hope you all have a fabulous week and I will look forward to further posts. From, Abby :)