When you feel depleted…STAND STRONG!

November 17th……………November 17th is a day I have grown to both love and hate. It is the day we go see the developmental pediatrician for Delise. I love the idea of this date because we will hopefully get some answers, yet I hate this date because we will be getting answers. Up until this point it has been mother and father intuition that something is going on with our baby girl but come November 17th, there is a label that will be stamped on her precious name and that breaks my heart…literally breaks my heart.

Last night Delise went into one of her fits that lasted over 3 hours. Three LLLOOOONNNGGGG hours of screaming, out of control behavior, biting, pulling hair, arching her back, Putting herself into tight spots, etc. As a mommy, the feeling of helplessness is almost too much to bear. I tried rocking her, laying with her, getting firm with her, stroking her tear-filled face, etc. but nothing seemed to calm my overstimulated baby girl. I had to resort to leaving her alone to sort out her issues while I sat outside of her bedroom door sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t wipe the tears away from her tiny eyes, they just came back bigger and more frequently, I couldn’t hold her tight because her small little body stiffened as straight as a board and made things worse, I couldn’t stroke her hair because she would scratch at her face  screaming hysterically until I stopped, I couldn’t do anything. I had to sit and watch my baby go through something sad, scary, and heartbreaking.

After the fit had FINALLY passed, I slumped into my bed and my mind was RACING! There was absolutely NO WAY I was going to fall asleep anytime soon so I started Googling her symptoms and started doing some research about what might be going on. Something I came across seemed to fit her symptoms and it is something Help Me Grow had mentioned a while back as one of their possible concerns. It is called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). As I continued to read about symptoms for SPD and treatment, my mind started to ease and I started to shift my mindset to “Ok, let’s do this thing!” Yes it is a label…and it may not even be the right one, but it felt better knowing we aren’t alone and there are things we can do to help her.

It was a moment of clarity for me. I feel God laid it on my heart to stop feeling sorry for myself and Delise and start embracing the fact that she is different. SO WHAT right! She is quirky, strong-willed, exhausting at times, determined and loving. She was chosen for Ben and I and what a gift that is! So I am taking the nighttime incidents she goes through and the daily tantrums she struggles with and deciding that we need a solution to help her cope. And that is what I will get to the bottom of. 🙂

“Sing a Song of Sixpence…”

As a mommy of 2 beautiful girls, the jealousy can get a bit thick in our house. We argue over toys, Daddy’s attention, Mommy’s attention, etc. Sometimes my head spins and I have to dial back as to where this is all coming from. In our house, it boils down to the need for parent approval and attention. Attention can be hard to give to each individual child sometimes (I can’t imagine more than 2 kids right now). So…I sat down one day and scheduled it in…sad I know but you gotta do what you gotta do!

I signed Delise up for a music class that meets every Wednesday evening and decided that Ben would be the one to take her to music so she can have some one on one time with Daddy. What we discovered is not only is Delise a pretty shy little one, but she has got some pretty amazing beat! I had the privilege of taking Delise to music class last night (the Cubs were playing in the World Series…enough said right?!?). I was amazed at how long Delise kept her attention on the planned activity, her ability to mimic a beat, and her attention to detail…all things I would have never noticed had I not taken the time to single her out and focus on her strengths. She was a little rockstar and LOVED every moment of music class, being an only child for 45 minutes and mommy time.

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It’s the little things that make up the big picture. It didn’t matter that my hair was up in a messy bun, I wore jeans and a sweatshirt, we forgot her Halloween costume (bad parent moment), or that we were running a little late. I could tell that her self-esteem had been boosted and she walked with a confidence about her…one that I often see when we are alone together. The fact that we were able to do that together with excitement and FUN made the world of difference to one little 2 year old.

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Baking Buddies!

I have to start by saying that I am the WORST baker! I have been known to forget ingredients, make a mess of the kitchen, burn the end result, etc…you name the disaster and I have probably been there done that!

This cookie project wasn’t about making the best cookie or perfecting my baking skills, it was about the experience I was to have with my daughter. She was excited to make cookies for her class of 8 students and I was excited to do this together. We got the kitchen ready, preheated the oven, triple checked to make sure we had everything we needed and then…got to work. We weren’t the cleanest nor did we get the recipe absolutely perfect…and we were okay with that.

I got some much needed one on one time with her, she got to spend some quality time with me, Daddy got to spend time with Delise and vice versa and everyone got to eat cookies in the end…it was a win win all around!

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This experience reminded me that Annora will only be 4.5 years old once, that I need to embrace these activities and memories because the opportunities will diminish if I don’t act on them, and that even though baking is not my strong point, we can learn and make baking messes together…those are my kind of memories and lessons! On a side note, Annora was GREAT and I can see baking as a strong suit in her near future.

You know, it wasn’t about baking at all…the baking could have been replaced with crafts, biking, making a fort, playing Barbies, etc. Spending time with her was priceless…and the cookies were an added BONUS!

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Why I Chose Classical Conversations Homeschooling…

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Man is it tough to be informed about all of the educational opportunities out there for your children! Charter, Public, Private, Montessori, Homeschooling, etc. Phew…the list goes on!

As a first time momma to a schoolage child, I must say that I was very confused and uninformed about my options. Thank goodness for my past!!! Having been a former teacher, I knew that the options out there were endless (well…almost), but I also knew it certainly isn’t the “norm” to go against the grain. I did know one thing though, I wasn’t comfortable sending my little one to the public school around the corner that refused to let me observe in the kindergarten classroom (to see if that school was a good fit for my upcoming child).

It was two years ago I started on this journey of finding the right avenue to take for schooling my child(ren). Annora was 2.5 years old. I went to so many open houses of different schools and just never felt like I belonged…never felt like what I was experiencing matched my families values and beliefs along with the rigorous curriculum I so desperately sought after. The Montessori school’s open house was impressive but failed to bring the religion piece into it…and it was a bit too expensive for our budget. Private was an option but again the cost was a bit too much. Charter didn’t WOW me and the thought of homeschooling terrified me (despite being a former kindergarten teacher).

It wasn’t until I attended an open house for a homeschooling organization called Classical Conversations that I felt connected and like the Christian values matched the rigor of material the kids were to learn over the course of the year. So, I swallowed my fears and decided to dive right in. It has been the most joyous experience…and I LOVE watching the lightbulb go off! The fact I get to witness it is a gift.

I FINALLY found THE group/school/organization/co-op/etc. that fit my families belief system. To say I am impressed with this program  is an utter understatement.

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The point is not to sway you to join a homeschooling co-op (although I would say it is a wise choice if it fits the schedule and values of your family), but to research, research, research what is out there; what options you, as a parent have when it comes to educating your child. Don’t settle for your child’s future…FIGHT FOR IT!

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Annora giving her weekly presentation.

Annora giving her weekly presentation.

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“The Tantrums Will Stop,” They Said…

HELPLESS…

I can’t help but feel helpless when struck with one of Delise’s temper tantrums. It is an everyday occurrence that stops all time as we know it and takes (sometimes) hours to get through. Today I am at a loss…

We all want our kids to be “normal,” and fit in…you know, be “good.” What does that REALLY look like?

As I watch Delise in one of her fits at a Help Me Grow evaluation, my heart breaks for this little girl, it breaks for her body and her spirit that are out of control. I stay strong but truthfully I want to hang my head and sob. Some days I am just at a loss…

“Do this and the tantrums will stop.”

“Stay consistent and the tantrums will stop.”

“Once she is more verbal the tantrums will stop.”

I just want my baby girl to experience low anxiety for once…just once. She is constantly seeking control in Every.Single.Aspect of her tiny little life. Honestly it just keeps getting worse. My heart is so heavy and I’m just sad. Sad for Delise that she struggles with this ailment, sad for Annora to have to witness one of Delise’s extreme tantrums, sad that Ben and I are at a loss, sad that she can’t be “fixed.”

For now, we seek help from developmental pediatricians, Occupational Therapists, Child Psychologists, Help Me Grow, and the list goes on…

I will be sure to keep you posted…

Our sweet baby girl...

Our sweet baby girl…

 

 

Swimming Triumphs

As Annora clings to the side of the swimming pool and Delise to her daddy’s neck, I get an anxious feeling deep in my gut. It is a feeling of fear…

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As a kid I liked to be a fish in the water…water that never went past my shoulders that is. I had this fear of drowning and fear of water creeping too closely to my neck and then soon after, my head. I would say the fear was small in the beginning and I didn’t let it stunt my water growth. Once I hit a certain age, that fear grew into something bigger than I hadn’t anticipated. As I became a mommy, I was sure that I didn’t want my kiddos to experience the same type of feelings while in the water.

I started Annora in swim lessons pretty early on (18 months) and Delise wasn’t too far off from that at 2 years old. I had heard that starting them young is the best route to go. Since hearing that, there is a lot of research that also supports that (and some against it as well).

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Since starting this last session, the fear of drowning (from my girls) has drastically changed, their water safety has improved, Annora wants to be healthier and I am confident they are learning a lifelong/ life saving skill. I truly feel that these lessons are extremely important and feel all parents should invest in swim lessons until their little ones are confident little swimmers.

As much as I want to wrap my girls in bubble wrap, I LOVE seeing them grow and learn!

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“Me” Time Indulgences

Have you ever just felt depleted and unable to give any more of yourself? That’s when I call in some “Me” mommy time! Mommy time is crucial to re-energize my batteries after day in and day out of trying to take care of everyone else.

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There are a number of reasons why me-time activities are important to me:

  1. A stress-free mom is a happy mom.
  2. I’ll take better care of my children when I take better care of myself.
  3. I won’t lose my identity under the mom name
  4. By enjoying the activities I love outside of parenthood, I’ll set a good example for my girls.
  5. I’ll take on the mom role with renewed spirit after every mini-break.

I like to take a well-deserved break, regardless of what’s on my agenda for the day. Whether I have a few spare minutes after the girls go to bed or I have a rare afternoon free to do something for myself, I try to indulge in activities that are just for me.

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It helps me feel like a new me and helps me be ready to tackle the dirty diapers, temper tantrums and sibling spats I’ll surely face.

 

One of my FAVORITE “Me” time indulgences…

Moms’ Night Out with my girlfriends. Eat dinner. Go bowling. Hit the coffeehouse. Play bingo. Take in a concert. Listen to poetry readings. Attend a play. Moms’ Night Out doesn’t have to center around hitting the bars!

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My other FAVORITE “Me” time indulgence?!?

EXERCISING!!! The thought of sweating out “me” time may not appeal to you, but exercise can be more than an afternoon of lifting weights until your muscles melt. It is a time I can catch up on my Podcasts, dance like no one is watching, etc.

I make exercise fun so I can stay in shape and model for my kids to do the same. After all, the extra energy helps me chase the girls without getting winded…LOL

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Fun Fall Activities

Oh the smell of doughnuts and apple cider paired with crisp air, sweaters and light jackets makes my heart want to sing praises! Fall is the time of year where I feel the most comfortable. The holiday season is quickly approaching, department stores have snappy jingles playing and people are typically in a good mood. Decorated houses peak out of the falling leaves and scarecrow faces. October 1st is the day I sit down with my Toledo Parent magazine and plan the month out. It doesn’t take long for the weeks to become consumed with hayrides, play dates to Fleitz Pumpkin Farm, corn mazes and Trunk-Or-Treat events.

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Here is what I have on our calendar for the month of October:

  1. Apple Stir Festival October 1-2nd 10-6PM macqueenorchards.com FREE    
  2. 14th Annual Autumn Harvest Festival October 8th 11-5PM hoensgardencenter.com/events.html FREE
  3. Grand Rapids Apple Butter Fest October 9th 10-5PM applebutterfest.org FREE
  4. Andrew Martin’s Magic Class for Kids October 10th 6PM toledolibrary.org FREE
  5. Trunk or Treat Fun Festival October 13th 3-6PM fbcogt.com FREE
  6. Cinderella Princess Party October 15th nda.org
  7. Sylvania Fall Festival October 16th 11-4PM sylvaniafallfest.com FREE
  8. Paws to Read October 16th 4PM toledolibrary.org FREE
  9. Cinderella the musical October 21st-30th nda.org
  10. Glass Pavilion Birthday Celebration October 23rd toledomuseum.org FREE
  11. Halloween Boo Cruise October 26-29th sandpiperboat.com
  12. Trunk or Treat October 26th 6-8PM crossroadson23.com FREE
  13. Fall Family Fun Nights October 21-22nd 6-9PM saudervillage.org
  14. Peter Rabbit Tales October 29th 2-4PM valentinetheatre.com

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