It’s time for TingTing!

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Guys, congratulations! I am about to expose you to something pretty fantastic hahah.  Okay, so, I don’t know if you’re like me- but I’ve tried multiple times to expose my son and daughter to other cultures, languages, etc.  I want them to know more than I did (and do!)  I also believe they should start learning a foreign language sooner rather than later.

Personally, I started studying Japanese in the 7th grade.  For many years it came to me so easily.  I loved it!  As the years went on it became harder and harder to learn Japanese.  It was also hard because I didn’t know anyone else studying the language!  My parents weren’t very interested… and the only people I had to speak with were fellow students.  Sometimes I wish I’d been exposed to foreign language learning materials at an early age.  I believe it would have helped a lot with learning more complex language concepts.

This week, when I was speaking with my friend Ferren of Artcre.am, I was thrilled to find out that she was working on a new project.  Ferren excels at anything she puts her mind to.  Seriously, her talent is amazing to me.  Her new project is an early learning, Chinese language board book for kids!  I wasn’t sure what to expect when she told me about it… but when I watched her Kickstarter video I was so in love!

Really guys, TingTing is the cutest character.  Through her, you get to learn Mandarin Chinese.  It is designed for young children and can be read to them by anyone- regardless of your proficiency (or lack thereof) of the language! Win!

And I know, I know…Ferren is my friend… my best friend actually.. so you may think I’m just writing about this for that reason- but… no.  I really love this idea.  I think the book is beautiful and the idea is amazing.  I’ve known Ferren for 13 years now, and her love of Chinese is immense.  She studied Chinese in college and went on to study further in China.  She wants to see little ones get those foreign language experiences also– at an even earlier age!

So, below is her Kickstarter page.  Turns out, great ideas take a little bit of money.  I hope you will consider contributing.  I know this project will be a success!  (I also can’t wait for my copy!)

TingTing Goes To School: A Children’s Chinese Language Book

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When it rains, it pours

Wow, what a week.  What a month… What a year.  What a …2 years.  This is a rough… rough time in our lives.  Is it okay if I put it all out there?

2016 was extremely difficult for us.  I couldn’t wait for the new year.  I hoped and prayed that the new year would bring with it a rebirth of sorts.  I needed everything negative to be behind me… I needed to move on.   My son started 2016 with lots of illnesses he got from preschool (fun!) and I was a stress case the entire time.   Then in March I had my beautiful daughter.   She is absolutely the most beautiful, wonderful thing to come out of 2016.  She was a healthy 8 lb 10 oz.  I was in love.


Then, the postpartum depression and anxiety really escalated and became unmanageable.  I’d never felt so unlike myself.  I had this beautiful angel of a baby and I couldn’t enjoy her because of a million different irrational fears.  I was out of my mind.  The stress hurt.  I found my therapist and went back to my psychiatrist and I got medication to get things under control.

Fast forward to May and my son had a reaction to penicillin and had to go to the emergency room via ambulance with a very high fever.  He developed erythema multiforme.  His rash looked worse than any google images out there.  I was terrified.  I thought I would fall apart.  However, he recovered and things carried on as usual.


In July, my daughter had two bouts of intense vomiting after eating baby cereal.  The second time we were at my parents for the 4th of July holiday and my daughter woke up 2 hours after ingesting the oatmeal screaming.  She screamed and screamed until she got a bottle, which she promptly vomited all over her aunt.  She then became very lethargic and floppy. I called 911 and my 4 month old was carried via ambulance to the emergency room.  After hours of tests, failed IVs and blood draws… we were sent home.  I consulted her pediatrician that reassured me it was probably just a sensitivity and told me to avoid oats.  I knew it my heart it was more.  I took her to a pediatric gastroenterologist and then a pediatric allergist.  We found out our sweet girl had FPIES.


I cried my eyes out in the allergist’s office.  I wondered if it was my fault.  Maybe it was all the cookies I ate when I was pregnant.  Maybe it was not being able to breastfeed.  Why had I been so selfish to have postpartum anxiety and DMER.  ?  I told myself that I should have fought harder to break through the mental anguish.  I should have eaten better.  I should have been better for her.  The doctor assured me over and over again that this was not my fault.  I would tell myself for a long time that it was.

After this experience we went about our lives as normal and made the decision to hold off on solids for my daughter for a few months.  In those few months we were preparing for my son to start his second year of preschool.  I was nervous that he would get so sick again, but I knew I couldn’t keep him in a bubble forever!  So… In September he started his second year of preschool.


By the end of his first week his teacher came to me with concerns.  This part of the story is probably going to be the absolute hardest to write– but I’ll try.  Long story short, she had concerns that Jack was developmentally delayed.  (I had concerns that she was an idiot — but that had nothing to do with Jack.  That is a whole other story. ) So… we were referred to a service provided through the local school system to have an evaluation for our son.  We took my son to an office downtown and he sat with a clinical psychologist for a while… and I thought he did a great job.  Of course, the evaluation showed that he needed an assessment.  The assessment determined that he had a developmental delay.  I am pretty sure that, had I consented, he would have been diagnosed with autism right there.  I did not consent though… for reasons that I will get to in another post.  In fact, for more detailed information about all of this feel free to visit my previous blog, The Glimmer.


The months that followed were incredibly difficult.  My husband and I spent many nights in bed crying… wondering, researching, asking ourselves how this was possible… etc.  I felt like the ultimate failure of a mother.  Was this my fault?  Is it because I ate poorly, allowed him to have junk food every now and then, let him play on the ipad?  I couldn’t stop with the questions.  Every therapy session was devoted to this.  Through the mental turmoil, Jack was acting out at school.  He was being punished, yelled at, ganged up on and treated awfully by his teacher and the other people at the school.  I had panic attacks after dropping him off in the mornings.  Finally, we made the decision to withdraw him from that toxic place.  My beautiful baby had been treated so badly by ignorant, awful people and I didn’t realize it because they were the ones telling me he was a bad child with all of his problems.  Everyone was telling me something was “wrong” with my child.

Nothing is wrong with my child.  Nothing.  He is exactly the way God made him.  He is beautiful, bright, hilarious, brilliant and perfect.  He loves phones… a lot.  He flaps his hands when he is excited.  He jumps up and down … a lot.  His best friend is his sister.  He adores her.  He strikes up random conversations with strangers on the street– shakes their hands and says, “hello, how are you?”  –He cannot talk to a child.  He can’t say hello to them or acknowledge their presence.  I don’t know why…and he can’t tell me.  These are facts… and these are things we’re figuring out as the days go by.  These are the things that go around and around in my head on a loop.  I lost many months of seeing all of the wonderful in my son and instead focused on the things that supported the fact that “something was wrong with him.”   I will never forgive myself for that… or the people that were persistent in telling me that something was “wrong” with him.  Even if there is a delay, or there is autism… or whatever the hell is going on… nothing is wrong with him.  Everything is right.  He is my love.


As my husband and I dealt with this new reality… we started the new year with putting Jack in a new school and all was well.  His new school was amazing!  His teachers were perfect.  God sent them straight to us.  I prayed about it, I asked for an answer and God delivered.  His teachers truly loved him.  They appreciated the beautiful person that he is.  He never got in trouble one day at school.  He started making art again.  He had progress with students in the classroom.  It was a true blessing.  He started working with an itinerant teacher and she was so supportive and helped him immensely.  He started play therapy and he loves it!  I am so grateful for these resources.  We stopped focusing on what was “wrong” with Jack and helped him with anything he struggled with.  He has overcome SO many fears this year and grown so much.  We are so proud of him.

2017 was looking up and then my husband’s father got sick.  He had complications with diabetes and was in the hospital in March.  He recovered but had to have his leg amputated.  Fortunately we got to spend a lot of time with him in the past few months.  Our family went most weekends to help out and visit with him.  We were very grateful and he pulled through everything and got better.  Then, on May 15 we got a devastating call.  He was very sick again and in the ICU.  We rushed to the hospital and seeing him like that was so painful.  I immediately felt regret for every argument we’d ever gotten in (we had a few misunderstandings… we’re both stubborn and hard headed haha).  The next few weeks were a true rollercoaster.  There were moments of hope and then moments of being let down.  It was like this over and over.  Finally, on June 2 he left us and we have missed him every moment since.


One thing you should know about my father-in-law is that he helped me get a transcription job at his company– this was amazing for having kids.  I could keep the kids and work from home.  This saved on daycare.  Though it was extremely stressful and hard to deal with at times… it was essential for us financially.  There were moments during this job that I struggled with working home alone.  I hate being alone.  It is torture for me to be alone.  I can’t focus, I start to fear things… I struggle.  This affected my work several times over the years but I persisted.  I’d recently grown to appreciate the work nights after the kids were in bed.  I could zone out and think of something other than how hard things had been.  Well, the company my father in law and I worked for is full of drama.  No need to get into any of it here…but the people are less than kind and it has been difficult to be employed there.  However, when I was let go via email this past Thursday I was upset.

We have two kids.   Both with “special needs.”  Formula is expensive.  Therapy is expensive.  Appointments are expensive.  Everything… is expensive.  Though, I didn’t make much money the money I made was essential.  So… here we are.  Still grieving the loss of my father in law and then let go by the company he devoted many years of his life to in the same week as his memorial service.  It adds insult to injury is the expression I think.  I’ve been there for 6 years… and now I am here… trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up… and I’m scared.  I’m lost… and I’m scared.

I’m stressed out.  These are the biggest events in the past 2 years and I feel… a little beaten down by them.  To put it mildly.

Now that I’ve gotten it all out there- I do want to share a few things that have helped me get through the madness:

–Having Claire with no epidural.  I felt strong and amazing.  I had a goal and I did it.
–Trusting my mama gut so many times and being right.
–Advocating for my kids.
–Getting over my own fears because I needed to be strong for Jack.  We have gotten over fears together.
–The love shared in difficult situations.  There are no better hugs than the hugs from my husband when he knows I need one.  He holds me like he’ll never let me go.  These hugs keep me going.  They help me breathe.
–Friends.  Oh God, how would I have made it this year without my friends?  They text everyday, they send cards, come to birthday parties, have a drink, make me laugh, come to my rescue, watch my kids, etc etc.
–Family.  My parents have really stepped in and helped me immensely in the past few years.  My in-laws have helped us.  We would NOT be okay without this help.  Our families are true blessings.
–Tickle fights.  I’ve noticed that in the past few months, all four of us have gotten in the floor several times and laughed for so long it hurts.  These moments are so special.  Our phones are away, the TV is off… and we’re just enjoying each other.  It is euphoric.  It is pure joy shared among 4 people that love each other so much.  I thank God every single time for these moments.  They are amazing.


We’re going to get through all of these things… and we’re going to do it together.  I’m going to be okay. I’m going to try… and fight… and grow and change and learn.  I’m going to pray that things start looking up.  Lately, I’ve been focusing on the negative because it seems there has been nothing but negative… but I need to change my outlook.  Prayers are appreciated.

Have any of you gone through a difficult season in life?  How did you cope?

<3.

 

Quick Tip Tuesday: Video baby monitor


When I got pregnant with my first child I wouldn’t accept anything less than a video baby monitor! I know, I know… many people have been fine with audio monitors but I felt it necessary to have a video monitor.  Funds were tight… so I got a a Levana monitor from Groupon.  It worked pretty well for a while.  Eventually, we moved on to a Samsung.  The Samsung was okay but eventually quick working.  Finally, when pregnant with my second, my mother-in-law gifted me with a Motorola Video Baby Monitor with 2 Cameras.

The Motorola was my favorite camera of the ones I tried, but eventually it stopped rotating.  Being able to control the camera was one of my favorite features so this bummed me out!  Then, the cord broke.  I got a new one from ebay, but that one broke too.  I couldn’t find another, so I looked for a cheaper option.

My husband went to Amazon and found this gem!  Wansview Camera

It is $32.99!  Yes, you read that right- it has all the features of these other cameras (more than some) and it is $32.99! win!  So I was skeptical at first… but we got the camera, set it up and it works perfectly!

You set it up, download an app on your phone and there you go.  Your sleeping babies are right there in view.  You can listen in on them, talk to them, change the clarity of the image, etc.  It is amazing, especially for 32 dollars!  I *WISH* I’d had this from the start.  I wouldn’t have wasted hundreds on the other monitors.

Check it out 🙂  And if you have any other items you’ve saved a ton of money on share in the comments! I would love to hear about them.  <3.

5 Fun Father’s Day gift ideas!


Father’s Day is coming up and that is a pretty important holiday in our house.  Let me tell you why– it is simple really.. my kids have the best dad!  They’re pretty lucky 🙂  I really want to make this Father’s Day special for him so I will have to get creative. I’ve kind of set the bar pretty high in years past.  I don’t know how to top some of our previous gifts.   This year, my husband has requested sleeping in- and I wholeheartedly believe he wants this more than anything ha … so maybe we’ll honor that and come up with something else too.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, here are 5 Father’s Day gift ideas my son and I worked on a few years back.  We were pretty proud of ourselves!  They were cute, cheap, creative and fun.  My husband loved them!  Share your own ideas in the comments, or if you use any of these ideas- share your photos!

Photo Shoot In Daddy’s Clothes

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I’m being told constantly that my son is a mini me of his dad.  I mean, he does look exactly like him.  I decided that for Father’s Day I would dress my son up in my husband’s clothes and do a quick photo shoot!  My son thought it was hilarious to wear daddy’s clothes and my husband loved the pictures!  He framed them and put them in his office.

Photo Collage

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My son and I ventured outside for some more photos but this time we used letter cutouts and made a picture collage for my husband!  Jack had so much fun posing with the letters and when put together they spelled daddy!  We got a cute frame for the photos and my husband still cherishes this sweet gift!

Shirt and Tie Cake

My son, Jack, loves any excuse for cake, so I believe this part of our project was his absolute favorite.  We baked a chocolate cake and decorated it with vanilla frosting!  We baked it in a rectangle pan so it would look like a shirt. (Thanks Pinterest!) We used m&m’s to make it look like the shirt had suspenders and a bow tie!  We got a little extra and used m&m’s with Jack’s face etched on them for the bow tie.  It added a personal touch and turned out SO cute.  To get your own personalized M&M’s you can visit the web site here: m&ms.  (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos! When I took the pics I didn’t know I’d be blogging about it 2 years later! hahah)

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Father’s Day Shirt

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This one was just for fun.  I took one of Jack’s shirts and wrote a message to my husband!  I then let him sit down at his art table and draw a picture for his dad while wearing the shirt.  It was cute and funny to see Jack making art for his dad while wearing a shirt wishing daddy a happy Father’s day!  My husband had a lot of photos from our Father’s Day Celebration!

Father’s Day ART/Coffee Mug

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Before I figured out that art isn’t really my son’s thing, we spent a lot of time doing it! ha.  I loved doing art projects with my little one.  Maybe one day he’ll grow to love it again, or maybe he’ll love other things more.  Thankfully, he had the patience to complete a few projects for his daddy!  The first thing we did was decorate a coffee mug.  My husband loves coffee!! We got this white mug on clearance at Target and got oil based sharpie markers! I applied “DAD” in tape to the mug and then let my son have at it!  When he was finished we put the mug in a COOL oven and let it heat up with the oven.  350 degrees for 30 minutes.   Let the mug stay in the oven for the entire process.  (Heating up and cooling down).  After a few hours apply acrylic sealing spray.  Even with the sealing spray I would still only hand wash your creation!  My husband really cherished this gift! He absolutely loved having a creation made just for him by our little one.

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If you have a lot of photos leftover and are looking for something to do with them, you can always create a photo collage as well.  This one kind of sat around the house for a while as we threw it together last minute– but it was fun to do.  With extra time and patience, we could have crafted it a bit better (ha!) but with a 2 year old, you take what you can get!  This could be fun for older kids that can write their own father’s day poem or cut out magazine images.  We used photos and scrapbook clippings.

I hope you got some fun ideas from our list.  Our Father’s Day a few years back was pretty epic.  We had a lot of fun with it.  Whether we decide to top this one this year, or just let daddy sleep in and give him extra cuddles, the important thing is acknowledging these holidays!  I think it can be easy to overlook these “hallmark” holidays, especially when life gets really busy… but I think they’re really important.  Like I said, my kids are so lucky to have the daddy they have!  He is so loving, funny, smart, sweet and he cherishes us.  We are so blessed.  This will be his first Father’s Day without his own father… and realizing that has made me appreciate these days more.  I wish we’d made bigger deals out of them in the past.  However you choose to celebrate your father will be perfect, as long as you choose to celebrate!

Happy Father’s Day everyone 🙂

 

Quick Tip Tuesday: Talking It Out 


Today has been exhausting.  I mean, every day for the past 2 years has been exhausting I think…but today I had to make a 9:30 am doctor’s appointment with my 4 year old and 1 year old.  They’re readjusting to our schedule after a month of craziness. I honestly had no idea if they’d wake up at 6 am or 10 am.  So- last night I set my alarm…I prepared my son for the doctor’s appointment (who is traumatized from a throat culture in March) and went to sleep. 

Of course, this morning I wake up to a text from my husband at 8:30 saying– shouldn’t you be awake?  Yep. I overslept. My very brilliant 4 year old got into my phone and turned the alarm off, and then sat there quietly while I snoozed.  (He’s clever).  I had 30 minutes to feed the kids, change diapers, get them dressed, etc.  After much stress, I did it. We made it by appointment time. 

And of course, as soon as the nurse called our name all hell broke loose. My son screamed. He grabbed onto the fish tank for dear life. He flopped around, fell backward, etc. I had to pick him up and carry him to the room. He kicked, screamed, cried, pushed, punched. It was pretty impressive.  He’s done this the past few times we’ve been to the doctor so I wasn’t surprised. I did, however, change my approach to the situation. 

First off- I said a prayer. I asked God to please help me and guide me.  Then, I talked to my son. I asked him if he was scared. I reassured him. I held him tight. I sympathized with him and I didn’t lose my cool. I didn’t become embarrassed by his outburst — I got down to his level and reasoned with him.  I was able to exclude everyone else and allow the conversation just to be between us.  So often I feel judged by others. Am I being too lenient? Am I being too harsh? What are they thinking?  For once, I didn’t care. The important thing was taking care of my baby. He was scared- that was all this outburst was about. Fear.  We talked and after a few minutes he calmed down. He got off the floor and he sat down and did everything he was supposed to do.  I was so proud of him.  

When everything was done I gathered our things and the doctor told my son he was a great little boy and did a wonderful job. The nurse took a moment to tell me that I did everything right. “You really handled that situation. He was upset and you diffused things- and he’s fine. You did everything right. Good job mom.”

Wow. When I stopped worrying about what others thought of my parenting…it was actually complimented.  When I took the time to talk to my kid instead of scoff, threaten, or voice my frustration I got better results than ever before. 

Communication is key. Whether it be between spouses, friends, or a mom and her very pissed off, scared 4 year old.  Talking it out is never a bad idea. ❤️

Hello June 

Well, after a long and painful May/beginning of June– I’m back.  I don’t even know where to begin regarding the last few weeks.  I guess at the beginning. 

Monday the 15th I took my son to school and got a walk in at the lake with my friend emily. It was a perfect day and I mentioned we should walk again soon — I always feel better mentally and physically when I spend time outside and get some exercise in.  I picked my son up and we went on with our day like normal. My husband got home and my son ran out to meet him. When he came in he mentioned he’d gotten a text from his mom to come to the hospital an hour away. His dad was hospitalized again. (He has been hospitalized a few months before for similar issues). 

We raced to pack our bags and we met my parents at the hospital so they could get the babies. They have helped us out so much lately and I’m so thankful! 

When we got to the hospital I wasn’t quite prepared for the severity of the situation. My father in law was very sick. 

I’m going to skip the details of the following weeks because I don’t really want to relive them and there’s no point in spelling it all out. Long story short –we slept at hospitals, visited 3 different ICU’s, ate a ton of fast food, made some inappropriate jokes, cried a lot, leaned on each other, prayed constantly, and learned to let go. 

My father in law did not make it out of the hospital this time.  He passed peacefully and I’m thankful my husband could be with him in his final moments. 

My father in law was a really good man. We had our differences of opinion, often…but I never doubted his heart. He loved his wife, his kids, his grandkids.  He worked hard hard and was a good provider.  I’m sad that my kids most likely won’t remember him. 

His passing sucks. There is no other way to put it. I told my husband…it sucks and it isn’t fair.  The only good thing to come out of situations is like this …is the closeness you have with your family. You hold each other up in ways you may have never been able to or had to before.  You’re there for each other and love each other. You love each other through the pain.  There is a lot of love in our family and I am so grateful for it.