Look what you made me do


There is something that I haven’t been completely open with in when writing in this blog.  Its not that I haven’t gotten around to writing about it… or that I’ve tried to hide it necessarily… but it is something that I’ve struggled dealing with and accepting.  So here it goes…

My perfect, hilarious, beautiful, quirky, intelligent, blessing of a child, Jack, may be on the autism spectrum.  I’m sharing this information now because I’ve begun to realize how much this affects my life, my son’s life, my family, etc.  I will elaborate more in future posts because if there is anything I hope to convey more than anything else is …I love him EXACTLY the way he is.  Every bit of him is perfect to me.  He will always be perfect to me.  I’ve struggled with expressing it here because the idea of autism physically hurt me. It hurt me because I didn’t want him to suffer at all.  I didn’t want life to be hard for him.  I didn’t want him to miss out on opportunities.  As the days go on I’m starting to realize that autism doesn’t have to mean that Jack’s life will be any less fulfilling than anyone else’s.  It doesn’t have to mean the worst.  And the reason I say that he “may” have autism is because, well, honestly he acts exactly like I did as a kid.  We are very similar in many ways that hurt me because I know the challenges I faced when I was younger.  Whether he is or he isn’t… right now, we are chugging along and he is happy.  He is in school, he tells jokes and laughs, he loves his sister and is making friends.  I am so proud of him.

The reason I’m writing all of this out today is because there was something that happened this week that upset me deeply and without understanding the challenges we face you may not understand why the comments were so upsetting.

When I was a kid I was very shy, much like Jack.  I had friends but I was only comfortable in small groups.  I was nervous about talking to boys or anyone I decided was “cooler than me.”  I could determine who was “cooler than me,” at a very young age also.  I remember it happening as early as when I was 5 or so.  Jack struggles talking with children his own age.  We’re working on it but it is not something that comes naturally to him.  As for me, as I grew older I would pretend like I was a famous. Being famous would mean that everyone would just have to like me and I wouldn’t have to figure out how to make them like me.  Obviously, the desire to be famous has faded drastically with time but the love of music I developed many years ago when I would sing pop songs in my room for hours at a time has not.  It was therapeutic then and it is therapeutic now.  It was something that was my own and it helped me get through a lot of hard times.

When I got pregnant I prayed my children would not be like me.  I prayed they wouldn’t overthink things… or worry or obsess.  I prayed they would be confident and outgoing.  Though my kids are not exactly like I am, they do suffer from some of the things that I have suffered with.  At 4 years old, Jack is such a deep thinker.  He’s hyper aware… and so perceptive.  He also struggles with expressing himself and having real conversations at times.  A lot of this is because he is …4.  But some of this is because the words just don’t come to him.   I find it hard to know what he’s thinking sometimes or how he is feeling all the time.  Any way I can connect with him each day makes my heart so full.  It lets me know that my boy is in there.  Even if he’s hidden behind lots of chaotic thoughts, fears and obsessions… he’s there.  I can get to him and he can get to me.  We can find each other.  I’ve found many of these connections take place with music.

Recently, Taylor Swift released, “Look What You Made Me Do.”  I turned it on in the car and, on our way to my parent’s house, I turned to Jack in the back seat and sang the entire song to him.  Complete with sassy faces and dance moves hahah.  He loved it.  He tried to sing it back.  He danced.  We were connecting.  In a moment, we were both care free and happy.  When you’re a worrier, a constant over thinker, plagued with mental issues… you don’t have many moments of peace.  So, seeing my son smile, dance, laugh and perform… for me and with me- was a really beautiful thing to see.  We sing and dance to other pop songs too. Britney, Beyoncé, Spice girls… you name it.  When Jack was a baby Jeremy and I harmonized “Ghetto Superstar,” and it made him stop crying!  Pop music, for Jack, is solace in a very busy, hectic life.

Music is amazing.  It is healing and therapeutic.  It’s hard for my dad to hold a conversation with Jack at times but when he’s in my dad’s car and he turns on the Bluegrass, Jack slaps his knee and bobs his head to the beat.  He takes interest in it and he loves it.

At night, when I’m lying down with my sweet boy to get him to sleep I sometimes sing “Down In The River To Pray.”  One night, Jack turned to me and softly said, “Mommy, I like this song.”  Again, a connection.  My heart felt so full and my eyes teared up.  My boy was calm, happy and enjoying the moment.

So, getting to the point of this entire post.  Someone criticized my son’s knowledge of pop music the other day.  “Why does he even know who Taylor Swift is?” He shouldn’t know who the Spice girls are.”  “You don’t want your kids dressing like ho’s.”  “Let him be a kid.”

The words cut deep.  I thought to myself that this sort of thing happens… ALL the time.  People are so quick to throw their judgments at others.  They don’t think about what others are going through.  The person who said these things compared me to another mother.  They implied that this other person was raising their kid’s right when I was raising mine poorly.  Maybe they didn’t think through what they were saying.  Maybe they stand by it.  I don’t know… and I don’t care really.  I’ve never written anything more true than what I am about to write:

I absolutely adore my son.  I will do ANYTHING to help him.  ANYTHING.  I will constantly look for ways to connect with him, console him, heal him, make him laugh, keep him healthy and keep him safe.  I don’t care if it makes me look like the worst person or mother in existence.  If it is helping my son…I don’t care what anyone thinks.  The same goes for my daughter.  No one knows my children better than I know my children.  No one knows our struggles, our day to day lives, our family… more than us.

If pop music, hell, any music… makes my son smile– we’ll listen to it all day.  If a Taylor Swift song gives him a few carefree, fun minutes… we’ll listen to Taylor Swift.  I have sat in my room for hours practicing to Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Dixie Chicks, Janis Joplin, Gwen Stefani, Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss, etc. etc. etc.  As recently as a few months ago I spent an entire night with one of my best friends doing NOTHING but singing for hours on end.  It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time.

So… to those of you that want to judge me… or anyone else.  Just don’t.  Keep it to yourself.  The way I raise my children may not be your style… but it is what works for us.  The 3 minutes we get to perform our favorite songs… is 3 minutes we’re connecting, smiling, loving and feeling peace.

Advertisements

Let him be three.

Parenting is hard.  I think I’ve written that sentence more in this blog than any other sentence… but its true.  Kids are wild, they get sick, they are demanding, they don’t sleep, they throw tantrums, etc etc.  They’re tiny little terrors and completely worth every bit of crazy they put you through.  I love my own kids so much I can’t even attempt to describe it here.  They are my life.  However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that parenting them is difficult.  At my best, I feel like I’m only doing an okay job.  That feeling is worse when you’re approached by an outsider about their behavior.

Recently my son started his second year of preschool.  He was so excited to go back.  He loves school.  He comes home and tells us about his day and sings the song they teach him. Being that he enjoys it so much, I was pretty shocked when his teacher approached me one afternoon and asked, “does he always flap his hands?”  I was caught off guard and said “well, yeah.  He always has.  He mostly does it when he’s excited or running.”  She then continued on to ask me “does he have any other obsessive behaviors?”  I was becoming pretty irritated at this point.  She was asking me a ton of questions, in the presence of my child, with no context. Long story short, after only having my son in her class for one week… she had determined that something was wrong with him.  She was concerned about his “parallel playing, hand flapping, obsessive behavior of closing the bathroom door when other children were in there, not listening, etc.”  She recommended having a specialist come in to observe his behavior.

Being the overly paranoid, OCD, stress-case of a mother that I am, I cried all weekend.  I’d only ever seen my son as the perfect little 3 year old that he is.  His hand flapping, which I had noticed over the years, seemed pretty normal to me.  He is growing and learning so much every single day and absorbing everything.  Its a coping mechanism.  I equated it to my obsessive need to lick my lips the ENTIRE time I am shopping at Target.  I don’t know why it happens, but I know that it makes me feel better about being in a crowded store.  I’d noticed that my son is cautious.  I know that he takes a while to warm up.  He will talk to a kid after he gets to know them, in an environment that he feels comfortable.  No, I didn’t know that he slams the door every time a child goes to the bathroom… but I do know that we close the door when we go to relieve ourselves and well… most people do.  And of course he doesn’t listen.  He’s 3 years old.  He has been on this Earth for 3 years.  There is a whole lot left to learn.  He is a CHILD.

Despite knowing these things — I still found myself telling my son to put his hands by his side.  I told him not to flap his hands.  I tried to MAKE him talk to children… almost feeling depressed/irritated when he wouldn’t.  I wanted to scream.  In a few ignorant statements, this teacher caused me to go from seeing my son as a bright, beautiful, perfect little 3 year old to a child that was flawed, socially challenged, with a possible real problem.  I am not perfect.  I had a few moments of confusion and panic, but eventually I realized that I didn’t like the way I felt around my son anymore.  I was seeing his personality as a flaw rather than how I’d seen it just days before– which was unique and beautiful.  Nothing had changed with him.  His mannerisms and behaviors were still the same.  So why did I feel this way?  I was allowing someone’s  quick judgments to cloud my own judgment and perception.  I was allowing the joy I felt about and with my child to be taken.  I wasn’t going to allow it anymore.

Next week we will have a screening done for my son.   He will go to a “special school” to play and professionals will watch and judge him.  I will listen to what they have to say but I won’t take it to heart.  I know my child.  I know his personality.  I know he is cautious, a bit anxious, incredibly smart, hilarious, sweet and wild haha.  I know he has a one-track mind like his dad did at his age.  I know he has trouble approaching groups like I did.  I know that no matter what, I will help him, love him and cherish him every step of the way.

As for his teacher, and everyone else for that matter– I think its important to remember that kids should be kids. A 3 year old should be a 3 year old.  If they slam a door to get a reaction, this shouldn’t be immediately considered an obsessive behavior.  I encourage everyone to stop finding fault in others. I am not naïve to the fact that there are potential disorders that kids could have that need special attention.  However, there are also quirks and behaviors that are typical for a 3 year old.  We need to have common sense.  As for my child, no teacher should have determined that my son had special needs after only knowing him and having him in a classroom for 1 week.  If it turns out that he needs special attention, that’s fine.  But for now, he needs to be 3.  He needs to play, learn social norms, learn how to approach and talk to others.  He deserves the time and our patience to figure this world out.

(I wrote this 6 months ago.  My goal is to incorporate more posts from my previous blog into the blog I have now… –Now that I am coming to terms with many things involving my children and am willing to share them with those I know, and those I don’t.  I read this tonight and still stand by it 100 percent. 6 months later my son is still as wonderful and amazing as he was then.  He struggles with things… but don’t we all?  Also, I hear his teacher has retired- and future toddlers are better because of it. ha!)

Quick Tip Tuesday: Keep it real

My tip this (almost) Thursday… is to keep it real.  Weird right?  This isn’t really a tip is it?  Well, I’m not really in the mood for a tip.  Lately, I’ve been tired.  I’ve been really beaten down by life and things have just been hard.  I sat around tonight wondering what my tip could be this week and all I could really think about is how I’m feeling right now.  Specifically, how there is no tip that anyone can give me to make things easier necessarily.  So… I decided to just come to the blog with how I feel.  So… my tip is keeping it real.

If I’m being very real… rather than post a tip, I wanted to come here and tell you guys that I’m extra exhausted right now but I can’t do anything but obsessively clean my house.  (Wow! What a work in progress that is… I could work for a year and not be done most likely)  All I can think about is how I want to organize things or what needs to be cleaned next.  I don’t know why …but its the only thing I feel like I have control of at the moment.  I’m also sad for my husband… who is sad, obviously.  I’m sad when my son realizes each day that granddaddy is indeed still in heaven.  I’m stressed beyond belief… and I’m having trouble managing it.

Tonight, I texted my doctor to tell her that I couldn’t remember if I’d taken my medication, and feared I may have taken it twice.  Though I knew this would not be a problem, I compulsively had to text her.  And call the pharmacist.  And my mom.  And my husband.  This panic and paranoia landed me a 9 am trip to her office tomorrow morning.  When things feel out of control I start to spin out of control.  It is my reality.  I have dealt with it for many, many years.  Thankfully, I have amazing healthcare providers that can see it and know when to step in and check on things.

Overall, I think we’re doing a pretty damn good job of handling the absolute insanity that has come our way this year.  My kids are happy.  I get out of bed every morning.  We sometimes make it to story time.  We drive around… we talk, we play and we laugh.  So, even though I have very hard moments, I’m still happy and I’m still blessed.  And I’m not just writing that so that this happy mommy blog post has a happy little ending.  I mean it.  I’m lucky to have my kids, my husband, our home and so much love.

Maybe next week I’ll come at you with a new tip… a real one.  But for now, this is all I’ve got.  <3.

It’s time for TingTing!

tingting

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

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.

Recipe: Perfect baked chicken

Last week was long.  Last week was difficult.  Last week, we ate out 5 times.  Every single night of the work week we got take out.  It is awful.  I’m ashamed.  So… yesterday I was determined to cook this weekend!  I went to the store and bought a pack of chicken with 0 plans on what to do with it.  I walked into my kitchen at 5:30 pm and stared blankly at the chicken and then started frantically googling “easy, fast baked chicken.”  I stumbled upon a recipe that was very appealing because it didn’t involve any grains or dairy.  My 14 month old has FPIES so she could actually eat from the table.  This would be her first time doing so!  (Poor kid is so tired of sweet potatoes, avocados, etc.)

(my sweet FPIES baby eating the same dinner we had!)

I decided to do a blog post on this recipe because my family and I found it to be very delicious.  I was so excited to make something my daughter could share with us and I made it very quickly.  Dinner was ready 30 minutes later.  That is a win!! Easy, fast, inexpensive… I can easily make this on a weeknight rather than grab takeout.  This is just as easy!

Perfect Baked Chicken Recipe

I made a few adjustments to the recipe.  When I make this again  I will probably use less salt because I try to limit salt when cooking, but otherwise I liked this!  I suggest coating the spices on very thick.  20 minutes later your chicken is done and you can pair with a side of veggies and fruit!  We had cauliflower and broccoli and cantaloupe!  Delicious 🙂

What recipes do you have on hand that are quick (30 minutes or under), easy, and inexpensive?  I would love to build up a go-to for great weeknight recipes (with normal ingredients… no, I do not keep heavy cream, fresh ginger, etc. just on the ready in my house).  Also, if they’re dairy/grain free- even better!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Skipping the party!



So, I’ve been slammed with work. That is why I haven’t been updating. I watch my kids full time and do transcription for a dermatology clinic part time. I stay busy! I wish I could blog whenever I wanted to… but I can’t unfortunately. I love it when I have the time!!

Today’s tip is kind of up to you to decide if it works for you or not. Today is my son’s birthday. He is 4! I cannot believe he is 4 years old. I feel like I had him yesterday. I remember them placing him on my chest. I sobbed. I was so happy to meet him. I was so tired. I was so in love. The nurse looked over at me and said “what’s wrong? are you in pain? why are you crying?.” I thought it was very bizarre. This was the single most important moment of my life to that point and this lady was weirded out over my emotion!

I’ve thought about this moment so many times in the past 4 years. It represents so much more to me. The nurse, for whatever reason, felt that I wasn’t acting appropriately. Maybe she was concerned something was wrong… but I kind of just wanted the space to feel my feelings.

This past year has been a hard one for our family. Jack has had troubles at preschool (his former preschool) and Claire has had her allergy battles, etc. I suffered with my postpartum anxiety/OCD and we’ve just been run ragged it feels like. Once again, I haven’t really been allotted the time to “feel my feelings.”

Because of the craziness of the year I chose to do “no party birthdays.” This was a hard decision because it was Claire’s first birthday and Jack is obsessed with birthdays! (really, the kids in his class had to list something they love at valentine’s day- most kids in his class chose their mom or dad… Jack chose birthdays). I made this decision because every year I’ve gone all out and thrown Jack full on Pinterest parties. We’ve had tons of people… too many gifts, big cakes, etc. At the end of the day we’re ALL exhausted, our bank account is a bit smaller, and Jack has a ton of toys he doesn’t touch for 6 months. Also, I read this article recently and decided that I want to be a family like this.

I’ve REALLY realized recently how rapidly my children are growing up. It is happening so quickly. I want to experience things with them. I want to connect and enjoy them. I won’t care about a billion cutesy pinterest inspired pictures in the future, I’ll care about having an amazing birthday experience with my 4 year old! As long as he is happy, I’m happy. I’m glad we will have a birthday where we don’t have to worry about details and can focus on the joy his birthday brings!

He has made a few requests this birthday. He wants to go to “target, the movies, food lion, lowes, and the mountains.” LOL. I can make some of those happen. I took him to Target and he got birthday hats and a scooter. He had cupcakes with his friends at school. We’re going to jump at a trampoline park this weekend and eating dinner at his favorite restaurant tonight. We’re going to the beach next month. (what we also did with his sister for her first birthday! she saw the beach for the 1st time on her 1st birthday!) He is excited and I am getting the opportunity to share that enjoyment with him– rather than worry about small details.

Give it a try. See if it works for you 🙂