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Living my life for you

One thing that has been a pretty hard pill to swallow for me is that my life is not my own anymore. When you have kids your life becomes your kids; but at the same time most people work and raise children at the same time. That is not the case for me.

In the begging after having Eli I was a stay at home mom, mostly because my husband is active duty military and we moved A LOT in the last 3 years. It was very hard for me to find a job, but I did. In the past three years I had several jobs. I really enjoy being a stay at home mom as much as I do being a working mother; but I think what I liked about my life before is I always had the option to be either. I do not have that option anymore, at this point I am unable to work. My life is being completely consumed with Eli’s therapies (I am not complaining, I want these things for Eli and they are necessary for his development and I would do this same thing for my next child and any amount of children we end up having.) What I am simply saying is that the life I am living is not my own, I am living my life for Eli. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so; this is what motherhood should be. Mother’s should be sacrificing their own lives for their children. Not having the option to go back to work does make me feel a little boxed in though. Before when I would find work I would put Eli in daycare, now I don’t have that option. Eli is in in-home therapy mon-fri 8am-12pm, speech therapy Tuesday night and Wednesday night and occupational therapy Wednesday afternoon. How would I be able to put my child in daycare with that type of schedule? How would I be able to take college courses (that were not online) with that type of schedule? How do families with two working parents (or a working single parent) get their children the help that they need???

Having the in-home therapy during the mornings does give me some leeway with appointments and errands and actually has been helpful to have during those things. The mornings are when I can schedule all my doctor’s appointments and get shopping done because I have an extra set of hands to help me. But at the same time I am not going to make the therapists go to kohl’s with me to try on shorts, those type of errands get pushed to the back burner whenever I find time after my husband is home.

As you can imagine living off one income is hard for a family of three, especially one living in southern California. I am continuously looking of ways to make money for our family from online transcription, to night shifts, weekend shifts, to even making this blog (although making money off a blog takes a lot of time, a lot a lot of time).

Despite all of the struggles I have to go through, Eli struggles more. That is why, even if I sometimes feel taken over, I will continue to make these sacrifices for him.

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Mama Go!

Raising a nonverbal child can be very frustrating; not just for the child struggling to communicate, but also for the parents trying to understand their needs. For the past year we have been working on mastering sign language, which helped us out so so so much. However, it did nothing for my need to hear my son call me mommy. Eli has been signing mommy and daddy and saying daddy (verbally) for a while now. In recent weeks I urged him, while he was signing “mommy go”, to say the words out loud. With Eli’s speech delay he is able to say sounds and syllables, but when it comes to saying complete words they come out jumbled. So, he was physically able to say mama, but using it in the appropriate way, was not happening. Until about a week ago! Now, when Eli is signing “mommy, go!” he will also say the words. Of course since he’s still working these things out it comes out more like “Ma-Ma OOH!” I’ll take it. I have been waiting three years to hear my son call me mama and it was the most beautiful experience with him yet!

I have tried to use this tactic for other signs he uses. For instance, he can sign “open”. We try and break it down to “oh” “puh” “en”. He can say all those syllables, and when we go to say it all together and faster, it comes out in baby babble. Same goes for the word “more” We have been working on “mmm” “oh” “rrrr”. Yet again though, when said all together, it comes out jumbled.

It is very frustrating at times because I know the potential he has to speak; he just can’t quite get it out. It is very entertaining to listen to him tell stories though. Yesterday he told me a gripping tale of how the sippy cup fell from the top of his loft bed and fell onto the floor spilling water everywhere. He is very animated. But I can tell just how thrilling the story is by his facial expressions and hand motions, even if all he is saying out loud is baby babble.

I don’t have a doubt in my mind that Eli will get there. Only a year ago he wasn’t using any forms of communication and saying no words verbally. Now, he signs over 20 words/phrases and verbally says about 7 or so words. It takes a long of dedication and persistence to get a delayed child up to speed. At times it may be a lot and very overwhelming but I am the bridge to get my son to where he needs to be. I will keep going full speed ahead! Mama Go!!!

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Getting Mommy Alone Time

Stay at home moms definitely don’t get enough credit. Whether your child has a disability or not, a toddler is a toddler; and toddlers are crazy. Staying home all day with a crazy, hyper, emotional, screaming, crying, yelling child is enough to make anyone hit the wine bottle at the end of the night. Whether you are a single parent or doing it with someone else, parenting is still a full time job. Being a stay at home parent is a non-stop unpaid job with no paid time off.

I often get jealous of other parents, and even my husband, who work. They go out everyday, get to see new people, make work friends, have a life. My life is a 3-year-old, therapists, playgrounds, and tantrums. (Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade being a stay at home mom, it was the right choice for our family and I will never regret that. Its just, the grass is always greener on the other side kind of thing). When my husband comes home from work I run for the hills for alone time. The days that he comes home from work too exhausted to do anything are the worst because that means no alone time for mommy (until bedtime). Even when my husband is home I, apparently, am the only one who can get more water or change the show on Netflix. Yes, Eli, your dad can do things too, not just your mommy.

What is my solution? Wine. Wine is always the solution. I usually end my night with a glass or two and all the day’s cries, meltdowns, cooking, cleaning, and annoyance of other people’s children melt away with my Pinot Grigio. If you’re not into wine, or alcohol at all for that matter, I have made a list of other sneaky ways to get alone time.

  1. Putting away clean laundry. Did you slave all day washing, drying, and folding clean clothes? Don’t put them away until your significant other comes home. That way you can spend 15 minutes putting away clothes and an extra 45 minutes in the closet on the floor (so no one will find you) watching Netflix.
  2. Find any excuse to go to the store. It’s 7pm but you’re certain you need chicken broth for that crockpot dinner for tomorrow; better run to the store. Take the long way, put in one of your old mixed cds and have an impromptu dance party with the music turned up, because after all, there’s no kids in your car.
  3. When you don’t have a family dinner one night due to everyone’s busy schedule, whip something together for everyone else (very important so no one is waiting on you) and tell you’re significant other you’re going to run and pick yourself up a sub. Drive to Subway, get your sub to go, and eat it in your car while watching Netflix on your phone. I got through a whole episode of Grey’s Anatomy while eating a quiet meal alone. IT. WAS. AWESOME. I showed back up like 40 minutes later and told him there was a long line.

I’m sure someone out there will say, but I don’t have a significant other, it’s just me. Don’t worry, I got you. My husband has a deployment coming up and I have thought of ways to get me through it.

  1. Set the kids up with all their favorite distractions. Sure, kids shouldn’t watch too much tv but is that going to stop me from putting on Zootopia, opening the ipad to his favorite game, and turning on the wii U? No. Once he picks his poison I slowly reverse out of the living room and sprint to my bedroom. I can almost guarantee myself a good 20, sometimes even 30, minutes of non-interrupted alone time.
  2. Make one part of the house look desirable to play in and hide somewhere else. Maybe take out all of your playdoh and put it up on the dining room table, throw in some cookie cutters, maybe even play Disney music in the background. When your child walks in and starts playing, hide as far away from that room as possible.
  3. Take advantage of nap times. Do I mean get all your housework done? Hell no. I mean be a bum, lounge around, watch that episode of Real Housewives you’ve been trying to watch in peace for a week. This is a perfect alone time. To be really proactive, take a morning trip to the park so they wear their tiny ass out and take and even longer nap, because after all, that’s a longer alone time for you.

I love my kid, I swear.

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Having fun While Saving Money

Since having Eli, I have only worked on an off, mainly because of my husband’s career and our nomadic lifestyle. Being married to an active duty Marine it can be very difficult finding a new job in whatever new city we move to. However, since moving to San Diego I am unable to work because Eli’s therapies have become a full-time unpaid job. Because of this, as you can imagine, money is tight. We don’t have the luxury of going to Disney, taking trips, eating out, or constantly going to do fun things everyday. All of my money goes to groceries and gas, so to get Eli out to enjoy his toddlerhood I sometimes have to get creative on how to have fun on a budget.

  1. FREE. FREE. Always be on the lookout for free events in your area. Last weekend we went to a puppy adoption event. We’re we in the market for a dog? No, but they had a bouncy house, dogs to look at, and free food. Checking the newspaper, facebook groups, and google are great ways to find what is going on in your area. Balboa park here in San Diego offers free admission to different museums each Tuesday of the month. Especially look out for street fairs, swap meets, community events, etc too.
  2. Discount Hunter- Being a military family, we have a lot of discounts available to us. I am always looking for discount events and activities. Here in San Diego, I have found discount prices for the Zoo, county fair, and water parks. Even if you are not military, looking online is a great way to find special or discounted admissions to many activities.
  3. Memberships vs daily admissions- We like to frequent indoor play places out here. I find that it is a lot cheaper to buy memberships rather than paying each day you are going (assuming you will be going more than twice in a month). After buying a membership you can visit these play places daily without having to worry about spending too much money. We are also looking into getting memberships to the San Diego Zoo. Going to the zoo (or any amusement park) can be really expensive, so buying a yearly membership the cost goes waaaay down.
  4. Having fun at home- I have blogged earlier about some crafts that we do at home. If you get creative enough, activities at home can be much more than watching tv or playing games. Buying new toys adds up quickly. I like to buy toys off of facebook yard sale pages, that way you can rotate your kid’s toys so they don’t get bored with the same ol’ things. Don’t have a pool or water table? I bought Squirt gun barrels at Walmart for $1 each and we fill up a bucket of water and have water fights. Don’t worry about making a mess and the fun gets better and better.

Kids are only kids once; It is so important that get to go out and enjoy life and get everything that we are able to give them. I want to give Eli the world, but unless he’s footing the bill, we need to budget.

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Timing Our Life

One of Eli’s biggest problems is transitions. All of his therapies (ABA, Speech, and OT) agree that transitions are one of the main areas of focus for his development. How is one expected to be ready for school when they cannot transition from one activity to the next? How will he learn when he cannot join the class for coloring or story time because he is on the floor crying because he had to put away the farm animals? Since preschool starts in August, we only have a couple months to get a good handle on this behavior.

Eli gets speech therapy twice a week for 30 minute sessions, as you can imagine 30 minutes is not very long for a 3-year-old with transitioning issues. Within those 30 minutes they cover at least four different activities. Eli tantrums after each activity is over and needs to be picked up, and also gets very upset when it’s time to leave. One thing they implemented is a picture schedule. They used a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) schedule. They lay out Eli’s favorite activities to do during speech and let him pick the four they are going to do for the session. This is very new and Eli doesn’t quite understand it yet. He sees the one he wants to do first, and doesn’t understand what the rest are doing there or what their purpose is. I do believe that it won’t take long for him to understand 1st ,2nd, 3rd, and 4th. (photo below for visual, not the actual schedule they use)


At home during ABA we started using a stoplight timer. I got it from our resources on the military base. It can be set to any amount of time and as the time progresses the lights change as they would on a regular stoplight. It can even be programmed to make noises (when turned on we have it say “BEGIN!” when it turns to yellow it makes a tick tock noise, and when the red light goes off it says “TIMES UP!” while the stop light is running Eli is in free play, whichever activity he would like to do, as long as he has asked us for it. When the timer goes off Eli has to go to the dining room, sit down, and complete and activity with his ABA therapist. For the most part, Eli caught onto this extremely fast. There are even days that he will have me set the timer at night when all the therapists are gone just because he thinks its fun. Of course there are days when he absolutely hates it and fights the whole way through the activity if we can even get it to happen at all.


I think, for Eli, these are the two things that are really going to help him with his difficulties transitioning. This is one area that causes most of his tantrums and I feel resolving this issue will make his school life soooo much easier.

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Finding Friends

I am a self-described introvert; I dread going out and meeting new people and socializing. When you have a kid you have to suck it up sometimes to open up possibilities for friends/playdates. Setting up playdates for your kids is easy when you live near your own family and friends; it gets slightly more difficult being in a new state/city and not knowing anyone.

I always think I should put myself out there and ask people to meet up for playdates, but I have a lot of fears about it. My first fear is judgment; that I may be judged on my personality, my parenting skills, my child’s delay, his behavior, his tantrums, and basically anything. I also have an irrational fear that my son may never find a kid he can truly be good friends with. Will we find a family that understands his tantrums and stays patient through them? Will we find another child who doesn’t care if Eli can’t talk, or even the fact that he acts a little different from them? Finding playdates for us is hard because if we get someone who doesn’t understand Eli or our whole situation it will just end with Eli and I with bruised egos. I always hear parents say “oh my child plays with everyone; she’s very friendly.” I’m sure she is, but will she still be when Eli isn’t sharing and crying and screaming most of the time?

Yesterday I realized one good way to spot a better playdate is to not get kids in Eli’s actual age range, but to go with his mental age range. Because of his delays, Eli is more accurately around age 2 rather than his actual age (3). So if we set up playdates with younger children, Eli will fit in more and the children won’t notice his differences. Most importantly, the kids will be able to play better on an even playing field. My hope is that when we start his developmental preschool in August that finding friends will become a lot easier for Eli. It can be a lonely world for those who don’t fit it, I just want Eli to have the best childhood he can possibly have.


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Getting Organized

I am NOT an organized person at all. It takes me days to put away clean laundry. I keep overfilling the trash can until my husband notices and takes it out to the dumpster. My worst flaw is leaving paperwork all throughout the house. My Son is in 22 hours of therapy a week now, is involved with the special education program at our local school and sees a developmental pediatrician along with his primary physician. how can I tell my ass from my elbow if I keep paperwork thrown around the house? How will I remember if today is his doctor’s appointment or speech/OT? Because my husband works, this is all on me; it is up to me to keep all of this stuff straight. I became an organized soccer mom.

I bought a monthly dry erase calendar that has all of our appointments and my husband’s work schedule for the month. A basic overview of what we have each day and helps so much when calling to schedule new appoints so I don’t double book us. I glance at the calendar to check what we have going on for the week and when is a good day to throw a stew in the crock pot or when I have time to make a big dinner.



I also have a chalkboard to use as our daily calendar. This lists exactly what we’re doing and where we’re going for the whole day. Eli is in ABA therapy (in-home) Monday-Friday 8am-12pm. Most of the time we are at home learning basic skills and working on behavior, but it is also very important to get outside or to be around other children. Having this daily schedule helps me switch it up and make sure we’re not doing too much of the same thing, but also keeps us on a schedule which (usually) helps keep Eli calmer and help lessen his temper tantrums. I want to make this daily schedule more for Eli and I both. Since he can’t read I am working on making it a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) calendar. That way Eli can see actual pictures of things and places in our home AND out in town that we will be doing for the day.



My last organization tool, I can’t take credit for. One of our military resources is a group on base called the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). They offer so much advice, resources, and tools to help families with members with any medical disabilities. One tool I got from them was an organization binder. It has sections for anything anyone with a family member diagnosed with autism would need; medical history, birth information, doctor notes, referrals, therapy information, school information, IEPs. This booklet goes with you to all your appointments and holds everything you would possibly need.

Eli and I have a full time schedule and it get’s very overwhelming and confusing and these three tools have been lifesavers for me. Sure, my laundry has still been washed and folded and sitting in a basket for two days now, but when it comes to Eli, I am completely organized.

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How do you tame a child who has their hearts set on running away like a maniac? How do you ward off the judgmental stares from bystanders? How do you keep track of your child while still letting them be a free kid and not a prisoner? Who the hell knows…but I can tell you what I try to do.

My son recently started running and it has been very annoying. He got lost in Target and they had to call a missing child code, he ran away from both my husband AND myself in Walmart, he ran away from his developmental pediatrician while walking to his exam room. It’s happening more and more often.  I’m really not sure what makes kids want to run like this. In my opinion for Eli, he thinks it’s a game. He laughs the whole time, especially when we’re chasing him. Because of his delays or diagnosis, he doesn’t pick up on social cues or voice tones very well. For example, when he is running away and we’re yelling “STOP!” he still doesn’t see it as a serious situation. I can tell Eli not to run, stay right here, or hold my hand until I am blue in the face but that little turd is going to run regardless.

My favorite part about these situations is the people standing around judging us. The people silently thinking “Their kid needs to be disciplined.” OK, lady, maybe you’re right. Come on over to my house and show me how to discipline my child so he doesn’t run away. After all, I’m sure you know better than not only the child’s mother but his 3 ABA therapists, two speech therapists, and his developmental pediatrician.  My kid is a runner and will most likely be a runner for a long time. And the truth really is, these people watching you in your weak moments have NO idea your child has special needs or whatever your situation is.  Does that make it easier when they stare? No, it doesn’t, but the only thing we can do is ignore them and just know that not everyone is going to understand or sympathize with what you’re going through.

Now, how do we keep our kids from running so they’re not the next asshole to jump into a gorilla cage? The only sure way to keep your kids from running away is keeping them in a stroller or putting on one of those cute/embarrassing monkey backpack leashes. This would completely ensure that your child doesn’t run away, but it also limits your child and what they get to experience. When your child gets older they need to be more independent, they should be walking and running and jumping. They should get to pick out their own toy at the store or walk up to an exhibit at the zoo. What I am doing to be proactive with Eli’s running is preparing for what happens when he does run. I’m ordering a name plate to lace into his shoe laces so if Eli gets lost, someone can see his name, my phone number, and our address. I am also looking into a GPS tracker that I can hook onto him when were out that I can track with my phone to help me locate him. I don’t want to restrain my son and keep him from experiencing and enjoying life. Let them be young and free. But keep watching them like a freaking hawk though.