I haven’t blogged in a while, I haven’t been working my Usborne Books & More business, and I haven’t been posting much on social media in general. So what have I been doing? I’ve been trying to get my life together.
I’ve been quite vocal about my struggles with my mental and physical health. I really needed to take a step back from everything I was doing so I could focus on changing my life. I have been focusing on changing my lifestyle and building long lasting routines. To do so, I felt that I needed to cut out some of the extra things in my life so I can dedicate my time to my workouts, meal prepping, and being a better parent.
I cut out some of my extra “to-dos” so my main focus can be completing my morning workout, getting in my protein smoothie and meal prepping, and creating solid routines for myself and my kids. As I mentioned in a past blog that I am taking Phentermine to help with my weight loss. The key to really making the medication work is using the time you’re on it to create a new lifestyle. This is what sets you apart from yoyo dieting. You can try all the fad diets and see great results, but once you stop the plan or have a few extra cheat days, the weight comes back on. What I am trying to achieve is changing my entire lifestyle to ensure long lasting results.
I have cut out soda, I very rarely eat sweets, I have very little carbs, have upped my protein and healthy fat intake, and having meal replacement protein shakes. My exercises are all in-home. I follow a work out Youtube channel, The Body Project. They are between 20-45 min cardio workouts ranging from beginner to advanced. I rotate which workouts I do so my body doesn’t get too comfortable. Every night before bed I do between 15-20 minutes of stretching and yoga. Since gaining weight I have had a lot of knee and back problems and I can’t move as well as I used to. The stretching and yoga at night has helped SO MUCH! My back feels amazing, my knee hardly ever bothers me, and I am increasing my flexibility greatly!
and still cruising!
So now that I’m getting back on track, what’s the next move? Throughout my hiatus I still have been working with the State of Michigan and my local health department as a Parent Representative for Home Health programs. I am helping the state and my community while also learning a lot of great information for myself. I plan on taking this experience and the information I’m learning and spreading awareness of so many great state-funded programs!
I will be going back to my Usborne Books & More sales. I am currently working on a better business model. I have never really been an outspoken person and I HATE being that pushy “buy my stuff” girl. But I, and this is no bullshit, honestly LOVE these books and my kids love these books. Unlike fake weight loss products, overpriced t-shirts, or cheap jewelry, I truly believe that children’s books is always a good investment. Keeping kids interested and engaged while learning is one of the best things parents and families can do for our kids.
I also plan on keeping a better record of my weight loss and bringing you all along on the journey! I am working on a consistent blogging schedule and really committing myself to something that I love doing so much.
I appreciate all the love and support that my readers, friends, and family have given me. Despite all the stress and low moments that may happen in my life, I am truly blessed. My life is worth working hard for!
When we become parents, our roles as individuals shift. We no longer solely focus on ourselves; instead most of our efforts go towards our children. We feed them, change them, teach them, support them, love them. You are the one who shapes your child’s life the most; yet we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day. Do our parental duties end at our front door? What more can we do for them outside of our own homes? The main portion of our parental duties is 1 on 1, but what if we could push it farther than that? How can we reach our maximum level of parent? Well, we can move from a support role to an advocate role.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish they did it like this..” or “Why don’t they do this?” If there is something out there that you think could not only benefit your own child more, but others as well, what’s holding you back from trying to make it happen? Our parenting duties are not confined to our houses.
There are so many ways that we, as parents, can advocate for our children. Now I cannot attest to each individual state and their own unique opportunities, but I can tell you about what I am learning within Michigan.
I was recently contacted to be a parent representative for the Michigan Home Visiting Network (HVN). This program supports all state funded home visiting programs, and has a growing coalition to help families across Michigan. HVN brings together hospitals, clinics, tribal health systems, health departments, mental health agencies, early childhood educators, home visitors, and most importantly, parents together to improve outcomes for all mothers and babies in Michigan. Our main objective is to team up and put our different ideas and experiences together to increase the involvement and satisfaction of these programs.
I attended a training with other parents and state workers from all over the state of Michigan to learn about this program and what our roles are going to be. This is not only a new thing for me, this is an entirely new program to the state of Michigan also!
One of the main focuses on this training was instilling the notion that we are not “just parents”, but rather that we are parent leaders. We were all there because we wanted to take the initiative to make things better for our children, our families, and our communities. We discussed our individual strengths and characteristics that made us leaders as well as our personal experiences of being an influential parent. Now listen, I’m never going to say that I am a great inspirational parent. In fact, I usually ride the mediocrity line when it comes to parenting. However, the training we went to made me realize that you don’t need to be the best to be able to help others. Given the right tools and resources, we are all able to invoke real change.
One of our exercises was to make a Pi symbol on our paper and write ways that we are parent leaders across the top, write some of our personal characteristics that help us be great parent leaders on the left, and things we could improve on to be better parent leaders on the right side. There is no set of characteristics or past experiences that can make someone a great parent advocate. If you have a child in your life that you care about and you want better for them…that is all you need. Not only was this a great exercise pertaining to the HVN program and our actual training but this was also a great personal exercise. What makes ME GREAT??
Take some time out of your day and look into what you can do for your family. What changes would you like to see? There are opportunities out there, you just have to summon up the drive to find them! I will get some resources together to help people find advocating opportunities that would work for them, whether its with the health department, school system, or even your child’s daycare! Let me see what we can find and make our communities better for as many people as we can!
If you would like any information about the Michigan Home Visiting Network or their parent representative programs please do not hesitate to reach out to my team advisor- Jamie Rushford- email@example.com
We watch a lot of tv for a family with no cable. We’re too broke to pay ridiculous monthly payments with Direct Tv. The first 12 months are great but when your incentive period is over BAM! Your bill goes from $75/ mo to $200/mo How? Why? More importantly..for what? I watch HGTV, ABC, and E! My kids watch Disney Junior and Nickelodeon. And you want me to pay how much for 5 channels? Hard Pass.
In the age of Wifi and Smart Tvs we’ve moved on to a trifecta of internet streaming: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. There are always new things added each month and Hulu posts tv episodes the day after they premier on tv. (Disclaimer: this is not an ad for any of these services, I do not have nearly the amount of viewers to make that happen..) Anyway, most of the time we end up watching the same shows over and over and over and over and over again. But nobody complains because all of us parents know that children are creatures of habits. They LIKE to watch the same thing over again so it really works out, except when they take off one of your kid’s favorite movies (R.I.P. Trolls on Netflix) The magical thing about this (and the reason for this blog) is my daughter Camille watches the same shows over and over again..she is learning to talk.
I am talking ALL DAY LONG to my daughter. You want a DRINK? You want MORE? MAMA. HELP. EAT. UP. DOWN. PLAY. BALL. BED. —Nothing. Then we turn on Finding Nemo and this little girl has the audacity to yell out BRUCE during the sharks little AA meeting scene. I popped my head out from around the corner like…..wut.
After that, I started watching her watching shows. Then I started recording. She knows so many lines to her shows. She repeats the lines at the exact time at they’re said, she has the correct pitches, correct sound, knows what lines are coming next. Sure, she doesn’t actually say the correct words, but it’s amazing nonetheless. She even started singing the songs. SHE SINGS SONGS!
There is no better learning tool than face to face interaction. However, let’s be honest.. if your plan A doesn’t work, what do you do? Move on to plan B. This doesn’t mean I’m throwing out all my other tactics. I’m fusing them together. Something I’m doing (which let’s be honest I’ve always done) is using lines from Disney movies in real life to see if she will still get the connection. I downloaded all the songs from her favorite movies onto my phone and play them in the car to see if she will sing along. I am making this house a round-the-clock Disney movie. If Disney is what gets this girl talking then damnit, just call me Rapunzel.
We’ve tried sign language, pecs picture cards, withholding things until she makes an effort to communicate. Everything we have tried so far hasn’t really had long lasting results. Then with no prompts, she recites and sings Disney movies and it’s honestly beautiful. Tonight as I crack open a Sunday night White Claw, I toast to you, Walt Disney.
So I’ve discussed my struggles with my daughter Camille. One issue that has been confusing, is for a while is her inability to climb. It took her a while to climb anything (onto furniture, up the stairs, etc) even after she figured how to get up she could not get down. Even small things like a 12” tall toddler bed, or stepping off a 4” tall treadmill platform. Whenever she is at the top of something (bed, top of stairs, couch, etc) she would throw something off and watch it fall. Which to me, looked like she was dropping them off to see how long it took them to reach the floor. Until she got used to them, she was hesitant crossing different floor types. She wouldn’t walk from our kitchen to our living room because she wouldn’t step across the different floor types. She used to stand and cry in one room until someone picked her up and set her down in the next room. We were standing in our school gym once and she wouldn’t walk across the basketball lines. One day we were in a garage and she wanted to walk outside and there was maybe a two inch lip from the inside to the outside. She had to get on her hands and knees and crawl out; when she very easily could have walked out. Her team of therapists (and me) thought she had some sort of vision issues, specifically maybe depth perception. It made a lot of sense.
So i scheduled her an eye appt with a pediatric ophthalmologist. I was dreading the appt, but also excited at the same time. I was nervous because how in the hell were these people going to get her to sit for an eye appt?? she’s clearly not going to look into the lenses and say which number looks better. Is it better at 1…or better at 2? 2 or 3? Not to mention the whole eye blowing machine that makes even my buttcrack sweat waiting for it.
Nonetheless, the day came and we walked into the office of the unknown. The staff was incredible!!! We got our own waiting room with a movie and toys! I strategically got some breakfast on our way so she could occupy her mind and stomach while we waited. The first thing up was dilating her eyes. We went into a room with a tech and I had to lay her down on my lap, face up. I basically had to pin her down while the tech opened her eyes and put a drop in each. As you can imagine there was a lot of wriggling and screaming but this process lasted about a min and we were sent back to the waiting room while her eyes dilated all the way. A little fun fact, children’s eyes take longer to dilate than adults. Additionally, brown eyes also take longer to dilate than other eye colors. So since Camille has both of those characteristics it took about 20-25 minute for her eyes to dilate completely. When she was finished we went in the room with the doctor.
This was probably the easiest eye appt I’ve ever seen. I sat in the chair with her on my lap. The doctor held up a spinny/light-up toy in front of Camille to keep her eyes focused. He looked in each eye with a handheld lens. He then took a flashlight and shined it in her eyes while also distracted. And That was that!
Despite the surprisingly easy appointment, the results were lackluster. The good news is, there is nothing wrong with her eyes. The back news is, we still don’t know why she’s doing her goofy little things! The ophthalmologist said her optic nerve is intact and her far vision looked perfect. I mentioned she was being observed for autism and he said it definitely could just be a little quirk of hers that could be related to autism. He basically told me to ignore it and it will go away. It’s always reassuring to know that your kids are healthy. But why do I feel disappointed? I think my mind set was on there being something wrong with her eyes. We’ll get her glasses and she will start blossoming! Maybe she’ll start playing with baby toys, walking better, signing better, climbing better. Now that the glasses are out of the picture, I’m back to square one trying to get her to reach new milestones.
All I can do is help her the best I can and wait. Only time will tell. Next month Camille has her two year doctor appt and her official medical autism evaluation! So despite hitting a dead end on this, we have many more paths to take with my sweet sweet girl!!!
Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am NOT an expert, I did not go to school for speech and language pathology, I am not working in the field in any way. I am simply a mother of two children with speech and language delays who has been through this and has done her research. I hope after reading this, if you feel concerns with the children in your life, that you will do your own research and seek the services available to you. I will attach links at the bottom where I got my information!
What is the difference between speech and language?
Language is the entire system of words and symbols (including written, spoken, or expressed through gestures and body language). Speech is the actual sound of spoken language, including articulation of words/sounds.
Since there is a clear difference between speech and language it is important to know that there is a difference between a speech delay and a language delay.
[Examples] Language delay Child may not be communicating (whether its via talking, sign language, gestures, etc) the way they should be at their age. Speech delay Child may use words and phrases but is difficult to understand
All that being said, when should we start to notice if our child has a speech or language delay?
Before 12 months– Babies should begin cooing and babbling. By 9 months babies should be putting sounds together, using different tones, and say simple words like “mama” and “dada”. Lastly, before their first birthday, babies should pay attention to sounds and recognize the name to common objects (bottle, pacifier, mom, dad, etc).
12-15 months– Babbling at this age should have a range of speech sounds in their babbling (examples being P, B, M, D, N, etc), they should start imitating sounds and words, say one or more words, and follow one step directions (example- pick up the toy).
18-24 months– Most toddlers in this age group can say around 20 words by 18 months and at least 50 by 24 months. They should begin combining 2 or more words to make short sentences (Mama come, dad help, etc). Should be able to identify common objects and body parts when asked. By age two, children should start to follow two-step commands (pick it up and give it to mom.)
2-3 years– Over this year, most children have at least 200 words in their vocabulary (and as high as 1000 words!), begin to use 2-3 word sentences, say their name, use their personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine), and can be clearly understood by close family and friends.
At this point it is important to know, (and I’ve said this before), EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. The data above are of the average development for children in those age groups. Maybe your child hasn’t met one of the guidelines for his/her age group, that’s OK! It doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. You may see that in a few more months they have caught themselves up and are blossoming! On the flipside, they are also made so you can know when your child is not blossoming.
If your child is not meeting these developmental guidelines it is important to take action into your own hands rather than waiting for someone else to do something about it. I self-referred both my children to state programs. You don’t have to wait for a doctor to bring it up to you. Don’t be afraid to speak up. I know personally that it can be very scary when your child isn’t developing the way they should be and that it can be easy to overlook that there is an issue at all. However, it is our duty as parents to do everything we can to make sure out children grow and learn the way they should be.
Each state has their own federally mandated, state funded early intervention program, including Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Islands, and American Samoa. Follow this LINK to find the contact number for your state. These programs have been a lifesaver for my family. Now, I am not familiar with each specific state’s program, but they are all completely FREE and work with children from birth-3 years. After the age of 3, children receive free benefits from their local school systems. If your child is in school, they will receive services during the school day, if your child is between age 3-5 and not yet in school, they can still receive free services at the school or, in some places, they may receive school services at their daycare/head start (if enrolled).
I hope that some of this helped someone out there!
When I was 16 I took a trip to our local animal shelter. I found a sweet 9 month of German shepherd mix, Brandi. I don’t often believe in love at first site, but believe me when I say- it happened for me that day. I am a firm believer that pets our family. Rescuing dogs is such a rewarding feeling because these dogs are so grateful for you. Some rescue dogs don’t know what it’s like to have a home, to be warm, to be loved. If any of you have gotten rescue dogs, you know that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. These dogs are often skittish, defensive, and untrained. It takes a lot of patience to raise a shelter dog.
When I started to have children of my own, she wasn’t exactly keen on the idea. Small children made her very nervous. She always wanted to be around them (and me) but wasn’t very affectionate to them, she was very defensive. That being said, we did separate her from the kids unless we were there to supervise. Because of this, my children were never really close with my dog. They both still got the love they needed from me, just not with each other.
13 years after I took her home from the pound we found ourselves having to say goodbye to my “first born”. Very common with shepherds, she was losing strength in her back legs, she was losing a lot of weight, and also losing her hearing and vision. There is never a right time to say goodbye to your pet. You don’t want to say goodbye too early, but you also don’t want them to be in pain or suffering. It’s an impossible decision, one that I did not want to make. With heavy heart I scheduled her to be put down.
Introducing death to children
We have experienced death once before. My grandmother died December 2018 when my son was 4. It was very difficult for him to understand back then. The only thing he did really know was that I was flying back home for a week and he had to stay in California with his dad. To him that was the only part that mattered, which to me, is very age appropriate.
To prepare my oldest about Brandi, I told him that she was getting sick and was going to die soon. Eli, who is normally very emotional, just kind of shrugged it off. It kind of caught me off guard but he wasn’t that close with her, so I let it go. A couple minutes go by and Eli casually says to me, “Mom, when Brandi is dead, can we put all of our toys in the middle of the yard?” uhhhhhhh, sure.
The day we planned to put her down, I took one last swing at explaining things to him. I again said that she was sick and that we were taking her to the doctor and we were putting her down. He didn’t really say much again. He did tell me that it made him a little sad but he would forget about her. I said well of course you will, you’re only 6 and you weren’t that close with her. It would be totally normal to forget about her. What he said next just blew my mind. After a beat he says “When you die I will probably forget about you too.” I said well I hope not!!!!!! To which he replied “I will just find another lady and say ‘will you be my mom because mine is dead.” Lol WHAT!?
Listen, 6 years old is still very young to understand death and dying. I know this. I also know that it is very easy for children on the spectrum to view things as simply black and white. They can often be very blunt, have difficulty understanding and processing their emotions, and usually don’t react the same way as average functioning people would. If Eli’s ipad dies while he is in the middle of a game, what does he do? He is up in arms, falling to the ground, sobbing, he’s inconsolable. When it comes to the death of a family member or pet, not even a single sad feeling. I think this is the beauty of children. They don’t understand life yet. They are innocent. No real understanding of life, death, hardships, tragedies, war, etc. Of course, I’m not speaking for all children. There are definitely children who have lived these, and understand these. But When I look at my children, I see innocence. One day they will get to the point where they know and understand these things.
My children will one day feel true pain, and when that day comes I will be here, I will be ready. In the meantime, all I can do is mourn the loss of a dog that was in my life for over 13 years. The day I put her down will forever be etched in my memories.
To Brandi- I love you so much. You were a beautiful, loving creature. You were my best friend and my “first born”. You are irreplaceable.
When we’re young we all think of the mom were going to be. When you picture yourself having kids, what do you see? For me I always imagined walking down the sidewalk with my daughter, picking flowers, matching outfits. We’d play toys together, make cute Pinterest crafts, read books, make health snacks. My kids would spend most of their time playing outside than on screens and I would still have time to be the same me. (spoiler- a lot of those didn’t happen.)
I’m sure at some point all of us have said or thought the phrase “I would never be like that when I’m a parent.” Let’s all laugh together. The thing is, you never know what kind of parent you will be until you are actually a parent. There are a lot of factors that contribute to who you are as a parent.
The era/generation you live in impacts what type of parent you will be for sure. I became a parent when technology really boomed, so it’s no surprise that I find a lot of parenting tools in iPad apps (ABC mouse) and Netflix shows (Word Party). There is also a lot of hype in anti-vac and gluten free lifestyles now-a-days that weren’t really thought about 20-30 years ago.
Who you had as parents shapes who you will be as well. A lot of times you tend to morph into your parents. Have you ever said that you would NEVER do something that your parents did when you have your own children, then 15 years down the road you catch yourself saying the EXACT same thing they once said to you. Circle of life my friends. This one can work the exact opposite as well. Having a very strict upbringing could cause someone to be very lax and open with their own children.
What type of children you have can also shape your parenting style. What do I mean by that? For ME PERSONALLY- having two children on the spectrum changed the way I raised my children dramatically. My children have trouble listening/comprehending and difficulty processing emotions. I’ve had a very difficult time sitting down and reading books with them, being able to enforce rules, even sitting down to play with my children-something so natural- is usually a no-go.
Who you are as a person is probably the biggest thing, and the most predictable. If you are a generally health person, hands down your kids will reflect that. Someone who eats extremely healthy will try and instill that on their own children. If you had anger issues before children, seeing a whole poop diaper smeared into the carpet probably won’t make your anger issues better. If you’re a type A person, odds are you will be a type A parent. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone either. As I said before, you never know the type of parent you will be UNTIL you are a parent.
For fun, I thought of some “Mom types” and decided to turn myself into some and write their bios.
Sandra, 42 Been there, done that Mom. She is the veteran mom, the wise owl, the unshockable. She’s lived through everything. She’s cleaned poop out of places you would think is impossible, her children have had a total of 6 broken bones, she can handle the chickenpox with her eyes closed. Sandra is the friend you go to when you have the most random parenting question, which she will answer without hesitation and never judges. Her house is always filled with the best snacks….and wine
Kaylynn, 28 Crunchy mom. Organic, gluten free, dairy free type mom. Her favorite past time is going to Whole Foods. She’s an antivaxxer and loves to let you know by posting 4 antivaxx links a day on her facebook. Her three children all sleep with her in bed, forcing her husband to sleep in the guest room. Her bake sale specialty is flourless muffins. She always gives advice when not asked and openly judges all of your “toxic” lifestyle choices.
Cathy, 35 Sideline mom. She has four boys and can be found screaming on the sidelines of her children’s sporting events no matter the season. Cathy is not afraid to speak her mind. Her go-to saying is “Get your eyes checked ref!!!” Everything in her house is sticky. She’s lost the will to clean up after disgusting boys all day. Despite her usually serious attitude, she’s actually a pretty good time. Her usual drink of choice is a Miller Lite but loves her cosmos on girl’s night.
Type A mom. You can set your watch by her family’s routine. Bethanny runs the house and everyone knows it. There is never a shoe out of place, but lord help us if there is. The calendar on the fridge is color coded and filled to the max. Her husband, James, doesn’t really care for schedules but it’s not worth the fight. He does love the morning smoothies she makes him every day though. She’s a stay at home mom but is almost always dressed in business casual. Her children fear her, her neighbors respect her, and the school faculty hate her. She doesn’t have many friends and isn’t sure why. Also, don’t call her Beth. She f***ing hates it.
Katie, 27 The relaxed mom. Katie doesn’t mind messes, she’s not dirty, but her house generally looks like children DO live there. I mean, DUH. She makes plans and schedules, but doesn’t really blink when they get messed up. She’s usually pretty relaxed and easy going, but don’t test her because she WILL lose her shit on you. She disciplines her kids but also can get too persuaded by their emotions. Sometimes it’s just easier to give them the cookie, right? After homework is done she really doesn’t care what her kids do. There are no ipad or TV limits in her house. She makes the best friend because she is very laid back, doesn’t judge, and makes a killer taco dip.
Meadow, 25 Hippie mom. She shares a lot of characteristics with the crunchy mom. She is a vegan and there’s not a thing in her fridge that is not organic. Meadow is a child of the Earth. Her children spend most of their times outside and barefoot. She is a firm believer that you learn so much more from experiences than you do in school. She homeschools her children and the backyard is their classroom. She considers herself a “Free-range” parent. She lets her children make their own decisions so they can learn from the power of their free will. Whatever that means. She has a lot of friends, probably because she makes good weed brownies.
Brittany, 31 Pinterest Mom. The title says it all. Her Pinterest account has over 50,000 pins in all categories. Recipes, school lunch ideas, DIY projects, party themes, outfits, nursery decor. Think of a category, and she’s pinned something for it. Unlike the rest of the world, she pins things and ACTUALLY DOES THEM. The audacity. She wets herself when she gets invited to a potluck or when her children’s school is having a bake sale so she can use her newest pin. When most of us try projects we got off Pinterest they turn out disastrous, not Brittany. She was born crafty, and hits her DIY out of the park every time. She is one of the most popular friends and loves when they ask her to make something for them!
Katrina, 19 The Newbie. Matching mother-child outfits, hair and makeup done every morning, really shooting for the “perfect mom persona.” She’s a first time mom and it is completely obvious. The girl that’s always in the Facebook mom group asking “What do you think this rash is?” or “My son fell and hit his head, should I take him to the ER?” She is just so unsure of herself, and that’s NOT A BAD THING! She just wants to be a good mom, and doesn’t want to make any mistake. The thing she needs to learn is that making mistakes is what makes us a mom. She has a TON of friends, but she’s the only one with a kid so far. She tries to make friends with veteran moms at the playground, but doesn’t know how to connect with them yet.
Tammy, 36 The Everywhere Mom. Classroom mom? That’s her. PTA? She’s on it. Soccer team needs snacks? She’s got it. She’s a stay at home mom and her kids are everything to her. If there is anything to do, she’s got it. Same can be said for her friendships. People don’t understand how she has the time or the energy to do the things she does. She makes it seems so effortless. Though she’d never show it, Her energy tank is on zero. She averages about 4-5 hours a sleep a night, usually because she’s up baking cookies for something. If you’re looking for a dependable friend, Tammy’s got your back!
Melissa, 31 The princess mom. Her husband is a CEO and makes more than enough money, so Melissa can stay home to focus on the children. The problem is, she’s not exactly the maternal type. Needless to say, the kids are wild and spoiled. Melissa spends most of her days getting her nails done and shopping with friends. She is never seen less than perfect. She knows all the town gossip. She has very high standards for all things in life, including friendships. Probably why she doesn’t have many girl friends. Her children have straight A’s in school and are fluent in Spanish; thanks to the nanny, Maria.