Since my last blog post was a transformation update on my kids and their development, I figured this week I should update everyone on my own transformation progress!
As I’ve mentioned in a past blog, with the help of my doctor, I’ve been working on a serious weight loss journey.
When I started my antidepressants after my daughter was born in 2017, around 2 ½ years ago, my energy started decreasing and my weight started increasing. Last summer I was the heaviest I have ever been at 194lbs. Since January I have lost around 30 pounds.
I have been taking Phentermine for several months now to help boost my energy levels and decrease my appetite. So what am I doing aside from just taking a “magic pill”? Let’s do a quick run through…
I have stopped drinking pop (soda to my readers reading from outside the Midwest,) I eat very little carbs, sodium, and sugar, I also try to avoid processed and prepackaged foods. No pasta, or potatoes. A few days a week I skip lunch and opt for meal replacement protein shake. Of course I also have my cheat days (like today…way too many carbs for Mother’s Day…)
I work out about 30 minutes a day, usually about 6 days a week. My workouts are low impact cardio routines. I follow workout pages on Youtube that I play from my laptop right in the middle of my kitchen. Since gaining the weight, I have a lot of lower back stiffness and frequently reoccurring bursitis in my right knee, so there are a lot of workouts that are still hard for me to do like lunges, running, too much up-and-down routines in a single session. I am hoping that with some more weight loss I can lessen the physical limitations and really push myself to my full potential soon!
I’ve also discussed before that I have started doing yoga most nights. I actually started this to increase my mobility and flexibility. It has helped my lower back issues a little. At the end of my yoga sessions, my lower back feels much better, but the next morning it’s back to being stiff with low mobility. One thing that I have noticed since starting yoga, is I have a lot more awareness in my body, how it works, and how I can control it. I do my yoga at night after I’ve put the kids to bed. This allows me to do it in peace and quiet so I can really focus and relax. I find that doing it before bed does usually help me sleep better since I’m stretching my muscles and relaxing myself.
Despite making all these changes and improvements over the past few months I am a little discouraged that I’ve only lost 30lbs. I know that probably sounds crazy to most of you… 30lbs is a LOT of weight and I am very proud of myself for the weight I’ve lost so far and the lifestyle changes I’ve adapted; but I feel that given the extreme changes I’ve made I should have seen more of a loss. Then again… that is probably just the depression and self-doubt that I still do constantly battle within myself.
I do think that the antidepressants that I have been on are playing a major factor in my weight. I started gaining most of my weight after I started them and I think it could be part of the reason I’m not flourishing with my weight loss right now. The next step with my doctor is to work on finding the right antidepressant for me. My end goal is to be at a place where I can get off antidepressants completely; but if I am being completely honest here, I don’t think I am ready for that yet. I can see yoga and meditation being a good help for me when I do start to wean off of them, and that is something I never thought I would say. I never would have pictured myself being a yoga/meditation person.
I have never been an active person. I’ve never worked out for fun, I’ve never been super motivated or committed to something for so long. I cannot express how proud of myself I am and how grateful I am for the support I’ve been receiving from friends and family.
Are you noticing signs of delays in your child? Is your child nonverbal or behind on their developmental milestones? Are you wondering if maybe your child has Autism? Let’s go over some warning signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the steps you should take!
*A disclaimer before viewing the warning signs… it is important to remember that autism is a SPECTRUM disorder… no two children on the spectrum are exactly the same. There is no definitive checklist for autism. The warning signs that I am about to give you are merely *common* signs.
Common early warning signs of Autism:
No speech or delayed speech
Repetitive speech or babble
Does not point to objects
Does not respond to his/her name
Avoids eye contact
Repetitive physical motions (hand/arm flapping, body rocking, spinning n circles)
Over/under sensitivity to sounds, lights, smells, tastes, and touches
Little to no social skills
Avoids or resists physical contact
Lack of safety/danger awareness
Lines up toys or objects
Plays with toys the same way every time
Prefers/focuses only on certain parts of objects (ex. Wheels)
Unusual eating and sleeping habits
Lack of interest in objects or thing
Little to no imaginative play
Prefers to be alone
Difficulty understanding emotions (their own emotions and the emotions of others)
Easily upset by minor changes
Has obsessive interests
Unusual interests and behaviors
Extreme anxiety or phobias
*To reiterate, if your child has some attributes that are on this list, it does NOT mean they are definitely on the spectrum. On the flip side, your child may have little to no attributes on this list but could still have other indicators that may lead to an autism diagnosis. This list is merely a jumping off point from commonly seen signs.
So if you still have concerns about your child, maybe they have a few of these common signs… what’s next? What are the first steps to getting answers? To getting your child help?
Here is my step-by-step list to starting the ASD process.
1. Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to discuss concerns.
A. Generally a referral to a developmental pediatrician is needed for an autism diagnosis. Be aware that getting in to see a specialty pediatrician can often take a long time (upwards of six months).
B. I suggest that while you wait for a medical evaluation to be conducted, you jump to parts 2 or 3 (depending on the age of your child) then return to 1c when you hear back from the office performing the evaluation.
C. The evaluation process can vary based on the office you’re using. (My son was only seen by the developmental pediatrician for about 1-2 hours, my daughter was seen by a developmental pediatrician, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist, totaling 4 hours)
D. If the evaluation finds your child on the Autism Spectrum (or with another type of developmental delay) it can open a window for many fully or partially covered services under your insurance. -Speech therapy -Occupational therapy -Physical Therapy -Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy
E. Get a referral from your doctor for the therapy services. You can do these therapies in addition to any Early Intervention or school services your child may start receiving.
2. If your child is between the ages of 0-3:
*Disclaimer: my knowledge of Early Intervention programs is largely based on Michigan’s program. It’s been difficult to find comparative data among all state programs, so take some of these details with a grain of salt and be sure to look up the steps for your specific State‘s Early Intervention Program!
A. Look up your State’s Early Intervention Program. All States and US territories offer early intervention programs, but each State’s program may vary from others. However, ALL Early Intervention Programs in the U.S. are completely free.
B. You can self-refer your child for an evaluation online
C. Someone from the program will reach out to you, send you profile questionnaires for you to fill out about your child, and get your consent for their program to perform an in-home evaluation.
D. Generally the program has a set amount of time from the moment you refer your child until the entire evaluation is completed. (Because every state is different, I’m hesitant to say that this is the case for every State’s programs. Michigan has 45 days from the time of referral to complete the evaluation.)
E. If the evaluation finds a need for services (speech, occupational, physical therapy, etc) State-funded, in-home services can begin.
F. Services can run year round and your team will update your child’s plan yearly.
If your child is 3 years old or older:
A. Reach out to your School District’s special education department and discuss getting an evaluation for an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
B. Your child can get evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team. This team is made up of licensed professionals employed by the school based on your child’s specific needs (medical, physical limitations, learning delays, etc)
C. If the evaluation finds a need for special education services, the team can put together your child’s limitations, needs and goals into an IEP and school based services can begin.
D. Beginning School services -If your child is school-aged already at this time, They will receive services during the school day. The most desirable option is to have the child in general education classes and have them pulled out for short therapy sessions. -If your child is not school aged yet, but has aged out of early intervention programs (so between ages 3-5) your child can still receive services through the school system, either in the form of a preschool, special education preschool, or a drop in therapy program, depending on what your school offers.
A. Do your research -Look up the above things I just discussed (the closest developmental ped in your area, your state’s early intervention program, and your school districts website) – Get in touch with your insurance company and find out your coverage information. Do they offer supplemental coverage for autism? What therapy services are covered? Make sure you’re aware of your copays and deductibles. – Find credible online sources to learn a little bit more about Autism Spectrum Disorder. You can get good sources from your pediatrician, health department, and school district!
B. Find online resources -I swear just go to Pinterest and type in Autism Activities and you will get a million and more ideas for sensory play, fine and gross motor activities, etc. -Find parent support groups. It’s just just whining and bitching (I mean.. sometimes it is…) but they are also a great place to share ideas and resources!
A. The hardest parts are over. Honestly, trying to navigate where to start and who to reach out to was probably the most overwhelming part for me my first time around.
Honestly, this blog took me forever to write. Not ONLY because I’m quarantined inside my very small house with my two very stir-crazy, needy children who will not let me sit at my computer in peace for more than 5 minutes at a time….. but because I didn’t want to spread false information. Although all of these services are available in every single state, I can’t say for certain that every detail of these programs will be exactly the same. I really tried to do my due diligence here. Perhaps if my children would let me get some more research time in I could actually pull criteria for every single state, but I have a feeling until I can get these kids back in school that’s just not in the cards. So if you’ve stayed with me this far, let me just say once more, PLEASE be sure to look up the programs and services for your specific state!
Happy Autism Awareness Month Stay Safe and Healthy!
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!
The holiday season is full of happiness, love, and togetherness, right? Well, for a lot of us out there, with the holiday season comes a lot of negative emotions as well. With all these expectations about what a holiday should be or what/where our lives should be during the holidays can put a lot of pressure on us and bring out the negativity that we have been bottling inside ourselves. Christmas will be here before you know it, so let’s have a pre-holiday mental health check-in, shall we?
Who here hasn’t had the greatest time in 2019? Sure, we may have laughed a lot, had a lot of fun. Maybe we took a trip, went to some parties, had a baby, attended a wedding? Although there may have had some good times, was our MIND HAPPY IN 2019?
I’ve discussed in a previous blog my struggles with my mental and physical health. My mental health has been crippling me physically. 2019 is the heaviest weight I have ever been in my whole life. Sure, I am now on the track of healing myself both mentally and physically, however most of the year has not been good on me. I spent most of this year hating myself, hating my weight, the way I looked, I had no energy, wanted to be in bed all of the time. Despite being on antidepressants (they aren’t a great match for me) I still found myself constantly feeling overwhelmed, uninterested in life, disconnected. Aside from all this, having two kids on your own while their dad is on the other side of the country (now on the other side of the world) is enough to make the most sane person a little crazy. Most days I am stressed out and ready to snap. The last couple months I have been staying up after the kids go to bed (most nights) and having about two hours to myself. Y’ALL. I know bed is life, seriously I know, but DO THIS. Take that time for yourself. Silence, snack, shows, yoga, whatever. For me personally, this me-time really helps settle my mind, which is usually overworked and overstressed by about 6pm, and I find myself sleeping better.
So, anyway, that’s me. Maybe you’re a little like me. Maybe you’re not like me at all. One thing I can tell you, no matter what you’re going through or what you’re feeling- It will get better. You may not be able to change your situation, but you CAN change how you choose to deal with it. If someone broke your heart, someone did you wrong, you got hurt, lost your job, or experienced a loss of a loved one.. there is no way to undo that. The only way we can make ourselves better is to take back control of our own lives.
What can we do to get back to our best self in 2020?
Therapy- I can tell you from personal experience, talking to a third party, unbiased, person helps more than you could ever imagine. You can get things off your chest, receive advice, learn tools to help manage and maintain your mind.
See a doctor- whether your problems are mental or physical a physician is a great resource. A doctor can give you jumping off points to improve your health, they can find any underlying conditions that could be causing your symptoms (you mean you’re not just a fat lazy slob… you actually have thyroid problems? Wahh?!?), they can also prescribe medications to help regulate your physical and mental health.
Physical fitness- I have never been an active person. Growing up and in my early adult life, I was never “big” but also never “fit” I was pretty average (in all areas of life). These last few months of doing regular workout routines, semi-decent eating, and nightly yoga/stretches I have felt leaps and bounds better than I have in years.
Surround yourself with support- Remove toxic people from your life. An asshole ex, “friends” who gossip about you or don’t have your best interest at heart. Maybe there’s people in your life who haven’t done anything wrong but also don’t contribute to you or your happiness- take a step back.
Love yourself- True happiness begins with loving yourself first. Be proud of yourself. Be happy with yourself.
This Christmas, don’t let the darkness take away the magic. It doesn’t matter if your life isn’t perfect, enjoy the fact that you’re on this Earth at all. For every dark thought or feeling that comes into your mind, remind yourself of something good.
Lastly, before I go- I want to remind everyone that YOU MATTER. Even if there are times that you don’t feel good enough. If you ever feel unloved or unworthy of love. If you feel as though your life is not worth living. YOU MATTER, YOU ARE LOVED, YOU ARE WORTHY OF LIFE.
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 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.
My life, as you may know by now, is very isolated. I spend most of my day inside the house with children. Things are bound to get a little loopy, right? One thing I like to do is sing. Before I go any further, let’s be clear- I like to sing, but I CAN’T sing. I am horrible. However, singing helps with my anxiety, it lightens the mood, it fills empty silence, and sometimes it makes my kids laugh! One thing I like to do is change lyrics to songs and make it my own. If I sing a remix to a song from one of Camille’s favorite movies she recognizes it immediately. I’m sure you won’t be impressed, but here they are…
Semisonic- Closing time
Closing time. One last call for sippy cups, so finish your water or milk Closing time. You don’t have to go to sleep just get the hell away frooooom me.
Maaaamaaaaaa Just lost her shit Threw out all her kids junk, Drank some wine and now she’s drunk. Maaaaamaaaaa Your kids day had just begun But now you’ve gone sent them to their rooms. Maaamaaaa ooh ooh Didn’t mean to make you mad If this shit isn’t picked up by tomorrow, You’re kicked ouuuut. You’re kicked out.
1,2,3,4,5 Everybody in the carseats So come on lets ride To the ice cream shop around the corner My kids really want a couple cones But I really don’t wanna Hungover from my wine last night Sunglasses on my face cuz the sun is bright I got Eli, Camille, Avery, and Kenzie And as I continue you know they’re getting crazy.
I told you don’t you ever come around me Don’t wanna see your drawing, you really need to flee There’s crazy in their eyes, I gotta get free So ditch em, just ditch em. You better run, you better leave while you can, Dad just got in the door, kids think he’s superman. Don’t try to pretend, better leave while you can. So ditch em, but you wanna be nice. Just ditch em.
You are the pooping queen Young and gross It’s only 9:15 Pooping queen Feel the heat from the bath, get clean ooooh yeah. You can poop You can fart Having the time of your life Ooooh, see that girl Smell that smell Dig in the pooping queen.
Because I’m tiiiiiiired Clap along if you feel like you need some more coffee Because I’m tiiiiiiiiired. Clap along if you feel like you wanna go back to bed Because I’m tiiiiiiiired. Clap along if you feel like thats what you wanna do.
When Eli was Diagnosed with autism around 4 years ago the doctor told me there would be about a 20% chance of my next child also having autism. (Yes people, genetics, not the measles vaccine. So vaccinate your kids!) So, when Camille came around, I watched, listened, and observed everything she did. A rule of thumb of parenting is never compare your children to other kids (yeah, right.) It is a very important rule to follow though. Every child develops at their own pace. Just because little Timmy is walking at 9 months does NOT mean your child is behind because she is not doing it yet. If your nephew is speaking three word sentences at 12 months it does NOT mean your own son is behind because he can only say 5 words total. Our children hit their milestones at their own pace. They will deal with peer pressure in grade school so let’s not instill self-esteem issues yet!
All that being said, when DO you start to worry about where your child is developmentally? I don’t believe there is a real answer for that. I think, as a mother, you just know.
Today’s world makes it so easy for parents to get their children evaluated for FREE through the state. Each state has their own fully funded programs. In Michigan, we have the EarlyOn program. When we arrived to Michigan I didn’t waste any time getting Camille evaluated.
So what was it about Camille that made me get her evaluated?
-Her gross motor milestones were always met, but a little behind -Babbling was very delayed. She didn’t start actively babbling until around 18mo. -She doesn’t play with toys as expected- she prefers to just hold items and walk around with them. She chooses to play with household items (shoes, dusters, etc.) vs baby toys. For a while between 12-18mo, she would only open and close doors and cabinets for entertainment. -She walks very cautiously. She does not walk on uneven ground (grass, sand), she is uncertain when stepping across different floor types or over lips/lines. -Does not climb on/off furniture. She does not attempt to climb stairs. She cannot get down from very low furniture (example- her 12′ toddler bed.) She will drop an object to the floor to judge how high up she is. since becoming diagnosed she has attempted the stairs and crawling on . some furniture. -She does not like a lot of touches- face wipes, washing hair, diaper changes, etc. -She does not respond to her name or react when spoken to. -She does not recognize or interact with other children/adults. She will allow other to be in her general proximity but other than that she does not pay them any attention. -Little eye contact -No mimicking. She does not copy other’s actions, repeat sounds. She will not point to objects. -She likes thin items on her lips and around her mouth. Hair, hair ties, shoe laces, strings, etc. I would like to clarify that she doesn’t eat or even chew these things. She just likes the feeling of them on her lips.
To someone who has no experience with any of this, the evaluation process can be very, very overwhelming. There are so many people involved, multiple evaluations, and lots of paperwork. With my first born, Eli, I remember feeling overwhelmed, scared, sad, so many emotions. I felt unorganized. With Camille when the people involved started over-explaining the process to help me understand I politely said “Listen, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m good. Do ya thang girl.” Honestly the best advice I can give to someone going through this the first time- relax and take the backseat. The professionals with these programs know what they’re doing. They help you every step of the way. The best thing a parent can do is get out of your own way. Let them help you with everything.
After Camille’s evaluation process, she was placed in the moderate-severe autism range. Because she was evaluated through the School system/ EarlyOn program, this is what’s called an educational diagnosis. In another blog I will get into the difference between an educational diasgnosis of autism vs a medical diagnosis. The important thing to know for now is an educational diagnosis determines if a child meets the qualifications needed to receive special education services through the school system and is not a “firm diagnosis”. A medical diagnosis is a true diagnosis and opens the door for insurance supported therapy services.
So now what? We start by making a list of goals to work towards. For example, one goal is to get her to make independent choices for meals by using picture cards (PECS). Another is to get Camille to play more with age appropriate toys vs household items. We focus on the areas that are most important to improve. Keep your expectations low! Sometimes they take a while, AND THAT’S FINE!
Additionally, Camille is receiving in-home speech therapy. We will also soon begin occupational therapy, and perhaps Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.
Getting an autism diagnosis for your child is a very overwhelming, scary thing. This, however, is one that I was waiting for. I knew the odds and I was prepared. If anyone can embrace this challenge for a second time, it’s me. I am ready for this next chapter in my parenting world. I look forward to sharing this journey with others and hope that by telling our story, we can help other parents out there who may be going through something similar!
Being a stay at home mom is not a glamorous lifestyle, despite what you may see on Instagram. It’s not all mommy playgroups, matching mommy/child outfits, or blissful round the clock playtime.
I start my day with two cups of coffee. My hair is in a messy bun, and my robe is tied tight. By the time I drop my son off at school I have clothes on (granted, its usually stretch pants and a sweatshirt), my hair is usually not brushed, contacts not in yet, and no makeup. If you think it gets better by school pick-up, you’d probably be wrong. It’s not that I DONT have time to get ready for the day, but whats the point? The majority of my day is wiping butts, making food, cleaning, working on my computer, playing with baby toys, etc. My life is 99% inside the house. The lazy girl inside me is like “yes! I love being home and in pajamas”; but the overall human being in me gets stir crazy. My life is 24/7 kids. I yearn for adult interaction. This lifestyle is very isolating.
Kids are loud, dirty, talkative, annoying, messy, emotional, rude. This job gets few thank-yous, little to no recognition, there is no pay, no sick days, and ridiculous hours. All that being said, it is the best job I’ve ever had. Wait, what? Honestly, yes. Despite how difficult and draining this life is, being able to watch your kids discover new things, hit new milestones, grow, and find new interests, is something not everyone gets to witness everyday. It is not taken for granted by me. I get moments that working parents don’t always get. Stay at home mothers don’t have an easy life, but neither do working parents. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?
Working parents get to have a life outside of their children and their house, they make their own hard-earned money, they get independence, they live a life for themselves. I am missing out on all of those things. I have no life; and not in the sense like I’m a loser with no friends who wants to go out and party. I mean- I have no life. My children are my life. Every choice I make, every move made, every purchase, every agenda on our daily schedule, EVERYTHING is about them. What about me? My dreams, my needs, my time? Being a stay at home parent day in-day out is making me lose myself. The flip side to this is working parents wanting more time with their families, playing with their children, enjoying their house, having time to relax. I think there are times we can be jealous of each other and our parental situations- and we shouldn’t. Again, the grass is always greener. No parenting style is above the other. No mother is above another. There are going to be pros and cons with any type of parenting.
We need to be grateful for the lives that we have. I would love having my own career, having some independence, but I am so grateful for being able to be there 100% for my kids. I love being around them all the time (despite how much they annoy me most of the time).
This upcoming Mother’s Day, take the time to appreciate BEING a mother, no matter what kind of mother you are. Whether you’re working to live out your dream, to provide financially for your children, to make the world a better place, or whether you’re staying home to raise your beautiful children— Be happy just being a mother. Being a mother, of ANY kind, is a hard f***ing job. Now go brush your teeth and get yourself and iced coffee, because damn it, we deserve it.