Posted in family, motherhood, parenting

Explaining Death and Loss

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. 

Posted in family, momlife, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Which Mom are You?

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. 

Bethanny, 31

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.

Posted in family, momlife, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Mommy Remixes

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.



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGytDsqkQY8


Moana- Where You Are

Camille.
Get uuuuuuup. Get uuuuup.
Camille it’s time for you to get up and take brother to schoooooool. 


(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVzDrqOmYiY


Dr Dre/Eminem- Forgot About Dre

When the cops came through me and eli stood next to a broken down fort.
With a hand full of blankets. Hand full of chairs. Still wouldn’t find out. 



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFcv5Ma8u8k


Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody

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.



(Real Version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ


Spice Girls-Wannabe

If ya wanna be my daughter,
Ya gotta clean up your room. 
I know it won’t last forever,
The bullshit never eeeeeends!


(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJLIiF15wjQ


Carly Rae Jepson- Call Me Maybe

Hey I just birthed you
And this is crazy 
But here’s my nipple
So shred it, maybe!



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWNaR-rxAic


Lou Bega- Mambo no. 5

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.



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK_LN3XEcnw


Michael Jackson- Beat it

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.



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRdxUFDoQe0


ABBA- Dancing Queen

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.



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFrGuyw1V8s


Pharrell Williams- Happy

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.



(Real version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbZSe6N_BXs

Posted in family, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Round 2

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!

Posted in family, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Struggles of a stay at home mom

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. 

Posted in family, parenting

Fighting the Flu Frenzy

Having one child with the flu is terrible. Having two children with the flu is painful. Having two children with the flu AND having it yourself is hell. 

The flu entered our house last weekend and that b**ch didn’t leave for 6 days. Impossibly high fevers, chills, body aches, coughing, mucus, sneezing, you name it. I did thank my lucky stars that no one threw up. 

So how do you survive taking care of two sick kids and yourself? Well…. You don’t. I do have three tips that may help, though!

Tip #1 –Play their favorite movies and shows on a loop. 

They’re going to want to stay in their bed as much as possible. There is no such thing as too much tv when your kid is sick! I’m pretty sure Eli watched 12 hours of paw patrol and 20 hours of Garfield the past week. Camille averaged about 4 viewings of Trolls a day. Now is not the time to be the “my kids only get 30 min of screen time a day” parent.

Tip #2- Keep the drinks flowing and be prepared to waste food.

Fight off dehydration with fluids- whatever they will drink. Another side tip here- on one of my many trips to the pharmacy this week I discovered colorless flavorless pedialyte. Add it to anything so even the pickiest of kids won’t detect it in their drinks! Your kids probably won’t want to eat much, but every once in a while they may pop their head out of their tv caves with a meek “Mom can I have a snack?” Yes, baby. absolutely! What do you want?? They may answer with cereal, hot dogs, mac n cheese; HOWEVER- the true answer to that question is  “only two bites of something, you can throw the rest away because I will refuse to finish it and will refuse any leftovers.”

Tip #3- Do the bare minimum

Don’t be a hero, do what you gotta do and spend all your free time playing games on your phone, you deserve it. When you’re the mom there isn’t anyone there to take care of you. So remember to self care by taking medicine, drinking plently of water, and beating that level on homescapes you’ve been trying to beat for days now. 

So if the flu hits your household, bunker down and remember my three tips and hopefully you can survive. 

Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Changes

Per usual, our life is a constant realm of change. It has been a while since I have worked my blog. There was just a lot going on between Eli starting kindergarten, having a new baby in the house, my husband working 12+ hours a day and the laundry and cleaning that never seem to end. I think I really just wanted a break to enjoy my downtime.

We have once again moved across the country. This time we moved in anticipation of my husband getting orders in Michigan. Which, if any military people are reading this, is kind of a jinx. We had got word that the odds were good of getting assigned to Michigan but because the kids and I came out here early to save up some money beforehand, I’m sure we ruined it. At least us being here allows me to be here for a birth (not mine) and two weddings!!

Now that I am back here and life has slowed down a little (and the fact that the baby in the house is becoming more self sufficient), I decided it was time to fire up the old blog; but give it a face lift. Before, my blog was focused mostly on my son’s autism, but the more we are learning and growing the more I want to focus on our life in general rather than our difficulties. When I look at our family, I don’t see us as a family that revolves around a diagnosis. I see us as a regular, relatable family. So this new upgraded blog is just going to be about my crazy life with my crazy kids.

My goal with blogging isn’t to really to inspire people (I don’t see myself as inspirational), but more so just to relate to people. I love to find humor in chaos. So cheers to 2019 and all our messed up crazy lives!!