Welcome 2017: Family Life Update

Yes, I realize it has been a while. Okay, a LOOONG while. We have been super busy, and life just hasn’t stopped. I love blogging for many reasons, not the least of which is freedom. Having freedom to tend to my family life when I need to is amazing, and I’m so happy I was able to take the last 3 months of 2016 off.

So, what have we been up to??? Well, a whole lot actually. I will take your through all the members of our household.

“But Dad”

So, “But Dad” has been through a lot. I won’t go into super high detail, but I will say that we are in the process of ruling out Crohn’s Disease with him. There have been many appointments and tests, and the road is not over yet. This is one of the reasons I have had less time to blog. With “But Dad” not being 100% (even for him), “But Mom” has had to take on more.

The Oldest

So, the oldest has been doing the same and better. I know that is probably confusing. I will say that there are many areas she is getting better at. We have found a new idea as to what is going on with her, so that will be for another post though. Right now, we are doing better in some areas, and the same in others. We have her in a behavior progran (at home) 2 days a week. She is also in play therapy one day a week to try to figure out what our next steps are. As I have said, I have my ideas, but I’ll save those for another post. It is a learning process, and I’m very lucky to learn along with her.

The Youngest

The youngest has gone through some stuff as well. She was diagnosed in August with sleep apnea and after an appointment with an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist) We decided she needed her tonsils out. So, one week before Thanksgiving, my little one had full surgery. She had both her tonsils and adenoids removed. She was quite a trooper. I mean, she even had a full meal 5 hours after surgery. It seems we are doing much better now. You can tell she is getting sleep now because she is a typical 3 year old instead of a laid-back angel. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“But Mom” (That’d be ME )

So, lots of stuff going on with everyone in our household. I have been scheduling and going to appointments with everyone. It has been great fun as Dr appointments always are (Can you feel the sarcasm there???). So outside of that, we have been dealing with holidays and planning said holidays. I have been missing writing, but I just didn’t have the focus to write after 2 appointments in a week plus behavior therapy and play therapy. Things haven’t settled down much, but I think I am getting more used to the faster pace of life. It takes a while, but I eventually catch up.

On a side note, I have lots of fun stuff to share in the next few months. I will be keeping up with Mental Health Mondays and Some other areas, but I’m also going to be adding 2 areas to the blog. One area is going to be about how our family manages with so many issues conflicting with each other. The other area is about Work At Home Mom’s. I have some ideas, but I’m still not 100% sure how all that will unfold, but I’m excited to see.

I’m going to close by introducing the newest member of our family:

 

 

Meet Pumpkin. She made our way into our home on October 1st and we have loved every minute of her stay with us thus far. ¬†So… I’d love to catch up, drop a comment about how your life is going ūüôā

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Setting Up a Candy Buffet for Those With Food Allergies

set-up

If your kids are anything like mine, then you have been asked a time or 2 to have a candy buffet at a party. I tend to shy away from them because it seems these days everyone has a different allergy. Thanks to the folks over at Sweet Services who have brought us some tips on setting up a Candy Buffet when guests have food allergies.

Candy buffets are very popular right now, They are fun and beautiful, and they replace the cakes at a party and the goodie bags filled with plastic. However, even with something as easy as a candy buffet, there is an unseen danger. That danger is food allergies. If you are a parent of a child with allergies, you know that heartbreaking look you see when the other kids are indulging on things they can only dream of. With that in mind, let’s try to make a cool candy buffet that all the kids enjoy.

 

First, as a responsible parent, inquire with each if your guest and see who has allergies.

You will probably find several children who cannot have peanuts or tree-nuts or their products. Some children will not be able to eat chocolate or any candy with milk products. Gluten (wheat) free products are also very important. While a lot of people reach for sugar-free, there are a few people who cannot eat artificial sweeteners.

 

Armed with your list, contact your favorite bulk candy supplier and let them awe you with a solution list that is equally impressive. How you stage your candy buffet is your choice. It is wise to use a two-color scheme and a theme of the table. It is wise to set up one section of the table with food-allergy friendly foods. Labeling is essential, so the front of the table is a good choice. Unless you intend on making the entire table allergy-free.

 

Provide a few anti-allergy goodie bags for children to take home (Consider labeling the back of the bag, ‚Äúcandy made without tree-nut products, artificial sweeteners, and milk products‚ÄĚ)

 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

 

Tree-nut / Peanut-free candy

Natural gummy candies and jelly beans

Skittles

Peeps

Wonka’s Nerds and Nerd Ropes

Dum Dum Lollipops

Tootsie Rolls (or any product made by Tootsie)

Now and Laters

Pop Rocks

Marshmallows

Starburst

 

 

Gluten & Casein Free Candy

 

Cotton candy

Double-Bubble Gum

Peppermint

Licorice

Haribo – Gold bear minis

Sweettarts

Pixie Stix

Conversation hearts

Jelly beans

Variety of flavors of pops and suckers

Candy buttons

Candy Necklaces

Ring pops

Hard candy such as life savers

Jolly Ranchers

Orange and Cream Chews

Super sour straws

 

Use clear jars to display candy. Cover boxes with fabric or foil and use the boxes to raise or lower the jars. Read the labels and keep them in a spiral notebook for anyone else to read. Use scoops in the jars for easier retrieval. Consider keeping some dried fruit on the table for an all natural treat. Gluten free cereals make a pretty display and many parents consider this a staple item. This gives younger children a few options too.

 

With a little planning and the right supplier, your candy buffet will make any party beautiful and exciting. Use colorful balloons or ribbons or color hung behind the table for a beautiful backdrop. Use designer candy on display for your centerpiece or any bright theme item.

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Mental Health Mondays: Letting Go of Social Norms

 

Mental Health

What does it truly mean to “let go”??? So much of what we do in our world is because of an expectation. Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going to work or school. These are all examples of activities we do everyday, often of autopilot. If I asked you why you wake up in the morning, what would your response be??? Would you answer, “because that’s what we are supposed to do”, or “I’ve always done this this way”??? What if you slept in until 1:00 pm??? Would you be happy and say “I got the sleep I needed, I feel good, now let’s start the day”??? Or would you feel embarrassed, or maybe ashamed and say you shouldn’t have overslept???

This is just one very normal activity. So much of what we do everyday in our lives has been programmed into us from children on up. ¬†We live our lives by rules and social norms. We often decide what we should and should not do based on wether or not it is socially acceptable. Let’s look at another example.

What about people who work 2nd or 3rd shift. In either case, we see these people having to work hard to make their schedules work. They get fewer hours of sleep in order to make a Dr appointment, or go to the bank. What about all the people in society who claim they are NOT morning people. What if you ¬†got the right amount of sleep because there were more options for people who don’t do the “9-5” lifestyle. If more people would be honest about who they are, imagine what could happen. We could ¬†help the people who already work shift work, and create jobs for those not “morning people” as well.

Now, some of you may feel like I’m way off in left field here, and maybe I am. However, I feel like the stress of preforming for someone else, based on the “norm” can be too much. This is not good for these people’s mental health. We all are forced into boxes and to do activities we don’t want to do just because they are the socially acceptable norm. And while I get laws and social norms like not killing people, and following the rules of the road, I question what harm it would be to extend banking hours, Drs. offices, and other “9-5” businesses and accept that not everyone can do the “9-5” thing.

Again, this is just one example of how becoming more open minded and letting go of social norms that don’t make that big a difference in life can reduce the stress and help mental health. It will probably be a long time, if ever that our society sees the benefit of happier workers and greater mental health by doing something this “drastic”, however, in our own selves, we can make this a reality. It may take some doing, some logistic work and whatnot, but if we can open our minds to what truly makes us happy, fulfilled, and less stressed, we can work toward achieving this. If we can get over the fear of going against the grain and become who we truly are, the boost in mental health would be crazy, and it would be so worth it in the end.

Do you ease stress by letting go of social norms???

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Just an Update. Life is CRAZY.

An Update on our crazy life.

This is one of those, posts I’ve been avoiding for a while now. It’s not necessarily a “bad” post, just a tiring post. It’s the kind of post that is usually interesting to read (I love reading updates on the blogger friends I follow) but, to write it, to format the swirl of words that swish around in my head, well, it’s daunting to say the least.

So it’s been a while since we have talked about¬†real life, and I feel like there is so much going on. I’m going to be all over the place, since instead of going in chronological order, I’m just going to finish out each of our stories 1 at a time.

“But Dad”

“But Dad” has had some stuff going on health wise. We have been dealing with High blood pressure, and now he will be starting Physical Therapy for pain he has been living with most if not all of his adult life. We are also getting a sleep study done to confirm his sleep apnea and get his very own C-Pap machine. He jokes about how he hadn’t seen a doctor since he was in school (for ADD meds) and now he finally sees one and is immediately loaded up with pills and 3 other doctors. Moral of that story Take Care of Yourself While You Are Young

We also had a bout which included an ambulance ride, the Emergency Room, His family doctor and then Urgent Care. We started out thinking it was a broken rib or his gallbladder, they ruled those out, called it Pleurisy and sent him on his way. We had a follow up with the family doctor where things were looking good, only to relapse and then find out through Urgent Care that he actually has pneumonia. It’s been a crazy 3 weeks or so for us dealing with all of this. (I’ll be making a post about the importance of having emergency info ready sometime later this month).

“The Oldest”

I’m not exactly sure if I have mentioned this before, however, we have started the oldest in feeding therapy. This is interesting, and particularly rough for me at times, as it goes against a lot of how I was raised. We are noticing some improvements though, so I’ll take it, and deal with my inability to handle change on my own time, not hers.

We have also been looking into some behavior therapy options. If I’m completely honest, the older she gets, the harder I find it to justify her actions and reactions. We are starting some new parenting techniques and I will be posting about those soon as well. All in all she is doing well in preschool, and proving to be an extremely smart little girl. I’m proud of how far she has come, and am looking forward to the days we can get the emotional and social stuff figured out.

“The Youngest”

Our youngest is doing extremely well in speech therapy and she is blossoming into a little girl with a great spirit. She is picking up on emotions and empathy so quickly, and just like a sponge absorbs everything going on around her. She loves her “Tsum tsums” and is wanting to learn ballet.

She will be starting preschool in September. I’m excited and a little sad, our baby isn’t really a baby anymore (even though she will ALWAYS be my baby). I’m excited to watch her unfold into this little person with a big heart and even bigger emotions. I’m proud of her for continuing to grow and blossom even in the midst of all the attention being on her sister.

Then, there’s ME:

So, I think any moms out there know, when so much stuff is going on, we tend to forget about ourselves and get wrapped up in making sure everyone has what they need, when they need it. We have 2 weekly therapy sessions (1 for each child), 2 monthly parent teaching session (again 1 for each child), Preschool 3 days a week, and now “But Dad” will be in physical therapy twice a week for at least 6 weeks if not longer.

Some days I feel as if my head won’t stop spinning. It is CRAZY, and while I love my family and would do anything for them, I have days I just want to be left alone. After much thought and dealing with some really painful emotions, I have decided that I am going to start going back to counseling, and possibly back on meds if I can find meds that regulate me the right way.

It’s so hard, living with Bipolar for years and never knowing it, over the top emotions are what I am used to. I am finding it very difficult to give up feeling those strong emotions, however, I realize it really is what is best under our current circumstances.

So, now that THAT is out of the way, on to happier thoughts. I’m preparing to send in some posts to some big name sites *Stay tuned for the results on that* I am also still working on putting together a book of stories from people who either have, or deal with family that have mental illnesses and children with developmental delays.

All in all, it is safe to say that life is crazy, and mixed up, and at times even downright over whelming, but, we’re still here, still doing what we do, and bringing you all the ideas as to how we manage with so much craziness.

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My Feelings on Raising a Successful Special Needs Family

My Feelings on raising a successful special needs family

 

Lately we have been dealing with professionals who are wonderful, but aren’t committed to the whole picture. ¬†Therapists and workers who see the things we talk about in our child, but don’t stop to consider that we are a¬†family with special needs, not a family with a member with special needs. “But Dad” and I have gotten frustrated, mad, and even down on ourselves and while I’m not discrediting the professionals points, some just aren’t understanding of the whole picture. ¬†This post is dedicated to the parents who have been treated as though their diagnosis’ don’t matter. These are my feelings on raising a successful special needs family

I can remember being in a therapists office, on more than 1 occasion, given instructions: “You need more structure in your routine” “You need to take the kids out of the house more often” “You need to be more patient with your daughter”. I also remember wondering if I should explain my situation, no, they’ll think it’s just an excuse. I’d start to get madder the longer I was silently thinking all this, until, it just spit out of me like a volcano of craziness. ¬†“I¬†know I need to be more patient and have a better routine. I know the kids need out of the house. ¬†I’m trying here, but a lot of times it just doesn’t happen. A lot of times I’m so emotionally exhausted from just keeping them from covering themselves with food, after breakfast I feel like I’ve run 2 marathons, and by nap time, I can’t think straight.”

What happens next is a bit of what anyone would expect, followed by a whole lot of “Really?” ¬†Each therapist had a different way of talking about it, but, the general consensus is something like this. ¬†“Just relax, you stress yourself too much” “Just let it go, pick your battles and let the rest go” “It’s time you got over this stuff, you have kids to think of, you need to do, whatever you need to do, to do what’s best for them”

Defeated, deflated, sad, and alone. “I’m a horrible mother” I’d tell myself I’d cry, sometimes punch pillows. “But Dad” would get SOOO mad at the therapist. “They are therapists, aren’t they supposed to at least see where our issues come into play and, oh, I don’t know, maybe give us ideas on how we can get through this together?” ¬†You’d think, right? They were therapists for kids though, and they were getting paid to give us the pre-cut, pieced together, help our CHILD needed, and if we couldn’t comply, well that meant we were awful, we weren’t trying.

To make matters worse, when you put “But Dad” and I and all our issues together you get a whole totally off person and a totally sane person, however we both have things we just CAN’T do, okay, well, we COULD do them but at the risk of a stroke from such high blood pressure. Example: He has no problem watching them do “dangerous”stuff, ya know climb on top of a toy box, or climbing all over playground equipment. He does NOT however do well when it comes to loud play in the house, or getting food everywhere when they eat. I am the one who will have a heart attack when it comes to watching them do ANYTHING where they can get hurt, but I can clean up a mess in stride (sorta) and loud play really just makes me think they are having fun.

Now, the question, are either “But Dad” or I¬†Wrong in our inability to handle certain areas of life. ¬†Some may disagree and say “Yes” however, I charge you to think in parenting your own kids (or even watching other people’s kids if you don’t have kids yourself) there is at least 1 thing that other people would roll with that just bothers the heck out of you. Now, think about how that makes you feel when it happens. Now picture that same feeling anytime one of your kids did anything from the list above. ¬†It’s harder to deal with, the more little “quirks” you have, and HERE is my problem: We say it’s okay to deal with our kids quirks, they don’t understand, they don’t know any better, we need to treat them with compassion and respect. I AGREE. However, what about the quirks of the parents? We are told, you need to shape up, be “normal” or at least deal with these things as “normal” people would.

This is where I get MAD. I’m not griping for “equal rights” or saying I have quirks to… let’s talk about mine. I am an adult, I can understand mine, and learn to deal with mine. However, sometimes, as adults, we avoid the things that make us go crazy, once we have kids, while we can no longer totally avoid this stuff, we also need compassion and a listening ear to help us as we navigate the road to compromise. How can we raise children to be kind and compassionate toward ALL people, when we hide our quirks and pretend they don’t matter in the name of “bettering our children’s lives”. Wouldn’t it be better, if instead, we were honest and helped our kids to see that we have issues as well? Teach them how we deal with our quirks and show them how we can live productive lives even with those quirks. THAT will create a bond, THAT will help them come to you when they have problems and feel alone because they will be learning that it is OKAY not to be “normal” and that the way they were made, although a bit trying for them at times is exactly who they are meant to be. We would start raising a generation of kids who don’t always think “normal” is right and everyone else is wrong. We will empower these children to stand up for themselves and educate those who want to run in fear, and in that we will be making the world a better place, 1 child, 1 family at a time.

I am also saying, before you go and pass judgement on ME, or any other parent like me, stop and think, we are people too. We deserve to have our feelings and issues validated and in the process YES, maybe we’ll need to change some of our thinking, learn to let a few things go (or at least TRY) but shaming a parent who is trying and already has odds stacked against them is NOT helping. ¬†It’s a moment where if you can’t say anything nice, give a book to read or suggest some other form of communicating the ideas to us, but don’t blatantly judge us.

If you have children, and are going through something similar, please, know you are NOT alone. We are in this together and together we can change the world for our kids and grandkids.

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Top 5 Tuesdays: Family Goals

 

Top 5 Tuesdays winter

This has been so much fun, and so thought provoking in the last week. ¬†A big thanks to Phyllis over at Verified Mom¬†for hosting this Word a Day blogging challenge. ¬†I am behind, but working hard to catch up this week. ¬†The next word in the Word a Day challenge is: Family. ¬†I thought about this long and hard and all the different perspectives I can show, but, it IS Tuesday, and so I am going to turn THIS into my Top 5 Tuesdays today and talk about “Family Goals”

A little background, I am in no way an expert on “goal setting”, I do however know, that unless you have goals, you really have nothing you are striving for in life. ¬†It’s hard to write a goal when more than one person is involved as well, since to have a “group goal” everyone needs to understand and agree on the goal and the outcome at the end. ¬†It gets even harder when some of those people are little and don’t understand. ¬†I have been working on this for a few days now as a way to help our family hit different levels in life, ¬†Ever hear the saying “there’s got to be more”??? ¬†Sometimes, you have to work through areas in your life to get to the more, and THAT is where our family goals are coming into play. ¬†I am going to give you 5 steps to making and achieving your “family goals”

1 .Determine Your Path as a Family. This has 2 steps really. ¬†First, you need to figure out where you are as a family. ¬†What is working, what isn’t, and focus on the good at the point you are at right now. ¬†Example: My family is growing (as in my kids are getting bigger), we know potty training is just around the corner. ¬†We are blessed that we get to stay home, so potty training won’t be as hard for us, like it is for some. ¬† Step 2 is to figure out where you WANT to be, and determine a WHY. Example: We know we would love to have both our littles potty trained. ¬†It will save us time, money, and also help our littles be more independent.

2. Pick a Goal to Work On.  I kind of already gave you the example we have (there are lots of other goals we could and will be working on).  You have to choose one goal and make it something you feel is achievable.  If you think the goal you have is to lofty, could you break it down into smaller goals???  Potty training for us is a smaller step toward being able to leave the house easier, go more places, as well as spend less on a sitter to maybe have a date night as a couple.   In families with older kids, this goal should be seen as something positive, and everyone should agree.  If a goal is getting help around the house, the parents might come to the kids and list: spending more time doing fun stuff (movies, game nights, outings) as a family, happier parents which means a happier environment at home, (maybe even) earning money from chores to buy things they want. Keeping the goal positive and showing everyone what is in it for them as well will help get them excited and want to be involved in the process.

3. Write Out a Plan. This will mean different things for different people.  For me, it means writing out what we are trying to achieve and then writing out steps to get us to that point.  We are starting out putting our kiddos on the potty at predetermined times and rewarding them when they potty.  From there, we will move to allowing them to tell us when they have to go, and rewarding that  (still keeping the predetermined times, until they no longer seem appropriate). The last step is to lessen the amounts an frequency of the rewards, until going potty is just as natural as taking a drink, or playing with a toy.  I am choosing steps that will work for us, and that will give us the desired outcome.  Your steps will vary based on the age of those involved, and you may even get some input from older kids as to what the steps should be. Helping to create the plan will give ownership and keep everyone vested in achieving the goal.

4.¬†Set Plan into Motion and Reward Progress. ¬†Each plan will have it’s own reasonable way to measure the success of said goal. ¬†You can choose rewards in the Write Out a Plan step, or, you can surprise your family and reward based on effort spontaneously. ¬†Some of this will depend on the goal itself since some goals have built in rewards: helping around the house, makes parents happier and that could mean a “Yes” or “maybe” instead of a “No” next time kids ask for something. ¬†It could also mean more time to spend as a family and do fun things. ¬†However, giving allowance or money for chores done, can be another reward as well. ¬†Where as in our case with potty training, the reward needs to be established up front in order for the littles to understand and WANT to work toward the reward. ¬†Regardless of how you reward, rewarding efforts toward achieving the goal keeps everyone on track and makes the change a more pleasant one.

5.¬†Celebrate Achievement. ¬†Once you have achieved the goal, make a big deal out of it. ¬†Have ice cream for dinner, or, make everyone’s favorite meal/dish. Make sure to thank everyone for their efforts and talk about how excited achieving this goal makes you. ¬†Give a a few days, and then start on the next goal (or next step in the broken down goal)

Family Goals-Because we should always strive to be better.

So, there you have it, my guide to making “family goals”. ¬†I hope this helps you tackle that next step in life your family wants/needs to take.

Do you make “Family Goals”???

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