Tip{py} Tuesday…The movie called “Life”


I came across an awesome facebook post today about how one mother is intentionally limiting her kids’ use of electronics.  She wants them to hone social skills, the art of conversation, and not miss teachable moments because they are too buried in technology to interact with her.  Her post can be found here.  A lot of what she said resonated with me.  We try to monitor and limit our kids’ use of technology (i.e., our oldest is able to play angry birds once his homework is done, etc…) but I know it is a crutch I use at times.  Recently we were at a friend’s BBQ and the kids had played outside for the first hour or so we were there.  After eating, I let them go in the house and watch a movie.  She didn’t have children of her own yet, so there wasn’t much for them to play with beyond what we had brought with us.  I think of that type of technology use as “survival,” so to speak.  I definitely don’t want to give the impression that my kids never have screen time, but I like to think that it is a reasonable amount for a 4 and 6 year old.

The other day we were heading home from one of our many appointments (speech and OT) and the kids were upset because they wanted to watch a movie on the DVD player in our van.  “Look out the window,” I told them, “watch the movie called ‘Life’.”

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They didn’t understand what I meant, but they did hush up and we did not watch a movie on the way home.  Instead they chatted, fought over some toys in the backseat, and sang Farmer in the Dell.  And I felt good about that.

Thoughts?  How do you limit  your kids’ use of technology?  Are there certain lengths of time you follow?  Certain games you encourage over others?  Have a great day!

 

 

 

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Mommy Moment Monday…Naked Preschoolers and Dirty Chicken Sandwiches…


Good morning, all.  I like to think that with all the years of working with kids that I had before starting my own family and the 6+ years in parenting I have under my belt that I have seen a lot.  Not it all, but maybe close to it?  Not making me an expert of any sort, but at least there should be very little that surprises me or knocks me off my game.  I had a day this past Memorial Day weekend that kicked me to the ground.  And then kicked me again while I was down.  It was not the best side of my parenting and I definitely lost my cool with my family.  Not super proud of that but mommies can always apologize and promise to try to do better, right?  : )

I don’t know if any of you are like me, but I always have incredibly unrealistic expectations for weekends.  Holiday weekends, even more so.  So this past Memorial Day was no different.  Here is a partial list of what I thought we could do/ had planned for those four short days:

BBQ with friends, attend a birthday party, remulch and weed the landscaping, move some plants around, go to the store and get a deck box for our patio chair cushions, set up the patio with the furniture that was still packed away from the winter months, go to the zoo, clean the house, catch up on laundry, build a bench out of a headboard/ footboard set I’ve had for years, catch up/ skype with family, get groceries, cook, make a dent in our DVR list, relax, take a nap, take a bubble bath, and so on…

So, therein lies the problem.  I know it’s not a realistic list.  But I still give it a try and then am so disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I want. Hubbs just stands to the side with an expression on his face between a cringe and amusement.  He knows how this is going to turn out.  And he knows that it’s probably not going to be pretty for me, him or the kids.

Take my unrealistic to-do list and add in the craziness of military life and raising two kiddos on the autism spectrum and half the time I feel like we should be starring in our own sitcom.  Not a slapstick one but the kind where the characters can’t even see the humor of their own situation because they are so thick in it.  That was us this past holiday weekend, in the thick of it.  After a morning of trying to get things done at home and having trouble because many of those things required our boys to occupy themselves doing something safe and constructive.  Well, bless my kiddos’ hearts, they were having none of that.  So after a few hours and some frustration we decided to take a family outing to Chick-fil-a and grab some lunch, give the boys a chance to play and get their wiggles out.  Surely after that they’ll want to go home and rest and we can start checking things off the list, right?

It all started fine as we got our food, got the kids’ shoes off and started them playing.  Hubbs and I were eating and I was enjoying being able to have an actual conversation with him.  By the third bite into my chicken sandwich, I was feeling pretty good about the rest of the day.

Why do I get so aggravated with my family? I thought to myself.

Why in the heat of the moment do I forget how blessed I am?

I made a mental note to do better and that is when I saw my son’s naked tush through the finger-print smudged glass of the play area.

Um, excuse me?

I blinked and shook my head a little but the view stayed the same.  My youngest son running and laughing hysterically without a stitch of clothing on from the waist down.  In hot pursuit was my oldest son, also hysterically laughing.  I could hear some of the nearby tables kind of laughing and whispering and for some reason that made me really mad.  Not at them, but at my kids.

Why couldn’t we be just a normal family?  Why can’t we just have a nice holiday weekend, get stuff done, and enjoy a lunch out without a crisis?

I grabbed my son and realized the reason he had taken all of his clothes off was because his diaper was wet and had leaked onto his shorts.  He didn’t like it so he just took everything off and resumed play.  To his credit, in his four year old mind he had solved the problem.  Modesty is something he is just not aware of yet and we will definitely be working on it.

I handed him and his pile of wet clothes to my husband who made a quick escape to the car.  I grabbed my other son who couldn’t understand why we were leaving when we had just gotten there.  I mean, the kids hadn’t even eaten yet.  

We went back to our table and I began to pack up the kids’ lunches and the partially eaten lunches of my husband and I.  Add my purse to the mix and the fact that I have to hold my oldest’s hand in a parking lot for safety reasons, and it goes without saying that my hands were full.  Beyond full.  And the stack of stuff I was carrying was precarious at best.

He and I made it to the car to find my husband and younger son already there and belted in.  The youngest is crying because he didn’t want to leave and he is sitting in his car seat naked because his mommy didn’t have any emergency clothes for him.  Mommy fail, which made mommy even madder.

I started kind of tossing everything onto the front passenger seat starting with the kids’ meals in their bags, and setting down the drinks in the cupholders.  When I went to put down the two cardboard chicken sandwich containers, mine being on top, it slid off and onto the ground where it promptly popped open and the sandwich landed  inside out.  I’m not afraid to admit that at this point if I had a swear jar it would have been making bank.  I saved the other box though so at least it wasn’t a total loss.

What happened? asked my husband with that aforementioned look of cringey amusement on his face.

I dropped my sandwich.  I said, in a not so pleasant voice.  But the good news is that I saved yours.  

I opened the box to show him and that was when we saw the box was empty.  My husband had already finished his sandwich and just left the empty box on the table.  In my haste and embarrassment to get out of there, I had just grabbed it without checking.

Clink, clink, clink.  More money into the swear jar.  Not my best moment, I told you.

I yelled at my husband, my kids, and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we got home.

Later, I apologized.  After thinking about everything I tried to get to the bottom of it all.

Why had I gotten so mad?  Sure there had been a few annoying things to happen that day, but nothing that should have made me that upset.  I realized it had been the other patrons kind of whispering about our family while their kids sat and ate quietly.  It made me mad.

Why did we have to be different?

It’s not an easy question to ask.  I do feel that hubby and I are matched for a reason and the same goes for our boys.  They are ours.  That is no accident.  Is it always easy?  *%&^$# no, it isn’t.  My husband and I have talked about this in the past and he made a point that stuck with me.

We get to experience what it really means to be a parent.  We have to work twice as hard for them to do half as much.  They don’t just pick things up easily from the world around them.  We are in the trenches, gritting our teeth, sighing, blinking back tears, and encouraging each other.  We can do this because we have to.  Because they are ours.

I’m writing all of this down to refer back to in the next heat-of-the-moment.  I know there will be another.  And another, and another.  But, just think of all the great stories, we’ll have to tell?

Have a great week!

 

Mommy Monday: Beyond Our Front Porch


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Today I had MOPS. Our co-coordinator spoke about telling your life story and creating your story board to help. It was a great talked and it brought back a few things I have been trying to work on personally and goals I want to achieve. We all have grand notions of making goals and setting about wanting to change something about ourselves; but like most resolutions, I fail. I guess that it isn’t that I fail, it’s that I forget. If I don’t have a constant reminder of what it is I am working on, then I have a hard time staying on task.

One of those goals is putting my kids first. Yes, I said it. I don’t always put them first. Does that name me selfish? No, it makes me real and makes me; me. I see these woman trying to live up to a friend they live vicariously through on Facebook or build a home around photography they have seen on Pinterest. However, one day it hits them. It’s not working and they feel like they have failed. They have surrounded themselves with unrealistic goals and ideas, because those goals and ideas were their own.

My friend today shared a story that many people have heard before:

A woman invited her friend over to visit. She meets the friend at the door and offers her a seat on her Home and Garden picture perfect front porch. The two women take sit. Soon the woman offers her friend refreshments and snacks. Inside she goes and brings out a silver platter with pristine sandwich cakes, gourmet cookies and other picture perfect food. The two ladies have a great conversation and visit, soon they hug and the friend leaves.

Her friend is jealous that this woman, with her five kids, is so much more put together than her. The woman probably showered everyday, dressed in ironed and pressed clothes and seemed like she got a complete night of sleep every night.

As the friend leaves, the woman takes a deep breath and exhales as she slowly opens the front door. She trips over the mountain of toys that are scattered and heads into the kitchen where the sink is over flowing with dirty food covered dishes.

She didn’t want her friend to see any of it. She didn’t want her friend to know she was wearing yesterday’s clothes and hadn’t had time for a shower in days. But she gave off the false impression that everything was great; from the front porch.

I realized to a certain extend I do that. I want everyone to think that even with my three special children; I still have it all together. The fact is I don’t. I have a rocky relationship with Diva and constant hate myself for her not loving me the way she loves her father. I have a habit if atomically telling my children “no”, even if it them asking for water and I get irritated when they want to talk to me because I want just 5 more minutes to myself.

I’m trying; very hard. I’ve made progress but not enough. Every day I try harder. But as a mom, I know it’s not my best. I hope that day comes; hopefully before they move out of the house.

Mommy Moment Mondays: I Sterotyped My Kids


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I talk… a lot. I especially talk a lot when it is a topic I know or feel I know a lot about. So when it comes to talking to a group of moms about being an advocate for your special needs children I want to jump up and down raising my hand screaming “pick me!” because I can’t contain all the information, helpful advice, funny stories, realizations and resources I have accumulated over these short years. I just want to word vomit over everyone. And then I start sounding like a know-it-all. I hate that most. I don’t think I know everything, but I have been through so many different experiences on this topic that I feel what I can saw and the little I do know can help and be comforting to some people; whether or not you actually want to hear it. So today I was overjoyed when someone like me, who has much older children, was speaking at my MOPS meeting. I wanted to soak in every bit of information she was going to word vomit on me; I just couldn’t wait. I would be her in so many years and I am a little afraid of that. I am starting to look for people like me who have been through this type of parenting before- parenting older children with special needs. I felt it was a sign that I needed to hear what she had to say today. I just didn’t imagine how dejected it would make me feel.

Her talk was great. It touched base on the main points I always give to parents who have just received a new diagnosis for their child. You have to be your  child’s advocate; but her message was more than that. She described how you needed to be an advocate for all your children; not just the one who require additional care. That was when I realized it; all these years I had been so proud of myself for not really labeling my children and what I was actually doing was defining them.

I lump Bug and Diva into a group that requires more time, more of my energy and more of my attention to parent because of their special needs. In the corner sits SB, happy as a lark, but with her own parental requirements that are not being met. The speaker’s point that touched me was that just because her two oldest children did not require any above average assistance to navigate life, didn’t mean that they would not eventually need someone to fight for their rights.

I like to talk about how I treat my two ASD children as “normal” as possible. I don’t want them growing up feeling things are made different (or easy) just for them. I want them to experience life as humanly normal as can be. I strive very hard to make that happen. I put them in preschool, dance, sports and schedule play dates. Ask me if I have done that for SB. No, Why? I felt like she doesn’t need the extra attention (and she is only 2). That is my mistake. She may need more.

I noticed it briefly with Diva before she was diagnosed. It is a behavior where one child sees all the extra attention, people, and “fun” games and work the other child gets to do. They child without the therapy starts to get upset and feels lonely and like something is wrong with them. Not realizing, it is the total opposite. As quickly as I saw that train of thought appear on Diva’s face she was diagnosed and given her own set of “friends”. I haven’t seen that mind set in SB yet; but I know one day it will come. When that day does I need to be ready. I actually need to be ready now. I set her to the side mentally at times knowing she is fine, “normal”. However, it’s wrong and it is now that I realize that I do sterotype my own children into categories of special needs and “normal”.

Where Diva and Bug need me to fight for OT, speech and other services including IEP’s or 504’s; SB will need me to fight for her to be included in games and activities. SB is a lover, not a fighter. She is strong willed but not competitive. She will happily watch her siblings play games and try to join, but as soon as she is rejected she shuts down. Someone needs to fight for her. Someone needs to show her that if you aren’t able to play that game, there are many more that will come along. She also needs someone to fight for her and show her that she is always loved. That just because she doesn’t have her own “friends” filtering in and out of the house all week long, doesn’t mean anything is wrong with her. It means just the opposite. It means she perfect. Not perfect because she is “normal”, but perfect because she is exactly who God made her and wanted her to be. It was God’s choice to give these three precious gifts for me to grow and nurture into amazing humans. It is my choice to accept and love them for who they are no matter their labels, abilities or inabilities.

Mommy Moment Monday…Some random thoughts…


You know when someone says something or you read something that just really resonates with you?  Well I am not one to reinvent the wheel.  Here are some of the favorites I’ve come across regarding parenting:

Some are heartwarming...

Some are heartwarming…

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Some practical…

Some are just plain funny...

Some are just plain funny…

Some heartwarming...

Some are A-HA moments…

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and others, just plain cool.

Now I am going to go to that happy place, the one where you feel all warm and full of joy.  I just heard a crash from the other room… 🙂