Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Soccer

It’s been a busy busy busy summer. It’s been almost 2 months since my last blog. I’ve been spreading myself thin between all Eli’s therapies and appointments, working, and my own doctor appointments. Now that I’m near the end of my third trimester it is time that I dial way back on my workload. Hopefully, for the time being, my blog is back up and running!


Eli just completed his first team sport! Back in June we started soccer and I’m not going to lie I was very nervous. Eli was just starting to get out of his shell with other kids his age and he has a lot of social issues that are still underdeveloped compared to other children his age. I was nervous he was too young; the league was for 4-6 year olds and Eli was the youngest on his team.

The first couple practices were pretty iffy. Eli (for the most part) did pretty well listening to his coach and wasn’t too bad with the other kids. There were, of course, a couple run ins that led to minor tiffs but nothing unusual for this age group. First game came and I couldn’t have been proud to see him running around with the other kids!

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Of course there were a lot of areas for improvement but that will come with age and experience. Most of the parents, and the coach, assured me that their kids were exactly the same way their first year. Starting something new, especially a group activity can be overwhelming for any kid. Even children who have played before were quite timid and nervous during the games. Eli picked the game up quite quickly, even score a goal his second or third game!

There were a couple areas of his distractions/tantrums that I know Eli’s autism played a factor. The first being that Eli HAD to use a white ball with a red stripe to practice with. One practice we had a substitute coach who had all black balls and Eli was so upset he wouldn’t participate in practice and we ended up leaving. The first few games we got lucky with the game ball being close to what Eli preferred which made him more willing to participate. Towards the end of the season he got a little more flexible and I think our last game we even used a color ball and he didn’t raise a hair about it! With the pickiness of ball color, came possessiveness over the ball. In the game yes, but more so during practice/free time. He had to have this specific ball and when someone came and tried to take it (in a playful, non challenging way) Eli would freak out until it was back. Definitely need to work on our sharing!

It’s difficult trying to explain to other kids why Eli cries so much. A couple times I heard some of the kids questioning it. “Why does he cry like that?” “He cries like a baby!” Kids are kids, they don’t understand that other kids have difficulties. It’s hard for young kids to understand that not everyone thinks, feels, or acts like they do. I will say however that this group of kids did great with Eli. Several of the kids even tried to cheer Eli up when he was upset. It was awesome to see that. Eli did pretty well interacting with his teammates. Running around chasing his friend Ben and “flirting” with his friend Joy.

We will definitely be putting Eli into more sports when we get back to San Diego. We’d like to do more team sports like soccer and t-ball and also some one on one sports like karate or taekwondo. I feel that sports and all the socialization that comes with it will be great for Eli’s development.

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One Year Anniversary

This week is the one year anniversary of Eli talking. As soon as I realized it was coming up I became extremely nostalgic and began looking back on how far he has come, not only in the past year, but in all four years of his life! (Honestly, I will use any excuse I can to look back at old pictures and videos and get emotional that my baby is growing up, isn’t it the saddest thing?!)

As a parent, you become so in tune with your kids that you can often know what they need with little to no help. When Eli was an infant, I could determine his needs by the sound of his cries. Until the Age of 2 ½ he communicated with baby babble and pointing (which started frustration tantrums from not being understood). Around the 2 ½ year mark is when he began catching on to sign language that significantly lessened the tantrums. I’ve written in the past about his sign language vocabulary; daycare taught him a couple and once we started implementing them at home and in therapy the number of signs grew into the 20 or 30’s.

Then the day came in June last year, at just over three years old. Eli was in ABA therapy and they were practicing the sign for “mama, go” and working on saying the words aloud with the sign. Suddenly it stumbled out of his mouth and from then on out he would sign AND say the phrase “mama, go.” It was beautiful. Hearing your child’s voice when they change from speaking in babble to speaking actual words is such a huge difference. For a couple days, it was the only word he could say, but before long he was slowly speaking a lot of his sign language words along with the sign. I personally credit our amazing therapists along with the Kauffman card method. I’ve made a post about those cards in the past and I may do another one because they worked wonders for Eli. Our speech therapist worked with our ABA therapists and, both using the Kauffman cards, got Eli saying new words every week. His vocabulary grew like wildfire. He had his language explosion. And this week it has been a year since it all started.

I would love to be able to put a number on Eli’s vocabulary but it’s too big to count. He is learning new words and phrases every day; whether from other people, t.v., books, etc. He creates, what I like to call, a phrase of the week. For a while he was saying “sorry ‘bout that” for every little thing. Lately his phrase has been “see that?!” He often speaks in complete sentences although it’s not always clear. I understand a lot of what he says just from being around him all the time and I often need to translate for others. The best part now, for everyone, is that Eli can speak for himself. He can tell everyone what he needs, wants, and feels. There are still many things that are difficult for Eli to understand and deal with; but his developed speech helps open the way for other obstacles to be overcome!

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Mouthful of problems

Eli has never really been a teeth brusher. I am going to be honest when I say, a good portion of that is the parent’s fault. A lot of times at the end of the day it’s the last thing on my mind to get done before bed (horrible, I know). Another part of it was the challenge of the task; kicking screaming and protesting for the 3-minute task seemed dreadful. If I could go back and look at the big picture and make myself suffer through it I would because maybe it wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it has.

Aside from my fault in this, Eli also showed a lot of signs of sensory issues with his mouth. He doesn’t really care to be touched in general, especially in the face. Trying to get a toothbrush in his mouth was next to impossible. He often times would cringe or gag at the feel of the bristles on his teeth or gums and push me away. Most attempts would end with him begging me to stop. I do feel, though, that if I had kept pushing on we could have gotten over this issue.

With all these issues I had getting in his mouth, imagine how our dentist visits have gone… First attempt was everything I expected; Eli crying, me holding him in my lap while he screamed as the dentist wiped fluoride on his teeth, and then we went on our way. The second attempt was much worse. As soon as the dentist walked in, Eli took off down the hall screaming and ended up sprawled out on the floor in hysteria. The next time I made dad accompany me, and wouldn’t you know it, it was the best visit so far (go figure!) Eli sat in dads lap and let the hygentist and dentist do their thing with minimal crying! I’m sure the toys and video games in the office didn’t hurt.

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We were slowly getting into the habit of brushing our teeth more consistently, trying at least. Eli generally doesn’t like any sweets or juice so I figured everything was going good in teeth town… until I saw it. We were brushing one night and I was having a hell of a time getting some popcorn out from Eli’s teeth. After intense brushing, I realized it wasn’t popcorn; it was a black hole in his tooth. Two to be exact. How the hell did that get there?!? It honestly came out of nowhere. I didn’t think you’d be able to overlook something like that, but alas, I did. I spent the next couple day’s trying to get in to see the dentist and religiously scrubbing those teeth to keep debris out. I will say that since I’ve noticed those we have been brushing religiously and Eli isn’t even putting up a fight anymore. He still seems to have occasional issues with the bristles and asks me to stop, but for the most part he’s doing great!

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We finally made it to the dentist and it was a pretty good time! There were toys EVERYWHERE and the staff was so friendly. Eli sat and played with toys basically the whole appointment. The only time he got upset was when he laid in my lap to get teeth counted and brushed. Overall it was a really great experience. Our next step to fixing his teeth is a little more dark. Because of Eli’s issues, he will be getting his dental work done at the hospital’s operating room under anesthesia. They will take x-rays and depending on what they show, put on some steel caps and maybe a baby root canal if the decay caused any damage to the root. I am extremely nervous how Eli will handle the hospital and having to be in the OR alone. I’m really hoping they let me in until he is under anesthesia. This will be his first “major” procedure (I’m using the word “major” rather loosely because I know there are so many worse things he could have to go through, but I’m pregnant and hormonal so to me, it’s major.)  Until now, the most Eli has ever had was some X-rays. Here’s to hoping everything goes smoothly!!!

Moral of the story- Be vigilant when it comes to your kids. Don’t let them win these small battles thinking “It’s fine, we will start brushing eventually…” Because, let me tell ya, ‘eventually’ doesn’t come fast enough and your kid will end up with a mouth full of stainless steel!!

Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Half-Assing It

Being pregnant is one of the best miracles a woman can experience in her life. My first pregnancy I was a little spoiled; I didn’t have any morning sickness, I never felt more beautiful, and most importantly I didn’t have to chase around a child while I was as big as a whale. I lived with a roommate then but we were on opposite shifts so I spent most of my free time in bed eating and watching old Law and Order: SVU episodes on Netflix. I ordered whatever food I wanted with no judgement, it was quiet ALL THE TIME, I could take naps whenever I wanted. It was the pregnancy dream! This pregnancy is oh so different. I had morning sickness for about the first four months that slowly shifted into daily headaches. I managed through both of those plus the usual fatigue while being trapped in a house with an overly-hyper 3 (now 4) year old. I don’t get to eat whatever I feel like eating (mostly because there are no food places in this town), there’s no peace and quiet when I need it, and I can’t nap whenever I feel the need. My illusion of another magical pregnancy has been shut down. I have started to realize that because of all of this, my parenting skills may be lacking. Hold on, don’t call CPS yet…let me explain.

{the following photos are reenactments}

 

  1. Sometimes with my morning sickness I can get as far as changing a diaper and preparing breakfast before I’m back in bed struggling to keep contents of my stomach where they belong.

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One morning Eli came into my room to ask what I was doing, I replied that I was sick and just needed to lay down for a while. He left and returned with a giant bag of skittles and assured me that it would make me feel better. Then shortly after, returned again asking for more cereal. I told him I couldn’t get up and to bring the cereal to me. So being the good little man he is, came back in with his bowl and box of cereal that I could pour from the comfort of my bed.

 

 

  1. Most of my relaxing time is laid back in a recliner. When you’re pregnant, getting in and out of furniture proves to be quite the challenge; thus, making me a seated yeller.

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Much like a small puppy, Eli needs to be reprimanded right when bad behavior is happening so he is aware of what I’m talking about. If I miss my opportunity, odds are discussing it after the fact doesn’t have much effect. When I am sitting down and Eli is in another room or in the basement I listen out for any signs of distress. I distinguish whether he is frustrated (whiny yell), upset (loud yelling/crying), being mean (other child crying), then proceed with the coordinating response. For example: “Don’t get mad, just take your time!”, “What’s wrong with you now?!”, “Eli you better be playing nice or you come upstairs!”

 

 

  1. When my morning sickness shifted into daily headaches I was back laying down with an ice pack. I usually just tell Eli mommy’s head hurts and he can do whatever he wants if he leaves me alone for a while.

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I’m sure I will be using this one once the new baby comes and I’m exhausted and delusional. It’s much easier to let the kids make a mess so they leave you alone then clean it up yourself later. Anyone with me? Or is this just me?

 

 

  1. I’m not really a “cravings” type girl, however the fact that I couldn’t keep anything down for most of the first four months of this pregnancy led me to be a lover of food now.

I use Eli as an excuse to get whatever food I feel like eating. “Eli, you wanna go get ice cream?” Sometimes he says no because he’s too busy playing, which sends me into a panic because I really wanted ice cream. “Are you sure you don’t want ice cream?” “Come on, let’s go for a ride!” [OMG PLEASE GO GET ICE CREAM WITH ME]

 

 

  1. Kindergarten is just over a year away. Did you know they don’t take naps in kindergarten anymore? What kind of crap is that… The time is upon us that Eli’s nap time will soon disappear. He already doesn’t nap at daycare, but believe you me, at home we are taking naps.

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Your girl is pretty exhausted these days. Sometimes I need a little nap time to get me through the day. Who’s with me? Eli is fine with or without naps to be honest, but while we have the time to nap and I have the need for my own nap time, why not? I am keeping nap time around as long as possible, even if it is for my own personal gain.

 

 

  1. Empty threats. I spoke earlier about how it’s already difficult for me to get out of the recliner sometimes. This has made me the queen of empty threats.

“Eli knock it off or I’m gonna come down there!” yeah…. I’m not going anywhere…

 

 

  1. I find opportunities for rest and relaxation whenever I can, including bath time

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Eli usually handles his bath time by himself now, I only step in for hair washing and when it’s time to get out and get in pajamas. Therefore, everything in between in mama’s break time. Every bath night I can be heard saying “Eli, we have to get out in 5 minutes” repeatedly for a good half hour.

I am sure there are even more things that I am half-assing as a pregnant (and temporarily-single mother). Surely, I can’t be the only pregnant (and even non-pregnant)  woman out there who struggles to find breaks and relaxation?

Posted in family, parenting, Uncategorized

Handling Missing a Parent

My husband is currently on his second deployment with the military. The first time around Eli was only 18 months old and didn’t really notice dad wasn’t there. Even at that young of an age I expected some tantrums but we had moved back home by my family so he was surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and I think having the added family around blurred out the fact that dad was gone. Now just because Eli wasn’t screaming for his dad (he didn’t even talk at this age anyway), doesn’t go to say that there weren’t other behaviors relating to the deployment.

Then and now Eli likes to push the limits with me; from what I gather this is very common with children who have a parent that may be gone for certain lengths of time (military, general long work shifts, truck driving, travel/training, prison, etc). I don’t have the same amount as authority as my husband does. I’m not sure why but I think, and this may come across as sexist here (sorry feminists), men are the heads of the household.  Sure, some may not work as hard as their spouse, make as much money, spend as much time with the children; however, men are usually bigger than their wives and usually have deeper more demanding voices. I could yell in my ‘mean voice’ for Eli to “STOP JUMPING ON THE COUCH” and see no reaction, but my husband can walk in the room and start with “HEY…” and not even have to finish his sentence because my son already sat on his butt and gave him a sorry expression. There’s no denying that my husband has a lot more authority than me, it is what it is. So, during these deployments Eli feels as though he can get away with a lot more because his dad is gone. He’s not completely wrong, especially because this time I’m pregnant and don’t have enough energy to yell. Most of the time I’m so exhausted that it’s easier to let him make a big mess and clean it up by myself later than to go with him hand over hand making him pick up the entire basement. I mean honestly, I get breathless walking up the stairs. Once we start therapy though I will have a second disciplinarian in the house to help back me up.

This time around Eli has obviously noticed that his dad is not around. I have stressed from the beginning that daddy is at work. He understands this and says that daddy is at work back at mommy’s house (San Diego, close enough). In the beginning, he never really wanted to video chat with his dad; he would tell me “no, daddy is busy. He’s at work…” I would say “Hey Eli, your dad says he loves you!” Eli would answer, “no, daddy is at work.” To me it appears he thought, ‘daddy isn’t here so he doesn’t love me anymore’ or ‘daddy is too busy for me.’ Of course, he was only 3-4 years old and maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but nevertheless, it made me very sad to hear him say things like that.

So where do we go from here? How do we bridge this gap between father and son when they are many time zones apart? There are many books, articles, blogs on how to help your children during deployments, but there isn’t a one size fits all for children. Children may not be feeling the same way or may not respond to techniques that another child responded to. My best advice is to try out anything and everything.

  1. Phone calls, video calls
    1. If your spouse can communicate while they’re away this is usually the best way to keep them connected with children. We do this occasionally but Eli generally doesn’t have much of an attention span for video calls. I usually have to close the bedroom door and just let him play while dad talks a big. Eli will acknowledge him sometimes, answer his questions, and show him certain things then it loses its luster and he ignores both of us completely.
  2. Daddy Dolls
    1. I’ve seen a lot of these in the military community. They are little fabric dolls with a parent’s full body picture printed on. I’ve also seen necklaces, picture frames, etc that the child can take around with them and when they are feeling sad they can hold onto their parent and talk to them.

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  1. Deployment wall
    1. This one (in my opinion) was a little too advanced for Eli to appreciate, but it is a visual aid for the kids to understand more about where daddy is. Include a map with pinned areas, clocks so they can see what time it is there, a mail station to send out their letters to dad, etc.

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  1. Texting
    1. One thing Eli has been really into lately is texting his dad. Of course, he can’t read and the only thing he can spell/write is his own name. He mostly uses it for the emoji’s. He likes taking his time and selecting just the right emoji to send to his dad and gets a kick out of what emoji’s dad will send back to us.
  1. Bedtime books
    1. There is a lot of literature out there on helping children deal with a deployed parent. I got lucky at Barnes and Noble and found one in the clearance rack. It’s not exactly a deployment book but it is about a parent leaving and how the child can stay connected with them. I got extra lucky because Eli really likes reading this book at night!

Nobody wants to have a parent gone, no matter what the reason, but there are a lot of ways to keep the family connected. Every family and child is unique so finding what works for you is the key.

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Growing Our Family

As most of my family and friends know, we are expecting our second child.

Since the day I had Eli, I always wanted another baby. My husband was determined to wait as long as possible, until he finally caved. Looking back, I am grateful for him making us wait this long; this is truly the right time for us, for many reasons.

Eli has needed so much of my attention; he has been in therapy since he was 18 months old. Sure, I could absolutely have another child while my first child is in therapy, I see plenty of mothers in the waiting room with their other children. However, for me, giving Eli my full attention was necessary. There were times he needed me back in his therapy rooms during a meltdown, how could I give him my full attention with a brother or sister attached to my hip? I wanted to be able to give him all I had while he needed it. This time for him before kindergarten is the most critical and intense for his therapy regimen. Everyone wants to get as many hours as they can so he can be school ready. Life is busy enough chauffeuring him all over San Diego to different appointments, throwing in a nursing newborn would have drained me even more.

Aside from Eli deserving my attention, we also needed to consider his emotions in having a second child. Would he have accepted a sibling a year or two ago? He needed so much of our attention because he didn’t talk until he was 3 ½. He needed us to be able to hear him even when he couldn’t say anything. How could he get across to me what he needed while I was occupied with another tiny human? He was already having so many tantrums back then from not being able to communicate, what would his tantrums be like if I was too busy to help him? He has loved his cousin since she was born, but she didn’t live with us and didn’t take up all my time. Yes, a child should learn to wait their turn, but that is a lot easier said than done with Eli. He’s better now, but back then waiting wasn’t really an option (without a tantrum in tow).

 

Now that we have a second baby in the making, I wanted to make sure Eli knew what happening so there were no surprises. He went with me to my first doctor appointment and he saw the baby on the ultrasound. Everything was pointed out to him, I told him where the baby was growing. He told everyone there was a baby in mommy’s tummy. When asked If the baby was a boy or a girl he would always answer It’s a boy. When we finally found out that the baby is in fact a girl, he didn’t take the news that well. No tantrums, but he still insisted it’s a boy. The doctor must be wrong… He is finally coming around to the idea of having a sister. All this interacting and interest with my pregnancy shows me that Eli was ready for this. He is old enough to understand what’s happening. He is also quite fond of my newest niece and loves babysitting. He likes to be near her and help take care of her. He will ask to hold her and if she is upset he will lean down and try to cheer her up with silly faces.

As far as our busy schedule goes, it will still be pretty busy for me. We both know what to expect when we make our move back to San Diego though and hopefully it won’t be too hard to fall back in to our old schedules. Plus, there’s only a short amount of time until Eli will start Kindergarten (stop, I’m not even ready to think about that yet). Another thought that crossed my mind is- what if this baby has delays like Eli’s? What if she is diagnosed with autism too? I don’t really have any fears about it. So, what if she does? I am more prepared and experienced that a lot of other people out there. I know exactly what to look for, I know what resources to get, I know exactly what my insurance will pay for, and all the hoops I will need to jump through. I’m already bringing one child to therapy all week, might as well just throw them both in there at the same time!

 

We couldn’t be more excited to bring another bundle into the world and for our little family the time is just right!

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Spring is here…. finally!

Spring is finally here. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and my son can finally play outside. After 3 months of being cooped up indoors with a hyper 4 year old I am beyond excited to throw some shoes on him and shove him in the backyard so I can watch the new keeping up with the kardashians in peace. 
With the new season comes a lot of new changes for us. Our schedules are becoming fuller by the week. I had to buy a new dry erase calendar just to keep myself organized. Aside from our normal speech/OT sessions I started part time work and Eli picked up 2 days of daycare a week. I also signed Eli up for soccer this summer. I am so nervous yet excited to see how Eli handles himself in a group sport. I figured soccer was our safest best. T-ball is too much standing around for a boy who’s constantly on the move. I think that getting him involved with as many kids as possible this summer is going to be so great for him. Like his mom and dad, Eli is a bit uncomfortable around people he doesn’t know and it does take him a bit to feel comfortable. (That’s what he gets for having introverts as parents!)

Our biggest change in schedule, however, is starting ABA therapy again. We had our initial evaluation a couple days ago and she would like to have Eli in 25 hours of (in home) therapy. Holy moley. Now that’s not set in stone yet because our insurance is the one who ultimately decides how many hours he can get. But having someone there working with Eli 5 days a week again is going to be great. I have our work station ready and waiting for our new therapist to arrive. 

Aside from our busy schedules, the spring season opens up so many more adventures and activities we can do. For Eli’s birthday we got a whole new batch of outdoor toys for him to use (soccer ball and net, water table, scooter, golf clubs, tball set). There is also a lot of places to go now that the cold and snow are gone. 

-Grandpa’s cabin on the lake


Tahquamenon Falls


Kitchitikipi


Mackinac Island


-camping


-Lake Superior/ Sand Dunes


The goal for the summer is to stay balanced. We have a lot of work on the schedule, but for every day of work, we reward ourselves with a day of play. I say this every year but, this may be our last summer here for a while so we might as well do as much as we can!