April 20, 2016

The Truth About Being the Mom of a Speech-Delayed Child

When you have a speech delayed child, many people blow it off as being no big deal. No, it’s not the end of the world and yes, kids develop at different rates — but to you and your child, it is a big deal.

You put on a happy face, try to ignore the dismissive comments, and hide how you really feel. There is so much you really want to say. Maybe it’s time you do.


It hurts just to get those child development emails about your child’s current stage. Start learning French? She doesn’t even speak much English. Saying shapes and colors? She doesn’t even say “dog.” This e-mail isn’t about your child’s development, and it hurts to keep being reminded of that.

It hurts to hear all those stories about how other kids someone knows started talking late. You don’t want your child to be behind. You don’t know if your child will get picked on or mocked for not talking. Kids are cruel; they already notice at the park that she doesn’t talk and point it out. They call her a baby. You don’t know if your child is hurt by it, too — she can’t even tell you.

It hurts in the store when strangers ask her a question, get no response or just babble, so give you the, “WTF?!” look. It hurts even more when your child tries so hard to talk to them, just to be ignored or told, “I have no idea what you’re saying. You make no sense. HOW old are you? It’s rude not to answer.” You know she’s trying so hard and these rude people just dismiss her efforts. It’s just plain annoying when people keeping saying, “Can you say, ‘xx’?” No, she can’t. That’s also not the way to encourage a speech delayed child. You’re just too polite to tell the idiot to STFU.

It hurts to constantly have to explain why she doesn’t talk. You feel like you’re betraying your child somehow when you do — yet you don’t want them to think she’s just being rude or doesn’t understand them either.


It hurts when people assume your child is stupid or doesn’t understand what’s being said, just because she isn’t talking. She understands. She understands so, so much.

It hurts reading those bragging Facebook posts from a mom with kids who are the same age — or younger — about how her kid knows shapes, colors, ABCs, said something so cute, or is speaking in sentences. You feel bad being hurt by it, too, as you’re glad their child is doing well. The worst? The posts where so-and-so says their toddler said, “I love you.” You want to hear it oh-so-badly and don’t know when (or if) you ever will.

It hurts to have people keep suggesting you should get her help. Really, it’s aggravating. You’re doing everything you can, have spoken to the doctor, have in-home therapists, even started therapy early. Do people really think you wouldn’t bother to get your kid the proper help? Go stuff it, lady. And to the people who think they know more than the specialists, just because they’re older, had kids, or are a grandmother? They can stuff it, too.

It hurts and is frustrating having a child who is speech delayed. It also hurts to admit that because you feel horrible saying it. No mom wants her child to be behind or suffer. Every mom questions if it was something she did wrong, or didn’t do, when her child has any issue. The self-blame is strong. Admit that it hurts and is frustrating, though, and whoever you tell will be all over you in a second, telling you, “Do you even love your child? Maybe you shouldn’t have had children, you know it just gets harder. Maybe you should give your child up for adoption if you think it’s hard. You’re just belittling her and insulting her by saying she has issues.” Really? Seriously? That crap isn’t even worth answering and is one of the major reasons you have to hide all you feel.


It hurts to be told not to worry about the speech delay. That’s easy for someone to say who hasn’t gone through it, or whose kid advanced with therapy and was done with it almost before they started. Your child still struggles.

It hurts to see your child struggle. It’s a helpless, frustrating feeling to see what she’s going through and to not be able to make it all better.

It hurts to know your child is hurting, but not even be able to tell you. You still see her face fall when people blow her off and walk away, call her a baby, or point out that she isn’t talking or isn’t easily understood with the few words she does say.

It hurts not being able to communicate with your child, who can’t tell you what she thinks, feels, wants, needs — when she should be able to.

It hurts being afraid. So afraid. Why has she made no progress with therapy? Will she improve? Will she be caught up by the time she goes to school? Will other issues show up? Are you just being stupid and worrying over nothing? Will your other child have the same issues?

The short and simple truth is it hurts. It hurts so much, in so many ways, and few truly understand.

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©2015 Melissa Lilly, as first published on Scary Mommy.

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April 18, 2016

Celebrating Two Years of Blogging

Life has been majorly crazy around here lately, with more to come. M2 has been having issues more often. We all keep getting sick and passing it around. Appointment after appointment for doctors, car repairs, HVAC issues, you name it. Lots of family from around the country is visiting this month.


I have also been battling a case of writer's block. There are so many ideas swirling around in my head, yet the words don't want to come. Any of the posts I've written lately have taken much longer than usual. Most of the time, I start one then come back to it weeks later to finish. I've been struggling with balance between work and family, too. There is only so much time and I've needed more of it for family and to work on my weight loss.

While all this was going on, I realized I've been blogging for two years now. Happy two years! Thank you all for joining my crazy, busy life as it's changed over and over again in that short time. I can't wait to share what's to come with you. You guys are awesome and your support means so much.

Two years is the perfect time to step back, reevaluate and decide where to go from here.

More time than I'm comfortable with was getting sucked up by social media, so I'm cutting back on that. The big upside to being a freelance writer/editor and  blogger is that I set my own schedules. I can be a stay-at-home mom, too, and put my family first. That hasn't been happening as much as it should. When you work for yourself, there's always something else you could be doing. I'm the type that pushes myself to do more, be more, do better, be better. Blog more. Post on social media more. Get more readers. Blogs take up a surprising amount of time, demanding a ton of work. Especially in the first few years. To be totally honest, I was starting to feel tons of pressure, stress and anxiety from blogging and freelancing. I didn't like the feeling or what it was turning me into.

Work was encroaching on the life I want to have, the life that is my reason for everything. Despite being home, I felt like I was missing too much with the kids. Too much of my life was being devoted to the wrong things. I don't want to be one of those people who live to work, I want to work to live. Right now, that means flipping my schedules and priorities around into a more comfortable balance. Life is my focus, not work. I've been talking about balance and how it's one of my goals for this year. Well, the light bulb came on about how I need to do that.


I'm not giving up my work or the blog, don't get me wrong! There are still going to be weekly posts and daily social media updates. I want to share my life with you, not be pressured to have the perfect blog and do everything "just right." I've put the blog and my freelance business it in it's proper place and giving am it the time it deserves -- while putting my family and myself at the center, giving us the time we deserve, which is what is most important in my world right now. I'm simplifying my life, making sure to live as much as possible in a way that won't create regrets.

Since I've decided to realign, I'm actually finding the writing is coming back to me. Instead of feeling pressure and stress from my work, I'm enjoying it again, which is why I started all this in the first place. I'm eager to see what the next chapter of life holds.

For a bit of fun and to celebrate, here is a baker's dozen of the blog's most popular posts:

Living a Simple, Happy Life

The Journey with Autism Begins

10 People You Encounter in Facebook Yard Sale Groups

How to Determine, Set and Follow a Budget in 7 Easy Steps

Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodle Specials

Spiced Apple Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Buttercream Frosting

Dear Self: You're Good Enough

DIY Girl's Toddler Room

Marriage: The Changes 5 Years Bring

"The Fat Kid" Tells All: The Formative Years

"The Fat Kid" Tells All: The Teen Years

Easy Money-Saving Tips: Round 1

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April 13, 2016

How to Live Simply

Yesterday, I talked about my new, simpler way of living that I'm calling the Little House Lifestyle from the mind-set perspective. Today, I'm sharing some of the things I've been incorporating to get into this new lifestyle. Each fits in great with these easy ways to de-stress and builds on my goals for the year.

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How to Live the Little House Lifestyle


Time Outside
Nature is constant. We go outside to soak in sunshine, a soft breeze, admire the beauty in the grass, trees, sky and flowers -- the same people have for thousands of years. Being outdoors grounds us and connects us to those simple times. It's time with ourselves and those we're with rather than embroiled in society. Step back, step out and step into nature. Nothing says Little House Lifestyle more than going with your family on a hike, walk in the woods, play time at the park, time in the backyard playing, sitting on the porch with your favorite drink, just being. We're working on redoing our yard so it looks pretty -- and so I finally have a porch swing -- so we'll have that beautiful outdoor haven I crave to enjoy being outside more.

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Free activities
Take advantage of events and activities in your area that encourage family time rather than spending.

Family Time
Make time to put down electronic devises, turn off the TV and spend time together. Dinners, games, reading, time outside -- whatever you enjoy. Family is the heart of your life so keep it healthy by building memories and relationships.

Bake Fresh
Bake a yummy treat. Fresh, homemade cookies and bread can be calming to make. When the littles pitch in, it creates a memory. Plus, the house smells amazing and you have something yummy to eat.

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Quality vs. Quantity
A closet stuffed with clothes, shoes and purses doesn't equal happiness. It's much better to have a few things that you love and take care of rather than tons of items you never wear that put stress on your finances. Before buying something new, I ask yourself if I really need it. If I don't, I skip it. I've shopping in my own closet for items I forgot about. Get a hole in a shirt? Sew it rather than buying a new one. Lately I've spent time going through closets, dressers and chests to clean out anything worn out beyond repair or that we just don't wear. Not having things you don't use helps keep your life simpler because you're not having to deal with it. Less clothes means less laundry to put away, too! If you do need new clothes, check out thrift stores or ask family and friends if there's anything they're tossing that you might like. Here are some great ways to save on kids' clothes.

Keep Food Simple
Rather than buying a ton of processed foods, going broke on fancy items you don't really need or eating out all the time, focus on cooking from scratch (the slow cooker is your friend), trimming the budget in favor of foods that are healthy and filling, and being frugal with your spending. This is great for your waist line and health, too.

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Exercise
Get moving! Our ancestors didn't sit around all day, they were moving around, walking, farming, getting the blood flowing. A walk, lifting weights at home, doing a work out video, hiking, using home equipment, trying out yoga --whatever you like, find it and do it.

Garden
I can't think about a Little House Lifestyle without thinking of gardening. What is more basic than growing your own food? Flowers count, too. Planting a veggie garden helps you keep food at it's simplest, gets you outside and gets you exercising. You get more time to enjoy nature, too, getting out and getting dirty. Flowers lift your mood and give you a boost of nature, too. If you don't have room for a garden, pots work great, too. I'm working on turning part of our front  garden beds into a potted garden this spring.

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Clean Up and Clean Out
We all have those areas of the house where we cram things to deal with later. Out of sight, out of mind...until we open a door and some errant, crammed in bag/bottle/knicknack/doodad/book/whatever practically knocks us out as it careen toward our head. Then there's all the stuff we liked when we got it, but isn't really something we like anymore, taking up space around the house. I've been going through everything cleaning up and cleaning out lately. Rather than having a ton of decorations around the house, I'm simplifying. There's less for the kids to dump, less to break and less to clean. All the trouble spots are getting emptied out. Keep, donate or trash piles abound. Why let junk weigh us down? If you don't love it, toss it!

Plan Your Day and Schedule
In order to keep life on track way back when, women planned their days out. They figured out what needed to be done and did it. I do the same. I figure out what needs to be done for the month, week and day, then plan it all out. Of course, since life is crazy and never goes according to plan, I'm always readjusting. Ma Ingalls did too, I'm sure. (Who plans for tons of rain to wipe out the crops so you spend a week salvaging what you can rather than cleaning?) I've also got laundry, cleaning, errand and cooking schedules that keep life on track and going smoothly. So simple, yet so helpful to keep me from feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

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April 12, 2016

Living a Simple, Happy Life

The longer we live in the country, the more I realize the benefits of living life simply. The newest purses, clothes and jewelry no longer bring the same excitement. Having fancy decorations and technology doesn't leave me jealous of those who have them. Instead, I appreciate what I have more, delight in a good bargain, make things I have last longer and focus on the simple things that make me happy. 

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Little House Lifestyle

The Little House Lifestyle is what I'm calling this new lifestyle, which is really based on a whole new way of thinking. Imagine Little House on the Prairie here: A slower pace, enjoying life, relishing in the beauty around us, spending time with loved ones and living a life building memories rather than regrets. Living contentedly rather than wanting.

It's far to easy to fall into the trap of "someday." After XYZ happens, then I'll be happy. After I do ABC, I'll be happy. Striving for someday and missing out on what is happening now. Little House living is about living life for what is is rather than what it may be someday. Plan for the future and have goals, of course, but don't miss out on what you have now.

Let's face it, no one lies on their death bed wishing they'd gotten that awesome new cell phone, car or clothes. What haunts us in the end is not having enjoyed the simple parts of our days that matter most. 
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Go Against the Grain to Find Happiness

Living simply goes against what society tells us we should want. We're supposed to love shopping, stuffing our closets, redecorating our homes every few years, buying the latest-and-greatest gadget. If something breaks, toss it and buy new. If close rip, throw them out, too. Rather than being grateful for and making the best of what we do have, we're supposed to desire what others have. We're always comparing how we look, what we have, what we do with others rather than being our own person. None of it gives us what we crave though --- to be happy and content. We're too busy focusing on what we don't have, how we don't measure up instead of recognizing the happiness right there in front of us. Being happy and content is about living for now, rather than what may come. It's the Little House Lifestyle.

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Bank Account Bonus

A by-product of living simply is that you can live on less money. Needing less money means less stress and fights about money. Not spending as much allows you to build up that emergency fund you've been meaning to, or that has been looking a little slim. Or, you can save up for an experience the whole family is going to remember, a big purchase for the house (a garden you've been meaning to put in, a patio swing to enjoy your yard). All things you'll appreciate more than things that are likely to be forgotten, taking up space and making clutter in a few months. Win-win situation!

Now that you've read about the Little House Lifestyle from the mindset angle, check out tomorrow's post to find out what I've  been doing to actually implement this lifestyle.

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April 7, 2016

The First Visit from the Tooth Fairy

When thinking about what the tooth fairy will do, many parents think there is plenty of time to figure it out. We thought the girls were going to at least be in first grade before we had to worry about it. Little did we know, a new big-kid adventure awaited us sooner than we thought when J came to show me she had a loose tooth already!


Since she is only 5 years old, I freaked out inside a little bit. Outwardly I was all excited for her saying what a big girl she is getting to be. The minute she stepped out of the room I was on the phone calling the dentist to find out if it's normal. My fears were calmed when I was told it's completely normal for kids to start losing their baby teeth at 5 years old. Now truly excited, we had to inform Daddy who was at work, who had the same fears as I did until I said I already called. Then time to let Grama, Memere and Aunties know.

All J wanted was to tell one of her Aunties to have her big cousin call when she gets home from school. A call to her other Auntie lead J to run from the room terrified about someone wanting to tie a string around her tooth then to a door knob so they could slam the door to pull her tooth out. An hour later J comes running back going "I have two loose tooths!"

I checked and found out she was right! Two teeth right next to each other were loose. Where has the time gone I was wrapping my head around one now two? Onto the internet I went to figure out ideas for what to have the tooth fairy do/ bring for this special occasion. When I looked up to see J walking past with an apple I realized I should probably figure this out NOW.


C and I talked and decided for the first lost tooth we should do something special. After a lot of deliberating and mind changing we decided on something useful but "cool." A purple Frozen electric toothbrush that's a special present, gets her to brush her teeth more and a fitting gift from the Tooth Fairy. I also found a Berenstein Bears Tooth Fairy book  that I knew she would really enjoy.

Three weeks and two days later J said her loose tooth hurt. I checked and was so loose it could go almost flat. Tried a paper towel pull, she wiggled it front to back and side to side. C tried to tie a string around it for J to pull but the string wouldn't stay. J tried biting into an apple and she started crying that it hurt and it was bleeding steadily. I grabbed a paper towel and out it came!

She was ecstatic to have the tooth fairy visit. J asked if we can open her window to let the fairy in, so at bedtime we'll crack it and the tooth fairy will close it behind her. J was so excited for Mama to take a pic of her with her tooth fairy presents. By the time I got to take a picture she lost another tooth!

I can't believe my big girl lost two teeth and H just got her first one! The funny thing is J's first lost tooth tooth is the same location of H's first. As J says "it's the circle of life."


About the Author
Laurie is a stay-at-home mom to two little girls -- a baby and a 5-year-old -- and is stepmom to a 5-year-old daughter. Living in New England, she has a big Australian Sheepdog along with the kids and her husband. She enjoys music, decorating cakes and Doctor Who.

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April 4, 2016

When Autism Makes You Prisoners

Our lives are different.

Even though I'm a stay-at-home mom/freelancer, I can't simply pack up the kids and go out.

We are trapped in the house, prisoners of autism.



There's no doing a quick errand, a long errand, even going to the park, playdate or story time when I'm alone with the kids. Walks around the block aren't possible. We have to stay in the house, doors locked, because that is where M2 is safest.

She's autistic and a runner. This means that if she gets it into her head, she takes off running. Disappears in the blink of an eye to anywhere and everywhere. Running in front of a speeding car won't faze her. Coming back when I call her won't illicit any response at all, she doesn't even turn around to look where I am. She can't tell someone who she is or where she lives. She won't even go near them, she'll keep running. With her, this isn't the usual toddler running away to be naughty, testing mommy to see if she's paying attention. It's something else entirely, something dangerous and frightening. 



If I go out alone with the kid and M2 runs, I have to make a choice. Do I chase her and leave baby B? Or do I stay with baby B and hope she comes back? I can't do both because I have to be able to pick up M2 when I get to her, she is going to kick, scream and fight. I also have to be able to weave in and out of people and tight spaces quickly to get to her, something a stroller or cart won't allow. It's an impossible choice that leaves one child in an unsafe situation. It's a choice I refuse to make because no matter what I choose, one of my babies is at risk. So we do what is safe. I don't go out with them alone. Ever.


When we go out, there has to be a dedicated, responsible adult to be with M2. Watching, waiting, ready to grab her if she darts in front of a car, runs through a parking lot, takes off through a store, tears through the neighborhood while we're going inside or heading to the car, races out the door while I try to bring baby B or the shopping inside. To complicate matters, trying to take her hand can send her immediately off running. She hates to have her hands touched, unless it's her idea.

Even when we are home, someone must be watching M2 constantly to keep her safe. 


Danger doesn't enter into her mind, she climbs and jumps from anything. Locks don't stop her for long, she figures them out or breaks them. Not one lock has withstood her. Should something look fun outside, she'll bolt out the door.


Having to watch her constantly makes getting any other work done very difficult. On bad days, I can't do anything. On good, I must stop frequently to check her (there's no way she's staying in the same room with me, she wouldn't think of it).

For us, having an aide for M2 vital to living "normal" lives. 


A personal care assistant comes in two days a week while A is at work so I can get housework done, knowing M2 is safe. We can go out of the house, on walks, to the store, to the park -- where ever. As long as it's during the 4 hours the aide is here. If there isn't an aide I trust or A available, we don't go. After the aide leaves for the day, we are home bound.

Times when someone else is around to go with us, we still have to factor in where it is we're going. Will it be too crowded? Too loud? Can M2 run off and put herself in danger too easily? Should the answer to any of those be yes, we don't go. Can we leave easily? Can we keep eyes on and be near M2 constantly? If there's a no in there, we stay home. Will we still be able to enjoy ourselves, or will we just be chasing her constantly to keep her safe? Basically, will it be worth it? If it's not -- you guessed it -- we don't go.

So I plan ahead. 


Each week is arranged around when we have an aide and when A has off. I prioritize what needs to be done, what must be done and what is actually possible. Errands are done when the aide or A is with us. When there are any activities, even if it's one that's usually for just mom and the kids, I'll have another adult with me. It's sometimes weird or awkward, but we do what we have to do. We evaluate each activity, each location, each invitation, carefully. We're not a "do it on a whim" family. Autism doesn't allow for that.


At this point, we're used to it. It is our life now. You'll never see me outside alone with the kids, unless it's in our 6-foot-tall-wooden-fence-with-no-footholds-and-extra-locks yard. We do what we have to do. We make it work.

It's A's and my job to keep both our kids safe. 


Even if I have to adjust our lives to make it happen, that's exactly what we'll do. After all, there's no one I'd rather be stuck in the house with then my family.

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