Nov 21

Why I Don’t Feel Inferior to “Pinterest Moms”

I hear a lot of talk about “Pinterest Moms.” You know, the ones who throw big birthday parties, only cook the cutest and healthiest foods, and do Pinterest-inspired crafts all day long.

Can I be honest? I am not a Pinterest mom. While I absolutely love Pinterest, and I use it a lot to come up with ideas for dinner, my blog, and social media, I am just not one to go crazy for crafts or huge parties.

Does this mean that I think moms who love doing these things are bad? Of course not, some of these moms are my friends! And you know what? I admire their talents and expertise in areas that I am not good at. I don’t see it as something to compete with, I see it as something my friends are good at that I am not. And that’s okay!

Pinterest Moms

Valua Vitaly | Dollar Photo Club

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Feel Inferior to “Pinterest Moms”

1. Everyone Has Their Talents
Maybe you aren’t good at crafts (I know I’m not) and maybe you aren’t the best cook, but your kids love you for YOU. Your kids don’t expect lavish parties or perfect food, they just want you to spend time with them. Some moms are good at cooking throwing parties, and crafts, and some moms aren’t.

What’s YOUR talent? Maybe you can sing your child to sleep, or maybe you are good at organizing. Maybe you have a knack for cleaning or maybe your talent is sewing that hole in your child’s favorite stuffed bear. Whatever it is, it’s YOURS and that’s what makes you amazing!

2. You Don’t See Behind the Scenes
What you see on Pinterest is just a little bit of someone else’s life through pictures. You don’t see the behind-the-scenes stress and mess. You don’t see the whining kids, the exhausted moms, or the days where doing something fun is just too much. Everyone has those days. Don’t compare your life with someone else’s Pinterest photos.


Don’t compare your life with someone else’s Pinterest photos.
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3. It’s Just for Fun, It’s Not a Competition
While I know there are a few moms out there that may have more of a “competitive side,” the majority of moms don’t think that way. The majority of moms out there want to have fun with their kids. They love making crafts and throwing their kids big parties, not because they want to be the best mom on the block, but because they love their kids and want the best for them. Here is just one example of that from the Study at Home Mama: In Defense of the Pinterest Parent.

Whether you are a “Pinterest Mom” or just “mom”, you are amazing! Don’t feel inferior to anyone or anything because you are wonderfully made! Your are loved for exactly for who you are.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” – Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

Have you ever felt inferior to a “Pinterest Mom?” What do you do to remember that you are amazing just the way you are?

The post Why I Don’t Feel Inferior to “Pinterest Moms” appeared first on Singing through the Rain.

Nov 21

Free To Be Me {Review & Giveaway}

Free to be Me

Who am I? How do I figure out what to do with my life? Does anybody really care about me? Why can’t I be as pretty as her?

Stasi Eldredge understands the doubts, struggles and fears you are facing. She has been there! Now Stasi invites you to walk with her as she helps you understand the lies this world tries to sell you, and believe that God sees you as beautiful and worthy—right now. With honesty and grace, Stasi will help you see the hand of God in your story and trust Him with your every hope and dream.

Stasi Eldredge’s heart was captured by God through the Sacred Romance and she has never gotten over it. Or rather, Him.  She is the co-author (with her husband John) of the New York Times Bestselling book Captivating and Love & War. Their ministry, Ransomed Heart, has been used by God to transform the lives of men and women all over the world. They make their home in Colorado. The mother of three grown sons who no longer live in her home but take residence forever in her heart, Stasi is a writer and conference speaker passionate about women embracing the value of their heart and life to Jesus Christ and risking everything on that!
My thoughts:
The Greek philosopher Aristotle lived three hundred years before Christ and had a huge effect on the world as we know it. He believed that women exist as natural deformations or imperfect males. He was not alone in his belief and that belief has had an adverse effect. I am not sure how much you have studied misogyny, but I barely glanced at the subject until I read this book. Misogyny is the hatred of women.  As Stasi explains in her book, misogyny manifests itself in many different ways – from jokes about women to treating women inferior; from sex trafficking to domestic abuse.  We have heard the profane jokes that slander women in general.  Studies have proved that these comments have led girls/women to suicide, plastic surgery or eating disorders. We have witnessed in movies and news reports of the women sold into sex slavery and the horrible effects it has on a woman’s mental and physical state.  Nowadays, you rarely hear the term misogyny; instead, you hear the terms “sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse, trafficking in persons, bullying, and the list goes on.  These are all forms of misogyny though.  Unfortunately, women suffer from this hurt everyday. For centuries before Christ, women suffered from this hatred.
However, then came Jesus! When He came onto the scene He stomped misogny! Instead of engaging in the old rules of not speaking to women in public or being touched by women who were not your wife or close relative, He engaged in conversation with women many times! He spoke to them, touched them, taught them, and esteemed them. Women ministered to Him by touching Him, washing His feet, anointing Him with oil, and with their tears.
I could continue for days talking about this book! I have ALWAYS enjoyed Stasi’s writing and have grown more each time I have read her work.  This book is no different.  WOW, it is packed full of wisdom and advice and it is also scripturally sound!
  • Chapter one: The Heart of the Matter
  • Chapter two: What’s your story?
  • Chapter three: The landscape of your life
  • Chapter four: Your mother, yourself
  • Chapter five: Be you, not them.
  • Chapter Six: Beauty Secrets
  • Chapter Seven: Stumbling into Freedom
  • Chapter Eight: A little Rain
  • Chapter Nine: Friendship
  • Chapter Ten: Those Boys!
  • Chapter Eleven: Extravagant Love
  • Chapter Twelve: Your True Name

Check out Free to Be Me! You will love it! I give it a 5/5!

You can buy a copy here:

Also, I am offering a giveaway sponsored by Family Christian Bookstores!!! So click below to enter. :)

In Christ,

Laura

 **** I was provided a copy of “Free to be Me” by Family Christian Bookstores for an honest and fair review. The thoughts are mine, and mine alone. ****

The post Free To Be Me {Review & Giveaway} appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 19

Tiny Swag, FabKids Edition, November

It is officially starting to get too cold to take outfit photos outside. What’s a mom to do?! Luckily, it was in the 40s today, and that seemed super warm compared to the temps we’ve been feeling lately. Sure, we actually had to wear coats today, but it was warm enough to be able to run out on the deck for a few minutes and snap some photos. There were almost 20 cows out today, but sadly, they’re all hidden by the deck railing. *shakes fist*

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Anyway, onto the FabKids outfit! This month, I chose the Punkster Outfit, and it’s so cute. Oddly enough, I think the shirt is a bit darker than these photos and the ones on the FabKids site imply, but if I didn’t show up in either set of photos, I guess the color can’t be that far off!

This outfit came with coated black denim skinnies, which The Munchkin has received before, but I ordered again because he needed a bigger size! I was pleased to find that I needed to roll them up a couple of times. The cargo pants we have from FabKids in the same size can be worn as is now; no rolling up required. These still look cute rolled up, and that means that I’ll get lots of use out of them!

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The Munchkin got lots of compliments on his outfit today. He had speech and OT today, and people commented on his outfit there, and then he was called a “fashionista” when I dropped him off at school. In response, one of the other aids said to the one who made the comment, “He is always a fashionista, what are you talking about?” with a grin. While I give a lot of credit to FabKids for making The Munchkin look fashionable most of the time (since we get a new outfit every month, the bulk of his wardrobe is from FabKids) can someone come up with a male version of “fashionista” please???

Outfit Details
Beanie – Walmart
Shirt & Pants – c/o FabKids
Stickers – c/o school
Shoes – Adidas

Heads up: I got this outfit for free from FabKids in exchange for writing this post, but all opinions and photos are my own.
This post also contains affiliate links.

Nov 19

What Makes a Church-Ministering to Military Families

What Makes a ChurchMilitary

We have lived in many cities throughout the U.S. We have lived in Ohio, Texas, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington and soon Tennessee, since 2005. My husband has lived in more states than these, including different countries since enlisting in the Army. The point to this is we have attended numerous churches across the country and internationally. Once we receive orders for hubby’s new assignment, one of the first items on our list is researching the churches in the area. It is not easy being the “new kid” anywhere, but it makes it harder if we don’t have a church family to connect with. I have noticed a huge difference in how churches in “military towns” minister to military families than churches located nowhere near military towns.

Prior to my husband’s reassignment overseas, we made a decision toward retirement. We had many plans when we left Washington, as my husband would travel overseas, and I would move back to my hometown and closer to family. I didn’t realize how incredibly difficult it was going to be to go from where we were back to my hometown. Throughout the years, I have learned to bloom where I have been planted. However, this move, mentally, has been quite draining.

As I mentioned, we have lived in many areas and some I have adored and others, well, not so much. There have been pros and cons to each place and memories that I will cherish. Regardless of my feelings toward the area, I will always cherish the relationships I have made. These friendships have lasted throughout the years, and I am truly blessed by each and every one. On my personal Facebook, I have many friends from all over the world. A good number of them are military wives I have had the pleasure of befriending. Military and Civilians look at life differently. So what does a civilian church need to know about military families and how can they help minister to them?

  • Military families are not used to taking months, sometimes years, to make connections.  In my experiences in civilian churches, people seem to take their time with building relationships and friendships.  As a military spouse, months are not a guaranteed because we move all the time.  Military spouses understand that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  In fact, one of my best friends moved from Washington to Oklahoma within 6 months of meeting each other.  We met at church and became fast friends.  We connected on Facebook, texted and called each other, and hung out.  Our families did things together outside of church and we became very close.  She was my prayer warrior, and I was hers.  She moved in January and despite the distance; we are still very close!  When a military family attends your church, please do not waste time getting to know them.  They are new to the area, even if they are “returning home.”  They need people to call, text, invite them places, and get them out of the house.  They are not used to having months, sometimes years, to wait on things to happen.  Often, they are unsure where they could be used, but military families waste no time jumping right into a ministry to help.

 

  • Military families want to serve.  We are unselfish and unwavering in our commitments.  One of the issues I have noticed in civilian churches is that many of them have had the SAME people on the SAME committees for years. Military wives are used to throwing themselves into many activities and community service projects simultaneously.  When a military family moves to an area that is not predominately military, it is often a difficult adjustment for us.  It is a HUGE adjustment to not have a “purpose.”  If a military family attends your church, ask them to help.  Listen to their ideas.  Give them tasks they can do. If there is a new committee that can be started consider asking them to take this on or contribute.

 

  • Military families will not ask for help.  Some call this pride, but it’s not.  When their husbands deploy for a year, (sometimes more) at a time, military wives have to face challenges alone.  They have babies; they take care of sick children on their own while ill themselves. They learn to be plumbers and mechanics, they mow the grass, clean the house, cook dinners, volunteer in youth activities and community projects, they must be both the disciplinarian and loving embrace.  Military wives serve their communities and then serve some more.  This act of servitude, especially for Christian military wives, is ingrained into their character.  I am friends with many civilian wives who serve as much if not more, but military wives often serve while their husbands are at war and in harm’s way, or at training and overseas.  Military wives need an outlet to get keep their minds clear and free from the worry.  Ask a military wife how she is doing.  Ask her to lunch or a playdate with the kids.  Ask her to serve in the church and find ways to be a blessing to her.  We see the cliché posts on Facebook about supporting the troops, about respecting military families, and even people asking how they can help. If you know a military wife whose husband is overseas, have you showed up with dinner one night? Have you offered to watch her kids so she can get dinner out? Have you showed up when a child is sick to pray in person or hold her hand?  Military wives will not ask for help because we’re not used to receiving help from the civilian sector.  I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, but it is true. Military wives  are a rare breed who grow accustomed to doing it alone.  As I mentioned before, military wives are not used to taking months, sometimes years, to make connections and grow friendships.  We know our time is limited with one another, and we dive right into a friendship head first.  Yet, it’s those fast-made friendships that last.  Those same friends are  the ones who drive the wife and sick child to the hospital in the middle of the night, then run back with the rest of the kids and watch them until Mom gets back. They are the ones offering to run over Sprite or medicine. They are the ones who are dropping food off without being asked, asking other kids over for playdates to get them out of the house. They don’t wait for the spouse to ask for help, they just do it anyway because she would do the same thing for you. Friends, if you have a military spouse in your church—find ways to do some of these things. If you ask her if she needs help, she will tell you no. Because in truth, she doesn’t. She is perfectly fine to carry on, alone.  Yet, she will never turn away a helping hand.  I ask you, what does Jesus say about serving others?

 

  • I know many churches have a food train committee. This committee is usually comprised of several ladies who organize dinners when someone passes away; there is a sickness, or there is someone who has had a baby. However, there are churches who organize food trains for the spouse and children when a military member deploys. I cannot tell you what a blessing this is! I can tell you from personal experience that it is difficult to focus on dinner, grocery shopping and everything in between for days, sometimes weeks, after my husband has deployed.  Eventually, I had to snap out of my depression because I had to carry on for the sake of my children.  Also, I can not put into words the blessings received when ladies from the church brought food!  I recently asked several military wives about ways churches, specifically in non-military towns, could bless military and this is one that repeated.  One lady said that she knew of a church that did a food train for eight weeks after a deployment! Now, I don’t think it has to be that long at all but I was blown away.

 

  • Learn your subject. Friends, in order to learn more about Jesus we must study the Bible and immerse ourselves in His Word.  If we want to learn more about history, we study history.  The same goes for the military and spouses. If you have even just ONE military family in your church, it is important to get to know them, to learn about them. There are many books out which I will be sharing in another post that are great resources for Pastors, Deacons, church committees, and so on, to read which will help them learn the best ways to serve the military and their families.  One of the best ways I can honestly think of though is to ask.  However, be prepared to hear the answers because you may not like them. It may also encourage a positive change in your church.  Military families sacrifice so much, but if you truly want to support the troops and want to help, take time to support those who they leave behind. I can say speaking for my husband personally; he is much better able to focus on his mission and his tasks while away if he knows I have a good support group and resources available.  It takes a huge worry off his shoulders.

 

  • Stop empty platitudes. I know this may strike a chord with many but if you say you’re praying for someone, you really need to mean it.  Post your Facebook comment but then immediately pray for them.  Write their name down and pray for them during your prayer times.  Use Facebook as a tool. Many people post their thoughts, struggles, triumphs, and unique situations they are currently facing on Facebook.  Use that as a chance to serve.  Do they seem stressed out? What can you do to help? Remember, most military wives won’t ask for help, so you have to think outside the box and make the first move.  Can you take her kids for a while? Schedule a play date? Can the church congregation assist with chores like mowing lawns, minor house repairs, minor car maintenance, etc.?  What about babysitting her children so she can go out to eat with friends and just get away?  This small gesture is significant with a military spouse, and she will beg you to watch your children so you can have a date with your husband.  A military spouse will not accept no for an answer.  The food chain is great as well, especially if she has sick kids or other emergency situations.

 

  • One other suggestion I got for churches from military wives is that all church events should have childcare available.  Many military spouses just don’t have others to watch their kids, especially if they are new to the area. So having child care available is a huge relief to them and allows them to plug-in to more church activities.

We are all busy.  We all have our own lives and honestly, your family is your ministry first. However, I think all of us, myself included, can reach out to military and find out ways to serve the spouse. The Pastor of our previous church in Washington is retired military.  We won’t mention he was in the Navy instead of Army, HAHA! Kidding!!! The church was such a blessing to us! They were always there for any need. If one was sick, someone showed up at the door, called, texted, offered any help they could. One time when Clay was away for a few months at training, it seemed EVERYTHING had gone wrong. Furniture was breaking, and my landlords were coming by for an inspection. Isn’t that just how it works? Long story short, it wasn’t long before half the church was in my house. They all helped me work to get repairs made quickly. Then we had pizza and fellowship afterwards. This church was very close to a military post, had a Pastor, who was retired military, it also had many others who were Veterans. When they say, ANYTHING you need, you let us know. They meant it. Even though I never asked for help, they were always there. They did not wait for me to ask. They got to know us, to know our needs.

Here are some helpful links:

A letter from a military spouse to churches

Military Friendly churches BEST practices

How Churches can help Military Families

Operation we are here: How to Start a Military Ministry

In Christ,

Laura

PS: You may be interested in my review of Wounded Warrior’s Wife by Hannah Conway. You can read that review HERE.

The post What Makes a Church-Ministering to Military Families appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 18

KS House Tour: The Bean’s [Old] Nursery

I’m a little behind on my Kansas House Tour posts, and a little sad to be sharing this one, because the nursery doesn’t look like this anymore! Since the boys started sharing a room, I’ve begun moving some things out of the nursery and into their room. The nursery is looking a little bare now, but once upon a time, it was a Peanuts/Snoopy vintage dream. (Is it weird to call my own nursery a dream?) Anyway, I still wanted to share it, because I’ve been inspired by other people’s nurseries, so I thought somebody out there might get some ideas from mine.

If you’re just tuning in, so far, I’ve only shared the playroom/classroom so far in this tour. You haven’t missed much!

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This is what you saw when you walked through the door. You had to watch your step, but there was enough room to walk between the train table (left) and the cradle (right) that holds stuffed animals. The bookshelf holds most of our board books, as well as some stuffed animals, and a few toys. Most of the toys are in the playroom, but it’s nice to have some in their rooms in case they want to play there instead.

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On the wall between the changing table and crib, I have this shelf and hook setup. It was so convenient to be able to grab a hoodie and a hat if needed, and those Peanuts cups held little goodies that I didn’t want the boys to get. (Snot suckers, nail clippers, etc.) I got them from the dollar section of Target, if you can believe it!

Also featured are the crown I made for The Bean’s second birthday, a vintage Snoopy and Woodstock truck I bought off ebay, initial letters I made in Columbia, a little white noise machine, the medallion The Bean got at his first communion, and one of his “newborn” photos. (I think he was over a month old for that shoot, but it was the closest to newborn we got!)

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I think I’m going to miss those curtains the most when I eventually remove all of the Peanuts stuff out of the room. I love them so much. I made them out of a thrifted flat sheet. They don’t do much to block the light, but they’re super cute. That cool canopy above the crip is from Ikea. I love the crown molding in the room, but it did force me to hang the canopy a little lower than I would have liked, and I keep hitting my head on it when I lay The Bean down! Eventually, it will move into the playroom. I think a lot of the framed artwork will move down there too, and the puzzle that hangs above the changing table will go back to it’s original use.

It’s funny; now that this room isn’t used that much, it’s become the “time out” room. Ha! I sit in the big rocker, and set the timer, and the boy in time out sits in the little rocker facing the wall.

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I thrifted the crib set back in Columbia. You can’t really tell from this picture, but it has Snoopy playing sports on it. I got the comforter, crib bumper, and crib ruffle. I almost didn’t get it, because the rest of the room is pretty much primary colors, but then… how could I pass it up?!

Oh, and do you see that? The boy has three binkies. THREE. Homeboy has a problem.

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A better view of the train table. This thing was a thrifted steal at $7! Sure, that $7 was just for the table itself, and we already had the tracks, trains, and buildings, but still! $7! Worth every watched step coming into the room, and every stubbed toe.

I tried playing with the position of it, but this was actually the best place to put it, and the best way to lay it out. *shrugs* I didn’t want this giant thing in the playroom though, so it worked for the length of time it was in there. It’s much better in its new home in the boys’ room.

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Well, that was tour of The Bean’s old nursery! As you can see from his hair, these pictures are pretty old. From August, actually! I hope they bring you guys some inspiration though, and I hope you enjoyed this stop on the tour!

Nov 18

The Wounded Warrior’s Wife

Wounded Warrior-2

I have been a military wife for quite a while now.  Clay has served this country in CONUS (Continental United States), OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States), and has deployed several times on combat tours.  As a military wife I have tried to educate myself on the Army.  I took all of the AFTB (Army Family Team Building) courses offered, including becoming an AFTB Instructor.  I also became CARE (Casualty Assistance Relief Everywhere) team qualified.  I submerged myself in reading material, attended every class offered, attended the numerous briefings, watched the videos, but nothing could ever prepare me for PTSD.

Hannah Conway contacted me and asked me to review a copy of her book, The Wounded Warrior’s Wife.  I was excited to not only read her book, but, honestly, I was equally thrilled to know another wife who understood what I was going through.  As much as Clay does quite well most of the time, he does suffer from PTSD.  It also hasn’t always been so easy for him. For many years of our marriage, after his first deployment to Iraq and then his second, his PTSD struggles were very difficult!  Through his incontestable faith in Christ, his struggles have gotten better.

In her book, Hannah shares about being a newlywed but living worlds apart from her husband. I know from experience what this is like because of deployments and military separations.  As the story unfolds, we see how much this young spouse needs her husband NOW.  However, the Army doesn’t work that way and, unfortunately, “now” means the service member must request leave.

As we girls plan our wedding, we have this picture perfect idea.  We get lost in our “Prince Charming mentality.”  We believe our husbands to be this knight in shining armor riding his valiant steed coming to save us, woo us, adore us, and shower us with flowers, butterflies and love.  When a woman marries a military man, we’re actually marrying into the military.  That knight in shining armor is more like a knight with dirty boots who works long hours and is gone for long periods of time, sometimes more than year.  Instead of having thoughts of Prince Charming, we pray he comes back home alive.

Military marriage is not easy. Your marriage is constantly being tested through deployments, military separations, TDY’s, late work hours, training exercises, weekend duties and the list goes on.  In order for military life to work, a spouse must be equipped with heaping amounts of grace and even greater amounts of patience.  I love that Hannah doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of military marriage, but she addresses it with truth and grace.

PTSD affects many of our military. About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. An additional 20 to 25 percent have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives. More than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans have experienced “clinically serious stress reaction symptoms.” PTSD has also been detected among veterans of other wars. Estimates of PTSD from the Gulf War are as high as 10%. Estimates from the war in Afghanistan are between 6 and 11%. Current estimates of PTSD in military personnel who served in Iraq range from 12% to 20%.

I am thankful that Hannah’s story is bringing awareness to the military life and to PTSD.  I think this book could be a valuable resource to those who are new to the military or really anyone who works with military or Veterans.  This may be a wonderful book to hand out to spouses in the deployment briefings, Newcomers briefings, Family Readiness Groups, and even for Chaplains to have on-hand.

Thank you Hannah for allowing me to review your book, I am truly blessed by it! You can get a copy by clicking the link below:

In Christ,

Laura

The post The Wounded Warrior’s Wife appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 17

You have to refuel

This is the take away from today’s therapy session. If there are a series of stressors all lined up in a row and you don’t take the time to recover…then you break. I think over my 37 years I have … Continue reading

Nov 17

Welcome Home, Daddy!

Nov 17

Education Week



It's Education Week and Flyboy was invited to read a book to James' class today in the library! How fun! Eli got to join in the fun too! Soooooooooo cute!

James insisted on the Halloween book, Hallo-Wiener.(Thank you, Auntie Toni!)  I tried to talk him into a Thanksgiving book, but he said he wanted to make the class laugh. (It ended up being a great choice because Eli loves that book too and he sat and listened the whole time!)


The boys are part of a deployment group at school. The Spanish teacher and the counselor do a fabulous job sending pictures and newsletters to Flyboy. They are doing an Operation Celebration after school on Thursday that we'll be missing, so they had James and Eli give us our own special presentation and gifts today after we read the book. So sweet!  


Nov 17

Let’s Catch Up with The Bean

The Bean and I are feeling under the weather, so you’ll excuse me if I share some pictures that I took right after his first hair cut, back when it was nice and warm, right? I had this “Let’s Catch Up with…” series of posts planned for September, but things kept getting in the way, and I only wrote about myself. Well, now it’s time to catch up with The Bean!

I feel like life moves so quickly, that if I don’t mention the small stuff in a Currently post, it goes undocumented, and that is unacceptable!

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General Loves

The Bean still loves cows, and loves watching them from the window. He also loves spotting airplanes and helicopters as they fly by from the base. He pretty much loves all modes of transportation, and his favorite toys are trains and cars. He likes Thomas the Train, but I suspect that it’s only because Thomas is a train, not because the character itself is awesome or anything. There aren’t a whole lot of train-based shows to choose from, you know? I think it’s pretty much Thomas or Chugginton, no? When he pushes his trains around, he goes “Choo-choo, chug” which I think is pretty cute. His car noise isn’t quite “vroom,” but I don’t know how to spell it out to describe it to you.

He loves (LOVES) watching TV. He doesn’t really even care what he’s watching, but prefers Creative Galaxy, TumbleLeaf, (both Amazon Prime shows) Kratts Creatures, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Both PBS Kids shows) He is perfectly ok with having The Munchkin pick a show, and then getting to pick a show, as long as you remind him that this is how the rules work.

He love love loves playing with his big brother. The two of them have sword fights in the trampoline, crash cars on the road rugs, and play “snow ball fights” which is a game I’m not so much a fan of. They basically decide that something (socks, balls, Little People figures…) is a snowball and then throw them at each other. It’s all fun and games until someone gets a balled up sock in the eye.

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Talking

The Bean is a little talker. Well, more or less. He’s probably where he’s supposed to be, but compared to The Munchkin at this age, he’s quite the chatter box. We were a little worried at his 18m appointment, because he didn’t exactly have five words, but we had a couple of ladies come out from the state’s early intervention program to evaluate him, and they ultimately decided that he had enough base language skills (sounds, etc.) and that he would probably be talking by his second birthday. I was really afraid that The Bean might have a speech delay or something, so it was quite a relief to hear their decision, and I’m glad that I pushed for someone to come out and evaluate him, instead of taking the doctor’s word that he would start talking by age 2. (Which is what I did with The Munchkin.) Sure, the results ended up being the same, but what if they hadn’t?

As of right now, he speaks in two or three word sentences, and can pretty much express what he wants. He might not always get the words correct (example: He asked for milk on his salad, because he didn’t know it was called “ranch” haha.) but I can pretty much always figure out what he needs. If all else fails, I’ll ask him to show me what he wants, and he’ll drag me over to the item. That in of itself is an improvement too, because he used to just generically point towards the kitchen when I’d ask him to show me what he wanted.

The only bad thing about The Bean talking is that he calls me “Colleen.” I mean, I get it. Everyone else on the planet except for The Munchkin calls me “Colleen,” so why shouldn’t he? Except I’m his mommy and he should refer to me as such, you know? It’s funny too: You can ask him who Mommy is, and he’ll point to me, but when you ask what “Her name” is, he’ll say “Colleen.” *facepalm*

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Potty Training

I tried out potty training The Bean for a full four days, and gave up on it. We didn’t have one successful pee in the potty, just a lot of wet underpants. He’s just not ready. I don’t think he realizes that there is a difference between the underpants and his diapers, so I’m going to wait a month or so and try again. For a weekend. If he doesn’t get it over the weekend, then we’re not doing it into the week. I really don’t feel like spending another two years potty training. Don’t get me wrong; he’ll sit on the potty and potty seat just fine; but he doesn’t do anything but kick his feet while he’s on it and giggle. So, someday. Just not this day.

Next thing I’m going to try and break him of? Dependency on the binky. He only uses it for naps and bedtime, but it’s time that thing went. I’m not sure if he has all of his teeth yet, but once he gets them all, BYE BINKY!

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Eating

The Bean is still my good eater, and for that, I am grateful. For the most part, he’ll eat what I eat for dinner, which is nice. The Munchkin still isn’t there, so a lot of the time I end up making two different meals, but it’s better than three different plates! Textures don’t seem to bother The Bean, and he’ll eat salad, veggie sushi, soups, casseroles, and various breads, which is great. He still isn’t a fan of ground meat though, but I feel like that might be ending soon. He ate some taco the other day, but mostly ate the shell, lettuce, and cheese.

He prefers apple juice to orange juice, which is funny because I do too, and likes milk in his cereal. He’s not too bad at eating cereal with the milk either, but if he spills, he must immediately clean it up with a towel. He has gotten on a straw kick, and must have a straw with every drink. Here’s the kicker – the straw must be the same color as the cup. OCD much?

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He is Stubborn

The Bean knows what he knows, and even if he’s not right, you’re the one that is wrong. When I was potty training him, we’d do letter flash cards. He wouldn’t know most of them, obviously, but he still liked going through them. On the back of the cards, they would have a picture of something that started with the letter that was on the front. For example, “D” has a donkey on it. So I’d say “D is for donkey.” and he’d reply “No. Horse.” I’d tell him that it was actually a donkey, which is like a horse, but he wouldn’t accept it. That card had a picture of a horse on it, and there wasn’t anything you could do about it.

He does that kind of thing every once in a while, and he gives you this condescending look that I feel like he’s too young to possess, while his brain is clearly thinking “How are you in charge if you don’t even know this?”

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Speaking of Stubborn, He is a Picky Dresser

To this day, The Munchkin doesn’t give two craps about what clothes I put him in, but there are days where The Bean will flat out refuse to wear the shirt I’ve picked out. He can’t quite take them off by himself yet, so he just refuses to let me put it on him in the first place. Lots of complaining, wiggling, kicking, and shaking his head. His clothes are on the lower bar in the boys’ closet, so sometimes we’ll flip through all of his shirts before he’ll decide on which one he wants to wear for the day. Luckily, he doesn’t care about pants, but he sometimes refuses my choice in shoes. *sigh*

When it was warmer out, he’d prefer to walk around the house in just his diaper, and prefers bare feet to feet in socks if we’re hanging out at home. I’m hoping gloves and hats won’t be a problem this winter. I’m not really expecting them to be though, because he’s been ok with it all the couple of times we’ve had to wear them so far this season.

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So there. I think you’re pretty much caught up with The Bean now!

Nov 17

Modest Monday: Holiday Outfit Ideas!!!

I’m one of those people who is usually somewhat prepared for the holidays. I even tend to have a plan A and plan B. One year plan A was to deep fry the turkey, which only takes 20 minutes or so. Hubby decided to dry the pan by putting it on the fire to evaporate the water from it… Next thing we knew it had a big hole in it! Yep, he burnt a hole in the pan and we were expecting company to show up in 30 minutes. Plan B was then enacted with stealth and precision (okay, I was frantic for a bit, I admit it!). We pre-carved the raw turkey and pressure cooked it a little at a time. (I have a small pressure cooker.) It turned out wonderful and everyone was thrilled.

Despite my natural inclinations to be prepared, I hardly ever know what I’m going to wear for the holidays. Each little activity and function has me in my room trying on various combinations to get a look I’m happy with. This year, I’m looking for ideas early. What do you think of these?

eggplant loveliness

toasty tan modesty

Western Modesty at Harvest Time

First, remember to start with the first layer. Leggings and a Cami (we’ll skip the obvious). Let’s keep our legs warm & ourselves covered. If you are going to be around the hot stove a lot (like me) or tend to have hot flashes (like me again), you may want to go with light weight cropped leggins and a modesty panel neckline insert/ mock camiIf you are cold natured, Debra&Co. has Fleece lined tights:

Deborah and Co fleece tights

and a 3/4 length HalfTee

Halftee

that is sure to help keep you toasty.

Now, pick a skirt. For the holidays, dark is always dressy and tends to not show those inevitable stains. (I’m a klutz and so are my children. If I don’t spill it on myself, one of them will.) My favorite skirts are from http://www.hannahlise.com/categories/Misses’/Skirt so nice and look good for YEARS. They are only $25 and I have several. Some I got from their sale page for less. If you’d like to be a bit more casual, I have the http://www.hannahlise.com/v-yoke-denim-skirt/ and I love it. It’s full, flowy, and flattering. I’ve had lots of complements when I wear it.

Next, a top. Usually, I like a simple t-shirt with a decorative vest, long sleeve shirt, or pretty sweater. This year I found some beautiful sweater-tops on sale that I’m looking forward to wearing for the holidays. One is dark teal and the other is burgundy. Great holiday colors.

Last, accessories. Of course, Lilla Rose hair accessories are the best! If you have little ones, you’ll be taking a bag of some sort. Practicality is key in my thinking. I love Thirty-one bags! The seasonal prints are irresistible! Scarves are versatile and fun. And in winter, I like boots or comfortable loafers.

Whether you can purchase a new holiday outfit or have to dig through your closet this year, I hope these give you a few ideas. No doubt your style is quite different from mine, but you can use the same simple concepts to get YOUR look and feel fresh and feminine this holiday season. (Don’t forget to put on your apron! I never remember until the first powdering of flour is already on me…)

Have Blessed Holidays!

Dawnita Fogleman is a fifth generation Oklahoma Panhandle Pioneer. She and her husband, Paul, have six amazing children. They have homeschooled from the start and now have two graduated and starting their own businesses. With the family business and their little farm every day is a surprise. Dawnita blogs about life on the “funny farm” at FoglemanForerunner.com.

The post Modest Monday: Holiday Outfit Ideas!!! appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 16

The Birthday Ballons

A couple of days ago my youngest celebrated his 5th Birthday.  It was a simple affair. There wasn't a party at the local bounce house place or at the high priced amusement palace for kids. It was celebrated with people who matter the most to this child and in a way that helped him celebrate on his terms.

As a non verbal child, that has a host of interesting quirks, the mainstream idea of birthday parties for children doesn't work for him. He is happy to celebrate his birthday in a way that makes him feel happy and loved, not overloaded and over stimulated. For him, a small cake and balloons were what made that child's day.

Now, I don't expect the outside world to understand that. I just don't. And some might view my approach to birthday parties with autism a bit lax. A day where he can get balloons, cake and presents to unwrap. Its a day he knows that people who love him, come together, and make him feel special. And just because We don't do what the norm does on birthdays, doesn't mean that thought wasn't put into this child's special day.  

My son loves balloons. Balloons with his favorite things on them. Trains, school buses, Sesame Street, colourful ones and ones that sing. And if that was all he got for his birthday, that kid would be golden. Its a very simple thing.But he loves them. But he knows that something special is going to happen to him, when he sees balloons. So on his birthday, I take him to the grocery store for him to get his birthday balloons. This kid knows as soon as we get to where the helium tanks are that special things are coming to him. The shopping cart is practically vibrating. For me as a parent, there is nothing more special than to see your child in absolute sheer joy over something as simple as mylar balloons. And the balloon lady knows who we are. She takes the time to make sure that there is lots of ribbon and makes lots of curls as she knows that he is fascinated with them. Once he has his treasure, we continue  on our way. And yes I am the parent that is doing the rest of her shopping with a child that very loudly expressing his total joy over his balloons. To be honest, I don't care how everyone else sees that. But its the comments that get to me.

"Does he even realize it's his birthday?"

" Oh it must be so hard not to be able to throw him a party like the other kids."

Here's the thing. People celebrate things differently. Autistic persons, are no different. Some people are low key and some people aren't. But to sit there and ask me if my child even recognizes his own birthday, well he does. Just in his own way. No he doesn't understand age, but honestly, what child does at this stage in life? And its not hard to throw him a party, where he feels special. So what if it is a party of the four most important people in his life, surrounded by the things he loves in a place that he feels comfortable in.

Celebrating a person's life on this planet, should be about them. And if that means you buy them an ungodly amount of balloons, as that is what gives them the most joy on their special day, then so be it.

My son celebrated his 5th birthday in a way that was easy for him. He knew he was loved. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.


Nov 16

Shared Bedroom, Whaaaat?

It’s been over a month now, so I’m making it blog official. This is still crazy to me, and no surprise to you if you follow me on other social media channels, but I felt like I needed to document it here. It came totally by surprise. I had no plans to transition The Bean out of the crib and into a bed. I mean, we only moved The Munchkin out of there because The Bean was going to be born, and that was a nightmare. So, I was planning on waiting at least all year, if I could, since The Bean didn’t seem to mind the crib, and wasn’t climbing out or anything.

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Back in August, he would occasionally express interest in sleeping in the bottom bunk (maybe two or three times?) but wouldn’t last for more than 30 minutes before getting out of the room and trying to play. Then, one night in early October, he said “No. Bed.” At first, I thought that he was saying that he didn’t want to go to bed, so I told him it was bedtime, and put him in the crib. He stood up, and said “No crib, bed!” and I realized that he wanted to sleep in the bed in The Munchkin’s room. I put him in the bed, fully expecting him to climb out and goof off a little later… except that he didn’t. He fell right to sleep. And continued to do so every night since then.

I couldn’t believe it was so easy this time around. Sure, he stalls like you wouldn’t believe, and I’ve actually had to replace time outs with “You’re sleeping in the crib tonight” as punishment for stalling, since he seems to like time outs at night… but other than that, easy!

After a week or two of successful big bed sleeping, I moved The Bean’s train table into the room, and it started becoming their room. I’m having a little bit of a problem figuring out how to merge Peanuts and Mario themed rooms, but other than that, I have no complaints!

Best of all, he still naps in the crib during the day. When The Munchkin transferred to the big boy bed, naps ended, so I was a little worried, but The Bean still loves his naps, so whew. I hope those stick around for quite a while longer.

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The bedtime routine for a while was pretty detailed, and almost comical, but luckily they seemed to have eased up their demands. At one point, besides all the diapers and PJs and what not, they also needed a story each, a graham cracker each, a sippy cup with water, multiple hugs and kisses, The Bean needed his binky, and The Munchkin needed a towel. (In case his sippy cup leaked.) As of now, they’ve dropped the water and graham cracker requirement, and as such, The Munchkin doesn’t need that towel. It doesn’t seem like they stopped much, but it oddly enough makes all the difference!

With it getting dark earlier now, they go to bed earlier too, which is amazeballs. Total amazeballs. I’m just doing happy dances all over the place, you guys.

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Nov 14

Growing Up Social {Review & Giveaway}

Growing Up Social

When I was asked to review a copy of Growing Up Social, I just knew this was a book I wanted to add to my parenting resources. Raising children today is not the same as it was back when my parents were raising me.  We didn’t have electronics to add as an additional education resource.  The electronics of my day consisted of a calculator, an Atari, Commodore 64, and a 500 pound computer that took floppy disks.

I grew up running outside with no fear, running up and down the hills, playing make-believe with my friends and my brother.  My husband had to be home when the street lights came one…lol.  Although my boys play outside and are involved in a multitude of activities, they also enjoy their iPads, Kindles, and other electronic smart devices.  I have noticed how addicting these devices can become, so we set strict time limits.  However, it can easily slip away and as they get older and need the use of electronics more for school and research.  I can see it becoming more of an issue. I am beginning to run into that some with my oldest. So what does a parent do? How can we equip our children to function in such a digitally rich world? How can we get our kids to see the value of turning OFF the device and engaging in meaningful family time? How can we as a family establish boundaries for our children that make a profound difference in their lives and teach them self-control?

There are many excuses that parents list as reasons to not enforce limits. Here are some mentioned in the book:

  • “Life is busy; I don’t have time to enforce screen-time rules.”
  • ” I couldn’t get my spouse to back up what I was doing.”
  • “My kids threw a fit when I tried to make the change.”
  • “It’s so hard to be consistent.”

Have you heard or *gasp* used some of these same excuses?  I know I have.  My most popular excuse is giving them screen time because I need to get things done. In other words, an electronic babysitter. Sigh.

Dr Chapman says, “The more a child is involved in screen time, the less time there is for interaction with parents, siblings, and friends.”

OUCH! That is a huge dose of reality isn’t it?

In the book, Dr Chapman breaks down ways to keep your child entertained without using electronics, even for those little ones under two.

It’s no secret that I am picky about my children’s entertainment choices.  Unless you’re new to my blog, you’ve probably read my thoughts on Godly entertainment from Television to Music to Books. Dr Chapman also addresses this in Growing Up Social.  Here are a few:

  • What factual data is my child learning from this program?
  • What kind of character traits is this program seeking to build in my child?
  • How does this program treat  family members?
  • Is this program consistent with our family values?

Dr Chapman goes on after this detailed list (more details are in the book but I don’t want to spoil it!) and says, “It is our job as a parent to teach our children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate content. Do not leave the task to a teacher, pastor, or counselor.  In the same way you would not allow your child to eat candy bars for dinner each night, you cannot allow your child to consume screen-time junk food.  You are the gatekeeper of your child’s mental diet.”

I absolutely love that advice!!! We are the gatekeepers as parents.  We cannot be our child’s friend. We must be their parent!

Here are a list of the chapters in the book:

  1. Screen Time: Too Much, Too Soon?
  2. The A+ Method for Relational Kids
  3. The A+ Skill of Affection
  4. The A+ Skill of Appreciation
  5. The A+ Skill of Anger Management
  6. The A+ Skill of Apology
  7. The A+ Skill of Attention
  8. Screen Time and Shyness
  9. Screen Time and the Brain
  10. Screen Time and the Love Languages
  11. Screen Time and Security
  12. Screen Time and Parental Authority
  13. Screen Time and the Single Parent
  14. Screen Time and You

Much more included in the back of the book! Seriously, this book is jammed FULL of information. I think this is a must have for all parents, including pastors, counselors, and anyone else who works with children.  I love it so much I am actually going to read it again and highlight many notes that I want to have for myself and Clay.  I give this book a 5/5! A must have!

If you want a copy you can order one below:

Also, I have a giveaway for my subscribers!!!!

 

In Christ,

Laura

*** I received my copy of Growing up Social from Propeller Entertainment in exchange for an honest and fair review***

The post Growing Up Social {Review & Giveaway} appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 14

What’s in The Bible “Why Do We Call It Christmas” DVD

Why do we call it  Christmas

Christmas is my family’s favorite holiday.  By October, we are ready to put up the tree, decorate, watch Christmas movies, begin Advent, watch my husband struggle with the lights and everything in between!  Even though we enjoy these things, for my family, Christmas is about our Lord and Savior.  We take this time to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.  You won’t find decorations that say “Happy Holidays.” My kids won’t find presents wrapped under the tree with a tag that says “From Santa.”  We pay homage to Saint Nicholas by putting candy in their shoes placed on the steps.  My kids receive three presents each Christmas to represent the three gifts given to baby Jesus.  Having said that, we are always looking for new ways to bring attention to the TRUE meaning of Christmas for them.  A few years ago we were blessed to watch some of the “What’s in the Bible Series?”  The entire series is fabulous!  A couple of weeks ago I was asked to review their Christmas DVD called, “Why Do We Call It Christmas?”

Here is what amazon says:

Buck Denver Asks….Why Do We Call it Christmas?
You’re invited to the Party of the year…an educational, informational, Christmical kind-of party! Join VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer and his friends from the popular What’s in the Bible? series Buck Denver, Captain Pete, Sunday School Lady, Clive and Ian for the most unusual Christmas party ever! We know Christmas is one of everyone’s favorite holidays. But have you ever wondered why we celebrate the birth of Jesus by chopping down trees and putting them in our houses? Or why we hang stockings by the fire? Or how Santa Claus became such a big part of Jesus’ birthday party? And why do we even call it “Christmas,” anyway? You’ve probably heard the Christmas story – but have you ever heard the story of Christmas?

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Come explore….

• Why is it called “Christmas?”
• Why do we celebrate on Dec. 25th?
• What year was Jesus really born?
• What do Christmas trees have to do with Jesus?
• What about Santa Claus? Where did he come from?
• Which came first – Christmas or Hanukkah? And which one did Jesus celebrate?
• What are the “12 Days of Christmas?”
• How does the name “Emmanuel” explain the real meaning of Christmas?

As we sat and watched this DVD, not only did the kids learn and enjoy it, but I did too! My husband also enjoys the “What’s in the Bible?” DVDs! For those who don’t know, he is attending seminary, so one thing that is extremely important to our family is making sure that videos that are about the Bible are in fact Biblically sound. Well, I can tell you that I have never found anything questionable in the videos and we are SUPER picky!

I have met many like my family who do not do Santa Claus.  In “Why Do We Call It Christmas?,” what is presented is the true story about St Nicholas and how the “Santa” story came about. We have shared this with our kids outside of this DVD numerous times! In fact, even though we do not personally do “Santa,” we do St Nicholas day on December the 6th! I really love how the story was presented for kids in this DVD.  It was also very sensitive to those who do not do Santa as well.  Like I said, we are picky! :)

I also enjoyed how this DVD explained Hanukkah! We as a family have also celebrated Biblical holidays as part of our homeschool. In fact, several years we have set out the menorah that I have and did the Festival of Lights during Hanukkah! The way that it is presented in “Why do we call it Christmas?” is spot on Biblical! The kids were so excited to see how something they had discussed with Mom and Dad was presented in this story! My oldest is very picky about Bible doctrine.  Although he is only 10, he can really pick something apart if it isn’t accurate! He loved this as well! The story gave solid scripture references so that kids could find the scripture verses in their Bible.

Menorah

(My oldest last year with his Dad helping light the Menorah for our Hanukkah study)

Last year I did a post about the 12 Days of Christmas.  I LOVE how this was a way to share the gospel in a time where Christians were persecuted.  My boys thought this section was great because they not only studied it, they were also able to watch it in this DVD!

I honestly could write on and on about this DVD and how educational and Biblical it is. I cannot say enough about it. I think this is a great DVD to own for a children’s ministry, homeschool, or anyone who values sharing the TRUE meaning of Christmas with their kids!

I am so blessed to have been a part of this review. I give it a 6/5 because we LOVE it!

You can buy a copy by clicking the link below:

Also, you can enter the giveaway that is sponsored by Propeller Entertainment and try to win a copy for yourself! It is getting closer to Christmas time! This is perfect to add in to your collection!

In Christ,

Laura

The post What’s in The Bible “Why Do We Call It Christmas” DVD appeared first on Raising Soldiers 4 Christ.

Nov 14

On Seeing Loved Ones Grow Old

Last week we took a trip to Florida. I did not grow up in Florida, but my mom moved there during my college years. Later my grandparents (my mom’s parents) moved in across the street so that she could see them and help them in their older years.

You might remember me talking about these grandparents previously on the blog. I did a post about their 67 years of marriage (now 70 years) and interviewed my grandmother on any marriage tips she might have. You can read it here: Married 67 Years: Story & Interview.

Old

hiroshiteshigawara | Dollar Photo Club

Our trip to Florida was a good one, but definitely bittersweet. We were going down to see my grandparents one last time before they moved back to Massachusetts to be in a deaf nursing home. They are both in their 90’s (93 and 95) and we know that time is against them, and it won’t be long before God takes them to Heaven.

I don’t know if it will be the very last time we will see them here on this earth, but we treated it as such. We spent 5 days down there and enjoyed every second. My grandparents had yet to meet my daughter, Elizabeth and it had been over a year since they had seen my son, Adam.

My two kids are the only great-grandchildren on that side and it was so wonderful to get pictures of the 4 generations. It’s incredibly amazing that they have lived long enough to see and meet my children. I am so thankful.

great grandchildren

I had so many thoughts while I was there visiting. It’s hard seeing your loved ones grow so very old. My grandfather was in the hospital and mentally is not really with us anymore. My grandmother, although still with us mentally, had a hard time and was confused often. It made me sad to see what old age has done to them.

Amid the bittersweetness of our visit, I thought about what the Bible said about growing old. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I fear growing old. Believe it or not, we have a lot to look forward to!

 7 Verses (NKJV) of Encouragement for Growing Old:

  • “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:5 - What a great promise. God will never forsake us!
  • “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” Psalm 71:9 – What a great verse to pray for ourselves or a loved one.
  • “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” Psalm 71:8 - Another amazing verse and prayer!
  • “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.” Psalm 92:13-15 – A beautiful, wonderful promise for those who love the Lord.
  • “Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.” Proverbs 17:6 – Makes me so glad for those that get to meet their great-grandchildren!
  • “The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head.” Psalm 20:29 – God says the elderly have splendor! Their old age is something to be admired.
  • “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” John 3:3-5 – Young or old, anyone can be born again. What a beautiful promise.

 

What about YOU? Have you had to watch someone you love grow old? What are your thoughts on growing old? DO you see it as a joy or something to fear?

The post On Seeing Loved Ones Grow Old appeared first on Singing through the Rain.

Nov 13

What We’re Currently up To: Week 49

This past week, we’ve been…

mommy-panda-blog-currently-three-boys-play-ipad

Well, I’ve been laughing at The Bean’s desire to experiment with his food. He’s always been a good eater, but this past week, he’d started mixing up his food…with unsatisfactory results, much to his disappointment. Apple sauce is awesome. Fish sticks are awesome. Why are fish sticks covered in apple sauce gross?! That’s not fair! Ok, well, chips are delicious, and water is so/so…so maybe if I add chips to the water, it will taste better! *sips* Ugh, gross that didn’t work at all! Haha, silly Bean.

The boys have been crying about getting time outs. I’m putting my foot down about this, you guys. If I count to five, and they’re still doing whatever they’re not supposed to be doing, they get a time out. Five is a long time to ignore your mother. I think I’m being reasonable here. It’s weird though; sometimes they don’t care about getting a time out, and sometimes it’s the worst thing in the world. I don’t understand.

mommy-panda-blog-currently-boys-watch-tv

I’ve actually been cooking real food lately, which is nice. I actually tried a new recipe this week: A pumpkin bake. I changed some stuff though, and, without meaning to, ended up turning it into gourmet pumpkin mac and cheese. The subconscious wants what the subconscious wants, and mine apparently wanted mac and cheese.

The Munchkin is looking forward to the next time we go to the bouncy house…park? at the mall in Manhattan. We went there on Sunday with our friends, but they only got to play for an hour because the place was closing early for a birthday party. Super lame, and I think they should put such closings on their facebook page so people can plan accordingly. My boys threw SUCH a fit over having to leave. It was a mess. I would have gone earlier had I known they were going to close up shop at 3 instead of 6!

mommy-panda-blog-currently-two-year-old-boy-plays-computer

I’m planning on being the host for my FRG‘s coffee group night this month. I’m going to have an ugly sweater party, and I’m not going to get a sitter. Sounds like a solid way to mess up the evening, but we’ll see if the boys impress me. So for now, I’m planning on what to serve these people. I started thinking of dishes, and realized it was carb after carb, so I need to put some better thought into this thing. I think the cold weather we’ve been having is getting to me.

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Pictures: The boys watching their friend play iPad | The boys watching TV | TB on my laptop
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Nov 13

Fox Army Needs Improvement

I care what people think, a lot!

It’s a blessing and a curse.

For those new to my blog I’ll quickly recap.  My 8 year old son, Brian, is an amazing little guy that happens to be nonverbal, autistic, has a partial duplication on chromosome 16 at 16p11.2, has OCD, ADHD, Pica, Epilepsy, Hypotonia, and an incredible amount of awesomeness.

I have 8 years experience finding the best specialists for my son.  When we were stationed in Germany, I flew back to the United States several times and took my son to see some of his first specialists at The University of Alabama in Birmingham and was very pleased with his geneticist and neurologist.  We were then stationed at Ft. Drum, NY.  We saw several specialists in Syracuse but when I wasn’t pleased with a neurologist there, I started taking my son to Golisano Children’s Hospital at The University of Rochester Medical Center.  It was almost 3 hours away from our home in Watertown, but it was worth every single mile when I knew I was taking my son to see the best of the best.  Brian saw a geneticist, developmental pediatrician, neurologist, and a pulmonologist in Rochester, NY, so you can imagine how many long trips we took for doctor’s appointments and procedures.

The neurologist in Syracuse wasn’t my first experience with a doctor I didn’t think had Brian’s best interests at heart.  The first doctor I wasn’t happy with was his 1st pediatrician in Watertown.  Unfortunately I was more concerned with hurting the doctor’s feelings than doing what was best for Brian.  This is where the curse appears.  NEVER put someone else’s feelings higher than getting the best healthcare for your child!!!  I can’t stress that enough!!  Many times parents are bullied by egotistical physicians that talk down to you as if you are some insignificant dust lurking on the floor.  If you happen to come across one of these doctors, RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!  One of the most admirable qualities I find in a physician is when they admit they have no idea what is going on with your child but they will help you search for answers to provide your child with the best healthcare possible.  With Brian’s 16p11.2 duplication being so rare, most specialists have never heard of it besides the occasional geneticist.  I have to educate them on what I know about it and give them information of where to go to learn more and that’s ok.  Physicians that want to educate themselves on my son’s duplication impress me even more!!

The final straw I had with the 1st pediatrician was when he told me early intervention was a waste of time and worthless!!  My son didn’t walk until he was 21 months old and he still only says a handful of words at 8 years of age.  Brian received early intervention from the time we arrived in NY (before he started walking) until he started an integrated preschool for special needs children.  He received speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy and later a toddler social skills play group.  Early Intervention makes a HUGE difference and is critical for our children!!

After that comment, I decided to change to another doctor in the same practice.  I was happier with this pediatrician but ran into another roadblock when I mentioned that Brian’s Developmental Pediatrician gave us information after she diagnosed him with autism on December 22, 2009.  She told us there were a number of things families try, to see if it makes improvements in their child.  One of the things she mentioned was a gluten-free, casein-free diet (GFCF).  With a science background, I was hesitant to try anything that wasn’t ground in scientific evidence.  A GFCF diet seemed innocent enough to me and I decided to try it to see if I noted any change in Brian.  I tried it for 7 months and didn’t notice any significant change so I put him back on a regular diet.  When I mentioned trying the GFCF diet to his 2nd pediatrician, he said he was going to write in Brian’s medical records that he was against the GFCF diet and didn’t agree with me trying it.  When I tried to discuss how easy and noninvasive it was, he immediately cut me off.  I knew then it was time to look for a new practice and a new pediatrician for my son.

To let my readers know that are also autistic parents, besides the GFCF diet, ABA therapy and social skills groups, I have never tried any other interventions with Brian.  He’s had music therapy and hippotherapy as well, but we’ve never taken him to a DAN doctor (or whatever they are called now) or tried biomedical treatments.  While they may be the right path for some people, I don’t believe it is for Brian.

For those living in Watertown, NY, I’m about to give you the name of the best pediatrician EVER!  Dr. Josiree Ochotorena at Child & Adolescent Health Associates is worth her weight in gold.  She always went above and beyond with Brian and Molly and we miss her terribly!  Since Brian was an infant, I’ve been trying to tell the specialists that I thought Brian was having seizures.  The only people to witness Brian’s absence seizures were Brian’s teachers, aides and myself.  I took Brian to Dr. O’s office one day when he was lethargic and in and out.  Every time he would come to, he would be combative and cry as if he were in pain.  She realized he was having seizure after seizure that day and called an ambulance to pick him up from the office and take him to the ER because she didn’t have medication to stop the seizures.  She called us at home several times to check on him and had always done that if she knew either child had been really sick.  Beyond figuring out that he was indeed having seizures, she was so attentive to details and remembered the history of both of my children no matter how involved it was.  She was an advocate for Brian and insured that Brian received everything he needed to be healthy and succeed.  So far, she has been irreplaceable.

Just one more thing in regards to traveling to great lengths to find the best specialists for Brian……As many of you know Brian had a growth on his face that started after we began patching one eye before he had eye surgery for strabismus.  We saw so many specialists to figure out what the growth was on his face and didn’t get an answer until we traveled to NYC to meet with one of the top vascular surgeons in the country.  Dr. Milton Waner looked at Brian and wasn’t sure what was on Brian’s face until he operated, took a biopsy and surgically removed the growth.  It ended up being a lymphatic malformation.

After everything we have been through, I will never stop fighting for and advocating for my children!!!

I refuse to let the feelings of others get in the way of making sure I have the best doctors taking care of my children!

I waited way too long to switch doctors the 1st and 2nd time with Brian, and I’m not making that mistake again.

All of that to get to the original topic of this post……Fox Army Medical Center needs MAJOR improvements!!!!

The history of Brian’s care at Fox Army summed up quickly:

We lived off post in NY and were given the option of being seen on or off post.  We chose to be seen off post.  When we moved to Huntsville, I requested that we be able to be seen off post and my request was denied.  I explained to Mrs. B that Brian had a rare chromosome disorder and that he would need to see several specialists.  While I’m sure the Army physicians receive adequate training for their jobs, seeing a patient like Brian is rare for them.  That’s why I was asking to find a pediatrician off post that had more experience with special needs and the different issues Brian has.  I begged and pleaded to be seen off post but was denied.

Brian was assigned a Primary Care Manager (PCM) when we arrived in Huntsville at the end of July 2012.  We’ll call this pediatrician, Dr. W.  Brian NEVER saw Dr. W because Dr. W was apparently on her way out (I’m not sure if she was moving or retiring).  Instead we always saw Dr. X.  Dr. X didn’t work full-time but she was always good about getting referrals put in for Brian and seemed to listen to me.  I believe Dr. X realized I had done my research and I knew what issues Brian might be facing in regards to his 16p11.2.  Luckily that is because a research group has been researching 16p11.2 duplications and deletions.  There is also a group of families that talk on Facebook and we compare notes and share them with the researchers so they know what areas might be good to research.  They have a little over 100 individuals registered with Brian’s 16p11.2 duplication in the entire world.  Even though that is the case, Brian’s duplication is larger than most and is only comparable to one other person’s genetic makeup in the NCBI’s database.  He’s rare indeed!!  So Dr. X was great with referrals but I didn’t feel as though she had a good bedside manner with Brian.  She didn’t seem to have much patience with Brian’s autism traits of not sitting in his chair, trying to take her chair, moving nonstop, etc.  Still, she got things done and I liked that!

Then Dr. Y comes to Fox Army and becomes the new full-time pediatrician.  Seeing as Dr. W has never seen Brian and is leaving and Dr. X is only part-time, Brian and Molly’s PCM was changed to Dr. Y automatically without my knowledge ahead of time.

I take Molly to see Dr. Y first.  Molly was having issues with her stomach and was chronically coughing and had a horrible chest cold that wouldn’t go away.  She was also complaining when she went to the bathroom.  Dr. Y tested Molly’s urine and everything came back fine but she was still complaining.  He decided to look into celiac disease and tested several other things.  Unfortunately Fox Army’s lab lost Molly’s blood sample for celiac and we never got the results.  The blood draw had been really traumatic for her (they missed the vein and stuck her several times and moved the needle around to try to get it in the vein), so I decided not to have her blood drawn again for another celiac test.  Dr. Y did prescribe inhalers for Molly and they have greatly improved Molly’s breathing and coughing.  I am very grateful for that!

One thing that drives me crazy is that whenever I take Molly to see Dr. Y, he never remembers her history and we have to remind him what he’s done in the past.  I’m not sure why Dr. Y doesn’t review patient’s records before he calls the patient into the exam room, but this is a HUGE waste of time for everyone.  Maybe Dr. Y is overworked because he’s the only full-time pediatrician that Fox Army has?  Or maybe he just thinks that most children are there for the typical cold, flu, etc and reviewing their records isn’t necessary?  I’m not sure, but not reviewing the patient’s chart is unacceptable, especially when one of my children currently sees almost 10 specialists!  Molly went to see Dr. Y because she had a rash that was on her face and several things had been going around her preschool including strep and Hand, Foot and Mouth disease.  The nurse took a sample for a rapid strep test and Dr. Y didn’t have the results when we left his office.  He told me he would call me that afternoon to tell me the results.  He never called.  I was irritated but figured he was probably busy.  He didn’t call the next day either and I assumed maybe it was because it was negative.  The third day she was feeling worse and complained about her throat hurting, so I called Fox Army back and requested the results of her strep test.  I was told Dr. Y would call me back.  He didn’t.  The 4th day I called again and insisted that someone call me with the strep test results.  I finally got a call back from the nurse saying it was negative.

Getting test results shouldn’t be that hard.

Last week I knew I had to call in a refill for one of Molly’s inhalers because it was running low.  I finally got around to it on Thursday evening and realized that the inhaler didn’t have any refills.  Friday I was so busy and finally got around to calling Fox Army at 3:45pm to request a refill on Molly’s prescription.  I had enough to last until the next Wednesday night.  When I called at 3:45pm, I was told I was #1 in the cue and so I waited on hold for 15 minutes and it kept saying, you’re #1 and we will get to you as soon as possible.  No one answered.  The clinic closes at 4pm and I imagine the operators might have gone home a little early.  This is the SECOND time this has happened to me on a Friday afternoon.  If everyone goes home at 3:45, then don’t advertise that you’re open until 4pm.

Monday and Tuesday were holidays at Fox Army.

Today, Wednesday, November 12, 2014, I called the Fox Army line and told them what I needed.  I was told the doctor has 72 hours to respond to messages.  I told the operator that my daughter needed a refill for her inhaler by tomorrow.  I was told that didn’t matter, the doctor still had 72 hours to respond to my message.  She then told me I could go into Fox and fill out a medication request form that they could give to the nurse.  I went to Fox Army at 11:40am today.  I filled out the request form and then was told the doctor had 72 hours to respond to my request.  I reiterated what I had told the operator on the phone.  The receptionist then told me she would give the message to the nurse.  The nurse told her to tell me that Dr. Y was with a patient but would get to it once he was done with that patient.

I’m waiting and around 12:30pm the nurse comes out to talk to me.  She said sorry but Dr. Y was at lunch and it would be after 2pm before he would be back.  I explained that I HAD to get my daughter’s inhaler and that I had tried to call on Friday afternoon, etc etc etc.  I told her I was most likely submitting an ICE complaint and she went back to see what she could do.  I’ve never submitted an ICE complaint before in my husband’s 11 1/2 years of service, but I ended up submitting my first one tonight regarding Dr. Y and Fox Army Medical Clinic.

In the meantime, I went to the pharmacy to pick up other prescriptions that I had called in to be refilled.  If anyone is taking note of ways they can improve Fox Army Medical Clinic, why does it take 4 days to get a prescription refilled?  Several of my son’s seizure medications and OCD medication are not available at Fox Arm, so I fill them at Target.   Target takes a few hours to fill refills, not 4 days.

One of my main problems with Dr. Y is regarding Brian.  I finally take Brian in to see Dr. Y.  I explain Brian’s history and that Brian is nonverbal along with so many other things.  He has seen Brian several times.  Every time I take Brian to see him, it’s like we’re seeing him for the first time because he doesn’t remember any of Brian’s history.  I know Dr. Y is probably busy since he’s the only full-time pediatrician at Fox, but a doctor should be given enough time to review the patients medical record before they see the patient.  I’m not sure if Dr. Y isn’t given this time or if he just doesn’t review it.

During Brian’s recent visit, it was crystal clear that Dr. Y doesn’t read the reports sent to him from all of Brian’s specialists.  I took Brian for a well child checkup since he recently turned 8.  Dr. Y said Brian was growing great and looked good.  I told him that he may be growing but he is currently being seen by a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist and a geneticist to determine if there is a fixable cause to his slow growth and short stature.  He is being tested for Hirschsprung’s Disease to see if that could be a cause for his slow growth and bone age being so behind his chronological age.  I asked Dr. Y if he had read any of the notes from Brian’s specialists?  He began looking through his records and it was abundantly clear that he had no idea what specialists Brian saw and for what reasons.

This is what I find most unacceptable about everything!

Fox Army Medical Clinic needs some major improvements before I will feel like they are adequately equipped to care for my children.

Do I have the choice of being seen off post?  Apparently not!

In the meantime, I asked for a new PCM for both of my children.  Brian and Molly will now see Dr. Z who is only part-time.  She works 3 days a week.  God forbid my kids get sick on the two days she’s not in the office…….

If Dr. Z doesn’t work out for my children, I won’t be silent until I’m given the option of taking my children to a pediatrician off post!

 

 

 

 

Nov 12

First day on my own…not really alone

So Bobby went back to work today and as he left I though I am on my own…but not really. Linda arrived at 930 and stayed till noon, Mom and Sherri came at 1230 and Mom was here till 1700. … Continue reading

Nov 12

Winter Car Seat Safety Tips & Car Seat Giveaway

As always, giveaway info is at the bottom, if that’s all you’re here for.

Today is one of the coldest days we’ve had this year, I think. Ok, this fall. I don’t know about Jan-March. But you know what I mean. This morning, it was -2 out when my friend dropped her kids off at school. Insane. Yesterday wasn’t that bad, but it was the first day I had to bundle the boys up in their winter coats. As such, I thought it would be a good time to talk about winter car seat safety.

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Coincidentally, I didn’t end up keeping him in that outfit in the car seat, but only because I thought he looked ridiculous; not because I didn’t know he wasn’t going to be safe. (Real Talk)
Sigh of relief at my decision though, no matter how stupid the reasoning.

I know my first instinct, when The Munchkin was a bitty baby, was to bundle him up in thick, puffy coats to keep him warm, but those ARE NOT SAFE once he’s inside the car. Basically, the rule of thumb is that if you have to let out your child’s straps in order to accommodate for their winter coat, that coat is too thick. If you were in an accident, the coat would compress, leaving your child loose in the seat, and able to be ejected from the seat. This video shows a good way to test if your child’s coat is ok for them to wear in the car:

If you’re like me, and you’re lucky enough to have avoided the cold cold, stupid cold weather so far this season, then it should be easy. Most likely, your straps are still in place as though your kids aren’t wearing a winter coat. KEEP THEM THAT WAY! There are lots of winter coats out there that will keep your kiddos warm, without putting them at risk. I actually just bought the boys’ coats over the weekend at Crazy 8s. They’re having a buy one, get one for $.88 sale, so I got both coats for $49. (I also had a 10% military discount, but even without that it’s still a really good deal.) Their coats are a poly/wool blend, and keep them very warm.

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The Munchkin is not a fan of the cold. The Bean, however, is a fan of EVERYTHING. Especially looking for the bus.

There are also a lot of fleece coats that will keep them warm enough from the house to the car, and from the car to wherever you’re going. I’m sure you’re like me too, and blast the heater as soon as the car warms up. You wouldn’t want your kids in a giant coat in that case anyway; they’d roast! If you’re going to be outside for a while once you get to your destination, bring a puffy coat to change them into if you’d like. I do this when we go to parades, or outdoor events, etc.

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Since we’ve talked about car seat safety, how would you like to win a new car seat? I’ve got a chance for you to win one of three Graco 4ever™ 4-in-1 car seats! All you have to do is click here and like LifeBankUSA on their facebook page, and then enter in the required info on the giveaway tab. There’s no secondary contesting app to join or anything annoying like that. Just a like and some info. Easy!

The contest ends on December 18th, 2014. By December 28th, three winners will be randomly selected by LifebankUSA. Wouldn’t having a new car seat be an awesome way to kick off 2015?!

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This contest is being brought to you by LifeBankUSA. If you don’t know who they are, here’s a little bit about them: LifebankUSA is the only cord blood bank processing material for FDA-approved clinical trials using stem cells from placental tissue. The stem cells in cord blood have transformative potential and have been used to treat over 30,000 patients worldwide. LifebankUSA preserves your baby’s placental tissue using the same steps taken for processing stem cells for their FDA-approved clinical trials. No other cord blood company can claim that. Tissue banking is simply one additional layer of protection and peace of mind for you and your family.

“LifebankUSA is a pioneer in placenta-stem cell technology. Our stem cell banking program meets and exceeds the highest standards in the industry-and we are the only company that can provide access to technology that allows you to boost the number of cells you can recover after birth.”
– Robert Hariri, MD, PhD
CEO and Founder of LifebankUSA

Thanks, LifeBankUSA, and good luck to everyone who enters. Even if you don’t want to enter the contest though, please keep your kiddos safe this winter, and don’t use puffy coats in car seats!

The contest part of this post is sponsored, but all other opinions, tips, and pics are my own/found while researching car seat safety.

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Nov 12

Dear Family and Friends – We’re “ALL IN” 100% of the Time Now

Many of you know that after Brian’s recent school meeting with his teacher, therapist and BCBA, we (my husband and I) elected to go “all in” and work on many of Bri’s behavior issues.  I noted that this is one of the first times that my husband is home and can provide the support I need so I can work with Brian 100% of the time when he’s not sleeping or at school.  My husband has been such an incredible provider for our family and endured 3 year-long deployments, helicopter flight school, fixed wing school, MTP school, XP school, and many other schools and duties that took him away from our family.  Our kids have missed a lot of daddy time, but he is finally in a position where he can be home with us more and work an 8-5pm job for the most part.  We are BLESSED!

Due to this incredible blessing of him being able to spend more time at home, he is able to help me with Molly and many household chores so I can dedicate my time to Bri.  Bri deserves this!!!  Again I will confess that we haven’t been very strict with Brian.  He’s endured so many things over these past 8 years, that we were always visiting one specialist after another.  He’s had several surgeries and has been receiving so many therapies (speech, OT, PT, ABA) over the years, that I wanted his down time to be play time and I didn’t want to put more demands on him.  Now that he’s 8 years old, I realize that I should have worked harder on his behavior issues, but many days I was just trying to make it through the day and get everything done that needed to get done.  As the parent scheduling therapies, attending therapy sessions, filling out paperwork (mountains and mountains of paperwork), researching specialists, researching information regarding his 16p11.2 duplication, keeping track of medications, trying to video possible seizure activity, trying a GFCF diet for 7 months, and the list goes on, I truly admire single parents and those parents that both have to work full-time jobs to make ends meet on top of all of this!  You are all AMAZING!!!!

I have made excuses for a long time, but I know that time has come to an end.  Brian is such an incredible little boy and I want him to have the most fulfilling life possible.  I want him to be happy, healthy and know that his life has an incredible purpose!!  Brian struggles with many behaviors and I know they limit him being successful and happy.  I know he needs love, support, patience, compassion and understanding as we walk this journey hand in hand.  My goal is NOT to make him like everyone else or to have him “blend” in with other kids his age.  I will never stop his need to stim (Bri flaps his hands and makes vocalizations) when his environment becomes overwhelming and he needs to regulate his body and sensory system.  Stimming provides a way to show his absolute delight or dismay with something, as well as a host of other things I don’t understand but hope to one day if Brian communicates that to me.

I used to pray nightly that Brian would speak one day.  Every single wish I made, whether it was on birthday cake candles or a shooting star would be to give the gift of speech to Bri.  I’ve had so many dreams where Bri would be having a conversation with me and I woke up with so much hope.  I’ve recently stopped praying and wishing for Brian to find his voice.  While communication is paramount to getting your needs met or being able to talk with someone, there are many other ways to communicate than by speaking.  As I read words written my older autistic individuals, I realize that speaking is not as critical to so many of them as it is to us (us being non-autistic individuals).  I will always rejoice when Brian says a new word or attempts to talk and we will celebrate, but I will no longer hold onto those wishes or dreams.  Instead, I will work on giving Brian other means to communicate and let him choose whatever communication means he finds the most comfortable to him and praise any form of communication.

I digress…….

The behaviors that I’ve chosen to work on are keeping Brian’s pull-up on and blocking his attempts to shred his clothes.  We have many behaviors to work on, but these are the ones I am beginning with for now.  I am now on my 19th day of working with Brian and he’s still struggling with both behaviors, but we’re making progress.  This past Sunday I was feeling pretty confidant about how well Brian was doing with keeping his clothes on and not trying to shred them.  I was by myself and I took him on a stroller ride.   After our long stroller ride, he wanted to play on the playground and we ended up being outside for over 2 hours. When we got home, I needed to make us both lunch.  My husband had graciously volunteered to take our daughter to a birthday party, so I had to make lunch for me and Bri.  In the brief moments it took me to whip up a PB&J, Brian had shredded the shirt he was wearing.  He was successful again later that day after we did yard work and I had jumped in the shower to get clean.  My husband was watching him and he walked into the kitchen to grab something and Brian ripped a hole in another shirt.  I realized Bri is still struggling with the need to rip and shred and I can’t let him out of my sight again, no matter how brief the moment.

With that said, we are “all in”!!  As much as I would like to apologize to family and friends, I know I shouldn’t.  This is what Brian needs right now.  This is what our family needs right now.  We’re helping Brian by giving him the tools he needs to succeed in life.  The help he requires is much different than the help his sister requires, but it’s no less important.  We are giving both of our children the tools they need to succeed and that trumps EVERYTHING else right now.

I’ve missed many things in the past 19 days.  I missed my dad’s 60th birthday party.  I missed meetings for a planning committee I’m on for the Rocket City Marathon and Health & Fitness Expo.  I missed taking Molly to a birthday party.  I missed a fun card making party.  I’ve missed many more things.

I will miss a lot more and that’s ok.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching and I will miss many fun times with family and friends, but I will do what I can.  As we go places or as you come to our home, please remember that “all in” requires me to be with Brian ALL THE TIME.  We’re not being rude.  We’re not ignoring you.  We love you very much but we ask for love, patience, compassion, understanding and support as we go through this journey.  We WANT and NEED you to still do things with us, but when we have to decline or we aren’t 100% present, just give us a hug and say that it’s ok.

“All In” will be a constant in our lives for a long time.  We are working on behaviors that have OCD intertwined with them which makes things even harder.  As we follow advice from the incredible support system surrounding Brian consisting of medical specialists, his BCBA, therapists, his teacher, and everyone else that works with Brian, please be patient.  Life will get easier and Brian will be learning to work with the tools we’re giving him to be happy, healthy and achieve the life he wants.

We love all of you! 

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Bri did an INCREDIBLE job waiting at the dentist today!!

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Nov 11

Fall Organization – Playroom Edition

My friend Tiffany came over this past weekend, and it was the first time she’d been over since we moved here, pretty much. She had only seen the house partially set up, so when she went into the playroom, she was impressed, haha. She said something along the lines of “Oh my God, you need to do this to my playroom.” And I was like “Ok.” Yeah, her playroom was messy, but it wasn’t anything unmanageable. I figured she really just needed some shelves. So, I set out to organize her playroom for $30 or less.

I scoured craigslist and local buying/advertising pages on facebook, looking for reasonably priced bookcases, and I found one big one for $15, and a couple smaller ones (a tall, skinny one and a couple cubbies) for $5 or something crazy like that. I contacted what I thought was the sellerS, but it ended up being the same guy, and the cubbies were gone. He said I could just have the tall, skinny shelf for free with the $15 that I’d pay for the big one. SWEET!

It got even better though. When I got to the dude’s house, it turned out he was moving, and asked me if I wanted any of the other shelves in his garage. There were three white semi-skinny plastic shelves that I knew I could find I use for. I told him that I only had a 20 on me, and that whatever he wanted to give me for the $5, I’d take. HE GAVE ME ALL OF THE SHELVES, AND SOME DRAWER SYSTEM THINGS.

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The boys are unimpressed. They have no idea.

That’s a big shelf, a skinny shelf, three plastic shelves, AND a regular sized plastic drawer system, PLUS a teeny plastic drawer system… ALL FOR $20! I planned on using the plastic drawer systems for organizing my scrapbooking stuff, and figured the plastic shelving units would be good for my friend’s playroom. The big and skinny bookcases were going into my playroom to give my bookcase wall some much-needed (to my OCD riddled mind) symmetry.

I immediately drove over to my friend’s house to show her my haul. She didn’t have anything planned that day, so we just dropped everything and got set to organize her playroom. We started after lunch, and had the bulk of it finished before dinner! Here are some photos:

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I was pleased out that she already had that cute little table and chairs to house the other computer, creating a little tech station for her daughters. She was pleased that I found a way to make that leopard print chair work in the room. She thought she was going to have to put it into storage! One of the nice things about these plastic shelves is that they’re easy to take apart. I took two shelves from the third one, added one to the other sheves, and still had enough left for a side table under the window. LOVE the flexibility of those things!

We fashioned that canopy for alllll those stuffed animals that were on the couch from an old twin flat sheet and some yarn. Seriously, that’s all it is! Well, and the screws that hold it to the wall.

  • Take two opposite corners of the sheet and put them together, so the whole thing more or less forms a triangle.
  • Tie some yarn or ribbon around the double layer point so it creates a loop on the end. Leave some fabric dangling.
  • Tie some more yarn/ribbon around the other ends (Separate, keeping that triangle shape.) Remember the dangle!

Then BOOM! Stuffed animal canopy. Hang the two ends higher than the middle, and you’re good to go.

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My friend decided to get rid of her play kitchen, because her girls have another one in their room. This allowed us to bring that bucket system out of the upstairs hallway, and into the playroom where it belongs. I put the desk at an angle, which allowed us room for the bins, and a little space for their teeny piano and some other toys.

I chose to put bigger items that would be easy to move, in front of the closet, which is mostly used for storing non-essentials anyway.

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We were all set to call ourselves done. While we were eating dinner though, I said that I thought she could use a shelf hung up between those two tall shelves. She said “Oh, I have a shelf we’re not using up in the girls’ closet.” and I was like “WHAT?! We’re getting that as soon as we’re done eating.” And we did, haha. We also moved the pictures that were hanging on the wall above the toy bins under the new shelf, and moved her deployment wall there instead. This also included their countdown chain, which Tiffany moved over to the closet area. You can kind of see some of the rings in the picture on the right.

All in all, with breaks and tending to children, we were done by 9pm. Total spent? $5. Not too shabby! We were thrilled with the results, as were her kids. (They were like “How did you guys do this?!” lol.)

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Then today, I dragged those other bookcases/drawer systems into my playroom and decided to make the switch for my playroom. See those plastic drawers? Those are the drawer systems I was talking about, in case you didn’t know what I meant.

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Now, of course, my before and after isn’t as dramatic, but doesn’t it look so much nicer? I ordered a couple of fabric baskets from Target today to replace the green bin on the bottom, and to update that black one because it’s pretty out of shape. I also moved the ninja turtle box next to the toy box on the right to clean up that visual space some more. (Even though the picture doesn’t reflect that…)

When The Munchkin saw it, he just stared at it for a while, and was so excited that he could see “all the toys!” now. I’m not really sure why he couldn’t see them before, but I think he likes the new arrangement. He immediately started playing with the animals in the green bucket. Kids are funny like that; you don’t need to buy them new toys, you just need to rotate the ones they already have!

So yeah. If spring is for cleaning, fall is for organizing. Tiffany kept sending me texts throughout the day today of the progress she was making in her son’s room. It looks so good now, and I’m glad I was able to inspire/motivate her to get organized! Have you been doing any organizing lately? Am I the only one who wants some order once the cold comes?

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Nov 11

A day at the Zoo

Robby with his favorite animal. The pride   Take a picture Mom. A No-Sarah in her natural habitat. Is Josh Hippo Surfing?    Filed under: Holland

Nov 11

Thanks to our military veterans and their families

Today is a day for the those who are the ...

Nov 11

Veterans Day



Flyboy was asked to make a video for the boys' school for Veteran's Day. The boys loved it, of course!

 A big THANK YOU to all the Vets! And happy birthday to our favorite Vet, Pa Pa Rich!

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