Monday, June 19, 2017

P.S.A.

Alright, let's do this. Let me set the record straight once and for all.

A learning difference/disability does NOT go away. Children with learning differences succeed when they are given the tools they need to be successful. Success means the tools are working. It does not mean the disability disappeared.

For four months E2 has been in daily (Mon-Fri) swim lessons. When I enrolled her, I explained to the swim company she had a language disorder and motor planning delays. These two general categories have a list of other issues that fall underneath and I explained them all. The swim club told me they could most definitely teach her to swim. AND THEY DID. The swim club assigned E2 instructors trained in special needs (there were two she switched between). The instructors worked daily on using the same exact words for the motor planning. The instructors used shortened instructions for multiple step directions. The instructors were patient when her anxiety took over and she panicked from not remembering the motor plan even though she had just done the exact stroke three minutes prior. The instructors understood how frustrated E2 becomes when she cannot answer a question because she does not understand what they are asking. The instructors had E2 perform the strokes outside the water while she repeatedly said the motor plan with them out loud.

With daily swim lessons, special needs trained instructors, and with accommodations E2 learned to swim. She went from barely blowing bubbles to swimming the length of the pool.

The above is why I was so fucking pissed off and shocked this morning. We arrived to the swim club to see E2's instructor, Ms. D,  in clothes. I asked her if she was sick and she explained she was working afternoons. I responded saying I did not realize we were switching back to Ms. T, the other teacher. Ms. D said we were not. E2 had been assigned to someone else.

QUE THE MAMA BEAR.

I went to the front desk and firmly asked what was going on and then explained E2 is labeled in THEIR system as having special needs. The woman behind the front desk, who now looks annoyed and possibly terrified at my bugged out eyes and glare that could kill, turns to Ms. D and says, "But does she really still need the label?"

MAMA BEAR ATTACKS.

Before Ms. D can even respond I say, "I am so sorry YOU thought you could remove her label. That is not up to YOU. It is up to trained diagnosticians and therapists. It is up to me, her mother. It is not up to YOU to decide she no longer needs a label and accommodations."

With that, the manager came out and the class and teacher were switched and everything went back to normal.

In my head and to my friends, I used these words - Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME??? E2 succeeded and continues to succeed because we give her the damn accommodations! She fucking needs them!! She has a learning disability! Why the hell would I remove her label?? I am not afraid of labels. I am not afraid to admit my daughter needs help. E2 only feels different when she cannot accomplish something. She does not feel different when the help allows her to be "like everyone else." Fuck. Give the kid what she needs.

To the swim club, to parents, to school districts, here is my PSA:

Children with learning differences/disabilities do NOT outgrow them. They do NOT wake up one day and no longer have the issues. They learned compensation skills, they learned WITH accommodations, they accomplished their goals with all the tools we, their parents and educators, gave them.

When a child with special needs shows mastery of a skill it means HOW you are teaching them is working.
It does NOT mean they are no longer special needs.

Understand?
Good.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

SLIME!

E1 was BEGGING to make slime. According to her, it is the best thing. While purchasing our supplies for slime, I tried (to no avail) to explain to E1 that slime has been around for decades and I made slime as a kid.....according to the world of an 8 year old, this slime is different. Um, no it is not.

Slime Supplies:

Liquid Starch
Liquid Glue (Glitter glue is fun too)
Water
Food coloring (optional)

Mix equal parts water and glue.
Add food coloring (the darker the hue, the more apt it is to stain hands)
Slowly add liquid starch while stirring. Eventually the slime will become thick enough to no longer need a spoon. Keep adding liquid starch until consistency is sticky/slimy, yet doesn't completely stay on hands.

The more you play with the slime, the less sticky it becomes.

(Store in Tupperware containers)






Saturday, June 3, 2017

Marshmallows & Toothpicks

SUMMA-TIME!!!!!!!!

In an effort to keep up our skills during the summer, we complete many projects that are fun and have a purpose. Both girls can always benefit from any fine motor activity and any handwriting activity is "so boring."

E1 and E2 LOVE to create and build.  A box of toothpicks and mini marshmallows can provide hours of fun and work those finger muscles!

For beginners, buy normal size marshmallows and/or jumbo marshmallows. A friend of mine uses raw spaghetti noodles and gum drops to make the projects more challenging. Oh, the possibilities!

E2 created letters while E1 built 3D shapes. Language arts, math, and fine motor skills all in one lesson- #winning










Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Control

Almost two weeks ago my daughter (E1) was punched in the proverbial stomach.

While at a friend's party, another party goer was sharing information about her life. The information shared, we would come to find out, was this child's perception of her own adoption and how she was feeling about being adopted.

E1 knows she and E2 were adopted. She knows that is how they became our daughters. We also say "were adopted" - in the past, as it does not define you. How you treat people is what matters. It does not matter whether you grew in my tummy. What matters is what is right in front of you. We have told them time and time again their birth mothers were brave, strong women who not only gave them life, but took the time to find the most perfect mommy and daddy for them. They know they are loved. E1 knows all of this, but in the end our words were no match for the words coming out of the mouth of someone just like her.

When a fellow adopted 8 year old uses the word selfish to describe a birth mother, and uses the term given away and shares other negative thoughts about adoption, the aftermath for a sensitive, anxious child is unimaginable.

Each day that passed after the party was worse than the day before.  My daughter was a mess. She cried all day for three days and even missed school. She asked if her birth mother knew she would be this sensitive and is that why she gave her away. She asked if her birth mother thought she would be a horrible person and is that why she gave her away. She cried because she was crying. E1 slept on average 15 hours a day and barely ate for a week. When she was awake, she questioned everything we told her. She questioned her story, her birth mother's love, her own self worth.

How can you love a baby and give it away? How is that a selfless decision? Giving away your baby means you don't care. All of these questions as tears streamed down her once happy face. As a mother, I was at a loss. I could not do anything, but continue to tell E1 HER story, and tell her how much we loved her.

For days we went round and round. I reminded her that no one and no thing should have this much control over her. That her happiness is in her control. I told her if she made up her mind, she could just move on. Guess what - none of it worked. She is eight! How the hell can an eight year old even process adoption, someone else's adoption, and not all adoptions are the same. There are grown ass adults that to this day don't understand adoption and here was my eight year old trying to believe what we told her with a living example saying the complete opposite. She was torn between her reality and someone else's.

E1 cried at school. She was so upset, the teacher and I were texting daily. I received messages from classmate's mothers asking if she was OK because their children had come home for three days straight saying E1 was upset.

With my help, professional help, and with time E1 cried a little less. She began to tell a few friends she was adopted and was having a hard time because she heard "ugly things" about being adopted. These friends, who could not care less that she was adopted, told her not to worry. It helped, but not really.

After a full week of this, things seemed to be on the up and up. There were barely any tears last weekend and when she had them, she recited what I had told her "I am loved. I am safe. I am in control."

Memorial Day, E1 told us she was finished crying. She told us she knows her birth mother loved her, but was too young to care for her. She told us her story as we have told it to her. I reminded her that we have nothing but respect for her birth mother. We talked about how people stare at people in wheelchairs, or different hair colors, etc and discussed how brave her birth mother was to face those stares and grow a baby in her belly while walking the halls of high school. How courageous and selfless it was to grow a baby in her belly while she missed prom and other activities. How much love one woman has to grow a baby, give her life and give her parents.

E1 then tells us she is grateful that we are her parents and she is alive because after all, some women kill their babies. ( While I acknowledged what she said, we did not discuss abortions. How does she even know this stuff?)

After this discussion, life seemed to fall back in place.

Today, with all the bravery and pride E1 (with the teacher's permission) spoke to her class about her adoption story. Her adoption story filled with hope, prayer, and love. I was not there to witness this. I heard about it from her teacher, then from E1 when she got off the bus. E1 said she felt happy to tell her friends. I told her she was brave. I told her she was courageous. She smiled her smile that fills her whole face.

Today, E1 took back the control she had lost.

I know this will not be the last time E1 gets knocked down. I know children say things without thinking. I know all of this is par for the course.

What I know and how it made us all feel are two very different things.

I am so thankful E1 found peace. I am thankful she trusted us with her emotions. I am thankful for a team of friends and family and professionals that helped hold her hand.

I am also thankful tomorrow is summer - we need a break!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Starting with Essential Oils


Building on my previous post, I feel like I owe you all an update on how things are going over here. The end of school has been stressful for both girls, and that has made for an excellent trial period!

I started with the starter kit from Young Living, became a member to enjoy wholesale prices, and then bought more oils based on suggestions by other oil users in a Facebook group I joined. Holy moly, that Facebook page taught me one important lesson: you can use the oils in many ways and their effect on people vary.

I have spoken to many friends who are laughing at my oil usage...that's OK - I don't mind. I like what I am seeing and experiencing. I have never cared about other people's opinion and I certainly won't start now.

We have had some up and downs with the oils. E2 is a terrible sleeper (if you don't know that, read other blog posts). There are oils that have helped her drift to sleep quickly and others didn't help at all. What I did find is she is sleeping more soundly. Even if the oil didn't help falling asleep, it gave her a deep sleep. After a little over a month, I have found what works for her. E2 even expresses which ones smell nicely to her and requests some oils in the diffuser. It is super cute.

The biggest change has been E1. She is still herself. She is still 8. (Lord help me when she is a teenager). The best way I can describe it is to say the oils take off the edge like if I had a glass of wine. I am still myself, but just a little chill. This is E1. Again, some oils did not do much, but others were great. A few weeks ago she trusted me to put whatever on her....just this week E1 told me which ones she thought were best. Interestingly enough, her perception matched mine. How she felt, was what I saw. She is biting her nail beds less, she is handling stress better, she has better time management. Her emotional roller coaster has changed from a ride requiring someone to be 52'' tall to ride to a roller coaster suitable for a person of 38''. Like I said, she is the same...just a more relaxed version of herself.

Do the oils work for other things besides emotions? Yes.
Have I seen that too? Yes.
Are the oils the only thing I am using for my health and for my family's health? No.
Are the oils my go to parenting strategy? No.

You still have to parent. You still have to use consequences and face consequences of poor choices. You still have to go to the doctor if you're sick. You still have to face the world you live in.

Oils don't fix a problem.
Oils, like anything else, can be PART of a solution.



(E1's oils for her school days)






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Taking The Last Step

It is no secret that I am not perfect. My husband is not perfect. My girls are not perfect. We all have triggers that elicit a negative response from us. Adults can figure out those triggers and hopefully avoid them or learn how to react. Unfortunately children do not have the same capabilities. We, as their parents, need to help them identify their triggers.

What I had no experience in and quickly learned about was food sensitivity. I was so far from healthy, crunchy, earthy, clean eating, etc as you can get. I am not exaggerating when I tell you one of my favorite memories is introducing Ding- Dongs to E1. I love smoothing out the foil, eating the chocolate cake goodness, and licking out the filling with my tongue. Damn, I love ding-dongs.  Our pantry was stocked with Doritos, Cheetos, this chip, that chip, this candy, that candy....it was fun! I always believed if I limited what the girls could eat, they would gorge themselves as soon as they were out of my sight and then we would have a bigger issue.

Unfortunately, we learned that Red Dye #40 and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFC) had a terrible affect on E1's personality and E2's sleep. We also realized that processed foods in general were not the greatest choice for the girls. All the chemicals and sugar would send E1 into a tail spin if she was upset. Her reaction to normal annoying things were blown way out of proportion. The spikes in her blood sugar would causes such highs and lows and watching her response to things was like watching a bomb explode. E2 would get so hyped up she could not fall asleep. She was like the energizer bunny on crack...just kept going and going and going.

Lucky for me I talk to my friends, family, and pediatrician pretty candidly. While I don't follow advice immediately I will research and then come to my own conclusion. After listening to advice and doing my own research, the hubs and I decided to do a food overhaul. This realization SUCKED. Do you know how hard it is to clean out your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and change the diet of two girls?

A DAMN NIGHTMARE.

We started with the dyes, then the HFC, then the processed foods. In true transparency this overhaul took almost an entire school year. We would slip up, get lazy, say fuck it, and then a kid would meltdown and we would kick ourselves for giving in. I so wanted to be the house with the fun pantry, but a hyped up little sister and a ticking time bomb big sister was not worth all the ding dongs in the world.

We also bought E2 fish oil supplements for children. We learned from the many people in her village that fish oil, Omega 3, helps with brain development and it could greatly impact E2's speech and motor planning.

Fast forward to March-ish, clean eating for the majority plus fish oil. The girls' behaviors were so much better. We could literally count on one hand the extreme meltdowns. But, we were still having difficulties with E2's sleeping and E1's worries, time management, and frustrations. School mornings around here were quite annoying. E1 felt rushed and frustrated and often gave out eye rolls, grumbles, snarky comments, and that was when we were not staring at her resting bitch face. Homework time was not much better.
I had had enough.

I not so secretly would bug my sorority sister who I think is a guru in all things natural for advice. I would visit Facebook pages, internet sites, anything I could get my hands on about natural ways to help your children. I literally spent almost an entire year removing chemicals from their diet, I was not about to start putting them back in. All roads led to essential oils.
Each and every time.
And each time I laughed, rolled my eyes, and walked away. I am the biggest cynic, well second biggest to my husband. Essential oils were not going to help. What a joke. I am not sure what changed my thinking, but it was probably the realization that I was being a hypocritical asshole. If removing dyes and HFC had that big of an impact on my kids then why wouldn't a natural substance help them?

So, I took the plunge. I bought essential oils, diffusers, and went to experimenting.

This cynical asshole typing this blog is telling you with as much shock as anyone can muster up, they are working for my family. Certain oils are helping to relax E2 and she is able to fall asleep. E1 is experiencing a calmness to her that I have never seen. I diffuse oils in their room at night and diffuse during the morning routine and homework time. If seeing that change was not enough to get me believing, I tried some oils on a pain in my husband's foot he got from exercising. The next morning I asked him if his foot was feeling better and he looked at me and said, "I am embarrassed to say it does feel better." OH MY. We have become THOSE PEOPLE. We are oil people. Still, I didn't believe. All of this was luck. Coincidence. And then I used the oils on myself. DAMN IT. THEY WORK.

I am not surprised we ended up here, but at the same time I am. If you know me and even if you only know me through my blog, you KNOW I am not a bull shit type person. You make your own life. You make your own choices. No excuses.

Oils do not prevent you from making dumb choices but they can help you feel better in many ways. I am still going to doctors, I am still using western medicine - apparently this is a "fear" when you start telling people you use oils. Relax people, I am still me. I am just becoming a better me.

And the girls? The oils have completed our health transformation and were their missing link to being their best selves too.

Want to learn more about essential oils?
learn more

Want to buy essential oils? (Start with the starter kit/membership - you can buy oils wholesale afterward)
buy oils

Have questions? Email me at tomboysintiaras@gmail.com 



Friday, April 14, 2017

The Missing Earring

Shabbat dinner. A weekly celebration of G-d's creation of the world, a week's worth of trials and errors, and a time to reflect and start anew.

Tonight the four of us gathered around our dining table, said the prayers over the candles, wine, and matzah (it is also Passover), and then began to eat our meal.

E2 is extremely tired from a full "Cousin Day" of fun and is begging to go to sleep. She brings me her pajamas and changes for bed. I take out her ponytail, her earrings, etc.

E1, the hubs, and I continue to eat dinner and chat away about our days.

A few moments later I notice E2's earrings. I actually notice an earring. As in one. Shit. Where is the other earring? They are pink hearts and her favorite! Crap. Where is the other earring?

Eat, eat, eat...chat, chat, chat.....Fuck. Did I just eat the earring?

E1 goes to the restroom and I tell the hubs, "I think I ate E2's earring." He literally is like what the fuck. Now, I am feeling it in my throat. It won't budge. I ask him if I need to go to the emergency room. I ask him if it will perforate my intestines. I ask him if I need to throw up, get an x-ray, OH MY G-D, my throat really hurts!!!

E1 is now back from the bathroom and is dying to know what we are talking about and why is daddy laughing, and what am I Googling......I'll tell you what I Googled "Eating an earring." FUCK. I am reading about eating an earring and now I am laughing because OF COURSE it is all about KIDS eating things.
WHY would a FORTY year old eat an EARRING?!? How does this even happen? ONLY ME.

I tell the hubs I can feel it moving in my chest. I tell him it hurts. I tell him this cannot be good and even though Google says it will be in my shit in three days, I still think I should see a doctor. For G-d's sake I ATE AN EARRING. I am making sounds with my throat trying to cough it up, I am rubbing my neck, my chest, making more sounds....It is like I am my own symphony telling the story of an earring caught in an esophagus.

All of a sudden the hubs says, "Are you serious?!?" I look at him and he is holding the missing earring. It was apparently hiding at the other end of the table.

OOPS.

I cannot stop laughing.