Friday, April 8, 2016

When the babysitter calls

We are really lucky. In the last few months life has gotten a bit easier. Asher and Abby Kate are rocking school and Amelia’s ABA therapy has really started making a difference in how she interacts with the world around her. If you take out me breaking my leg, life would have been pretty amazing and even with the broken leg it has still been so much better than life was this time last year.

One big change happened when we started receiving respite care. 40 hours a month of babysitting thanks to the US Navy almost makes up for the premature wrinkles and gray hairs the same Navy has given me over the last 9 years. Enter K, our amazing respite provider. I knew when I talked to her on the phone the first time that it was going to be a fit and my kids freaking adore her. I thought I would feel guilty leaving them to go do my own thing, but they’re more excited than I am to have K time, which makes dates even more enjoyable.  

Today was my first day using respite time to do my own thing instead of going out on a date. Husband is on duty which means he works overnight so I thought it would be a good time to have some me time and do some studying.

There is no fear quite like when the phone rings and it’s the babysitter. We text back and forth most of the time, this was actually the first time she ever called me when I was away from the house. My heart was racing.

“Don’t panic, everything is okay”

K is a mom, she knows I was panicking from the moment her name popped up on the phone.

“What happened?” because I knew she wouldn’t call if it wasn’t a big deal.

“Amelia figured out the locks on the door. I was sitting at the table playing with Asher and Abby Kate and she went and very quietly got a toy to stand on and unlocked all the locks. She was so quiet but Winnie started freaking out so I got up and she was on the front porch getting the package that had been delivered. Winnie was right with her and barking for me.”

She had only gotten up from the table a minute before.

I couldn’t help it, even knowing it was all okay, I started crying.

What if Winnie hadn’t been with her? What if she didn’t just want to get the package? What if K wasn’t so on top of it and didn’t get up right away?
What if…. What if….

I thought 3 locks were enough. I thought it was high enough for her not to reach it standing on anything less than a chair (which I would notice if she was dragging through the house). She’s never been too interested in elopement, so I thought we were safe. The only time before today she’s wanted to go outside was when Daddy was out there and she wanted Daddy. Now? Now I “What if”. I also went and bought a child lock for the handle and one of those magnet alarms that screams when the door/window/whatever is opened. It’s even got a 4 digit code so she can’t mess with it without it going off.

I know that all parents “What if” but I never have done it with my two neurotypical kids the way I have since I had my little neurodiverse girl. I “What if” everything I do, because deep down I “What if” if God knew what He was doing when He gave her to me.

At least tonight I know the answer to “What if she manages to get through the child lock on the knob and all three of the other locks?” is that there will be 120 decibels to let me know… and a dog named Winnie. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Adventures in Bedtime

Bedtime. My kids aren’t bad sleepers by any stretch, but sometimes bedtime is just too much. I’ll be real, by the time 9:30 rolls around, I’m done being mom for the day. I want to sit down and mindlessly scroll Pinterest or watch grown up television. I am done.

Last night I was especially done because Sherlock was on. **Side note: If you haven’t watched the BBC version of Sherlock featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman then you are missing out big time. Stop reading and go binge watch it and come back.** It has been a long time since I had new Sherlock to watch and darn it, I wanted to watch it without interruption (yeah right…). We got Amelia to bed and put Asher and Abby Kate down.

Start Sherlock.

2 minutes later… Abby Kate and Asher come strolling through… they forgot to get a drink of water.

5 minutes later… lots of talking and giggling coming from back that way, Daddy goes to tell them it is in fact bed time or as I think in my post Inside Out head, to put the foot down.

5 minutes later… Abby Kate just can’t sleep and needs night night oils.

3 minutes after that…. Asher needs night night oils too.

About 10 minutes of uninterrupted Sherlock. I think to myself they must be asleep.

Abby Kate comes to the doorway of the living room.

“I just wanted to tell you something that me and Asher were talking about. We were talking and we think you’re a big ball of love, Daddy is a farting spider, Asher is a big Earth planet, I’m a heart, and Amelia is a giant cupcake.”

“Daddy is what?”

“A farting spider.” (like I should have known this… duh)

I don’t even know what to do with this information.


"Because he farts a lot. And he's a spider."


“You’re adorable, I love you, go to bed”

After the hysterical laughter was finished, me and my favorite farting spider finished our episode in peace.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Big Love

My husband Bryan and I have been married going on 12 years. When you’re only 30, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. Heck, at any age 12 years of marriage is a big deal in this day and age. And the best part is that I still really like him. To be honest, we’re one of those couples that you see that kind of makes you want to throw up in your mouth a little. I think some people might feel like it is a show for when we are around others or for good Facebook statuses, but we are lovey enough at home that Asher (who’s 7.5) gets all grossed out. (Which FYI, is the funniest thing in the whole world.) Other people have asked me how we make it work. My answer is this…

Earlier this week, I was really under the weather. My husband had to stay on his ship overnight the night before trash day so in the morning before he left the house, he took the trash can down to the curb for me. This is a little thing. I’m capable, even sick, of doing it. But the fact that he took the time to think of me and knew that I felt yuck and the last thing I’d want to do is drag the trash can down the driveway was big love.

I think people (women especially) expect flowers and jewelry and other grand gestures to show love. Yeah, those things are nice, but they’re not what keeps a big love burning, because you can’t do those things every day. It’s taking the trash out, it’s unloading the dishwasher, it’s fixing them their favorite meal just because, it’s bringing home a candy bar because you know they’re having a hard day, it’s making sure to have that beer they like, it’s kissing goodbye even if they’re just going around the corner for milk, it’s being goofy and laughing together, it’s debating theories on your favorite show, and it’s telling them you’re glad they’re yours. Little things that show the one you love that you’re thinking of them and that your happiness is important to you all day every day.

My marriage isn’t perfect, because we are both imperfect people, but our love… our love is pretty magical.


What's the one thing YOU would tell people makes for a happy marriage?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mom guilt

I'll be vulnerable with you for a few minutes. It's not easy to talk about your shortcomings as a mother and it's equally hard to talk about your own perception of yourself as a mother. I read a quote on Pinterest the other day and it said

and I wanted to cry. Oh, okay, I did cry. And then I cried some more. Because that's how I feel a lot lately, like I am just constantly screwing up.

Sometimes I think rationally and say to myself "Sarah, the expectations you have are unrealistic, you are only one person and you can't do everything" and I feel a bit of relief.

Then that nasty voice whispers inside my head "Oh, I bet so and so could do everything. She's so put together and here you are, not even getting the dishes done" and then I fall into that cycle of doubt. 

It's not rational, but then again what about motherhood is rational? If we really thought about how hard this job is and what is put on us and what can potentially be put on us as our kids grow, a rational person would run away as fast as they could! No sane person volunteers to wipe butts and clean puke for years at a time, yet here we are! Because those sweet little squishy baby cheeks turns the most rational person into a "OMG look at those little cheeks I need to love them and kiss them" crazy person. 

I look at my kids and I see good kids. Yes, Asher could be reading better, Abby Kate has a bit of an attitude, and Amelia... well Autism is hard. And somehow, it's my fault. Anything that is not perfect about them, I blame myself. Maybe I need to be working with Asher more on reading... Maybe if Abby Kate got more one on one attention she wouldn't have an attitude... Maybe if I was healthier, didn't have to be medicated during pregnancy, had "wanted" to get pregnant with Amelia, then maybe she wouldn't be Autistic...

I know. I know in my head that I really do the best I can and that they are truly amazing human beings, but that doesn't stop that little voice from telling me it's all my fault and that I'm screwing up.

The worst part? I know this is normal. I know that most women reading this will nod their head and say "you said it sister" because they'll get why I feel this overwhelming guilt about everything that isn't perfect in my kids and in their little lives. I bet that even the "so and so" I spoke of earlier wonders if she's totally messing up her kids from time to time. 

Why do we do it to ourselves? We know that life isn't perfect, that no child is perfect, that we aren't perfect, so why do we beat ourselves up and feel guilty for things that we know aren't our fault?

Mom guilt takes away from the joys of motherhood. There are seasons where I feel like it has robbed me of my successes because I only see my faults. I sometimes, in my weakest moments, think my kids deserve better than me. Motherhood is hard. So damn hard. And I hate that we all make it harder on ourselves.

Stop. Stop thinking you're screwing up and look at those little faces. If they're amazing little people, that's because of YOU. You helped them become those amazing little people. Stop and see that... and then remind me to do it too. Let's stop letting guilt rob us of real joy, we deserve better. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life under construction

I feel like a wrecking ball came through my life. I should know better than to plan things out in my head after getting our post-tubal surprise Amelia, but it's just a natural human thing to have a future plan laid out, right? Then something huge happens and that life you had in your head gets wrecked. I'm still just sitting here like, what am I supposed to do now?

Would it be weird if I wore an "under construction" sign around my neck? I feel like I should, so that when people see me they can know right from that moment that I'm working on something in me. I didn't think it would be this hard. Autism. Sensory Processing. Apraxia of speech. Special needs. I just didn't know.

I've been a mom for over 7 years now, and after having both a boy and a girl, having a third child seemed like no biggie. What could a third throw at me that I hadn't dealt with before? By the time we found out about our surprise I had been through 2 high risk pregnancies (thanks Hyperemesis Gravidarum) 3 deployments (gave birth during the second one), and a slew of crazy things that kids can throw at you when you're a mom by yourself more than with a partner. I figured that with hubby heading onto shore duty a new baby would be a cakewalk compared to what we had been through.

From early on she was different, but the professionals kept telling me everything was fine. So I thought I was failing her. It took until she was almost two for anyone to address what was going on. Then in the matter of a few months, we went from a speech delay to Sensory Processing Disorder and then to Autism. The apraxia isn't an official diagnosis because they're hesitant to do it before age 3, but I know it's coming. I've known it was all coming for a lot longer than I was willing to admit to myself. Moms know, but so much of the time we ignore that feeling. Maybe it's because people told me it was all okay, maybe it was because I didn't want to believe something was "wrong" with her, I don't know. 

So a little over a month ago, a wrecking ball called "Autism" came in and smashed the life I had planned out in my head. Most parents don't talk about the mourning process because people are so judgemental about it. How selfish and awful do you think it feels to mourn when your child is right here happy and healthy, just different than what you had expected? I don't love her any less, anyone who knows me knows I adore her, but this isn't the life I had planned out in my head for her and I am allowed to feel the loss of that. My heart aches for her, because this means there is so much she's going to battle in her life. It's not about anything more than that. I mourn that she's going to have a harder life than I wanted her to have. Autism awareness and Autism acceptance aren't the same. We are all aware it is out there, but not many accept them the way our children deserve to be accepted. I'm getting used to some parts of this life, others not so much. Some days I feel like I can conquer the world with one hand behind my back, the next I want to hide away from the ugly truth that this world isn't built for her and she's always going to struggle through it. Then I see her smile, with that little dimple I can't resist, and I know that while it might not be the life I had built in my head, we can build something just as beautiful together. It might take longer, and it might be harder, but this life is under construction and it is going to be beautiful. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My babiest one

This is Amelia. She's 2.5 years old and is a giant mess. I only have a handful of pictures where she has clothes on because she prefers to be naked. 

Amelia has kept us on our toes since the moment we realized she existed, 18 months after I had the Essure sterilization procedure. Yup. Surprise! And the surprises keep on coming.

After two kids, you think you know how to do this parenting thing. I know we thought we did. We were right and wrong. We knew how to parent a neurotypical child, we just didn't know how to parent Amelia. 

I knew that she was different from my other two kids by about 9 months old, but I honestly just thought I was failing her somehow. Oh the guilt and self-doubt. It wasn't until right before she turned 2 that we found out about Sensory Processing Disorder and it wasn't until she was 2.5, just a month ago, that we found out that she also has Autism Spectrum Disorder. It's been a wild ride and will continue to be as we navigate the special needs waters.

When I think of her the Henry Longfellow poem comes to my mind.

There was a little girl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There was a little girl,
          Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
          When she was good, 
          She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

When she's happy, her smiles and laughs will light up the world. And those dimples....
But when she's not happy? Just call her Bruce Banner, because you don't want to see her angry! The reason it has been a couple of days since I wrote last was because she's been in "Hulk smash!" mode. Thankfully, I have a reprieve today because she's napping. 

No matter what gets thrown our way, I will always be blessed with my little surprise. She's definitely the best thing I never knew I always wanted.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Eating better

Over the last 18 months, I've made a lot of steps in improving my health and wellness. It started when I had my hysterectomy and realized that so much of my pain was gone and I realized I wanted it all gone and I wanted to feel as good as a woman my age should feel.

My biggest issue is one I know a lot of us battle... I like love food. Bad food. Oreos. And cake. And dry Cheerios. And a whole slew of things that are not in my body's best interest for me to be stuffing in my face. I didn't want to give it up. I looked good in my clothes so I felt good about myself and I wasn't gaining weight, so I didn't care so much that maybe I wasn't in a healthy weight range for me. It's all okay as long as I look good, right? Wrong. And it bit me in the rump about 6 months ago when Amelia started having major developmental issues.

Now we know that it is Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, but back earlier this year we just knew she wasn't sleeping more than 5 broken hours of sleep in each 24 hour span and that the hours she was awake was filled with screaming fits like we had never experienced with our other two children. The stress and the lack of sleep combined caused me and the husband to start packing on the pounds. I gained 38 pounds in about 3.5 months. I was already about 25 pounds heavier than my optimal weight for my body type. 63 pounds. That's more than Asher weighs. I need to lose a whole child!

I'm now a week in on the hardcore lifestyle change after starting it slowly in other ways before going all in. I'm down 6 pounds already and I can see the shift in my body starting. I know it is a long road to do this the right way, focusing on my health not just my looks. It scares me. I don't want to be fat, I don't want to be unhealthy, I don't want to die young because I can't keep from shoveling junk into my mouth, but I fear that my resolve will flounder. I'm cutting carbs, eating whole real foods, and upping my water intake. I'm also replacing 1 meal a day with a protein shake that I add some banana and spinach to, mostly because I totally suck at eating breakfast and this gets me a good way to start my metabolism and my day.

I'm not giving up coffee. I can't. I will give up everything else before I will give up my coffee. I don't *need* it for the caffeine, but it's one of those things that I just really love and when you're giving up so much that you love, you gotta give yourself a little something to hold on to and that is my coffee! I am cutting my sugar that I put in it and I bought organic unrefined sugar and trying to limit myself to 2 cups a day.

Working out is my next big step. I need low impact and something easy to get me back into it slowly. I have fibromyalgia, so hardcore working out is just not in the cards, but I need to get myself into a fit and healthy state so that I can keep up with my kids! So tell me, what's your favorite work out? Comment below and hook me up with something fun, under 30 minutes, and not too hard but will push my fitness to the next level.