mom

Spend money on an experience

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The trend today is for young adults to spend their money on experiences such as travel rather than on possessions. I took a page out of their book and decided to go with my kids to the local theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando. We had a blast. It wasn’t spring break or any other holiday. We went just to get away. Although my aging neck and back prevented me from riding the fun roller coasters that I usually do, seeing my kids happy was enough. I was glad to take on the role of sunglasse holder as the kids went on the rides. Both were so relaxed and happy to get a break from school work. Payton was actually skipping from ride to ride.  I realized all the time I spent making sure they got along and respected one another paid off as I saw them holding hands walking onto the rides together.

Of course I couldn’t help but get in another teachable parenting moment. We were leaving and Spencer said: “Uggh, I don’t want to go back to work and school.” My response: “This is why it’s so important to do well in school so you can go away for fun little trips to reset yourself.” He ignored me, but I had to say it.

We shared so many laughs and made memories. The next time you have a choice between a gift for yourself or an experience, go for the experience. Memories last a lifetime.




Happy parenting!

Elise 

Easy, inexpensive Valentines Day presents for your kids.

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Each year I give my kids little gifts of love that reflect them. This year I thought it would be cool to do something that fulfills all of the 5 love languages (The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, great book, a must read). That way I am sure they will know the depth of my love. After all, if they don’t interpret love by receiving gifts, I have to make sure they know just how loved they really are. Here are my ideas to show each love language:
 

  1. Words of affirmation - Make a banner and list all the reasons we love our kids.

  2. Quality time - Carve out time where you can be one on one with each child. It doesn’t have to be hours. Maybe just a date to go get ice cream. Whatever it is, it will be your time together to connect.

  3. Receiving gifts - We think every child would like gifts, but that is not always the case. The key to great gift giving is something that shows thought. Maybe they have mentioned wanting something in particular. Or you recognize something that they need. When you do this, it shows much more thought than just a gift card.

  4. Acts of service - Lend a helping hand. People want validation that they work hard at whatever they do and kids are no exception. So, give them a little help with a chore or homework that would normally be done alone.

  5. Physical touch - Some people don’t need a hug while others crave the physical connection. Recently, my daughter has been really craving this and it is just fine by me. We actually set aside time just to cuddle on the couch. Again, a great time just to reset ourselves.

 
Valentine’s Day is a great way to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. I hope this will inspire you to show your kiddies just how much they mean to you. 


Happy parenting!

Elise 

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! 

As the new year approaches, we’re getting ready to make our New Years resolutions. “This year I am going to eat much healthier and I’m going to work out every day.” My resolution every year is to stop cursing. A couple hours into the day I say,” f**k that.”
 

So why do we set these resolutions if we know we’re going to break them? It seems like we are just setting ourselves up to fail, making us feel even worse than before.  So this year, lets make a decision together: to change ONLY when we are ready, and accept all the rest.  At this stage of my life, I have learned to accept my truck driver mouth and those around me have as well.  Lets try and not only accept but embrace our shortcomings. They serve some sort of purpose for us. As for the healthier lifestyle, there is no bad time to make that decision.  It could be in the middle of the day, in the middle of the month, in the middle of the year.  When you are ready to take massive actions, you know you will get massive results.  In the meantime, be kind to yourself and remember there is never a bad time to make a fresh start.  
 

Wishing everyone a beautiful happy and healthy new year!

 

Elise  

 

Setting the tone for the year

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Is it really time to start buying school supplies?

In the blink of an eye summer seems to have come and gone. I hope you've taken the opportunity to recharge your battery to get ready for the upcoming school year.

Remember to embrace the new year! Your children are always watching you so if you are excited, they will be too. New school years are a symbol of new beginnings. This brings about chances to start fresh with friends, grades and study habits. Start the year with routines in place to encourage great study and homework habits. And if any of your kids are expressing anxiety about the upcoming school year, encourage them to talk through their fears.

 A strategy I use for this kind of anxiety is called "take it the worst possible place.” For example, if your child is nervous about the upcoming school year ask them why?  Perhaps, they will answer, "all of the homework." Take this to the worst possible place. Ask them what is the absolute worst thing that can happen to them if they do not finish their homework. Doing this exercise makes them realize whatever their anxieties are, it is not going to be the end of the world. Remind them of their blessings. 

As always, feel free to reply to this email with any questions or thoughts! I love hearing from you… 

Elise

Laugh all weekend long

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Is there anything better than a child's laugh?

My kids and I were sitting at the dinner table last week and I must have said something funny because both of them started hysterically laughing. So then I started to laugh uncontrollably; the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. What better medicine, right? 

I looked at my kids and wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to savor their innocence and their ability to laugh anything. 

I thought back to the different ways I used to make my kids: talking in a goofy voice, making fun of myself, and — the most fun —  dancing around the kitchen with whisks as our microphones. We serenaded our pretend audiences to our favorite LIVE song.  

It's so important to have laughter and fun in the house. We get crazy running our kids around from activity to activity, making sure they are eating correctly and getting their homework finished. So often, we lose sight of just having a good laugh. I want my home to always be the place that brings my kids joy, comfort and laughter. 

So when things get just a bit too hectic in your house, step back and have a good laugh. It will work wonders. 

Till next time, 

Elise

Are you resistant to change?

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I don't want my baby to grow up. 

Over the last year, I’ve been telling my youngest child, leading up to her tenth birthday, that she’s not allowed to get older. I want her to remain the same beautiful, innocent human that she is. She agreed for the entire year up until a couple of days ago. She proclaimed, “I'm ready to grow up.” After some resistance, I agreed that yes she could, indeed, turn double digits.  I then began thinking about why I didn’t want her to grow up?  Payton is kind, sweet, funny and loving. Why would anyone want that to change? The answer is: FEAR! It drives parents, friends, spouses and employees absolutely crazy. We’re scared of the unknown. In this case, I feared what this milestone would mean for my precious Payton. My job, as a mother, is to nurture and mold this tiny human into an incredible, independent adult that makes a difference in this world. And to do so, my angel will have to spread her wings, fall down and shed some tears. Rather than resist, I’ve decided to embrace it. So as I  celebrate her birthday I will no longer be sad, even though time seems to move way too fast. I will love every molecule of her being and appreciate every moment I have right now. I will honor her growth by being present and for the first time in my life I will embrace the unknown.  

Today, I encourage you to get curious about what you may be resisting. You may have gotten comfortable in a lack-luster relationship or a “just-okay” job. I want you to remember that your life can evolve into a much more exciting, fulfilling version when we just let fear take a backseat and get behind the wheel. You’re so much more capable than you know… 

Have a wonderful weekend, 

Elise
 

Elise's Story

By the time my son turned 3-months old, my maternal instincts kicked into high alert and had me questioning his behaviors.

Why didn’t he make eye contact with me? When he cried, why did he cry harder, louder and longer than any other child? Why was he not playing with toys that were in front of him? Why didn’t he care about toys and people? Why did he only like vents, fans, and wheels?

There were no answers.

Pediatricians told me to stop comparing him to other children and that he would be fine.

I knew differently.

One day when I was reading, I came across a checklist of traits for autism. If you answer yes to 9 out of the 14, your child is autistic. How could it be so simple to test? But I read the questions and answered yes to nearly all of them.

My heart sank and I was paralyzed.

The overwhelming sense of responsibility washed over me again. What do I do? How do I help my innocent and seemingly perfect child? I researched and found out that my state conducted free tests to determine reasons for which children do not hit milestones. I signed up and was put on a 4-month wait. Then the day finally came for our now 23-month old son to be evaluated.

It was like cheering for a losing team.

You watch and want them to be able to make the basket, score the touchdown, or make the goal but not one can be done. After a grueling 3 hours of watching my child not achieve any of the tasks asked of him, the therapist sat me down and explained that my little baby had PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder; it’s on the autism spectrum. The good news is that I was right. Mommies always know their child.

The bad news was I was right. My son was autistic.

I immediately went into SUPER MOM mode, calling anyone and everyone that could possibly help us. Not everyone has that reaction. Some ignore and hope it will go away but it doesn’t.

I had to help my son. He was my responsibility.

I hired a team of therapists with me as the quarterback. I sat in on every therapy session my son has ever had, even to this day. I can’t risk missing important information about my child. So I read every book, knew all the terminology and I sounded educated. The doctors and therapists listened to me because I made it my business to know their business. But this was exhausting. I started boxing as a means of coping. After 30 hours of therapy each week and a screaming child all the time because he was on sensory overload, hitting someone felt really good. 

But that wasn’t enough, I was falling apart.

I did everything in my power to try and understand how my son felt. I wanted to get into his world, so I could better help him get into ours. I suffered because no one was taking care of me and without me, the ship would sink.

I wish I had someone who would have told me I was going to be ok, regardless of how my son was doing. He was the sun, moon, and stars to me so I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I took him around the country for every therapy imaginable, but piece by piece, I was losing myself and losing my way.

How is it possible to find happiness and peace when your child suffers?

I medicated myself so that I became numb. I drank excessive amounts of alcohol and got divorced.  On top of everything else, I was now a single mother of two children.  I adopted my darling daughter from China to give me a chance at mothering a typical child. I became alone, sad, and scared that my children would not be ok. FEAR paralyzed me and “what ifs” consumed me. I was having a nervous breakdown. I never took care of myself. 

Everyone else had typical children so it was much easier for them to be happy. I believed that as a parent of a special needs child I would never really know true happiness and peace. This mentality all changed the day I went to a yoga class, my instructor said something that resonated with me and has since become my mantra.

We are happy, our natural state is happiness.  Anything that takes us away from our natural state is merely a disturbance or a distraction.” 

At first, I thought, that was easy for him to say since he didn’t have an autistic child. Nothing applied to me, I couldn’t control my happiness. How am I supposed to be happy when I am fighting with the school board and also advocating for my son?  It was then, while I was sobbing, that my instructor said to me,

“Elise, you can give yourself permission to cry and react for a couple minutes. Stomp your feet and say it sucks, it’s not fair, no one understands but then realize that you can get just as much, if not more, accomplished when you are calm and happy.” 

So I screamed and cried and complained for about 15 more minutes and then I got on the phone and happily kicked ass. I never again let anyone or anything, not even my children, take my happiness from me. I no longer let my son’s Autism define me.

I have arrived at my destination, it is peace.