Friday, January 29, 2016

Coping

In my Facebook feed this morning there was a new baby born into the "Lucky Fin" family. The mom asked for "any suggestions to get stronger and deal with fear and criticism". My advice was two fold. Any parent with a child  has fear and criticism. It's part of parenting. Will your child do things on time? Will he/she grow and thrive? Develop normally (whatever that means!)? Will he/she ride a bike? Have friends? Get bullied? So many questions fill your brain! 

I remember being pregnant and wondering how Bella would cope and deal with her difference too, not only how I would deal with others comments and questions. First, we take them all in stride. We've gotten better as she has grown with answering questions. Many of the questions are the same ones over and over, so you get very good at answering those. The other questions, I take a deep breath and then speak. Sometimes they are "easy" questions and sometimes they challenge me. Bella asked me the other day why Papa was my "step dad". Um... why was I not prepared to answer this? I mean, I figured at some point the kids would ask or they would why their grandparents weren't married on either side of the family but I hadn't really thought of the answer. I answered it the best I could. Anyhow, you learn as you go! 

I told this mama to allow the emotions flow and know that any emotion and every emotion was normal. As a new mom, I was scared, excited, nervous, happy, sad, overjoyed, scared, thrilled... I felt them all not just because my girl was missing her left hand but because I was a new mom. Holy crap, what had we done? I was responsible for keeping someone else alive! It was exciting and overwhelming. I remember crying because the love I felt was her was so much to take in. I remember crying because she nursed like a champ. I remember crying because she was crying. It's life people, parenting is tough work! Mom is the best title I've ever had and the most challenging all at the same time. I think some people are quick to say "oh you have a new baby, what do you have to be sad about?" Um the lack of sleep was enough to make me be sad! That was no joke. I mean, I've been a parent for 6 1/2 years and I still am missing sleep. Such is life. 

I also told her to take time to enjoy her baby.  It's easy to get caught up in the tasks but my favorite moments were the moments when I would sleep and she would sleep on my chest. As much as I lacked sleep, I also enjoyed the quiet, dark night time nursing sessions. I could just listen to my baby breath and eat and feel their little body close to mine. It was just me and the babe and I loved it. 

Connecting with other parents is also an important part of being a parent to me. Connecting to others who parent the same and parent different. It allows me to learn and grow as a mother. Connecting with parents with kids like mine (we LOVE our community of limb difference families!), they provide support and encouragement. Reach out to those parents when you need a friend, talk with them, ask questions, express your emotions. I had a friend once say "I don't know if I can really say this because it makes me feel awful but I just need some time to be me!" I confirmed that I sometimes felt that way too. We laughed at how bad we felt for wanting to take time for ourselves because we loved our kids but we also knew that we needed time to do things we enjoyed to make us better mothers. One prime example, date night. Reconnecting with my husband reinforces our love and our connection with each other. It makes us better parents and partners. 

Enjoy that babe, connect, embrace your emotions!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I hear you!

Sunday, Bella and I had a "date day". She needed new leggings (holy batman growth spurt!) so being that she ONLY wears leggings for pants, we decided to go shopping just the girls. We went to Kohl's and she picked out things she liked. This was a first for us, since we usually always buy stuff second hand. Leggings aren't really something that you can buy used, they get worn out. In order to encourage matching, I let her pick out shirts to match too. She was quite funny to shop with. Anything I picked out was "totally insane" or "SOOOO itchy", anything she picked out was naturally super comfortable. Gotta love strong willed girls! We finished up with two new outfits and went on to grocery shop.

We got to Aldi. She was in charge of picking stuff for her lunch and I was in charge of the list. Behind us throughout the store was a mother with her two children, an older daughter and a younger son. The son was older than Bella, probably 8 or 9. Bella and I were laughing and talking but I was distracted. Behind us, I could hear the mother and the son.

"Look mom, look at that girl's hand" he said to his mom. His speech was a little slow. His sister, probably 10 or 11, started to stare. The mom shushed him.

"Mom she only has one hand!" He said with excitement about his discovery. Once again he was shushed. This continued throughout the store. I tried not to get frustrated. It has been SO long since something like this happened. Or at least in my mind, it had been awhile. Bella didn't hear him or his mother. She didn't notice the staring and the boy trying to make his way around things to look at her.

We got to the cheese case. I looked at the boy and his family and smiled. I noticed he had two hearing aids with the magnets that attach to your head, indicitive to me of having cochlear implants. Ah the years of working on that patient unit paid off! Although instead of feeling relieved. I grew more irritated. Had he ever been made fun of for having difficulty hearing? or for having hearing aids? Or difficult speech? Has his mother never had the conversation of not pointing out differences? Or not pointing out others differences? Has he never been in Bella's shoes? Has the mother never dealt with people staring at her son? Or pointing out his difference in public? Did she appreciate questions or hearing the banter followed by shushing?

We continued on our grocery trip, Bella never noticing what was going on mere feet from us. She was enjoying our date our mother daughter time together. We finished up and I hugged her once we got to the car. I kissed her head and thanked her for all of her help with shopping. I told her how I enjoyed our date and our shopping "just the girls". We blasted the Sam Hunt CD in the car on the way home at her request. I would NOT let one child and his mother destroy our happiness. I would NOT draw attention to my daughter in public since she hadn't heard. I would NOT let this once instance steal our joy.

I do wonder in situations like this if I shoud have business cards with the link to our blog. To share our story and our journey. To educate others... I will continue to wonder until I make a decision...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Adios cloth diapers!

We are a tiny bit crunchy hippie at our house in case you didn't know. Today, I washed the last of our cloth diapers and put them away to sell. Unbelievable that we've cloth diapered ALL 3 kids with cloth diapers from nearly birth until they were potty trained... although Luca seems to be riding this lets.not.potty.train.forever bandwagon. We are pretty chill, no 3 day potty training for us, no boot camp or anything like that. We figure they won't go to college in diapers so we'll just ride it out. But we as parents are done with cloth diapering and figure we don't have that much longer to go. We are switching to disposables until he's potty trained. (Here's to hoping that's before high school!)

Let's look back, we've cloth diapered the cheapest way since the start. We used Green Mountain diaper prefolds (super easy and durable!) with thirsties covers and a dry pail. Expense wise, heres the breakdown:

Trash can (for dry pail): $12
Wet bag liners for pail: $30
Wet bags: $30
Prefolds: $250
Diaper covers: $150
Snappis: $10
Diaper wipes aka wash cloths or cut up flannel: $20
Laundry soap: homemade and cheap

Total: $502

$502 for diapering 3 kids. Bella was in cloth from birth to 2 years, she potty trained just before she turned 2. Grayson was in cloth from birth to 3 years. Luca was in cloth from birth until now, which is 2 years and 11 1/2 months. I just googled that the average cost to diaper a child from birth to 2 1/2 is $1677.66. Holy batman! That means to diaper our 3 it would have costed us about $5,032.98. That's insanity! So we've saved over $4000.00!!

I'm proud of us that we made it as long as we did. I'm happy to say that it wasn't as bad as I thought and even my husband would agree. I'm also happy to say that eventually I'll be happy to be done with diapers for good. I'm not sharing this to toot our horn. I'm sharing this to tell you that it's possible. Cloth diapering isn't "hard core" as my husband initially referred to it as pre-diapers. I'm also sharing this to share our homemade soap recipe. It's tried and true for prefolds. I hope this helps one of you or more!

Cloth diaper laundry soap:
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups oxyclean

Mix it all together in a container. Use one tablespoon for small loads and 2 for larger loads.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"I've missed you all weekend"

On Monday evening, Bella had a little breakdown. I've been super sick all weekend, like urgent care and emergency room sick. It hasn't been ideal that's for sure. I came home and went straight to bed Friday afternoon. In between doctors, I was sleeping. I felt like I was neglecting my kids but I couldn't physically keep my eyes open. Thankfully Ryan and I work as a team so while I felt like I was neglecting the kids, he was taking care of every thing.

On Monday evening, when we were tucking everyone in bed, Bella was crying. I curled up in bed and asked her what was going on. She said "I'm just sad, it's was a long weekend and I wanted to spend time with you but you are sick". We talked about how sometimes it stinks that we want things to be a certain way and then they aren't. I told her how sorry I was that I wasn't able to spend more time with her. That I was sorry I was sick, that I was sorry that I wasn't able to spend more time with her. She explained that she knew I was sick and she was sorry that I was sick but that she just wanted to spend some time with me. We talked more about it and we both felt better. She was happy to have me curled in her bed, no matter how sick or how tired I was feeling.

It's times like this that make me think about "mom guilt". Not one single person made me feel bad or guilty for being sick. Not one person made me feel like I should be doing more than just letting my body heal. It was me. It was ME that was giving myself a hard time. I WANTED to keep my eyes open. I WANTED to be to of bed. I WANTED to be spending our long weekend together, playing, baking and making memories. Instead I spent my time sleeping, at urgent care, more sleeping, at another urgent care and then at the emergency room. Kids don't understand that very well. Heck I didn't understand it all. Why do we as parents do this to ourselves? Why do we cause ourself more guilt and frustration than necessary?

From one mom to you, pat yourself on the back. Know that you are doing the very best you can right now in this situation. Know that today may be hard, hell tomorrow may be worse but it will get better. Know that there is a support system around you. I'm here for you. I'm here to listen, to tell you it will all be okay, to tell you that you deserve time for you, that YOU need YOU too!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Switched at birth


I'm currently obsessed with the Netflix show Switched at Birth. Have you seen it? It's about two girls who were switched at birth. One had meningitis and ended up deaf from the medications. It came out in one of the episodes that her mother didn't chose to have cochlear implant surgery for her. The other mother said that she should have done it to give her daughter the best.

My eyes welled up with tears. I wonder if people think that we didn't give Bella the best because we chose not to consider prosthetics for her. I wondered if people judged us for the decision we made. Although, do I care? It does hurt to think that people judge your decisions as a parent for YOUR child. That's the thing though, it happens every.single.day.

Mothers judge other mothers. Did you breastfeed or formula feed? Is breast really best? Do you put your child in a car seat with their coat? Do you feel all organic, all natural? Did you cloth diaper or disposable diaper? Do you use natural baby wash? Do you use fancy, expensive diaper creams and lotions? Did you exercise and eat right during your pregnancy? Did you sit on the couch and eat bon bons? Do you spank? Do time outs? Did your child walk at a year? Did they meet all of their milestones right on time?


Life is hard, motherhood is hard, parenting is hard. In fact, it's the hardest job I've ever had in my entire life. Throw in a child that's a bit different and then see what happens. There's no instruction book. There was no right or wrong way to deal with Bella's limb difference. There's no right or wrong way to deal with Luca trying to sleep with me every.single.night.

In the end, should the mom have done the cochlear implant? Honestly, I think she made the very best decision she could at the time for her child. She did what she thought was best for her daughter. Aren't we all just trying to do what we think or feel is best for our child?



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What have I done?


I'm part of a mom's group on Facebook that I adore. Another mama posted about a show called "Listen to your Mother" and auditions. I instantly thought about Bella and sharing something about our story. There are SO many stories. So I went out on a limb and emailed about auditioning. They emailed me back and gave me a time slot. It's in late February. I'm nervous and excited... besides that, now my brain is freezing. What do I share? What do other people want to hear about? What would educate people about OUR story? What would prompt people to look more into limb differences? What would encourage people to be more accepting of others? To think about their actions? To judge less and love more...

So help me, weigh in! I have time to write our story in a 5 minute time frame. HELP ME!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

When I grow up...


Bella and I have had multiple conversations over the course of the last week about what she wants to be when she grows up. She has brought it up in random conversations. Tonight, while we were sitting in bed reading another Junie B. Jones book, she brought it up again.

"Mom, when I grow up, I'm going to be like Ms. C."

"Really Boo, why's that?"

"Because I want to be just like her and help kids like Shannon" (*name was changed to protect her sweet classmate*)

"Well that's really sweet Bug. I know you would be awesome at that. When I was younger, I really wanted to help other people too. That's why I went to be a nurse."

"Well I really want to help kids like Shannon learn, I want to be Ms. C."

Ms. C. helps Shannon, who is autistic. Shannon has occasional outbursts. Bella loves reading to her even if she doesn't look at Bella or speak back to her. Bella says "She can hear me even if she doesn't look at me or act like she's listening". Bella looks up to Ms. C for the work she does with Shannon. She watches Ms. C do activities with Shannon, interact with her, teach her, play games with her, help her and calm her.

Back to reading Junie B. we went. We finished up reading and then snuggled. I swear, I love this kid. I love all of my kids, not one more than the other. I'm happy to hear Bella gravitating towards kids who are mentally different from her and wanting to help them. I know whatever she choses to be when she grows up, she'll excel. She's hard headed and stubborn. She's strong and loving. She's caring and kind. I'm blessed that she's mine. Whatever she choses to be when she grows up, those people will be blessed to have her too.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Train travel part 2

This would be a LONG post if I wrote it all at once, so I've been breaking it down. Here's the second part of the train travel with kids post. I hope you enjoy it!Did the train novelty wear off fast? Um, yes. I find that any vacation, the journey there and home always seems long. Whether its 2 hours or 12 hours. None of my kids are into trains. They are into vacation J They love going places and exploring. I’m pretty sure they got that from both myself and my husband. We’d rather travel than have new furniture or fancy things. So needless to say, they were excited for going to Kansas City, for exploring, for spending time with family and friends, they were also excited to see what the train was all about. It wore off quickly but we were also on the train for 12 hours, anything gets old after 12 hours!

Was the train really smooth or bumpy? It was pretty smooth unless you walking between cars. In that case, you open the door, then open the second door. That space between the two doors was really rough. There were times when walking that you really needed to hold on to the seats around you. If you were sitting it was no big deal, just like riding a plane.

What did we pack? The question should really be, what didn’t we pack?! No in all honesty, I packed 1 ½ suitcases for the kids and myself, which included diapers and wipes. I have a list of things that I pack each time we go anywhere, call me type A but I’ve never gotten to my destination and needed something.  With 3 kids, I need organization, especially when packing for a 6 day trip! I didn’t get there and have to buy anything because I forgot it. If anyone is interested in my packing list, I'm happy to post it here! I stalked and stalked blogs and pinterest until I came up with a list that works for us. I modify it based off of where we are traveling and HOW we are traveling but it's a general list that we use every.single.time. I've never had to run out and immediately buy something because I forgot to pack it. I guess there are times when my super type A personality really pays off!  

What was in our carry on? Each kid had a backpack, yes even the two year old. So each kid had a backpack and I had my own carry on. I had an adult coloring book and colored pencils (wishful thinking!), a change of clothes for everyone, including myself, medications, a first aid kit, my wallet, chargers and a Tula (baby carrier). Here is what was included in their carryons: A coloring book, 6 crayons, post its,  scotch tape, a few workbooks from the dollar store, kindles for each kid, headphones, a small blanket, a fleece hoodie, tick tack toe, dice, a game sheet, old maid, playing cards, Christmas crafts from Michaels, foam monster sticker crafts, paint chips (the free ones from home dept), a random bag of stickers, a small bag of legos for each child, a Dr Suess book, sleep mask for each kid, two matchbox cars each… Pretty much we packed it all. Honestly, we used nearly everything for the way there or the way back. For kids the ages of our three, it’s important that they are stimulated and occupied. They didn’t play the kindle the entire time and they didn’t watch a movie. Although they could have if they wanted too.

How were the bathrooms? In our car, there were 4 bathrooms. They are ALL downstairs. The stairs are slim and steep. It was a little difficult for my 2 ½ year old during the bumpy ride to get up and down the stairs. He held on to the rails and refused help. I stood in front of him on the way down and behind him on the way up in case he fell. He didn’t. Bella didn’t like the bathrooms. She said “they make me anxious when it’s bumpy”. She held on to the rails in the bathroom. There were 2 smaller plane sized bathrooms. There was one “vanity bathroom” that had a toilet, sink, two stools and a large mirror. The kids liked standing in the vanity area when I was using the restroom. The toilet had a door that closed. Perfect space if you wanted to freshen up. The biggest bathroom had tons of space, we all stood and didn’t have to touch each other. There were changing tables in 2 of the 4 bathrooms.

How were the other passengers? Honestly everyone was really friendly. One of the train attendants, Ben, made a lasting impression on the kids. He joked with them about their stuffed animals being on the train and said “this is a people train, not an animal train”. They thought he was funny. He helped us ONTO the train and OFF of the train. The attendants overall were very helpful and friendly. I felt like I had more help from them then I did from flight attendants when I’ve traveled alone with kids. Many of the passengers commented how the kids were doing or asked about their trip. One even commended my parenting style, I was pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Train travel with kids

This is the first of many blog posts about our train trip from Milwaukee to Kansas City. I hope you'll stick around to see my tips/tricks and failures.I took the train with all three kids, alone, without my husband or any other adult help. We survived. At times it was really fun. At times, we really wanted to be there already. Just like any forms of travel, there are pros and cons. It’s life, there are pros and cons to life people! You take the good with the bad.

(This picture was on our first train from Milwaukee to Chicago, it's a much smaller train and the space is set up different than the longer train from Chicago to Kansas City)


What made you decide to take the train? We compared a lot of different factors, price, time, ease of travel being the top priorities. It was cheapest to drive, however that also means wear and tear on my vehicle and being the only adult in a car with 3 kids, one being a crazy toddler. The other asking “How manutes?” (aka how many minutes) every 30 seconds on just trips around town. That made me panic just thinking about it. Plus pit stops for gas, potential breakdowns (you NEVER know!), safety... Honestly I just didn’t think I could mentally handle it and I thought I would get frustrated driving so long without some help. So I nixed that right away. Flight was WAY out of our price range and taking our 2 year old on an airplane no matter how short, did not sound like fun. He’s a mover and I know it wouldn’t have went well. Factor in security, cost of food, getting food, being stuck in a small space for a few hours and potentially changing places… um not so much. So in came the train… It was just double the cost of driving. No security checkpoints that were mandated (call me crazy but that didn’t freak me out at all), being able to walk around the train, take as much food or drinks on as you wanted, sitting together, free wifi, the same time length as driving, the safety of not driving alone in the middle of nowhere…. It all easily pulled me towards that option.

Price in comparison to other travel? We weighed a lot of different things when we were deciding how to get to KC this time around. One of them being price. The airfare for myself and 3 kids was almost $2000. Not in our price range at all! By car, we spend about $200 for gas, not to mention pit stops for food and what not. On the Amtrak, the kids traveled for half  price with one full price adult. Since there was only one adult, only one child could go half price. I called Amtrak, they told me to book another child at the adult rate and then another child could go half price, which ended up being cheaper than buying two more fares for the full price child rate. There’s also a AAA discount that we were able to utilize for all of us. The price ended up to be just under $500 round trip. 

Wait so you didn’t get a sleeping car? No we didn’t. The reason being is because if we did do that, the price would be the same exact price as flying. I couldn’t justify that.

How long was the trip? It was about 12 hours, give or take. Yes we sat in coach the entire time. The space is GIANT. You can recline the seats much further than if you were on a flight.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Traditions

We JUST got home from a trip to visit family last night... 12 hours on the train, almost a week in Kansas City, 12 hours on the train, sleep, work, gym, school. So needless to say, we were a little late getting going this morning. I opted to let the kids sleep in (which was until 7:45, that's a record for this 5:15 house!) then we got up, got ready and dropped Bella off at school... an hour late. In my mind, visiting with family and coming home the day before was worth it so we could have as much time as possible. Missing one hour of first grade wouldn't make or break her school year.

On our drive to school, I talked about taking down our Christmas tree and decorations. I got a stern "Mom you can take down ALL of the decorations all over the house but NOT the tree and the decorations. Wait for me to come home. One of my FAVORITE traditions is doing the tree all together as a family." Clearly, this was a "tradition" in my Bella Boo's eyes. Not one that I had created or meant to happen, it just has, every year since she was a string bean. To her, it's a tradition that she enjoys and wants to keep going. I promised not to take it down until she and daddy were home. Let's by honest, I have 4 suitcases, a carry on, a lunch bag and 3 backpacks to unpack. Wanna take guesses on how much will get done while the boys nap?

We had a very eventful trip. This was also the kid's first train ride. I have SO much to share about our trip and train ride, tips and tricks, sanity savers, sanity killers... What do YOU want to know about our trip? Have you taken the train before with kids? Have you traveled alone with 3 little ones? There are a bunch of blogs to come and as soon as I upload our pictures, I'll get started.

Do you take your tree down and put it up as a family? Do you decorate for all of the holidays? What traditions do YOUR kids enjoy?

Camp No Limits- Day Two

I swear, each day of Camp No Limits gets better. You never want it to end. What's not to love? There are tons of new friends, some old f...