May 16, 2017

Life Lately

It's been almost two weeks since my last post and ironically, that post was about how I'm handling my anxiety. Now here I am in some kind of funk. I hate taking blog breaks, but I just didn't have anything worth posting.

Please forgive me as today is just going to be a completely random life update with no order to it whatsoever.

Let's start with Mother's Day because I feel like there's some blogger rule that you have to share about your Mother's Day. Mine was low key and pretty much like any other Sunday. While I was getting Kase dressed in the morning he said, "No school today? I stay home?" It kind of broke my heart, but I was really happy I could tell him yes, you get to stay home with mommy and daddy today. He loves his "school" and his therapists, but the sweet boy needed a day off. I can't blame him! Kyla and I went out and did some shopping, which was really nice. After dinner we all hopped in the van and went out for some ice cream. It was the first time Kenley got her own ice cream and not just a bite of her brother or sister's so she thought she was pretty cool. And in true #bloggerfail fashion, I didn't take a picture of this momentous occasion.

Although I'm not proud to admit it, it was one of those weekends where I felt really, really sad. I was wishing we could do something, go somewhere, get a family picture like everyone else in social media world. Don't get me wrong, we could have done something or gone somewhere. But it would have been really hard. And a hard, stressful time wasn't really what I was hoping for. Remember how I told you once in awhile that jealousy comes creeping back? Yeah, that happened.

Like I said, I'm not proud of having those feelings, but it's reality. We all have bad days, right? I've snapped out of it and am having a great week so far!

Yesterday the weather was beautiful and Kenley and I had so much fun together. It was another reminder of how lucky I am to be home with her every day.

Let's see, what else is going on...

We are (not so) patiently waiting to hear if Kase gets accepted into the school district that Kyla is in. We should find out in a couple weeks. I really hope it's just an easy "yes" because if not, we're in for some big decisions.

Kyla and I leave next week for my cousin's wedding in Colorado. I've been busy getting everything ready and making way too many to-do lists. Tyler will be staying home with Kase and Kenley. It was going to be way too stressful (and expensive) for us all to go. I'm the matron of honor and Kyla is a flower girl. I want to be able to focus on my cousin and being there for her, which means I wouldn't be much help to Tyler with the kids. Plus Kase would miss several days of therapy, which would have had a big impact on his awesome progress lately. We all agreed that this was best. Plus they're having a reception back here in September so we can all go to that.

Speaking of Kase and his progress, he is doing so well right now. Transitions in and out of both clinics are going well, he's cruising through different programs they are working on with him, he's compliant, interacting with peers (although this continues to be one of his biggest weaknesses), and doing great with his feeding program. His team has been digging deeper into his feeding issues and found that he's definitely lacking some oral skills that kids have at this age. He doesn't know how to move food around in his mouth correctly. Also, he has some real sensory issues with certain foods and textures. It's been hard to know what is attention seeking and what is truly hard for him. It's nice to get some professional advice and have a plan on how we can help him.

Some new foods that he's eating - grapes, strawberries, pretzels, goldfish, yogurt & applesauce in cups with a spoon (he used to only eat them out of the pouches), string cheese, chicken nuggets, toast, apples, fruit snacks, graham crackers. All of these things he would not touch a couple weeks ago. He's doing awesome at the clinic so now we are working on getting him to eat these foods at home too. He thinks at home he can still always have his pop tarts and chips. We will give him a choice of two things that we know he's been eating at therapy and he will choose one. We don't deprive him of pop tarts and chips, but he doesn't get them for every meal/snack like he would prefer. We document everything, like they do at therapy, so we can start to see which items are preferred. Eventually we will be able to tell what things he doesn't like because it's okay to not like foods. This week they are starting carrots, summer sausage, hot dogs and waffles. Yesterday he did awesome. Tyler picked him up at the end of the day and he said Kase's therapist was so excited to share how he did. For lunch he ate a whole piece of toast with butter, applesauce in a cup (he's had a hard time using a spoon, but is doing great with it!), grapes and chips. During the actual feeding therapy he ate 6 bites of string cheese, 8 bites of carrots, 1 whole chicken nugget and 2 bites of the sausage. She said he seemed to really like the carrots. Yay!

We're trying to get a few things in different food groups, but keeping them pretty kid friendly. He has a hard time when foods have different textures. For example, he has had some oranges, but they noticed that he had a really hard time with the chewy stuff, the stringy stuff and the juice that all come with one bite of an orange. He also has a hard time with apple slices that have the skin on them. He will chew the skin for several minutes and just not know what to do with it. All of this just takes more practice and therapy, but for now, they want to focus on foods that, for the most part, just have one texture and taste.

Kyla only has a couple weeks left of school. She is sad because she LOVES her teacher, but she's excited for summer and I'm excited to have her home! Kenley is going to love having her here every day too! She is starting softball soon and has a volleyball camp with the Badgers in a couple weeks. She's also doing two summer school classes for a couple weeks, just for fun. I'm sure the summer is going to fly by and soon we will have a 1st grader!

Kenley continues to make us laugh on a daily basis. She reminds me so much of Kyla when she was this age. So sweet, but so much sass and a little temper for good measure. She's still a great eater. She loves to sing in the van and knows way too many words to the Trolls songs. She knows her basic colors and is starting to sing her abc's a little bit. She still loves to color and take baths. I'm excited to see how she will like Uncle Mark's pool this summer.

This ended up being way longer than I anticipated so thanks for reading until the end. We're supposed to have a high of 86 today so we're going to get outside this morning before it gets too hot!

May 3, 2017

Dealing With Anxiety

Disclaimer - This post is a little personal, but it's part of my journey and I am not ashamed of it. Since I started sharing our story on this blog and on Facebook, I have had so many people reach out to me and thank me for being open and honest. I get messages on a weekly basis from people telling me that they can relate to something I wrote. It was one specific message I got last week that helped me decide to share this.

It's no secret that 2016 was a hard year for me. I'm not going to go into a ton of detail because it's honestly really hard to explain. I guess it's just that the autism diagnosis was still very new, the in-home therapy was extremely stressful, we were dealing with insurance headaches and I often just felt extremely overwhelmed. I worried about everything (still do). I worried about the future. I had an insane amount of guilt. Guilt about the autism. Guilt that our family couldn't go out and do a lot of things that we'd like to. Guilt for my girls and what they were missing out on. I was having a hard time with the day to day struggles that come along with autism - the behaviors, the extreme food issues that made mealtimes stressful for everyone. It all consumed me.

In August of 2016, after fighting it for too long, I decided to go to my doctor and talk to her about it. She prescribed me with an anxiety medication that I could take just when I felt like I needed it because we agreed that I didn't need something every day. For the first few months I would take it once or twice a week on the days when I felt like I was drowning from the worry and stress. There were days when I'd get home from picking the kids up after school and therapy and we'd still have a couple hours before Tyler would be home from work and I would think to myself, "How am I going to make it until bedtime?" I would feel myself losing patience with my kids and I hated that. Although I didn't feel a dramatic difference after taking the medication, I would make it to bedtime and think to myself, "I did it!" So although I didn't really feel different after taking it, I believe it helped me get through those tough few hours.

After the holidays, I found myself taking it less, maybe twice a month. I track in my planner which days I take it so I can look back and see exactly when I took it and what was going on those days. Looking back now, I didn't take it at all in April (or May so far). I got thinking about it and I have to believe the fact that I'm exercising more and completed the 30 miles in 30 days with Erin isn't just a coincidence. I mean it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that exercising is good for you, not only physically but mentally as well. I didn't realize it as the month was going on, but now looking back, I think it played a big role. I'm also going to the gym once in awhile (hopefully will start to be more now that my wrist is feeling better).

There are a couple other things that I think are contributing to me feeling better lately. Kase is doing well at therapy and his team is amazing. I don't have to stress every day and worry if we're doing what's best for him. I am 100% certain that where he's at now is the absolute best thing for him.

Erin and I decided to take a break from our Etsy shop. We are both busy moms and it was going from being a fun outlet for us both to being too stressful.

My brother recently started his second new business and I am helping him part time. I'm really excited about this. Being a stay at home mom is a huge blessing for our family. When Kyla was 2 1/2 and Kase was 1, I went back to teaching 3rd grade because I thought it was time. It didn't take long for me to realize that my kids needed me at home and this is where I'm meant to be right now. With that being said, being home every day is hard in a totally different way. I love it and I'm grateful, but having this part time work with my brother is having a very positive effect on my life. It's hard to explain and may sound silly, but I feel part of something, part of a team. I feel like I'm contributing (in a small way right now). It also gives my mind a break from all the worries that go along with being a special needs mom. I'm very thankful for my brother for trusting me and giving me this opportunity.

I don't like taking medications, which is why I fought going to the doctor for so long. But there came a point where I had to admit that I needed some help. And that was okay.

I'm not saying I won't ever need the medication again because I just don't know. I have good days and bad days. However, I do feel like I have turned a huge corner in 2017. I feel like I spent last year grieving and feeling sad that our life may not be exactly what I had planned. I definitely still have my moments where I let jealousy or guilt or worry take over, but it's MUCH less than it used to be.

I apologize if this post was all over the place. I started writing this last week and finally decided to hit the publish button this morning. This blog is like therapy for me a lot of times. I'm not sure who reads it, but I always feel better after I publish a post. Dealing with anxiety is just a small part of my journey and talking about it is one way that helps me keep it under control.

Thanks for reading!

May 2, 2017

Boy's Summer Clothing Haul {Carter's}

I recently bought Kase some clothes for this summer and thought I'd share what I got. All the shorts and shirts were either $6 or $7 and then I had a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase.

I only buy shorts and pants with the elastic band. With him being newly potty trained, we like for him to be able to be completely independent going to the bathroom. We will tackle buckles and zippers later!

He is in size 5 right now. Carter's has 5T, 5 and then 6. He can still wear some 5T stuff and other stuff he has outgrown. There isn't a huge difference between 5T and 5, but 6 would be too big so I went with 5 for this stuff, which should fit him through the summer.

I love little tank tops in the summer. This was the only one they had, but I will be getting a few more because I just love seeing his cute little arms! :)

I usually shop at Target, Old Navy and Carter's for my kids. Sometimes Gymboree when they have sales and I have coupons. Where do you all shop for kids clothes? Leave me a comment and let me know! :)

April 28, 2017

April Favorites

Some of my favorite blog posts and YouTube videos are ones where people share their favorite things. For the most part, I am not loyal to one certain brand or product so I enjoy seeing what other people are loving so I can try new things.

My April favorites might just be the most random assortment of things you've ever seen, but they're all things we've been enjoying so I thought I'd share!

Home Decor - I love decorating our house for every holiday, but there's just something very calming about going back to the neutral, every day decor. Everything on this little table is from Hobby Lobby.

Trolls Soundtrack - There are so many fun songs on this CD and it's been a nice break from Moana! :)

Snuggle the Baby book - Kenley got this for her birthday and it's so cute. It's interactive so you feed, change and swaddle the baby. Then there's a baby to take out of the book and then put to bed at the end. Kyla and Kenley both really love this book.
Original Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow - I complained about my cheap pillows for way too long. I had a couple people suggest these bamboo pillows so one day after a terrible night of sleep I pulled the trigger and ordered two. So far Tyler and I are happy with these. I think I need to take a little of the stuffing out, but I just haven't taken the time to do that yet.
Let's Learn Disposable Placemats - Kenley loves to eat so I figured at the table was the best place to teach her things. These stick to the table and are super easy to remove. I don't keep them on the table all the time, but when I do use them I will sometimes leave them on there for a few days. Kyla loves to test Kenley and see which colors she knows.

Counting Bears with Cups - I blogged about these in November 2012 when Kyla was not quite two, but she loved them. It was fun going back and reading that post. Kenley loves them just as much and I still think everyone should have these. They are great for learning colors, counting, sorting, patterns and also a great tool to work on cleaning up!

Lately I have been giving Kenley just two colors to see if she can sort them into the correct cups. She ends up getting bored of that and always asks for the rest of the colors.

Lastly, because I was eating one while typing this post, Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs - I know they make these for almost every holiday, but the eggs for Easter are just SO good. Thank you Easter Bunny for bringing extra for me this year!

If you missed my March favorites you can read about those here.

April 27, 2017

Speech & Occupational Therapy Progress

To answer a question I got on my Facebook page, Kase goes to his ABA clinic every day (Monday through Friday) and a different clinic for speech and occupational therapy on Wednesday's and Saturday's.

I think the last time I talked about speech and OT was this post when Kase was having a hard time with transitions out of the clinic. After that happened, his lead therapist from his ABA clinic came and met me at the other clinic to observe and help with the pick up. The same thing happened that day where he tried running out the front door. Thankfully she was there and stopped him and then helped him out to the van. After that day, I talked to his occupational therapist about what we do at the other clinic and we developed a plan.

Before, she would stand there and tell me about his session and those few minutes were just too much for him. They are working on teaching him how to wait, but he's just not there yet and it's not something we should be expecting of him right now. So when I go in to pick him up, his therapist is holding his hand as they greet me, I grab his other hand and we all walk out together (exactly what we do at his ABA clinic). He doesn't have a chance to run away or fall down and he knows what's expected of him. I'm very thankful that she was willing to do this. It has made a huge difference in the last few weeks. Instead of them telling me then how his session went, they email Tyler and I after his sessions on Wednesday's and Saturday's. With his behavior before, I couldn't even focus on what they were telling me so this is a million times better. I'm very happy they have been so flexible and accommodating.

Besides the improvements with the transitions, he's doing much better during the sessions as well. I wanted to share the email we got yesterday from his team. I copied and pasted it, just removed their names. It kind of gives you a sense of what they work on and what challenges they've had in the past.

Hi Amy and Tyler,

Kase had a FANTASTIC day with both K and I! 

Here's K's notes on her session: 
"Kase had a great speech session today! We started in the sensory space for 10 minutes. I kept foreshadowing that when the timer went off, we would put our shoes on and go to a new room for a game. Right when the timer went off, Kase went to put his shoes on! We transitioned to a room with a table (with Kase initially falling on the floor) but he was able to try again and walk back to the door and then to the table without falling the second try. Kase then sat at the table for 15 minutes playing the game Zingo. We targeted matching, yes/no questions ("Did you get a tiger?"), increased language by saying various statements (" I got a _____," "I see a ______," "The ______ goes on top"), and targeted prepositions such as on top, next to, above, under/below."

In OT, Kase transitioned into the bathroom and completed the entire bathroom routine (from toileting to hand washing to transitioning back to the treatment space) without falling on the floor and with only a few verbal cues for what was next! He did a great job taking turns with me on a swing. I used "first...then" language with him a lot today, which he seems to be understanding and following through with more and more. For example, I would say "First push me 2 times, then it's your turn." He followed those directions without crying or eloping to a different activity 4/5 times we did this. He also was showing increasing willingness to participate in fine motor activities and games today. We played one familiar game and with one new toy. Kase did a great job of following my instructions to form a pincer grasp (holding a small object between his thumb and index finger) during the game. I'll have a hand out for you on Saturday with some "heavy work" activities for Kase to try at home to get out some of that energy and receive the input his body needs!

Overall K and I have noticed less climbing on undesirable items, an increase in Kase's ability and willingness to follow directions, and willingness to engage in new games with less tearfulness and resistance! His transitions within the clinic space have gotten easier, less falling and more following us instead of running to another space. We've seen improvements in following "first...then..." directions and willingness to engage in adult lead activities. K and I are having a blast working with Kase and your family and feel encouraged by the progress that we have seen!

You have no idea how awesome it feels to read emails like these. I'm so, SO proud of him!

AND a smile for the camera? I am one lucky Mama! :)

April 26, 2017

{Autism Awareness} Softball Game & Autism Society Walk

My mom is a softball coach for my hometown team so a few months ago we decided to do an autism awareness game in April and raise some money for our local Autism Society. My mom knew a coach from another team who has a son with autism so she thought he might be interested in participating. He was thrilled to be a part of it and his son actually sang the national anthem, which was my favorite part of the night. He did such a great job!

We sold t-shirts, bracelets and raffle tickets ahead of time. We had several generous people in the community donate items for the raffles and then we also sold raffle tickets at the game. They put their tickets in the prize they wanted to win and then at the end of the game we drew a name for each prize. Also at the game we had concessions and baked goods for sale, with all proceeds going to the Autism Society.

We got very lucky with some nice weather! The teams wore autism awareness shirts and one of the parents donated the awesome socks for the girls to wear.

Grandma/Coach and Kase ready to play ball!
Together, we raised $2,294.65!

I'm still amazed at the support our little community has shown. On Sunday I proudly handed over that money to our local Autism Society. Their organization does great things for families like ours and every penny of that will stay local.

This past Sunday we did an autism walk put on by the Autism Society. We had a team of about 30 of our family and friends. Kase's therapists had a team there too so it was nice seeing all of them and our family could see all of Kase's "pals" as he calls them. We brought stuff for a picnic lunch after the walk and there was a playground for the kids to play. It was a perfect day!

This is our awesome nephew Trey. He loves his Uncle Tyler!

I know I say it a lot, but we truly do have such an amazing support system. We have a lot of people in our lives who love us and would do anything for Kase. I was talking to one of his therapists at the walk and she said she already knew Kase was well loved, but she said it was really great to see so many people there for him that day. We are very blessed!

April 21, 2017

{Autism Awareness} Ask Me Anything!

Two years ago at this time I was not thinking about Autism Awareness month. To be honest, I'm not even sure if I knew April was Autism Awareness month. At that point, we knew Kase was delayed in his speech, but we still kept telling ourselves that Kyla was a late talker too. It was around this time two years ago that I started noticing his arm flapping was getting more frequent, but autism still wasn't really in my mind. As an elementary school teacher I knew a little bit about autism, but I never could have predicted then that Kase would be diagnosed five months later.

Fast forward to today and obviously I have learned a lot. I am passionate about continuing to learn and, as you all know, am passionate about sharing our story. I am going to a two day autism conference next week and I'm really excited. I will share more about that later!

Today I want to open my blog up to all of you. When talking to people I can sometimes sense that they want to ask questions, but aren't sure how to ask. There is some debate in the autism community on whether April should be autism awareness month or autism acceptance month. In my opinion, it doesn't matter. What matters is that people are talking about it. What matters is that people feel comfortable sharing stories and asking questions. I know it can be a sensitive topic. It took me a few months after Kase was diagnosed to be able to talk about it. But we can't have awareness or acceptance if we all just ignore it.

So with all that being said, what question(s) do you have for me? I would love to answer them! They can be about autism in general, about Kase, or not about autism at all. It sometimes feels like autism consumes our lives, but there's a lot more to our family! :)

Leave a comment here or on my Facebook or Instagram where I will also be posting this. Or if you don't feel comfortable leaving a comment, feel free to email me ( I will do a blog post next week sometime answering all of your questions.

I hope you all have a great weekend and as always, thank you for following along and being so supportive!