Tag Archives: Learning

A Friday Rise

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

We all fall down sometimes. Unfortunately, when we have kids, they can witness these very falls. Their inquisitive eyes are always watching and learning …

However, we can rest easy knowing that it is not the fall that defines us …

Instead, it is how we rise and get up that matters.

And the best part is that our little loves watch that too.

They watch us become relentlessly stronger and more courageous. They watch beauty come from pain. They watch the greatest healings come from the largest scars. They watch us become warriors. They watch the peace that can come at any part… in, through and after the storm. They watch us trade in our umbrellas and join us in learning to dance in the rain.

We all have our own unique story.

It is the most powerful testimony we each have to share.

So when you fall, remember how strong you are and how much stronger you will become from it. Remember your story and how far you have come. Thank God for that and praise Him for where He is bringing you.

Remember that while these little eyes are watching, they too will learn your strength and bravery. They too will learn to rise just like you.

 

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So be easy on yourself and learn self care and self love. Be kind to yourself. But most importantly, forgive yourself. For trials and brokenness are all over, yet what matters most is what you do with that hurt.

For you will be remembered for your rise above the rest… above the mess. And that is something to be proud of!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Little Big Shots (Part 2)

Waking down the stairs one day, TJ sat with my husband watching television.

My son looked up and shouted out, “Mommy has a big ole butt, say WHAATT!?!?”

😳 Maybe the squats are working … Untitled design (61)

A week later, his dad had to have a little talk with him after this line was repeated to his cioci (Polish for aunt) as well.  Let’s hope he is not using this line at school too…

 

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Oh how kids say the darndest things …

Coffee is Not My Best Friend

I don’t drink coffee.  untitled design (42)

I used to. I used to love it. I use to crave it! But over the years, I learned caffeine and I don’t mix so that bittersweet friendship needed to go…

In middle school, I was tall. In fact, I was almost my exact height now. Five feet six inches at the age of twelve, I was as tall as a few of the boys and towered over most of the other ones including my brother just a year younger than me.

The problem to my “middle school” Jen was that I liked the short boys, but was way too insecure with myself to see that…that was totally okay.. that my height was part of what made me beautiful. I just wasn’t ready to stand tall around anyone…So of course the next best solution at that age was…

“to stunt my growth” so I turned to coffee or so I thought… Untitled design (43).png

(I obviously do not encourage this behavior at all, but can’t help to laugh at myself looking back now. I also wanted bigger breasts and tried some outlandish theories for that too like eating while hanging off my bed ….

I was… untitled design (44)

am upside-down, hot mess and lucky I never choked on anything… but I digress…)

This was where my love of ice coffee and Coffee Coolattas started. I drank them every day throughout high school and college. Then, I shifted to black coffee in my 20s until I discovered a non-fat creamer that I indulged in for way too long. When first pregnant with my son, I tried to give it up but the afternoon migraines were too intense so I would save my cup of Joe for after lunch.

Because of the breastfeeding elimination diet I did for TJ due to his allergies, I could not use my “fat-dairy’ creamer. (apparently no matter how artificial it was, it still contained dairy). 

Then, came my miscarriage a year later which led me to do a three day whole food cleanse where coffee was not allowed…

It was then that I just stopped for what I thought would be a week or two. Soon though, I found myself pregnant with Madison and felt more comfortable sticking to being coffee-free.

Nine months later right on my due date (I have very punctual kids…can’t say that about myself these days… but I digress again ), my daughter arrived. 

During those first hours following her birth, a migraine started and the nurse and doctor both recommended that I drink coffee.   So, I did and sure enough the headache went away but what I didn’t know yet… I was already hooked again.

During those first two months, I found myself waiting for that one cup of coffee as if my day and life depended on it. When I drank it, I could take on anything…. for that hour at least and then

crash!

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Literally, I would crash. It was such a drastic shift in mood and energy level that I decided to challenge myself.   Did I really need this coffee? 

I am always up for a challenge so I took it on. This led to a terrible week of night sweats, exhausted days, and irritability.   It was truly a detox from one cup of coffee…(okay more than 1.5 cups or 2 at this point since my mug kept growing in size. One cup is one cup no matter the size, right?)

Anyways, that is when I finally faced the facts:

If my body had to detox from something like that, it was not meant to be.   

Therefore, I have been coffee free for 2.5 years now and don’t miss it.  I do still love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning though and I still have not given up the wine …. not so sure I will… I mean it’s much more pleasant to embrace the Friday mess of this house…

without feeling the need to clean or do laundry as I sip on a glass of Shiraz…

But once again I digress.

Stay tuned: Read up on some other sources of energy we use coming SOON to a blog near you. 😁)

 

 

You’re a “Dump Truck”

Maybe I’m bias, but TJ has the cutest little voice. No matter what he says I just want to eat him up even if the words are not properly pronounced or if his story about school does not add up.

Likewise, watching and listening to a toddler first gain their voice is amazing and a learning experience in itself, even more than I thought it was…as I recently found out.

My daughter started to speak in sentences way before we remember my son doing so. Or at least, her delivery was much clearer. However, as parents for the first time, we had no idea what was “typical” and what wasn’t. (I say that loosely as no two children are alike.)

Sure, there were times, TJ got frustrated with us when we did not understand fully what he was trying to tell us. But then, we saw how clever he was to figure out how to give us clues to get us to understand.

“Mommy, you know what I mean.   It rhymes with pain and rain, and it is on your head.”

“Oh brain! How clever! Great problem-solving skills!

Plus, as a special education teacher I never wanted to over-analyze my own children when it wasn’t necessary. So we corrected him when needed and even had a good laugh the times that called for it… like the time he called to my brother-in-law,

“Hey! Uncle Frankie, you’re a dumb #$@%!” …

…aka dump truck.
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What a cute, hilarious scene at Christmas that year when TJ was 3.5.

But …

Fast forward to just after Christmas a year later…

when I received his preschool report card. He received all 4s out of 5s except for speaking in full sentences which he did for us. He got a 2!?!?! Then I turned to the back to read the note,

“TJ has a kind heart and is nice to everyone. He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him. I love his art!”

What!?!? “He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him.”

Okay, maybe there was more to this than we knew. After I started to panic, how could we have missed this? Or overlooked it? Did we not read enough books? Would he get picked on or bullied in kindergarten? Did we teach him all wrong? Did we fail him? What other trauma did we cause him? What did I do wrong? And a million other questions….

But then I reminded myself …. breath … pray… breath …

So, I spoke to a close friend at work who works part time at another facility for speech and she calmed me down, suggesting I take him there for an evaluation.   She also mentioned that sometimes problems with eating and speaking are related which got me thinking some more.

A week later, I took TJ to get evaluated and sure enough, he needed speech. Interestingly enough, we learned that some of the problem letters like g and k that were causing him to not be understood were due to lack of muscle strength in his mouth. All related to feeding too!!!

Now, anyone who knows us and knows TJ, knows how we have spent his whole life asking him to chew or eat…. reminding him to chew and eat.

“TJ, what are you eating? TJ, chew your food. TJ, eat. TJ, EEAAATTT!!!!!”

He has always been such a sloooooooooooooooow eater and now we knew part of a reason why….

He mainly uses his front teeth.

So, we had a couple added challenges. But wherever there are problems, there can be solutions as well. Thank God for that!

Therefore, we started using bite blocks and a chewy tube to strengthen his back mouth muscles while also practicing letters and words that he knows how to say but has started to form bad habits with.  This is in addition to speech/feeding class thirty minutes a week.

So while our dining room table now has even more clutter on it with our speech tools and worksheets on it, at least we won’t let any dump trucks trip us up anymore.

Some Days Just Stink

Every January people ring in the New Year with high hopes of it being the break-through year of dreams taking off and miracles happening. And this past January 1st was just the same. I believed the great blessings that this year would bring as soon as the clock struck midnight. While I had tried to stay awake, I had only made it to 11:41 pm.

Hmmm… maybe my lack of endurance had been to blame for what soon happened…

Anyways, I woke up that first day with anything but a restored attitude. Instead, every ounce of my body struggled to get out of bed as I woke up with a massive headache. We had been with our friends and their kids the night before so maybe the two drinks I had gave me a headache? How could I be hung over? Wow, maybe my age was really catching up to me.

Still, I pressed on as parents do… cooking and straightening up, packing and prepping for the upcoming school week after being off for winter break. It was brutal. I told myself I would watch my former student and his Kentucky football team in the Citrus Bowl as I wrote and prepared this blog. However, I found myself freezing under covers watching the game with a heating pad along my spine and my eyes fighting to stay awake.

Soon enough, when the aches began, the thermometer told me different story, a 101 fever! Great! It was the first day of the year …the first day for a restored attitude …

and I could not work out because I felt so terrible…

I could not write (I always started mornings off by praying and writing)…

I could not spend time with my kids…

could not have a romantic evening with my husband…

I could not even eat…

I was not productive…

I just laid around and waited for bedtime.

The virus passed quickly as usual since I had worked hard in building up my immune system after having the kids. Now, I was back at school still not feeling like myself, but functioning and sweating actually more than I would like to admit. I was trying not to feel discouraged. We had so much to look forward to…

My husband had a potential new job offer much closer to home…

My daughter was finally getting to try straight cow’s milk with our allergist the following week …

TJ’s annual blood work for allergy levels would be back soon and for the past two years they had dropped significantly for eggs and dairy…

So much to look forward to! So much to praise God for… just around the corner…

If we could just get to the corner, everything would be okay…

Then the next week came and my husband Timmy took our daughter to try cow’s milk with her doctor. I had it planned out; since I was working until late we would go to church the following day to go to the alter and praise God for the outgrown allergy, a tradition we had done for all of the other food challenges TJ and Madison had passed and allergies they had outgrown. I mean she already ate chicken francaise, Hersey kisses, pizza, baked products, a bunch of items with cow’s milk in it, there was no doubt in our minds that she wouldn’t pass…

until that exact thing happened.

She didn’t pass….

…after just one drop, her mouth got red and itchy. We would have to try again in August…

Then, TJ’s annual results got back and they had stayed pretty much the same. The same!?! I believed… we believed they would drop drastically again…

To make matters worse, Timmy still had no news on the job offer that was given over a month ago.   They had been negotiating back and forth … until finally it fell through …

Jen, breath, it’s all just around the corner.  Just not yet….

 

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And then I read TJ’s report card: “He has a kind heart. Sometimes, he gets frustrated because his friends don’t understand him. I love his art work!”

WHAT!?!?!? Great sandwiching of the comments … but why was this the first time I was hearing about this. Sure, we noticed certain sounds were lacking like tr and k but he was our first, we had no idea what was typical and what wasn’t. As a special education teacher, I tried my hardest to not overanalyze and diagnose my own children.  Maybe, I was wrong…maybe I should have asked…

Guilt and frustration were having a field day…

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So I lost it. 2019, what were you trying to do to me? It had only been a week, but bad news after bad news plus the pile up of responsibilities on my plate at school, built up for a meltdown.

I started to think …
What a “great” year this is going to be?
Now what… will this year bring?
Can we restart?

And even something I totally had wrong:

What had I done wrong?

Then, as I stopped myself to pray. These words spoke to my heart…

“Be present and stay patient in prayer.”

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

It was the time to start declaring the year was going to be one of blessings.  It was not time to be fooled by a bad day, week, month or season. It was certainly not the time to stand around and wait to enjoy “the right now.”

The whole time when I was waiting for the perfect news to praise God and to declare how blessed we were, I had it all wrong.

It’s not about waiting for the thunder to pass …

it’s not about waiting for the good news…

it’s not about waiting for the prayer to be answered ….

the allergy to be cured … the money to come…

It’s about seeing the beauty of the storm itself.

It’s about accepting that some days, some weeks, some seasons just stink, and

that. is. okay.

But what is not okay is believing that those days and storms will always be. Instead, it was believing and knowing that they all have their purpose. That they do transform us into who we are called to be… into our best selves … and for that we can genuinely smile through it, knowing storms do eventually run out of rain.

So get those rain boots on and walk proudly through those puddles. Find laughter through all seasons. Embrace the storm as you learn to dance in the rain, even if it tracks in some mud along the way. 

 

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To 2019… even though we got off on the wrong foot, every day is new chance to start over and for that … we are just getting started!

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm...” – Mark 4:39

Little Big Shots (Part 1)

Walking into the new orthodontist office, the kids were entertained by two giant fish tanks. That was until, the doctor walked into the open-concept room filled with several other patients and introduced himself. As he shook my hand, he sat in his chair at eye level to my children.

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TJ, aka my handsome, but loud-talking son, walked right up to his balding head and shouted, “What happened to all your hair?”

 

Luckily, he made a joke back to explain as the other people in the room tried to contain their laughter.

And we chatted on the way home about what not to say to people … until the next time of course!

 

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Oh how kids say the darndest things …

Tbt – What’s the Verdict Today? – Playing Detective

Having a young child is a blessing. It’s a miracle. It’s amazing. Truly incredible!  And truly mind-blowing confusing sometimes…

Colds, vaccinations, fussy periods, developmental phases, sleeping issues, picky eating, hunger strikes, and the list goes on and on. Once we figure out how to best handle one issue, we are welcomed by yet another situation, oops I meant, learning experience.

These little guys and gals like to keep things interesting for sure!

cryING BABY

And for some of us, food allergies, eczema and other conditions are thrown into the mix of variables.


With or without food allergies, I have found myself playing detective with my husband, trying to determine the root of a fussy moment, day, or phase aka endless month!

SEARCHING

Is it the start of a cold or virus?

Is it an ear infection?

Is it a reaction to a shot? Lord knows there’s a ton of vaccinations in those first years.

Is it a stomach ache?

Wait, why does he have a stomach ache?

Is it that he isn’t getting enough breast milk or formula? Is he hungry?

Maybe it is a growth spurt?

Oh wait, maybe he ate too much?

Is it “just a phase?”

Is it teething?

Is it a wonder week? Yes, I totally believe in them.

Is it sleep regression?

Are we using the wrong method of feeding? Of sleep training? Of parenting? Are we even parenting yet?

Did I put the diaper on wrong or uncomfortably?

Is it his clothing? The detergent?

Is it an allergic reaction? Is it an environmental factor? A new food allergy? An issue of cross contamination? Cross-reactivity? Our dog?

Is it something we don’t even know about yet? 

Quick, let’s search on google….(You know you’ve done it!)

DETECTIVE 2


On today’s Tbt, let’s reflect back to a few of these incidences.

1) When my son was just weeks old, we experienced one of our first scares. After giving him a bath, he started to make a strange wheezing noise.  We panicked! We called our pediatrician’s office and spoke to the urgent care staff since it was a Saturday night. They instructed us to take him to the emergency room.  It turned out to be nothing but probably a reaction to being cold. We were relieved and felt slightly silly for “overreacting.” But, I believe overcautious is better than any regret after the fact.

What was the verdict? – Being cold +being a newborn that will sometimes make silly, random noises + being worried first-time parents doing a better job than we thought + sleep deprivation

2) At 4 months, my son stopped sleeping through the night for almost a month.  For three weeks, we lost more than our sleep, we lost our minds coming up with different theories and trying out different solutions.

What was the verdict? – Teething + a wonder week/developmental leap + 4 month sleep regression + transitioning to the crib

3) Red rashes and hives on Saturday and Sunday mornings from October to December.  This was before we knew my son was allergic to anything.  While it wasn’t every morning after, looking back at it, it happened often after I ate cheese pizza.

What was the verdict? – Milk Allergy (Food allergies)

4) An overall eczema flare up happened in April. In addition to this, my son’s lip would get red when eating apples. Like that wasn’t confusing enough,  it was also accompanied by a nursing strike which also added a whole other level of emotions and required even more time pumping. We started to worry.  Was he allergic to apples now? He couldn’t be allergic to apples. He had eaten them safely every day for months. Right? Teething again? Early molars at 11 months? Ahhhhh…..

What was the verdict? – A virus causing his body to react strangely to apples for a week + seasonal allergies + cross-reactivity with pollen + sure enough, teething of the first two molars


These are just four of the many, many, MANY confusing moments, days, or phases.  Looking back at them today has made me smile, knowing that we have learned so much throughout these times. It’s funny how even some of the most stressful times in life can bring us joy and knowledge when they become memories.

After my little guy’s initial allergic reaction, the most difficult thing to do as detective mom and dad was to distinguish an allergic reaction from cold symptoms or even teething. We are on guard all the time with food and even with skin contact. Despite the difficulty, I have been reminded that every baby…every toddler…every person is different. Therefore, with the guidance of your doctors of course, it is important to become the expert of your child or children.

BABY

For example in the course of these 17 months we have learned the following about my son:

  • When teething, his eczema flares up and he may even get some random hives. Teething also causes his lip to get irritated when he eats berries even though he is not allergic to them. Actually, teething causes a lot of drama over here from eczema flare ups to barely eating.
  • Sometimes, seasonal allergies will cause his skin to react to different foods even though he is not allergic to them.   Apples and bananas have both had times of irritating his lip. We just take a brief break from them during these times.
  • Right before my son is going to get sick, his skin has a day of being almost completely clear of any eczema.The first time this happened we were ecstatic, thinking that maybe he had outgrown it.  Wishful thinking… It usually lasts a day then gets so much worse as the cold or infection emerges.
  • Most viruses and infections also cause my son’s skin to become more irritated.  In addition to that, some of these viruses cause his lip to get irritated by apples and bananas.
  • And we continue to learn much more every day…

Although I find this added confusion to be one of the more difficult parts of food allergies, we have accepted it and already learned so much from it. Therefore, the final verdict is that even with its challenges, this journey of motherhood is truly amazing, so we smile on…

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