Category Archives: Family

Our brains are fabulous!

I know, I get excited about books all the time. But this one had me learning about the brain in an easy way! Neat-o!

TheWholeBrainChild_NYT.cover_small

The Whole Brain Child was one of two books by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson recommended to me for help with parenting a child struggling with anxiety. I suspect they will also help with the one with autism, too, and probably the youngest as well. (Yes, a lot going on here!)

I looked forward to reading each chapter and learning more about how the brain works. It reminded me of taking an online course a few years ago on the topic, but this book was even easier to follow and gave a lot of stories to explain how it all looks in real life situations. I also loved the strategies at the end of the chapters to put the knowledge into practice, as well as the ways to explain to children the concepts the parents have just learned. Brilliant concept to get children involved in the process of understanding their brains too!

Pick this book up for yourself, or grab the ebook as I did. It’s worth a little of your time and maybe then we can gab about how cool it is! 🙂

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Finding my stride in this season of life

To Do ListFor the past five years, the end of October is either when I’m dreaming up story ideas that I hope will last for an entire novel’s worth of scribblings, or panicking because I don’t have any ideas yet. This time around, I’ve got other things on the go and have made no commitment to the November mad dash of writing. I do think I might have more time for ficton writing, journaling and/or blogging soon, if I want it, but it’s come after some stressful times determining how to arrange my personal and family schedules.

Why am I hopeful now, rather than just accepting that being stressed out is my lot as both mother and part-time student? I can see a way through this! And Alex getting a cold has something to do with that.

Wait a sec. Alex being sick is helpful? In what universe is that possible?

This one. Hear me out a minute… When Alex gets a cold, we stay home more often and keep our germs to ourselves. He may try to imitate his brothers and me in many ways, but he’s still a “cough on everything” kid and is just learning about wiping his nose for himself (and then he doesn’t always dispose of the tissue, but carries it to someone else). So, it’s best for everyone if we just avoid other preschoolers, the elderly, anyone who doesn’t want to be a germ carrier like him, etc.

And I have enjoyed the week. Yep. Sure, the novelty will wear off, but I don’t feel cooped up as yet, plus I’ve had time to catch up and consider that a week like this more often would give me room to breathe in my schedule.

Cue springing into action, while planning less action… What if I didn’t fill up my schedule with so many weekly activities? What if some were every two weeks instead? Alternating a couple of them, perhaps, so I’m “running around town” less mornings or evenings per week?

And then I started thinking about how I do use my mornings at home. It’s no surprise to immediate family members when I declare that I’m a morning person, since they might remember that I used to be the one solving jigsaw puzzles or reading books before everyone else was awake. (Christmas was one exception where I had company in the early hours.) As an adult, I’ve learned that this means that my peak energy is in the morning. I should stack my schedule in such a way that the most important things get done then, not later when my energy (and probably motivation as well) is waning.

So why have I been cleaning house or running errands soon after Tim and Ben leave for school? What if the best use of my time were actually to dig into schoolwork soon after they left? This morning I took it one step further and used a free section of time to do the day’s Bible study while Tim and Ben were still home, done their school preparation and having a little playtime. That’s exactly the sort of activity I should be doing when I’ve got a few minutes to spare in the morning, not tidying up or thinking about loads of laundry. Those tasks are great, but they don’t make the best use of my brain at the time when it’s the most awake and ready to work! Let’s face it, housework is not rocket science and it can be done on autopilot some days. In fact, it’s a great break activity when my noodle is tired of adding information into it.

As I write this, I realise that there are also other ways I can arrange my evenings, and I should have thought of that a bit more before parking myself on the couch to blog… I can’t get everything right in one day, though, and there’s no school for the older kids tomorrow, so I can give myself a bit more time to iron out the details of this shift in scheduling.

And that’s probably my final point for this particular post. “Finding my stride” doesn’t have to mean getting everything in order overnight; it can be a process instead, where I learn what isn’t working and start to fix it, or suspect there’s a better way and I’d like to give it a go a step at a time. It’s a little like my experiments lately with using oats instead of wheat in my baking – it’s not perfect right away, but I’ll keep trying until I really like what’s happening!

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As the year winds down…

2015

So much has happened in 2015 that I’m not sure I could manage a simple summary post if I tried. Those who know some of the details may not be interested in a rehash, anyway. 😉

Suffice it to say, I have gone from unhappily married and trapped, to single and learning to define who I am. Apologies to all who may have been confused and annoyed by me as I define the boundaries in my personal life – not having established proper boundaries for many years, if at all, I’m finding it to be a bit of a messy business. Thanks to all who understand that the important part is that I’m comfortable with what I decide.

I am very proud of my children at the end of this year, as they have adjusted well to the changes and are learning many good lessons about life and themselves. Together we grow stronger and determine how we want to be treated by those around us. There will be more growth ahead in other ways as we consult with doctors and look for strategies to help each one develop in a healthy manner. If you’ve spent much time with Tim or Ben, you may not be surprised to learn that I am already beginning to implement advice found at the Autism Speaks website. Why wait for an official diagnosis if the suggestions and tips will work for us in the meantime?

I’m full of hope and determination as I face 2016’s arrival. I have come far already, and can face whatever lies ahead. I’m sure there will be a lot of good moments to celebrate, and the tough ones will remind me to be grateful for what I have… And, as I usually tend to promise, I hope to blog more often in the next year! 🙂

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Ben is 6!

The years are passing quickly, but the fun and wonder of growing never ends. 🙂 I’m hoping to get Ben to pose for a picture later with his 1 yr photo (as it’s currently on display inside one of our snowglobes). He doesn’t usually stay still for the camera, though…

 

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How I Knew When to Leave

Disclaimer: I could change the gender in the following post to include both men and women as being the abused, but I can’t speak for men with certainty since I haven’t interviewed any men about those experiences. I will therefore speak from a woman’s perspective of being abused by a man. I do hope that there will be more articles written from the male perspective in the near future, to bring awareness to abuse being a human issue, not limited to one gender.

The reasons an abused woman stays are myriad. But how does she know when to leave? When does she say “Enough is enough” and realise that it will only get worse if she stays?

For me, there was a definite downhill direction in the relationship, but I was in the marriage for the long haul. I promised to be with him for life and I meant it. Mentions of divorce or separation in the midst of our disagreements came from him, designed (I now believe) to make me desperate enough to agree that the issues at hand were my fault alone.

In my reading of marriage blogs and material that I hoped would make me a better spouse and life-partner (which I thought would create a ripple effect and soften him over the years) I did read many times something along these lines: “We’re not trying to say that you should stay in an abusive marriage when we talk about always being committed to your vows. If you’re being abused, get out.” The problem there was that the definition I had for abuse was pretty much limited to hitting and yelling. Since he didn’t smack me around and rarely yelled, I didn’t see that I was, in fact, being abused. I certainly knew I wasn’t happy, yet I didn’t know what to do about it.

But one night – after a ridiculous fight and an evening of being ignored because a) we had disagreed in the first place, and b) I hadn’t ended it by saying he was right and I was so, so sorry for the whole thing – I found myself looking at lists pertaining to emotionally abusive behaviours. And it all became clear.

I do think I might have been unsure of the next course of action had I not also read about the impact on the abused person. I saw myself in that particular list, of course, but I saw my oldest son too and finally recognised that my children were suffering.

I knew when to leave because I was faced with protecting my children from future years of abuse. I knew they could not, and should not, be subject to any more without long-lasting repercussions. Yes, I saved myself from a toxic relationship, but it was a mother’s love that gave me the courage to do so.

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Happy birthday, Alex!

An entire year has passed since Alex joined our family! It’s amazing how much a baby develops in his first year, from total dependence for everything to playing with toys, feeding himself, crawling and cruising plus learning to fall asleep on his own.

Alex now has eight teeth. He also dealt with an ear infection in January, so there was a lot of need for comforting and less independent play than usual. There have been good times in the past month, though, and he’s developed a fondness for the “noisy toys” in his collection. (And I can sing along with them fairly well now that I’ve heard the tunes so often.)

Coming soon for this little guy: his first haircut! (Usually just a trim when they’re so young, to straighten out near the ears and at the neck.)

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Alex is 11 months old!

Alex has gained another tooth in the past month (just before Christmas Day, as I suspected might happen) and he discovered the “dropping game,” where he drops all sorts of objects just because. Sometimes he even says “bm” for “boom”! Very cute, though I do appreciate it more when he’s dropping little toys and not food or his cup… He’s starting to pass toys and food as well, like he wants to share but doesn’t quite understand the process since he often takes the item back before you can grab it.

He loves to sit up on the couch like a big kid, but that is done sparingly and with very close supervision because I keep thinking he’ll pitch forward as if leaving the couch or chair head-first is the thing to do! I’ll be relieved when he understands how to dismount correctly. Hopefully he learns that before he really gets a love of climbing.

His favourite toy right now is a parking garage with ramp and elevator. He can drop toys down the elevator, watch cars go down the spiral ramp, and the entire garage offers enough resistance that he uses it as a walking tool. (Actual walking toys move too quickly with their light weight plus wheels that move easily – and our laminate flooring likely doesn’t help – so he’s not a fan of those yet.)

I’m excited to see what the next month will bring for development, and I can’t wait to see him tear into some cake for his first birthday! 🙂

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