Wednesday, August 2, 2017

BIG News for the K's!!

It's been awhile! Take that as a sign that we have had a LOT going on in our lives. And I mean a LOT. As you know, the kids and I moved from Oklahoma to Ohio in 2013 to be closer to my parents. The kids' dad (my ex) stayed behind. But as of January of this year, after 4 years of separation, he decided to make the move to Ohio to be closer to the kids. So now we're the K's+J (sort of). I have to say, it has gone better than I expected. But it was definitely a life-changing move for all of us. As luck would have it, he and I have both grown up quite a bit from our 20-something selves. Thank God.

I'm not going to be posting much on specifics of him, or our past relationship, to respect his privacy. But, I will be posting some on co-parenting, what it means for our family and how we do it. From the outside, we've been making it look pretty easy (I think). It's not. It's been a lot of really, really hard work, which I'm kind of impressed we both attempted. We attended about 3 months worth of counseling together to get us through the transition. Sometimes it's good to have a third party there to confirm neither of you is crazy (or that one or both of you are!). At least all the cards are out on the table.

We also survived a season of him coaching our daughter's soccer team. He is an extremely talented player and coach, and is amazing with kids. Our daughter, on the other hand, could not wait for the season to be over so she could get on with her life (the love-for-soccer gene was not passed down to her evidently).

In June, we took the kids to Hocking Hills State Park for four days. IT WAS AMAZING. It was also a wake-up call to me (and him I think) that we need to take more vacations and spend as much time outdoors as possible. The kids went ziplining, we went canoeing, hiking, and stayed in a perfect cabin with a hot tub (and two bedrooms). We have vowed to take more adventures like that as a family, since it is nearly impossible to consider either of us taking both kids on trips like that alone.

If you had asked me even a year ago if blogging on co-parenting would ever be something I could add to my repertoire, I would have said you were crazy. But life has a way of smacking us upside the head and surprising us with the totally unexpected.

I'm not really sure what the future holds or if this positive co-parenting moment will last forever. But I do know that I am enjoying it right now. We all are.

Love, k.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The least I can do

I haven't written anything in awhile. I've been busy. And I found my happy place. I feel like no one reads these kind of blogs to see how great someone else's life is going, right? They want to feel like someone is right there with them, in the throws of life, fighting with everything they have. I did that. For a really long time. So trust me, I know the feeling. But I have spent 4 years now writing, reading, doing yoga, finding a good therapist. I have spent 4 years being single and doing nothing but finding myself. I recently started a nonprofit with some friends of mine to serve children with disabilities. It feels right. Everything feels right. I hope you get there soon too, if you're not already. I really do.

I wanted to write this post because I just read an article on inclusion and why it's important for EVERYONE to understand disabilities, not just the children, parents and families that have to live with them. I am so glad that our society is moving in the direction of inclusion. I feel like we are finally starting to get it right. It is no coincidence that the name we came up with for our new nonprofit is Pathway Inclusion Center. It embodies everything I feel is important and everything that needed addressed in our community, and probably in most other communities as well. We wanted to create a place for children with or without disabilities to attend daycare, after-school programs, summer camps, therapy, and play TOGETHER. There is no reason why all of those services cannot be offered under one roof to simplify transportation and save time for parents.

Personally, my children are both doing great and making tremendous gains. Everytime I turn around they are learning something new, their speech is improving, and they are learning how to control their emotions better than ever before. They have learned how to transition from one activity to another and deal with unexpected surprises or changes in routine or schedule. I am so proud of their progress, I really am. But I feel guilty for even ever mentioning it on social media or to friends. Because I know other children on the spectrum that are not progressing as quickly or at all. They may have multiple diagnoses and therefore dealing with something else entirely. But I still find myself wanting to reach out to them and say, it's ok. We're still here for you. I'm still here for you. I am not pouring myself into Pathway Inclusion Center just for the sake of my children. I'm doing it for all the families. I remember vividly the days when my son's speech regressed and I feared he would never speak again. I remember vividly the days when my daughter got upset if I took a different route to school than usual. We had to use a picture schedule every single day to prepare her for things. She rarely connected with other children, other than her brother. I remember all of that and I remember the fear I felt for the unknown. Would they ever graduate high school? Would they ever be in a relationship? Have a family? I was unsure of everything. I am now fairly certain they will go on to do all of those things, if they choose. And that's all any parent really wants. For their child(ren) to be able to choose. Everyone should have that opportunity. But the sad truth is that some will not have a choice. Some parents will have to go on caring for their children long after the age of 18 or 22. I don't know what to say to make that seem less scary. Other than, there are those of us that are here to offer you our help. My home is always open to the families out there that need a day off once in awhile. My children will always be taught to make friends with and show compassion for other children with disabilities. Even if those children cannot talk to them, don't look them in the eye, or play with them.

We still have our struggles, but my kids have adjusted well to many situations I never would have thought possible. People still say to me they don't know how I manage being a single mother, let alone a single mother to two children on the Autism spectrum. For one, I get a LOT of help from my parents. They are rockstars. But what gives me the strength and attitude I have acquired is seeing other families struggle and knowing that could still be me. Sure I have poured myself into my kids the past 3 years and sought out the right books, doctors and therapists, etc. But other families do the same thing, for longer, and don't get the same results. I know that has to be frustrating. You feel powerless when you can't help your children. I have felt that many times before.

I am not a doctor. I can't heal the world. But what I can do is connect parents and families with the resources they need to help their children to the best of their ability. And let them know that they are not alone. That's the least I can do.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

13 Things Moms Can Do to Feel More Rockstar-ish

I know so many moms who are going through rough times right now, stressed to the max, feeling overwhelmed, lost, (even some of my married friends). They all know I have been there myself and I will tell you these are some of the things that have gotten me to a better place:

1. Yoga (first thing you do everyday, or most days, in front of a window, I recommend Tone It Up (YouTube).

2. Deep Focus playlist on Spotify (listen to it during yoga, while your working, doing homework, meditating, etc.).

3. Find a job that pays you enough to live the life you want. If the one you have right now doesn't, keep looking. 

4. Buy a house half the price of what you think you can afford.

5. Let someone babysit your kids once every two weeks or so, even if it costs you $20-40.

6. Read something everyday (I alternate between self-help & novels).

7. Find a group of friends (or just one friend) and schedule dinner at least once a month (preferably at a winery!)

8. Find a good therapist. They're worth the money. 

9. Watch tv/Netflix/a movie (not the news!) after you put your kids to bed, even if it's just 30 minutes & even if you're tired.

10. Take your kids on play dates so you and the other mom(s) can see that you're not the only one being driven crazy.

11. Write. Keep a journal or start a blog. It doesn't matter if anyone else reads it. It's for you. If you don't express your feelings in a healthy way, you will keep feeling the way you're feeling.

12. Be selfish sometimes. Even if you feel guilty doing something for yourself, you will be a better mother/wife/person after you take care of yourself! 

13. Keep being a rockstar. Regardless of how you feel sometimes, you ARE rocking it. 🤘🏼

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Moms: Go Out and Find Yourself

This one is for the moms...the overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, overly attentive, guilt-ridden moms. You know who you are. You do everything for everyone and then some. You leave little, if any, time in your day to take care of yourself. And even if you had the extra time, you're so accustomed to doing everything for everyone else that you wouldn't know what to do with the extra time. I cannot count how many mothers I have encountered recently who have told me they are being stretched as far as they can go. They are tired, frustrated, lost, and at their wit's end. They don't feel like they can function one more day at the pace they've been going. I'm here to help with that.

This is not just for autism moms, or working moms, or stay-at-home moms. This is for ALL moms. I've been where you are right now. Not just once, but many times, and for extended periods (2+ years at the very least). I gave birth to my daughter (my oldest) in a room with my mother, grandmother, and two very best friends. It was one of the darkest, yet best, days of my life. I raised my daughter by myself until she was nine months old. Her father and I got back together and a year later, I was pregnant with my son. When I was seven months pregnant, I found myself single yet again. I have raised both of them by myself ever since. Believe me when I tell you, it was not easy. And by not easy, I mean nearly impossible. When I used to think of single moms, I thought "I'm sure that's kinda hard." Wow, did I underestimate just how hard it would be. I had no idea. I was at my lowest point when my son was just under a year old. I was exhausted, sleep-deprived, lonely, depressed, anxious, distraught. You name it, I probably went through it at one point or another. I think I had post-partum depression, but how could I really distinguish that from everything else I was feeling?? It was all a blur. The bad news is that I have very few good memories of the first few years of my children's lives. I was operating in survival mode. My memories are vague. I remember crying a lot; not exactly how I pictured becoming a mother. I won't go into receiving my kids' autism diagnoses when they were two and four years old.  That was an entirely different adjustment.

However, the good news is that all of that is in the past and I have moved on. This year I took it upon myself to get healthy. And not in a physical way (although I recommend that too). I started seeing a therapist. I found a primary care physician for the first time in 5+  years. I started on minimal medication. I started doing yoga and meditating regularly. I started reading self-help books (about things other than being a mom). I started going out with friends occasionally. I bought a guitar. Do I plan on going on tour anytime soon? Of course not, but it's something I've always loved so I am letting myself indulge in seemingly silly things sometimes. I can tell you right now that if I can get myself to a mentally healthy place, you can too. You just have to start setting some time aside for yourself to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Believe me, when you achieve this, you will be able to take much better care of your family. So find a hobby, schedule a night out with your friends once a month, go get a massage or your hair done, get your finances in order, put your kids to bed an hour earlier so you can watch what you want to watch on Netflix, take up that hobby you've always been dying to do (even if you think it will not lead to anything). There are so many ways to take care of yourself and to give yourself that feeling of hope and independence you once had. Just because we become moms does not mean you should lose sight of yourself entirely. Because one day our kids will be grown. And when that day comes, you need to know who you are. So go out and find yourself.

These resources might help you as much as they've helped me:
Mindsight by Daniel Siegel

Monday, November 30, 2015


Two weeks ago, I attended OCALICON for the second consecutive year. For those of you that don't know, OCALI is the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence and they have an annual conference in Columbus every November. I'm a nerd for research conferences and it was great to attend this year with great friends. Last year I went not knowing a single person, but so much has changed in the past year and I've made so many great friends and professionals in the autism community. There were lots of great presentations to choose from this year, so I packed as much as I could in over the three days.

There were a few reoccurring themes throughout the conference that stuck out to me. Some of the hot topics included: interoception, emotion regulation, UDL, anxiety, and peer-mediated intervention and instruction (PMII). I picked up a couple of great new books: Uniquely Human by Barry Prizant, PhD. and Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System by Kelly Mahler. Another book I'm planning on ordering is Kindergarten and ASD: How to Get the Best Possible Experience for your Child by Margaret Oliver. A few of my favorite presentations included Social Emotional Engagement Within a Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom by Emily Rubin, Uniquely Human by Barry Prizant, Self-Regulation Techniques from the Perspective of a Young Adult by my friend, Chloe Rothschild, Teaching Emotional Regulation: Essential Skills for Students with ASD by Lori Jackson, The Kindergarten Transition: How to Advocate for a Smart Start for the Child with ASD by Margaret Oliver, and Complexities Within Diagnosis and Treatment: Exploring Anxiety and ASD by Szanto, Gonda, Loudon, and Perren.

A few good apps I came across during the conference were KidConnect by The Connections Model, LLC ($11.99). It is designed for students with ASD as well as individuals with other behavior/regulation issues. It helps individuals understand their behavior by pairing the behavior with the underlying cause: their feelings. It is used to prevent kids from having to leave the classroom to work through their behaviors. LOVE this idea. Another great app is MindShift. MindShift (free) allows you to set up a personalized plan to help manage your anxiety and learn coping skills. The third app I learned about at OCALICON this year was the Therapeutic Listening app by Vital Links.

I'm sure I will be posting several more times on specific topics from OCALICON so stay tuned!

My friend, Chloe, and I.

Timocco - Virtual-motion, Therapy Games

I recently attended OCALICON and, while there, I stopped at the Timocco booth. I had heard of Timocco before, but it was great to meet Eran and Jayne and learn more about Timocco. This is a fantastic, interactive product for anyone looking to improve their fine or gross motor skills or just looking to have some fun! My son loves Timocco and it holds his attention while keeping him on his feet. I have attached some videos of him playing Timocco so they would all be in one place. Feel free to ask me any questions about using Timocco or contact the staff at Timocco. They are awesome!

Kai playing Falling Fruit

Kai playing Order Up

Kai playing What's Next?

Monday, September 21, 2015

My Two Superheroes

Back in June, a friend of mine informed me of an awareness walk being held in September at the Toledo Zoo, hosted by NWO Apraxia Support. We had already registered for an awareness walk with another organization for that same day so I did not think we would be able to do both. But the NWO Apraxia Support Family Fun Day & Awareness Walk sounded too good to miss. So I made the decision to change our plans and we registered. Fast forward to this past weekend.

My parents, myself, and my two superheroes attended the NWO Apraxia Support Family Fun Day & Awareness Walk on Saturday and my kids were treated like absolute superheroes. This organization recognized 93 superheroes, which includes children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and other invisible disabilities (Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Anxiety, ADHD, etc.). They provided these superheroes with capes, medals, thousands of dollars worth of  donated therapy items, and a visit from the Toledo Police Department SWAT Team (dressed as superheroes). Included in the cost of registration were also t-shirts, lunch, admission to the Toledo Zoo, carousel ride, etc. There was also a live auction, a silent auction, and a DJ.


Needless to say, I am now a proud supporter of NWO Apraxia Support, and you should be too. This is one of the few organizations out there that provides practical, tangible, needed support to families. They also have a grant program, which provides families with funds to supplement therapies, treatments, activities or equipment. Most of the items provided for the auctions and to the superheroes were donated by equally awesome organizations. A big shout out to those donors for contributing to the day. To see a list of the sponsors, click here.

Saturday was a day my kids and I will never forget. After everything they've been through, they deserve to be treated like superheroes. Thank you, NWO Apraxia Support, for making that a reality.