Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I am Spoiled

I am spoiled. There, I said it. For the first three years I was a mom I felt sorry for myself: "poor me, single mom, being left to fend for myself and my daughter". Like I was the only single parent in the WORLD. But things don't always work out the way you expect. Most of my family had been transferred out of state during my first pregnancy. So there I was, essentially alone, with the exception of one or two family members. But looking back, I didn't have THAT much to complain about. I had an amazing, well-paying job with flexible hours and understanding bosses. And I did have family, even if they weren't in close proximity. And, most importantly, my babies were healthy. Unfortunately, most days all I could focus on was my failed relationship. It didn't even bother me that much to be a single mom, I had always been independent. It was more about the rejection, and now I would have to find the hard way out by myself.

Fast forward five years. I now have LOTS of family around, that help out in every way possible. I still have the same well-paying job with flexible hours and understanding bosses, but now I have the bonus of working from home also. Both of my kids were diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder this year, but that is not stopping us. We also bought a house this year, and my daughter started taking therapeautic horse riding lessons and is in her third year of dance lessons. My kids are still both, essentially, healthy. I. am. spoiled. And I know it.

I love writing, and I write every chance I get in some form or fashion. (Be thankful you only see a portion of it.) I was recently featured on the Autism Speaks blog. I love writing about our journey with Autism. But sometimes I feel guilty. My kids were both diagnosed with "mild" Autism Spectrum Disorder. Meaning, we don't have to live with a lot of the things other families raising children with ASD have to live with. So when my story gets told and theirs doesn't, I feel a tad guilty. And not because I don't think our story should be heard too. But because a lot of other parents and families don't ever get a chance to write their story. For a lot of them, Autism consumes every second of every day of their lives. They're so exhausted by the end of the day that they don't have energy to do anything else. I know families like this, I've seen families like this, I have even had days like this. And I don't know how they feel when they read our story or see our pictures, but I hope that they know that I know what they go through. I know my kids' and my experience with Autism is probably not a tenth as stressful and overwhelming as theirs. We are lucky we don't have many medical expenses due to Autism. We are lucky we are able to attend events and other activities that are so overwhelming for others. Believe me, there are some events we avoid as well. But for the most part, we are lucky. I hope when they read our story, they don't think I am asking for sympathy from anyone, especially them. I hope they know that the reason we attend these events and the reason I write is not only on behalf of my kids, but on behalf of their's too.


2014 Cleveland Walk Now for Autism Speaks

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mommy Has Bad Days Too

One of the hardest things as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum is hearing people say "but he/she seems fine". I just want to say, well they are fine. But they have good days and bad days just like the rest of us. And I have learned which places/activities will help foster good days and happy moods and which things will not. And like any too-busy, overwhelmed, stressed out mother would do, we try to avoid the not-so-happy places. But it has taken me four years to get to where we are now and to give my children the least-stressful, most fulfilling life possible. Chances are, if someone is saying "he/she seems fine", we are in a happy place. So of course my kids are going to be on their best behavior. What those people don't see are the bad days, which seem to be getting fewer and farther between...or maybe I've just gotten used to them. They don't see the tantrums when we go somewhere unexpectedly or when I don't tuck her in the right way or put the right movie in. They don't hear the yelling when I drive a different route to school or when I let her food touch on her plate or when I try to brush her hair or get her ready for school. Luckily, we are overcoming those things one at a time, but when people say "he/she seems fine" it belittles how much progress we've made. It could also be seen as a sign of HOW MUCH progress we've made, and on some days I do look at it as that, but not today. I AM thankful for all of the progress we've made, but I also know how much further we have to go.
If you look closely, you will see Karys in the background against the window. There is nothing wrong with this picture. I have seen Karys do this many times when I visit her school or daycare, and she is probably happy as can be playing by herself with some little plastic toy animal. This is how I usually find her when I visit or pick her up...playing alone. Not participating in the activities that most of the other kids enjoy. Most days this does not bother me. I know this is just part of her personality and it's what she enjoys and she's happy. But today is different. As selfish as it may be, someday I want to see her just sitting at the table painting with the other kids. And loving it. It seems like such a simple thing that most parents probably take for granted, but it would be one of the best days of my life. She loves to paint and draw and she's actually very good at it, but I know the reason she will not participate is because of the social aspect. If I brought out paints at home she would light up. In fact she even asks for the paints if she sees our art bin. So for the people that feel like saying "he/she seems fine" to me or any other parent, please try to remember that you don't see the whole picture. The moments of our lives I share on my social media are the good times, when everyone is smiling. I don't stop my kids in the middle of a tantrum to take their picture. You don't see those times, just as I probably don't see the hard times in your lives. So please don't underestimate our struggle.


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Big One

Well, this post is the big one. Karys and Kai both had their autism evaluations with their Developmental Pediatrician a few weeks ago and they were both diagnosed with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is the diagnosis we were expecting, but it is still such a shock to think that just 1 year ago we had no idea what the past 12 months would hold in store for us. And BOTH of them?! I want to say "what are the odds of that?", but I can tell you...15%. There's a 15% chance that if a child has autism, his/her siblings will also have it. We submitted a swab for genetic testing on Kai to see if it could provide any clues about what is causing the autism. We should have the results in 3-4 weeks and I will give you an update then.

The good news is that the kids are already enrolled in the best possible programs and are receiving the best possible therapy. So all we have to do is keep doing what we're doing. And they are both making a tremendous amount of progress. I can't ask for anything more than that! Kai has picked up 10-15 new words just in the past 2 weeks. It was a tad stressful having them both diagnosed a day apart, but might as well lay it on thick if you're going to lay it on at all, right? I just wanted closure as soon as possible to this first step of our lifelong journey. Now we can officially say we have a diagnosis and we can move forward with our future, whatever that may hold in store for us.

Our first step in the rest of this journey is doing whatever we can to contribute to autism research and helping other families. Karys, Kai, and I, along with other members of my family will be participating in the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio Lace It Face It Walk tomorrow morning! ASNO provides support and resources to individuals with autism and their families across 12 counties in Northwest Ohio. Then next weekend, we will be participating in Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Cleveland and raising money for Autism Speaks. If you would like to join us or make a donation on behalf of our team, our team page is located at

Thank you all for your love and support!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hands Free Mama - Baby Steps

Sometimes you all will just have to listen to me talk about books. At the moment, I am reading Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. I started it several months ago but stopped a couple of chapters in due to the large amount of  guilt that was setting in. I started back where I left off today and I feel like I have a much more positive outlook (and am experiencing a tad less guilt). As Rachel says in the book, "The hopeful part of living Hands Free is not about the past; it is about the critical choices we make today" (@handsfreemama). I have long used the excuse of being a single mom for my addiction to my iPhone. After all, non-single moms have husbands to entertain them, keep them company, and talk to...right? All parents have difficult jobs, but being a single parent is just different. It's lonely. As a single mom, my phone was my outlet to the outside world. When I was stuck in elmo/dirty diaper world, I could pick up my phone and feel like I was somewhere else for a few minutes (or hours). It was my only escape. My smartphone was my social life. Pathetic, I know. Since moving to Ohio and being closer to family, I do have a few more opportunities to engage in a real, non-electronic social life. Although having a two- and four-year old does still limit me.

Social media has started to bore me lately, so instead I have been spending more time writing. While this is a far more productive hobby, I have been growing increasingly aware of how much I have neglected my kids over the past two years. I can sit here and say most of it was done to protect my sanity, as I struggled through a very long period of depression. Also, I had to take a second job for a year or so to make ends meet. But now all of that is over. No more depression and no more second job. So, I have already started putting my phone down more often and playing with my kids. Yes, PLAYING. As in getting down on the floor and actually interacting with them. We play board games, put together puzzles, play cars and dolls and whatever else their little hearts desire. I no longer tell them to go play on their own or with each other or ignore their cries for attention. (At least not as often). I try to remind myself that they will only be little once, and it won't be for long. There will come a day when I long for them to ask me to play with them. "Today my child stands before me wanting, needing, and hoping to be chosen. Tomorrow might be different" (@handsfreemama). I am still not 100% in the habit of this but I am getting better. And I can tell my kids are happier. I want them to have as many great memories of their childhood as I have about mine. I don't remember my parents being glued to their phones or a computer (mostly because we didn't have those things when I was growing up, but still). "Being responsible for someone's childhood is a big deal. We not only create our own memories, but we create our child's memories" (@handsfreemama).

If anyone is interested in reading the book along with me, please feel free to comment on my posts and let me know how it's going! "For the first time in a long time, I was not just managing life, I was living it" (@handsfreemama).


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More, I mean catch up

My last entry didn't quite cover everything my family has been up to over the past six months, so I felt like I needed another paragraph or two to cover the important things.

Most importantly, I want to talk about how much progress the kids have made since we sought out intervention, school, therapy, etc. for each of them. Karys turned 4 this past March. Kai turned 2 on February 29 (or February 28 or March 1...he's a Leap Year baby). Back in November, Karys was evaluated by the public schools here and enrolled in PreK and started regular speech and occupational therapy during school. I cannot brag enough about the Port Clinton public school system and their attention to ALL of their children. They have some of the best practices in place for kids with special needs, and they embrace inclusion whole-heartedly, which is something I feel is very important. Anyway, around the same time Karys started school, I started thinking about Kai and his development. He had recently lost all of his speech (about 5-6 words). Words he had started speaking around 14 months old, he was no longer using. While Karys's speech problems raised a red flag, Kai's speech regression brought forth an entire army in my mind. I started doing MORE research, and evaluating him myself with the online questionnaires. The results of his M-CHAT blind-sided me. Not only was he "highly likely" to be autistic...he scored significantly higher than Karys even. Karys's team at school told me to contact Help Me Grow, which is the state-funded program in place for children under three years old (the public schools handle all children over three). I was JUST starting this whole "autism journey" with my daughter, how in the world did I now find myself doing the same thing with my son??? It just didn't make sense...or seem fair. Despite my hesitations, Help Me Grow and the state of Ohio once again surprised me on all levels and far surpassed all of my very low expectations (and they would have surpassed them even if they'd been at their highest). For once, I couldn't believe how well-prepared our government was and what great, quality programs they had in place to take care of families in our situation. I kept asking, "but it's income based, right?" If I'd learned anything from being middle class my entire life, it was that we're the ones that get screwed. We never qualify for any government assistance, yet we don't quite make enough to pay thousands of dollars for private therapies, doctor appointments, etc. And my health insurance had become basically useless over the past four years thanks to healthcare reform, so I knew I was out of luck there (more on that later if you don't believe me). But I kept getting the same answer: "no".  None of it was income-based. Karys was attending school a year earlier than "typical" kids were allowed, at no charge. And Kai would begin receiving services through Help Me Grow for no charge as well. I was finally grateful for something in this big, huge mess. So, Karys started PreK in November, and Kai started therapy with Help Me Grow in December. Oh, and another bonus of HMG...they come to your HOUSE! I didn't have to shuttle him all around the county or state taking him to all these different appointments!

In the eight months since we started this journey, Karys and Kai have both made more progress than I ever expected. We still have a long way to go, trust me, but progress is progress. One of the services Kai receives through HMG is called the P.L.A.Y.  Project. If you have not heard of it, look it up. It was developed by Dr. Richard Solomon, a Developmental Pediatrician located in Ann Arbor, MI. The P.L.A.Y. Project was EXACTLY what I'd been looking for. I loved everything about it. I started doing more research on Dr. Solomon and realized he was within just a couple hours of our house! I called his office and much to my surprise, he was accepting new patients! Karys and Kai already had appointments scheduled with another developmental pediatrician, but by this point I did not want to settle for anything less than Dr. Solomon himself. He is a powerhouse in the autism field in my opinion and his intervention methods were right in line with what were quickly becoming my own personal "autism-mommy commandments". So, I immediately scheduled appointments for Karys and Kai for August 11 and 12, respectively. It seemed like a lifetime away when I made them back in February, but it is now just a little over a month away. I am both nervous and excited. My kids are already both getting the best possible care they can receive in my opinion, but Dr. Solomon will be able to provide them with an official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder...or not. Either way, it will be the ending of a chapter for us. And, no doubt, the beginning of a new one.


Monday, June 30, 2014

This marks the end of my blog-cation

Well, that was quite an extended blog-cation. I took a break for awhile for multiple reasons: 1) I was second-guessing whether my time spent writing a blog was useful. To me, to others, just in general. 2) I was finishing up my first semester at Bowling Green State University, where I'm pursuing my second Masters degree, this one in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 3) I have been trying to give my kids more of the attention they need and deserve. Which is also why I decided to take the summer semester off from school. So, we are enjoying our first summer on Lake Erie! We don't have a boat nor do we know anyone with a boat, but it is nice to dream about being on one when we drive over the cliffs and see them out on the lake. And my kids enjoy the beach more anyway.

So, what has inspired me to return to blog writing is this: I just finished reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild and I am currently delving into Kim Stagliano's All I Can Handle: I'm no Mother Teresa. I am easily inspired by strong, independent, courageous women who force me to evaluate my life, my flaws, my strengths, my shortcomings, my mistakes, my successes, etc. Wild is now my all-time favorite book; if you haven't read it, I suggest you get up and go buy it right now (after you're done reading my blog entry of course).

Just to play catch up really quick, Karys had her first ever dance recital last weekend and it went off without a hitch. I was so nervous about how she would behave in that situation that I almost pulled her from it altogether and backed out of the whole thing. I completely expected to have to sit with her in the dressing room through the entire dress rehearsal and both nights of the recital. Parents were not allowed in the dressing rooms and there was no way I was willing to let a couple of volunteers who knew nothing of Karys's "behavioral tendencies" to supervise her without guidance. Not to mention she was probably the only dancer who isn't potty trained. So I got special permission from the dance instructor to sit in the dressing room all three nights (meaning I would miss the entire recital). Not to mention I would have to pawn my son off onto my parents all three nights. We showed up to the dressing room on dress rehearsal night and the room was full of girls, toys, and a tiny tv playing Disney movies. Karys went right to playing and watching tv and didn't even acknowledge that I was in the room. I talked to the volunteers about Karys and her needs and they seemed more than okay with taking on the task. So, I decided to go sit in the audience and leave Karys with her 9-year-old cousin, the two volunteers, and about forty other girls. I thought she probably had a better chance of going on-stage when they tell her to than if I tried to drag her out there myself (kids never listen to their parents, right?). To my surprise, when it was time for Karys's class to come on-stage, she followed right along behind them. Secretly, I knew as soon as the lights came on and the music started she would let out a horrendous shriek and run off the stage crying....but she did not! She smiled and watched her cousin (who was standing just off-stage) and copied her every move, doing the entire dance! She was beautiful and charismatic and danced beautifully and I could not have asked for it to go any better. She did the exact same thing the next two nights during the recitals (with the exception of a minor meltdown at intermission on recital night #1 during which another mommy stepped in and comforted Karys and allowed me to escape out of the dressing room). By the end of night #3 I was a happy, proud, stress-free mommy. If only everything were that easy...but then what fun would that be? :)


My beautiful tap dancer at her first recital.

Friday, January 17, 2014

In My Mind: The World Through the Eyes of Autism

This is not going to be a long post. I just had to share this with you all! For one of my assignments this week, I had to find a children's book on Autism, one that would help children understand what Autism is and would teach them that it is okay to be accepting of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As most of you know by now, my daughter and son are both being screened for ASD. I am 99% sure my daughter will receive a diagnosis when she meets with her Developmental Pediatrician this summer (that's the soonest we could get in!). My son, I am not quite as sure about, although he definitely has some developmental delays, particularly with communication and he shows signs of aggression. I wanted to share my assignment with you, so I have posted it below. If you would like to read the book it is available on Kindle and Amazon, among others I'm sure.


I honestly had no books in mind for this assignment! As I am relatively new to this field, I have many books for adults and educators on the subject, but no children's books. After a quick search online, I found In My Mind by Adonya Wong. I was drawn to it because I wanted something from the ASD perspective. As both of my children are undergoing screening for ASD, I am fascinated by how their minds work and I see a lot of the details described in this book in my daughter. The character in the book is a little boy who describes what he sees in his mind, compared to what you (the adult, or educator, or parent, etc.) see him acting out. For example, he describes going on adventures in his mind, as a cowboy, or having great conversations with aliens in outerspace, while the adult simply sees him flailing his arms, or making odd noises and speaking "gibberish". In his mind, he has lots of friends, but on the outside, he appears alone. All of these examples are things I see in my daughter. I used to be confused by her behavior, but I have come to learn there are great, colorful things going on inside her mind that I only wish I could see. I love how the book ends, because it says his world is full of joy and happiness, and the adult can see that too. And, in my opinion, that is really all that matters. 
This would be a great book to use with children to help them understand autism; to show them that, even though it may sound like they are just making noise, or making random gestures, they actually may be exploring and imagining great adventures in their minds and we can join right along with them if we just use our imaginations.
Wong, A. (2008). In My Mind: The World Through the Eyes of Autism. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Just Another Bump in the Road

Okay, today I'm getting back to the "roadblock" post I promised you last week. I am sure this topic will come up A LOT on my blog, since it is part of my family's daily life, so I will try to keep this entry somewhat short.

Let me start here: my daughter, Karys, was born March 11, 2010, and a week later our house sold and we had to move. That experience would end up becoming quite the habit for the two of us. Since she was born, we have moved six times. SIX times in not even FOUR years. The move from Oklahoma to Ohio was our sixth move. As I've said before, moving to Ohio was a BIG decision for me, not because I didn't think it was a good idea, but because it would be yet another change for my kids and me. A BIG change. Good, but BIG.  It took me a year and a half to make the decision. During that year and a half, I slipped into the worst depression of my life. Maybe it was postpartum depression, maybe it was just good ol' regular depression, but whatever you want to call it, it was bad. So I knew I needed to make the move and at least give Ohio a chance. I never dreamed everything would fall into place so easily for us here. My parents are like another set of parents for my kids. They do everything from changing diapers, to shuttling to daycare, babysitting, you name it. We also have my sister and her husband and their three kids, who are entering their pre-teen and teenage years. The support we have here would make anyone ask what the HELL took me so long to decide to move? Well, like I said, I was worried about not providing stability to my kids and that that would somehow affect them negatively. Also, I wanted to give their dad a chance to be a part of their lives before I made such a huge decision that would impact his relationship with the kids (or lack thereof). And I was worried my company would not approve my request to work from home and I would have to look for a new job, which I wasn't ready to do.

Since arriving in Ohio, with me working from home and sharing household responsibilities with my parents, I have had much more free time to spend with my kids. I don't have to waste time getting dressed in the mornings or doing my hair, putting on makeup, dropping off and picking up kids from daycare, commuting to the office and back everyday, etc. With all the attention my kids were getting, certain things started to become apparent to me...particularly with my daughter's development. Of course I had noticed throughout her life that she had never said certain words or phrases other kids her age (and even younger) had already learned. And I noticed that she liked to "read" telephone books, and didn't really play with other children. But she knew her alphabet by 2 1/2 years old and her motor skills were great, so I had always brushed it off. She's just shy or stubborn, or...I ran out of excuses. By the time we moved to Ohio, she was 3 1/2, well beyond the age kids typically start communicating with their parents and peers. She could recite entire movies by heart and even act out every scene! Yet, she never said "mommy, I want  a snack" or "mommy, I'm thirsty", or "mommy, i love you".

I started to express some of my concerns with the kids' previous daycare director. She recommended I call the public schools or Head Start here in Ohio and ask them about developmental screening. So, the next day I picked up the phone. I thought it was a long shot. I thought: public schools aren't helpful! They don't really care! And especially not about a three year old that just moved here from out of state. Boy, was I wrong. The School Psychologist answered the phone, and after I expressed a couple of my concerns with Karys to her, she told me that the school offers developmental screening once a month for all children over three years old and they would be happy to meet with Karys and observe her. We set up an appointment for her and another specialist to come out to our house the next week. I didn't even have to leave the house! This was going far better than I expected, but I still wasn't sure how all of this would turn out. When they showed up to observe Karys, I was pleasantly surprised. They were so sweet and cheerful, and genuinely glad to be there. You could instantly tell this wasn't just a job to them. After the initial observation, we set up several other appointments so Karys could be observed by a Speech/Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, among others. Less than one month after my initial phone call to the school, on November 8, 2013, they had come to a conclusion: Karys showed developmental delays in the areas of communication, socialization, and adaptive skills, and may have some sensory issues as well. I scanned the entire document looking for one word, and finally, I saw it: Autism. It wasn't an official diagnosis, but their observation showed Karys was "highly likely" to have Autism. I can't say I was surprised, but I was in shock. Not because I wasn't expecting it, but because, as a parent, nothing can prepare you for that. And because I was so angry with myself for not trusting my instincts sooner and realizing that all of those "cute" things she did were signs.

The great news is that they placed Karys in one of the PreK classes that very week! I was a little upset that we didn't get to do the traditional "back to school" routine like other families and enroll her in August after her 4th birthday in March, but I did not want her to wait one more second to begin receiving the help and support she needs. She gets all the attention she needs from her teachers, a Speech/Language Pathologist, and an Occupational Therapist right there at the school. That was in November. It is now January and she LOVES school. It is honestly the best thing that could have happened for us at this point in our lives. We are still at the very beginning of this journey, but that "bump in the road" turned out to be a starting line for us. And we are giving it all we have.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hands Free Mama

Ok, I know I said I was going to expand on my last post, but...I lied. At least I'm being honest. ;) I just read a post from Rachel Macy Stafford called The Important Thing About Yelling. <--Click on the link to check it out..I promise you won't regret it. This article REALLY struck home for me...I have been known to have a temper at times. Particularly in the past two years of single mommyhood. I have to admit I lost it on several occasions with my kids. Always on one of my "bad" days that I talked about in my last post. And usually when my son woke up one of many times each and every night of his life (he is still struggling with that actually) or when my daughter was throwing a rare tantrum or refusing to potty train, etc. Being a single mom is NO excuse to be a bad parent, BUT, just to give you the back story, I spent the first year and a half of my son's life in a horrible depression, with very little family around for support, working my usual full-time job, along with another part-time job at home, while the kids went to daycare 40-50 hours a week. I also had to do all the cooking, cleaning, bath time, potty training (or lack of), chauffeuring, bill paying, grocery shopping, errand-running, teeth brushing, yada, yada, yada. If a mother's work is never done, then a single mother's work is...well, I'm sure you can imagine, impossible. I was in survival mode, but looking back, I would probably not even call it surviving. It was hell. It's still not an excuse, but by the time I took care of everything that NEEDED to be done, I had zero time and energy left for my kids...and they suffered for it. I was SO exhausted every single day, that when something went wrong, I couldn't even think of a good way to handle the situation...I just blew up. I'm sure all of the moms out there have lost it at least once on their children. But what I liked about this post was that Rachel talks about how our actions, or reactions, as parents, are being watched...very closely, by the people that are the most important to us in the world. And nothing has ever motivated me more than knowing that my kids are watching...and picturing them growing up to be like me (in those moments of anger) is just unacceptable. I have to admit that things have become IMMENSELY better in the past 5 months, since we moved to Ohio. I am not stressed, or frazzled, or exhausted (to that extent anyway) anymore and I have been able to focus SO much more time and attention on my babies and I think it has been good for all three of us. Add to that the attention they are getting from their grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, whom they barely knew prior, and my kids are finally getting a smidgen of the life I've always felt they deserved but could never give them single-handedly. I am still not as good of a mother as I would like to be, but I'm learning. I think we finally figure out how to be good parents about the time our kids don't need us to be parents anymore. That is just how life works sometimes. But, I will keep doing my research and learning new things and hoping my kids will inherit all of my good traits and forget about all my bad ones! I am excited to read Rachel's book, Hands Free Mama, which I just pre-ordered as I'm writing this! If anyone wants to read it with me, get your copy & comment below or send me an email...I would love to chat about it!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!!!

So, I totally missed my New Year post for the first of the year. There goes my perfect 365 consecutive day streak. I didn't last long. Oh well, who really expected perfection from someone with mommy brain?? I had a rare day off yesterday so I took full advantage and plastered myself to the couch most of the day. I would like to say it's because I was recovering from a wild New Years Eve party the night before, but who am I kidding? I was home by 8pm. That does NOT mean I did not enjoy myself though. My kids had a blast at the downtown Kids NYE party (pic below). They got to dance with Wiley the Walleye (yes, we drop a Walleye here, not a ball), play games, and eat an ungodly amount of sugar...what kid doesn't love that? And I got to come home, put on my PJs, and watch NYE parties on the TV while drinking wine. Sounds like a perfect way to ring in the new year to me! I also tried out a new "green" smoothie yesterday (it was actually orange). While it was definitely not the yummiest, it feels good to try new foods and to drink my fruits & veggies. But just in case you're a glutton for punishment, like me, here's the recipe: 5 carrots, 1 apple, 1/4 cucumber, 1/2 lemon, peeled, and 1 inch of ginger (I recommend 1/2 inch or less because it is STRONG!). I use my little single-serving blender because it's easy to clean & I can be sure I'm only making 1 serving (because no one else in my family will drink my smoothies!). When I'm eating healthy I have to make sure there are the LEAST amount of obstacles in my way (hence the easy-to-clean small blender). Don't ask me why I will shop for, wash, chop & blend all of those fruits & vegetables, but I'm too lazy to clean a blender or juicer. Everyone has their limits, right?

On another note, I have some exciting news! I was accepted into Bowling Green State University last week for THIS Spring!!! Anyone that knows me knows I love school, and while I am probably crazy and am probably biting off WAY more than I can chew, I'm not happy unless I'm challenging my mind. So, I will be taking 8 online classes (some of my credits from OSU transferred) over the next couple of years to receive my M.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorders!! I'm super excited and can't wait to start. I should finish by 2016, but I don't really have a date in mind yet. I'm going to see how this first semester goes and go from there.


My kids and I at the NYE 2014 Walleye Drop