If You’re Overwhelmed, You’re Not Alone

I’m having one of those days where time is short and it’s moving much faster than I am! I’m feeling behind and a bit overwhelmed. My boys were wild this morning and it took every ounce of strength I had (and then some) to keep it together. 

I stood in the laundry room and tried to imagine there wasn’t that huge pile of clothes to be sorted and put away. And I wondered who else might be doing this same thing. I wonder how many mamas are staring at their tasks, while children run wild circles around them and feel like they are vanishing, sinking unseen beneath the demands of time, dishes, laundry, family, and special needs parenting. 

So when the piles of laundry stiffen on top of your machine . . . 

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You’re not alone.

When toys are scattered and so are you . . . 

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You’re not alone. 

When your kids are screaming and you want to too . . . 

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You’re not alone.

When your heart could burst with both frustration and love . . . 

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You’re not alone.

I find on days like these, it’s hard to see progress. I am often blind to the fact that sometimes tasks left undone are signs of more important things being accomplished.

So I’m going to slow things down this afternoon and see if my eyes can’t be opened to the good things. Maybe I’ll get to some tasks and maybe they will wait for another day.

But when I see good things, I’m going to give thanks for the piles of laundry and dishes in the sink and all the signs that maybe, just maybe, that might mean I’m spending my little time on the precious things that matter. 

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Sensory Diet for Two Kids

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What do you do when both of your children have sensory processing difficulties and need a sensory diet implemented each day? Both of my sons have Sensory Processing Disorder. Both need a sensory diet each day, or, a prescribed set of activities to stimulate (or calm) their sensory systems.

This has been difficult to do because their needs are very different. While my first son needs a lot of input into his body to stay calm (sensory seeker) my younger son needs a lot of input into his body to wake it up (sensory avoider). I struggle to find activities they can do together since their needs differ and their age difference makes it tricky. This has been especially difficult this winter being cooped up in the house! 

I find that if I do the sensory activities in the morning, they tend to be calmer, happier, and more focused throughout the day. So, how do we fit this in? Here’s what I’ve been doing recently.

I used to let my kids watch a short TV show or two after breakfast so I could get a shower and plan their sensory activities. I realized that wasn’t working for us because they would never want to switch from TV to “therapy time” as I call it. Who would, right? I also found that trying to do therapy time first with both boys wasn’t working either! I wasn’t able to get dressed and ready for the day. Either way I felt like we would end up struggling through the morning and not accomplishing anything! So, I decided to make TV work for us! Just FYI, what follows might seem completely obvious you and I apologize if it seems overly simplistic. With that, here’s what we do . . . 

I let them each pick a show to watch at different times. While one is watching their 30 minute show, I do therapy time with the other. Then we switch. My youngest, Little Man, is a lot more flexible so he usually gets to watch his show first while I work with big brother, LIttle Dude. He is more willing to transition from TV to therapy and then back again. Then when that show ends, I switch and work with Little Man. 

When they are both finished with therapy time, I let them relax with a final short TV choice together, usually a nature video. This allows me to quick grab a shower and plan the rest of the day’s activities. While I don’t love the idea of my kids watching an hour of TV in the morning, I feel it is working for our schedule. The boys both get one-on-one time and focused attention from me and it gives me the structure to meet their sensory needs each day.

This is also the only TV I let them watch all day. In the evening I try to encourage them to build things together with blocks or legos but may allow them some computer or iPad time if they are playing educational games. Our favorite games or apps work on executive functioning, social skills, fine motor skills, or academic skills. 

I have found that the therapy time we put in at home is so important and I have been realizing lately how much my children benefit from that time set aside to work one on one with them. We aren’t able to do this every day. But I make it a priority to give my boys those sensory activities in a structured way at least three to four times a week. I do the best I can for them and leave the results in God’s hands. I trust Him to take what I can give and multiply the effects in my children’s lives. 

I realize this post is practical information but it gives you a glimpse into our lives! I am hoping once the weather warms up a little we can plan for more activity outside so we can ditch TV altogether! 

I’d love to hear how any of you make it work for your families! 

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Fluffy Paleo Biscuits

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You want to eat these right? Imagine them with a piping hot bowl of chunky soup. Or maybe  some gravy. No, an egg and ham for breakfast! Whatever your craving – these were a hit with my boys.

I wanted the flakiness of a pasty dough so I adapted the pie crust recipe from Danielle Walker at Against All Grain. Definitely check out her blog Against All Grain by clicking here.

Here is my recipe:

FLUFFY PALEO BISCUITS – yields about a dozen biscuits

2 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour

1 TBSP of coconut flour

1 large cold egg plus one cold egg white

5 tsp of ice water

2-3 tsp honey

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp sea salt

3 1/2 TBSP of palm shortening

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Place all ingredients except the palm shortening in the food processor with the  “s” blade attachment. Blend well.

3. Cut small balls of shortening into the processor distributing them evenly around the bowl. Then pulse until just combined.

4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and mold it into a ball. Coat it with a thin layer of coconut flour and place the ball into a small glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator about 20 minutes.

5. Place the ball onto a silicone mat or a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment over the ball and roll the dough out to about 1″ thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out out biscuits. Use a flat knife or pie server to carefully place the biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden on the edges. Serve immediately or freeze once cool and reheat as needed. Enjoy!

*Make sure the biscuits have good height of about 1″ or more before baking or else they will turn into cookies.

White Bean Lemon Poppy Seed Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is truly delicious! It is the consistency of pound cake and the flavor is fresh and delightful! This recipe is adapted from the Grain Free Coffee Cake recipe from The Spunky Coconut blog. You can see the link to the original recipe here. The original recipe is also, amazing!

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Wet Ingredients:
2 cups cooked organic white beans (I used navy beans)
6 large organic eggs
1/3 cup organic honey
2 tbsp melted ghee
1 tbsp lemon infused olive oil
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp lemon extract
Juice of ½ an organic lemon

Dry Ingredients:
1/3 cup coconut flour
¼ organic blonde cane sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt

Additives:
2 tbsp organic poppy seeds
Finely grated zest from 2 organic lemons

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8 coffee cake pan or a low 10 inch tube pan (this is what I used) with coconut oil and set aside.

First, blend all the wet ingredients in a vitamix or high powered blender. Next, add dry ingredients and blend. It gets very thick at this point so you might need to use a tamper or an immersion blender to blend completely. Then fold in poppy seeds and lemon zest and combine well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Optional filling:
Mix in fresh blueberries

Optional Topping:
Create a glaze with 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar and 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice and sprinkle coconut flakes or lemon zest on the top.

Not So Typical Mom

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I’m not your typical mom. I always thought I would be. On my journey of motherhood God decided in his wisdom to give me one incredible boy with ASD and one incredible boy with motor delays and well, our family can seem a little quirky.  

Here are some of the ways that I am reminded that we do things a little differently. See if you can relate!

When school asks us to bring in milk cartons and shoe boxes for a project I have to borrow an empty milk carton from a neighbors recycling (being dairy free we don’t have many of those lying around) and I have to borrow a shoebox from my mom because I buy all my boys clothes resale. 

On baking days at my son’s school I’m the mom sending in organic beet juice so he won’t touch the red food coloring. 

We bring our own food everywhere we go. I often receive crazy looks when people put out the fruit snacks and apple juice and I say, “My son can’t have that.”

While other moms at the park are telling their kids not to climb the slide, I am praising them for it and am thrilled they are trying something new and, also cheering inside because it’s great heavy work activity and I know it’ll calm them down later!

I have an enormous trampoline ball pit in my family room for the boys during these winter months where we can’t get out much. And I’m okay with it. Most of the time. It’s a little deflated in this picture.

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On our counter is an enormous box of vitamins and supplements, all of which, my son takes on a daily basis. He is such a trooper. I feel like I spend a lot of my life sorting pills. We recently stopped 2 of these things so that makes life easier right?

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We don’t have many “normal” toys. Think scooters, plasma cars, chewy sticks, weighted toys, and therapy balls. This picture is kind of blurry!

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I have no idea what shows or songs are popular or what celebrities are doing or what  is going on in the news. But I can tell you a lot about autism, OT, ABA, Speech, special diets, fermented foods, etc.

Sometimes I watch typically developing kids interact with their parents and something within me aches. And to me, it seems unnatural, even though it’s what everyone else would say is natural but has not always come as naturally to us. And when my sons interact with me in sweet ways, I choke back tears of hope and joy. I’m hoping someone out there will understand this. 

I love my life and my boys. I’ll be honest. There are days when it just feels hard. It’s hard to see the parts of my children that are typical from the parts that aren’t so typical sometimes. I confess, I have days (even seasons) where I let it get to me more than I want it to. I’m learning that for me to live it well I have to constantly engage in the process of embracing what is and letting go of what isn’t. And thanking God not just for the good but for the hard parts of each day that remind me daily that raising special needs kids takes a whole lot of courage. 

So for those of you who can relate to any of this, you are not alone my friend. There are those of us who are on a slightly different route in parenting too. I’m glad to be traveling with you brave souls.

– Amy