Monday, August 26, 2013


Someone shared a great article from the Ensign about raising resilient children by Lyle J Burrup on Facebook.  I can't help but notice it says he's from LDS Family Services which is who we went through when we adopted Emme.  They are big on Love and Logic and usually have a video going about parenting with Love and Logic going in the waiting room when we have appointments.  It's been a while since I read the book, but what I gathered from it is to let you child make choices and have the consequences follow naturally whether good or bad.  It's also a lot about giving your child choices at an early age.  It really is great, and makes a lot of sense.  It is well worth your time to read.

There are many people out there that believe the whole hands off approach is leading to wimpy whiny bratty kids.  I believe the opposite.  Why?  Because I'm obsessed with  observing families.  Families in all stages of life.  Don't worry if you know me personally I'm not judging I'm learning!  Something Maggie Stevens from Parent Fix recommends and did her self is to observe other parents.

For example, there was a family in one of my wards that had THE greatest kids.  I'm still friends with them today and yes, they are still THE best kids.  Two are currently LDS missionaries, one is happily married and due with a baby any day, and two are amazing happy teenagers.  I was a leader to four of them.  It freaks me out how old they are getting, but I love to watch the good choices they are making in their lives.  You better believe I watch their parents like a hawk.  They are awesome.

One of the big things I have noticed is how they let their kids make their own choices and they help and talk them through it.  They do not run a dictatorship in other words they are not controlling.  I also know that they started this at a very young age.

Their kids also know how to work.  They were always the first to volunteer to help with whatever was needed without being asked.  Even if it was only to say a prayer in class.  They shared stories about working in the garden with their parents and getting into a mushy tomato fight that their parents started.  Hilarious!

Finally, but not lastly, they are resilient!  This family shared about how one Christmas their dad didn't have a job.  These parents could have maxed out credit cards to provide great presents for their kids, thinking it wasn't fair to them to go without, but they didn't.  They sat their kids down and explained Christmas would be small as far as presents go, but that this gave them an opportunity to observe the true meaning of Christmas and to spend time with each other.  I'm sure they asked about suggestions from the kids as to what they wanted to do.  I believe they ended up buying a family board game that served as everyone's present, and spent the holiday surrounded by snow in someone's borrowed cabin.  Every single one of those kids have said that that was their favorite Christmas so far.  What a great example that these parents set.  They brought their children into the decision making and let them learn how to be happy amid trials.  They taught them to be resilient.

So how do we teach our children this important lesson?  The parents I was telling you about have great natural parenting styles.  Me?  Not so much.  I want to!  So that's why I'm observing and trying my hardest to mimic those tools that don't come easily to me.

Lyle J Burrup shares these recommendations.

    Pray to understand your children’s strengths and how to help them with their weaknesses.
    Be patient and realize that children need time to develop resilience.
    Strive to understand that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn.
    Allow natural, logical consequences to serve as the disciplinarian.
    Respect children’s decisions, even if their poor choices lead to lost privileges.
    Refrain from berating children for breaking the rules.
    Do not discourage effort by criticizing harshly.
    Rather than praising accomplishment, encourage and praise effort.
    “Praise your children more than you correct them. Praise them for even their smallest achievement” (President Ezra Taft Benson [1899–1994], “The Honored Place of Woman,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 107).
Our children will experience trials that are out of their control. By teaching them resilience and faith in The Lord, they will have the resources to get through them in a healthy way and hopefully come out on the other side wiser and with an even better relationship with Christ. 

4th Lap Around Cont...

Read the first part here.

While on POPS (progesterone only BC), I was having quite a bit of pain.  My abdomen was tender all the time, my back ached and I had no energy whatsoever.  I felt like I could sleep all day.  It didn't make me a fun wife or mom.  

By this point I was pretty fed up with it all.  I decided it was time to get real about thinking about a hysterectomy.  My doctor and I had a good conversation about it and he promised my quality of life would go up big time if I decided that path, but that it was a big decision that needed a lot of thought.  I asked many questions and felt good about his answers.  I was actually getting excited about the end result and being pain free in my abdomen.  

I started to pray earnestly about the decision to have this major surgery.  I asked anyone I could about their experience having a hysterectomy.   I searched the scriptures, Gregg and I fasted and finally we went to the temple.  By this point it had been a couple of months and I still didn't have an answer so I just knew in the temple I would receive peace about getting a hysterectomy.  I didn't...I was so uneasy and confused the whole time.  Finally, I whispered my angst to my husband and he so wisely told me that maybe that was my answer.  Maybe it just wasn't right at this time.  I knew as he said it that he was right.  It wasn't the right time.  The timing to me felt so good, but the Lord knows better than I do.  I returned home a little sad, a little confused with my future, but with an answer.  I wouldn't be having a hysterectomy quite yet.  

I had Gregg give my a Priesthood Blessing when we got home and in it he promised me I would have a hysterectomy one day and that I would know for a surety that it was the right time.  I finally felt peace about not going through with it.  I'm thankful for the knowledge that the Lord knows of my pain and my future.  

I decided to have another Laparoscopy instead.  My fourth since finding out about my endo.  I wasn't and I'm not ready to do another round of Lupron so I figured if I could clear out some junk and stay on the POPS it might help bit.  

The day of surgery I was having a lot of pain so I was ready as ever.  The surgery went great and they found quite a bit of endo.  Although I still had some pain from my incisions, my abdomen felt better than it had in months.  It didn't take long to see I made the right decision to have a Laparoscopy.  My energy was back and I felt like I could make it through work so much easier.  I'm still not sure what's in store for my future, but I'm happy I at least have a break from most of the pain I was having even if it is temporary.  Meanwhile, the POPS aren't doing that great at stopping my periods because I started a new brand for insurance purposes (dang insurance), but I'm hoping my body just needs a few months to get used to them.  

So, there you have it.  A glimpse into what it feels like to be an endo queen (my awesome term for us endo girls).  If it's TMI feel free not to read my blog.  If you can relate, feel free to share your experiences.  I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Parenting::Time Out

Something Ems behavioral therapist has been working with me on is helping Em to express her feelings through speech and not anger. When Ems is angry everyone and everything in her path better watch out. She hits, kicks, bites, throws, screams, attacks the dog and sometimes on really bad days she'll hit herself or bite herself to relieve that anger. Not Good. Yes, it is normal at her age to do some of that, but the severity and quantity that she was doing them is not.  We as parents need to help her to learn different ways to show her emotions.

Let me get this out there in the beginning. We do not use time out. *GASP*  Yes, I said it!  You're thinking "no wonder Ems has behavior problems" aren't you?  Just hear me out.  In the beginning of Ems learning to behave we tried it because well, everyone else seemed to do it. Good parents, bad parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts, uncles, you name it!  I'm not saying I think people are bad or dumb for doing it because it does seem effective in some kids. Kids who feel guilt or who want to please. My child is not one of those kids.  She either could care less she was put in time out, or she would become so enraged and out of control the rest of the day. Almost as if she was seeking revenge. During potty training she would pee her pants while in time out just to make me angry.  It was common for her to hit her head against the wall or simply just run away and launch onto our dog.  The anger I felt against her and the frustration I could see in her didn't seem to be what "time out" was all about.  I didn't feel good about it. It was ruining our relationship. I knew it wasn't right for Ems, but I didn't know how to teach her that bad behavior was not okay. 

About this time is when I started to reach out to professionals.  Em was exhibiting behavior I had never experienced or had seen in a child before and I needed help.  While waiting to get in to early intervention for her sensory which took a couple months, and the behavioral center which took five months I slowly stopped time outs. I figured for a while maybe I was just not consistent enough with her, but over time I realized something else was going on.  So during that time when Ems acted out I simply would change her focus. If she was getting into something she shouldn't be or hitting or whatever bad behavior, I would try to get her interested in something else. I would try not to point out the bad behavior knowing she would only try harder to do whatever I didn't want her to.  I wasn't perfect at it by any means, but it did seem more effective than time out.  Also for her at a young age it worked better than words would have. 

So flash forward a bit.  When we finally got in to see a behavioral therapist I told her our history with time out and how we had ceased to do it.  Well wouldn't you know...she said they do not suggest time out to not only children with behavioral problems, but children in general!  She explained that in children like Ems you have to have some pretty harsh punishment for her to really care or have something sink in. Which is not good. We don't believe in harsh punishment nor does the BT. In children that are more pleasers it can lead to teenagers or adults that become introverts and hold everything in until it explodes.  In kids like Ems they have frequent huge scary outbursts that can continue on to when they are adults (we've all witnessed those adults).  Needless to say neither types learn how to express they're feelings in a good manner. 

In Parent Fix by Maggie Stevens she says,

                "As a parent the first thing you must do is figure out what is going on underneath all the anger. When children are are angry, it is often because they don't feel loved, understood or heard. Get down on their level. Look them in the eyes and listen intently to what they are saying (or screaming). Sometimes if a child knows that a parent is willing to listen to her point of view, she will calm down. The child needs to know that you are there for her. Hug them, hold them, or just sit with them until they can calm down. Then when they are ready, discuss possible solutions to their problem. They may just need to vent about why something is not fair. Your calmness will show them that there is someone on their side; someone who cares."

It's okay to have feelings. Mad, angry, sad, or whatever else. It's not okay to freak out or repress them. That's what I'm trying to teach Em. So here's what we are working on. 

When Em hits, bites, takes toys, or is angry (insert whatever negative behavior here), the first thing is to get her to calm down.  That can be holding her, letting her flip out on the floor, or taking her away from the situation then letting her flip out. :)  Don't think punishment. Think calm down. You can say things like, "you're having some big feelings." Or "I can see you are very mad."  "It is so sad you don't get a cookie for breakfast." (That happened this morning)  Something along those lines. She's pretty little so we keep it simple. If they are older you could be more specific. In other words you're helping them see you're listening and a supporter. 
Don't be quick to point out what they did wrong or start to lecture. This can make them get worked up again. Give them time to cool down so they are able to think things through.  Even as adults we don't like when people point out what we did wrong in the heat of the moment. We just want someone to listen. 

With Ems being so little we either move on and let it go, or if we feel she can handle some talk about her bad behavior we will say something like "I can see why that made you so mad, I'm so proud you are calm now, next time let's not hit when we're mad."  Then move on. If they are older kids you could give them a chance to talk about it before any criticism. They may not even need it. Chances are they know they shouldn't have acted the way they did. They are more likely to stop the bad behavior permanently if they have someone listening rather than getting shoved in a corner or lectured about it. 

Now, I'm not perfect at this. I'm still learning to keep my cool and to take the time to listen. Most days you'll hear me just strictly telling Ems to stop the bad behavior instead figuring out the cause. I'm a work in progress. By writing about it, it makes me more inclined to do it. Once again, I don't think time out is necessarily bad. It can be a time for cooling down for parent and child and heaven forbid it's much better than hitting your child or screaming and yelling.  I do believe though, that looking behind the behavior and figuring out the why will be more effective in the long run.  Time out may stop the behavior immediately, but probably not long term.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I have what you could call a defiant child.  Yes, Em has been diagnosed with ADHD, but I believe everyone can benefit from tips I am learning to understand her more and become a better parent. (As slow as it may seem)  

There are good days and bad days with my patience. Em pretty much stays the same. But really what makes the difference of a determined successful day is how I react to her.  Some days she is just off for some reason, but then again so am I. I have to remember she is allowed those days and if I get through them nearly surviving at least I got through them. 

Lately, I've been thinking Ems is more intelligent than she is defiant. Recently, my sister in law was looking at a picture of Ems at 3 months old. She said " remember how calm and easy going Ems used to be?  I think she was just sitting back and learning all of our weaknesses.  She was probably thinking, just you wait until I can walk and talk."  

It made me laugh out loud.  Ems is the master of knowing how to read people, then using their weaknesses as weapon. She knows exactly what will do the most damage to her same aged cousins, and most of them are standing on the sideline wondering what just happened...or screaming of course. I have to hand it to my girl. She is one smart cookie. 

So how do I parent this two almost three year old that is smarter than me?  Mostly I have no idea.  That is why I have turned to outside resources. I read the most amazing book before I was even a parent.  It's called Parent Fix.

You need it I promise!!  You can order it through Amazon.  It will completely change your life and parenting. Most importantly your kids. I am reading through it a second time, because I can actually apply it now that Ems is old enough.  I will be quoting this book a lot. 

I have also read Love and Logic and while I do agree and use a lot of their techniques I have cut out some of them because they weren't fitting with how Em ticks. More on that in another post. 

We also have family therapy with a behavioral therapist once a month.  Which is really mine and Gregg's therapy. Ems is who she is. We are the ones that needs to accept that.  Our BT is amazing and my idol right now. She listens to me and comforts my fears. She has never made me feel like a bad mom. If anything she has helped me see I'm a better mom than I think.  I'm convinced we all need a BT or just someone to listen. 

Before I was a mom I was convinced I would be the most patient, fun, and understanding mom around.  Yeah I've pretty much failed there.  One thing I can pat myself on the back about is the fact that I know I will never give up. If I have a day that is an epic fail as a mom, I will wake up with a desire to do better. I will search answers, pray, and trust my gut feeling.  I will ask for help from my Heavenly Father, other parents, and professionals. Ems is my daughter for a reason. I AM the best parent for her and I need to figure out how to BE the best parent for her.  I will never be a perfect parent, but I can try to give her my optimum performance. 

I hope you will join me on this journey and share things that have helped you a long the way. I will be doing a group of posts on what we're working on at the moment in hopes to be a journal of how far we've come and to help myself and others a long the way. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

4th Lap Around

Let me just start by saying endometriosis sucks.  Okay now that I have that out there I will continue.  I have done what seems like every treatment possible for endometriosis.  Yeah, pretty sure I've done it all.  To flash back to 2010, I was on a daily birth control pill that stopped my periods so the endo wouldn't grow back so fast.  Out of the blue I started getting major migraines that mimicked mini strokes.  Not a good sign.  Long story short, I was immediately taken off the birth control containing estrogen and put on a progesterone only pill.  Also known as POPS or pills that women take during breast feeding.  Oh and can I mention I had a quite large hole in my heart.  You can learn more about it here  

Two months later we were picked to be parents by a wonderful women who will forever be our angel.  Ems was born and we were shiny new happy parents.  At that point my abdomen was not so happy.  The pill was just not working so I went in to my doctor and had a long tearful, okay bawling talk.  He is the sweetest doctor, but he made it very clear, I NEEDED to get pregnant.  Meaning, more infertility fun for my husband and I.  But, my daughter is only four months old I blubbered out.  What really scared me wasn't the prospect that my kids would be close together, it was that I was tired.  TIRED of infertility.  I just wanted to enjoy my life as it was at the time. 

I went on Lupron (a drug that shrinks endo) and had my third laparoscopy to give us the best chances to get pregnant.  After what felt like a thousand months of infertility treatments, we came out the other side battered, egos bruised, and not pregnant.  My periods were becoming unbearable and after a particular HORRIBLE cycle I decided I could not handle them anymore.  I went back on a birth control with both estrogen and progesterone.  My heart had been fixed so my doctor figured I'd be okay to go back on the stronger birth control.  

He was wrong.  About five or so months later I got a migraine.  I hadn't had one since my heart surgery.  Once I started feeling better from that one, I immediately got the aura (flashes of light) and went into another one.  After having six in three days I called my doctor and he had me go off the birth control at once.  He said I will NEVER go on that type of birth control again.  The risk of stroke would be too high.  Estrogen and migraines just don't go together.  So then came the question of what to do next.  I know what you women are thinking.  Why not use an IUD?   IUDs are not an option because they don't block the right hormones that stop endo from growing.  

So options are as follows...

-Go back on POPS. Which is pretty temporary and doesn't stop the pain completely
-Do a round of Lupron.  Which makes me super crazy and mean and also is a temporary fix
-Do another Laparoscopy.  Also temporary, but can ease some of the pain.  Surgery is never fun though.
-The ulimate, Hysterectomy.  Permanent fix, but it's just that...permanent.  I wouldn't have to worry about my endo ever again though and after having pain every day for years, it was sounding better and better.  

I decided to go back on POPS while I thought and prayed about what answer would be best.

To not make this whine fest eight pages long I will continue in another post.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Ems is a social butterfly, but when it comes to her own peers or babies she has some issues.  Issues way beyond the typical not sharing and occasional hitting.  Play group and family get together's are rough.  It's typical for me to leave embarrassed, upset, and with a few tears.  Ems also leaves frustrated and overwhelmed.  It's not good. 

After attending family therapy with a behavioral therapist for two months we decided therapy school would be a great place for her to be.  It's quite intense, yet effective.  Five days a week for three hours and they even eat lunch there.  It can be quite expensive and we were really stressed about paying for it.  We felt strongly that she needed to be in their school and I had a feeling everything would work out.  Sure enough, the financial lady called me in to discuss our monthly fee and she wrote down $0 in front of me.  I thought there was a mistake at first until she explained that the school got a huge grant and because of it all of their kids get to go free for a year.  Ems started at the right exact moment to be able to partake of free tuition.   Such a huge blessing and relief.  We were so thankful we followed the prompting to put her in school even though we were expecting to pay hundreds of dollars every month.  

So far she comes home pretty exhausted and emotional.  I guess that's pretty typical.  For a busy bee like her to hold in her extreme want to go wild for three hours is very draining.  She lets loose when she gets home and it makes for a fun tantrum filled afternoon.  I got to observe her for a little bit behind a two way glass.  She did amazing.  It's nice to see what she is capable of, but it also makes me sad I rarely see her behave that way.  I try, really try to emulate what we discuss at her BT (behavioral therapy) appointments, but at the end of the day I'm the mom.  The one she knows best and the one she can be herself with.  Don't get me wrong, I see really fun sides of her and I get the best loves, but she can sure put on the defiance like no other. 

School has been good for all of us.  I now have a few free hours every day and Emme is learning skills that will help way beyond her toddler years.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Movies with Toddlers

My daughter is what I call one Busy Bee. She was diagnosed with ADHD at 2 1/2. Picture in your head how busy and crazy two year olds are. Now times that by twenty add in a sugar infused child around Halloween all day every day and you have my Mems. 

My husband and I love going to movies. Obviously when Ems came around our cinema trips went down significantly. We have talked about the day she could go to the movies with us since she was born.  Most of her peers are able to watch at least a short children's show or most of a movie. Mems not so much. Not that I want her watching tv all day, but I'll admit it would be nice to have a minute to change laundry or use the bathroom while my child is glued to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or whatever is on during that hour. 

So although I'm aware most of parents with toddlers do not have ADHD I still believe we can all benefit from some tips to slow down and focus our child so we can enjoy a lovely movie outing together. Or at least a somewhat successful night together. Or for heavens sakes just get us out of the house no matter the consequence later!  Man, toddlers are draining. 

Tips on Taking a Toddler to a Movie 

1.  Get their energy out.  Start before you leave the house. I have Em do what I call heavy work before she is asked to sit still for a long period of time. For example: jumping, pushing, carrying. I have Em jump a lot. Whether it's walking into the store, jumping off furniture, or a few minutes on the trampoline.  Sometimes I'll ask Ems to help me push a chair or we play a game where she tries to push me over. I've even pretended that a wall needs moved and tell her to push her hardest. You can fill a backpack to about %10 of their body weight and have them carry that around for 20 minutes or so. Weighted exercise balls are great for heavy work as well. There are oodles of games you could make up them. 

2.  Don't have too high of expectations. Even if your child is a movie addict, chances are neither of you have seen the movie and you have no idea if they're going to like it. Expect wiggling, loud talking, spilling, and kicking. I know I do.  Which brings me to...

3.  Be prepared.  Most important step!  If your theater has reserved seating choose a seat that will be best suited for your child. We like to go when we know the theater won't be crowded so we don't have to worry if Em dances in the aisle or kicks the seat in front of us. We ALWAYS sit in the end of the row. That makes potty/wiggle breaks much easier.  Have snacks, a drink, and sleep aids available. If your child likes movies and will stay engaged, awesome. If they're like my Ems chances are they'll be bored by the time the previews are over. Give Em popcorn and a drink and you've extended that time to at least 1/3 of the way through the movie.  Ems has sleep aids that she only gets during bedtime and naps. I like to bring a few to the movie (her collection grows daily).  It doesn't make her sleep, but it does calm her down immediately. Add a new snack and you have a few more minutes of attention.  If you're freaked out about the thousand calories your child will consume you could bring a busy book or something that will keep their focus. Don't use a phone. That's just rude to others around you. 

4.  Take a break.  About 3/4 through a movie Em is just done. That when we take a potty break. I let her jump down the aisle steps and run to the bathroom. She needs it by that point and as long as she's not bumping into people or screaming at the same time I thinks it's just fine. Once we go potty I let her jump in the hallway and climb the stairs back to our seats.  I only carry her if she tries to run away or starts grabbing people.  Occasionally that happens, but most of the time she is excited to get back and I want her to expel as much energy as possible in the process. 

5.  Go during your prime time. Never take a child during their nap time or bed time. NEVER. You are just setting them up for failure. They need to be well rested and in a good mood.  Did they miss or take a bad nap that day?  Then don't go.  Even if it has been planned for ages. If you choose not to take this advice, don't expect much from your child and DON'T get mad when they won't obey.  Ultimately you asked for it. 

6.  Be okay with leaving early. If things take a turn for the worst don't make it a bad experience for your child. Snapping and yelling at them won't make it fun for you or them.  You know your child's limits. If they are surpassed or getting close, it's okay to step out or go home. Leave on a good note. Empty threats and mad parents only show the child how to act in a movie.  Trust me, if you continue to harp on your child for their bad behavior it will only validate their actions and the next movie you take them to will be just as bad if not worse.  It's hard not to get upset, but remember, you're asking a lot from your child to sit so long and their ability to restrain themselves is low. 

Does it feel like too much work for you?  Then skip this activity. My love for movies and the need to get out of the house overpowers the work it takes. Plus, I love how excited Ems gets when I tell her we are going to a movie with popcorn.  It's a nice break in our routine and something she talks about for days. 

What are your tips and tricks?