Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thankful Heart

The past year I have worked to adopt a mindset of gratitude.  Everyday I took a minute to find something to be thankful for....some days it was easier than others, but as the year went on it became a habit that has brought so much joy, reduced my stress and left me wanting for so much less.  There were a few mountains to climb over the year {some took longer to climb than others}, but I truly believe I made it to the top each time because of this new choice to acknowledge my very many blessings each day.

This Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father, the little girl who made me a mom, a husband who is excited to live this life with me, a supportive and present family, a house that has become a home, joy unspeakable, friends who have climbed to the mountain top with me and the excitement of what tomorrow may bring.

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Other Woman

I recently found out about the other woman in my husband's life...he has been with her for about five months now and it seems like he is falling hard.  I don't understand because she is not his type at all, at least not what I know his type to be after eight years together.  She is moody, emotional and rarely seems available to him.  She is consumed and completely obsessed with her new job and can't seem to find anything else to talk about.  This new job takes so much of her time that she doesn't have much time to devote to herself {let alone to him} and she has gotten terribly comfortable in yoga pants and hoodies.  I mean come on lady, would it kill ya to put on a real outfit?  Or at least slap on some lip gloss? 

She seems like a hot mess and I really don't know what he sees in her.  Plus I don't know what's worse, seeing him so dedicated to this crazy or feeling like she is the complete opposite of me.  After eight years together, four of which we have been married, we have been through so much.  We have had our fair share of hard times, but so many more good times from college memories, football games, traveling, moving, buying our first house, and so many adventures.  To go from a spontaneous, fun woman who was ready for anything to this structured, {a little bit} neurotic woman must not have been easy and seems like a real bummer.  I don't know why he would want to do that but, the truth is, I am so glad he did! 

I am not the same woman I was the day we got married and I am definitely not the same woman I was before I became a mom, but my husband has been amazing through all the changes.  He is dedicated to me and our family and he says he loves this new woman even more!  We are both different people since we became parents and, while I may miss the old me once in awhile, the truth is this new woman is pretty amazing and I am actually starting to really like her.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making a Christmas Wish List

Remember when you were little and that magical piece of mail came to your house?  If your mom was smart she waited to show you till Saturday morning because it was guaranteed to give an hour or two of peace and quiet.  And once it was in your hands there was no going back.  With that magazine and a pen you would run off to circle "just a few things" you might like to open on Christmas morning.  After carefully looking over your options, maybe reviewing first and then going back a second time, you knew at least half the book should be yours this Christmas and you prepared your list.  

It's that time of the year.  Children and adults are making their wish lists in preparation for whoever puts those gifts under the tree.  Now imagine you made that list but had no one to give it to...  Or you got the most wonderful gift, but had no one to share it with...  It's not quite as magical, huh?  Actually preparing, making the list, looking through the magazine - it would all be a waste.  

What if you had to choose between only receiving one gift, but you had someone who loved you so much that she couldn't wait to share in your happiness and use that one gift to make lasting memories OR you could have a room full of gifts, but not one single person to love you or share in your joy...  

Most adults would choose love and memories over gifts.  Children are the same way.  Sure our society has brainwashed us into thinking material items = love, but when it comes down to it, human beings need and desire human connection more than anything else.

This year choose memories over money and experiences over excess.  Make new traditions, keep old traditions and take time to enjoy the people around you - most importantly, don't let this holiday slip by without taking time to PLAY!

What is your favorite holiday memory?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Activity :: Changing Seasons Tree

One of my favorite activities to do with patients is this tree showing the different seasons.

It works best with school age kiddos and sometimes adolescents, especially artistic adolescents.  We first talk about the changes that come with each new season and the pros and cons of those changes.  This is a good way to see how individuals have unique feelings, opinions and interests.  It is also a good way to discuss change as it occurs naturally on earth and in life.

I used this project in a grief group for siblings who had lost a brother or sister in the PICU.  It was a group of six siblings between the ages of 6 and 11.  For the privacy of each child I will not show their trees although I will say there was some powerful work done as each carefully considered the changes that have come since their loss.  

Some therapeutic activities do not elicit much conversation this one, however, ended up with over 20 minutes of discussion.  Each child chose to share (although not required to) and each carefully explained the changes that have occurred in their life, as well as, changes they wish to see in the future.

These changes included an empty chair at the dinner table, a mom who went back to work, loss of a playmate and an empty bunk bed in a shared room.  One brave child even communicated her wish that her brother's room would be cleaned out so the family could stop pretending he was coming back.

I love using art in therapeutic activities because so much work is done in the process of creating and children benefit greatly from the freedom to be creative in a safe space without the need to use words as a means of communicating.

This activity could be used to work through many different changes including:  moving to a new city, changing schools, adding to the family, divorce and so many more.  What ways have you used trees for therapeutic activities?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Things Every New Mom Should Stock Up On Before Cold Season

You know the commercial where a dad asks for a sick day, but of course he doesn't get it...instead he gets a huge dose of cold medicine and a smile.  It's funny until it's you.  Not so funny anymore.  And you know what else isn't funny?  Breast feeding moms can't take that particular medicine so what do they get? A sticker? A popsicle?  Because we all know they aren't getting an uninterrupted night sleep to fight off that nasty cold.

I am just getting over one of the worst colds of my life.  It knocked me down for a week and, trust me, it was not pretty.  Not only am I the world's ugliest sick person, but add in exhaustion from not sleeping in five months, a selfish sense of entitlement and overall grumpiness toward the world in general - you can imagine the hot mess my husband came home to everyday.  

Now all you veteran moms can laugh or stop reading because you have been there, done that.  But try to remember the first time you were sick as a new mom and don't send too much judgement my way.  But to all the new moms who haven't gotten sick yet, prepare now

Here are the top 5 things you should have on hand before sickness strikes....

1.  Tissues - don't mess around, splurge for the ones with lotion but if they invent tissues plus a local anesthetic forget all other means of blowing your nose and jump head first into those bad boys

2.  Cough drops - these serve three purposes which include a cough suppressant, relief from a sore throat and a bad breath cover-up from cold breath OR forgetting to brush your teeth {maybe have these handy for everyday use}

3.  A comfy pillow - if by some great miracle you are able to lay down, you should have the most magical pile of fluff to rest your head on, but we all know that is not likely so you might as well have a nice pillow on that unmade bed in case anyone is bold enough to come nosing around while you are sick

4.  A bottle of wine - if you already have a stuffy nose, watery eyes and congested lungs why not add a dizzy head

5.  A clone of yourself - with this clone you will have all the time you need to rest and will not actually need items 1 through 4 at all.  Of course if you are able to clone yourself, you probably are also able to fight off infection like a super hero and shouldn't have even read this post to begin with.

Best of luck this cold season my fellow warriors!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

{Thankful} Thoughts

Lately I have been especially thankful for my little family that doesn't seem quite so intimidating

for friends who love those little cheeks at first sight

and for words that inspire me to seize the day
A thankful heart make the world a prettier place!  What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November is National Adoption Month

I will never forget the day that the desire to was imprinted on my heart.  I have always hoped to adopt and support those in the process of adopting, but one little guy showed me that having a plan or a hope isn't near enough - there has to be action behind that hope that makes a difference.

This little guy, let's call him John, changed my life when I was very new in the field of child life.  At 12 years old, John was a member of one of the roughest gangs, had been in six foster homes, one group home and three schools.  He had met two of his biological siblings briefly, but they were never placed together so he grew up alone.  His mom had tried to keep them together, but her addiction got her into trouble and left her unable to even visit John.  He never knew his dad.  

John came to the hospital after being involved in a high speed car accident in which he was one of the drivers.  His injuries included a long list of extremely painful problems that required multiple surgeries to correct leaving him in the hospital for many months.  The only visitors allowed to see him were his current foster parents who came only one time during his admission and his social worker.

At first, John was to cool for me and seemed annoyed by my daily visits.  I would bring activities and often end up doing them alone as he sat silently, seeming to count down each minute till I would leave. One day his physical therapist told me he was able to get out of bed and actually needed to ambulated but was refusing.  I taped two huge pieces of butcher paper {one for him and one for me} on the wall of his room and provided him with every art supply I could find to fill it up.....pencils, markers, crayons, paint, glue, etc.  That day I sat with my back to him and quietly colored on my paper.  Everyday for the next week I came in and did the same thing until one day I was paged by his nurse and came to find him sitting at his blank paper.  He had walked over to it which was a huge accomplishment and had asked for me to come early.  We sat there in silence for two hours filling that paper with color.  This continued until he no longer had room on his paper from a sitting position and requested physical therapy come to assist him in standing.  I tried not to show my excitement, but I couldn't keep the smile off my face!

We continued to build rapport and John continued to build his strength despite a few set backs that landed him in the ICU for a short period of time.  Eventually, he was ready for discharge, but his placement was uncertain.  When those details seemed to be worked out, the day finally came.  We talked extensively about leaving the hospital, starting fresh at a new school and identified reliable support people outside of the relationships he built in the hospital.  We planned a discharge party for the big day, staff came by to say goodbye and John prepared to leave, but no one came.  We waited most of the day until we finally reached his social worker and learned his housing plans fell through and he would not be leaving.  On the outside John appeared to be thrilled because he would be staying a few more days, but I wondered what feelings were tearing through him and my heart shattered.  I didn't have to wonder for long because John said, "I wish I could just come live with you, you wouldn't forget me".  He knew this wasn't possible, but the idea that he felt forgotten and otherwise alone outside the hospital was heartbreaking.  

John was discharged to a foster family where he stayed for about three months before running away.  He was homeless for a few months and tragically killed in a gang related fight at 14 years old.  I often wonder if his life would have been different if he had felt remembered, if someone had taken the time to invest sooner.....

Adoption isn't an option for everyone, but providing support is.  Supporting a family who is in the process of adoption or volunteering for an organization that reaches out to at-risk kids can allow one more child to feel remembered.  November is National Adoption Month, but it's so much more than that to the hundreds of thousands of children waiting for a home in the U.S. alone.

*all identifying information has been changed for the privacy of the patient*

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Months

How are you 5 months already?  Happy Birthday my dear!  We love making you laugh and listening to you talk!  You have so much to say these days and you love to share it with anyone who wants to listen.  This month you learned how to roll, went on your first trip to the beach and finally grew out of your 0-3 month clothes!  You are such a little peanut.  You chew on anything you can find {especially daddy's hand and your toes} and now prefer to sit up so you can be involved in everything that's going on.  Thank you for your kisses, your patience and your morning smiles.  You bring so much joy to our lives!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Family Vacation to Virginia Beach

Two weeks ago we went on our first little family vacation.  Despite all the anxiety leading up to the trip, it actually went remarkably well.  We have survived on a strict schedule for 4 months which has worked well in creating a lovely, peaceful relationship between mommy and baby.  We do not have the spontaneous baby that is up for anything and will sleep anywhere so taking her on this road trip was a little unnerving.  She also does not have the best record in the car so a 7 hour drive seemed a little scary.

After being reminded by a dear friend to take a deep breath, we over packed the car and arrived without even a hiccup.  She did great and was semi-flexible throughout the entire trip!  We learned the importance of attempting to maintain our schedule regardless of our plans and we all decided we miss the beach and our friends {maybe a trip right before winter wasn't the best idea}.