Be yourself, even if it feels like the unpopular thing to do. Trends will come and go, but you are forever.
Be yourself, even if it feels like the unpopular thing to do. Trends will come and go, but you are forever.
I rarely bring my speech/language pathology training into the blog, but I’m just so proud about what I’ve done for Mira in this last week (and how it’s impacted meal time) that I felt it was too exciting not to share. Here’s a little bit of the back story: As many do, our toddler is having a hard time with food. She used to eat pretty much anything and everything that we put in front of her (or at least would try it), and then about a month ago all that changed. We would get ‘no, no, no’ or ‘all done’ and the dish/bowl would be pushed off her tray onto our table (at least not the floor, amiright?). This is a super frustrating phase, and it’s especially frustrating when you love cooking. As you know from the blog and from my stories both Dave and I really enjoy cooking, and seeing Mira take a bite of something, make a gagging face, and say ‘all done’ can be soul crushing.
I decided that rather than lament and get frustrated with every meal I would try something that would give her autonomy within a structure of our choosing. I decided to make some ‘Individual Graphic Symbols.’ I always refer to these as ‘PECS,’ but I know that technically that’s not accurate as PECS is a specific communication system, and what I’m doing is much less structured. When you are using ‘Individual Graphic Symbols’ for an individual with a communication disorder you are using a low tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system to help the person express themselves. They may not have the spoken word to communicate what they want, but they have the pictures (and sometimes that awareness comes first). For us we wanted to give Mira access to images of a variety of foods that she likes to eat, giving her the independence to choose what she wants. At the same time, we needed to keep these choices within a small set that we are willing to make and/or have on hand at a given time.
When I was working in early intervention many parents expressed concern that using an AAC system (e.g., baby sign, PECS, Individual symbols) would negatively impact their child’s use of speech and I am here to say that that is NOT the case. Research has shown us again and again that using these supplemental systems only helps facilitate language development.
Mira can say many of these words already and if she doesn’t know them on her own she will readily imitate; however, she is unable to recall most of these foods independently when sat down at a table and asked what she wants to eat (as I wouldn’t expect many 18 month olds to be able to do). So having these images helps her recall things she’s already seen and helps her associate the food with the word.
Here’s what you need to make a an individual graphic system: a mini binder (or large, depending on how far you want to go with your food choices), laminator (I have this one), laminating sheets, velcro fasteners, couple pieces of white paper, printer (I have this one), and a word processing system.
Assembly: First you will need to make a list of the items that you want pictures of (I find that this list is ever expanding). Then you will search for images of the items you’ve listed and copy and paste those images onto your word processing system. Once the image is on the word processing system resize it to be about 1.5-2.” Continue until you’ve filled the entire sheet, and then print. Cut each picture out and arrange them on your laminating sheet (making sure there is space between each picture so the laminate will completely seal around the image). Send the laminating sheet through the laminator and let it cool. Now it’s time to make the pages of the binder (where the images will be fastened to), cut an 8″ x 11″ paper in half and send them both through the laminator. Apply the velcro hook to the page and the loop to the images. Organize your images however you choose (I tried to separate meal type, snacks, and fruits/veggies).
The ultimate goal of giving her autonomy when it comes to food choices has definitely been accomplished. I can feel the tension releasing at meal time, we are worrying less that she will never eat vegetables and she is enjoying making her selection.
As with all things related to raising a child, this phase will pass and we will be onto some new challenge, but I hope that I can always find a middle ground between bringing what I’ve read, learned or heard to the table for Mira and accepting who she is as a human.
Is everyone else still feeling the post Christmas glow????? Dave and I got some alone time together and it was so wonderful and relaxing. I feel like we are definitely able to make deposits into our relationship regularly even with Mira around (I mean what’s better than seeing her do something cute and looking over at your partner and seeing them gush too), but it is always amazing when we get to spend time just the two of us.
We had a great holiday and were able to spend it with family and friends. I’m definitely sad it’s over, but I’m very much looking forward to next year. My cousin and I were chatting about how if Mira’s love for Santa, Jingle Bells, and Rudolph this year are any indication of how she’s going to feel next year then it will be off the hook!! She has a dance for ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and she sings bits and pieces (‘ho ho ho’ and ‘hooray’).
I wanted to check in and share with you guys the second half of our advent of activities. We left off with the 13th (coffee date with mama and papa) and I have to say that one was so relaxing and it felt nice to make something that we do regularly into a special holiday event. Next up…
December 14th – Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton. These were something else! So much detail, the pictures don’t even do it justice!
December 15th – Make Christmas Crafts with friends. I have to just laugh about this one, because Mira was NOT into making crafts. We were going to put paint footprints on mugs and she was screaming not happy. This was literally all she wanted to paint. So I cooked the plate and now we will have it as a memory forever hahahaha. This kind of thing is so easy for me to let go of, it made me sad at first that she didn’t want to do it, but then I thought ‘hey we are spending time with friends, and at least she’s communicating to me what she wants/doesn’t want.’ So I think this day was more about time with friends than anything else.
December 16th – Seattle City Center for the Christmas Village. We ended up seeing a few things when we went down there…ice sculptures, fire dancers, ice skaters, and the Christmas village. Here’s a little then and now comparison for you.
December 17th – Decorate Christmas gifts. Mira was definitely in the mood to do a liiiitttle arts/crafts. I may have helped her a little bit, and there was a slight power struggle in the beginning. All’s well that ends well.
December 18th – My parents arrived this day so our advent activity was to snuggle Nonna and Nonno. Well, not really, but it definitely was Mira’s highlight of the day. Our activity was to go look at Christmas lights, there were a lot of “Santa, Wow, Balls, Reindeer” coming from the back seat.
December 19th – Seattle’s Enchanted Christmas. They definitely did a great job with the lights, and Mira had an amazing time running all around. I liked that they made it into a maze and you were suppose to try and find all the gigantic reindeer.
December 20th – Another Christmas treat for yours truly.
December 21st – Bake cookies. This was done while Mira was at school and my family and I packed up to head out of town for the weekend. These balls are now a yearly tradition, and man are they amazing!
December 22nd – Sleigh Ride. Definitely one of my favorite activities. We were in Leavenworth (which was a mad house of people), and we drove out a little ways to do a sleigh ride at Eagle Creek. They were so nice and the ride was awesome! Mira wanted to sing the whole time.
December 23rd – Zoo lights. This one has been a favorite of ours.
December 24th – Christmas EVE!!!!! Our advent was to open our matching pajamas and watch a Christmas movie. Outside of Moana this was Mira’s second time with TV. She was honestly more interested in playing with her Zio’s key board, but on occasion she would look up at Frosty and sing/dance to the music. Another tradition we have on the 24th is to have the feast of seven fishes. This year it was the feast of three fishes and man were we stuffed after just three.
December 25th – Open presents on Christmas morning. Mira was a bit overwhelmed by the gifts and opening took a while because she wanted to stop and play with/explore each one, which made us super happy because we knew she loved them. Another activity we’ve been doing each year after dinner on Christmas day is to go for a walk around the neighborhood looking at the lights nearby, that one is becoming a favorite.
It was a great holiday season, full of so many fun activities. I know that some of these will become regulars in our ‘advent of activities’ and others were definitely just a fun experience this year and won’t be repeated.
I think my favorite part about the advent is getting out in our city and seeing all the things Seattle has to offer. I’m reminded of the ‘Happier Podcast’ by Gretchen Rubin in an episode where she talks about an image she saw in the New York subway. The sign had a box of Chinese take out and a rented movie (I think Netflix would be more relevant now) and below it said ‘why even live in New York?’ When I don’t feel like getting out and exploring I remind myself of that image and think, ‘why am I living in Seattle if I’m not taking advantage of all that it has?’
Hope you all are enjoying this time between Christmas and New Years as much as we are!
From my family to yours ❤️
As of December 16th Mirabella is officially 18 months!
She is in love with all things musical! She enjoys singing, dancing, and playing her instruments. She asks for “How far I’ll Go” from Moana on the daily and I have to confess that might just be my fault. The reason is two fold: 1.) Ever since that movie came out I have dreamed of the day that I would have a child who wanted to listen to that song on repeat (I am a ‘listen to songs on repeat’ kind of gal, judge as you will). 2.) The last time Mira had the flu there were very few things that made her happy so we watched Moana together. There’s definitely some mom guilt that I feel, but she barely watched and seeing her light up during her song was everything.
This girl is so much fun! She loves running around, and if she can have a solid hour or two a day of walking/running she is the happiest girl in the world. Being pregnant has made this slightly difficult, but the only thing I really feel incapable of at this point is holding her for long stretches, luckily she doesn’t really want that anyways.
In the last 6 months Mira has had quite a few firsts and a ton of seconds (I kind of feel the seconds have been more fun, but maybe that’s because I feel like things just keep getting more and more cool). She experienced her first trip to Disneyland, which was extremely fun!
Mira met a few new friends (and she absolutely loves babies – she gets a little iffy when I’m holding them, so we may have some areas of growth when our second comes along, but then again don’t we all have areas to grow in?). This last month Mira started a new school, and she is in love with her teachers and rushes to the door in the morning saying “bye bye, later” because she’s ready to go.
Mira has always been fairly autonomous, basically from birth, and that time helped me give her the space she needed to flourish into the amazing human being that she is becoming. It also makes me relish the times that she wants a snuggle, hug, or kiss. I always think that she’s giving me a gift because I will be rather prepared for the time when she needs space because of teenage angst. Her papa and I have definitely been loving the times when she wants to be close.
I’m a firm believer that all children are different and parenting is not a one-size-fits all kind of thing, it’s why you’ll never find me giving advise to anyone (I’m always willing to share what I’ve experienced though), and Mira has always been a girl that seems to prefer space to work through things. Often when she wakes up sad she needs a few moments on her own sometimes to cry a little and calm herself, holding her seems to make it escalate more. It would be really easy to try to force her to be a certain way, but that wouldn’t give either of us joy and what I really want her to know is that I love and respect her as she is and I’m here to help her grow into who she wants and is meant to become. That being said, in these last six months we’ve had a number of wonderful quiet moments together, and I have really relished those.
In the last six months Mira has experienced her second Halloween, which if you recall…last year wasn’t her fave…
This year she had a blast. She really liked running around our friends’ neighborhood, and I could tell she felt a lot of pride when someone handed her a treat.
You all know how I feel about sharing milestones (I have them written down so that if Mira needs access to them at some point or if we need to reference them for medical purposes we have them at our hands), but I will share that this girl is talking up a storm! She’s using a few two-three word phrases, has soo many words, and imitates EVERYTHING! It is soooo much fun, and it’s making me realize I swear a LOT less than I thought I did.
I love this little bean so much! I’m so extremely excited for her to become a big sister, she talks about her baby ALL the time and gives my belly kisses (sometimes body slams too, but I know she means well). The next time I’ll be sharing an update Mira will have a little sister, I’ll let you know how things go.
Ever since Mira was born I’ve been on a kick for family traditions. I received an e-mail from the PEPs foundation discussing the importance of traditions and recommending this book. After reading through it I was hooked on the idea of creating as many traditions with my family as possible.
Last year I started our “Advent of Activities” and even with a six month old it was a blast, so it has stuck. The nice thing about this type of advent calendar is that the prep work is moderate up front but then the rest is cake. In early-mid November I spend about two-three hours researching events and activities happening in Seattle during the holiday season and I enter them into my google calendar. Once I’ve got the timing worked out (e.g., dates of activities/events and our schedule) I write them down on little pieces of paper and put them in our advent calendar.
One of the pictures from last year (we went to the Seattle Center to see the little village and decorations).
I decided I’m going to go over the first half of our advent calendar with you guys and then follow up with the second half in an upcoming post.
December 1st – West Seattle Christmas Tree Lighting. Unfortunately I couldn’t be here for this one, but Dave and Mira attended without me and had a blast.
December 2nd – Coffee Shop Date With Papa.
December 3rd – Christmas Ornament. Mira loves Moana so we hung a new ornament on the tree.
December 4th – Christmas Stocking. Mira was super excited to see her stocking for the first time.
December 5th – Christmas Treat. This one was more for me because Dave was on a sugar strike and Mira doesn’t really eat sugar.
December 6th – Treat With Mama. Mira and I went to Bakery Nouveau and enjoyed a yummy and entertaining date.
December 7th – Christmas Carolers in Westlake Center. This one has been my favorite so far. Mira loves music and she was sooooo into all the singers. Everyone did such a great job.
December 8th – Greenlake Pathway of Lights. Unfortunately this event was a bit of a let down. It was nice to be able to take Oliver with us, but it was so crowded I thought Oli was going to get trampled. Although, It was amazing to see a hot air balloon in the middle of Seattle.
December 9th – Cookie Decorating. Mira enjoyed a frosting-less cookie (**Me: Mira doesn’t eat sugar. Also me: Here, have this cookie Mira**), but I enjoyed the cookie decorating. It was my first time making royal icing and I was pretty proud.
December 10th – Christmas Socks. Mira and I went to pick out socks, we had a conference and decided that because her and I already had enough socks, and Dave was in need of socks, we would donate our pairs to him. It was really cute when I asked her “Should we just get papa a bunch of socks?” and she shook her head ‘yeah.’ Already so thoughtful.
December 11th – Walk With Mama. Sometimes when it’s cold out we can forget to enjoy the outdoors, so I like a good reminder to get outside.
December 12th – Bellevue Garden D’lights. This was absolutely beautiful! I’m sharing two pictures because not only were the lights awesome, but the gingerbread display gave me serious cookie decorating envy!
December 13th – Coffee Shop Date With Mama & Papa.
It’s been so much fun so far and I can’t even wait for some of the events that are to come.
Oh, and in case you were wondering just how deep the Moana love is…(don’t judge my attempts at singing this song…I think my voice is a little tired from belting it out).
It’s the time of year when soup sounds amazing to me ALL the time. The temperature has been in the low 30s in Seattle, and although I know there are places that are much colder, it’s just down right frigid for this PNW girl. So soup it is.
I think I mentioned this already on the blog, but during my pregnancy with Mira my body started craving meat. It was a shock to my system to crave meat after 13 years of not eating any; however, I felt I needed to listen to my body. It was a real Pheobe moment.
Oddly enough during this pregnancy I haven’t craved meat as much, as a matter of fact at times it repulses me. I think the ups and downs of this are really playing with Dave’s emotions; however, he is super supportive no matter what.
We’ve been playing with a variety of vegetarian recipes, but like I said, lately I’ve been craving soup. For this recipe I took inspiration from Jillian Michaels’ app and made a few modifications. It is extremely tasty – Mira gives it two arms up (she’s not quite doing the thumbs yet, and most food ends up on her head). I also think it would make a great freezer meal, which is a great thing to learn about during pregnancy.
This soup was a big hit with the whole family (Mira has had two big bowls – yay for toddlers eating vegetables).
The recipe is vegan, gluten free, and high in protein, which is awesome because it helps this pregnant lady feel full.
I’ve been craving the heat throughout this pregnancy, and what I love to add to this dish is my nonna’s peppers. I haven’t tried my hand at making these peppers yet, so I will cherish this jar until it is no more. Dave and I are pretty excited to give it a shot and I’ll let you know how it goes.
A little bit goes a long way when it comes to nonna’s hot peppers, so watch yourself.
Vegan, Gluten-Free, White Bean & Kale Soup.
Inspiration: Jillian Michaels
*if you prefer a smooth soup at this point you can slowly blend portions of the soup by 1.5-2 cups at a time.
I highly recommend that you make this soup to get you through the cold winter months!
I recently read the article “The Most Important Phrase My Therapist Taught Me” and it struck me for a few reasons. I’m happy that I’m seeing more pieces being written that normalize seeing a psychologist. My hope is that one day we will all regularly check in with therapists as often as we do regular practitioners. Additionally the article reminded me of the many phrases my therapist said to me which have helped me so much in the last eight years.
First I want to share with you my therapy journey. It was 2010 and I had just graduated from grad school, I was having a hard time feeling fulfilled, both in my job and in my relationships. I was often paralyzed by important choices and would rely on others to help me make them. When I did make the choices (even with the help from others) I felt very anxious afterwards. I noticed some recurring patterns in both the situations and the people that gave me anxiety and I decided that something needed to be done.
**As a side note, I think all my life I was trying to find a fix for my anxiety, when I was in elementary and middle school it was food, when I was in high school it was disordered eating, when I was in late highschool/early college it was drugs/alcohol, and throughout college it was a mix of exercise/disordered eating. I don’t think all of my outlets were negative, but I think more often then not untreated psychosis (which can be more common than we think) ends up being self-medicated.**
At that point I decided to search for my psychiatrist through my insurance website and I found someone who had experience with anxiety, specifically OCD, which I felt was something I demonstrated. Initially, it was very important that I see him consistently (weekly) for the first six months, there’s research to support the effectiveness of this regularity. I continued to see him regularly for a few years in addition to taking anxiety medicine. We eventually decided to decrease medication (after two years of use) and over the course of the next three years I slowly decreased the amount that I saw my therapist. I no longer see my therapist, but I know he’s just a phone call away, and if I needed help and he was no longer practicing I would look for another therapist.
This leads me to some of the phrases my therapist said that have stuck with me. When I first met my therapist he said:
“Anxiety can be like the static on a radio, I’m not here to take it away, but I’m here to help you turn it down”
I think of this when I’m feeling down that I still have anxiety. Being a person with anxiety is not a bad thing, but we can make it a bad thing in our minds. If it isn’t debilitating us, then sometimes we can ‘just have anxiety’ and that’s okay.
“It’s a disappointment they can handle”
This is something that I remind myself on the daily. I have a really hard time when I think I might let people down, anger someone, or disappoint them. So much of my anxiety has come from thinking ‘I’ve done something wrong.’ This simple phrase he taught me has made me able to make choices in life that feel good for me and line up with morals and not constantly worry about the people I care about being mad at me for it. In addition I started following Nayyirah Waheed on instagram and she has had a few quotes that inspire me, including this one:
“When you stop seeing a therapist it doesn’t go away, you take all the work you did with you”
I remember feeling anxious about the fact that we were moving to California and that I wouldn’t be able to see MY therapist. We had multiple conversations about it and this was ultimately the phrase that I returned to when I worried about it.
There were so many invaluable conversations my therapist and I had throughout the years and I reflect on them often. The last time I experienced a debilitating anxiety attack was in 2011. I continue to have occasional anxiety, as I probably will for the rest of my life, but I never feel out of control like I once did. I would say that I will never be able to thank my therapist enough for his help, but I’d also have to thank myself because I made the choice to call him, make the appointments, and do the work.
Well in the bittersweet way that life often happens we found ourselves in Southern California last week when Dave’s grandma passed away. We spent the majority of time in Los Angelos, but we made our way down to Orange County on a couple of occasions, one of those occasions being Disneyland. I’m going to write a more detailed post about some of my favorite places in southern California (I’ve been meaning to do that since we lived down there), but for now let me tell you about our trip to Disneyland, or as I like to refer to it, Mira’s first trip to Disneyland. I was slightly apprehensive to go to Disneyland with a child under 5, but that was before I found myself 40 minutes away from Disneyland. That. Changed. Everything.
Some of you may have agreed with my initial sentiment (especially those of you who have knowledge of child development….man, the skill set they expect you to have at Disneyland….patience, delayed gratification, etc….I know adults that don’t have that shit), but Mirabella had one of the best days of her life. I’m not even talking about how excited/happy she was, I’m talking about minimal-upset, falling asleep on dad, riding five rides and not being afraid of any (even the witch on Snow White, who was my dad’s biggest fear for a large part of his childhood).
So now I’m of the mindset that it really depends on the child, I even think you could have an infant that would be good to go in Disneyland (as long as you have someone to watch them while you ride ALL the rides). One of my all time favorite rides is Pirates of the Caribbean, and this time the ride was even better! Mira spent the entire ride laying on me half asleep (she NEVER does that), it was just really amazing!
My mom came down with us to Cali to help with watching Mira while I worked and Dave was occupied. It was nice having her with us and I know it made Mira happy. Flying with Mira is definitely a joint effort at this point, so it was nice to have her with us on the flight down when Dave was already in LA.
One of my favorite parts about Disneyland are the treats and we tried a few new ones this time. I was ALL about the slushies, this was actually my second of the day (the first one I didn’t snap a pic of, but it was orange-lemonade and it was delicious).
My mom tried the grey stuff, and apparently the dishes were correct, it’s delicious.
Here’s a list of all the other things we had that I didn’t snap a picture of: Frito Pie (this is an off menu item that you can ask for at the refreshment corner – Dave reports it’s delicious), Clam Chowder Bread Bowl (I may have ate mine and Daves), Mickey Macaroons (OMG, so delicious), Jack Skellington Cake Pop (not my fav – too much white chocolate), and as always Pooh Sandwich (I think they renamed it Mickey Sandwich, but I’ll always know it as the Pooh Sandwich) – old picture for memories.
I’d say Mira’s absolute favorite part of Disneyland was the characters, but it was perfect because she’s not at an age where she could say “I want to wait in line an hour to get their signature.” It was more of a, if we saw them we saw them, if not then who cares. When she saw Pooh she was in heaven, the funny part is it was really her first time seeing Winnie the Pooh (we didn’t even get to ride the ride because it was closed), she just really has an intense love of visually stimulating stuffed animals (aka ELNO!!!).
I’m not going to lie to you, there was a lot of apprehension about taking our 16-month-old to Disneyland, and while I’m not saying it’s something everyone should do, I do think that it really depends on your child. Mira had a great time, and I have no ragrats!
I’m excited for the time that we can go to Disney and Mira can form full sentences to tell us about what she’s seeing and how she feels about it!!!