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The Art of Running in the Rain

"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift." -Prefontaine

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Toddler

Helping The Picky Toddler With Meal Time

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

Be well.

Mira is 18 Months!

As of December 16th Mirabella is officially 18 months!

unnamed.jpgShe 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.

IMG_7890In 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!

IMG_7719.jpgMira 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.

unnamed (1).jpgMira 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.

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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.

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In the last six months Mira has experienced her second Halloween, which if you recall…last year wasn’t her fave…

IMG_4705.JPGThis 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.

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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.

IMG_E8086.JPGI 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.

Be well.

Mira’s First Trip To Disneyland

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.

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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).

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My mom tried the grey stuff, and apparently the dishes were correct, it’s delicious.

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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.

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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!!!).

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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!

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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!!!

Be well.

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