Tuesday, May 28, 2013

cheap eats

Ok so it's been awhile since I've blogged about saving money, notably through couponing.  Probably because since starting my part time social work job a year ago, I just don't have as much time.  I used to coupon while I babysat my little fella - while he napped of course, but I don't sit for him anymore (boo) so I'm not as disciplined carving out that time to coupon at home.  Because when I'm at home alone I peruse facebook.  I clean and cook.  And cook and clean.  And go through things to sell that my kids have outgrown but then think better of it and hide it in the back of the closet.


That's not to say I'm not still trying to save money.  I gotta.  So I cut a few coupons for items that I know always have them available (General Mills Cereals, yogurt, hygiene items, to name a few) and regardless of whether or not I have coupons I ALWAYS look through the circulars.  I don't shop for only what I need for that particular week.  Yes I always need produce, eggs, bread, milk, etc.  But I always have my eye out for a great deal on things we consistently go through and then I stock up so I don't need it for awhile.

I have a cousin that has $20 to spend this week for food and she is discouraged.  And rightfully so - that is a tight budget with 2 children at home full time.  But I think she can do it and here is my idea how.

This would be easier if I knew she had some pantry staples like dry pasta, rice, bread, etc.  But I'll assume she has nothing just in case.

With a $20 budget you can buy -

Gallon of whole milk $3.50 - pour some out for you and your husband into a pitcher and thin with water to make skim milk and keep the rest whole for your kids.  This will increase your milk.

Eggs $2.00 (or $2 worth of fruit or frozen veggies if you aren't egg eaters)

Chicken sale pieces $3.50

*Bread $1.00

Peanut butter $2.50

*Jelly $1.00

*Bag of crunchy pretzels $1.00 (or similar snack for kids)

Pasta x2  $1.50

*Sauce $1.00

*Oatmeal $1.00

*Cereal $1.00

*Bag of rice $1.00 (or a $1.00 worth of potatoes from store)

TOTAL - $20 (that's how fast $20 goes!)
If you DO have some items in the pantry like pasta, oatmeal, sauce, rice, etc -- I would use that money then to buy a big jar of applesauce, bag of carrots, a few apples and maybe a fruit that's on sale that the kids love.

* - Buy these items at the dollar store

Breakfast and Lunch Ideas                    

Peanut butter and jelly sammies
Egg salad sammies
Leftovers by the end of week


Pasta x2

Chicken boiled to get every last scrap of meat off so you can make 2 meals from it.  Serve with rice or potatoes.  Better if you do in fact have a few pantry items like bbq sauce to flavor the chicken.

Hot peanut butter sammies with milk

Breakfast for dinner with whatever leftover breakfast items you have by the end of the week

YES this is a boring menu.  YES this is very unappetizing.

But when times are tight, you make due.  It will hurt when your kids beg for Goldfish and you can't spend the $2.  But this doesn't mean you're poor or broke.  This is a season of frugalness.  A season when you need to pinch your pennies.  But every day that you can look at your babies beautiful faces under a roof where there is love, and put food in their tummies even if yours is rumbling a bit...you are blessed.  I am not making light of your situation, it is so hard!!!  We had weeks when my kids were really young, before Kevin changed jobs, that it actually hurt me to tell Kevin we were having pasta or eggs again.  I felt like I was letting him down.  But in actuality, I was holding up my end of the bargain - to stay home and keep my kids safe, especially our little Bailey who has CF and when she was young we were petrified of her getting sick.  She didn't catch a cold for two years!  I held up my end.  We didn't go into debt having food - or furniture! - we couldn't afford.  I held up my end.  I taught them their ABC's and 123's while also keeping myself out of the loony bin...I held up my end.  AND SO ARE YOU.  AND SO IS YOUR HUSBAND.  Life is hard.  Maintaining a family and a home is hard.  Soak up what's easy.  Lovin on your babies.  Praying to God for His help.  Sometimes we were blessed in our grocery budget by being invited to dinner by my inlaws or a playdate with friends where my kids enjoyed some fun snacks.  Keep your eye out for opportunities that are free and fun, to enjoy and take your mind off what's hard.

Staying home with littles is a season.   It's not forever.  You can take that $20 this week and spend it quickly, and I get that you will still be stressed and wished you had 5x that much to spend (and it would still go quickly!).    But just try really hard to enjoy whatever is good and true in your life, and know that someday you will have that $100 to spend, and it will feel good but knowing you made the right choices for your family since the time they were littles...feels better.

Good luck!

Friday, May 24, 2013

what, you don't do that too?

A few days ago I tucked my tweezers into my purse.  My magnifying mirror broke, and I know there are errant hairs on my face that I have missed when plucking using my regular mirror.  Hairs that might poke someone's eye out.

Yes, I am confessing here I have a beard.  It's not a Santa beard, but some of the hairs are white, some are black as coal, and they all protrude from my chin.   And neck.

I'll never forget the day I first saw ChinHair.  I was attending a wedding, and our room was right on the ocean.  The light was streaming in as we got ready.  I decided to use the handheld mirror I had in my purse that had suction cups on the back, and affix it to the sliding door to utilize the good lighting for my makeup.  That's when I saw them.

I think I screamed out loud.  Then cried.  Then wondered WHO had been staring at my face all those times standing outside talking to someone in the bright sun.

I went on a pluck binge, right then and there.  And daily, since that day, I have plucked hairs out of my face.  At one point I went to a dermatologist who told me she didn't really see the problem.  I said it's because I pluck everyday, I can't go around in public with a chin and neck full of scragglepop hairs!  She told me about some expensive options and then said tweezers cost just a few bucks but to be careful, it can damage the skin.  Yeah well, not plucking could damage my social life.

Anyway, the other day I carried tweezers with me in the car, knowing that there is good visibility with the afternoon sun and my visor mirror.  I had planned to find a spot somewhere while the kids were at art class, where no one could see, and go to plucktown.  I forgot though, until I was back home.  So there in the driveway, with the door open because it was hot, I started my work.  I was concentrating, I was busy.

I have neighbors.  And there were joggers.  The late bus came.  I ignored all of it, and kept at my work.

So yes, I am sure someone saw the lady in what looked to be pjs (it's "loungewear" people, and I wear them everywhere I can) plucking her face using the car mirror.

It had to be done and I don't need more friends.  I need the ones I have, who have had conversations with me and ChinHair at the beach in the bright sun, and love me anyway.

But I am going to Target this weekend to replace my mirror.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Top Ten Reasons I am Looking Forward to Summer

I haven't done a Top 10 in awhile.  Here ya go.

Top Ten Reasons I am Looking Forward to Summer

10.  No homework

9.  Sleeping in.  Now that I have older kids I do something like peek out from under my covers and mumble, "Bailey get you and your sister a cereal bar and yogurt and turn on the tv.  Something appropriate.  Yes you can have juice.  Yes you can make a fort while you watch tv.  Yes you can dress up the cats." It's lovely, all of you moms of littles.  If you can sleep through the fights in the bathroom, the fights over what to watch, the fights about who gets the last juice box...summer has extra fighting, just an fyi.

8.  Catching fireflies while we suck on homemade popsicles.

7.  The rush-rush of the school year filled with activities, homework and getting to bed on time slows to a "whatever" kind of pace.

6.  The way little girls look holding hands as they run out into the ocean.

5.  Beach day trips with friends.  Laughing, talking, ducking under waves with the kids, soaking up the sun while I dig my toes into the warm sand.

4.  Spending 2 weeks in Wildwood with the girls and my in-laws.  (yes that is really on this list.)  Kevin comes for the weekend and we go to AC or Cape May for the evening.  The girls LOVE spending this time each summer at "the yellow house."

3.  Going to the pool!!  We hit up our neighborhood pool, our in-laws neighborhood pool, my mom's pool, friends pools...

2.  Going to the lake.  It's free (donations when you can) and it's lovely.  Adirondack chairs, rowboats, and I always go with friends.  Or if I go to the lake in my development I load the kids in the car with beach toys and I lay on my blanket and read while they play.  Sometimes we pick up a pizza and have dinner there with Kev after work.

and my number one thing I look forward to in the summer...

1.  The beach!!!!  Ok I sense a recurring theme.  But I can't help it, I can't wait!

Have I made you excited about summer?!  Summer wasn't always so fun, it's only been the last few years.  I've always loved the beach, always loved swimming...but some of the joy is taken away when you're trying to deal with a sensory kid who doesn't like the sun, noisy people, hot sand...all while trying to watch your older child who has NO fear of the water whatsoever and seems to want to swim to China.  Changing "waterproof" diapers sucks, missing naps sucks, how hot it is outside at the playground sucks.  But now that my girls are older I LOVE SUMMER.

Except for how I look in a bathing suit.  But I'm not going to care about that anymore, right?!  Whatever, I totally care.  But it's so worth wrangling myself into a "Just Your Size" minimizer suit (minimizer is just a clever word for Fat-Displacer.  Trust me, if your stomach looks smoother, your ass just got bigger.) to be with my girls at the pool and beach.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

eyes of the beholder

I have been feeling pretty fat and frumpy lately.  By lately I mean the last 15 years.  This is no surprise to a seasoned reader of this blog.

My sweet friends, adoring mother and husband Kevin are kind to give me compliments at times.  And I take them, as much as I am able.  But even when I receive a compliment that I am so appreciative of, that ugly voice from within pipes up with "they're just being nice" or "it's the shirt, it's flattering" or..."hmm, he's trying to sweet talk me."  I don't really believe the nice thing they're saying.

But tonight, my daughter Taylor, aka Truth Teller, wrote me a note for no reason.  It said, "Beautiful.  Mommy is Beautiful."

Be still my heart.

This is the girl who you don't want to ask "how do I look?" without getting a full body scan look and then the truth.  She might say, "um...I don't like that shirt." or "Didn't you wear that yesterday?" or my favorite, "You told me not to say anything out loud unless it's nice."

Seriously Mom?  You want to know how you look in those jeans?  

So I am taking this compliment and not turning it around.  And you know what?  I want to start taking other compliments too.  Because when I compliment someone, I mean it.  If I say you look so pretty today, I really think you look pretty, not that your shirt is flattering.  So who am I to say that someone doesn't mean the same to me?

I'm kind of getting sick of putting myself down.  I'm getting tired of detesting the girl in the mirror before me.  It's doing nothing for me.

Imagine what this world would be like if a bunch of women thought more of themselves?  I bet there'd be a lot more fit, healthy women with better careers, for a start.

I have two daughters to raise and I need them to always believe they are beautiful, inside and out.  And tonight I am feeling so thankful to Taylor that she thinks her mommy is too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

out of the rubble

I had been having a rough few days - the sadness would come and go, but over the last week I had a lot of sad moments among regular life and the joy that I have with family and friends.

But something about seeing a tornado rip through a town that is so much like yours and mine - wow that puts things into perspective, doesn't it.

At this time, from my understanding (as I can not watch much coverage) there are children still unaccounted for.  Lost.  Buried in rubble.  Can you imagine being a parent of one of these babies?  I can not!!  Oh Lord, make your presence known to these families!!  Shine a light onto these children and let them be found.  They are not lost to you.  Let them be found.

Kevin and I prayed this morning after the children left for school, and in his prayer Kevin recounted something we had seen maybe a week ago...a woman who survived after being underneath the rubble of a building for 17 days.

If you believe in the power of prayer, can you join me in asking God for His great favor for these families.  So much devastation and loss.

God bless Oklahoma.

Monday, May 20, 2013

my person

Ever watch Grey's Anatomy?  Then you have heard Meredith and Cristina say, "you're my person."  That one soul who completely gets you, is with you, fights for you, etc.

I want to say my person is Kevin.  And in so many ways he is.  In all of the important ways.  I am completely myself with Kevin, and I can go to him for anything.  But alas, he is a man.

I am blessed with wonderful friends.  I have a few good ones who would be there for me, no matter what.  And we have such fun together, such great conversations that I never want to end.

But really, my person is probably my mom.

My mom would do anything for me, and has.  It was my mom who I had to have when I was in difficult labor with Bailey, and who I asked to come close so I could whisper, "Kill me now...save the baby but kill.me.now."  (Good news is she didn't comply, and instead ordered me to stop being the crazy nut on full Pitocin to get an epidural.  That's another plus - she makes good decisions on my behalf).  She stayed with me after both babies were born and got the flu that struck our house when Tate came home.  Even when she was sick - because she had been here helping me - she tried to do all she could for us in her weakened state.  I can tell her whatever is on my mind, and even if she disagrees she'll say, "oh Brynnie...".  She loves me in spite of, and because of, all the things that make me...me.  She thinks I'm awesome, and it feels great to know that someone in this world thinks you can do anything.

My relationship with my mom is not perfect, and never was.  But she is so important to me and I am so grateful to have her.

If you have a "person" - invest in that relationship.  If you feel like you don't, think through your family and friends and pick someone whom you would like to be that person for.  Spend time together and in time, perhaps your relationship will grow to a place that is really special.

I believe in Jesus and I know I can call on him when I'm in that middle-of-the-night panic and he will comfort me.  But there's something different, and needed, about being able to call someone and hear their voice.  God created us to be in relationship with people and I believe He blesses some relationships to help us in this life.

Thanks Mom, for helping me.  I love you.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Forgiveness is hard, wouldn't you say?  I think it's because we can't forget.  We can't just flip a switch and have a memory erased, as much as sometimes we wish to.  So even though, in good circumstances, we want to forgive, and we even feel compassion, understanding, love and forgiveness...the memory still comes.  Maybe because of the date on the calendar, maybe from a song playing on the radio, maybe as your mind wanders in the quiet still of the morning.

Forgiveness is hard.  It's hard even under the best conditions - whoever has wronged you has asked for your forgiveness, and has asked to bless you going forward.  The memory lingers, and the trust doesn't come easily and without question.  It's work, and sacrifice.  Forgiveness can even come and go...you feel liberated and loving, maybe even for long stretches of time.   But then perhaps the memory comes, the anger and hurt flares, and you realize you need to go back to step 1, in order to forgive, again.

Forgiveness is crazy hard when the situation is worse...nobody wants your forgiveness, or the wrong is ongoing.   Or the person has passed away and there will be little or no"closure".

No advice from my corner.

I think on God's perspective of forgiveness...how we sin every day in many ways, and He forgives us as soon as we whisper the words "please God..." from our lips.  Yes, there may be consequences that could be far reaching even, from our words or actions, but God's heart is loving towards us and forgiveness is freely given.

But He is God and I am not, so it comes much harder for me.

As in all things though, I think forgiveness is a learning process, and perhaps one we will not master in this life.  Maybe, but I don't know.  Maybe some areas of hurt can be completely forgiven, with the memories never causing any pain again.  Maybe the memories even change within the safety of our mind.  For myself I am learning that just in all things, I do not need to be perfect here.  I can struggle with forgiveness, and still love.  My struggle brings me closer to God in a way, because I look up to Him in adoration for what He is capable of doing so selflessly.  Does that make sense?

I am working through this area in my life.  Forgiveness towards others and towards MYSELF.  I have wronged myself, I have let myself down, I have made promises to me that I haven't kept.  Let alone to others.

Forgiveness is hard.  Not forgiving is harder.   I'm working on it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

dragging feet

Why is it when we know exactly what to do, how to do it and how much we need to do it -- we still don't?  I'm not the only one with this problem, or there would be very few smokers, rarely a chunky girl to be seen, and hardly any hardcore drug users and alcoholics.


I am anxious to see in the decades to follow how far researchers and doctors can come within this broad area of study.  Isn't it fascinating?  And terrible.  Why is it that some people can drink a few cocktails, like myself, and enjoy them but then not pick up a drink for months with no desire whatsoever.  But others, with that predisposition perhaps, to alcoholism can not stop...even losing their jobs, families, home, health, etc.  That's a lot to lose!!!  And yet they can't stop, not usually without medical and psychological intervention.

I have realized over the last several years that I have a mediocre addiction to food.  I am not so addicted that I eat bags of something, or weigh 500lbs where my life is a DiscoveryHealth tv show.  I haven't had Dr. Oz show up at my front door.  But there's certainly an addiction here.  A friend of mine and I made a joke about being holed up in a cabin with  our "trainer" (I take an exercise class once a week with a girl who's one tough nugget...but sweet as pie...mmm...pie (Homer Simpson, I digress).  Anyway, that would scare the jip out of me.  Same goes with weight loss surgery - I am thankful it exists, I think it's life saving for many people.  But I can't imagine not getting to eat some of my favorite dishes ever again.

If you have read my blog or know me at all, I make no bones about this area of my life.  I could talk about it in front of a room full of strangers in fact.  (Side note - I had a dream I was a public speaker and I LOVED it.  Adding that to my list of "Somehow/Someway/Someday").   I get more embarrassment walking up to the beach in my tent of a cover up with skinny friends than I do writing on this blog for instance.

Said coverup above.  Hard to see because I'm hiding behind my children.

I know so many women are in my boat...and we want to get out...and we know HOW to get out...but it's SO hard.

The few times in my life I lost a chunk of weight something just clicked in my head and I just did it.  Nothing could tempt me.

The last few months I have been making a few changes.  Exercising more, eating just a tiny bit less.  I've lost a few pounds but with MANY pounds to go, it can feel overwhelming.  I keep trying to remind myself that even just one pound off is one pound off of my ass, my tummy or my chins for crying out loud.

But more than that, I have been trying to get at the root of why this is an area of need for me.  Why is this such a struggle?  I KNOW the blessings that would come from a healthier body and lifestyle - not to mention the example I would set for my girls!

I don't know the answer to that, but I commit today - just today - to pray for God's help to abstain from anything that's unhealthy for me and to exercise.  String a bunch of "todays" together and improved health would surely result.

Monday, May 13, 2013

surprising favors

Last night as Mother's Day came to a close, Kevin was kind enough to give me a backrub.  Ahhhhhh.  I love backrubs - who doesn't?!  Ever since carrying Taylor, even with chiropractic care, my hips still ache sometimes at the end of the day and I think they're even a little misaligned.  Not to mention the extra padding probably doesn't help.  The rub felt so good.  I ooohhed and ahhhed to positively affirm verbally how nice it felt in the hope that he wouldn't stop.  Of course all good things must come to an end, and Kevin started to pull up the sheet to tuck me in.  I said thank you and started to curl up on my side.

But he pulled the sheet back down and gave me another rub.  For several more minutes!!!  In all of our years, I don't remember ever getting a bonus, surprise rub!!  Sure, I constantly ask, "just one more minute?!"  but to be finished and then just give a whole additional rub?

I would not have done this.

So as I started to fall asleep last night, I thought about how good surprise gifts and unexpected favors feel.  Truly, yes?

I have several goals this week.  To finish filing papers.  To coordinate visits and do paperwork for my job.  Make doctor appointments, clean something (everything), cut coupons, make a week of healthy tasty meals.  Care for my girls and Kevin.   Chat with a few friends and exercise a few times.  Lose 30 lbs.

Ok I wish.

Anyway, to my list I am adding "surprising favor."  I don't know what I want to do and for whom, but it is on my heart how wonderful it is to receive something unexpected.

Have a good week friends, and may you receive a surprising favor!

Friday, May 10, 2013

this mother

There's been a trend I've noticed, going around FB.  At least on my FB feed.  There have been really well written articles/blog posts from moms - and dads - that basically say, "Parenting young kids is really hard.  We love them, but it is so hard.  Don't be judgemental, don't tell me to enjoy every second, don't tell me this time when they're young is precious and don't tell me these years will go by in a blink."

As I said, these articles are really well written.  They're humorous, they're TRUE, they're validating and they resonate with moms and dads everywhere that are in the thick of it - the years when little ones are little.

But I'm standing from a different viewpoint.  My view is of two big brown eyed girls that with every week seem to somehow grow taller.  My view looking down is of a girl who loves to snuggle me, and thank God still does, but her legs stretch long and hit the floor as she tries to curl up on me.  We cling to each other, desperate to make the snuggle work, but uncurl arms and legs after only a few minutes because the puzzle pieces have changed.  I stand, suggesting we lay on her bed instead and though she still asks to be carried, I make her walk or get on my back because I just can't lift her.  Reading books we now sit side by side and most often, I am read to instead.  I remember like yesterday picking them up in Sunday school and although we had only been apart an hour, they'd run to me yelling "Mommy!" and jump in my arms.  I marveled at their joy of simply seeing me, and noticed that many children didn't scream, jump and run.  They rarely do anymore - now they ask for a few more minutes and then take off with friends.

They are still young.  They still wave to me from their seats on the bus in the morning, Tate blowing kisses and signing "I love you."  They still love tuck-ins, back scratches as they watch a movie, going to playgrounds and the pool together, playing a game on the floor.  They still color me pictures and leave me lovenotes.  They are still young, they are still young.  I tell myself this all the time.

Perhaps if we hadn't lost a baby last year I'd feel a bit differently.  But as my view is changing, I can't help but feel my heart break a little as these young years wane.   I can't explain exactly why, because YES I do remember how difficult those years were.  I remember peeing with a child on my lap.  I remember peeing without a child on my lap, only to emerge from the bathroom and find that one of them had gotten into my food coloring and emptied all tubes on herself and my kitchen.  I remember vaccines, doctor appointments, "I wish I knew what is wrong!"  I remember wanting to choke the Wiggles and yet thank them for entertaining my girls so I could clean, I remember my house never being clean, I remember feeling trapped within my house that we couldn't afford to do a thing to because I stayed home.  I remembering begging God to PLEASE have her STOP CRYING, I remember begging God for sleep, I remember begging God that they wouldn't cry at MOPS so I could have a hot breakfast and talk with friends without kids climbing up my legs.   I remember begging God that we could make it through the day.  I remember.

But...I also remember little voices and little hands.  Their trust in me, and that I was their world.   I remember how it feels to nurse a baby and have them look up at you as they pull on your hair or squeeze your fingers.  I remember story time at the library and Barnes and Noble.  I remember standing at the bottom of the slide feeling such pride as the big girl (oh but so little and I didn't know it!) made her way down without her sister for the first time.  I remember play dates and long phone calls with friends to help me make it through just a few more hours until Daddy gets home.  I remember bouncing with a baby in a sunbonnet in the pool as she splashed her dimpled hands in the water, screeching with joy.   I remember Bailey's phase of calling everyone "honey" or "sweetie" and how she'd hug and kiss everything, even garbage cans.  I remember our first ride through Small World and that we had to ride it what felt like 10 times in a row every day while there in Disney.  I remember Tate on Kevin's shoulders and Bailey on Poppy's as they saw fireworks above Cinderella's castle.  I remember their awe, and it was pure magic just like the Disney commercials say.  I remember.

If there's one thing I've learned from being a mother is that it's complicated.  Just when you get the hang of one thing, something else pops up.  You can feel 10 different ways all at once.  Yes, I remember those hard years and there are things I don't miss about them.  But so many things I do miss.  I am so thankful my girls are growing, and truly very healthy considering Bailey's CF.  But as I checked on them last night, both long in their beds, I wished to go back, just for a minute.  I do wish I had done some things different.  Played more on the floor, counted to ten before becoming unglued, cuddling for longer before sprinting out to my spot on the couch next to Kevin to watch television that didn't feature theme songs I couldn't get out of my head for days.

You see, it's all true.  The articles that are loved by preschool parents everywhere, in agreement that these years are so hard and do not tell me I will miss this or I will hurt your face.    

But I do miss this.

She needed me to hold her.  She still needs me, but not like this.

So I guess what I'm saying is, forgive me and don't hurt my face when I look longingly at you as you hold a preschooler by the hand, even as she's trying to run the other way and you're also trying to juggle holding a diaper bag and a crying infant.  Yes, I'm jealous of you even still.  And I get that you're jealous of me, with my ability to earn some money again, have hot coffee and have time to myself.  I get it.  

So perhaps, I will try to remember harder how it feels to be sleep deprived, hungry for food not eaten over the sink, and thirsty for friendship that is unconditional.  If you will try to remember that these years are precious, and they are a gift.  Some women would give their right arm to be in your shoes.  

Motherhood is hard.  
The End.
Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

hard won

If you know me, or know my kid Taylor, or used to read my blog back when...you know my 2nd daughter - aka Tater Tot or Tate - has SPD.  Sensory Processing Disorder.  She is 7, and was diagnosed at 3 years old after 3 years of WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS KID?!  Seriously - an ENT, allergist, x-ray, numerous doctors and therapists didn't know.  Some said nothing, some said autism (including one psychiatrist), some said she was just a mad girl...but mama knew.  I knew she had something wrong, but everything that we were told just wasn't "it." After a free seminar about sensory disorders, BAM, here we go.  I found the seminar, at Sensational Kids right here in Marlton, after googling "behavioral help for toddlers."  I listened to a woman describe kids that were just like Taylor and as I cried tears of gratitude that "it" had a name, I remember feeling overwhelmed, scared, thankful, sad.  All I wanted was for my kid to be happy and healthy.  I wanted her to have friends, be kind and gentle hearted, love God and serve others.  I wanted her to marry and have children and let me babysit and sometimes we could leave the kids with their dad and go shopping.  Sitting at that seminar, I didn't get that far ahead but I felt like my heart - which had been hanging in limbo kind of waiting for her to snap out of it I guess - broke a little.  I wondered what this meant for Taylor.

If you're not following along because of the million different emotions I was feeling at one time - well, what can I say.  I'm a woman and I'm a mother.  Welcome to complicated.

Anyway, fast forward through 2 years of special education preschool, private therapy and therapy in school, fast forward through special ed kindergarten and an inclusion class for first grade, fast forward through teachers and therapists that I will forever be indebted to and love, fast forward through a sensory "diet", hours of prayer and teaching Taylor "the long way" how to love others and be compassionate, patient and sweet...fast forward and here we are.

She rocks my world, friends.  Rocks it.  If you know her, you know what I mean.  If you don't know her, you're missing something amazing.

Last night as I tucked Taylor in - which used to involve brushing her body with a special brush to desensitize her and singing her no less than 11 lullabies (seriously, in the same order every time) to calm her  - my baby, my Tater Tot, clutched my arm and said, "You're a good mother" as she looked into my eyes.

Today, at the aquarium for a class trip (which previously she would have been totally stressed over with the noise, smell, different routine etc) she skipped with the other kids and held her best friend's hand.  She ate at the table and offered to share.

These moments are hard won.  These moments are precious.

These moments make the other moments - and of course there are still the OTHER moments - worth it.