Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy First Birthday Corbin

Today my youngest turns one. How is that even possible? I swear we brought him home from the hospital last week. Yet, at the same time, it is like he has always been here. Isn't it funny how that works. Time and emotion combined makes things so complicated.

Being number 4, means his time spent with mommy is broken up between or shared with 3 siblings. I think that is why this one has rushed by. I swear, I blinked and he aged. It has been terrible. Wonderful at the same time but quite ridiculous.

Corbin is a pure joy. God knew what He was doing when He surprised us with this one. When days are crazy and painful and defeating with everything that our life has thrown at us, this boy will manage to light up the room for all of us.

Oh, and can we just talk about those eyes for a second? Seriously, this boy makes his mommy swoon. It is that reason that you all get to have a picture overload here today to celebrate Corbin. Happy Birthday baby boy!

And how cute are the one year photos we took? He slays me!

Monday, July 21, 2014

This is our Autism

A few days ago I stumbled upon  this post. I was hesitant to even read it because I was so sick of everyone telling me what autism is "supposed to look like". Our son does not fit in the box that most people see as autism.

The post was talking about just that. It made me feel so much better to know that in fact, my child is not the only one who isn't like every other autistic child. In fact, as the saying goes "if you've met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism".

What does autism look like in our house?

It is jumping when he is nervous or overstimulated or excited or scared. Something we now know is called stemming and makes him feel better. Even if it's dangerous while walking through a parking lot or jars my back for the umpteenth time.

It's taking selfies over and over because he gets excited that he can finally see what mommy means when she tells him to make a happy face or any type of emotion on his face.

It's a routine that can't be broken. A person who is only good for the job he has associated with them.

It's hours of therapies and time taken away from normalcy. Mommy guilt galore as I have to dedicate the extra hours to one child.

It's chasing him down halls or aisles or beaches or anywhere because he runs and he doesn't respond to his name.

It's letting a two year old play on an iPad and hearing the whispers of all the things people wouldn't let their kids do...when really they have no clue.

It requires holding him down or putting him in his crib or stroller so that he can't bang his head on the floor anymore. So that he can't hit anymore. So everyone is safe.

It is fearing he will fall when he climbs high just to jump down. Or when he does everything in his power to get his face under water. Or wants to put everything in his mouth.

It's celebrating when he says a new word. Clapping when he can feed himself with a spoon. Happy Dancing when he plays with his peers and they don't exclude him.

His autism looks different then the kid sitting next to him. Our journeys and battles and triumphs are so different yet so alike.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Daytime Smokey Eye

Last week I introduced the idea of Make-Up Mondays on Instagram and Facebook and y'all went crazy. I have been receiving e-mails, messages and comments for sometime asking for info on what make-up I'm wearing or tips on how to achieve the looks. I had no clue though just how serious you guys were. With a inbox full of requests, here I am launching it.

Let me start by saying, I am not a pro. Like not even close. I don't know proper technique or terminology. If you are looking for that, there are lots of beauty blogs on YouTube, I'd be happy to help you find one that fits what you are looking for. That being said, everything I am doing, you CAN do.

So our first tutorial? My take on the Daytime Smokey Eye. By far the most requested look by all y'all.

Here is the finished look. You can also see it in more detail in that shot up above the video. Totally something you could all rock. Is there another look that you are dying to try?

Don't mind my crazy lady hair, it's hot in this house. I was not ready to pump hot hair at myself in order to dry the mane.

What is your go to look?

Monday, July 7, 2014

BJ's Restaurants New Mobile App

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and BJ’s Restaurants, but all my opinions are my own. #DineInOrderAhead #pmedia

Meal times are a big deal in our family. It is about more than just eating. It is about gathering around a table and enjoying each other. It is for this reason that we love going out to eat. Although I like to cook, skipping the responsibilities and just spending time with those I care about is such a treat for me.

Since having kids, dining out has gotten harder and harder. Having a child with autism and some pretty serious sensory disorders has made eating out nearly impossible. The long wait for a seat is just the start of the meltdowns. Having 4 kiddos need to sit still (especially our sensory seeker) while we wait for drinks and food can be brutal. If we manage to make it through that, by the grace of God, waiting for the check and then the back and forth of leaving a card, having it charged and so forth promises a not so fun time. Not for us and not for those in surrounding seats who get to endure a meltdown with us.

All of that being said, dining out as a family has become almost non-existent. When it does happen, it almost always ends in tears. Not just for the kids. For me too. Tears of embarrassment, of frustration and sometimes tears stemming from the feeling of failing our kids. I mean, it shouldn't be that hard, right?

When I was first introduced to the idea of BJ's Restaurants Dine In Order Ahead and Mobile Pay Features on their new mobile app, I had no idea what it would mean for our family. We knew that the convenience would help us to hurry through a meal...maybe we would survive an outing. You guys! We not only survived, we enjoyed a meal out as a family. For the first time in a very long time. Do you know how big of a deal this is? Like seriously!!!

We tried the app out for the first time last Sunday. After church, I downloaded it on my iPhone (it is available on Androids as well), explored the menu and placed everyone's orders as we drove to BJ's Restaurant.

When we arrived, we simply told the hostess that we used the Dine in Order Ahead app and we were seated pretty quickly. If you are already close to the restaurant, I would recommend ordering a few minutes before leaving or use the Preferred Waitlist feature, we would have gotten in even more quickly had we done that.

Almost immediately after being seated our drinks arrived. Only 5 minutes after that, our appetizer arrived, followed by the kids food and our meals. Pizookie came as we were finishing up our food.

My favorite part, Mobile Pay, before we were even done with dessert I was able to pay the bill right from my phone. No awkward asking for the bill. No shuffling back and forth or waiting. The second we finished our meal we were able to pack up and go. No tantrums waiting around while ready to go. It was amazing. We were in and out in 41 minutes! The only tears shed after this meal were of relief and sheer joy that we were able to dine out as a family again.

I know so many people who could benefit from using this app. I would highly recommend this for families with littles, parents who need to rush through date night in order to capitalize on babysitter times or if you are catching a meal in a rush.

Download the Dine in Order Ahead App now!
Download the app for your iPhone or Android and enjoy a delicious meal with ease.

I am so excited to be able to go out to dinner with my little family for my birthday later this month. It will be the first time in 2 years that we have been able to do that. It is the little things!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Day I Became a Special Needs Mom

Today, I became a special needs mom. There's something about a diagnosis that somehow changes everything. Between the hours of two and four o'clock today, nothing about Little Man changed, yet our world did.

His behaviors and functioning were the same yesterday as they were today...but today he is autistic. The A word. It rocks you. It shakes you in a way you would never imagine.

Looking at my boy before his evaluation, I already knew everything they were going to say. Sensory issues galore. Little to no eye contact. Severe speech delays. And the tantrums. I knew the words were coming before an evaluation was even referred. Yet today when the words left the doctors mouth, I froze.

All of the questions I had planned to ask when they gave me the diagnosis were lost. I just sat there. I nodded and agreed to all the things they listed about my boy. About my autistic son.

In a way, hearing it spoken out loud, helped me. For months, we have been in a place of what ifs and how do we's . This gives us so much clarity. You guys, I am going to be able to learn how to parent my kid. To be able to get him the therapies he needs to function. All I can think about is how, maybe just maybe, someday soon other kids will actually want to play with him.

Seeing your child struggle through the days is heart wrenching. Knowing that there is a reason for it brings a little relief. In no way are we wanting to label him or put him in a box. We know how big our God is. We know He will use this.

I feel like such a scattered mess. Half of me is heart broken. My sweet boy, he will live every day in a way that I cannot even imagine. I can try to grasp it and do my best to understand but I never really will. His life will be a little harder because of this. Our lives will be too. I feel so selfish saying that but it will be. From speech therapy to OT and ABA therapy, there will be hours spent.

On the other side, this boy radiates joy. He is the sweetest little love bug. He is worth every struggle and every minute spent.

I know that this diagnosis does not limit what he can do or who he can be. It means work but not boudries. It means struggles but not limitations. Being special needs does not put him on a specific path, we just need to figure out what route to take.

We are ready to put in the work to see little man blossom. I would be lying to say I wasn't a little relieved. His autism means I wasn't failing as his mom. Although before today I didn't know I was an autism mom, I was in the trenches, with no guidelines, no idea how to parent this child. It is not an easy place to be. To doubt everything you do because you aren't sure if you are disciplining your child for something that they truly can't control. Forcing them to do things that scare or overwhelm them. Now I know and now I can learn what he needs and how he needs it.

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....Before I ever gathered the courage to publish this post, are worlds got shook up more than ever before. The phone rang. A call I wasn't prepared to answer. "Mrs. Murphy, we have received the lab work back. Although most things came back negative. We do have one abnormality..." This is the moment that the room starts spinning and the words sound like a muffled slow motion mess. "There is a chromosome loss. His loss is indicating Cri-Du-Chat. A rare genetic disorder found in 1 in 50,000 children"

How can this even be possible? How can one child be dealt so many bad hands? One moment we were fine. The next we are finding out just how much of a challenge his life could actually be. We are trusting in God to give us guidance and answers and miracles. We are ready for this rain to stop and the blessings to shine.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a life, that although hard, will be full of blessings. We have already seen so many little things that show us how God's hand has been in Little Man's life from day one, even as he was in his birth mother's womb. Many things we cannot share because of him being a foster placement. 

One thing I cannot get past is the location of his chromosome loss. Had it been anywhere else in the area where Cri-Du-Chat is located, he would have had a cat like cry. They would have known of this disorder from birth. They did not. This disorder puts him in a special needs category that we said we could not handle. We would have never received a placement call for him when he was detained. He was meant to be our child, regardless of whether we thought we could handle it or not. We had a plan but our God is bigger and His plans are far more beautiful.  I did not sign up for special needs adoption. In fact, I set limitations on it. But today, I am a special needs mom and it doesn't look anything like what I imagined.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Motherhood: A Rewarding Challenge

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Lifeway Kefir, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #

With Mother's Day approaching, I have been thinking a lot about what it has meant to me to be a mom. Since, having my daughter my life has changed drastically and has altered more and more with each additional child. So what have all of these changes meant to me?

The first thing that usually comes to mind is that it is the hardest job that I have ever had but also the most rewarding. I wake up early(ish) and go to bed late. I don't get a lunch break, most days I don't even get a lunch. Unless you count the kids left over sandwich crust. The to do list never ends but only grows. The laundry and dishes resemble my to do list as they stack up higher and higher. While I face the chaos though, I get to watch them grow and learn. I get to witness and be a part of every little milestone and it is overwhelmingly beautiful and oh so worth it all.

My aunt told me the other day that "this season goes by so fast but you will feel every minute of it". Her words could not have been more true. We can already see it in the short years we have been through. I swear I just brought Rhiannon home from the hospital and she is 5 and we have three more. How has it sped by so much, yet felt like it would never end at times? The time is rushing by but we are feeling it. It is pretty amazing. Like I said, it is hard but so rewarding.

The feelings of being overwhelmed, in both the challenges and the joy of motherhood, are just the surface of how I feel about motherhood. Deep down, the true feeling that is stirring inside of me is honor. I am so honored to be their mama. I am so honored that God has entrusted ME with these kids. To raise them. To care for them. To keep them healthy and safe.

Raising kids today can be scary. Forget about the violence and just plain terrifying things that face us out there in this world. Simply what enters our home can be scary. There's so many diseases, chemicals in our food, things we just didn't have to worry about when we were growing up. Or maybe we just didn't know about them yet. Either way, this is a scary time to be raising kids. And to think, I am being trusted to care for 4 kids. Wow. It is such an honor to be a mom.

I am taking the privilege seriously and doing what I can to make sure I do the best I can to protect them. We try to eat as healthy as we can. As much organic, healthy food as possible. With the occasional junk because we are human. We filter what enters our home, on the TV and Radio, but also when it comes to healthy families (both physically and what kind of junk they bring with them). We need to be careful what we expose our kids to but also make sure they are exposed enough to shine their little lights. We use essential oils instead of the usual medications...and only feel a little bit like hippies because of it.

Recently we began purchasing LifeWay Kefir ProBugs. They are a great way to add probiotics into our little one's diets without them fighting us. The kids love them. They are delicious, the baby steals them and I had to go back to buy the Lowfat Kefir Probiotics. Beyond the taste and feeling like I should get an award based on the kids reactions when I give them to them, I feel like this is just one more step in making sure I am doing everything I can to take care of the little lives that I am responsible for.

I will never be the perfect mom. I fail daily and am teaching my kids to forgive with each mistake I make. I am learning along the way. With each day comes a new challenge and a new reward. I am so excited to see what the next stage brings. I know I will be tested and tried but this journey is one that I wouldn't give up for anything.

I would love to hear about your life as a mommy. So comment, tell me, what is your biggest trial or biggest reward as a mom?

Learn more about Lifeway Kefir

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Yo Gabba Gabba Birthday

A few weeks ago, Little Man turned 2. It has gone by so fast. I feel like we just had his 1st Birthday Party. It has indeed been a year though. This years party was more low profile since he can't handle the crowds as well.

I have also decided that all birthdays, other than the big ones (one, five, ten, sixteen) will be done a little more simplistic. Talon's last birthday was rough on me, I tried smaller and hated it, you can read about that here. For Little Man's party, I feel like I found my place. I still stuck to the more handmade, personalized feel but incorporated some store bought and simple accents. I loved it. And Little man...well, we still have a few decorations up. We are having to gradually move things.

The theme this year was Yo Gabba Gabba. He is obsessed and we couldn't think of anything he would love more.

 We stuck with bright colors. Trying to only use the colors of the characters. Purchased the pinwheels pre-made (just needed to be fanned out) from party city. It helped to keep a handmade look without the extra work.

The party was later in the day, planned around nap time, so we only served snacks and desserts. My goodness did that save us time. I am usually in the kitchen for hours on party days. This party was all prepped the day before.

Added in some balloons and character decorations and we were set. It was a hit with little man. 

 Oh, and his favorite part? Yo Gabba Gabba logo on the chalk wall. It's the little things I guess.

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