Your Happy Pre-Holidays Board Game Review

One of my favorite things about the approaching holiday craziness is…that my favorite game-makers from the Wonder Forge always ask me to review some of their new games. YAY! I love this because I love playing their board games with my kids. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that’s true, and you also know I love using games to help my kiddos who have or have had speech delays – Jonah is currently still in speech. This time around I picked two games with Jonah in mind and one for the big kids. First up – the Tickety Tock Chime Time game for Jonah.

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This game is a lot of fun! The reason I chose it is because there are a variety of cards you draw as part of the game that have activities on them (for example: pretend to walk a tightrope) that you have to do. This is great for teaching Jonah to follow directions and since the activities are silly and fun, he enjoys them. As a matter of fact, he gets a little impatient to get to the cards, so I’ve modified the way we play a little bit, but I think most older three-year-olds will love it just the way it is. I highly recommend it, it’s really fun!

For Joshua, I picked out Marvel Avengers: Slide Strike! – but Sophie loves it too!

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This is really fun because it involves both strategy and surprise – not to mention Joshua’s favorite Marvel characters. Plus, every character combo that battles against each other yields a different outcome. So, the game is really different every time you play!

The last game I reviewed is super super fun – Dr. Seuss Charades!

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Jonah loves, loves, loves Dr. Seuss, and I’m always trying to get him to pretend, so this charades game is PERFECT! Plus it involves a little instruction-following too which is always good. Sophie really gets into this game too and we love to play it together – the whole family enjoys watching Jonah play this, he’s so cute because he’s having so much fun!

Well, that’s the low-down on three of the new games from the Wonder Forge this holiday season, but there are plenty more where that came from! Check out all their games at their website – they even have Frozen games if you’ve got a Frozen fan (like most of us!)

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Working Mom Brain

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Up until this past August, I had been a stay-at-home mom with teeny tiny bits of part time work here and there for years.

Now, I am a work-at-home mom with LOTS of part time work. I work close to 30 hours a week, but since my off-work hours are filled with preschool runs and carpool pick-ups, I don’t really feel like I have a part-time job, because I quite literally have zero downtime during traditional working hours, and most nights I work an hour or so after the kids go to bed.

But it’s not bad. Really, I am enjoying my job SO MUCH. So much that sometimes I feel guilty about it!

I’m still trying to figure out how to balance all this, and it’s recently gotten a tad more difficult because our carpool for the big kids fell apart. Before, I would try to be done working by the time they got home at 3:30 (on days I don’t have a sitter), but now since I leave the house to pick them up about 2:15 or so, I am usually not able to be done working. This is because for the previous four hours I’ve had Jonah home with me and after I get him from school I take about an hour to do our work time together on speech and make and eat lunch. Then he’s running around playing while I am working. So it gets accomplished more in drips and drabs on these days, but I am not ready to have more childcare yet. I only have Jonah home with me for so long before he will be a “big kid” too!

Anyway, so, it’s going fine. But it is different. It’s much different than being a mostly stay-at-home mom, and the biggest difference is really that my brain is more stressed than ever. I’ve claimed “momnesia” for years and “pregnancy brain” when applicable, but now I definitely have a new phenomenon going on: “working mom brain”. Because now I am acting like I have dementia in areas both personal and professional.

Here’s a prime example: this morning I came downstairs to find that my coffee was not ready and the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes. I always set the coffee pot and run the dishwasher before I go to bed, and in my mind, I totally did these things last night. So I was confounded when they weren’t done. “I could’ve sworn I did this last night!” I said to Bobby. “Well, you did them the night before…” he offered. And it’s true. But dangit it’s like I remember doing these things last night!

Another great example: everyday I write up a few things for the For Every Mom newsletter (which you should totally sign up for, it’s an email list of our top stories for the day – so convenient!) so yesterday I was writing Sunday’s newsletter and I put in not one but TWO stories I’d ALREADY FEATURED in today’s newsletter! It’s not like I featured them a week ago. I had written that newsletter less than 12 hours before. But already forgotten that I put those stories in. Two out of four stories. Luckily I caught my error before I sent it on to be published. YEESH. Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting these things out loud…#dontfireme.

In any case, I am hoping I can get my brain functioning a little better soon. I know work-life balance is a myth. Especially when you work at home and you have to kiss boo-boos and change peed on clothes (not mine) and make snacks while you’re in the middle of something…

But if I start trying to start the car without the keys in it, or forget to pick the kids up from school – something’s gonna have to give!

Got any advice for me? Besides buying ADHD meds off the street? Because I’m not doing that.

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You Have What it Takes to Be Your Kids’ Mom

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I’ve had two articles bumping around in my head for a couple of weeks. One is well from the UK Daily Mail, an article in which Gillian, the mother of Stephen, a 47-year-old man with Down syndrome states unapologetically that she wishes he had never been born. The other is this one by my friend Jeannett in which she says she hopes her daughter with cerebral palsy and epilepsy never hears any pregnant woman say “as long as it’s healthy” while she rubs her belly. If her daughter hears this, she wonders, will she think herself unwanted, unworthy, or less because she isn’t “healthy”? Will she wonder if her mother thought for one second that she could trade her for a healthy child? This is just about Jeannett’s greatest nightmare. Because unlike Gillian, she rejoiced in the baby she gave birth to – disability and all.

So these two opposing posts are rattling around in my mom-heart. I posted a link on my Facebook profile to the Daily Mail article where Gillian recounts how her son with Down syndrome has basically ruined her life, and how she wishes he had never existed, and someone commented on my post, “That’s so sad, but I don’t think I am very well equipped to raise a special needs child.” (This is a paraphrase, and I should note, the person who wrote that comment does not have children.) But she is correct. She’s not equipped. Because she doesn’t have such a child. If she had a special needs child, and was willing to accept this gift from God, then she would become equipped real quick-like. Because God doesn’t make mistakes. I firmly believe that He gives us the kids we are supposed to have and he gives us what we need to be their parents. Jeannett didn’t dream of one day having a child with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but she does and she rocks her job as Jill’s mom LIKE A BOSS. She in uniquely equipped to be Jill’s mom, just like she is uniquely equipped to parent her three other “typical” children who each have and will have their own needs or problems that Jeannett will help them with along the way.

And listen. I did not think I was equipped to raise a child with significant developmental delays, to teach her, to work with her, to become an at-home speech and occupational therapist. But when my daughter was diagnosed with said delays, I got on it. And I learned, I learned fast. I had no idea what I was doing but I was willing. And you know what? God equipped me. All that was in there inside of me just waiting to be activated. He gave me a child who needed to be taught and he gave me the skills to teach her. Yes, she had therapists, but they told me what to do and I did it! And though we were told she’d need 3-4 years of therapy, and she graduated in just 18 months.

God gave me the child I was supposed to have and then he gave me the skills to give her what she needed. It is that simple.

When I read the article Gillian wrote, where she says if she could go back in time she would end her son’s life before he was born “in an instant”, I do not feel judgment. I have not walked in her shoes, but I have experienced thinking you have a “typical” child and then getting smacked in the face with the reality that you do not. I feel sadness for Gillian. I am just so, so, sad for her. Because she could have chosen to accept her sweet boy and be the best mom for him, but instead as she says in her own words, she never came to terms with his disability.

I do not think she ever saw him as anything but a mistake. And I think she missed out on a lot. (Side note: please go read the article. It’s pretty chilling, and I don’t want you to think I am attacking some poor misunterstood mom.)

Listen, mamas. All our kids will have some sort of issue. Some may struggle academically, others behaviorally, some may sail through their school and teen years and then have trouble functioning as a young adult. Some of your daughters may struggle as young mothers. Listen, listen, listen: whatever your child needs at any stage, you can give it to them. I am not saying you can magically become a surgeon if they need an operation, but you can offer emotional and physical support and guidance. You can be THE MOM they need at that exact time.

You can do it, because they were born to you, and you were born for this.

One of the things that surprised me about motherhood was how so unnatural it is to me. I expected to be like a happy, glowing mom in a detergent ad, I guess, and…that’s not what happened. It is hard. All the sacrifice is hard. And I am selfish. And yet…I think I am doing ok, because of this:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

This is the answer the apostle Paul got  back from God when he was begging him to take away an affliction that he could not handle. It is the answer I get back when I think I cannot meet the constantly-changing needs of three different children at the same time. It is the answer that has proved true time and time again.

When I am weak, I am strong. I am naturally weak at mothering. But God makes me strong and equips me for the task.

Mamas, you have what it takes to be YOUR kids’ mom. They are yours, and you are theirs, for a reason.

Photo Credit: man’s pic via Compfightcc Text added by author.

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