Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today is our 3 year wedding anniversary, and we're planning to do something fun as a family (me, Scotti, and Ev) tonight to celebrate the actual day, then having a "hot date" sans baby on Saturday.

Scott and I have actually been together over 6 years now, and it's been an exciting journey. We've seen each other through so many bad hair cuts, bands, road trips, festivals, varying levels of poverty, grad school (me), college (him), jobs, unemployment, awesome apartments, bad apartments, luck, successes, the ups and the downs and everything in between.

Then we decided to make a person, which has been our biggest project to date--often leaving little time for us to focus on our relationship. But it's nice to know that I've made my choice and have my partner for life. Because it's a bit of a wild ride sometimes and I need someone I can hang onto when the going gets tough.

So here's to us :) Happy Anniversary S. Here's a little memory of that sweet day in Jamaica...wish we were there now!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Empowering Parents Through Filial Therapy

As most of you know, I have my MA in counseling and am currently pursuing my Play Therapy Certification so I can specialize in working with kids (and adults!) using expressive arts and play to help clients grow and heal, rather than approaching therapy from a talk-based approach.

I start my final class for my certification tomorrow, and I couldn't be more excited. My last class was Filial Therapy, and I thought it was interesting enough to share with you :)

Filial therapy is basically this: the play therapist teaching the parents how to conduct their own play therapy sessions with their children, then providing support for the parents while they do this. The awesome thing about it is that once the parents are taught  these skills, they can use them any time with their kids for FREE. That's right folks, free. A word rarely associated with therapy. Additionally--one of the biggest issues I have with working with kids in a therapeutic setting is that you can't control the parents or home environment. With filial, you're not just working with a kid week after week and sending him back into the environment that likely contributed in the first place. No, you're also empowering the parents with tools  to help their kids work through issues.

How is it done?

The play therapist assesses the family's needs by talking to the parents and observing the whole family together in a non-directive play session (meaning you let the kid play without telling him/her what to do). Based on that discussion and observation, you determine if they would be a good fit for filial therapy. Then the therapist teaches the parents the skills, and role plays with them (sans child). When the parent feels comfortable enough to go for it, each parent conducts a separate play session with the child in the play therapist's play room, and the therapist observes. The parents get feedback, and then the next several sessions take place at home with just the parent and child (with weekly calls to the therapist for encouragement and feedback). The weekly home sessions are supposed to be 30 minutes once a week that the parent sets aside to dedicate to this "special play time".

Here are the skills: Structuring, Empathic Listening, Imaginative Play, Limit Setting

  • Structuring--letting the child know what to expect. "This is our special play time. We'll play for 30 minutes and then stop. In this room you can play with almost anything however you want, and if there's something you can't do, I'll tell you". Avoid listing every rule you can think of initially in order to allow the freedom of expressive play, but do provide structure. If that makes you too uneasy, you can also say "you can play with these toys any way you want, but you can't hurt the toys, you can't hurt the room, and you can't hurt me". 
  • Empathic listening--really watching the child's play and reflecting what they are doing and/or the emotion behind it. "You are banging those trucks together". "You are happy that the dolls are friends." "You like your picture you colored", etc. No praising or discussing your opinion. If you name the wrong emotion most kids will correct you. 
  • Imaginative play--This is easy for some, but does not come natural for everyone. Kids will almost always try to engage the adult in their play eventually. Play along! If they say "you are the kid and I'm the teacher", you should whisper "what do the kid say?". Let them dictate the play, but go ahead and enter their world.
  • Limit setting--When a child tests a boundary (and most inevitably will at some point), you set a limit "I am not for punching. What else could you punch?" If the child does the action again, you let them know that if it happens again, the play session will have to end, or that toy will be taken away, etc. You define your own limits. On the third time, you let the child know that you set the limit and they chose to break it, therefore the session is now over or the toy gets taken away, etc. 

Why is this so important?

Filial therapy can help children to express their feelings and fears through the natural activity of play.  Over time, children may:

Understand their own feelings better
Become able to express their feelings more appropriately
Be more able to tell parents what they need, what is worrying them
Become more confident and skilled in solving problems as well as asking for help when they need it
Reduce their problem behaviours
Feel more secure and trust their parents more
Have a more healthy self esteem and increase their self-confidence.

Filial therapy can help parents to:

Understand their child’s worries and other feelings more fully
Learn new skills for encouraging co-operation from their children
Enjoy playing with their children and giving them positive attention
Increase their listening skills and develop open communication with their children
Develop self confidence as parents
Become more able to trust their children
Deal in new ways with frustrations in family life

Filial therapy can help parents and children to form closer and happier relationships.

So there :) For more info, check out THIS LINK!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My 100 Things

I was inspired by blogger/artist/writer/musician Summer Pierre and her list on An Accident of Hope to create my own list of 100 Things To Do Before I Die. Some of them were things I'm already doing, but were so important they just had to be on that list. I realized while writing this that my list seemed very much like a 29 year-old list, and it may differ from the list I would write when I'm 39 or 49. However--I tried to think ahead, and I'm proud of my list. If I really get to do all these things, I'll die happy :)

Here goes (in no particular order):

1). Fall madly in love

2). Get pregnant, birth and raise a child

3). Write a book, short story, or essay and have it published

4). Live by the ocean

5). Record a solo album

6). Design and sew at least 3 awesome outfits

7). Learn to play the theremin

8). Start a private therapy practice!!!!!!!!!!!

9).  Design and build my own home (with Scott's help of course!). Something totally badass, simple, and green

10). Attend Burning Man

11). Eat raw vegan for one week

12). Run a marathon (this one may have to wait awhile...)

13). Achieve financial stability

14). Sip coffee at a cafe in Paris

15). Stay in a hut over the ocean in Fiji

16). Learn to speak another language fluently enough to carry on a conversation (French? German? Japanese? I'm just not sure yet)

17). Grow my hair out really really long

18). Cut my hair really really short

19). Ride a camel to the pyramids

20). Help put Everleigh through college

21). Spend a vacation on a boat (I'm thinking more like a yacht on the Grecian Isles, not hanging at Party Cove in the Ozarks).

22). Fix and ride my bike

23). Take Everleigh to Disney World (I guess I just always wanted to go as a kid...)

24). Go whitewater rafting

25). Take a long train ride

26). See Scott find success as an artist

27). Listen to every Beatles song ever recorded. No, I haven't done this yet.

28). Teach Everleigh how to play guitar

29). Decorate my house based on what I love, not just what I can afford

30). Own at least 3 paintings by other artists that I really respect

31). Do yoga every day for a month (or more)

32). Meditate every day for a month (or more!)

33). Learn to cook at least 5 amazing dishes. I mean impressive stuff that looks and tastes beautiful

34). Learn to knit or crochet and make at least one complete thing that looks great

35). See Everleigh get married or choose to spend her life with someone she adores

36). Eat a beignet in New Orleans

37). Ride in a hot air balloon

38). Hang out in New Zealand

39). Make enough money to give generously to my favorite charities or non-for-profits (NPR, PBS, St. Judes, etc. etc. etc.)

40). Be a mentor

41). See every National Park in the US

42). Skydive. Of everything on my list, I might be the most scared of this.

43). Buy a VW van and road trip it with my family down route 66 to the West Coast

44). Get rid of all my clutter

45). Have a wardrobe I absolutely love

46). Act in a community theatre show

47). Watch my first grandchild being born

48). Record an album with Scott

49). Perform with a jazz group

50). Learn to swing dance

51). Paint something I think looks really neat

52). Open a small cupcake shop or some other fun kind of business just because

53). Dye my hair red (I've done brown, which let me know black is not an option. I've always been curious about red though....)

54). See the Louvre

55). Live in a foreign country for at least a year

56). Go back to Tensing Pen (the most amazing place ever where we had our honeymoon)

57). Get my Masters degree

58). Get my PhD

59). Conduct meaningful research in my field and get published

60). Figure out my spiritual beliefs

61). Be completely debt free (including STUDENT LOANS. sigh.)

62). Party with Scott in NYC

63). See a Broadway show

64). Get in the best shape of my life

65). Stop being so concerned with what I look like, for goodness sake.

66). Learn to play the cello

68). Go scuba diving at Grand Cayman

69). Read a good book every month for a year

70). Learn how to drive a motorcycle

71). Learn how to sail

72). Go to the Glastonbury Festival

73). Be a roller derby girl!

74). See Tom Waits play live

75). Sing karaoke in Tokyo

76). Fly first class. I know, fancy right? ;)

77). Be a really great mom

78). Work as an expressive arts therapist

79). Take a cooking class

80). Learn how to do aerial fabrics

81). Volunteer to help children in need

82). Go on an African safari

83). Form friendships with women I respect, and help empower them to be themselves

84). Attend/throw a goddess party

85). Sing backup for someone famous (or at least someone amazing)

86). Take a family canoe trip

87). Build Everleigh a tree house

88). Get a pet and be a good pet parent

89). Train to be a doula

87). Be a really great wife

88). Learn to chill out and not worry so much

89). Ride on the biggest water slide in the world

90). Give back to my community

91). Organize digital and printed photos of my family in a way that makes sense

92). Learn about my family tree

93). Do something awesome for my parents to repay them for all the amazing things they've done for me

94). Get a good picture of me and all my sisters (this sounds easy in theory, but in fact is not)

95). Spend more time with Tory

96). Get into politics and fully understand current issues from multiple standpoints

97). Properly thank those who've had the most impact on my life

98). Go for 6 months without buying anything additional but food (preferably by choice ;)

99). Take part in Carnival in Brazil

100). Feel completely at peace

What would YOU have on YOUR list?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

100 Things, Man+Toothache = Baby, Everleigh the Boxer

I'm sorry I've been so distant lately :) I'm currently working on a mega-post or maybe even a PAGE containing 100 thing I want to do before I die. I was inspired to construct my own list after reading Summer's list on An Accident of Hope (an awesomely funny blog if you're looking for new reads).

Wouldn't you know that being the optimist I am, I truly jumped into my list head first without thinking for a second that it would be extremely difficult? I was wrong. So...I've been spending most of my "free" time lately (ha.hahaha) working on brainstorming, researching and writing my list. I guess I thought there were a bazillion things I wanted to do before I die, but when pressed to make an actual list, it was tough. My first 30 or so wrote themselves...then came the tricky part. I guess a lot of the things I want to do before I die are big, huge, incredible things that part of me thinks may not be possible. And other things are so small and simple, I feel weird putting them on a list others will read. But you know what? This is MY list, suckas. Look for the post/page later this week or weekend. I'm on it.

Also this week: Scott had his root canal (finally) and is now in a totally different intense kind of mouth pain. Can't wait to have him back (man + toothache = baby)! At least his face looks normal again....the chipmunk cheeks are gone and he can eat a few easily chewable foods.

Everleigh climbed on the rungs of one of our stools last night and then pulled it down onto her face in a matter of about 1 second. She cried and I held her and she fell asleep. Today when she woke up, she basically had a black eye. Good thing she has a kiddo birthday party Saturday followed by a pediatrician visit Monday so I can raise some eyebrows :( Poor baby. I may seize this opportunity to dress her up like a boxer though because, you know, what's done is done. There may as well be an adorable picture to show for it.

So there you have it. We keep getting hurt over here but we're on the up and up, and I am wracking my brain for what I want to do before I die. It's been an interesting week :)


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Toothache Week

You know the phrase "when it rains, it pours"? Well, we had a week like that mouth-wise :) Everleigh is in the process of breaking out her 5th and 6th teeth up by her front uppers. She's been really slow to get her teeth (1st 2 at 10 months, 2nd 2 at 12 months....then nothing but acting cranky til now). But we can see them and they are slowly but surely poking through the gums. Yay! But also ouchy.

Meanwhile, I somehow broke a tooth eating a breadstick this week and had to get an emergency temporary filling, which will be replaced with a crown later this week. Blech.

Also, poor Scott had a recent dental procedure not work out, and has been informed he now needs a root canal this week. In the meantime, he's been on antibiotics and pain pills and is still in crazy amounts of pain. He compared the pain to giving birth, but I have a hard time going with him on that ;) Maybe being shot in the jaw and having to wait to have the bullet removed for a week?

So....that's what we've been up to! Good thing we have dental insurance and lots of oragel.

I'll let you know how our post-crown and root canal and teething week goes. In the meantime, we're trying to take it easy on ourselves with some snuggle time and old movies.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Everleigh's Room! 2 Years in the Making

At long last we've put the finishing touches on Everleigh's room. And while it's possible we'll get bored with it or she will want a change in the future, I'm pretty happy with the way it came together. I originally created the concept for her room by picking out fabric. I wanted lots of yellow and green, with pink and aqua highlights and maybe some red just for fun.

I have to say I'm SO please with the way we were able to marry old and new, handmade and store-bought. In the end, the pieces we found from Target matched the other fabrics so well, it seemed planned (but was totally NOT).

I found the green "tree" fabric that covers the chair, and picked out the yellow from the curtains, and the white/yellow patterned fabric, as well as the hot pink that you see in her pillow and in small details throughout.

My Mom (who is amazing. Thank you!!!) sewed the cafe curtains with the little ric-rac, the chair cover on her rocker, the blanket on the chair back and Everleigh's pink pillow. She also made a beautiful crib skirt that didn't get much use, since Ev rejected her crib and opted for a big girl bed at 12 months.

An Emily Martin print I ordered while pregnant flanks the curtains, while 3 salvaged brown crates reveal the birds and whale Scott and I hand-sewed while pregnant with Little E.

 On top of the middle crate is a little leather hat Scott wore as a toddler in the 70's, and the Alice in Wonderland doll was handmade by Tory and her grandmother.

Fun and simple organization!

Everleigh's record player--just like one I had as a kid

The outfit I wore home from the hospital, along with my pink hospital bracelet framed by Scott

Wall decals from Target
Everleigh's big girl bed with a mix of Target quilt and pillow shams along with homemade pillows

Handmade "Everleigh" crafted by our 88 year old neighbor

Scott's old toy box
So there you have it :) Our old/new/vintage/handmade/store-bought blend. Thank you to all of you who made items for her room. What a beautiful gifts for her to have sweet early memories of! The most important thing of all? Everleigh LOVES it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dear Everleigh (15 Months!)

Dear Everleigh,

Today you are FIFTEEN MONTHS OLD! This is crazy, and just so you know all the stuff they say about time flying is true.

Here's what you've been up to this month:

NO: you've learned your declarative word and you are not afraid to use it when asked just about anything. Do you want some food? No. Do you want to take your bath? No. Can Mommy change your diaper? No.  You even say it in this super cute grown-up way that makes you sound more like a real housewife of New Jersey or something than a fifteen month old baby. It's still sort of adorably frustrating and sassy but cute. It may not be in another couple months---we shall see.

BOOK-IT: we made our first library trip as a way to save me from reading the same 20 books you currently own over and over and over and over and over. We checked out 5 on our first visit (Tubby, Oops, Bye Bye Time, Lady Bug Girl Loves, and Naptime for Kitty), which I soon learned were not nearly enough. We had read those 10 times each by bedtime that first night. So we keep going back, and back and back. You have a fondness for the written word that I appreciate :) Especially books with guest appearances by kitties and doggies. Oh and you also continue to express a burning desire to get Mommy and Daddy's books off the grown-up book shelf. You seem especially drawn to Kerouac and Poe, which reinforces my belief that you are awesome.

STINKY FEET: your feet are sometimes stinky/sometimes not. But either way you think it is the funniest thing ever when we pretend to sniff them and tell you they are stinky and wrinkle our noses up. Good times. Even better when Elmo smells your feet and tells you they are stinky stink.

SWINGING: up until now, you've basically allowed us to place you in a swing at the park and then proceeded to look completely indifferent and stare into space while swinging back and forth. But this month you've really gotten excited about the swing, which is decidedly more fun for all of us. You giggle and say whheeeeee! and it's great. You also insisted this weekend on trying to swing by yourself in the big kid swing. We were skeptical, but you held on tight and loved it and did not fall (which is mostly what I was worried about). What a big girl you are, Ev!

MOON WALK: I have to get this on camera, I swear. You only pull this move out when we're rocking out to some fun tunes on the back deck. You turn around and slooowwwly start walking backwards. Now we request it, "do the moonwalk!". To which you typically reply "no." Regardless, Michael would be proud.

DORA and YO GABBA GABBA: for most of your little baby and toddlerhood, you've been pretty uninterested in television shows. Which I think is cool--I don't want you crying for the TV and obsessing about your favorite characters and so on. But it CAN be a pretty handy tool once awhile to have in the parenting tool belt if you need 15 minutes to clean the kitchen or cook dinner (our main living space is open loft-style so the kitchen kind of is the dining room is the living room, etc.). This month for the first time you actually got into watching the occasional Dora or Yo Gabba Gabba episode and watched it all the way through. And while we're making sure not to overdo it, it's so fun to see you get into the shows and wiggle your little booty to the songs. Love it.

TEETH McGEETH: you have been a bit of a late-bloomer in the teeth department (got your first two bottom teeth at 10 months and your top 2 at 11 1/2 months, then nothing). So your mouth is still a little 4-tooth smile. But not for long....we're starting to see some more uppers breaking through and the bottom gums are looking puffy. You may well get a mouthfull of teeth overnight :) My take is that you've been focusing so much energy on being awesome, you haven't had enough extra to dedicate to growing more teeth and hair. Oh, and while we're on the subject, this explosive teething process has made for some interesting nights! When you get into crying because my teeth hurt mode, it's basically impossible to comfort you without totally waking you up, saying your name over and over, and making you look me in the eye. Oh and then giving you some Oragel. Then you usually drop right back to sleep like I pushed a button. Strange....

ADVENTURES IN SLEEPING: we've been working on this big girl bed transition for a couple months now, and you're doing pretty well. I'm glad we went with a full sized bed for you, because you move SO much in your sleep, you need a whole bed. You flip, you flop, you toss and turn. This week, you actually fell off the bed (it's not on a frame so it was only about 10-12 inches up), and onto your strategically place pillow pet. And through all this you kept on sleeping. You stayed on the floor on your pillow pet for about 2 more hours before waking up and being like, "what the??" only in baby language it was more like "waaaahhhh! Ma...ma". You can get up and down off your bed yourself and while this is mostly good, you have scared me a couple times by waking up in the night, not crying or saying anything (I sleep with an ear basically on the monitor at all times), but walking into our room and standing by my side of the bed and then crying. It's probably funny to watch me jump :) And it's also neat that you know where we are and how to come get us. I'm sure there will come a time when I'll miss our nighttime snuggles.

LOVE YOU: you also started saying "Love you" this month, which basically makes my heart melt where I stand every time I hear it. I mean, I guess I already assumed you loved me, but hearing you say it really just amazes me and makes me feel like the luckiest gal around. Love you, Love you, Love you too!

So there you have it-- some highlights from the month. There are so many more things you're doing and learning and amazing us all with, but I don't think anyone wants to read Dear Everleigh, 15 Months
the novel, so I'll keep it short (ish).

You are so funny, smart, intuitive and cool. Every day I spend with you, I am inspired to be more present, more kind, more patient, more inquisitive. I can't wait to see what the next month brings!

Love you always,


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nap Time

Today I came home early from work and played with my girl. She had a bumpy night last night and was obviously sleepy, but was hanging on to being awake for some reason.

So as a special naptime treat, I let her watch Dora on Mommy and Daddy's bed and then snuggled her to sleep. Because the computer was still within arm's reach, I couldn't resist doing a silent photo booth with my girl!

My job has been totally stressing me out lately, and one thing I'm working on is staying in the present moment--not worrying about the past or future at any given moment. It's pretty tricky but I've found this mindfulness practice really helps me feel happier and more connected to myself, my world, and my family.

Now that the first of the month has arrived and the stress level has dropped about 50 notches, I'm so glad I got to treat myself to some quality time with my favorite person and just be in the moment breathing in her lavender-scented hair while she napped in my arms.