Emails to Me: From a Teacher

I’d like to share words of wisdom I’ve received from varying sources over the last five years – my own version of Letters to the Editor.  This first one comes from a college friend (and now family through marriage), who has worked in the education system for 12 years.

When I asked friends and family to share thoughts and experiences for The Things Teagan Taught Us, Amy sent me the email below.  It made me think so much and experience so much emotion, that I felt it deserved a post of it’s own.  My favorite parts in bold :-).

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Amy with her baby girl

“Hi Kath – here you go!  It’s more than you asked for – I thought over as many memories as I could and about everything that special needs children have taught me over the years. I concluded two major points:

1. Kids with special needs (in fact, all people with special needs) are just as unique, diverse, special and different as any other population of humans. 

It seems like our society comes up with legislation to support and educate kids with special needs, as well as expectations for what they are like and should be able to do, neglecting the fact that kids with special needs each individually bring their own set of talents, interests, strengths, family backgrounds and personalities to the table. We do a disservice to them by thinking of them as all part of one group of kids.

I had a student a few years back who was in my 1st grade class with no IEP (Individualized Education Program), but certainly struggled with the academic content. I jumped through all the hoops and by the end of the year, she was tested and found to be Educable Mentally Handicapped (which is relatively severe given that she didn’t receive any state or school services until 2nd grade). However, she absolutely loved animals and had the sweetest personality toward animals and other kids. She was also the only kid in the class who could play the piano. 

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Play time with my kiddos, using her husband as a prop.

I had a good friend growing up whose little sister had down’s syndrome. She was a very funny girl. I just heard this story about her recently – She’s now in her mid-20s and her family is remodeling the house they grew up in. The contractor called the family and said he thought their daughter had gotten into the mom’s email because he received an email that requested a remodel specifically to the girl’s room with an additional toy room built off of that room (which was NOT in the family’s plans!) Sure enough, she had logged into her mom’s email and written the email herself! 

2. So many kids with special needs are incredibly happy and at the end of the day, they want to love and be loved, the same way all people do. 

In high school, I used to volunteer in the special education room occasionally during my lunch and study halls. Once on Halloween, the teacher let the kids play BINGO. After they had played once, she let them pick their own words to replace BINGO (so when they would win, they’d yell out “CANDY” or “GHOST” or something to indicate they won).One of the boys choose the winning phrase to be “Laurie is popular!” I don’t know why, but that really struck me at the time. Laurie smiled and was really happy about it. That moment made me realize that even though we systematically exclude people with special needs from a lot (like general education classrooms), they still observe and learn the same social structures; they yearn to have friends and be accepted. And they know how to make others smile!

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Amy and I with some of our besties, doing our version of Teagan’s gigantic smile

I had a first grade student this year before I started maternity leave, who has special needs and he has a hard time socializing acceptably with the other kids. He wants attention (like every child) but he typically sought it out by hitting others or taking their crayons. I worked really hard to build a relationship with him by checking in with him every morning, giving him an extra boost even when he didn’t really need it. He would grab and hug my belly and say “I love Ms. Butler’s baby!” I really think he was returning the love to me by loving something that I cared so much about. 

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Teagan with her wonderful teacher Ms. Katie

Now that I am a mom and I have a new baby, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my child to be and become. I would guess that if you had every parent in the world come up with a list, there would be thousands of items, but that most parents would put “happy” near the top. 

Above all things I want for my daughter, I really want her to know she is loved and to be happy. We get lost in material items or even accomplishments sometimes, thinking “If I just had that one thing…” or “If I could just do this…I’d be happy…” But I think my time with kids with varying learning needs has taught me that they love and want to be loved just like anyone else and can be extremely happy.” 

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“Can She Talk?” Out of the Mouths of Babes…

This past weekend my family went to a birthday party for the daughter of our good friends.  It was all the wonderful things you’d expect when a little gal turns two; balloons, crafts, laughter, Minnie Mouse decor.

Teagan approached the situation the way she normally does when she is unsure of her surroundings – standing back and watching the other children, playing with toys out of the way of the hustle and bustle, and sticking close to her father, sister, or myself.  As much as I would love to see her get in the mix with the other children, she seemed happy – so that was fine with me.

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I felt I hit it out of the park when present opening came – our gift, a six foot crawling tube, was immediately taken out of the box, and all the kiddos scrambled to take turns worming their way through (okay, okay, mother of the birthday girl gave me the idea – Caitlin, you get all the credit).  Teagan wanted to go through, but as we approached the opening, I could tell she was intimidated by the boisterousness of all the other littles rushing in and out.  Even though we didn’t speak, I feel that together she and I decided we’d wait for things to calm down a bit, and then she would take her turn.  In the meantime, there was cake and ice cream to eat!
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My daughters got themselves seated at a table with a few other kiddos, and Joel and I helped each of them with their plates.  I can’t even remember now what was happening – I assume I was asking T questions that she wasn’t answering – but whatever it was, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary…to me.  All of a sudden, a voice says, “Can she talk?”
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My heart jumped into my throat a bit and my body went a little numb.  I look up from the plate of birthday goodies to the the question asker, a boy of six years or so (I think, I’m really bad at guessing ages), who is observing Teagan with a curious look on his face.  I know this type of question will be a part of my life, but as much I’ve thought about it, it’s still a bit of a shock to hear.  Maybe this will change as time goes on.  It isn’t a shock because I mind the question, but because I don’t know exactly how to answer it.
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Because at home, T is quite noisy.  And often times she says things that maybe not everyone would be able to understand, but I know what she is saying.  Her speech pathologist recently did an assessment of her progress, and she is a year and a half or so behind where she should be.  This might be a surprise, but I’m actually quite happy about this…for a while I didn’t think she’d ever talk at all!  And besides all that, when you’re dealing with a disability that is so rare, how deep do you go with your explanation – no matter what the age of the questioner?
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“Can she talk?”
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I look from the curious young man to my sweet daughter and answer: “A little bit.”  He shifts his curious gaze from Teagan to myself, and says “Why just a little bit?”  “Because,” I say, “Sometimes people learn to talk at different ages.”
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“Oh!”  He says, “Like Ella at my school!” And goes back to his own plate of cake.
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Simple as that.
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I know it won’t always be that easy.  I know kids won’t always be that kind.  But for this little dude, an answer was all he wanted, and then he was happy to move on.
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And thanks to him, I get to put a check next to “Answering Questions I Don’t Know How To Answer” on my list of things I’m nervous about for the future.
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Vegetable Packed Meatloaf and Sides

Like many parents I know, I’m constantly trying to figure out a way to get more veggies into my kiddos – I like to call my mission “The Great Veggie Sneak.”  This meal was a hit.

Veggies

It had all these veggies in it!  That’s celery, green pepper, onion, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes!

For the meatloaf (includes celery, green pepper, onion) I used a recipe off of BeachBody.com (although I didn’t use low fat turkey because my kids need some cals). I love it not only because it is protein and veggies, it’s also one of those “throw them all together in a pan” recipes.  AND MY KIDS GOBBLED IT UP!!!

http://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/nutrition/easy-meatloaf

For the cauliflower, I used this recipe – it’s super simple, with only 2 ingredients that aren’t in most kitchens anyway.

http://www.thegunnysack.com/ranch-cauliflower-bites-recipe/Cauliflower

And lastly, the sweet potato fries, which the whole crew loves…and it’s a treat I can feel good about feeding to my family.  Not counting the sweet potatoes, again, all ingredients are probably in your kitchen right now.

Fries

http://www.food.com/recipe/oven-roasted-sweet-potato-fries-497715

You’ll notice that all three of these recipes require different temperatures – I did all of them at 375 degrees, just cooked the fries and meatloaf for 40 mins and the cauliflower for 50 (so the fries a bit longer than the recipe lists, the meatloaf and cauliflower a bit shorter).

Viola!  Veggies they enjoy.  Mom gets a pat on the back 🙂

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Special Needs Parenting: Explaining My Child to Yours

So that one time, when it took me a whole year to respond to a question…

A good friend asked me this question last October.  When she asked, I was really excited to give a profound, eloquent answer.  An answer that would open peoples’ minds.  An answer that would make lives better for kids with special needs.

Problem was, I didn’t have one.  Because it’s a really tough question.

“What do you want me to tell my child about yours?”

Oy.  How do you explain to children that everyone is different, and some are even more different?  How do you illustrate empathy?  How do you teach that just because something is unfamiliar to you, it doesn’t mean it’s scary or something to make fun of – a concept some adults have trouble accepting?

After a lot of thought, I’ve boiled it down to something I think kids can understand.  It’s a subject everyone likes, and as it’s December 7th, it’s timely:

Cookies.

Cookies, and the recipes used to make these wonderful treats.

Cookies

There are recipes for all different kinds of cookies.  Sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, some with M&Ms, some that taste like gingerbread.  Cookies with hershey’s kisses, cookies with sprinkles, and even cookies that have frosting.  Raisin cookies, giant cookies, cookies in sandwich form.  Heck, some cookies even look like a brownie!  There are more cookies and cookie recipes than you could possibly list – but at the end of the meal, when you get right down to it, they are all still cookies.

People are kind of like cookies.  We are all different, and we are all made from a recipe that tells us what we will be – except instead of “chocolate with coconut,” our recipe calls for brown hair and blue eyes.  Or maybe an ingredient that is a little more extreme – like not growing as tall as everyone else.  Or not being able to learn as fast, or being able to talk the way everyone else does.   It all goes back to the recipe.  We don’t know why some recipes have ingredients that aren’t the same as others, but that’s okay – while I love me some oatmeal raisin, what a boring world it would be if that was the only cookie there was.

Now here is the part I can’t equate to cookies…teaching children to accept those who are different.  Some children are more nurturing than others – I’ve seen it.  They are perhaps more willing to be patient, or even enjoy being the special helper.  And some kids are just busy being kids, and that’s fine too.  But what I hope everyone teaches their children, is that everyone wants to be included, and everyone wants to be accepted.

That is a subject for another day.  Hmmm, I’m thinking…maybe something about pies.

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Special Needs Parenting: And Harry Potter

Having a child with special needs opens your eyes to a lot of things you might not have noticed otherwise.  This post is about different types of people I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with – some I never would have known, and some whom were there all along – equated to Harry Potter characters (because, why not?).

Mrs. Weasley
Mrs. Weasley is a WORRIER.  She is forever concerned about your mental state, your safety, and if you’re eating enough.  At times it can be a bit overbearing – there is a chance when you told a Mrs. Weasley about your child’s diagnosis, she cried more than you did.  But it all comes from a place of love.  Mrs. Weasley will ALWAYS be there for you.

Molly Weasley

Sirius Black
This person is a blast from the past, someone you never had any idea would be a part of your life again.  And then suddenly, although you haven’t spoken since high school, they are popping up through the fireplace (okay, maybe on Facebook) to tell you how much they are rooting for your family.  And WOW does it feel good to know they are in your corner.
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Hermione
The researcher.  No time for moping about, there is work to do!  This is the friend who is sending you information on everything they can find on your child’s condition, therapies and resources.  When you’re so overwhelmed you’re not sure what to do next, rely on your Hermiones.
Hermionie
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Gilderoy Lockhart (before we realized he’s awful)
Ah, Gilderoy Lockhart, always smiling and never quite grasping the seriousness of the situation.  The friend who keeps saying “but she’ll be okay, right?” Gilderoy Lockharts aren’t too bad to have around – sometimes they make you feel that a rare chromosomal diagnosis is no harder to deal with than a cage full of cornish pixies!
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Dumbledore
I’ve run into a lot of wise people over the last three years, but the wisest of the wise I hereby dub Dumbledores.  Always there with a calm demeanor and steady advice when you’ve been entered into a tournament you are far too inexperienced to play in.  The therapists and doctors who make you want to crawl onto their laps and cry like a baby because they are actually helping you when it seems like no one could…but you won’t, because you’re far too tough for that.
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Cornelius Fudge
Striving to be a Dumbledore, the Cornelius Fudges are the professionals whose leadership never seems to be right for you.  They have good intentions, but at the end of the day, the ministry has to let them go (the ministry = you).
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George Weasley
The George Weasleys of the world are obviously the jokers! People who are able to make you laugh about this crazy situation.  An example of my George Weasley – one day I was throwing myself a pity party, talking with two friends about how much harder it was for me to be a parent than for the majority of my peers.  George Weasley said to me, with a completely straight face, “I’m pretty sure I have a more difficult life than you.”  I stared at her, incredulous…and then she burst out laughing.  And I did too.  Not all people could have gotten away with a joke like that, but with a George Weasley, somehow it’s okay.
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The Grey Lady
This is one of the sadder characters on our list.  Grey ladies are ghosts.  They’re almost impossible to find.  When you get your diagnosis, somewhere in the back of your mind exists this list of people who you think you will rely on.  Grey Ladies are on this list, and then poof, they are gone faster than a ghost through a Hogwarts wall.  Don’t let Grey Ladies get you down, they exist in all walks of life. This just happens to be the one you are on.
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Ron Weasley
Your steady.  The one who knows when to listen to you vent, when to talk parenting with you, and when all you need is someone to sit calmly by you in a train compartment while you eat your feelings.  Treat your Rons to a chocolate frog every now and then – even though they’d never ask for one.
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Cedric Diggory (before his untimely demise)
Cedric Diggorys are a little bit older, a little bit more experienced, and a LOT bit amazing.  Cedric Diggorys are other special needs parents.  People whose children are in their teens, who are smart and inspiring, and you aspire to be like them – because you are sure they can do anything.
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The Mirror of Erised
Granted this is not a person, but it applies.  You could spend your life thinking about what could have been.  And miss the wonderful things in the life you have.  As THE Dumbledore says “It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.”
dwell
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That was fun!  Anyone I missed?  Now…how can I make a post combining special needs parenting and all ten seasons of FRIENDS (I kid, I kid…or do I???).
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Mrs. Weasley gif courtesy of http://gifhuntmaker.tumblr.com/post/129169627289/julie-walters-on-harry-potter
Dumbledore gif courtesy of http://lifeandliesofanawkwardfangirl.tumblr.com/post/128535300135/a-few-of-my-favorite-dumbledore-quotes

A Triumphant (?) Return from Maternity Leave

Make-up, restrictive clothing, and long meetings – returning to things I’d forgotten during three months of maternity leave.  Here is what ran through my mind during my first day back in the working world – besides, you know, the actual work.

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4:48am: Baby girl needs feeding.  This is great timing – she’s like my own personal alarm clock!  An adorable alarm clock.  If she goes back to sleep I can clean the kitchen, oh man this is going to be such a productive day.

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5:30am: Okay she’s back to sleep – time to be productive!  Or go back to bed.  Or at least lay in bed and look at Facebook
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6:15am: So sleepy…alarm actually going off…dammit Facebook, why didn’t you let me sleep?!
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6:30am: Ah yes…the warpaint of the outside world, I remember you…hello, make-up
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6:45am: Husband says I look nice, thanks hubby!  Poor guy – maybe I should have put on something other than yoga pants over the last three months.
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7am: EW!  Dead June Bug in my heel!  I wonder how long it’s been there…I guess no earlier than June (HA HA, that is a funny joke, I’ll have to write a blog post just so I can use that joke).
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7:02am: Dressed, make-up on, girls are in good hands with Grandma and Grandpa – feeling good.
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7:03am: Was baby crying as I walked out the door?  Will they remember to give toddler her medicine?  What if she doesn’t want her breakfast, will she go hungry?  I don’t know how anyone survives the day without me…
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7:10am: WTF is up with this traffic?  Oh right…I’ve left the house and it isn’t one in the afternoon. Oh well, at least I’ve got coffee and Styx to entertain me on my drive.
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7:11am: Eric Cartman ruined this song for me (you guys)
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9am: Client meeting to review last quarter.  The exact three months I was out on maternity leave.  I feel like Elle Woods – everyone else has presentations and charts, where is my heart-shaped notebook and fuzzy pencil?
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10am: My boobs hurt
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10:30am: I should pump now.  I wonder how long this meeting is?
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11am: Text from husband- the baby is cranky.  Oh no.  She probably misses me.  She probably thinks I’ve abandoned her.  I wonder if they used the bottle warmer?  Of course they used the bottle warmer.  Maybe they didn’t put enough water in the bottle warmer.  She likes her milk really warm.  Do they know that?  I think I told them that.  Wait a minute, her father and two grandparents are there.  I. Need. To. CHILL.
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11:30am: That dude keeps looking at me.  I bet he can see my boobs growing before his eyes.
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11:45am: Okay, sneak a glance down at your boobs without anybody seeing…please don’t be leaking…WHEW so far so good.  If this meeting doesn’t end soon I’m going to explode.
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12pm:  MEETING OVER, GET ME TO MY PUMP!
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12:30pm: No time to get back to the office…pumping in my car.  This is new.  I wonder if I could get arrested for this?
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3pm: 3 o’clock – it’s baby-nap-on-mommy time.  I’m spending this time with impeccably dressed Bridget instead of khaki clad Piper.  And no snuggle bug 😦
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3:30pm: Pumping in a private room, much better than the car.  I wonder if the people who sit right outside can hear the pump?  oooWAAHooo…oooWAAHooo…
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4:55pm: Making a few dinners last week to stick in the freezer for this week was a great idea.  Wish I’d done it.
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5:07pm: BABIES I’M ON MY WAY!!  Oh crap, forgot the milk, back up 20 floors…
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5:10pm: Okay NOW I’m on my way…
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6pm: I made it!  Home.  Snuggles.  Love ❤

Speech Progress and Introducing Baby “Aaaaaa”(lice)

Goodness life has been busy these days!  Hard to believe it’s mid-June, and my maternity leave is more than half over!

Almost two months ago now, we welcomed the sweetest little bundle, Alice Marie Petersen.  I know birth plans are very loaded decisions, but man, after the trama of the first time I gave birth, a scheduled c-section was the way to go.  We arrived at the hospital at 6am, signed some papers, got hooked up to some machines, a little slicing and dicing and had a baby by 9 (too far? ;-)).

csection

I can’t say enough good things about North Memorial in Robbinsdale – might not have the biggest rooms, but the BEST doctors/nurses/resources.  We started with a midwife at Maple Grove Hospital Teagan’s birth, and it was a horrible experience – ended up having a c-section with a doctor I’d never met, then having to be transferred to North Memorial – but that that is a subject for another day. We went with a doc who would deliver at North Memorial right off the bat with Alice, and luckily, everything went off without a hitch this time around.

Hospital kisses

My parents came up to stay with Teagan while we were in the hospital, and both grandmas got to experience one of her in-home speech therapy sessions with our new therapist, Amy.  She is the bees knees – Teagan’s progress this summer has been AWESOME.  In the span of about a two weeks we went from “get her to say ‘eee'” to “this week her homework is to say on, eat, hat and puppy.”  Joel took the day off today (which is how I get to be sitting in Caribou Coffee, drinking a fatty mocha and writing this post – you’re the best sweetie!) so we were both at her session this morning.  When Teagan went from “pu-pu” to “pu-peeeee” all three of us cheered – which Teagan loved, the little ham.

Although progress has been awesome, I hadn’t realized how much had to happen before she could talk.  She has low muscle tone in her mouth (and everywhere), so she has to work a lot harder to move her lips into shapes that come naturally to most everyone else.  For example, it is really hard for her to make an “oooo” sound.  She just started drinking out of a straw, so Amy and Nicole (OT) are hoping that means some stronger mouth muscles are soon to come.

Teag has become quite the little signer.  Jacque (school district ST) taught us a few signs, and Amy introduced us to Baby Signing Time, really great DVDs that teach kiddos to sign so they communicate before they can talk.  I highly recommend them if you want your little one to sign, as long as you can put up with a very enthusiastic woman who signs songs that are impossible to get out of your head (These are the pets I love, these are the pets I love!  Horse, horse, horse, horse, NEIGH NEIGH NEIGH NEIGH NEIGH!) they will teach you and your kiddo a lot!

Baby signing

Our goal was for her to be able to say 75 words or signs by the fall, and I have no doubt we will get there.

One word Teag has been working especially hard on by her own volition, is Alice, which comes out “Aaaaaaa!” for now.  Teagan is such a good big sister – she brings Ali toys and blankets, gets down next to her on the floor and sets up books for her to look at during tummy time, and she gives LOTS of kisses.

Hi sis

She also pets Alice like a dog, which is hilarious, and loves to help burp her.  This is fine, now that we’ve taught her you pat your sister on the back, you don’t wack her in the face.  Seriously, there has been a little bit of jealousy, but overall Teag has taken to Alice just fine.

Carseat

And Alice is the most precious baby.  We call her Turtle, because she loves to perch looking over your shoulder and for a while would bob her head like a little turtle – although she holds it pretty steady now!  Now that we’re out of the zombie phase of new baby-dom (well, at least for a little while) we are quite enjoying our time together – she likes walks in the moby and snuggles on the couch.  But maybe not quite as much as I do <3.
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Teagie’s progress – February Round-Up

February is drawing to a close and we are continuing a very exciting 2014 (well, when things like using a fork and saying “love” make your life exciting).  Giving myself major props for doing this on February 28th!  😉

Since the 2nd baby girl Petersen will be here in a month and a half (YIKES!!) T’s PT Melanie really wants her to be more independent when it comes to using stairs, as I will soon have my arms more full than usual.  So we’ve been working on that really hard, and I’m proud to say T can go down stairs on her belly independently (she’s been able to crawl up for quite a while now), and is also really good and walking up and down them if she can hang on to the bars in the railing.   Daycare has a lot of stairs, and Michelle says she can do them all by herself!  She can also stand up from the middle of the floor now – I think she would have been able to do this quite a while ago if we’d pushed it, but since she could pull up on furniture and is rarely in the middle of a field, we kind of back-burnered it.  Happy to say it’s done now!  Next up is pre-jumping exercises – bouncing on couch cushions and beds.  Should be fun, and good for the furniture!  😉

Teagan has also become quite the drawer.  We’ve been trying to get her interested for quite a while, and probably about a month ago she began to love scribbling.

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She’s getting better at other activities that involve fine motor skills such as puzzles and shape sorters.  Puzzles and actually sitting and paying attention through a WHOLE book will be big areas for us to work on, as her concentration needs to get better since she’ll start going to school in the fall.  !!!

She’s still a fairly unenthusiastic eater…I’ve said it before, I’m not sure how she’s my daughter…but when she decides she wants to eat she’s doing great, even stabbing with a fork on her own.  Since the day she decided to drink out of a sippy cup it’s been awesome, now we’re working on squirt bottles and open cups.  But I’m still basking in the glow of the sippy cup just a little bit 😉

Speech therapy continues to be frustrating.  We had an in-home session with the school district today that was fabulous – all kinds of sounds and imitations – but our 2x/week private sessions at Children’s seem to me to be more or less pointless.  There are lots of toys and bright colors and Teagan is incredibly distracted there.  And while I like her therapist very much, she’s not quite assertive enough for me.  At times I’ll ask a question and get an “I don’t know, what do you think?” which makes me crazy because I sure as hell don’t know…I’m the parent, but not the pro.  And we’re paying for it.  So we are looking for an in-home private therapist who can come work with her on a regular basis – someone with quite a bit of experience, and since T is so chatty at home, we’re hoping when it’s a familiar setting she’ll be more productive.  We have one referral (actually two, for the same person, within two days of each other) so I am reaching out to her this weekend so see if something will work.  So far our “teacher” who has inspired the quickest progress is Michelle’s daughter Gloria, who taught T to repeat “love” (sounds like “ove”) in a day <3.  I want my girl to talk so badly…I try to keep these requests to a minimum, as everyone has their own battles to fight – but for this I will ask: prayers for speech please!!

Otherwise in the lives of the Petersen’s, Teagan will be starting her second session of Backfloat Baby 2 in March…with DADDY this time!!  This latest session with it’s polar vortexes was not my best idea ever, but she loves it so.

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Joel and Uncle Jeff (the Minnesota Uncle Jeff) spent last Saturday painting T’s big girl bedroom in thick stripes of pink, lavender and dark purple.  It looks AWESOME, but Daddy is a bit of a perfectionist, so pictures will come once he gets to do a few touch-ups.  Our goal is to have her in there a month before the new babe comes so she doesn’t feel like her room was stolen from her.  And tomorrow is the annual Children’s of MN Rare Genetics parents meeting, which I have put together with a handful of other parents – really looking forward to it, fingers crossed for a good turn-out!

If you have any speech thoughts or tips, please PLEASE leave them for us below…and if you know any private therapists who might work, please let me know that too!  Thanks for reading 🙂

Cleaner Eating – Dave’s Cheat Sheet

A lot of people asked to see my pal Dave’s cheat sheet for cleaner eating following the Facebook thread the other day.  He does paleo/primal, which is not what I’m looking to do – but a lot of the same rules apply for cleaner eating.  Here is the cheat-sheet, with some notes from him at the bottom (he’s been at it for a long time)!

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs with veggies (spinach, onion, peppers, tomatoes, etc)
fried egg with a side of berries
serving of greek yogurt with mashed berries, cinnamon, walnuts & Flaxseed (mashing helps a TON)
Green shake*
Banana pancake**
Oatmeal w/ cinnamon, flaxseed, nuts (almonds or walnuts) & berries (try to avoid oatmeal if possible)
Lunch/Dinner
Grilled chicken breast, side of veggies
Spinach salad w chicken, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, avocado, nuts, peppers, egg, etc
“Big Salad” with a 1/2 can of wild canned salmon
Grilled (wild) salmon
hamburger (grassfed & no bun or fries)
Can of veggie soup (don’t eat potato), can of tuna/salmon
Fish Tacos w/ lettuce wrap
Sushi (sashimi)
steak (grassfed)
Trout, grilled (salt & pepper)
Korean Bi Bim Bap w/ cauliflower rice
Appetizers & sides
caprese salad
roasted veggies
grilled calamari
shrimp cocktail
oysters, steamed mussels
sweet potato & yams
cauliflower rice
grilled veggies
steamed veggies
sauted veggies
avocado
Oils & other fats
Oil, sesame, coconut are OK, (avoid canola, vegetable, safflower & sunflower)
butter is OK, grassfed butter is best
Snacks (as much as you want)***
Apple, kiwi, grapes, pears, berries
nuts (almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, cashews)
hard boiled egg
beef jerkey
almond butter
lara bars (energy bars that have a very tight list of ingredients)
Snacks (limited)
raisins, dates or other dried fruit
oranges, banana
dark chocolate (>80% cacao)
cottage cheese
Drinks
water
coconut water
coffee-use almond milk or full fat cream (stevia if needed)
green tea
red wine (2 glasses/day tops)
stout beer
* Green Shake recipe is: 1 1/4 cup frozen berries, 2 tblspn of flaxseed, scoop of almond butter, 1/4 cup of almond milk
solid handful of spinach, (plus some kale if you like it), serving of egg protein powder, banana, small amount of kefir
** Banana pancake recipe http://www.thehealthyteacher.com/2011/06/12/banana-pancakes-paleo-style/
*** link to paleo snacks  http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-snacks/

As you know, many health related issues (heart disease, cancer, arthritis, severe stomach issues, allergies, chronic colds/back pain, & really anything that ends in “itis”) are caused by CHRONIC inflammation within your body. 

  • Much of the chronic inflammation we have is caused by the diet that we all eat…It’s really that simple.

You can stop this stuff by switching up your diet..the basics of an anti-inflammatory diet (Paleo/Primal/caveman diet is really similar)

  • You eat: meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds (the 75-150 grams of carbs/day you need will come from the fruits/veggies)
  • no processed foods
  • no pop
  • no grains (bread, corn, pizza, pasta, rice)….(Beans, oatmeal, barley are not kosher for PALEO, but they are do NOT cause inflammation so I eat them in extreme moderation)
  • No added sugar
  • No Dairy if you can manage (full fat creams/fermented yogurt (Kefir, greek yogurt), butter is OK if needed)
  • minimal beer/wine
  • Coffee/Tea is fine

It sounds harder than it really is but to be honest, if you cut this stuff out for 60-80% of your meals, you’d be fine and notice a difference. I went hardcore on the food and noticed an amazing difference in 3 weeks so if you only do 60% maybe it will take a bit longer..

I’ve been on this for almost 3 years:

  • I’m not as sore after working out or running 
  • I’m RARELY hung over and I drink often for work..much more than you’re supposed to. 
  • rarely get sick despite living with 2 babies that are ALWAYS catching something.
  • plain feel better, have more energy, etc.

The truth is, I don’t follow this diet 100%, instead, I just eat foods that do not cause inflammation…My goal is to eliminate the inflammation in the body to ward off the health issues…If I eat a piece of cheese or oatmeal every now and again, big deal..Neither food breaks down into sugar quick enough to cause a response.

lion