the “magic” of beginnings.

Over three years ago we started a journey with our family that we could have never imagined. Our son was diagnosed with Autism and we began seeing therapists in Richmond. One of our main therapies was ABA, it was a therapy we were not familiar with and we were struggling to understand. Desperate to get help we made the tough decision of choosing a program that involved a commute to Richmond several times a week.

Rowen was so young when we started going to ABA. Lots of tough days, but now looking back I don’t remember tough days. I see how far this boy has come and how capable he is.

Over the last three plus years there were days I wondered what we were doing loading three little ones up to drive to an early morning session and one or more child would fall asleep on the way there, or trying to kill a couple of hours in Richmond unsure if we had time to come home before picking Rowen up again. However looking back over the fastest three years I cannot imagine not having these services in our lives. I say ours because it has been an amazing learning experience for our whole family.

At the end of July we had our last day at our ABA program and although we knew this day would come COVID helped to expedite the process. Unfortunately the program that has brought us so much success and joy, over the past three years, has closed its doors. We are so sad to see such an amazing resource gone.

Post Covid Lockdown when we were asked to come back as one of the first families, this boy was so excited to be back to one of his favourite places. Funny how you don’t notice the change but somewhere along the way drop offs became easier.
Running into the program not away from! This is huge (and a good reminder that we will get here with our new activities).

Rowen has left the program with a better understanding of his emotions and those around him, techniques to use to calm himself or others down when they need it, ability to ask peers to play and take turns and even how to win and loose. I am confident the skills he has learned from Bounding Higher he will use for his life and for that I will forever be thankful.

I am grateful for what this program has all brought to our lives in terms of growth and learning. We have met so many amazing people. I know with growth will come change and outgrowing things but it still feels bittersweet to be moving on from a place and people who have been such a big part of our lives.

During the same time this change was happening I started to consider what the school year would look like for Rowen, Grace and really our whole family. With a lot of contemplation and research we opted to take a year of homeschooling. I spoke with anyone who would talk about the topic but I also went to some of our main supports and people whose advice I respect and admire. Not only do I feel these people have lots of credentials and experience in the education and psychological field but they also know our family.

With so much uncertainty and with the loss of our ABA program (and also our SLP because we received this service through the same program) we decided to attempt a year of homeschooling. We had a lot of reasons for going this route and most are unique to our family. One of the main reasons and benefits to opting to school from home was if I registered us with a Distance Learning Program I gained access to funding that typically would go to our school. This funding could help us hire a new ABA and SLP and start a new program. I was so excited, really seeing the results of the last three years I knew Rowen had more he could learn and we had more we needed before saying good bye to these therapies. (***When kids with Autism turn 6 they go from $22,000 a year of funding to $6000 so I had been worried about December and the loss of funding we knew was coming, we currently spend every penny and then some out of pocket). Accessing funding was a big incentive for us.

My first road trip with these three, and we made a stop at the waterfall. This transition isn’t just scary for the kids but for me too! However when we realized we could do it (and had fun watching waterfalls), it gave us confidence and hope.
Some transitions have been fun and easy like lazy mornings, no rush to get out of PJ’s and new treasures like Orbeez.

Fast forward to now, we have hired and started with two new therapies and therapists. Both companies are amazing and we are excited about working with them and the unique programs and goals we have come up with. However what I forgot to account for was how hard Rowen finds transitions, new people, new routines and expectations and unknowns; beginnings of something new.

The past week and a half have been challenging. Our kids have been so resilient during this whole Pandemic. During the summer we have had the ability to keep things as “normal” for them as possible and have also spent the last 4 months making things as much fun as possible. None of us have had big worries (I mean besides the obvious ones that come with living through a pandemic). We have had somewhat reliable/consistent work, safe housing, good food and access to some of our favourite places (beach, ocean, boat, farm etc). We have really been fortunate.

Tea on Tuesdays was one transition that was met with no resistance.
More time to bake and have fun in the kitchen has been a perk of our new schedule.
Learning new skills with Dad, like pickling! Not all learning takes place in books:)

Fall is here and has brought with it the reality that no matter what Fall brings we cannot isolate ourselves forever. We knew we would have to return to the world eventually and that it would look different. What I didn’t consider was the growing pains we would have along the way. I am so proud of Rowen (really all our kids) and his (their) ability to communicate his frustrations and feelings. However I am also tired and low on patience. The start of September has been a reminder to me to ask for help when I need it, take time for myself, take time to organize and prep and it makes for a better day and don’t be afraid to adjust expectations.

This coming week I am hoping to put all these reminders into action and start off feeling relaxed, supported and organized. I know that the more we go through the schedule the easier it will get. For now we are gonna enjoy the weekend!

As for the homeschooling part, that has been the easiest transition to make, and one the whole family is loving. Like all new things, we are working out the kinks and figuring out our rhythm but overall I am loving homeschool and surprised at how natural and “easy” this transition was. Looking forward to the fun field trips we have planned for the next few months as well as the group of homeschoolers we have met and are learning with.

Can’t wait to sharing our adventures with everyone and come back to blogging about our family! This may be the end of our old and familiar ways but it is the beginning of something magical.

90,000 Reasons to be Passionate about your Work.

I believe in doing things with passion. I also believe the people you surround yourself with are reflections of you and should share some of your beliefs or goals. So, although my friends and family may not all have the same background, parenting styles, schedules, money management, political beliefs I think we share some common values.

What ties me to my people? I think honesty and integrity, selflessness and caring for others, family and respect especially in regards to prioritizing people and experiences over stuff are just some of the values that bond my friendships with people.

That being said over the last little bit I have noticed a common trait in my girlfriends that has not only left me feeling fairly inspired but super proud of them and all their accomplishments! My tribe is one of diverse careers, ranging from entrepreneurs, government employees, corporate boss babes to stay at home moms and more. Some even wear more than one of these hats and do it with ease making it look much easier than I know it is. I have discovered what I think it is that makes them so inspiring and so good at their jobs and its Passion!

I am lucky enough to have the full time job of CEO of the Farlow House. This means I manage 3 kids schedules and 1 busy longshoremen’s finances, household, social calendar and more. In addition this full time gig I also have been working part time and sporadically at my girlfriends family farm Emma Lea. I love being at the farm and getting to see everything they do as well as meet new people and share this special place with the community. It is a pretty great job and one I totally value. Last year we were asked to take 40 locals on a tour of the farm and tell a little bit about what we do. Katie (my boss, good friend and one of the farmers) was phenomenal at this. She blew me away with her ability to simplify something very complex and explain in in such a condensed version, within half an hour, people could really get a feel for how special and how much work and love goes into the farm. Not only did I learn some new things about how the farm runs and what cool voluntary programs we participate in as a member of the farming community, I also got to see my boss and friend show and share her passion for the farm and her job. I hate calling it her job because when you hear her speak it doesn’t sound like a job at all but more of a privilege and a choice. One thing that makes the farm unique to me and became evident with Kates tour was how the farm, although a business with a bottom line, was also a place that wanted to be known for employing people fairly and with integrity, treating animals ethically, and contributing to a greater good. I think when businesses or people go above and beyond what is expected and make decisions with more than just money in mind it is really something special.

I left the farm tours and started to think about other friends and their careers, does everyone do such amazing things… Then later I was out getting the kids haircut by our hairstylist, as well as good friend and I saw more passion for a job. I know she loves what she does and she is great at it (you just have to search the community facebook pages and hear all the recommendations or watch her in the salon to know). The thing is getting your hair cut can be emotional for lots of people. My son has ASD and sometimes struggles to sit in the chair (as do many kids) and she does every cut with patience and love. Plus she knows just how to turn a crappy day into a great one and help transform my mama pony into a beautiful hairstyle worthy of the magazines. She is a hard working mom herself, yet still manages to volunteer her time and talents whenever she can for the many charity events her salon takes place in including fundraisers out at Emma Lea. She is continually working towards bettering herself with workshops and training and recently advanced to a higher level of stylist. This girl cuts hair with passion and style all her own and being one of my youngest friends (only by a few years) she does it with so much confidence and class for someone who just turned 30. She is super passionate and super inspiring in her work life, reminding me that you can be a busy and great mom still working on building and advancing a career all your own. It is a great reminder and example.

I am super lucky to have at least a dozen examples like this of friends and family who inspire with their careers and I think that is something super special. The reality is most people have to work, and most people spend a lot of time over their lifetime at their jobs. With that in mind shouldn’t we have some passion in what we do and enjoy our time at our job. I think it is unrealistic to say you will always love your job or only do things you can do with passion because sometimes a job is a job and we do what we have to do. But hopefully it is short term while you work towards something you love. If you are like us and have kids I think there is no better example to show then your kids seeing and hearing about your job in a positive light. Imagine facing a future knowing you will have to enter a workforce and hearing your parents talking with dislike about their own careers.

I think of one of my friends who has three kids like us and not only went back to school while having kids but also started her own home based business as a mortgage broker. It meant leaving a very reliable and good job for something risky and unsure. She is super passionate and continually challenging herself and building her business. As hard as I see it is for her working from home with three little kids she is setting such a great example for her girls, and she definitely is a good example of a career woman wearing many hats… I mean she manages her own business but also raises three beautiful girls, did I mention she is a Sparks leader? Like this lady knows no limits.

Like I said the list goes on and on, we are so fortunate to have many inspiring friends. I feel incredibly blessed to have at least a dozen or more examples of friends and family who have passion for their careers and excel at their jobs. It is not often you get to see friends and family in their workplace, doing their magic but if you take time to ask about work and what they do you might be surprised at the answers (good or bad) and you might be surprised at the passion people can have for sometimes overlooked jobs.

My sister works for Children’s, Women’s and VGH Hospitals and she has the coolest job but it isn’t one easily explained or one that I can even understand. She encourages and supports parents and patients to get informed and become active in making their healthcare decisions. To hear her speak about her job and even the learning and stats she does on some really tough illnesses like mental health and cancer in kids is really amazing. She is always doing extra learning, courses or acting on boards to learn more in her field and be a better support to her patients, plus she is enthusiastic and passionate about what she does.

I think so often we think to be passionate you need to have a glamorous or cool job or job title but I completely disagree, I think its about attitude and the way you share your stories. The people who inspire me are enthusiastic, always learning, knowledgeable in their fields and most important they show passion for whatever it is they are doing.

I hope our kids can see us do our jobs with passion and enthusiasm and that whatever they decide to do in this lifetime it is something they enjoy doing. The best thing I think we can do to encourage that is to set the examples ourselves. So, if you are getting ready to go to bed tonight and setting your alarm to get up and go to a job you feel less than thrilled to have may be its time to ask yourself what would make it better? How can you light a little fire and get a little excitement to get up and go?

Back to School Blends

I have been so busy with back to school and back to schedules and back to routine that I have been a little slow with sharing my oil information with you all! But I will start now, and what better place top start with then some of the oils that are most helpful with our kiddos (and us) and helping ease them into routines!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Essential Oils or specifically doTerra I will just let you know when I recommend oils or how to use them I am referring to doTerra Oils. All brands and oils are made differently and used differently so just be careful and aware of what you are using.  For more info on using Essential Oils click here.

So basically my goal with my kids and school is to make sure they feel good in their bodies and they are well and able to learn.  SO many things affect kids and their learning (environment, learning style, mindset, diet and mood… the list is really endless).  And so many of these things we are able to control or change, some obviously are harder than others but we can adjust the lighting, remove distractions, change foods and diet, add in breaks through out the day and visuals for learning or whatever else might help.  Another way to help with making kids feel good for school is by using oils.  The oils I am going to focus on today will help with 4 main areas

  1. Physical Health (Cold & Flu & Germs)
  2. Anxiety & Mental Well Being
  3. Focus
  4. Strength (Bravery Blends)

1.  KEEPING OUR PHYSICAL BODIES HEALTHY (Cold & Flu type stuff)

First thing that comes to mind when I think feel good is to stay healthy, and we have a few oils that can aid in helping with healthy bodies in kids.


DigestZen:  This is a great one for kids with tummy issues,  just dilute it into a roller ball with fractionated coconut oil and then rub on child’s tummy.  It will help with gas, bloating, digestion.  


On Guard:  This is the oil for school, again you dilute and put it on a rollerball and have your child put it in their sock drawer.  Then before they put their socks on have them roll the bottoms of their feet.  It helps protect against environmental and seasonal threats with a blend of oils known for their positive effects on the immune system. 


Easy Air:  This is a good one for help breathing for any sort of issue (maybe its shortness of breathe from anxiety or maybe its dust in the classroom, exercise, etc). Whatever the reason same application as DigestZen , dilute in a rollerball and then have your child apply to chest.  A really easy way to get them to do this is to say make a heart on your chest with the rollerball!

2.  MENTAL WELLBEING & ANXIETY

Another big thing in our house with the kids is Transitioning into preschool. Currently in our world my kids (mainly my son) has had to transition into a more structured day, with time away from mom and dad and siblings and having to be up and out of the house by 9am.  Obviously every family is different and it might be different issues with your little or big kids but they may gave some of the same solutions.  So here are a few helpful oils!


BALANCE & SERENITY

AKA Liquid Calm these two oils are grounding and calming blends.  Balance is a bit of a woodsy smell to it and it works for when you are feeling on a bit of high and need to come back down, Serenity has a floral/ vanilla scent to it and is calming for people, even good to help with sleep.  Serenity has a very gentle aroma and would even be nice put on a piece of diffusing jewelry for a child to have.  (Balance is one of my all time favourites) 


CONOSLE & PEACE

Console has been described as a hug in a jar, but the really cool thing about console is DoTerras team of chemists actually researched how the brain reacts to a hug and tried to find a combination of oils that had the same reaction… so this is as close as you can get to a hug from oils!  It has a floral scent to it and is a blend of many different oils including Frankincense, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Rose and more.  Peace is known to give the immediate calming feeling, literally you just cup it in your hand and breath it in to feel the calm!  These two oils are good for helping with separation anxiety.  (These are on my next personal order for sure, both my older kids have been having serious separation anxiety!)


CITRUS BLISS

Exactly how it sounds an invigorating blend of citrus scents with a touch of vanilla. This blend is uplifting and energizing and when combined with Balance it is known as “Monster Juice” used to calm your little monsters.  

3. FOCUS

These oils can be used to help kids or anyone focus. Sometimes you migh find ADD or ADHD students can find these oils useful in keeping attention.

 

LEMON: The clean scent of lemon helps to bring you back to focus. So if you find you are easily distracted and your mind wanders this might be a good oil to try!

VETIVER: Earthy and woodsy smell that is also used for anxiety and panic attacks. Vetiver can help stop mind chatter, so if you have brain that just doesn’t stop and its hard to focus because it has so much going on up there try Vetiver!

PEPPERMINT: Smells as you would imagine (almost like a candy cane) and it helps make you more alive, it wakes you up!  This oil can help your brain catch up to your thoughts. 


IN TUNE:  This blend was specifically designed to support focus, one easy way to apply would be on the bottoms of the feet before school or on the back of the neck,  even to have in an inhaler so that your child can smell it whenever they need to throug out the day. 

4.  STRENGTH (BRAVERY BLENDS)

Who couldnt use a little help with finding strength and bravery in everyday situations, and when your little school projects or difficult situations definitely need you to brave.  A few great oils for this are:


GINGER:  This warming oil is great for empowerment, amazing for self confidence!  Plus if you are anything like me difficult situations can upset the tummy and this oil helps to calm the tummy.


TERRASHIELD:  Interestingly enough is the bug repellent blend but it is also ab ink fir shielding (setting boundaries).  If your kiddos are having issues with dealing with others maybe this would be a good one to help. Think warrior oil!


MOTIVATE:  This citrus and minty blend is made to give you an uplifting push of motivation.  It can help keep the heart open and communication!

Back to routine week…

Big week at our house… our oldest started his first year of preschool!  Now we are a family that doesn’t do well with routine, often don’t even know what day of the week it is and definitely don’t follow a “structure”. School although fun (mainly because it means a little shopping to prepare) is a bit daunting for all of us.  My son is shy, and although he loves to play he gets overwhelmed in social settings and is a bit of a homebody, my middle daughter has gone from being super independent to having big separation anxiety from mama!  And really to top it all off we rarely get organized enough to be out of the house by say 10ish and are a family of morning sleepy heads.

So, first week so far:  Tuesday was a full day of preschool for Rowen (2.5 hours) and it actually could not have gone any better.  We had not prepared with groceries so I threw whatever peanut free and healthy snacks I had together for him for school and got in to the car to find the tank on empty and no number of KM’s flashing (which is the start of an empty tank and usually means I can push it another 50-75km’s), but it was just the three little dots signalling it was beyond empty!  And we were already running behind… oh plus my super cute Mabel’s Labels I had ordered for all his school stuff had not arrived yet so I had nothing ready to go! #1 MOM, off to a great start!

However we made it to school without running out of gas only to find we were the first ones there (shocking) and no one had all the supplies organized so we fit right in!  Rowen wouldn’t sit still long enough for a great picture but he was willing to wear clothes and shoes (which in our world is huge!).   I did find out later he attempted to take off his shoes about 5 times (or more) through out the day at school, but he came home with them on so I will take the wins where I can. I took him in and helped him unpack only to look back and see him with his cousin happily building blocks. My mom heart could not be happier. He had his friend and his toys and was so happy he didn’t even notice me.

We all want to be wanted, but at the end of the day our goal is to raise an independent adult and him being able to find his friends, sit and entertain and interact is all a part of this growing up into an independent adult. So as bittersweet as it was to see him so well adjusted I was so proud!  Tomorrow is the second day and now that he knows I leave I am not sure how he will react but I gotta say this routine stuff seems to be suiting his almost three year old mature self. He is doing stuff just a couple of months ago I couldn’t imagine him doing. Plus my labels came, I have all his supplies ready and his snacks are packed. We are already past the halfway mark of the week and we have survivied so far!

As for poor Grace, she loved preschool!   It meant Rowen was gone and she could steal his undies and wear them (strange pleasures), and she had free run of the TV choices, toys and fort building!   The girl was so happy, she had mom and dad almost all to herself (lets not forget about Eleanor).  I thought she would be sad but she was just excited and happy to see her brother when he got home (I am sure the donut he brought her had nothing to do with it).

Today was their first swim lessons, now both kids have had two sets of leisure center parented lessons but since we have three kids under three we decided the parented lessons were a bit much for us so we wanted to try a private unparented lesson (plus we are hoping to be in Maui for a month to start of 2018 and might as well get the kids prepped for fun in the water!).  I had Rowen go in first and he was so excited he could barely contain himself, Coach J was amazing and so great with Rowen I left so confident and excited.  Also feeling okay about the millions (not actually but close to) we had spent on these lessons!  Then it was Graces turn, when Rowen saw us come to get him he started crying and then it might have set off Grace, the switch of kids for lessons did not go as great as I had planned. Rowen quickly recovered and came very happily with me to get dried and dressed but I of course could hear my little Gracie’s cries from the change room. The lessons are only half an hour so we walked outside and came back to pick up Grace. She was fairly worked up. I did sneak a little peak in the pool and she wasn’t doing anything scary or unusual in the pool.  I think her little separation anxiety got the worst of her, poor babes.  Coach J said it is common and only takes a couple lessons before she learns that Mom didn’t leave and is coming back.  By the time we got to the car she had settled and all of the family was happy again…  hump day is over and we are on our way to the weekend, thank god.

I am not sure who this week has been hardest on, new routines and changes are always a bit of an adjustment!  I am happy to say I have already made it to the gym twice this week and have two more classes to go, so that is another win. Just trying to focus on one day at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves here… when did life get so busy?  Not even fall yet and I am already wishing it was summer again.  Hope your week has gone well, would love to hear how your family copes with changes and routines!