MomViews: Coping With Autism

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Embracing the spectrum

Motherhood presents itself with many different challenges. Some days are easier than others. In today’s MomViews segment, Teresa of Embracing The Spectrum shares insights on coping with autism in her family.

MomViews: I love hearing about parents who take the time out to care for their children, and having two boys isn’t easy. Your oldest son, Squeaker, is autistic. My nephew was recently diagnosed as well. How are you and your family coping with this change?

Teresa: I would like to introduce a slight change in verbiage. You see, my son, Squeaker, is not autistic. My son is a seven year old boy. He loves animals, loves math and reading, and can memorize just about anything. He loves giving hugs and kisses. He also happens to have autism. I used to make the mistake of saying he is autistic, but he is not the disorder. That is a diagnosis. That is not who he is. That would be like saying I am depression and anxiety. Yes, I suffer from depression and anxiety. But, I am not depression and anxiety. There are challenges that come with both autism and depression, yes? We adapt. Fortunately, I learned coping skills to deal with my depression. We must teach our children how to cope with a disability that they will always deal with. Mostly, though, we must learn to change the way we speak to them, about them, and in front of them. True, my son went from easy-going to, well, not, by the time he was about 18 months old. We had to learn to deal with that. But, nothing is wrong with him. All of that was a result of his response to the environment around him, communication delays, and our lack of knowledge of how best to handle that. Inside, he is still our son. That realization must still hold true in our hearts and bear repeating over and over, even on the hard days.

MV: Based on your blog, it seems you and your husband have been doing a great job with raising your boys. Despite the challenges, what pushes you to keep trying?

T: First of all, thank you. We do our best, we’re not perfect, but we always hope that our children will reflect good parenting. Both of our children bring us great joy every single day. Every night we get hugs and kisses and do story time and it’s just wonderful. I love snuggling with them and their silly little jokes and random animal noises. But every child, whether he or she has a disability or not, has challenges, so why would I just stop trying? Something resonated with me at a conference I recently attended when this wonderful speaker named Kathie Snow (you should look her up) begged the question, “Is this a disability issue, or a human being issue?” Don’t we all have bad days? Yes, Squeaker’s bad days may look a bit worse than another child’s bad days. Some of his tantrums might surprise you. But, the triggers may be no different than any other person’s. Why shouldn’t I continue to love and support him the same as I would my other child? Every child deserves love. Every child deserves stability and the knowledge that their parents will always be there for them.

MV: Do you ever feel family or friends treat your boys different from one another because of Squeaker’s behaviors?

T: I think we’ve gotten more assertive over the years about this issue. I tend to redirect one-sided comments about Big Guy “behaving so well” or about how easy he is. The comparison is an implied comparison, but it’s there. I’m guilty of feeling that way myself, but the reality is, Big Guy can be quite the pill himself sometimes. Let me tell you, that kid has stubbornness like no other. Perhaps we’re able to discipline him and it works a bit more easily, but, man, I can see the teenage years coming! He’s got mommy’s sarcasm down already and he’s only three. Sometimes, when I go back to think about the things he’s said; I can only laugh about it. But trust me, Big Guy has got his own little personality and he can antagonize his brother just as much as his brother picks on him. Sometimes he instigates. I know that no one really sees that side of him because they don’t live with him, but he can be a little stinker. I love them both dearly, but when they’re tired, hungry, etc., you know what to expect from kids. I just think that people don’t understand the dynamics of our household sometimes and they see Squeaker as the only child that exhibits any behaviors. I think my side of the family is less guilty of this because they see the children a bit more than my husband’s family does. But, I find that when someone compliments Big Guy for behaving well, saying something to Squeaker about his good behavior usually makes them think about their word choices more. Point: Both of my children deserve praise if they’re both behaving.

MV: What advice would you give a mother who recently found out her child is autistic and cannot seem to cope with it?

T: I’m going to go back to my first answer and change the verbiage again to tell her that her child is not autistic. Her child has autism. I would ask her to tell me her child’s strengths and focus on those, not on the disability diagnosis. I would tell her what I know about autism and that she should still have hopes and dreams for her child just like she did before she got a diagnosis. There are resources out there (assistive technology) to help her child communicate, learn, make friends, and cope with the overwhelming environment. If my husband and I had been asked three years ago if my son would function near grade level, read, and pretty much be a math expert, I’m sure we’d have looked at your like you were crazy. But, we carried on, and pushed for more, and we never gave up. Now I know that he can do anything. I know that without question. If someone asks me if I think he’ll go to college, I can say with confidence that if that’s what he wants to do, I’m sure he will. It’s all about what he wants. Don’t give up your dreams for your child just because you got a diagnosis. I’ve seen amazing videos where people with autism have astounding intelligence unlocked by assistive technology. Frustration comes from a person unable to communicate wants and needs effectively. I don’t care what anyone says–no child wants to misbehave. No child wants to do poorly. EVERY child wants success and the feeling of accomplishment. Hold on to hope. Hold on to it like your life depends on it. Your child’s life is at stake here.


MomViews: Life As A “Bonus Mom”

mommy blog, motherhood, motherhood through my eyesTraveling Navy wifeCommitting to someone is one thing, committing to their children is another. When you are divorced and have sworn off any type of commitment, marrying a man with a child is the last thing on your mind. So, what led Heather Wilson, blogger at The Life of a Traveling Navy Wife and Corporate Event Marketing Manager Extraordinaire, to marry a divorced military guy with three girls? In today’s MomViews segment, Heather shares her life as a bonus mom.

MomViews: Congrats on your first-year wedding anniversary with your husband! You and your Navy guy were previously married, and are now raising three girls. What is it like in your household?

Heather Wilson: It’s hard to believe it’s been a year, thank you! Since my husband is in the military, the girls are in his home state living with their moms. It is definitely a unique dynamic. Here I was, a divorced woman vehemently opposed to re-marriage. I never wanted kids. If a man had them, it was a deal-breaker. If he didn’t want to deal with his exes than why would I? But sometimes the universe has other plans in store for us so I went and married a man with daughters and not just one ex but ExES! Famous last words haha. There have been challenges and I have often questioned myself – am I doing things right? Am I involved enough? How do I strike a balance so the girls know I care about them, but at the same time not be “that woman” because I’m trying too hard? I think the kids and I went through a honeymoon phase in the beginning and when it wore off for them it hit me extremely hard. I definitely worry about the girls thinking highly of me and even though it may not be logical, I do sometimes struggle with having responsibility without recognition. I am still answering the question “What, exactly, IS my role?”

When they are in town it is an adjustment. I find myself doing a load of dishes a day and laundry every other day. I had no idea this was normal and my friends playfully laughed and said, “That’s what it’s like with kids, Heather.” We bond for weeks at a time then they have to go back and there is a warm-up period when we see each other again. I try not to cry in front of them when we say ‘see you next time.’ I am also learning to curb my tendency to spoil because I’ve always been an aunt. At the same time I am also learning how to say ‘no’ or push back. For all of the worldly knowledge I may have and for all the times I said, “IF I ever had kids I would NEVER do this or that…” I have learned that sometimes you just have to go with the flow and be flexible. That’s not always easy for such a regimented person who is learning to co-parent at almost forty years of age. I learn from others and most especially my husband who is patient and understanding that sometimes it may take me awhile to “get it,” but eventually I do. He is an amazing dad. I am in awe of him every single day.

MV: I find it interesting that you and your husband were against getting re-married. What was it about your mister that made you change your mind?

HW: I think it was because he didn’t want to get married either; the irony! When we met it was as if this light bulb went off; “Oh he gets it. He understands the pain, the elements and the scars of divorce”. There was no pressure and he was the first man whose only expectation of me was just to be myself. I didn’t have to measure up to anyone’s standard but my own or ever wonder when the other shoe would drop. There was a natural flow and suddenly for us marriage was no longer “just a piece of paper and some metal around the finger”. Instead it became the ultimate symbol of trust and faith in each other and our relationship. To say, “We both swore we’d never do this again, and yet I trust you and what we have enough to commit myself to you through marriage,” well, that was huge. I didn’t have to ask myself if it was right. I just knew. And he passed the test with my parents and friends, of course!

MV: In our initial email you mentioned “bonus mom” instead of “step mom.” Can you share with readers why you prefer being called a bonus mom? 

HW: Having the girls in my life opened my heart and eyes to a type of Love and to feelings of which I never thought I was capable. When they’re with us it’s pretty amazing to see a part of my husband in each of them. And the Love they have for each other; to witness such a strong bond is moving. So before my husband and I got married I had a talk with the girls. We discussed that very often the terms “step-mom” or “step-child” are associated with negativity and portrayed with evil Disney princess movie characters. My youngest bonus daughter melted my heart during our conversation by exclaiming, “And you’re not evil!” So we concluded that steps are for staircases and agreed that since having each other is a bonus we’d use the term. Of course, it is a personal choice for each couple and their kids. For me, I love the positive connotation and hope it’s a move toward changing the sometimes negative perception of blended families.

MV: You’re a military wife and a career woman, how do you find the time to balance the two?

HW: As a type-A personality if one area of my life is falling short because I’m dedicating so much time to another I beat myself up. Organizational methods help keep my sanity in tact. Being on the road sometimes more than half a month, I am the kind of person who needs a system (I am most definitely a military wife!). I admit that if I get off track, it’s hard to get back on! At home I try to plan out our menus in advance and I created Operation 1950’s Hot Housewife – with a modern twist on my blog. It is a checklist of tasks for each day as well as a menu planner while I’m in town thrown in with personal improvement goals. Instead of calling them ‘chores’ I like to think of tasks as something I’ve accomplished so I label them as “accomplishments”.It makes housekeeping a positive thing! My business travel has definitely impacted my goals at times and when he can, my husband picks up where I sometimes can’t. And by “when he can” I mean sometimes the military comes first. My father was in the military for 28.5 years, so I know the drill; the military will just always win out. For instance, when my husband has to stay on base longer than expected or if there is some kind of threat and I can’t know details, plans will change. It makes it hard, but my husband’s first duty was to this country before he met me and that still stands. It’s hard for a lot of people to understand that, but I’m actually extremely proud at how we roll with the punches. My husband comes home to me at the end of each day and he will not deploy again. There are many military wives who are not so lucky.

Ultimately, I’m learning to accept that I sometimes can’t do it all and that it is okay to ask for help. I think the biggest lesson to myself has been if I don’t step back and relax I will burn out and then there won’t be any balance at all. Taking a breather helps me re-center, refocus and recommit to my goals – both personally and professionally.

MV: What advice would you give a woman who has a fear of getting married for the second time?

HW: Your feelings are OKAY and there is nothing wrong with you no matter what your friends, parents or society will tell you. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone so do what is right for you.So often we’re worried about others’ opinions we forget that in life we have to make ourselves happy. Be honest with yourself and be open-minded. Don’t let yourself become bitter or jaded and always maintain a healthy respect for yourself if you decide to “play the field.” Lastly, don’t let fear ruin the opportunity for your chance at something amazing. I learned to never say “never again” and couldn’t be happier or more grateful because of it.

Thanks for joining me this week. Stop by next Wednesday for insights on how one mother is raising her two boys and the role Autism plays in her family’s life. Also, don’t forget to check out last week’s post on how Betty Galvan has keeps positive with every move in her life.  


My Favorite Things: Johnson’s #NoMoreTangles Products

Johnson and Johnson, baby shampoo, baby products


voxbox-blogimage-popup2The following complimentary items were sent from Influenster’s #NoMoreTangles VoxBox and are for testing purposes. All comments  are my own.

I wrote about my first time using the Johnson’s No More Tangles Shampoo and Conditioner, the Leave-In Conditioner and the Detangling Spray in a previous post, but after a month of using these products I had to share our results.

After seeing great results on my son’s hair, I had to try the Leave-In Conditioner on myself. Living in the Sunshine State can be tough on your locks. The amount of time you spend in the sun, bathing in pools and on the beach can really damage your hair. Using Leave-In Conditioner is essential to your hair regimen. I have used others in the past, I even went so far as to purchasing a silicone-based product. (I know, what was I thinking!) But there is something about the smell of a product — which is why I previously went for the silicone-based product.

By reading the benefits of using Johnson’s Leave-In Conditioner, I knew this product could work for me as well. And to top it off, I was not the only one fascinated by its smell. Family members kept commenting on how great his hair smells. Although the Johnson’s Head-To-Toe wash also has a sweet smell, it is much more subtle than the No More Tangles line. The best part, on Day Two, our hair still looks fabulous!

Sebastian’s Reaction
Since day one, Sebastian has taken a liking for these products. But, he recently did something he had not done before — he stared at himself in the mirror. He stood tall and looked straight into his own eyes. It was a proud-mommy moment, and it inspired me to hold my head a little higher on days I want to scream.

I was lucky enough to capture this moment. I will treasure this photos forever.
Johnson's NoMoreTanglesThere is nothing more precious than seeing your child smiling. It reassures mommies that they are doing great, even when they feel like it. <3

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ONLI Beverages: A Good Alternative To Alcohol


Photo courtesy of ONLIBeverages,com

After attending the Baby Wearing Mini Session last week I came home with two bottles of ONLI Beverages. I took the first bottle from the event because I was thirsty and did not realize there was already one in our take-home goodie bag. 
ONLI Beverage Lemon Watermelon

Photo courtesy of ONLIBeverages,com

I went for the Lemon Watermelon flavor because I love anything with watermelon and I thought it was an interesting mix. The taste was amazing! Even Jeff liked it. He compared it to one of the Mike’s Hard Lemonade alcoholic drinks. This was a bonus for me since I am still breastfeeding and cannot have alcohol, and to top it off, these fruity sparkling water drinks are light on sugar. 

ONLI Beverage Hibiscus Pomegranate

Photo courtesy of ONLIBeverages,com

The second I tried was the Hibiscus Pomegranate. It is unsweetened. I typically do not like unsweetened drinks. They taste funny to me. I am a fruitjunkie, so I am used to the fructose. The flavor in this drink is very smooth. It was nice to be able to sit at the dinner table with my family and enjoy this refreshing beverage while Jeff had his beef. Although there are moments I miss sipping on an Amaretto sour, having an ONLI beverage (or two) really does the trick. The best part is, these beverages are sold at our local Publix, so I am planning to pick up a box for our next family event — or dinner ;) 

I hope you are having a wonderful Thursday! 
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MomViews: How To Keep Positive When Moving To Another State

mommy blog, motherhood, motherhood through my eyesMy Friend Betty SaysThe thought of moving to a different state can make some people cringe, at least that was how I felt when I first heard Jeff mention the words moving and Florida in the same sentence. While some mothers fear the thought of starting over, there are other moms who welcome the idea as a new chapter in life. Today on MomViews, Betty Galvan, freelance writer and blogger at My Friend Betty Says, shares her experience on how she remained positive as she moved around the world with her boys.

MomViews: Moving from one state to another can be difficult for moms. It’s tougher when you are unsure of the outcome. What went through your mind when you packed your bags to move to a different state for the first time?

Betty Galvan: The first time I moved to another state, I was moving for love! My husband was living in New York City and after our wedding, I had all my things ready and moved. I don’t think I really had the time to think about the move itself because I was so consumed with wedding planning! All I knew was that I had a fresh, new start and I was going to make the most of it. The second time I packed my bags was two years later when when my husband was relocated to Japan! I was working at the time when he went to “scout” out our living arrangements in Tokyo. I didn’t want to leave my co-workers with such short notice, so I trusted my husband to make the arrangements alone and jumped again! This time I was a little more nervous, but super excited to live in a different country for the very first time. I had my first son in Tokyo and the three of us moved to Singapore when he was two. Because he was so young, I didn’t worry about the outcome and after living there for eight months, we moved back to New York City. When we had our second son, our first was four and we made our last and final move to New Jersey. Both my boys are very flexible and usually go with the flow. They are not afraid of change and love to explore. I really feel that all of our moves helped mold them this way!

MV: Your last move was to New Jersey. What is it about the East Coast that has made you want to stick around?

BG: We knew that Hubby was staying put in New York City because of his career and with our growing family (3 boys!) we needed more space. We decided to go to a New Jersey suburb located just 30 minutes from the city, making my husband’s commute easy.

MV: How has the change of atmosphere impacted your relationship with your boys and your family in other states/countries?

BG: I always tell our friends that being alone (as in away from family), has kept our marriage strong. There is no one to run to when we argue or the going gets tough. My husband and I have to resolve all issues privately. Although watching our boys grow up without their cousins is hard, we hope that they have a closer bond with each other. Because our oldest Diego and I made friends during our travels, he knows that he has friends all over the world. He is very interested in his friends’ backgrounds and the new countries they are living in! This always makes for great at-home geography lessons!

MV: Were there any hard times along the way? If so, please share how you overcame them.

BG: Being away can sometimes be hard. The biggest struggle was trusting strangers to help with our boys. I grew up in a tight Mexican family and my aunts, uncles and grandfather helped watch my siblings, cousins and me! Living away from family gives you no option but to trust and build a new community for your children and for your own sake. We have been very lucky to have had some of the best babysitters in the last seven years!

MV: What advice would you give a mother that is planning to move to different state with her child(ren)?

BG: The best thing to do is to start building a community before you move. Tell everyone you are moving and be ready for people to say, “My friend lives there!” Reach out, safely of course! Also, sign up for mommy-and-me classes right away. Kid facilities are the best places to meet moms with same-age children. If you will be working outside your home, get to know co-workers as soon as possible. Welcome their invitations for dinner or drinks! Most importantly, trust you can manage a move with children, be open to new experiences and adventures! Good luck!

Join me next week as one mother shares her experience as a “bonus mom.” Also, be sure to check out last week’s series featuring Janeth Paez of Motherhood full of Dreams.

Teachings Tuesday: Stay True To Yourself

Blogging Tip from Bloggin Mamas


I love this quote from Amanda Martin, blogger at One for the Honey. It speaks volumes for those of us in the blogosphere.  There has been times I felt the need to “reinvent” myself with my posts, but with time I realized it just was not me. I have thought of many different ideas, but none were me, so I went back to square one.

It is so important to find your voice, regardless of what you are writing about. And, remember that progress takes time. You cannot compare yourself to someone else. If you feel the need to compare yourself to someone, weigh in on where you are today, compared to where you were when this was just a thought in your head. I am pretty sure you have made quite some progress. ;)

Have a wonderful Tuesday, loves!

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Motivation Monday: Take A Break, But Don’t Give Up

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 1.27.47 PM
One of my favorite bloggers announced last week that she will be taking a break from her blog and spending time with her family. Although it is not certain when she will return, I am a little sad to see her go. She is an inspiration for us bloggers and always brings a smile to my face with her posts on love.

Reading her farewell made me think of the time I almost gave up on my blog completely. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work. It can really cut into your family and personal time, so I can see why Carmen has decided to take some time off. You go, girl!

I thought of giving up a few times, mainly in the beginning when the only person following me was Jeff. With time a couple of my mommy friends from high school and college were following along. It was exciting to hear how much feedback I was getting, but after some time I started to think of new ways to not only update my friends but also offer tips for moms who do not know me. Everyone that has ever read my blog has given me the strength to move forward, and for that I am very thankful.

I have highlighted my thoughts on my wonderful blogging journey in a recent post. Click on this image to read about it.
mom blog, mommy blogger, blogging, online communityThe first time I thought of giving up was back in April. There were even periods of time when I would post once or twice a week because I had no inspiration to write. Shortly after thinking things through I received a box from Influenster. It was the VivaVoxBox. I missed the email notifying me that I have been invited to join this campaign.

I had given this campaign my all: reviewed the products with my honest and personal opinion; shared it across my social sites; and even spoke about the products with friends. I was determined to spread the word about these products. My efforts did not go unnoticed, and with time I unlocked several of the brand badges. I was even recognized as one of the top 10 NYC New York Color brand badge holders. The company sent me a prize for sharing my thoughts on the NYC New York Color City Proof Lip Color.

On the same week I received the prize Influenster invited me to participate in the Johnson’s #NoMoreTangles campaign. I was excited to review this line because I already use their products with my family.

Blogging has been a great way to keep me mentality stimulated and also meet other moms. I even attended my first mommy-and-me event and made a new friend. We actually had a play date at the beach this past Saturday.

Although this is not where I pictured myself at 25, I am very excited to continue this blogging journey. Who knows where this will take me! ;)

I hope you are having a wonderful Monday.

‘Til tomorrow, loves…Motherhood Through My Eyes Signature