Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sesame Street has a new fan!

My last post I talked about how I was getting looks and my social anxiety went through the roof.

Today, it was brought to my attention that a puppet with autism will be joining the Sesame Street cast. Now, let me tell you I have never been a Sesame Street fan.  I think my reason was I didnt want my kids to talk like Elmo and Cookies monster, but in complete sentences and proper English.  But this, you guys, makes me want to record every freaking episode.

I genuinely believe that this exposure to Julia and Autism will decrease those looks Nolan and I get and they will turn into looks of understanding and "Oh yeah, I saw this on Sesame Street!"

It gives me a lot of hope and makes me feel less afraid.  I know that the looks I have gotten are often not meant to be rude, just not understanding what is going on.  This will open so many doors for Nolan and for me as a parent.  I am very excited for this future.


http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/new-kid-on-the-street/ http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-real-life-mother-and-son-behind-a-muppet-with-autism/

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

That first "look" and growing MY skin

Well it happened. We were out at a party with some people who did not know about our journey.  Nolan was stimming making noises and flicking his fingers.  I calmly reminded him to relax, as I always do, as a reminder--which he responded to by putting his hands on his lap.  It was a normal exchange for us.

During the exchange I look up from Nolan and notice someone there turned to watch us, and raised their eyebrows and looked very confused at the exchange.  It hurt me.  They didn't mean anything by it and frankly it wasn't a bit deal, but it hurt me.

I need to work on growing my thicker skin. My son is unique.  I am his advocate and I know what helps him be more successful.  That is what matters, not the looks I get when I do that for him.

It is not easy.  I have some social anxieties (I always have). It makes me extremely anxious to 1) be left out and 2) be looked at/standing out.  I care an extreme amount (and maybe unhealthy amount) about what other people think of me.  That makes having a child who is born to stand out difficult for me because MY anxieties in public shoot through the roof.  That being said, I am the one who has to grow a tougher skin.

He is an amazing little boy who needs the support of his family.  I love him more than I can explain and I am working on changing my perspective of life and controlling my anxieties so I can continue to give him all the wonderful opportunities in life regardless if we stand out.   I will continue to work on me for Nolan.

The day we got his diagnosis, we all became an Autism family. Nolan is not going through this journey alone, he has his whole family (blood and close friends) behind him.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Stay at home zookeeper-Behind the Scenes

I have been thinking of renaming/branding the blog.  I am torn between Stay at Home Zookeeper because, lets face it, its how I feel most days, and Behind the Scenes because I want moms to see what happens behind the scenes in my home (besides the pretty Instagram photos I love to post).  As I ponder this (and would gladly accept your opinions--spam me with which you think!), I have had this post on my mind to kind of demonstrate what I am talking about.

 Being a mom of 2 kids 2 and under (and 2 under 2 for a little while there) is tricky.  It takes adjusting, there is a learning curve, and everything is give and take.  Give him some time and take some from her, give her some time and take from him.  With the give and take then leads to the mom guilt of what I am missing when I am taking time from the other. Let me tell you this momming thing, its hard!  It is not for the faint of heart!

Now we add in Nolan's autism and it has a new dimension.  I have to be very careful to balance the two.  I spend A LOT of times working with Nolan.  He has occupational therapy, speech, and then the "homework" for all of those.  Not to mention he is hard to understand (speech/verbal expression), he doesn't know/can't explain what he wants, we are teaching him how to play, and he has a lot of sensory needs.  I feel like I leave Stella in the dust some days.

Then there is the fact I am still nursing Stella.  I curl up on the couch with her and cuddle and hug while we nurse 3-5 times during the day for 15 minutes at a time.  Naturally that is when Nolan is hungry, wants something but doesn't know what, wants me to go "this way."  I have to tell him "no, sorry, Mommy has Stella."

Oh and then we have Stella can't cry for a second at night because it may wake up Nolan who is EXTREMELY difficult to get back to sleep, or Nolan cant be left alone in his room to long at "rest time" or he makes noise and wakes Stella up from her nap.  Sensory table is a lot of fun for Nolan but to small for Stella.  Stella's swing is for Stella, Nolan is to big.

Then you add in the crazy schedule: wake, feed, play, feed, Stella nap/work with Nolan, play, feed, both nap, play, feed, bath, bed.  Sooooo when does mom eat, drink, pee?  She doesnt.  I have felt like I get down to little to no self image some days.  I am a machine that provides the millions of needs to my children and never myself.  I am not kidding guys, there are days I eat for the first time at 2pm--and that includes cold coffee.  I shower MAYBE twice a week.  Dinner--even just an idea of what it will be--hahahahahahaha.

But wait, there's more!  2 dogs and fish.  Both dogs cannot be more than 3 inches from a person eating and often catch the food before it hits the floor.  (I am not above 5 second rule! The dogs wont even give me the chance!)  I spend an entire meal yelling "OUT!"  Then when they inevitably eat something it gives Pudge such bad gas it literally scares him.  He needs to be touching you at all times and is shaking because he is literally afraid--then he farts and goes skittering away as he scared himself.  Badger? He pukes.  He starts gagging and goes to his puke corner and you bet I better run--(even if I am nursing, helping Nolan, one leg in my pants, you name it) literally run-- to let him out.  Oh and Badger barks at all the dogs...all the dogs that have the audacity to be outside in their own yards during the day.  Dogs also come with dog water which kids get into.  If its cold, heaven forbid the dogs are outside for a few minutes...their poor paws.  They WILL bark until you let them in.  "Play outside! You're a dog!"  ugh, I digress.  Please dont get me started on the fish massacre of 2017.  I killed the fish. All the fish. I just wanted a clean tank, but I killed the fish.  I hate it, it made me sad (literal tears-stupid hormones), but I killed the fish. I have saved one.  1 female beta cleverly named: white fish.

As days go on I feel like I let someone down every day.  Then I took a new perspective on it.  Someone had to learn patience today.  Someone had to learn independence today.  Someone learned I am always here for them and they are important.  Someone learned I love them endlessly but that does not mean getting what they want right now.

I have learned both my kids have (and always will have) their own needs and need their own attention, but with practice, juggling, perspective, learning, re-learning, reorganization , and a little help from the other we can do it.  Nobody is let down, everyone is just taking their turn.  We invested in Hello, Fresh! and their meals already planned out, sized out, purchased, etc all in a convenient box at my door on Tuesdays.  When my family has high quality meals I can actually pull together I feel like a better mom.  I meal prep lunches for the week (and dinners when Alex is gone) and even 2 lunches for Alex.  Its a pain to do, but super awesome when I can eat more than once a day.  The pets, yeah, they just make me crazy.

The more I thought about it, this really is not different than any mom of more than one child.  Nolan's autism adds to the list of things he needs, but every child has needs.  He may have more, but there are many children who need more right now.  Life may have more things in it we do in a day, but I don't think I have to be a different mom because of it.

Am I? Im not sure, but you know what
they say- "fake it til you make it."
PS. Its 3pm and this is still full--and cold.
Momming isn't easy, nobody said it would be.  Having a child with Autism isn't easy, nobody said it would be.  I just have to remember to not be to hard on myself and realize I am learning and figuring this out as much as they are.  One thing is for sure, this is a crazy life I wouldn't trade for the world.

Hang in there mamas!  Moms of 1, moms of children with special needs, moms of many, moms of multiples, moms.  Hang in there.  You are doing fine.  You are learning too. You are not the only one!

Soooo this life I live, this blog I write: Stay at home Zookeeper? Behind the Scenes?  Behind the Scenes of a Stay at Home Zookeeper?

Stella 9 Months

9 Months
Likes: crawling everywhere, stealing Nolan's things, eating, 
Dislikes: being over tired, sleeping through the night (still up  2/3 times a night:10, 1, 4), wiping her nose, having to stop for a diaper change
Can/Does: crawls, pulls up, stand for a second if let go of her hand, fake laugh, eat solids, drink from a sippy cup
Size/Weight: Still tiny.  3-6 month clothes mostly fit, some are short and some 6 month clothes
1/2 a tooth!


Celebrating the Super Bowl!  We had the party at our house with our friends and the kids had a lot of fun! It is amazing how large our brood is growing!  As of now, next Super Bowl we will have 9 kids 5 and under!






 2 days later and crawling across the room

Crawling up Daddy

Found the doorstop.  Only took her 6 days of crawling.  It is removed now.

Starting to say her consonants.  Dada wins!

Here she has to do what her brother is doing and pulls up to do it. She really is a stinker and I see her crawl as fast as she is capable of when Nolan has a new toy. The more dangerous and she shouldn't have it the more she wants it and faster she moves towards it.


First Valentine's Day
We started the day by celebrating at home, then we took Noley to Children's to talk about his sleep and we ate at Firehouse subs.  Stella is doing so well eating big people food and sitting in high chairs. She loves to hear her own voice and often yells as loud as she can in restaurants and then laughs at our reaction.
Went to SkyZone to jump with a mommy group.  Nolan loved jumping and Stella loved the attention and the bouncing. She started in the carrier but then she wanted to be a bigger part of the action.  She even jumped in the foam pit with Noley and I!












We had miracle 60*+ weather in February so we took advantage of being outside!



Play date at the park!


Food was a lot of what was new for Ms. Stella. haha.  Lots of fun for Stella, lots to clean for mom and dad.
eating baby food by hand
Eating lasagna like Mommy & Daddy

fell (& got stuck) in the hummus
Eating carrots on her own

Went to Emily's third birthday party at Badger State park.  She, naturally, was stealing from Nolan.

These two LOVE playing peek a boo with mommy and daddy, especially out the car door.

Her hair just cracks me up!
At our next birthday party, Stella took it upon herself to help unwrap the presents (or eat all the paper that they removed). Then, best thing ever, Nolan and Stella began playing with one of the tools together.  
She is good at and not afraid of going through tunnels.

 Standing is starting to happen!  First with Grandma only holding a little bit.  Then on her own. She is also holding on to things and doing it with only one hand.



Resisting sleep....falling asleep while crying.

The little stinker will not sleep at grandmas house....unless mommy is holding her.

Stinker does not like to hear the word no.  This is her reaction to being told no bears in her mouth.
Stella is getting to do more and more with with us at the children's museum!
She has been watching Daddy and Nolan and learning how to play music

EllieFay Photography & Design did her 9 month photos, SO CUTE!

Follow in real time on Instagram @behindthescenes_mrsg

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Nolan's update

Days after a diagnosis are crazy. You have a million phone calls to make, strategies to try, etc.  While we have been doing all of that (and appointments are trickling in but we have no new news yet) we have continually been working with Nolan. We are seeing some great progress from this amazing little boy and mama wants to take a moment to show the growth we have seen.

New words: suction cups

He actually stopped daddy before he blew out his candles and wanted to do it!

Told daddy happy birthday

He isn't singing songs yet, but filling in the words!  Getting closer!

Physically, Nolan hasnt had many challenges, but the last trip to the water park was scary to him.  He "jumped" into the water after lots of coaxing and patience of daddy!

Helping Mommy feed Stella!

Sorting his bears! So great with his colors and sorting, he LOVES these bears!

Back in May, Nolan could spell his name with help.  That faded around when Stella was born and it is just starting to come back again!

Nolan learns language through a script, but he is very good at memorizing scripts!  Here he knows how old he is.

I am a firm believer in helping kids learn self sufficiency.  We have given Nolan the chores of feeding the dogs and the fish! He is using language and doing a great job with this chore.

He is using his language and it was totally spontaneous!  I have no idea where he learned it but I am so proud of him!

He loves jumping! I am so proud of him for jumping two feet like a big kid!

Driving is only in a circle, but it is progress from last year!

Using tools, language, and following verbal directions in his new chair

Nolan is being a big helper, showing love towards his sister, and just being so incredibly sweet.

Nolan wanted me to help him. He is using language, communicating his needs, and just being so darn cute!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Stella 7 Months & 8 Months

Second child problems, I do 2 months at a time.  She knows I love her!

7 Months
Likes: Sitting up, putting everything in her mouth, Blaze theme song
Dislikes: being over tired, sleeping
Can/Does: sits up, scoots backwards,
Size/Weight: Still tiny.  Moved up to 3-6 month and some 6 month clothes
Still no teeth!


First over-night at grandma and grandpas as Mommy and Daddy went to a wedding in Milwaukee.  
St. Nick came!  We also have the Elf on the Shelf visiting us.  She has been named Yelf.  (How Nolan pronounces The Elf and we are going to run with it because how cute is that?!?!)  Stella got a chewy banana, some puffs, and a toy.  
And because I LOVE comparisons of the two, here are the kids in the same PJs on both of their first St. Nick visit!

Kaukauna Christmas parade. It was freezing.  The wind was horrible.  Then it was probably the longest Kaukauna parade ever! (maybe it was just that cold that made it feel that way.)

Vanden Heuvel Christmas Party at Great Uncle Pete's shop.  We see Santa, play with cousins/second cousins (or maybe 3rd I have no idea how that works).  Stella loved her tea set and watching all the kids running around like they are crazy.

We went sledding on our street and in our yard a couple times.  Stella does really well sitting up and being outside!  Stella is still perfecting sitting and I didnt want her to hit her head while undressing Nolan...so she got to sit in the box while I was undressing Nolan and until it was her turn.




Every year in Kaukauna, a man sets up the North Pole. Santa, elves, reindeer and many other holiday sights to see! The kids really liked it!
With Mommy working for Usborne and being a teacher, we spend lots of time reading. Some times we initiate it, but the best is when they start doing it on their own!








Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were wonderful!  We went to church and spent time with family.  We even managed to get family photos at each place!  Christmas morning, we opened presents at our house, then Grandma and Grandpa Jansen,  then Grandma and Grandpa Gloudemans.  






Stella had her follow up cardio appointment-AND SHE HAS BEEN CLEARED!  Both holes have been healed and there is an extra vein but it is just an extra vein, there is no double aortic arch for sure.  She is cleared of needing any extra cardio-care.

Stella LOVES her Badger dog!
New Years was spent at home with Ms. Stella Bean feeling very sick.  She still smiled for her photos, but that was about all the energy she could muster for a couple days. (hence her faces in her 7 month photos too).




8 Months

Likes: playing with her vanity, screaming/talking, her brother, getting up to see mommy in the night
Dislikes: sleeping through the night, waiting for food, green baby food, puffs/to thick of oatmeal
Can/Does: scoot around on her butt, go from sitting to tummy,  move around the floor (but not forwards), clap, beginning to pick up food/small things, hold own bottle/cup (working on actually drinking out of it), crawl!
Size/Weight: 14lbs 5oz (at cardio appt--lost a little weight being sick)  Still a big fat 0 in the teeth department!

As mentioned, New Years was spent at home with sick little Stella Ear infection #2.  She went from bad to worse through out the weekend and finally on Monday I called to get her in.  She had a bulging double ear infection and they think she was either on her way out of RSV or Influenza.  Luckily, she was doing ok and already healing from it so we just had to continue to watch.  The meds helped her sleep better and begin to feel better.








Alex and I were talking about how we met 14 years ago bowling and decide to take the whole family bowling.  It was a little over stimulating for Nolan, but he still did pretty good.  We had fun and Stella loved watching all the action! PLUS Mommy and Stella matched in our feathers!






Stella is getting very good at yelling/talking, and she LOVES her vanity from Daddy from Christmas.

8 days into her second round of antibiotics we discovered Ms. Stella is allergic to amoxicillin.  It is minor with only some hives covering her body.  They checked her ears and they were cleared up so we just stopped taking them but have this listed as an allergy on her record.








We went to the Little Chute pool/water park to celebrate Daddy's birthday and try something new.  Stella loves water!



Stella got her first pony tail and pedicure











The kids have been going on some errands with me and Stella is getting good at sitting in the cart like a big girl!

She is also a stinker butt and keeps trying to steal her brother's snacks.


 Another building for kids trip! 

Apparently at 7.5 months Stella has decided she needs to sleep with a paci..but she doesn't even  use it right. She holds it in her hands and chews on it until she falls asleep.  I am ok with it as long as she goes to sleep.









Stella doesn't like to be hungry so when she is hungry she demands food.

She is getting good at blowing raspberries. Her favorite time is when she is eating a food she doesnt like or when when she is supposed to be going to sleep.

Stella is almost crawling!  She can go from sitting to her belly and she can move about the floor with out going forward.


 We are in Packer country, we have lots of Packer parties.  Even if it isn't a party, Packer gear is required.


We started eating yogurt puffs.  Stella isnt really a fan.

Started using a sippy cup.  Not great at it but she is liking practicing!










Standing with support of the bathtub....and look at those bunners!!



Stella is loving ride on toys








Full head piggy tails!  Big girl hair!

We played outside inside at Rainbow Play systems.  Both kids really had fun!


Although yogurt puffs make her gag, Burger King french fries (the
insides) are apparently ok.  





Going for a walk on a January thaw....love the bear feet and ribbit boots!











and then this happened on the day she turned 8 months!