Category Archive : toddlers

Where to Begin?

I know it has been a while my friends.

Since I posted back in September, when we found out about Mackenzie’s condition, I have run the gamut of emotions.

Confusion. Sadness. Anger. Depression. Helplessness. Desperation. Guilt. Fear.

I could probably come up with about a hundred more.

Around the new year, I came to an important realization: this is my reality. I can sit back and feel sorry for myself and wallow in “why me’s” but that won’t really do anyone any good.

It was time to find ME again. The strong me. The positive me.

I wish I had more to share about our sweet and Mighty Mackenzie. We are proud to announce that she finally started walking just a couple weeks shy of her 2nd birthday and are now heavily focused on speech. Even though she isn’t able to speak many words, she fully understands us. We still don’t have a finalized diagnosis on her condition – just bit and pieces – all of which we are treating individually. To say that it is frustrating not to have answers is an understatement. There are a lot of assumptions, but nothing that is definite. We ache to have some kind of understanding about the kind of life she is going to have. Jackson is envious of the attention that we have to give her and that has caused stress.

Yet, there is one constant: love. This little girl is loved like no other. Despite the mounting tests, therapy, poking, prodding and monitoring she continues to be just the happiest little person you will ever meet. I’ve said it before – her smile is the answer to world peace. While my heart aches in so many ways, it is impossible not to be overpowered by the amazing spirit this child brings to the world.

As abnormal as her world is, you would never know it by watching her. We want to pop the bubble we have put up around her and our family to do everything possible to be normal in a very abnormal situation. What we really want is to be the family we dreamed we could be. Maybe it doesn’t look like we thought it would, but it still has the two key ingredients: love and faith. Neither of which we can live without at this point in our lives.

Inspired by my amazing daughter I created a playlist for her on Spotify – I hope you are as moved by these songs as I am! Mighty Mackenzie on Spotify

To follow Mackenzie’s journey and join in her wonderful support community go to:

Her smile will change the world…

When Your Child is Different

I have been mostly open about my sweet, little Mackenzie. About her… differences.

I am a part of a Facebook mom’s group for babies born in December 2013. They are the most supporting, amazing and wonderful women and moms on the planet. All of our kids are wonderfully unique in their own way, but for the most part, all of their babies did MOST developmental things around the same time.

That’s when I started to worry. Why isn’t Mackenzie doing these things?

Since the time she was about 3 months old, we knew that Mackenzie was likely to have some challenges. We discovered vision issues in her left eye very early on (which is a rare discovery in a baby). However, it was unknown what the impact of these issues would imply. There was also the discovery of her skull ridge, lipoma in her tummy, a small hip joint and one leg longer than the other.

Put ALL of these things together and what do you get?

Overwhelmed, emotional parents of an 18 month old who is severely developmentally delayed.

But Mackenzie… she is special. She is happy. She is blissfully unaware that there is anything wrong with her. Of course, being parents, we want only the best care for her. We don’t want to keep her in the older infant room at her daycare anymore as she belongs with her toddler friends, learning toddler things.

I am sensitive to the fact that she isn’t doing what he is “supposed” to be doing at this age. I don’t go around doing the usual bragging that pretty much all mommies do, so most of my “friends” (speaking of those specifically on social media) are unaware that my daughter has any issues. My husband and I have chosen to keep Mackenzie’s developmental struggles in the family. It just feels too personal to make it a social “thing”. On the other hand – am I not giving my social media friends enough credit? Is the truth that I am worried about being judged?

For the most part, I have brilliant, smart, supportive and mostly Christian social media friends. They would pray for and cheer on Mackenzie as she learns at a year and half to crawl, sit up and pull herself to stand – most things that that the “average” 10-12 month old is already doing.

Mackenzie is very quickly practicing her mastery of pulling to stand. SO much so, that she did it last night from about 2:30 – 5am. With 2 paci’s over the side of the crib, 2 parents who are tired as hell, we finally gave up and let her “figure” it out. She fell asleep around 5am sitting up.

Quickly we learned that just because Mackenzie is delayed, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to go through ALL of the same things every other parent to a baby went through about 6 months earlier.

Yet – I kind of want to scream to the universe that she did this all night long. I’m so proud of her. Physical therapy is hard work for her – they push her to the baby brink and it is sometimes hard to watch. But nights like last night tell me that the hard work is paying off. She’s definitely doing what she’s supposed to be doing – even if she’s giving it her best go in the middle of the night.

I don’t think any parent ever anticipates having a child with special needs. I struggle with work-life balance. I struggle with my desire to succeed and provide as well as my deep need to be with her at therapy every week. I struggle with trusting her daycare to work with her on the exercises she needs to work on. I should be there.

Despite our struggles and setbacks, I love her with the fire of a thousand suns. I love her in a way that is different from anything I have ever known. Of course I love my son to the moon and back, because well… mama’s boy, but Mackenzie… oh Mackenzie and all of her special, unique qualities makes me love her and want to protect her in way that only I, her mama, can understand.

Patience & Potty Training

I’m not sure the words “Patience” and “Potty Training” actually belong in the same sentence let alone the same breath, but in order for one to be successful the other needs to happen.

No doubt, my husband and I butt heads on a lot of things concerning our son. It seems the older he gets, the more we disagree about. One thing in particular we have argued about is potty training. I paged through a number of books from Guerilla Tactics for Potty Training (okay, that wasn’t the name but I was horrified by the suggestions for how to potty train) to Potty Train in a day. The book that made the most sense and I feel has given us the most useful suggestions has been “Stress Free Potty Training” by Sara Au and Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D. It recommends identifying your child’s personality type and then giving recommended strategies for the type of child you have. Let’s face it, every child is different so why would you try to potty train them the same way?

We have worked on being patient and letting Jackson call the shots when it comes to potty training. He could have CARED LESS about it until a little over a month ago. We also offered him the option but he vehemently said he wanted nothing to do with the toilet. Out of the blue, I showed up at school to pick him up and they said he had been going every hour. Color me shocked.

Turns out losing his best friend to preschool was his motivation. He will not get to move into the preschool room until he is fully potty trained.

This motivated us as parents to start getting more aggressive with him. We had a couple weeks of setbacks with my having surgery and his birthday bash- neither good times to be putting underwear on him. A week ago we just went ahead and did it. There are accidents of both kinds if you catch my drift and it wears on my patience to have to constantly have new pants and underwear readily available for him to change into. While it takes everything in me not to get angry and scold him for the accidents, I know disciplining him is only going to be a setback. So in my most CALMING mommy voice, I explain to him that his poop and pee needs to go on the toilet and we head off to the bathroom to clean and start over. I remind my husband to remain calm as well. Not an easy task when there is amazingly stinky underwear to be cleaned up and a puddle of pee on our lovely wood floors.

Day by day, Jackson’s getting the hang of the potty thing. We have found he is very much able to hold his potty longer than the meager every 30 minutes on the potty we have been forcing him into and have started to extend that time a little longer every day. Poop on the other hand… I am at a loss. He’s just not getting it. We told him there are animals waiting on the other side of the drain that are hungry for his poop. No go. We’re trying to make pooping awesome and hilarious and hoping that he will find it so much fun to take a crap that it is all he’ll want to do.

So far we are still waiting for him to find pooping to be awesome.

One Child. Only Choice?

Since 2006, I have blogged about my struggles with infertility, miscarriage and the miracle that is my baby boy Jackson.

Once we got pregnant with Jackson, there was never really any doubt about our desire to have a second baby. We got cocky in thinking that it would be easy to make it happen again. As Jack gets older, we have flip flopped on whether or not to keep trying. It has been at least a year and a half since we started (kind of half-assed) on baby #2 but as my age and my dwindling fertility looms, we have pretty much resigned to the fact that Jack may be our one and only.

Since Jack was born, I have had some issues with my body. Besides my weight (which of course CAN be changed and I am working on it no matter how many obstacles are thrown in my path), I had a uterine infection right after he was born (tons of fun to have with a newborn to care for), and a year later in 2009 my doctor discovered fibroids and a uterine polyp which had me in a boatload of pain and led to a hysteroscopy and D & C to have them removed. While I hoped that the polyps and fibroids would keep their distance, much to my dismay, they are back and wreaking havoc on my poor body. With the recurrence of this issue, I know my chances of successfully conceiving a baby are becoming minimal and I cannot even imagine having to endure another miscarriage.

While I was weighing the pros and cons of having a second child, I felt empowered that it was MY choice. I’m not liking the fact that the choice is being taken away from me. There is a part of me that wants to fight my age, my polyps, my fibroids and give infertility a swift kick in the rear; however, the other part of me is just tired of the fight after all these years. Is it time to permanently fix my issues and just move on?

I’ll never know for sure how we were able to conceive Jackson (well… I KNOW, but… well, you know what I mean). Divine intervention? Fluke? When I look at him, I know that he is and will forever be my miracle child. We will always make sure he knows that having only him will always be more than enough for us. We will see to it that he is surrounded by family and friends who will become his brothers and sisters. We will make sure that he has the best life ever.

Keep Your Contagious Child Home Please

This week, I overheard several conversations that sent my annoyed and PMSing rant radar into overload. Some people really need help with their question filters:

1. “Congrats on being pregnant! How far along are you?” Ummmm… She wasn’t pregnant. Enough said.
2. “Whoa. What’s up with your face?” Said by one girl to another about a recent acne outbreak which she gets with her period and from working out. Not that it is anyone’s business WHY she had the acne. A polite person would never ask such a thing.

But the single most annoying conversation I overheard this week involved a mom and her sick child. This mom was blatantly bringing her child to daycare knowing that she wasn’t feeling well and blamed a 103 degree temp on teething. As I sat listening to this, cringing in horror, she actually kept talking. She was talking about how she was giving her kid ibuprofen before school so that her fever wouldn’t show up and so she could still go to work and “slide under the radar”. Next day, she apparently tried to bring the kid back to daycare. Mine, and any other daycare that follows state regulations, requires 24 hours fever free or a doctor’s note before returning to daycare (which she blatantly chose to ignore that little rule). Appointment-less, she bounded into her doctor’s office with both guns blazing, demanding a note to allow her kid back in daycare. Upon examination from the doctor and the discovery of a FULL BODY RASH (how do you miss that??) not to mention a fever still at 102 (AFTER more ibuprofen) the doctor gave her a swift NO WAY are you getting a note from me and sent her and baby home to rest. Turns out it is a case of Roseola. Highly contagious virus. She also refused to tell daycare what the diagnosis was in the case that they wouldn’t let her back in until the rash is gone because she had “work to do.” She was even chuckling about “Totally being that ‘mom’ bringing her kid into school sick” So funny is this lady! (sense my sarcasm and yoda-like commentary).

My mommy judgement alarm was blaring and it took everything I had not to interrupt this conversation and say “WTF?!!” This ranks easily up there on my anger range scale with “those moms” who think it is okay to park their oversized Escalades (still running) in the handicapped parking spots while they quickly run in to pick up their kids, because apparently they are important and do not need to park in regular spots like the rest of us. I digress.

Firstly, let me say that I get it. Being a full-time working mom is flipping hard. Finding the balance between work responsibilities and your children is not always easy. But for me, this is a no-brainer. MY CHILD COMES FIRST. I would never leave my sick, fussy, feverish child with anyone but me or my husband (she dumped her baby off with Grandma, so now poor granny is likely to get sick). I also feel as a parent that has to use a daycare for her child that it is my social responsibility to inform them exactly what my child is sick with so other parents can be aware and prepared for what their kids may be exposed to. Nothing ticks me off more than when Jack gets sick with things like croup and viral pneumonia (both uber contagious) when nothing has been announced. There is NO OTHER way he could pick that up other than through other kids at daycare- we are lucky if we have time to get him a haircut on most weekends. How insanely selfish is it to keep that information “under the radar” at the risk of exposing other kids to an extremely icky and contagious illness. So. Irresponsible. My husband and I also work as a team. When the kid gets sick, we can pretty much assume a 2-3 day stint at home. We take turns staying home and do our fair share. Yes. It totally sucks having to use limited PTO time to stay home with a sick kid. Yes. You’ll have to cancel meetings and deal with the stink eye from the childless folks. But hey, that is the reality of being a parent.

I cannot even express how much overhearing (okay… it started with overhearing and maybe turned into a little eavesdropping) this conversation totally angered me. So, I ask (beg), with the utmost respect and understanding for the working mom, please keep your contagious, sick child away from mine.

Thank you.

Wordless Wednesday: MN Twins Edition

Because I take great pleasure in the Twins beating the Yankees last night, today’s Wordless Wednesday
is in honor of the start of the baseball season as well as the Minnesota Twins. We are hoping to create Twins fans for generations to come.

The Week In Rant: Healthy Booster Seat Edition

Ahhhhhh Friday. Hello. I needed you and you didn’t disappoint by showing up.

Let’s kick off the weekend with a little Week in Rant, shall we?

I know the new big mommy thing in the news this week are the new recommendations from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) regarding car seats. For those of you living in a bubble, here they are:

  • The “rear-facing until two” is a guideline only. Young children who are very small, or born prematurely, may need to stay rear facing longer–until they outgrow the weight and height limits for the rear-facing carseat. And, kids who are big may outgrow the size limitations younger than age two and may need to be turned forward-facing earlier.
  • Once a child outgrows the size limits of rear-facing, he should be forward-facing in a harness carseat until he outgrows that seat.
  • You can check your carseat’s size limitations on the label or in the instruction manual. In general, convertible carseats are safe for rear-facing until a child weighs 35—45 lbs. Height limitations vary as well.
  • Kids need to remain in booster seats until at least EIGHT years of age, or when they exceed the size limits for a booster and they are ready for a seat belt.
  • Kids should not be riding in the front seat of a vehicle until they are at least 13 years old.

Are you ready for my opinion (you know I have one). These are RECOMMENDATIONS only. Not the law. We parents have to make a lot of decisions and usually look to the AAP as a guideline for making what we think is the correct one. Of course, in all my sarcastic glory, if you don’t follow these guidelines you are likely to be chewed up and spit out in disgust by the perfect mom community out there (you know who those people are… the ones who give you the stink eye in a store or restaurant when your child is acting out). As always, my advice is: do what you feel is best for your situation. I considered leaving Jack rear-facing until he was 2; however, he outgrew those limitations fairly quickly and we turned him around at a year in my husband’s vehicle and around a year and a half in my car. I don’t feel I need to justify our decision to anyone. I intend to keep him boostered until he exceeds the size limit and he will definitely not ride up front until he is 13. But, you know how it goes… he is two and a half right now. I’m sure my opinion (and the AAP’s opinion) will change a million times before then. Final thoughts on this subject? Settle the heck down folks. The cops aren’t going to pull you over if you turn your kid’s seat around before the age of 2. 

I have made it no secret over my blogging years that I watch and love American Idol. The last few years have been a yawn though and seriously considered scrapping the sheer amount of time required to stay committed to the show until I realized how much I liked the new season. I LOVE J-Lo. I don’t know why, but I love her. She’s pretty to look at and she usually has decent, constructive criticism to offer. Don’t care for Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson just kinda fades into the background. I like the changes they made to the show letting the viewers get to know the contestants a little more and showing behind-the-scenes stuff. As far as the contestants, there are the usual few who for some reason are insanely popular yet I can’t stand their voice (ahem… Jacob Lusk). Last night’s episode was one of the best in a long time. Especially after they saved Casey Abrams and dude kept throwing down the F bombs. I always thought Idol would be so much better with more swearing. 


While my weight loss seems to have slowed a little (11.5 pounds gone over 12 weeks), I am losing at a rate of about .5 – 1 pound a week. I HATE that it is a slow process for me but at the same time, I know that this is a healthy, long term way to keep it off. However at this rate, my goal of losing 60 pounds seems insurmountable. I am still following the WeightWatchers program to the letter and am trying to make myself into a runner, which is kind of laughable but I am determined. I started Couch to 5K (thanks to the iPhone app, it makes it pretty easy to follow) and hope that it will be a slow and steady way to get me into it. I plan to do it first on treadmill and then, God willing, it will actually be warm enough for me to do the program outdoors (because yes, I am fully aware that running on pavement is completely different than a treadmill). My bridesmaid dress fitting is less than a week away and I am actually looking forward to it. I know that I have taken inches off my bod and it WILL need to be taken in. That was the first of many goals in this journey and I’m not going to lie: IT FEELS GOOD!!! 

Thought I would show a couple pictures to highlight my progress. The top one is from early December 2010 (a month before I re-joined WeightWatchers for the eleventy-billionth time- I’m on the right). The bottom pic is from 2 weeks ago (again.. me on the right). My face has trimmed out- that is after only 11 lbs! I’m so excited to see pictures after I have made it to goal. Heck. I’m excited that I want pictures of me taken at all.

By the way… you can now join up with Mixed Bag of Rant on Facebook! Like it today and join in the rantilicious discussion!

Have a beautiful weekend!!

Spring is Almost Here… I Think… I Hope…

Being a Minnesotan, you get a mixed bag of response when it comes to the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Some live for our Winters and the playground of skiing and sledding fun that mother nature provides but others (especially by this time of year) cannot wait for it to just be over.

Here are my top 10 Pros and Cons of the Spring Season.

Let’s start with the Cons: 
1. The beginning of Spring just looks kinda gross. Muddy. Dirty. Wet. Stinky. Yuck.
2. Road Spray. My car looks disgusting even 2 minutes after pulling out of the car wash.
3. Flooding. I live in the southern metro in the Twin Cities or “across the river” as it is often referred to here. The only negative about moving to this side of town is the annual spring flooding of the river. There is no escaping it. Two alternative main arteries are typically shut down leaving only the main highway which equals an additional 30 minutes (or more) of commute time that lasts for upwards of two months. It is the worst and there is no escaping it if you live “across the river”.
4. I have no idea what to dress my kid in. Is he too hot? Too cold? It is confusing.
5. Dog poop. Yup. All that dog poop we neglected to pick up out of the snow all winter long? It’s still there and now is basking in all its sloppy glory.

Runner Up Cons: The return of bugs… I hate bugs and having to consider swimsuit season being around the corner. Yikes.

Let’s end on a high note. Here are the Pros:
1. Nothing feels as good as driving with the windows down and the moonroof open.
2. Birds. Every year, on schedule, I hear this strange noise like someone threw a rock at my office window. I turn to look and see that my finch friend has returned, confused as ever, trying to fly through my window. 4 years and counting, he still hasn’t figured out there is a building there.
3. Being able to walk/run outside (without the fear of getting plowed down by crazy drivers).
4. The start of BASEBALL SEASON and watching Twins games out on our porch.
5. Happy hours on a patio. Nothing better than cool drinks in the warm sun.

Runner up pros include: my birthday (May Day!) and Mother’s Day, taking my toddler to the park and of course: MN Zoo babies!

I think it is safe for me to say that the pros of Spring’s arrival definitely outweigh the cons for me. Most importantly, I am excited to feel some warmth on my face and just get the heck out of my house. Cabin fever much?

What do you think? Happy for Spring’s arrival or sad to let Winter go?

Wordless Wednesday: Toddler Lessons

We are making sure that Jack is learning the important things…

Do you have a Wordless Wednesday post you want to share? Let’s link up! 

The In-Laws: Not a Dirty Word

While I don’t always participate in blogging prompts, I thought today’s SocialMoms prompt was an interesting one:

What are your tips on how to deal with difficult in-laws or family members? – Is it hard for you to get along with your in-laws or other family members? Has it gotten so bad that you don’t bring your kids around them any more? How do you overcome your differences for your children’s sake? Share your tips on how to make a better relationship with difficult family members.

I begin talking about this subject with a little bit of a chuckle. I married a guy with let’s face it, a pretty remarkable family. That’s not to say that I haven’t had frustrations (who hasn’t?) that I have had to work through. Most of those issues were born out of completely pure and good intentions on behalf of family. In my son’s early days, those frustrations were exacerbated because of my postpartum depression. Nobody was really “safe” with me during that time. Not friends, family, not even my husband. I spent a great deal of time ranting, raving and crying not knowing how to deal with my own issues and not being brave enough to explain them to anyone else. The only way I was able to survive it was to give myself some space. Sometimes, that meant ignoring calls or only having communication via e-mail.

Nobody really warned me about the unsolicited advice portion of parenting. How annoying it is or how it not only rears its ugly head from the ones closest to you but from perfect strangers as well. And now that I am a full-fledged mama? I confess… I dish out the advice as well where I am certain it is not wanted.

Us moms, we have to learn how to have a thick skin. We have to learn to give ourselves a break. We have to learn that we are going to do what we have to do to survive most days. Are we going to make mistakes? Yup. Are we going to hear those horrific words “I told you so,”? Yup.

I have a close relationship with my in-laws because at the end of the day, they love me and they most especially love my son. Now that Jack is older, he loves them too and can even tell them as much. It would have to take something pretty major to begrudge anyone in my family, either immediate or in-lawed, time with Jackson. No doubt, there are things that people, family or otherwise, say which make me cringe (thus, the entire inspiration for this blog). But, when it comes to family, I bite my tongue. There is no need to create drama where it doesn’t need to be. I look at these conversations as… just another perspective that I can learn from. I am fortunate that I am surrounded by families that are loving and dare I say, normal?.

With that said, Jack and I are pretty lucky to have such awesome family in our lives. So, for me, using the word “in-laws” is definitely not a dirty word, it is more like a blessing.