Maria Writes Stuff

Womanhood. Motherhood. Autism Awareness. Book Reviews

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Goals for 2017

  1. Read more. – I really enjoy reading. I read a lot of non-fiction, and strive to learn more too, so reading is a must. 🙂
  2. Get Ben settled into therapy. – I’ve sort of got the fall rolling on this one…I’m waiting for pre-approval from insurance before he can start therapy.
  3. Pay down medical debt. – We’ll see how this goes…as they tell me that it takes nearly 2 weeks to consolidate all of my bills from my surgery in May of last year.
  4. Don’t cry when Marjorri starts Kindergarten. – Yeah…tears will flow, I just know they will. I’ve already failed ath this one. lol
  5. Ride my bike more. – I was given a new children’s bike trailer for Christmas. I can’t wait to use it. In the spring and summer, bike riding might just have to become a part of everyday.
  6. Enjoy vacation. – We’re taking an anniversary trip this year!!

What are your goals for 2017?

Things Ben Likes: Autism and Gift Giving 2016/2017

Ben is our wonderful seven year old boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Ben is active, curious, and full of energy. He is also nonverbal. We aren’t able to just ask him what he wants for his Christmas, or even his birthday. Here is a list of things that he received for Christmas/his birthday (they’re a day apart). and seems to really enjoy:

This post contains links to products on Amazon.

1Kid’s Pod Swing Chair.

Ben really loves it! It swings, and swivels! It also doubles as a place for him to have time to himself (it kind of cocoons around him when he sits in it.).

2. Aurora Projection Night Light

I really love this! It casts a Northern Lights type of effect on the walls/ceiling. According to the packaging you can also have the lights put to music too (We haven’t tried this yet). I also love that this light projector is powered by electricity and not batteries!

3. Fat Brain Toys – Teeter Popper

The Teeter Popper is similar to the Spooner Board  It rocks and has suction cups on the bottom, so when you teeter and totter, it pops! All of our children enjoy this toy and have a good time sitting back to back and popping away! 🙂

4. Magformers 

This is a fun building toy! They’re magnetic and stick together! I really like that the magnets are placed under the plastic of each piece. Check this out for hours of fun!

5. Neo Tracks Light Up Vehicles and Neo Track

Ben received this has a birthday gift and really loved it. I think he played with it more than anything else! We set up the track and put batteries in the car, it was super easy and simple! Ben has even done it himself! 🙂 The car goes around the track and has lights that go on as the car travels around the track.

Pictures coming soon!

 

 

Traveling with a Toddler!

We just returned from our week long Thanksgiving break vacation. We, of course, traveled with our children (ages 8, 6, 4 and nearly 2). I thought traveling with our toddler Adeline was going to be a bit tough. Here are some things that I did to make the trip a bit easier and her (and us)!

I hid a couple favorite toys for about a month. To her,  it was like getting a new toy to travel with! The batteries had died in her Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Puppy, so I put it away (and bought new batteries) until our trip.

She played with it during the car ride really seemed to enjoy herself. 🙂
I also packed First 100 Animals, and  First 100 Words board books, a sippy cup (I highly recommend the Munchkin’s 360 Cups!), and a Snatch Catcher. My intent was to make diaper changes entertaining, drinks easily not spilled, and snacks as mess-free as possible. 🙂 We did great in the department…no spilled drinks or smashed pretzels to clean up!

I also remembered to pack her Glow Worm for when it was time for bed. She goes to sleep so much better with this little guy! I was also happy to discover that when you need to wash the Worm, you can take out the battery pack! Then put the doll-like cover in a pillowcase and wash! Awesome!

Addy goes to sleep every night with her Worm. She pushes the button a few times before she settles and falls asleep. I didn’t want to travel without this toy…in case bedtime became a difficult thing because we were in a hotel.

I hope you’ve found this post to be helpful in preparing for upcoming road trips with your toddler! 🙂 I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays this holiday season!

 

Product Review: MadisonRose Silicone Placemat with Built-In Plate

This a wonderful placemat for babies, toddlers and kids! I wish I’d known about this when my oldest was a baby and starting to self-feed. This is an amazing placemat with a built in plate. It’s made of silicone and is super soft/rubber-like to the touch.  The placemat and built in plate suction to the table/high chair tray where your child sits. I love this feature! Usually, my toddler will leave it alone until after she’s doing eating. If she tries hard enough she’ll be able to release the suction and toss it on the floor.

 

 

 

The placemat also comes with a free folk and spoon. The fork and spoon come with a really neat feature, that I wasn’t aware of until I washed them. Depend on the temperature of the water, the red portion of the spoon will turn white (and go back to red as it cools). I thought this was nice, as it can tell you if, for instance, your toddler’s oatmeal is too hot.

I highly recommend this placemat if you have a baby learning to self-feed, a toddler, or preschooler! It’s great! It comes in a variety of colors to suit your color preference. I bought the pink (which I realize in the photos looks a bit purplish).

*I received this product at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
**This post contains affiliate links. 

 

Product Review: Dogwidgets DW-18 Dog Training Collar

This is a great dog training collar!
It took awhile for me to figure out exactly how to get everything working.
Some Tips: Charge both the collar and remote before trying to use, for at least 6 hours. To pair the remote to the collar hold down the power button on the collar, as well as the Y button on the remote. When they beep, they’re connected. I hope these tips help! Before testing the collar on my dog, I tested it on myself, and a level 4 shock was enough to not cause me injury but a large enough jolt to make me jump with surprise.

 

 

 

 

 


I have a medium sized dog and this training collar worked great for her! The level 4 shock was all that was needed (and I probably could have set it less for her). I only had to go through the functions of the remote with her one time before she got the idea of what was going on. She always came when called when wearing the collar. I left the collar on her for a few hours (in the booklet it suggests no more than 12 hrs of wear at a time), and she seemed fine. She did scratch at the color a bit, but that was probably more due to slight irritation of it being on, than any skin issues.
**Disclaimer*** I was given this product for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
*This post contains affiliate links. 

Product Review: Tanmit 100 Gel Pens with Foldable Case

     I’ve never owned gel pens before. I recently got into doodling and coloring, so I was glad when I had the opportunity to purchase these pens. This set is amazing! I felt that the ink came out smoothly, and had a good consistency. It appeared to me (and I posted some swatches) that all the gel pens have some shininess/sparkle to them. 

     The colors of the gel pens range from metallic to what looked like pastels (but didn’t appear that way to me when I did a swatch…not all of them anyway). The set includes some nice neutral tones as well. I really don’t think you can go wrong with this product, as it seems to have a little bit of everything. If you are looking for completely fat (no shine, no sparkle) colors, this may not be the set for you. Be sure to check out the images below, and look at other reviewer’s photos too, it’ll give you a better idea of what the colors look like and if this set is what you’re looking for. I highly recommend it, as there are 100 different colors and the pens are good quality. They do come in a plastic case that folds together. I don’t think it’s the best quality case, but you could easily find another case or pencil box to store these in, I plan to. I hope you find this review helpful in your gel pen purchase!

 Swatches


 Other Photos

Primary and Jewel Toned Colors

Purchase These Pens

Pastels
Metallic Colors
The Neutral Colors



I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.




Surviving a Cesarean Birth with Your Sanity Intact

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either scheduled for a Cesarean in the near future, or you’ve already had one, and are browsing the internet with an infant in one arm and a pillow against your sore incision.

Girlfriend, I’ve been there…FOUR times! I understand completely what you’re going through right now. You may be scared, nervous, angry, in pain, or you may be in a complete state of euphoria due to increased Oxytocin levels and a love for a new baby.

Cesarean Birth

Here’s what I’ve learned through my four Cesareans.
1. Pain meds are  your BFF.
Take medication when it’s offered to you at the hospital. It will save you from what might be the worst of the pain (although, I can’t say that for sure..because I was always on pain meds in the hospital. lol).
2. (This might be more important than the pain meds recommendation). 
Abdominal support after a Cesarean is wonderful! It makes recovery feel more like you have yourself together, instead of that feeling that your innards just fell out. It’s also very handy to wear when you have to pee, bend over to change a diaper, and cough or laugh. If you laugh…you know the pain I’m talking about!
This one is similar to the one I was given at the hospital. After I shrunk a bit, I wished I’d bought another one a size smaller. 
3. If you’re nursing, use a breast pillow.
It’s a lifesaver when you’re sore and holding your baby! There are many different kinds of breast pillows available, some with back support and others without back support. I recommend the ones WITH back support, as my back pain was decreased tremendously while nursing, and it allowed the pillow to hug my incision and cause less pain. 
4. Invest in a Convertible Car Seat
 Choosing a Convertible Car Seat instead of an Infant Car Seat Carrier. The reason I recommend this is because they’ll tell you to only lift things as heavy as your baby for the first two weeks of recovery. During this two weeks you’re likely to have appointments with the OBGYN and Pediatrician to check on you and your baby, in my experience infant car seats are just too much to lift.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, insist on it! Ask for help, and remember you’re healing from major abdominal surgery. If someone is coming over to “see the new baby”, they should do a few dishes, take out the thrash as they leave, help make a meal…something…so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you’re like me, your anxiety will get to you and you’ll feel like you’ll have to do it all, in spite of the help. 

Preparing for Preschool

 

I wanted to share some experience I had preparing my boys for preschool, in the hopes it might help you and your child get off to a good start this year!

1. Talk about school often. 
 
     When Jack was diagnosed with PDD-NOS it was written up in his IEP that he’d attend preschool (he was 3), have speech therapy, and ride the bus to and from school.  We talked to him about things he’d learn in school, the yellow school bus, the bus driver, meeting his teachers and making friends. We thought this would put his mind at ease about going to school.
 
2. Create a social story about school.
     Ben started school when he was three, just like Jack did. The difference was that Ben was nonverbal and because of this, it was a bit of a mystery as to what he understood and what he didn’t. His speech therapist sent us a social story about school. I had emailed her photos of our house, of Ben and my husband and I to put in the story. She sent us a laminated book on a ring. The story showed Ben his school day through coming home from school. There was a page of the house, the bus, Ben, the classroom, the playroom at school, and then house again…explaining that he’s go to school on the bus, have school time with friends and come home again to mommy. I’m happy to report that at 3, he has no problems getting on the bus and going to school (for the first week anyway).
3. Read about School
 
Reading books has always been a favorite thing to among my children. I remember reading Curious George books to Jack and Ben when they were little, along with Dr. Seuss. I remember that we had a book called Curious George’s First Day of School. I think it was helpful to the boys to see that even their favorite story book characters go to school!
 
4. Meet the Teachers/Therapists
 
Meeting the teachers/therapists is what really tied the whole “school” thing together for Jack. After his first meet/greet with his teachers/therapists he looked forward to school days, and asked about his teachers when he wasn’t in school. I think meeting with teachers/therapists before school helps children to understand that they’re not going to school to spend time with a random stranger. They begin to understand that there is a classroom, desks, books, calendars, a sort of sense of purpose in school, and that the teacher is their guide to education.
5. Start a Schedule 
 
Both of my boys have always thrived on a schedule. It seems to be more true during the school year.  They know their day to day routine and it seems to help them focus when they know what to expect.  I’ve also noticed that if things are routine at home, things so smoother when the ease into their school routine. 
 
 
Happy School Year 2016!
I hope everyone has a splendid year! 
 
 

Friends for a little while. Friends Forever.

     I read a post on The Mighty by Lauren Jordan, another mom blogger at Laughing Like It’s My Job…And Other Stuff. Her post on The Mighty was about her Autistic son TJ and his friend Colby. The two boys who are two pees in a pod. Her post got me thinking about own friendships, and weather or not my sons have friendships with peers at school.

     I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t have many friends. I don’t “hang out” with other moms often, I don’t have “girls weekends” or anything like that. I have a few (say a handful) of wonderful women in my life that I spend time with periodically.  My best friend is Randi. She lives in Oklahoma…while I’m here…in Michigan. Randi and I haven’t see each other since winter 2003. I remember the last time I saw her, what we talked about, I even remember that she was wearing a shirt I’d let her borrow…and I never got it back. I love Randi with all my heart. I’ve known her since I was in the 7th grade, but we didn’t become close friends until we had become wives and mothers. She’s been my best friend since 2008. We’ve kept in touch through text, Facebook, and usually, a daily phone call.

     I know first hand what it’s like to be the “disabled” kid in class. To be judged, ridiculed, and bullied…just because you’re different. I have Cerebral Palsy, I limp, and just don’t care.  I was lucky enough to find a friend who, in spite of my lack of normal-nesss (Because let’s be honest…I’m weird, a nerd, you might say.), loves me anyway, accepts me for the ball of weird that I am, limp and all. This is what I hope for, for my children’s friendship. I hope they find someone who will see past all the things that most people might find weird.

     I am also very fortunate to have a group of online friends whom I’ve chatted with for years.  While this isn’t like your “typical” friendships, where you might meet at a coffee shop, go on play dates, and attend each other’s Fourth of July BBQ’s, the friendships aren’t any less real. I have online friends that are always there when I need an ear (or a computer screen?). These group of women have aided me in my journey through my marriage, Autism diagnoses, pregnancies and births…They’ve been there through anything that Randi has been with me through, just at an instant tough of the keyboard. Online communities have really helped me to see that I’m not alone in this adventure in raising special needs children.

Knowing that you’re not going through life alone is a wonderful thing. Having someone to go through it with you is even better. I hope my kids find that person early in life, and come to know too that in friendship (and really in all relationships), it’s quality…not quantity that matters.

Product Review: Imperial Kitchen Collection – Cutting Mats

Imperial Kitchen Collection: Cutting Mats

The package arrived quickly (via Prime Shipping) and was intact and undamaged. The cutting mats came well packaged in clear plastic with an instruction/description sheet. You are supposed to wash the mats and coat them with a light coating of oil (but I forgot to do this after I read it).
The mats are made of sturdy bendable plastic, with a non-slip grid on the bottom to prevent slippage as you chop food. I like that each mat is a different color and coordinates with a different food/meat group to prevent contamination during meal prep. The mats are brightly color coded as follows: Red is for beef, yellow is for poultry, blue is for fish, and green is for veggies. I found the mats to be lightweight and easy to store in a fairly cramped kitchen.  I hand washed with warm water and soap and set to dry for over 10 minutes. They were still slightly wet and needed towel drying before reuse. All things considered, I think this is a great product for the kitchen. I recommend it if you’re in need of some quality plastic cutting board

Here are some photos:
The mats in the packaging – straight out of the box.
Cutting some veggies.

 

Detailing of the non-slip grid on the back of each mat.

 

All 4 mats with their labels.

 

Mat drying after being washed with warm water and soap.

Click image to purchase!

Disclaimer:
I have received this product at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. 

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