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The Southard Diaries

The Southard Diaries

Six Secrets

I wrote this original post a year ago and felt it needed adjusted re-blogging now that I am one year wiser.

When Landon was only a few months old, I read this article in the Huffington Post - 6 Secrets Special Needs Moms Know But Won’t Tell You.  At the time I read it, I thought I understood each point. I even posted to Facebook about how much I identified with it. I really thought I got her… this author Suzanne Perry.  But as time usually does… it deepened my understanding of these so-called “secrets.” 

Now that I’ve been at this almost two years (!!), this is my life.  These six bullet points make up a lot of who I have become. One year ago, however, I let these six statements define me. Since that time, I’ve worked to include myself on the priority list. My emotions, my way of processing what’s happened or going to happen are vocalized with a dose of patience. I actually do feel quite a bit wiser.

Secret One: Loneliness. I sometimes think I prefer to be alone… it is so rare to get time actually alone when you have a child. What I realize though is this loneliness exists even when I’m around a ton of people. You feel alone because no one gets what it’s like to be you… except other mother’s with similar experiences. I cherish every email I get from those of you I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting yet. I added Google analytics to this blog not to see how many people were reading but to see where. Having a reader in almost every country blows my mind and eases the loneliness. Honestly, connecting with others through this blog has helped heal pieces of myself.

Secret Two: Marriage. There is a unique complexity to any marriage where there is a child like Landon. To explain it simply, which it’s not, when Landon was born… I became her mother. A special mother. And I stopped being a wife, except for going through the motions. As Bo described me once.. I was a glorified roommate. Ouch. I believe that the distance that grew between us was in part because I felt I did everything. Worked full-time, mothered full-time, short order cook, maid, and special needs coordinator. I was exhausted. Adding another list of things to worry about was impossible back then. As I grew and learned more about Bo’s emotions and when I actually asked for help… he was incredible. Such an amazing father, it’s a joy to watch them together and makes me love him even more. I worked damn hard last year to remedy who I was to him and reconnect. In the beginning, you band together. You embrace each others shock, hurt as well as the happiness.  Then life moves on and things get complicated. But now, as time always does.. we’ve healed. We have major highs again, and some lows like all couples. I’m happy to report the former greatly outweighs the latter. Some of the lows are awful and core shaking, but they don’t last long. My emptiness and sadness I’ve shared in former posts are felt less and less. It’s like any garden though, it always needs tending. 

Secret 3: Being Offended. Perry claims that we’re not easily offended. This is and isn’t true for me. On one hand, I want people to ask what her hearing aids are….instead of stare.  I love discussing what she has. I’m the proudest mother on the planet.  On the other hand, when I get the pitiful stares, I want to attack the person. I described only a few posts ago what it was like to be gawked at by three teenagers. Many told me to simply invite them over and tell them about Landon. I would never do that, though, even though I proclaim that I’m an activist… see point number one.. I’m also a loner in this journey most days. For now my advice is to smile at a parent with a child like Landon. Smile…don’t just stare. Stares are silent killers for us.

Secret 4: Worry about dying. I feel like this is where I’ve gained the most strength. The awful and all consuming thoughts of losing Landon are tied to surgeries. So, I know they will resurface. We have possibly another eye surgery, implantation, activation, ear reconstruction, possible work on the area around the eyes and maybe her jaw.  My battle with these demons will continue, but for now my heart rests easy.  There are no more trips to her crib at night and studying her breathing. The last time i truly lost it was when I scheduled another eye surgery. I just unscheduled it, so my heart again… rests easier.

Secret 5: Touch. Yes, touch is miraculous for all of us. It’s amazing for babies and adults equally.  It transforms everything and especially for kids with hearing loss. It’s a very very big deal.  I knew that a year ago, my how much this has evolved. I went from self diagnosing Landon with sensory processing disorder, to doing OT weekly, to recognizing and understanding that she has mild sensory processing issues. She most likely will continue to process the world around her in a unique way- toe walking, crashing into things, climbing and a profound hatred of towels or getting her hands sandy.  She’s growing into these traits though, doing them less, and I realize it’s just how she is taking in this wild world around her. And… that’s OKAY.

Secret 6. I’m changing this to the gift of any speech from the words “I love you” since we’re at a different phase.  This has changed a bit for us. I’m no longer weepy when another mother exclaims more words that were added to their child’s vocabulary. Landon says some words, mostly sounds that we work on with her in speech therapy. She babbles her little German/French language to herself all day, most of the time while mimicking being on the phone by using a remote. Scary that’s how she must see me all the time. But I have let go of what is described as normal. This girl always works at her own pace. Doing awesome things in her own time.  Patience…

Again, reminding y’all that you’re not alone in these journeys.

Happy Saturday

xoxo,

Eloise

Stress is the new black

Life has gotten a bit more complicated around these parts. Really, you may ask. Again? Well, for privacy reasons I won’t actually go into the details. Although I share my life on here… not all of my family members signed on to bare their souls. So.. let’s just stick with the fact that I’m sleeping less, edgier than usual and there is a nice top layer of anxiety. Fun, right?  

As we process these type of emotions, I always come back to the yoga mantra of breathing. The importance of our breath escapes me when I’m not actually at a yoga class. No one is reminding me to breath into what hurts or feels tight.  This morning, however, I opened one of my favorite books and found a piece of paper I must have tucked inside years ago. My old therapist from New York was actually a trauma specialist. I always found this interesting since I hadn’t chosen her for this specialty. I learned that it was a gift since some of my emotional struggles could be viewed as traumas after all.  She handed me “homework” after one session and I kept it for days such as these.  I thought I’d share in the hopes that some of you may benefit.  It may seem a little far out there. I’m telling you though…. it really works, my friends. 

A Variation on the Emotional Freedom Techniques

1. Breathe slowly and deeply into the diaphragm

2. Place your finger on the lower forehead, above and between the eyebrows

3. Focus on the negative emotion, negative belief, or the trauma you wish to release while continuing to breathe

4. Allow scenes, images, or memories which represent the negative emotion, trauma or negative belief to come into the forefront of your mind. It might be one scene or a series of scenes. They might be in the distant past, or they may be more recent

5. Notice what emotions the scenes or memories make you feel. Identify the emotions

6. Notice where you feel the emotions in your body and focus your attention and breath there

7. Then, move your finger onto the inside edge of the eyebrow and say “I now release all fear related to this problem. Breathe slowly and deeply

8. Next, place your fingers on the outside edge of the eye and say “I now release all anger related to this problem. Breahte slowly and deeply

9. Next place your fingers under the eye and say “I now release all anxiety related to this problem. Breathe slowly and deeply. 

10. Place fingers under the nose and say “I now release all shame and embarrassment related to this problem”. Breathe slowly and deeply. 

11. Place fingers under the bottom lip and say “I now release all guilt related to this problem”. Breathe slowly and deeply

12. Place hands under the rib cage and say “I now release all hurt and sadness related to this problem. Breathe slowly and deeply.

13. Place fingers on chest cavity, 2 inches above bottom of the rib cage, and breathe love into the heart through the nose and exhale fear through the mouth

Place fingers  on and below the collarbone and take slow deep breaths. 

Repeat until your level of disturbance is a 0. 

Sending you love and peace…

XOXO

Eloise

Tried & Tested: Pinterest Recipe, Banana Apple Oatmeal Muffins

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Adding a new element to the blog today- picking apart one of those pesky Pinterest recipes that you glance over, pin, and decide you’ll try that soon but never do. Or you wonder if it’s any good and even worth trying.

This week’s recipe comes from Miranda Kerr as dictated to Self magazine. When I saw the caption had her name, it gave the recipe a little cache for me… I’m not going to lie. I’m one of those people that likes to inflict more pain on myself by looking at pictures of her on Pinterest, marveling at how gorgeous she is and effortlessly chic she looks. Anyway, I saw this post and made a grocery list… before reading it carefully.  The lead time is a little more than most muffins because of the oats. Just know that. It is easy enough and worth it in the end… so keep reading. 

Miranda, or her personal chef, have you using two bowls, a pot and muffin tins. The prep time is about 20-ish minutes, since my toddler needed to be picked up three of four times to see what was happening on the counter. So you should really make these when your toddler is either napping or asleep or in the company of an iPad playing Frozen. That was your warning. Seriously though.. these are worth it. 

The reason I initially was drawn to these muffins was because they are Gluten Free and full of fruit. Having a child that refuses all fruit and all veggies makes my life… HARD (to put it mildly). So I sneak in things here and there but always feel there is too much added something in each recipe. Except these. 

Okay.. the recipe and what I changed:

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Makes about 18 muffins
INGREDIENTS: 
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I assumed and used quick cooking oats)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds (I omitted so bug would eat them)
  • 1/4 cup goats milk yogurt ( I used 2% greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice ( I used less sugar juice)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder ( I used 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 large green organic apples (It doesn’t say this, but peel and chop)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

PREPARATION: 

  1. Heat the oven to 350°
  2. In a food processor, grind the oats into a flour-like consistency. You can also use a blender
  3. Add walnuts and grind.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground oats and walnuts, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat eggs and egg white. Mix in yogurt and apple juice.
  6. In a small pot, mix coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla and honey over low heat until it becomes syrupy and combine with egg mixture.
  7. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, and slowly fold in apple and bananas.
  8. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or lightly grease your muffin tins and fill 3/4 full
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted in the center off the muffin and comes out clean.
  10. Allow the muffins to cool for 15 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving (optional)

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ENJOY!!!!!!

Fashion Friday!

A day late… forgot to hit “post”! Oops! XOXO

Outfit One: Romper- Elephantito (found on ebay!!), Shoes- Robeez (last year), Baha- Cochlear, Necklace- The Dollar Tree :)

Outfit Two: Top- DVF for Gap former romper that I cut to be a t-shirt., Leggings- Little Four Clothing on etsy, Shoes- Converse, Baha- Cochlear

Outfit Three: Tunic Top- Used to be a dress when she was 9 months- Gap, Leggings- The Little Spoons on etsy, Shoes- Salt Water, Bahas- Cochlear

Outfit Four: Genuine Kids for Target (!!), Shoes- Saltwater, Bahas- Cochlear

Love y’all!!

XOXO

Eloise

Will I get better at this?

We scanned the restaurant for a table. One in the back, I thought, so we can just “be”. We were coming from occupational therapy. An hour where bug slams into mats, sticks her hands in foam, stacks blocks, scribbles chalk, swings in a cocoon and works on her feeding issues. It’s an exhausting hour and that’s just me. 

I had Landon on my hip, nose goopy and running, my huge heavy purse slung over me, two cups, our order number card as I awkwardly pushed a high chair. I noticed a family across the way and a few folks eating alone nearby. One guy smiled knowingly at me. “He’s got kids,” I thought. 

As bug craned her entire body out of the high chair demanding my iPhone, I eagerly gave up just to make the noise stop. Elmo played and I pulled off bites of her pb&j for her; scattered chips on top of a paper napkin. I’m never that mom that remembers to buy those disposible place mats for situations like these. She chomped on a chip. Smeared jelly on her face. Tugged on her bahas.  As she squawked again for a slug from my water cup, I saw them.  Three little heads turned our way. Sisters ranging from 8 to about 14.  Staring.  One’s mouth had parted. Gawking. 

My face burned. My stomach tightened. Immediately, without pause, I glared. A seething glare with squinted eyes and pursed lips. I felt my face flush and realized what I was doing. My instinctive mother lion snarl.  I’m pretty sure that if it were common to growl… I would have. 

Their father was with them but never looked up from his food. Never met my gaze. The oldest girl did and un-phased  she went on to stare more at Landon. My grimace thwarted.  

I didn’t look their way the rest of our meal. I shoveled salad quickly in my face as I tried to get Landon to look up from Elmo long enough to swallow anything. As I wiped off her hands and face, she screamed again.  The girls were closer now as they put up their trays. As they looked again, I faked a smile.  Take that… stupid tweens. 

As we drove home, I thought carefully about my reaction. Will it always be this way? Will my ferocity to protect her consistently give off such rage? Will I get better at this? How is it that my husband doesn’t even notice people when they stare? It never affects him in the slightest. I may never fully attain such a state of nirvana, but surely… hopefully… I’ll be that example for her. More along the lines of “oh… you’re staring, must be because she’s so beautiful.”  Because, my God, she is. 

XOXO,

Eloise

Fashion Friday

We have some pretty cute bug outfits to share today. Enjoy and happy weekend!!

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Outfit one: We received a pretty smocked outfit for her birthday last year. The pants were those bloomer pants with a ruffle and they have never fit her right (clown baby). The top was so cute though so I decided to use it here as a little vest. They don’t sell this particular one online, but Etsy, ebay and Best Dressed Child all sell smocked clothing; white t-shirt- Old Navy; chambray shorts- Gap; shoes- Zara; BAHAs- Cochlear 

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Outfit Two: Sailboat Romper- Ralph Lauren (old); sandals- Salt Water; Bahas- Cochlear

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Outfit 3:  Dress- Boden (old); shoes- Converse; Bahas- Cochlear

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Outfit 4: Blue Cardigan- Boden; Flower Top: Genuine Kids; Flower Leggings- Genuine Kids; Shoes- Minnetonka; Bahas- Cochlear

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Outfit 5:  Long-sleeved bow top- Zara; Dot Shorts- Target (!!); Shoes- from Thailand (Thanks Ben!); Lovey- her own; Bahas- Cochlear

XOXO

Eloise

Dear W&L Alums,

I’m reaching out because I need your help. I need you to take a few moments and remember your W&L days. The glory days. The wild and incredible ride college was for all of us. I need you to remember your roommates, your classmates. Remember the fun you had. The incredible gift our classes were. That first time you walked over the footbridge. Remember the feeling you have when you’re on campus. The beauty of Lexington. Remember the drives to Goshen, floating down the river, the hiking trips. Remember the fraternities and sororities- what they meant to each of us if you were a part of them. Remember the people’s faces who made up those four (or occasionally five) years. Remember the parties. The bands and jump dancing. Remember those wild nights far out of town. Now try to remember how you got home. How did your friends get home? 

I know it’s uncomfortable, but I need you to remember how drinking and driving touched your life back then. I would love to learn of the friends you lost and how that loss or losses impacted your life then and now.

After the tragic loss of Kelsey Durkin last fall, I wrote a letter to the students. It was supposed to serve as a small call to action for the student body.. if anyone read it. I was shocked at the reception it had and so happy that it helped so many who were grieving. Recently, a student reached out and asked if I would participate in the Inaugural Generals Weekend, hosted by the Kelsey Committee, this spring during alumni weekend. To kick off the weekend, there will be a talk in Lee Chapel where I have been asked to give a speech.  I only have my story to tell, you see, so this is where you come in. I would much prefer to also share the insights you have gained from senselessly losing our friends at far too young an age.

So if you will, please email me your thoughts and memories of your friends at southarddiaries@gmail.com. I hope you’ll help me make this upcoming weekend a celebration of their lives and give current students perspective on this troubling topic.

Much love,

Eloise

Sanctuary

I’ve been on this wild ride as described over and over here. Lately it feels like a marathon without any real breaks. It’s the same race all of us mothers run. Same story, different city.  Same maxed out feeling, different tale. Whenever she sleeps I try to work. When she’s at “school” I’ve decided I have to go running or I’ll let my stress do the talking during the day and lose it by 4pm. 

We all have this same sense, working full-time or not, of losing ourselves or pieces of ourselves.  After all, we’re not the important ones. These little people come first as well as husbands or wives. Toes go unpainted, gyms are sometimes eluded. Making it to kids’ bedtimes seems the ultimate goal occasionally or every day.  We add pressure where it might not naturally exist. There is the pressure that comes from losing a job or your faith in your partner. From judging ourselves too harshly for the mothering we’re doing. The pressure to provide. We have all been there.  For me, I create pressure around ensuring Landon’s therapy is just what it needs to be with the right people. On mastering the sensory processing she is currently struggling with.  There is pressure of the ever drifting eye and the internal battle I’m fighting to decide whether or not to operate on it.  The pressure of being present when we play together.  And so on.

On Sunday, after I dropped my mom at the airport, I was so sad as I drove back to the house. As I sat in traffic and Landon whined and people honked and terrible drivers swerved, it dawned on me.  I bought myself a Christmas gift that I had forgotten… one month of yoga.  Hallelujah.  So… the very next day I went in and began my unlimited month.  It felt like such an indulgence. Shouldn’t I be doing something else?  I wondered if my muscles would remember the rhythms. Would I enjoy it here like I did before?  Could I quiet my mind after all we’ve endured in 5 months?

I arrived early and sprawled out my rarely used mat. As I laid down, I decided to try something for the first time in my adult life. I meditated for 5 solid minutes. I remembered my breath and allowed the peace I desperately needed in my head and heart to take over. I saw Landon’s face and smiled. I saw Bo’s face and smiled. My people. All my love. I then made a conscious decision to think of myself. How far I’ve come as a mother and as a person. And I smiled. To love these other people in our lives, we must love ourselves first. I was given that advice by my first therapist at 22 when my parents split, my dear friend died and my boyfriend had broken up with me. This statement has meant so much to me in my life. I’d of course forgotten it. I opened my eyes and did the class and at the end, the instructor read a passage about finding peace in our minds while we practice.  After it was over, I sat quietly and reflected on how much this one class gave me.  I realize that I had craved a type of sanctuary. A place that was for me. I realized suddenly that it wasn’t for me, it was in me. This sounds too philosophical for me to say, but I find that sanctuary in myself when I practice yoga. That is the place where I feel ultimately my best. I’m able to unlock something in  my mind that I am unable to doing anything else. So my promise now is if I cannot go, or cannot afford it, I’ll try at minimum to meditate. After dinner, after bug’s bedtime, that’s my window. My five minutes. My sanctuary.  I don’t necessarily need the beautiful teak floor and candles. The sanctuary I crave is somewhere in my own heart, and the peace provides clarity around what is truly important. Loving my husband and my little girl. Loving our parents. Making sure to tell my husband that I believe in him. Remembering that despite all we deal with, we’ll be great because of each other.

The peace we seek and comfort we yearn for exists in all of us. We just need to find the way to unlock these sanctuaries.

xoxo,

Eloise

Bright moments…

There was a bright spot in our wild and crazy day.. this morning bug truly tried to talk. She imitated and occasionally said a word back to our fabulous therapist Sarah. It was the closest anyone has gotten to getting this girl to chat it up. She babbles all day long, sure, but actual language has escaped us so far.

I woke up this morning with yet another head cold or flu. As I texted one of my closest college friends, tears filled my eyes as I described how I’m feeling these days with everything going on.  Then.. as therapy started… Landon started simply shining. She smiled as she stammered “onion, anana (banana), nnn (in), and “i wan(t) it” as we placed plastic fruit into a bowl.  Sarah and I both had chills as we silently high fived one another. A breakthrough.

I am not an outwardly religious person. I’m pretty private when it comes to my faith. This morning though, while gathering these collected moments of brightness, it was so clear that all of you praying for us were changing things. These prayers sent out there into the void were heard. 

There are bright moments hidden amongst these long days when we’re so dog’on tired. We just have to look for them. They are placed there to give us more hope and strength to emotionally show up for the tough times. To face our fears when we cannot imagine mustering the strength. No matter what you are struggling with… don’t forget to look for these moments. Don’t forget to have faith.

XOXO,

eloise

Next up….

Through some diligent digging (read… I annoyed people day and night), I was able to find an OT locally who works with Babynet. Thank God. We start Friday and have another OT that’s even closer that we could see if our first one doesn’t suit us. Hurdle conquered. Mountain of stress surmounted. Or at least replaced with a book where I’m learning the difference between hypo and hyper sensory sensitive. The battle to be waged with Babynet will move into next week or next month.  As we move into the proverbial clear… why is it that more hurdles pop up. ALWAYS. It can’t just be calm in this life anymore. There always has to be some emotional struggle. Some topic to keep me up and induce an addiction to Advil PM.

What is it now? Another eye surgery. Ughh.

We saw a new ophthalmologist at MUSC (the third in her life) and explained how since last July… her other eye rolls back. This means she loses vision in it when this occurs. It happens when she’s tired, sometimes more. We should be patching every day. But it’s been almost a year now and nothing has changed. It happens just as often. Maybe more but honestly I am having a hard time distinguishing exactly how often because her eye openings are slightly smaller because of her TCS. 

Here is the tricky emotional part (other than my baby going under general anesthesia again)… the guy saw her for 10 minutes. That’s it. Then we booked the date for the surgery while we were still in the office. It was so rushed. Too rushed for momma. He doesn’t know her little eye well enough yet. So we’ll be going back- even if he doesn’t need to see us.  Also… and this is where my voice catches in my throat…since it’s elective.. it feels like it’s up to me. It feels like I have 50 tons of pressure sitting on my shoulders. When she woke up the other day she gave me this incredibly sweet smile and laid so still staring at my face. I broke wide open at the moment and ever since… WHAT if something happens to her. I chose the surgery. What if…. And how do I go through it again?  Bo thinks since I’ve done it once, this should be easier. Nope. I’ve now cried once a day since Thursday.

Here’s what I know… Her vision is impaired in this current state. She can’t fully focus in speech therapy when that eye drifts. Therefore…when she starts school, she’d most likely fall behind.  Surgery could fix it. It could also mean the eye muscle he moves slips and falls off. It could mean one or more surgeries to fix this surgery. It could mean an infection in the eye… or worse… from the anesthesia. It’s with a different surgeon. One I don’t know.

So… as I sink into my Sensory Smarts book, I am balancing my time with googling DVD surgery and this surgeon’s name. There seem to be emotional land mines that I’m just learning to coexist with. When it feels like too much, I run to the ocean. I go to the gym so my body feels physical pain to try to match the panic I am feeling.

Anyway… time to call it a night. Sending y’all love.

xoxo,

eloise