Johnson’s Journies (Back Story Part 3)

I really believe our oldest daughter Michaiah is functioning so well and at school in her daily life because of the encouragement and the fostering of her development. Michaiah is receiving both speech and occupational therapy at the school. Though she is in a contained class, she still has general education curriculum along with sensory breaks and opportunities to use coping mechanisms that will allow her to better regulate her behavior. Michaiah must learn how to cope and self soothe if and when she were to ever integrate to a general education classroom. Though she does do this for the most part, it is not yet fully consistent at this time.

We also notice as parents, just like any other child, she is her own little person. A diagnosis or educational classification in this case, does not define who she is. She still has her likes and dislikes just like you or me. We do notice she is more motivated to work at something when it is a particular topic of interest. In her case, she is extremely motivated by both math and science! She also really enjoys art! We work on cultivating her gifts as parents. There are no limits that we place on her. We look to the potential of her overall full development, yet love on her where she is at. No matter how long it takes or the effort, the more we stick by Michaiah as parents, the more we see her desiring to learn and grow! Boy does she ever ask a TON of questions; especially lately! Everything is ‘why’ these days! Though it drives us crazy as parents, we are grateful she can even have conversation. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be for her not to verbally be in a position to communicate with us? It was not long ago that she had an extremely limited vocabulary! Having in-home therapy and advocating for her classroom program at school has made all the difference! Yes there are so many meetings and meetings for meetings. It can be draining, but when you see your child getting proper support and help in a way that you can truly see effective change like we have, it sure makes our hearts sing! We are overjoyed at all the progress she has made in the last few years of her little life!

We don’t know what the future holds as of yet. We were able to go through our local community health for an actual medical diagnosis. Had we not done this, we would be on quite a waiting list. Michaiah also has an acting neurologist who checks in on her and will be evaluated for genetic testing here in the month of March 2018. We will for sure keep you posted. Us parents sure are looking forward to some answers that only certain blood tests will ever reveal. It’s been a bit of a battle with the insurance approving it, but each step we take, we are getting closer to an answer. Knowing we may have some answers soon makes the fight worth it all. As parents, we know and have come to expect that this is a day by day journey. We do know one thing, our love for one another and the hope that each of us shares together. We did not ask for this, we did not expect this as parents that we would ever be faced with some of the decisions and choices we have had to make it. I can honestly say as a mother, there isn’t any regret that either of us have as her parents. We embrace it, all of it, the challenges, the tantrums, the laughter, the silliness, and the love! Both of our girls were the best thing that ever happened!!! Now lets get this journey started!!! <3

Clarification: Autism Awareness (Part 3)

Continuing from our last post regarding Autism awareness, we here at Tara Cherie want to share with you information regarding the causes of Autism Spectrum and what we are doing to help our daughter and others to overcome.

The Causes of Autism:

Autism is becoming more and more common and though it is not fully understood what completely causes it, though there are theories as to why this is, a huge component is environment and genetics. It is my understanding and belief that elder generations may not per se be full-blown ‘Autistic’, but may fall on the ‘spectrum’ if tested and may not realize they have it because they have not either been tested themselves, misdiagnosed, or previously evaluated, but not enough diagnostic measures were taken or there was not the criteria met to confirm the individual falling on the ‘spectrum’.

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Clarification: Autism Awareness (Part 1)

Friends, I have talked with a few people recently. The more I share this with others, the more I realize there is misconception about something that I feel is very valid and noteworthy of clarification. You can choose to read this post or move on, but I would rather ensure that there is clear understanding rather than preconceived notions, assumptions, or lack of clarity for that matter. I am finally in a spot as a mom and a wife, that I am addressing this from the heart, so please only take this as my way saying, ‘I care and I want you to know’.

Our daughter went through a rigorous process of being evaluated over the course of the last 4 months. As bright, beautiful, intelligent, and spunky as we see our daughter, there were a few minor delays we noticed and we wanted to ensure that if this truly was the case, that our daughter receive the additional support and resources she needed so that she could thrive and be the best her possible! We didn’t want for her glass to be half full so to speak, we wanted to see her full potential come out and shine! As it turns out, Michaiah does fall on the Autism Spectrum.

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Looking For Peace, Harmony, & Rejuvenation???

Prior to the company I partner with, I worked 80-90 hours a week for a boss that didn’t appreciate my work. Not only was I burnt out and stressed out, but I had no quality time with my family. I wanted to be free to enjoy my loved ones. I longed for peace and balance, but never felt as though I had it. I was burning myself out and not properly taking care of my body physically. I was sleep deprived trying to meet the demands of everyone else to please them, but miserable and unhappy without the tranquility I was looking for.

Since plugging into the company I partner with, I have seen nothing but freedom and balance. I have more time with my family than I ever had before. I am able to work very part time hours around our toddler daughter. I never have to miss out on a single moment of her life and am able to groom her in a way that is encouraging to her growth and development. I am getting the proper rest and sleep my body is needing and we are able as family to enjoy our lives together taking vacations and building memories together; which in and of itself is priceless. I am able to work smarter not harder and am creating way more results in less time without the demands and pressures of everyday life making a significant income that allows peace and harmony amongst our household.

Maybe everything in your life is completely centered and balanced. Maybe your family is living harmoniously and peacefully. If you are however, looking for a way to decrease your stress, spend more time with your family, and live life abundantly, while still making affordable income without the demands of others, I would like the opportunity to speak with you. Our company has a few key openings in both management and entry level positions and is looking for the right fit. We will be making our decision soon. If you are desiring to be considered please respond by emailing me at taracherieconsulting@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Let His Grace Reign Over You Mama

This past Monday was like no other Monday I had ever experienced.  I woke up to what I thought was a new start for the week.  The night before was a well rested evening and the morning time ran relatively smoothly.  I thought to myself ‘I’ve got this, lets dominate Monday’.  All I have to say, is how sadly mistaken I truly was.  My husband had left for work early in the afternoon.  Our toddler daughter and I were the only two remaining at home.  My greatest hope for our daughter would have meant her playing with toys nicely while I focus making calls and getting work done in my in-home office.  I wanted a solid jump start to my week knowing strategically that Mondays can often set the tone for my week’s work.  Keep in mind, I give it my best to keep the proper sequence and order of our family dynamic.  I am always submitting to the Lord first and foremost, wife second, mother third, and work fourth.   The morning time had already been spent with my daughter reading her toddler bible and devotion with her coupled with some artistic play time just the two of us.

Up until this point, I thought our daughter’s needs both physical and emotional had been met satisfactorily.  Until I started hearing ‘scrape, scrape, scrape’ through the wall.  I put the phone down to check on our daughter.  Come to find out, she had been taking her wooden ‘Melissa & Doug’ play food and was attempting to make design marks on our walls in a home that we rent!  I did all I could to redirect the situation, refresh the juice in her sippy cup, gave her a bit of snack, and back to the office I went to continue my work.  I make a few calls and then go on to hear her pulling her diaper off!  Not even 30 seconds had lapsed and she already had her poopy diaper smeared on the carpet, on our sliding glass door curtains, and even in the crevices of the baby gate.  The only thing going through my mind was how was I going to get all the tiny holes clean?  Thank goodness for whoever invented the Qtip; I have found this a very effective and useful tool when cleaning small nooks and crannies of the home!

By the time I had fed our daughter lunch, I was over an hour behind on my calls.  Not even moments had passed when I hear her go, ‘uh oh’.  Now, I have to tell you, anyone that knows our daughter, knows that she ‘tattles’ on herself when she is in trouble.  I was saying a small prayer at this point that it was not a second version of the poop mess she had created before.  Sure enough, my worst suspicions were only confirmed, round 2 of dirty diaper had been smeared in a few more places in the carpet.  The difference being, when I walked into the kitchen to grab the cleaning supplies, I noticed the drawer that we keep our rags in had been opened.  After further investigation, I found a rag covered in poop that she had used in attempt to clean up the poop.  Normally I might be a bit upset by this, but here I was pleasantly shocked that she knew to get in the drawer, grab the rag, and clean up the poop herself!  The conclusion I drew from this was all the many times that she had watched me cleaning and instinctively knew that she should use the rag when cleaning a mess up!

Once the mess was cleaned up for a second time I returned to the office wondering if I would accomplish what I needed to in the office before the end of the work day.  I won’t lie, at this point I am slightly agitated that I have not accomplished what I set out to do for the day.  I begin making a few more calls when I smell a pungent odor coming into the office area from the living room.  I knew it could only mean one thing, ‘poop’.  I step out of my office to find a third mess of poop, but this time it is all over the walls!   Apparently, our daughter decided to smear her poop on her musical keyboard, grabbed her dress up wand, only to dip it in the poop, and from there proceeded to make designs all over our cream walls!  With this in mind, the walls are not painted with an egg shell or washable type of paint.  Whoever had painted our home before moving in had used more of a primer type based paint.  Though I was glad that I had remained calm when faced with the mess, the inside of me was in a bit of a panic and found this poop designs repulsive!  My immediate thought was concentrated upon whether or not I was going to be able to get the poop off the walls or not!  I had been successful in the other poop messes of the day, how was this one going to be any different in terms of resolution?  To work I went, scrubbing away at our living room walls.

I am in agreement with the notion that kids will be kids, especially toddlers who are testing the boundaries of their parents to see just how far they can draw the line without being disciplined.  Now I can look back and breathe a sigh of relief that I was able to clean all 3 messes up, but in the moment, after the third time, I felt that I had won the ‘worst mother of the year’ award for the day.  I replayed the series of events that had happened throughout the day and wanted to understand what exactly had driven our daughter to create such a mess.  I wondered if this same sequence would be repeated throughout the week and if I would be able to get my work done and still have that quality time with her.  It was enough that toys were strewn throughout the house and clothes taken off hangers and displaced on the bedroom floor.  I would take those behaviors over poop mess any day.  I am aware that as our daughter, she will test my authority as mother.  I found the poop mess, however, extremely distracting to the order ‘I’ had in mind.  Always looking for a way to improve at my parenting skills, I consulted a few friends who gave me some excellent ideas about how to work with our daughter on potty training so that it was a more pleasurable experience that positively would reinforce her using her potty.  I also had previously taken note of her interest in books and art and made a post on Facebook inquiring artistic activities other mothers had done in past experiences to encourage their children developmentally in these two areas.

After processing verbally with a trusted outside source, I discussed with my husband the importance of consequences and privileges and positive reinforcement of behaviors that we hoped our daughter would elicit in response to our requests of her.  I asked for prayer and wisdom for us as parents and how to groom our daughter for success.  It is evident she may have a true artistic gift and as parents it was important to us that we not squelch her little personality shining through, but to help her find a way to channel her talents and interests in a healthy, manageable way that we could both be actively involved as parents.   A friend of ours had an extra easel that would be perfect for her art lessons and through suggestions of friends, we came up with some neat ideas of homemade playdough to homemade finger paints with ingredients from our very own kitchen cupboard.  I now felt hopeful as a mother that just maybe I had not after all failed her like I had previously thought.

In the moment, it would have been really easy for me to have focused on what I had not done right.  I could have chosen to focus on where I went wrong as a mother.  The tape recorder played through my head, ‘what if I had been there would she have done this?’  I knew I had to stop this type of thinking.  Just because our daughter had smeared poop throughout the house countless times that day, did not mean that I wasn’t a good mom.  To be honest, it took a few friends, also mommies, speaking life into me and encouraging me to journey forward.  I wasn’t doing everything wrong and I needed to allow myself more ‘grace’.  When I say this, I mean that I needed to celebrate the small victories I as a mother, had made with our daughter.  I am happy to share, I no longer choose work as an escape when things don’t go as planned with her.  Our daughter recently began attending Kindermusik classes and I have been able to attend each class, all but one.  I have truly enjoyed seeing her blossom and it gives me great joy to see the contentment and happiness she confides with having both of us in attendance.  Recently, her and I started a morning bible and devotion time in which she now requests to me in her own toddler language for me to read to her each day.  She insists that I read hers to her before doing my own adult devotion!  I remember when she didn’t make it through more than 2 pages of us reading to her!  I see her progress when it comes to structured play and she wants to practice what she learned in class at home.  She is a sponge that is soaking her environment in and often looks to me as a playmate with her being an only child for now.  I give it my best to give her at least 2-3 hours of my day just her and I so that she knows how much I value not just her physical needs, but her spiritual and emotional needs.  I can only hope that I convey a special love and bond with her.  I remember when all of this was almost not existent even 6 months ago aside for some emotional needs met and all physical needs met.  Our time together was no longer just a routine, but are locked in quite the relationship together mother and daughter.  I no longer take for granted what she has to teach me not to mention her kisses on my cheek make my heart melt.

I firmly believe that every mother wants to do right by their child.  I believe that every child really looks up to their mother to guide them.  Children certainly do not come with instruction booklets; each so different than the next, but that is what makes each child so individualistic and unique.  Every mother at some point wonders if they made the right decisions in the best interest of their child, I know I certainly have!  Though I am not completely where I would like to be with her, I am now more cognitively aware of how I have progressed over a short time and how much the relationship dynamic has developed.  I now look forward to spending time with her.  Even though each day is trial and error, I allow myself that grace to slip up and fall.  I give myself permission to make mistakes and not have it perfect or right all the time.  I know she has to sense the tremendous peace that comes in letting the control gages go!  Quality time I am finding is what she truly wants from me and when I provide that, she is much more apt to listen and engage with me.  She also more willing to follow directions when I honor her with my time and share in fun toddler friendly activities with her.  A brief example of this: tonight I decided to read books with her while she sat on the potty and both times I did this, she went right in that potty and it made me so proud!  Today was the first day she had accomplished going in the potty!  You would have thought it was a major holiday event with the joy and light shining upon my face.  Rather than redirecting her and telling her ‘no’, I could not stop praising her enough!  All I wanted to do was encourage her and love on her!  Her face lit up with glee and you could tell she too, was overcome with joy in a task well done.  We celebrated with coloring in coloring books.  Though, she is in need of redirection in keeping the crayon on the paper, she did a wonderful job listening.  In fact, we went on to share in snack time before her bedtime routine and she did all that I asked of her.   I even let the house go, something I really had struggled with in the past.  I had been guilty often of cleaning my home before spending time with her; my priorities were very skewed.  Tonight was different and I was amazed at how she paid attention to the details, something she wasn’t necessarily doing before!  What an incredible victory, all because I allowed myself grace and the permission to relax and just be mama to our child; what a comforting feeling.

If you are struggling with priorities as a mama or feel that you need more grace with your child to allow you to be you and them to be them, I am here to encourage you and build up hope in you.  I hope that my testimony and victory here will inspire you to be the best mother you can be; not a perfect mama, but a fulfilled and truly happy mama.  Sometimes it is about your child and just spending that time with them.  Your child is looking to build that connection and relationship with you.  Your child even if they act out from time to time, still really loves you and whether they show it or not, they truly value you being around them.  You, mama are the one that is looked up to, you are the role model, and a wonderful role model at that.  Don’t be quick to focus on the negative, your shortcomings, and all the things you should have done differently that moment, day, or week.  Celebrate each day and give thanks for the things you did right as a parent.  The more you focus on your parental positives, the more it will reflect in your child and before you know it, you will have the best possible connection, one that is both honoring and respectful.  Let go of your insecurities, remain steadfast and patient knowing that mamahood is trial and error.  You are going to have moments where you have to take a step back even.  Just know that there is another mama here uplifting you in thoughts and that sometimes taking steps backwards is really steps forwards.  Being a mama is a physical and mental state and what perspective you choose to look at.  You are not perfect, you are human and it is good that your child sees this.  Our children need to know that we make mistakes, but that never takes away from or will ever change the unconditional love and bond we have for our child.  Keep working at the progress you want to see happen and with a bit of work, the price you paid to tweak and learn from your parenthood experiences, will only sharpen your skills and bring out the best in both you and your child.  You got this, stick out the course and don’t be afraid to reach out here if you have questions, need encouragement, or a word of prayer!  I believe in you, you are one strong mama!  You will never be given more than you can handle.  The trials and tribulations, the laughs and the giggles you are experiencing are all a part of the journey together, mama and child!  Many heartfelt blessings to you mama, the reader!

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