Mission Statement

To provide a place for parents and family members to meet and share experience, strength, give hope and awareness, to other families who have similar experiences raising children with ADD/ADHD, SPD, Anxiety, ASD, mental health diagnosis, developmental and behavioral challenges. Through sharing in this experience of raising these hard to raise kids, we grow stronger and more resilient.

Easy to Love is a 501 (C) (3) Non-Profit Organization

Friday, September 14, 2012

Child Guidelines & Child Care

We wanted to touch a little bit on our Facebook post yesterday. We want to explain it a little more than is possible in a Facebook post. Our meeting format is designed for parents and caregivers to come and not only have support, but also to be able to vent when they are at the end of their rope. This meeting is about us as caregivers and we want everyone to feel comfortable to share their struggles. So here are the child guidelines for Utah Easy to Love -
*No child under 18
*Young infants welcome if they are still in the carrier, but we do ask that if your baby becomes a distraction that you leave the room to calm them down.

That being said, we completely understand the stress and hardships of finding an appropriate sitter. So, we would love to get some feedback on child care. Last year we set up free child care after several parents emailed us from Davis and Salt Lake, letting us know it was needed. We wrangled up some volunteers and got liability paperwork printed and ready to send out. We posted here on the blog and on facebook that "Hooray! We now Offer Child Care!" and no one signed up. We kept the child care option open for several months with no response. After 4 months we decided to drop that as a service. SOOO, we are about 8 months later with a lot of new members- How do you feel about child care? Would it make it easier to attend? Be more of a stress having your child there? Please let us know! We are more than happy to work on getting it set up again, we just want to make sure it is a service that would be utilized.

As Easy to Love grows, our goal is try and meet the needs of our families. We are working on some different ideas to do this. One idea we would love to get some feedback on is a group for your older "Typical" kids (ages 12 up). A group would be set up for the same time as the parent group. It would be overseen by a social worker, this is so the group remained a healthy environment but still a safe place for your kids to let out frustrations. Is this something anyone would be interested in?

We are going to need a lot more feedback in the coming months- We have a lot of plans and things in the works and want to make sure they are something that fit your needs. You can leave feedback on facebook, here on the blog or if you rather give private feedback send us an email {utaheasy2love@gmail.com}. We are so excited and looking forward to expanding and offering different resources to our growing Easy to Love community.

Jen, Lindsay & Chrissy

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fundraisers, Giveaways, Groups, Oh My!

What started out  as Starbucks chats about our kids and the need to find a support group to join, led Jen & I to laughing at that same Starbucks a few months later after several people told us we should "just start one" of these non existent groups...and now, here we are! We are finishing up the Non-profit paperwork process with the goal of having all the loose ends tied up by October. We are already growing and reaching more families, we have hosted a retreat to celebrate our 1 year mark, managed to do a sewing class/community service project (with another in the works!) and are now putting together a fundraiser dinner for the end of September. I really am still flabbergasted at how much we have managed to accomplish! Our Starbucks giggles are still there, but now it is giggling about the fact we did it, I think we still both have some disbelief at how far our group has come! We are so grateful to all the support we have received from the community, our families and friends, and most important the support from our group members! We started tiny, but you have stuck it out.

Fall is here! So we thought we would post some reminders and changes!
One big change is a little adjustment on our name. Due to logistical issues when getting set up as non profit, we have changed from Easy to Love, Hard to Raise, to Utah Easy to Love.

For our Salt Lake Group everything as far as scheduling and location are the same. Groups start up again September 12th.
The Sharing Place
1695 East 3300 South SLC
2nd Wednesday  the month 7-8(ish)pm

Davis County Group starts again September 19th. There are a few changes, I think we have already announced them but here's a reminder.
New Location- Learning Solutions
347 West Gordon Ave #2 Layton
Same schedule- 3rd Wednesday of the month 7-8(ish)pm
Chrissy Young will be helping out a lot with this group. Jen & I will still be making an effort to attend, this will just help us be a little more flexible.

*Changes you will see at both groups
We now have to start out the meetings reading our group guidelines, these guidelines will help us get the most out of our groups. Also, we will make sure there is a copy of our Bylaws available for anyone interested to look over. They will be set out with handouts or other information from our group. We will not provide everyone their own copy (it's many many pages) but if after you look it over you feel like you would like to have one, let us know and we can get it to you.
If you have questions about these after the group, please let us know.

Giveaways & Advertising
Many of you may have noticed that we have been working to incorporate giveaways into our group. We feel like it is a fun little bonus and are excited that we are able to do it. Most of our giveaways will be coming from donations, this means we offer advertisement space on the blog to help compensate. We feel like it is totally worth it, but want to make sure everyone is in on the recent blog changes! I know I did a blog post in the summer touching on it as well, but because it has become more of a reality since then I thought I would put it out there. On a side note, a HUGE thanks to Chrissy! She has been a rockstar and working hard reaching out to our community to get a lot of exciting things in place!
Stay tuned for more giveaways, we have some fun things in store!

We have been posting a lot on our upcoming fundraiser. We are super excited about this event and how much it will contribute to our group and what we are able to do! If anyone is interested, the dates are Friday September 28th and Saturday September 29th. Dinner is $45 per plate which includes a 3 course meal, including dessert and wine, prepared by two recent graduates of The Culinary Institute of America. You can contact Jen with any questions or to reserve tickets @ 801-532-1412.
We are also coordinating and putting the finishing touches on another event. I am not going to spoil the fun, but I am going to say is Pampering, Mamas night out & a crazy good deal!
Stay Tuned...
One last thing, we would love some feedback on an idea we have been throwing around. We are thinking of putting together an Easy to Love call tree. People could list their numbers, emails and what their child struggles with. We would put together a contact sheet for everyone, that way there are people to reach out to that totally get it. There are two reasons we are thinking about this, The most important is that our goal is to build a network of parents who can support each other. The second is that it has gotten a little hard to manage the calls coming in. We LOVE LOVE LOVE chatting with you, it's just getting hard to juggle it all. Let us know what you think!
We are super excited about all we have coming up! As always, if you have any questions, concerns or ideas, feel free to shoot us an email! Utaheasy2love@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's Giveaway Time!! {closed}

We are so Excited to announce that we have 2 massages to giveaway! Like Jen talked about in her post HERE, taking care of yourself is vital for our well-being! All mom's tend to put themselves after their kids, husband, community etc. Being a mom is time consuming and requires a lot of our time and energy, add a special needs child (or more than one for some of you) and it is tenfold. Along with the duties of being a mom, we are running 10 different directions to various therapies, social skills, doctors, your own research and more. One of the big things I think both Jen & myself focus on when talking about our group is that it is OK for us to put our needs somewhere AT LEAST in the top 5!   That is why we are so excited to offer 2 of you a little bit of pampering, who couldn't use a massage?!
To enter, go to our Facebook Page and share it (You also need to "like" the page if you haven't already!). Once you share it, you can either leave a comment on this blog post or on the facebook link. In the comment let us know that you shared the page and what the last thing you did for you was!
UPDATE- winners announced!
Rochelle Otteson and Mandi Gandelman! Email us your information!

101 North Fort Lane #101A
Layton, UT 84041

We want to send a big Thank You to the Rejuvenation Center who donated the gift certificates! Click HERE to visit their website and learn more about other great services they offer!

The giveaway ends Thursday at Midnight and the winner will be announced Friday!!
Ready. Set. GO!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Taking Care of Yourself

When we first got our diagnosis for Hudson, I went through some pretty serious grief, but also I was in full time action mode, to fix this problem of ours.  So much of my time was focused on him; running him to and from therapy preschool, speech therapy, occupational therapy, swimming lessons, pediatrician visits, play therapy, trying to invent a food he would eat, not to mention reading every book on autism and treatment that I could, in the 10 minutes before I fell asleep.  In my every waking moment I was focused on Hudson. 

In the beginning of diagnosis it is so easy to become headlight focused on helping your special needs child. My whole life had changed, so much so that I was feeling like I was loosing who I was.  I am zany and artsy, a music lover and a cook, a friend and a lover to my husband, someone who loves to laugh and give things the light touch - and I had become SERIOUS!  I no longer danced around in the kitchen or listened to music loudly in the car, with the windows open and arms in the wind, because Hudson was so sensory he did not like the loud noises. I distanced my self from my friends, because they did not really understand and my kid could no longer have a "normal" interaction with their kids.  I no longer went into to stores or establishments with Hudson because of the potential of a meltdown. In essence, it was like living on an island.

I realized rather quickly, that this SERIOUS person was not helping the situation.  I was exhausted, bitter and short with everyone, because the well was empty. I had nothing left to give to anyone.  Before it was too late, I had to take some contrary action.  Below is a list of the things I do try and do for my self that fill me up and allow me to be the Mom I want to be and the person that I was meant to be.  Now that said, I am human.  I do not do these things perfectly all the time.  As I sit here and write this, I am not at a particularly balanced point, with the summer ending and the changes and different responsibilities that the start of school brings, I have let much of my personal nurturing go by the wayside.  Awareness is the key, right?

1.  I sought therapy.  Having a therapist help me to deal with my grief and fear about being a special needs parent was the first step.  Sometimes therapy does not have to be with a licensed therapist.  It was for me in the beginning, but therapy now comes in talking to the friends I have made in our group that understand my new "normal," writing, or talking to my Mom.

2.  Exercise.  For me that means strapping on my running shoes and running for 30 minutes in my neighborhood I try to do that 2-3 times a week.  Exercise has been proven to clear my head of the negative self talk and vastly improves my attitude.  Plus it is something I do just for me.

3. Dates. Scheduling regular dates with my husband, gives me something to look forward to.  I was getting so caught up in my kids and their lives, that I was forgetting why I even liked him in the first place.  Taking time out away from our kids allows us some adult conversation and a chance to reconnect.  Jim and I try to have a minimum of 3 dates a month.  Now, if you have been tasked with being a single parent, this still applies to you.  Make an effort to have a solid date with friends or solo doing something you really love or even something you used to love to do for 1-2 hours.

4.  I try to treat myself once a month.  It might be spending time reading all the magazines on the bookshelf at Barnes and Noble. It might be a new dress. It might be time with a new book.  It might even be, dare I say...a pedicure.  I am worthy of those treats.  I deserve them and I have earned them.

I recently posted a YouTube video link on Facebook from Elizabeth Aquino. If you have not yet seen it, I have included the link below. She asked families of children and young adults with disabilities, looking back, what they might have told their old selves, on the day their child was diagnosed. Some of the ones that resonated with me were, 

Ask for help

Look for beauty and joy

Don't let your world get too small

Don't forget your other children, they need your attention too.

Make friends that understand your "new" normal.

Best of luck.  Let me know what you have done for yourself, however small.