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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Utah Easy to Love Holiday Events

Utah Easy to Love is excited about the amazing events we have coming up for the Holiday Season! We know the holidays can be stressful with our kiddos and traditions hard to keep going. We have been able to put together a couple special needs friendly family events for you all! 

December 4th - 6:00-8:00PM
Special Needs Santa
This event is going to be held at Station Park in Farmington (900 West Clark Lane), we will have a Santa who understands your child's unique needs, Mrs. Claus reading stories and hot cocoa for free. There will be the option to buy a photo with Santa for $10.00 and ice skating (with helpers) for $2.00 per person. 

December 5th - 11:30AM
Special Needs Performance of Ballet Wests The Nutcracker
Capitol Theater - 50 West 200 South SLC 
This is also a FREE event for our families. Ballet West will reserve seats for Utah Easy to Love families for this performance. If you would like to reserve seats please email us ASAP at utaheasy2love@gmail.com. 

December 11th - 7:00PM
2nd Annual Favorite Things Party
1565 East 3300 South SLC
Last year turned out to be an amazing event! Everyone went above and beyond with their favorite things and we were able to get amazing donations for raffles and goody bags. This year is going to be even better with more awesome giveaways and fun! LakeShore Learning will be there again with a craft package, coupons from Kangaroo Zoo, giveaways from AbilityStation.com, Lil' Flippers, Little Gym and more. 
How it Works: Pick a favorite special needs tool or toy, it can be homemade or store bought and has to be under $5 each. Bring FIVE of that item. Each person will present what their favorite thing is and then draw 5 names. In the end everyone will end up leaving with FIVE new things to try with their child! You will also get an awesome goody bag! 
Drink provided, but we do ask that you bring a treat to share! Limited spaces available, please RSVP ASAP! (801)532-4331 or at utaheasy2love@gmail.com
 ** If you need ideas you can visit our Favorite Things board on pinterest HERE 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November & December

Hey everyone! We wanted to share all that we have going on in the next couple of months. November's group topic is 'Surviving the Holidays'. This is a topic we do every year in November because it is always something that is relevant for many of us. The holidays are stressful, schedules get out of wack and there are a lot of sights, sounds and smells that are different. At our group we will be able to talk about these things, let people vent and have tips and tricks. We also have put together a gift list of the top toys and special needs items for your child.
Also in November is the last Utah Film Center FREE special needs screening of 2013. This is on November 16th @ 11:00am. The movie is the 2013-14 Kid Flix Mix, which is a collection of shorts. We would love to end the year with a bang and get a lot of you there! The screening is held in the theater of Shriner's Hospital - Farifax Rd @ Virginia Street.

December is going to be AMAZING! We have do not have regular groups, but have 2 great events. The first event is for the family. Utah Easy to Love has teamed up with Station Park in Farmington to do a special needs Santa. We will have treats, a Mrs. Claus story teller and of course Santa. This event is FREE!
December 4th
Place: Station Park 844 West Clark Ln. Farmington

We will also be holding our 2nd annual Favorite Things Holiday party. You will pick a tool or toy that is a favorite for your child. It needs to be under $5 and you need to bring 5 of that item. It can be store bought or homemade. We will all draw names and everyone will leave with 5 new tools to try! If you are struggling to come up with an idea we have a pinterest board with some! http://www.pinterest.com/utaheasytolove/2013-favorite-things-ideas/
Date: December 11
Time: 7:00PM
Place: 1565 E 3300 S slc
This is an RSVP only event with limited spaces! Please email us at utaheasy2love@gmail.com to reserve your spot!!

Please feel free to email or call with any questions!
Thanks, Lindsay

Monday, September 23, 2013

Utah Easy to Love Upcoming Events

Utah Easy to Love has a full and fun rest of the year! 2013 has been flying by and we are so thrilled with how things are going! We have our first family event under out belt, a parent retreat, our first ever workshop & a huge fundraiser. On top of that, we were also able to set up free special needs film screenings with The Utah Film Center! There is more to come and we wanted to share!

October topic is focusing on the effects on siblings and families. Raising a child with special needs is tough and exhausting. It also can take a toll on everyone involved. We will be talking about this stress, have helpful handouts and information and most importantly the support of others who understand. Also that month is a FREE family event at Kangaroo Zoo! We are so excited to be able to offer a fun night out at no cost to you. There are limited spaces, so please RSVP as soon as you can.

October 9th - Salt Lake City
October 16th - Davis County
**If you need to use child care, please reserve your spot. Limited spaces avaialbel. $5/child.

October 19th - Free special needs film screening
Shriners Hospital

October 23rd - Family Event
Kangaroo Zoo

November will be focusing on the upcoming holiday season! Always stressful and over stimulating. We will have ideas and support to make the best of it!

November 13th - Salt Lake City

November 16th - Free special needs friendly film screening
Shriners Hospital

November 20th - Davis County

In December, we will be holding our 2nd annual 'Special Needs Favorite Things' Holiday Party. Last year was an amazing success and we are thrilled to be able to host another! Watch our facebook and blog for additional details!

It is crazy that there is a little over 3 months until 2014! We have so much planned for the rest of the year and some seriously AMAZING things planned for next!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kick-A-Thon Sponsors

Utah Easy to Love is so grateful for all the community support we continue to receive. This amazing Kick-A-Thon is the product of that community!

Please join us for this amazing event! September 14th,  Cost is $15.95 and includes a free $5.00 game card. The passes are unlimited from 9am-12pm. While you are playing you can support these awesome kids kicking for a cause! 100% of donations will go to Utah Easy to Love!

If you would like to sponsor a kicker click the donate button!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bobby Lawrence Karate Kick-A-Thon to benefit Utah Easy to Love

Come help support Utah Easy to Love at this amazing event! 100% of money donated will benefit Utah Easy to Love! Donations mean more groups, more workshops & more special needs friendly family events!! Come and play September 14th 9:00am-12:00pm and watch these awesome kids kick for a cause!

You can also sponsor a special kid close to us! Ashton Young has been doing karate for 7 years, he is a Ban Bu Belt and only has 2 degrees left before getting his black belt. His special needs have not held him back from working hard and reaching his goals! You can donate any amount via paypal, the link is  on the right sidebar!

 All donations are tax deductible. If you would like a receipt for donations made, please email us at utaheasy2love@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Visual Schedule Workshop!

We are SO excited to be able to put on this amazing event!

WHY: When your child was diagnosed or looking at diagnosis, did you get a list of books that were penned as "the must read". We sure were. I remember having 3 or 4 books at a time that I "needed" to read. Realistically most of us do not have time to not only read but then figure out how to make it work into our family and routine. This is putting those 300+ pages into a pretty compact and easy to understand package.

WHAT: We have the amazing Lori Krasney from the Children's Center presenting. She is going to talk the logistics. What is a visual schedule. Why they work for special needs kids. How to implement them into your family. After she does her presentation we will have a yummy brunch and then have all the supplies and instruction on how to put it together so you can get started right away implementing it into your life.

Boom - 3 hours for what could take 6 months to read and then put together (for me anyway :)

COST: If you register BY August 10th you can get the reduced early registration fee of $35.00. After August 10th it will be $45.00. We do have limited scholarships available, if you are interested in applying for that please email us and we will get you the information.
You can send a check or money order to
PO BOX 581215
SLC, UT 84158

We can also do credit card payments over the phone (a $2 service charge applies).

What does the cost include?
*A professional guest speaker/instructions on visual schedules
*Q&A with Lori
*All the supplies and instruction to put together your own schedule to take home.

If you have any questions please feel free to email or call.

We hope to see a lot of you there!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Parent Teacher Communication Log

As I mentioned in the previous blog, I am a little freaked out about Kindergarten. Emma was tested before summer by the school district and we found that she is a pretty behind academically, we also have some fine motor & sensory issues that need to be addressed. We thankfully easily got an IEP set up for her so that she will have all the resources she needs to succeed. That being said, I want this to be a positive and fun experience for her and one that goes as seamlessly as possible. I have been brainstorming and pinteresting ideas to help. A lot of 'Parent Teacher Communication Logs' popped up in my search. Some were printables, binders etc. I didn't love any and they seemed like they would makes things more complicated. I remember Jen had a simple notebook for back and forth with Hudson & decided that was the way I would go. Simple. But of course, I have to make things not as simple :) I decided to make it girly & cutesy - because a little fluff never hurt anyone!

Composition Notebook (ridiculously cheap right now)
Scrapbook paper & coordinating stickers
Modge Podge
Sponge brush
Pen (I used a fine tip sharpe to write over modge podge)
I cut the paper to size and then modge podged it down. I decorated the way I wanted and then covered with a thin coat of Modge Podge. I also covered the front inside cover that was full of useless info (ya know.. math formulas & such) with a coordinating paper. On that inside covered I filled it with my contact info and some fun little facts about Miss Emma.
What I will use it for: Little notes back and forth with both her Kindergarten & resource teacher. They can send me concerns, good days, upcoming info etc. & I can do the same.
Stay tuned for more "Back to School" projects!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

summer, events & a freakout.

hello all! hope summer has been going well- me personally... well its a mixed bag. I am sort of over summer. its HOT, the kids are at the point they are mind numbingly bored. but at the same time, I am  trying to will away the school year. my baby will be in kindergarten - MIND BLOWN. How did that happen?
Part of me is like - wow we made it! she is starting school, physically healthy and she is excited! the other part of me is having a little freak out. academically she is struggling, anxiety wise it is up and down. thankfully Emma has a really good IEP with both academic, sensory and behavioral goals and services. she will have every tool to succeed, but I am nervous. nervous because I don't want her labeled by peers and teachers. nervous that this will be a complete sensory & emotional overload. nervous that mornings will turn into her begging not to go to school. deeeeep breaths. I still have a whole 6 weeks to stress out. in through the nose, out through the mouth....

now back to UETL. things have been falling into place so nicely and we are thrilled. despite some nasty weather the parent retreat had a great turn out. we are teaming up with the Utah Film Center to show special needs friendly films, we have a booth at the HopeKids 5K in Farmington and we also have a booth at the Sahara Cares Carnival. Our next big event is our first workshop/make & take in September and we have a Spa Night Fundraiser & a Kick a thon. whew. for a 'taking it easy summer' things got kick started! we are so excited and grateful for the support of the community and most of all the ETL parents that continue to come to groups!

I have listed all of the upcoming events below:
08.03 - HopeKids 5K
Farmington Station Park

08.06 - Spa Night Fundraiser
Avalon School of Cosmetology
(see facebook page for more details!)
08.17 - Sahara Cares Carnival
we will have a booth, stop by & say hi!

08.17 - Utah Film Center Special Needs Film Screening
Flushed Away
Shriner's Hospital

09.14 - Bobby Lawrence Kick A Thon Fundraiser
Layton Boondocks

09.21 - Visual Schedule Workshop
Meet me on 33rd
1565 E 3300 S SLC

we hope to see you at some of these events! they are going to be so fun. we will keep the facebook page updated with more info as the dates get closer - so keep your eye out!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guest Post by Cristine

Caregiver Burnout

My husband works for the travel industry. I've had the privilege of traveling on an airplane quite often.
I hear the safety information ALL the time. 
Some of us listen; some of us are getting settled for the flight.
Even though it's important, many of us don't pay attention. However, it is still valuable information.
 "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will automatically descend from the ceiling. Grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting others".
 As I've listened to this message countless times I've often thought. Would I really help myself first before helping my children?  This safety message isn't just applicable to airline travel. It's applicable to my everyday life.
As a woman, a mother, a caregiver I am constantly thinking of others. Serving others in my family. Sometimes I forget to take care of myself so I can take care of others, especially my children
I found myself feeling a little burned out at the beginning of this year.  Maybe it was the EXTRA long winter, snowstorms, and extreme cold temperatures. I feel like we all deserved a medal for surviving this winter. Perhaps it was the multiple therapy appointments. (My oldest has ADHD and Anxiety, my middle boy has ADHD, and my youngest has some sensory information, some developmental delays, and processing delay). My husband's work changed, and I'm trying to finish school.  There are multiple demands for our lives.  As a mother and my children's caregiver, I feel the weight of this responsibility.

I found myself feeling a bit burned out.  When I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I try and remember that the best way to take care of my children is to take care of myself first.  Sounds incredibly selfish --feel guilty much? :) BUT I cannot help others unless I am able to care for myself.  
How to adjust Your oxygen mask FIRST then help others:
  • Get OXYGEN - Air we need to breathe it every day.  Taking a few deep, focused breaths everyday can help with stress.  Even if we are so busy. STOP take a deep breath, be mindful. Think of that breath. Think about our lungs taking in that healing air. Breathe out slowly. Do this 5 times. Try this in the morning when you first wake up. Try it at a stoplight. Try it before you go to bed.
  • Notice - stop and notice the world around you.  I had to remind myself to look at the mountains, look at the piles of snow that finally melted from our front yard. Notice the buds forming on the trees.
  • Listen.  For me my soul is nourished by music. It's a part of me. A good rhythm gets me dancing. A quiet song pierces through and fills my heart with peace. Find the music that fills you.  Have a spontaneous dance party in your kitchen. Involve your children in music.
  • Pamper. Indulge in something just for you. Give yourself a pedicure (maybe at 1am but it's your alone time). If you can...go get a pedicure. Let someone else serve you. Contact a local beauty school. Students need clients too. There are discounted rates. Due to the economy this service industry is in need of clients. Nail salons have reduced their prices. I've seen pedicures advertised for as long as $15-20 some even include a manicure! Massage therapy schools also provide substantial discounts for massage. I feel like a bad massage from a student is still an incredible massage. So what do you have to lose?
  • Engage in a hobby. If you like to read. Discover 10 new minutes with a book. Blog, scrapbook, etc. Do something for you.
  • Move. Go on a walk, visit the park. Even for just a few minutes.
  • Share the Journey. Seek others. Join a support group, find other moms at school, and chat with a friend. Sharing our stories with others helps make connections and someone with a listening ear. I think we as women, truly love to be with other women to talk, provide comfort. 
  • Date. I feel it's important to nurture my marriage too. Plus my husband and I can talk. Really talk without being interrupted. We talk about our children, we talk about our future, and we also talk about the movie, the menu, and our favorite...people watch :)
  • Respite.  Sometimes getting a much needed break provides an opportunity to refresh and return to family obligations. Recruit family members, find a babysitter.  There are also resources available in the community.  For Utah search the United Way 211 information. Search Respite or call.  Respite care is available for a reduced fee based on family income and in some cases respite is FREE.
I'm so happy for summer! The sunshine every day. We still have a structure (that's what helps our family) and I love the opportunity to have sunny days and opportunity to make memories.
Maybe even a trip or two so I can hear about oxygen masks and cabin pressure.

I would love to hear from you and how you nurture yourself while nurturing your families.

About Christine:
Chrisitine writes about her family and their ups & downs over at 'Counting Your Blessings Not Sheep'. She is a mom of children who have special needs and is finishing up her Ph.d in disability disciplines emphasis in rehabilitation counseling. Christine has been published on KSL.com & their sister site familynews.com/familyshare.com

Visit her blog HERE

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2nd Annual Parent Retreat

We are super excited for Utah Easy to Loves 2nd Annual Parent Retreat! We are celebrating 2 years of Easy to Love and are so excited about all that we are doing and working on.

This retreat is all about connecting with people that are sharing similar experiences. No matter what our child(s) diagnosis, we are all in the same boat & often have similar services & struggles. Our goal has always been to connect parents/caregivers to help get them off the island that we seem to live on. The retreat is just furthering that goal and creating a fun and light environment to get together. There will be food, prizes, breakout groups and fun!

We are asking that everyone bring a side of your choice to share! Please RSVP as soon as you can to reserve your spot, there are limited spaces available!
 You can call us at 801-532-4331 or email us at utaheasy2love@gmail.com

We will also have some carpooling options, if this is something you need please put that in your RSVP so we can make sure we have a spot!

Date: July 13th
Place: Big Cottonwood Spruces Campgroud #3
From I-215, take 6200 South Exit and travel 1 mile east to Wasatch Blvd. Take Wasatch 1 mile east to junction with Big Cottonwood Canyon/Hwy 190. Make a left at the junction and travel up Big Cottonwood 9.7 miles to the campground.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Summer Shinanigans!

Summer is a crazy time for us! Last year I eased up on our schedule and got a little loosy goosy, we totally paid the price and I plan on sticking to our normal routine this time around. Seriously, last summer was PAINFUL. This year there will be much less free time and I am hoping that will help. I am an optimistic realist, so I am planning for the worst but thinking/hoping it will be a fun summer.

Easy to Love has some great events coming up this summer too! We are SO excited that the plans we have been working on are coming to light! We are going to start doing 3-4 family activities a year, these will be tailored to meet the needs of our ETL kiddos and families. Our first family activity is June 8th at Orange Leaf in Bountiful. We will have the back party room to ourselves and the owner is offering an ETL discount. We have it listed as an open house 2-4pm, you are welcome to stay the entire time if you like! We will have a show playing, as well as some coloring pages. Please RSVP if you plan on attending!

Also this summer is our annual parent retreat! This year we are keeping it a little closer to home and got a campsite in Big Cottonwood. It is going to be a lot of fun, good food, good company and some great breakout groups.

There are some changes to our Davis Group location. Lil' Flippers Gymnastics has graciously offered their space as well as a staff to manage child care. Child care will cost $5 for 1 child/$8.00 for 2. The children will get to play in the gym with trained staff. We will be holding our meetings in the parent room which has access to cameras to monitor the children as they play. See flyer below for our summer group schedule & more info on Davis Child Care.

We hope to see  a lot of you at our summer activities & groups! If you were unable to attend this months group & you would like a copy of the Summer resource list please email us! The summer resource list is full of special needs friendly activities in our community!
We also hope to see you at our May groups. The topic is Alternative Treatments. We will be chatting about the good, bad & controversial.
SLC - May 8th
**If child care is an issue, please email us & we will see what we can work out. We are still struggling to find consistent child care, but have some volunteers on reserve if needs**

Davis - May 15th
We will be at our new Lil' Flippers Location

865 W 450 N  Kaysville
If you plan on using child care, please RSVP asap. Limited spaces available.   

Look forward to seeing you all this summer!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

They Can Do Hard Things!

My oldest son has been in Karate for over six years. He has ADHD, SPD, OCD which also includes battles with depression and high anxiety disorders. I was looking for something that would help him in all these areas and also something he would enjoy! I decided to give Karate a try. We signed him up at Bobby Lawrence Karate in Centerville. I liked what kind, good, role models/ instructors they had.
The journey has not been easy for my son over the past six years. They really expect you to do your best and they hold the students accountable. The 1st rule of karate is to obey your parents, 2nd rule is keep your room clean. When they test for belt promotion a form is sent home with each student that has to be signed by both the parent and the teacher at school. If they do not have good marks on their forms the instructor will meet with them and discuss why. At times the student will have to wait to promote until they can improve their marks. My son has had this happen to him a time or two. I felt stressed and worried for him because of all his special needs it wasn't fair to hold him up to that standard. What I learned was that my son could do it and he worked harder so that he could promote the next time.
 Last week I had one of the best learning experiences of all. My son was invited to belt promote for a Bambu Belt which is 2 belts away from a Black Belt. He has been waiting for this opportunity for over a year. Many of his peers and friends who have trained with him all these years have passed him and gone forward to receive their Bambu Belts and some even their Black Belts. I was worried and concerned that it would be too much for him with all his needs and his muscle weakness. The instructors had to encourage me that he is ready. So I went ahead and signed him up.
The test cost quite a bit of money and he was also required to attend Bambu Boot Camp where they would train for the test. There are 4 parts to the test. They had to write an essay, take a written test, endurance test (which was very hard), and know his Katas. On test day I was a wreck! I felt that there was no way he could pass the endurance test with all the muscle weakness and health issues he has been facing. He wanted to try and he wasn't going to give up. As he was doing the endurance part of the test tears filled my eyes as I watched him do 75 squats and his whole body was trembling. He didn't stop or give up! I saw other parents eyes fill with tears as they too watched my son continue on, pushing his body to its max as he completed 25 pushups, 50 bridges, and 50 V ups! Everyone in that room could see how much harder it was for my son than the rest of the kids. He was shaking and trembling and pushing on. His instructors started calling out to him with words of encouragement and so did the other students as they finished and then respectfully watched him struggle to finish last.
One of my proudest moments as a mom was watching him being awarded his Bambu Belt! Watch all his peers and instructors come up and tell him how amazing he is! I learned that he CAN do hard things! I need to realize that he does struggle more than some children but when he wants it bad enough he can do it. I can't keep dictating his limitations I need to let him guide me to his strengths.
I am grateful for karate and for what it has taught all 3 of my boys and especially my oldest son who has had to work harder than the rest. When I asked him what motivated him the most?  He replied Ethan did. Ethan is a Down syndrome boy who just got his Black Belt last year and Ashton has trained with him. Here is a clip of Ethan on the news talking about his black belt. It makes me cry every time I watch it. It fills me with so much hope for the future and knowing that my son too can do hard things and will get his Black Belt.
Ethan who has Down Syndrome  loves Bobby Lawrence Karate he got his Black Belt! Watch this clip and see what an amazing kid he is!http://www.abc4.com/mediacenter/local.aspx?videoid=3502682

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Schedules for Special Needs Families {& a giveaway!}

At my core I am a planner.  I also was a teacher.  I quickly learned that the best way to keep my students on track and learning regardless of what emergency took me out of the classroom, was ROUTINE.  I also ironically was the teacher that was willing to take on the higher functioning autistic kids.  So, of course - God brought me one of my very own.  I am convinced because he knew I could handle it.  I wish I was one of those parents that loved to scrapbook and craft, but sadly I am not.  I feel there are many other ways I'd like to spend my time.  So, I schedule and plan and use many electronic tools.  

One of the basic things I have used, is just that simple, routine.  We wake at the same time.  We have the same chocolate milk every morning.  The kids get 1 hour of TV in the morning and then by 7:30 a.m the TV is off.  I have even gone so far as to have the sleep timer on the TV set to sleep at 7:30 a.m. and hid the remote. Then it's dress, wash, brush and back down for breakfast.  I start getting them in the car 10 minutes before I need them in the car so that I don't need to scream and sometime they are fast and they sit in the car until I can grab all I need and get to the car.  Bed time is also a routine and the time rarely fluctuates.  

On Sunday nights, I also put all of of the outfits the boys are going to wear into a 5 pocket bin in their closet.  I include undies, socks, shirt and pants.  That way I don't have a whole lot of time wasting in the morning.  Sometime the older one is way into having more of a say so so he helps put it together on Sunday.  This also gives us a chance to talk about the week ahead and take a look at the calendar he has posted on the wall.  

Visual calendars have also been quite helpful for me.  What I mean by that is that I use a calendar with big enough squares, like a desktop size, or I have even found a wall laminate one to draw pictures of what is going happen in the days days ahead. If my husband is going to be out of town, I can draw what will happ on the days leading up to my husbands return. "One more sleep until Dad gets home."

One more thing that I have to say I use less and less is an idea called "backwardschaining."  When I was trying to get Hudson to dress himself, he had trouble with the order of the steps.  So I made a chain of pictures in backwards order, something like this,
Pants: button the pants, zip the zipper, then pull the pants to your waist, do you see your toes?, then your right leg, do you see your toes?, put in your left leg, unzip the zipper, unbutton the button, put the pants in your lap.
His job was to follow the chain of pictures to the top that culminated in the successful picture of him with his pants on.  It sounds weird but it worked and he dresses himself now.

I also love love love an app called iPrompts, $39.99  I use it on my iPad and on my phone. It was pretty pricey for an app, but I needed something that was easy to use and that could help with both my kids not just the special needs one.  iPrompts assists me in making picture schedules on the fly and also allows me to make countdown timers.  I used this a lot when l needed to set a time limit on video games and the TV or just set a timer on sharing a toy.  I can search the web for an image or even just upload one of my own.  Uploading my own images was really helpful when we were adjusting to a new bus driver or any new schedule, because I could use actual pictures of Hudson and Hudson's new bus driver.  Effective and no laminating!

I hope all of this is helpful.  I have to say that all of this organizing for the kids all goes out the window if I haven't been organized enough to take care of myself.  I think the thing that is most helpful for me is to get enough sleep.  I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 5 a.m. to have some quiet time to myself before the day begins.  If I don't get enough sleep it derails the whole day.  Best of luck to you.  Let us know what you are doing to keep your kids moving forward.

Like Jen, I have always been one to appreciate a schedule; I am a “planner” by nature and have never been one to fly by the seat of my pants. Before Emma it was just something I did, after Emma (and my ah ha moment!) I realized that that way of life was the only way if I wanted to keep my sanity and for Emma to thrive. Emma has anxiety, she likes knowing what to expect. If she feels like she has some type of control over things that are going on it really helps ease some of the anxiousness.  By creating visual schedules for her, she felt like she was in control and we avoid meltdowns and anxiety. When Emma was 3, I created our first visual schedule. It was a flip book made with 4X4 pieces of cardstock. I used a variety of pictures, clip art & hand drawn doodles for almost all aspects of our life that I could easily switch around for each day.  We used this for about a year & then switched to a less rigid type of schedule, one sheet with small photos and an overview of our day. Here is what that looked like, I had a sheet for different times of our day and the activities that went with them. 
We have just now gotten to a point we are not using a visual schedule for our entire day.  Before bed we go over what our plans are for the day and will draw a few of the major things on a small dry erase board. If she seems to be feeling anxious about something I will have her go and take a look at it in her room. It was a slow progression to have her let go of some control and move to a less restrictive schedule. One thing that we have not been able to get rid of yet are social stories. If there is a big event or change, I create a quick doodle book of what to expect and when. We have a crazy few months of weddings, me going on vacation and other family events. All of these are stressful and busy and she will need to know ahead of time what to expect. I am actually contemplating switching over to a social story app... it sounds so much easier than drawing everything!
As a family we do maintain a structured schedule.  Morning routine and bedtime are all consistent and rarely deviate. Sometimes things happen but for the most part we all know what to expect. On occasion there is some resistance to what needs to be done (bed usually) but very little. She will argue for a minute and then just go and lay down, she knows it is not something that is up for discussion.... now if she actually sleeps or not is a different story entirely! Our afternoons are less structured but we still have a general schedule that we follow. 
I also have a “command center” in our mudroom with a dry erase calendar and bulletin board for each child and all of their different papers from school. This is our hub - everything is on that calendar. My mom & I share a house and I care for my brother (Ethan - 8 yrs. old) during the day, having all of our appointments & to do's in one place is a life and sanity saver.  I also always have a day planner and my home management binder. All of these things help keep our crazy  life organized. We have so much going on from appointments, extracurricular, work schedules etc. I know that our lives would be unmanageable without the structure and schedules we have. Perfect it is not, and there are days or a few of them in a row that I drop the ball and the schedule gets lack. The funny thing is, on those "break" days, our days are much harder. There is more fighting, crabby kids, crabby mom and I don't get nearly as much done.
Now time for the giveaway, which of course is something to help you get organized! Our giveaway is a Family Planner (home management) binder with blank calendars, notes pages, menus, zipper pouch & business card holder. It is also 3 ring so you can add to it! You will also get an ‘On the Go Filer’. I use this for all things Emma – it has medical info, school info, paperwork I need to fill out etc. It is so nice to have all of her info in one spot that I can just grab and go.  

To enter you must be a follower on this blog & leave a comment on this post letting us know how what type of schedule you are using, don’t forget to leave your name & email so we can let you know if you are the winner. The giveaway will close on Thursday May 4th @ 1155apm and the winner will be announced Friday! Good luck, we can’t wait to hear what works for you!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Trying to stay on top of it all

This post has morphed over the last couple weeks I have been working on it. It originally was suppose to be a post on organization, especially for our special needs kids. I feel that being organized is an invaluable tool to stay on top of the mountain of paperwork, appointments etc. that our kids have. As I worked on the post it became more of a personal story of the struggles over the last few years. I decided that despite things beyond my control I wanted to be happy. So here we go!
Let me start this post by saying that I am not a therapist, parent expert, happiness expert, organizing or life expert. I have found a system both in my home and for me that helps me stay on top of this crazy life both physically and emotionally. I am happy. Not every day, not all the time – but in general I am happy with the life I have created for myself and my daughter. It’s not easy and I have days that I just want to throw in the towel, but I work hard to keep myself, my home and my priorities in check. There are more times than I would like to admit that my bathroom goes a little longer than it should without being cleaned and my room looks more reminiscent of Monica’s (from Friend’s) secret closet than an actual bedroom. Don’t even get me started on the endless mountains of laundry! Bottom line, I have 20 things going on any given day. From Emma’s school, dance, appointments, illnesses and play dates, to my list of maintaining a home, schedule, work, support group, family and trying to eek out some mommy time. I constantly feel like I am going 10 directions and am trying to keep the juggling act going.  Being organized helps me feel in control and keep on top everything we have going so I & most importantly Emma don’t get overloaded. Having a place for schedules, IEP paperwork, school contact, babysitter info etc. makes life just a little easier. For me, my Home Management Binder is my life saver. It keeps everyone coordinated and all the important paperwork in one place. In one book I can go over our weekly schedule, menu, needed groceries, school stuff and budgets all in one sitting. It’s a time and sanity saver. I have always enjoyed organizing and got a little too excited over a new day planner, but things fell through the cracks in a huge way after having Emma. Here’s a little story of what it took for me to check in on myself and my life and how the glorious Home Management Binder came to be. ..
Emma was a sick and very fussy baby. She slept 4ish hours and we had constant ER visits, doctor’s visit and the eventual feeding tube. I was getting 2-3 hours a sleep a night and my marriage was all but over. I was stressed, tired, miserable and my life was in shambles around me – both figurative and literally. The house was a disaster… like embarrassed to have anyone come to the door disaster. I looked and felt a hot mess and sort of just existed. I was 110% invested in Emma’s care, but let everything about who I was go. I was not the fun, talkative and happy person I once had been. One day, I was watching a couple little girls, my brother (he was 4 at the time) and of course Em. I was feeding Emma in her highchair, I turned to take a few steps to tell the kids to stop this or that and Emma went out after me. I was literally a foot away when she landed on the floor. (Side note: no judgments needed on the seatbelt end of things… I thought since I was going to be right there it would be fine. After this – she was strapped in tight even if I was sitting there with her). Emma hit her head and I immediately called 9-1-1 in absolute hysterics … inconsolable crazy lady hysterics. By the time 4 ambulances, 3 policemen and 2 fire trucks arrived Emma was done crying and was hanging out no worse for the ware. They told us to take her to PCMC to be checked out, but thought she looked fine. I however, was far from it. I remember sitting in the ER room as they observed her. Emma’s dad was there, he had moved out but at that point it was a “take a break and see” type thing. As Emma slept in my arms I spent the time thinking about all that had happened. How was this my life? This is not even close to what I imagined it would be. I am unhappy, tired and frazzled all the time. My house is a disaster and I don’t know my behind from my elbow. Right then and there I decided to make some serious changes.  I spent the 4 hours Emma was being observed making a mental list of all the things I needed to get in order, when I went home I wrote it all down. This was my actual list; I have just added the explanations.
#1: Make a final decision on marriage. We were both miserable, wanted completely different things and fought all the time. This was not something I wanted Emma around and I felt that I deserved to be happy as well. The decision was made and paperwork was filed about a month later. I have not looked back since and am without a doubt sure I made the right decision for my family. #2:  Figure out a home management system. This is when I came up with the binder. This was pre-pinterest so I just had to wing it!  It is broken up into: schedules, menus, home, Emma, Lindsay, Family.
.#3: ORGANIZE EVERYTHING!!!! This one took me a while. I had to focus on one area of the house a week to work on. I would spend 30 minutes a day digging myself out of the nuttiness I had let happen.
#4: I need ME TIME. This was easier said than done and still is, but I have found I am better mom and person if I have just a couple hours to myself.
#5: Get out of the house & do fun things. The kids were happier, I was happier and we were making some fun memories, even across the street at the park or on a nature walk. Sometimes it is still SO MUCH WORK I just don’t want to go anywhere but I found for us this was one of the most important changes I made for our family.
I also set goals - I have a both a family and personal mission statement and set seasonal goals which are divided into “FAMILY GOALS”, “PERSONAL GOALS” & “EMMA’S GOALS”. We don’t always meet all of our seasonal goals, but we are always working towards them.
It took a scary situation to knock me out of my life funk. I have to “check in” with myself every so often when I feel myself start to get crabby or overwhelmed. It’s been 4 years since then and I am still working hard to stick with those goals I set in PCMC ER. We have had many ups and downs since then with both Emma’s health and development. Having all of her information organized and pulled together has been an invaluable tool in our journey. I can quickly thumb through her history and give medication dates or side effects, let the GI know the days she had a stomach ache etc. In the end this leads to more thorough care for Emma.
I do want to finish up by saying; I am not in any way trying to be on a soap box. I know that everyone copes with things differently and everyone does things differently. We are all working so hard to help our kids and keep on top of everything. My only hope from this blog post is to let people know that I have and continue to have struggles along the way. I work hard to try and be the best mom I can, but sometimes feel like I am losing my mind or failing as a parent. This group has been such an amazing addition to my life. I have formed wonderful relationships with people and have a space every month to share the struggles. 
*If you are interested in more on “the binder” J Feel free to email me. I am happy to share templates and pintables! Just email me at utaheasy2love@gmail.com

Friday, February 8, 2013

Early Intervention

I recently started a journal where I write a letter to each of my boys. It has been a way for me to document their struggles and mine and makes me feel like someday when they are older they might read it and understand some of my parenting struggles and learn from them. I have been reluctant to blog lately, because things are going so well. I felt as if it was wrong to flaunt our achievements with Hudson in the face of so many others who might be struggling. I was reminded of the reasons I started this group with
Lindsay. I just wanted to hear some hope. If anything, our story is a story of the importance of early intervention. We have participated in family therapy from the beginning, therapy preschool, speech, OT, Play Therapy, Social Skills, Yoga, U-FIT, Pingree Soccer Clinic, Special Ed. pre-school, Dance, and now skiing. Intervention byany means possible is vital to your special needs child’s success. This is a letter I wrote to Hudson today.

Saturday, February 2, 2013
Dear Hudson,
You are so amazing! Me and your Dad have worked so hard since you were diagnosed with Autism in October of 2010. It is now the beginning of 2013 and while you still continue to struggle with some things, you continually surprise me with your love of life, your joy, your humor and your drive. I decided early on that my job was to stretch you - not unlike Ray Charles’ mother depicted in the movie “Ray,” who made it her mission to teach her son how to take care of himself and survive in the world despite his disability. Not unlike Temple Grandin’s mother who did not cower to the restraints that Autism placed on her daughter. She took it on as her mission to celebrate her daughter’s unique vision and teach her how to interact with the world and survive despite being a
woman and a person with Autism.
As parents, I believe it is our duty to recognize interests or strengths in our children and expose you to those things, so that you can truly find a passion and a direction in life that you love.
When you were first diagnosed, I cried forever about all the things that I thought you were never going to do. I thought you were never going to have “normal” play-dates with friends. That you would never dance or play sports with all of your sensory issues. I cried because I thought you would never interact with a teacher and give enough of your attention to learn and I cried because I thought you would never communicate without aggression. I cried about all the birthdays and holidays we would have to downplay because it was too much for you. Not surprisingly, crying about it does not get you very far.
As of today - February 2, 2013, I am proud to say that you have had birthday parties with friends. You now love Christmas and Santa. You have participated in a soccer clinic and sports and you love watching football. You are now in a public school regular education classroom with over 15 students. You have had 3 play-dates with a “regular” kid from your class. You are enrolled in “Hip Hop” Dance class - that you love! You talk about your feelings when you get mad. You have had 3 ski lessons despite your sensory issues and you are skiing!! That truly is a miracle. You are not a quitter.
I thank God, that I am also not a quitter. Me and your Dad know you are going to do great things, with great love and passion for life.
Love, Mom

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trying to move forward

How can I get through one more thing? I am a whimp!

We decided to focus on getting more physically fit as a family this summer. My son was charting our progress for a merit badge. I noticed he was getting really fatigued and that he was not progressing even though we worked out every day. So when we went in for his Jr. High physical with our family doctor I mentioned it. He did some simple tests and then referred us up to Primary Children's to meet with a neurologist. We met, they did more tests and then sent us to meet with a neuromuscular specialist. This specialist has determined that my son has some major muscle issues that will take many more tests to hopefully diagnose. They are concerned that since his heart is a muscle and every muscle they have tested is affected that there could be issues with his heart as well.
This news has devastated me! I feel like I was just getting to understand how to help my son. He has ADHD, Anxiety, OCD and sensory issues. Now we have a whole new set of issues. I spent most of the month in the fetal position crying and mourning all that could be lost. I try to tell myself that it may be just find and there is nothing to worry about. Deep down I fear there is something horrible wrong. They have said that he may be in a wheel chair by the time he is 30. I feel so sad that he will have suffer with all the emotional baggage, but that he will also have physical disabilities too. As a parent there is no greater pain that I have had than watching my children suffer.
I know that I cannot live like this forever and it's not fair to my other children to let this disable me. I need to be here mentally not just physically. I started to notice my kids acting out because they needed me. So I have been going to counseling, and I do energy work. I am trying to build courage and face this head on. I feel frustrated that there is so little I can do until we know what we are dealing with.

I console myself by realizing there is a lot worse out there and I am lucky. He doesn't have cancer. He is happy and has a really good life. Here is the truth though. It is still HARD! This is my baby and I HATE that he has this trial.

I realize bad things happen to good people. If you look every family has something that is hard that they are dealing with.  I know that we will come to understand and work with the limitations and obstacles that his new issue brings in our lives. We will have peace and joy in our lives again.  I will just keep moving putting one foot in front of the other!

I am so grateful for a good support group. I know you understand the feelings that even words can't seem to express correctly. Thank You for sharing on FB, the blog, and in meetings. You have helped me so very much.

Thanks Friends
Chrissy Young

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Calling all bloggers....

or wanna be bloggers... or people that want to share their story!

We really try to stay on top of our blog, really we do!: ) But with all the crazy that is our life trying to keep it updated regularly has proven to be a little bit of a struggle. Jen & I started brainstorming last week and came up with an idea - we want to hear about YOU!
Easy to Love is about connecting parents who have similar struggles, knowing that there are people out there who "get it". If you are willing to share send us an email. It doesn't have to be long and can be about whatever part of this journey you choose. It can be funny, about the grief or frustration, you can ask questions etc.
Here's what we need when you send us your post -
- A title
- if you choose to change the names for privacy, let us know so that we can * and let people know
- if you want to send photos to attach to the post, just attach them to the email.

Hope you are all had a wonderful holiday & are surviving the frigid temps! Brrrr!

* Lindsay