Thursday, August 20, 2015

John's Pet Rock

It's John's birthday today (August 20, 2015). He wants a pet rock! This is better than the pet he wanted last year; a bearded dragon. I was not prepared to be storing crickets in my house to feed to a reptile, but a pet rock, I can handle. 
So I wasn't just going to present him with a rock….it took days to find the right rock…and then less than an hour in my art studio and voila! The rock was cold, so I thought it needed a hat (crocheted from red twine; the first 3 lines were crocheted in a circle and then I started to skip loops until the hat came to a point). And I found some remnant fabric and sewed a little cozy bed. It all sits in a simple box. All made from treasures in my art studio. I love my art studio….it has everything…except the rock.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sensory Processing

In my June Newsletter, I wrote about how I would be “that awesome parent” this summer. It’s not happening. The kids are out of control and I find myself (once again) buried in books about sensory processing, trying to find the solution. I’m having trouble getting all their sensory needs met. Add my sensory needs to the mix and I get lost in a maze of words.
Sensory processing (or the sensory system) includes information from the environment and the body, the senses, how the brain interprets the senses, and the responce to the senses. The response is usually what we’re interested in and want to change. To do that, we have to go back to the information or experience that triggered the sense, and then how the brain noticed (or didn’t notice) the sensory input. Was it too much, too little? And what do we do to alter the whole experience to create a desirable response. Are you lost?
So I gathered some information that (I hope) will get us out of this predicament. The information below was gathered from the SPD Foundation (, Wikipedia ( , and the books, Living Sensationally, Understanding Your Senses, by Winnie Dunn and The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

Sensory Processing
 “Sensory processing is the neurological process that organizes sensation from one's own body and the environment, thus making it possible to use the body effectively within the environment,” describes Wikipedia ( .
Sensory information from the environment helps us understand the world around us. We also have sensations inside ourselves that help us keep track of how are bodies are doing. To understand our bodies, we have touch sensors, body position sensors, movement sensors, and oral sensors. To understand the world around us, we have visual, auditory and smell sensors. See the list of senses below.
We experience life through our senses. Sensation is everywhere, but we all react differently to sensory experiences in our everyday life. We experience a sense of calm with some sensory experiences and get overwhelmed with other sensory experiences. The way we respond to a sensory experience is related to how quickly the brain notices the sensory input and what we do in response to make ourselves comfortable and satisfied. The responses we have adds to our understanding of human behaviour.

Sensory Processing Disorder
“Sensory processing disorder (SPD; also known as sensory integration dysfunction) is a condition that exists when multisensory integration is not adequately processed in order to provide appropriate responses to the demands of the environment….Sensory processing disorder is characterized by significant problems to organize sensation coming from the body and the environment and manifested by difficulties in the performance in one or more of the main areas of life: productivity, leisure and play or activities of daily living,” describes Wikipedia ( .

The SPD Foundation ( describes, “Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses.… A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.”

The Eight Senses
Interoception:  The internal sense, responsible for knowing you are hungry, feel sick or have to use the restroom.
ProprioceptionBody position sensor that tells us about our muscles, tendons, and joints. The position-sense keeps track of where our arms, legs, head, and body are even without seeing them. It helps understand what movement feels like inside your body. When people are less aware of their position-sense, it is difficult to make adjustments. This person would have trouble in an exercise program based on verbal instruction. Repositioning their body based on verbal instruction is difficult because they don’t understand what movement feels inside their body. They will need physical adjustments to help them position their body accordingly.
Vestibular:  Your sense of balance, of where your body is positioned in space – like lying down, turning upside down, jumping and climbing high off the ground. These sensors tell us how fast and in which direction your head is moving. Some people love the feeling of movement; they are the roller coaster riders, others prefer their movement receptors quieter.

Taste (gustatory)Oral sensors create a log of things that go in our mouth. We feel textures, temperatures and we taste flavours.
Touch (tactile)Touch sensors keep the brain informed about our skin and the edge of our body. Your sense of feeling, all over your skin; responsible for how your clothes feel, knowing there is food on your face, and having your hair combed or cut.
Smell (olfactory):  Your sense of what things smell like, from freshly baked cookies, to perfumes, soaps and skunks. We can map the world through our noses. Our brain categorizes smells and creates memory of them; which is why a smell can remind you of past events and places.

Sight (visual):  How you see things, responsible for picking out one object in many, recognizing facial expressions and adjusting your eyes to lighting conditions. Our visual sensory receptors catalogue light and colour. Some of us are more sensitive to visual input and prefer dim lighting, and monochromatic decorating with less contrast and familiar patterns. Others are delighted with flooding light, lots of vibrant colours and lots of contrast and interesting features. Our visual sensors develop maps of our surroundings, we use these maps along with our body maps to navigate our surroundings.

Hearing (auditory)Auditory sensations map space and distance around us. Responsible for knowing who to listen to in a crowded room, organizing directions for a task, and taking in the sound of an alarm or siren.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Travelling with Children

This article was written for The Beacon, July 2015 edition.

Why travel with children? Children need structure, routine and familiarity; all of which are difficult while travelling. But we (parents) do it anyway, every year, sometimes more than once a year, and sometimes every weekend. Why?
People are wired for personal growth. It is our destiny to grow as human beings and engage in personal development. And the best way to do this is to have children, despite the grim stats on the subject. Did you know that parenthood actually creates marital dissatisfaction? Data collected by John and Julie Gottmann of the Gottman Institute in Seattle reveals this very truth! Two thirds of couples that have children experience a break down in their relationship. But there is hope! I had the opportunity to study at the Gottman Institute to bring the renowned “Bringing Baby Home” program to the North Shore; helping couples with this transition to parenthood.
So it all makes's all a journey in self improvement; a journey that usually involves physically travelling with children.
There are many articles with wonderful tips about how to travel with children. Google “travelling with children” and you will find what you need. Start your journey by planning the holiday together with your children. Plan a list of activities for everyday and help your children create a scrapbook to record their memories. Buy a Polaroid camera so the kids can post their photos instantly in their scrapbook. Digital media can also be useful, but beware. Too many family photos get stuck in the digital world. They serve no purpose there.
Children love holding and looking at real photo albums; and it’s important for their development. While sitting together, looking at photo albums “help your kids talk about their experiences,” Dr. Daniel Seigel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson write in the Whole Brain Child, “Studies have clearly shown that the very act of recalling and expressing an event .... can improve immune and heart function, as well as general well-being.” 
My final advice for a happy vacation is to simply remember that happiness requires a lot of work and that’s okay. Family holidays can equip our children with a strong and happy foundation. They strengthen families by bringing them together for a common goal, creating shared meaning, trying new things together and most importantly, talking about those experiences. Ultimately, your journey isn’t just one of personal development; you are raising a generation.
So who in their right mind would travel with children? We do (parents). We don’t want our children just to survive; we want them to thrive. And family holidays can provide the kinds of experiences that will help raise resilient, well-integrated, happy children. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Painting Sensational Brownies

My daughter, Kate, invited me to her class on Thursday. I was her VIP and she wanted me to show off my art. My children know me as an artist; that’s a part of me I forget and, to often, take for granted. I guess children remind us of who we really are…. domenica mastromatteo.

My art is personal….it’s mine….it’s for me….and so hard to give/sell away, but I remember reading somewhere, once, long ago, that it’s our duty as human beings, to share our life and experiences with others, we’re suppose to learn from each other…..I’m trying…. I’m a private person, with a blog….I’m definitely trying!

But back to my art…. I realize it’s time for me to share that too, and so glad to be sharing with my daughter’s class. So I created my slide show and briefly spoke about my two passions! Art and Human Development, specifically, Parenting & Child Development. I spoke of the beginnings of Sensational Children and my wish to empower ALL families. I spoke of the combining my two passions and creating Sensational Art.

And then came the fun!

I brought out the sensational brownies, the edible food paint and ta-da!


I got them to create masterpieces and eat their fruits and vegetables!
The Sensational Brownies recipe is below along with instructions on how to make the edible paint. These brownies are delicious; even with spinach, blueberries and flax seed mixed in the batter! This mixture contains antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, folate, calcium and (a little bit) of iron!

But, yes, they are still dessert. They don’t replace fruit and veggies; meaning, in order to promote a healthy diet, we need to present veggies during mealtime. Children need to be exposed to many different varieties of foods. They need to smell the cooking vegetables and see them on the table. It’s our job to make nutritious foods available; it’s the child’s job to decide what and how much to eat. But you can feel better about (occasionally) allowing dessert; even after they’ve refused spinach for the hundredth time!

You should be able to increase the spinach to 1 cup and a half without any problems. These brownies really do takes great and their own, but if you’d like to re-create the art project, you’ll need to make a batch of royal icing. Spread a thin coat of icing on the brownies (crumb coat), then let rest until the icing hardens (about 30 minutes). Spread another layer of icing on top of the crumb coat (save some icing to make the paint). Cut into individual brownies. Let rest about 2 hours.

While you’re waiting, make the edible paint.

Spoon remaining icing into little containers. Add a few drops (between 5-  10 drops) of food colouring. Stir. PAINT!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sorry for all the Emails!

If you've subscribed to my Sensational Children blog….I'm sorry for all the email updates you've been getting! I'm reorganizing my "blogging world". Everything will settle down soon….

Using your Child's Sensory Needs as a Parenting Tool

Marc Landry (occupational Therapist) presented "Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder, Promoting Self-Regulation, Supporting Stress Management" at Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School on Friday January 24, 2014. I spent years trying to understand and help my son (John) with SPD…and I wondered if I could (maybe) miss the talk, save on the babysitter, and just stay home. I'm glad I didn't. Marc Landry is a great speaker….and he brought to light many things I've forgotten!

John has been attending Occupational Therapy for 6 years; it's helped him keep his sensory needs within a "normal" range…making our life at home much easier….that's my excuse for forgetting….
I've been using discipline to redirect misbehaviour. And what's wrong with that? Sounds good…except, is the behaviour really misbehaviour? I've been defining it as such….but I've forgotten that behaviour is a form of adapting and what I may call "misbehaviour" is just my child's way of adapting to his/her environment.

Interesting how things seem to fall together. I'm taking the the 52 Parenting Tools in 52 Weeks Challenge with Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelson. January 19's parenting tool was "Listen". And I've realized that I've been reacting, correcting and trying to fix the behaviour without "listening" at all levels. I'm also reading (finally) the Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. Reminding me that I must "connect before directing"….but I'm "surviving instead of thriving"….

I'm grateful for those reminders. But before I lose you….I'll try to explain what I've forgotten and what Marc Landry helped me remember with an example.

One of the reoccurring "misbehaviours" and cause of "disharmony" in our household is 7 year old Kate's demeanour during mealtimes. Limbs and hair everywhere…..she can't sit still…she keeps getting up to give me a hug…, it's not cute….we're trying to teach her manners. Kindly reminding her about the importance of good posture will sometimes lead to a power struggle….Richard says she's improving….but I've been feeling like we're missing something….like we don't have the whole picture…how quickly I forget!

Kate has always benefitted from my knowledge in sensory processing and I've always felt like I've deflected what could have been possible problems by meeting her sensory needs…and that's the missing piece! I wish it was as simple as asking Kate what she needs and how we can help her stop fidgeting … but she won't answer with, "I need prioprioceptive input to stay engaged during dinner." Knowledge of sensory processes is a positive parenting tool for everyone! Since we've moved (house), many sensory toys have not been unpacked and Kate was the biggest user….She has always needed regular proprioceptive feedback, but monkey bars are gone, trampoline is gone…where's the bean bag? So Kate's misbehaviour is just Kate's way of adapting to her environment.

So where does Kate sit in the Sensory Modulation Continuum? She's Hypo-responsive…she needs to fidget to bring herself to a learning state. She has signs of low tone as she lethargically leans on the dinning table with her head falling into her plate….then she'll jump up and give me a hug to satisfy her proprioceptive need…..(To learn more about SPD, go to

So what do we do? We need to get the trampoline back, the monkey bars…..get Kate to monkey around before supper. Maybe, she needs to sit on an exercise ball or wrap heavy elastics around the legs of her chair, so she can fidget with her feet. Maybe, a bowl of fidget items on the dining table.

Sensory Processing (Disorder?) to the rescue again….

As your SPD Parent Host, I am always available to answer questions about your child's sensory needs. Please feel free to comment or fill out my comment form (on the right bar).

Dealing with Technology

Children are now faced with increasingly more options for screened entertainment, leaving families disconnected and disengaged.

Would it surprise you to know that 2-5-year-olds watch more than 32 hours of TV a week? (Nielsen) Many children learn to operate sophisticated remote controls before their third birthday and sit mesmerized in front of the screen. In fact, many parents include television as part of a child’s bedtime routine, unaware that television viewing before bed may disturb children’s sleep patterns.

Children ages 8-18 spend more than 53 hours a week online and almost 8 hours of media use each day. (Keiser Family Foundation) In today’s digital world, families are exposed to more screen time than ever before. Smartphones, tablets, YouTube and the ever-popular game, Minecraft are just a few of the many sources of electronic connection that vie for time and attention from both parents and children.

Research demonstrates that screen time can negatively influence brain development. But you don’t need research to know that your children are on their screens too much each day; you know this from your own wisdom and intuition. But not many of us want to pull the plug on television. We want our kids to keep up with technology and learn new skills that will help them in their lives, but we know that too much media use prevents them from becoming proficient in person-to-person communication skills.

The key lies in finding a balance. What you can do to help your kids find that balance of screen time with “real life” is to work together to set limits around daily media use…including your own.

The Positive Discipline Association suggests the following tools to help manage your family’s screen time so it doesn’t manage you:
1.              Have a family meeting. Get the whole family involved in a plan for reducing screen time. Part of the solutions should include things to do in place of screen time. It is more difficult to give something up when you don’t have plans for what else to do.
2.              Create a “parking lot” for electronics—have a basket or charging station in a central location in the house at which family members “park” their electronics during certain times of day.
3.              Establish new routines. Start with one time of day to be screen free (such as dinner) and periodically add on other times of day.
4.              Stay close with your child with special time. Children will listen to your limits about screen time when they feel understood and that you “get” them. Spend regular one-on-one time together to keep your relationship strong.

5.              Hold limits with kindness and firmness. Changing a screen time habit is hard; be ready for disappointment, anger, and sad feelings. Hold your limits by empathizing with a child’s feelings and sticking with the limit you’ve set.

Connection Before Correction

Momma's helper
Extensive research shows that we cannot influence children in a positive way until we create a connection with them. It's a brain (and heart) thing. In my parenting workshops this week, we spoke about communicating with our children and the subtle ways we can change our language to allow our children to feel connected. We also talked about curiosity questions beginning with "what" or "how" (instead of "why") to help our children accept personal responsibility for their own actions and begin effective problem solving. 

I encourage you to be mindful every time you “tell” your children what to do. Try “asking” instead. Lead your children by asking them what they think needs to be done.  Asking creates respect and cooperation by “drawing forth” from children instead of trying to “stuff in”.

Have an awesome long weekend!

A Misbehaving Child

 Any child who is misbehaving is subconsciously saying, “I am a child, and I just want to belong, and I have some mistaken ideas about how to accomplish belonging.” Misbehaving children are discouraged children. Dreikurs said many times, “Children need encouragement, just as plants need water. They cannot survive without it.” The best way to help a misbehaving child is through encouragement. (adapted from Jane Nelsen, Positive Discipline)

But what does this mean? It is not easy to act encouraging toward a child who is misbehaving. What does encouragement look like? Remember that encouragement is the focus of positive discipline and every method discussed in the positive discipline approach is designed to help children (and adults) feel encouraged.

Last week, we looked at encouragement and other positive ways of communicating with our children. Just by changing our communication style, we can see positive results in our children’s behaviour. But what happens if the misbehaviour continues? What now? What have we overlooked? In our last class of this 4-week workshop, we will look at Driekurs concept of mistaken goals and learn how our own feeling are clues into our children’s mistaken beliefs. We’ll learn what to do about our children’s misbehavior, how to help them make amends, and truly turn difficult situations into wonderful learning opportunities.

Find Your Happy: Finding Happiness at Home

Is it really possible?

Thoughts of happiness (and the lack of) seem to be engulfing my mind lately. Not only am I trying to recall happy moments from our family summer trip (visit, but I’m exploring the happiness in my everyday life.

So, I’ve noticed my mood hasn’t been what I would like it to be. And honestly, I’ve always been a “glass half empty” girl. I work really (really) hard at appreciating what I have, but, honestly, it’s hard not to notice that things could be better. Why settle for half empty when you could have the whole thing?

But I’ve always bought into the idea of empowerment. We talk about empowering our children in Positive Discipline. We’ve all heard the phrases, “don’t be a victim”, “take control of your life”. But .... and here’s the big BUT....happiness and unhappiness are catching.

You know the daily drill....child wakes up crying, older kids don’t want to get out of bed, they’re SO TIRED! Kate can’t find her paper....that paper that was on the table last week! Someone must have taken it! There’s nothing to eat....there’s nothing to put in the kids least that’s what the kids say....they’re all TIRED and oh, John doesn’t want to go to school....he’s sick....really, he’s sick and Jane is still louder because no one is paying attention to her....Kate stomps off shouting, “I hate you!” and that’s just the morning.

How did I create that tornado? Really, I don’t want to take ownership for that. I keep wondering how my days can possibly be happier if I have to put up with THEM?  But all of that (apparently) is normal. Data collected by John and Julie Gottmann of the Gottman Institute in Seattle reveals that having children (statistically) causes depression....I’m just a statistic. I’m doomed.

Research also says that family members affect each other’s happiness. I’m doomed….how can I find happiness when everyone is pouring their negativity on me? Happiness and unhappiness are catching. You can tell yourself you’re not going to get sick, but if someone with a horrible cold sneezes in your face....aren’t you going to get sick?
If you’re immersed in a clan of unhappy people, you will catch it....unhappiness. But I can’t give up…..I can’t be doomed(yes, I realize my article is full of contradictions!)

How do we find happiness at home? The two major thoughts my mind struggles with:

·      Happiness and Unhappiness are catching.
·      Fake it until you make it. That also applies to happiness.

Happiness and Unhappiness are Catching
Fake it (Happiness) until you make it (Happiness)

Haven’t I already covered that? My children, walking around (moping around) with issues and complaints (and most of them aren’t even teenagers yet), (my children) download their negatively on me everyday. How do I fight that? Statistically, I’m doomed! But Happiness is also catching (I won’t mention that as Gretchen Rubin writes in Happier at Home, “negative emotions are more catching than positive emotions, and persist longer, and one grouch can drag down an entire group very quickly.” I did not write that, I did not say that…you did not read it).

My biggest truth about parenting is that if children engage in an activity or mood that you dislike, look at yourself…. How are you portraying that behaviour? (Katie Byron does a great job of explaining this in her book, Loving What Is). Children learn through example…. What kind of example have I demonstrated? Ugh…the truth hurts.

But it’s so hard to rise above that…..
Parenting is hard!

And here comes that second thought: Fake it until you make it.

Take responsibility for the energy you bring into a room because children can’t. They’re too young to assume that responsibility….until you model this concept for them. I’m still struggling with this one….and my guess is, I’ll keep struggling…..  And I am hoping that the more I fake it, the more I’ll make it.

Yes, we alone are responsible for shaping our own lives, we create our worlds, we need to take ownership of our lives , stop blaming others….

But I know that’s not enough….. There is more to this whole faking it…..especially, when you’re raising children. Children know when you’re not sincere, so how is this faking it going to work? Time to throw in the towel? Or time to remind myself that YES, parenting is hard! And difficulties create great learning opportunities.

So I don’t know how you will find happiness in your own home. I like to think of happiness as a state of mind….and I can always change my mind….so when unhappiness enters, well, its time for a change.

Maybe happiness just lies in the pursuit of happiness. And the more you look for it, the more you’ll find it. I was in Zing Paperie and Design, at The Village in Park Royal yesterday and picked up a book entitled, Live Happy: Find the Joy That’s all Around you. Seriously? I thought. But I looked all around me, at all the pretty things, and it was hard not to feel just a little bit happy. A paragraph in the beginning of the book caught my eye: “Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you can find your happy simply by deciding to look for it, because there are always good things within reach. Cultivate a habit of noticing them.” I like that; “find your happy”. I guess I won’t find happiness if I don’t look for it. I get so busy; I forget to look. Can I find happiness at home? Can you find happiness at home? Time to start looking.

Why Take A Parenting Class?

I’ve heard it before, “I don’t need a parenting class. My child and I have a great relationship.” Great! But children grow and change. Will you be able to meet your child with the respect, dignity and understanding he deserves through his changes? Parenting classes are not just for parents that are having trouble with their kids, it’s for all parents.

Okay, so we take golf lessons when we want to learn to play golf, we’ll sign up for art classes, or photography classes, or scuba diving. We’ll get a personal trainer to help us with our career, our health. We’ll join the running club. Any thing worth doing is worth the time to gain more knowledge and do better. Why not parenting?

“Parenting is the most challenging job we will ever have and the one for which we are the least prepared.” writes Mimi Hudson, M.A., R.C.C. ( And did you know that “there has never before been a generation so stressed and so starved of nurturing adult relationship”? Writes Dr. Daniel Seigel (in Parenting from The Inside Out) about our children. “Having been a kid and having parents is not enough training. We tend to parent the way we were parented or as a reaction against it. Parenting is a process with no quick fixes”. (Mimi Hudson, M.A., R.C.C.)

Even if you try to keep up on child rearing in books, magazines, television and online, the information is confusing and contradictory. If you’re still using time-out, gold stickers, behaviour charts, and “consequences”, have you considered the “real consequences” of these quick parent fixes?

Today’s children know their rights and are entitled to be treated as equals; at least in terms of human worth and dignity. Treating our children as equals means we will treat them with dignity, respect and cooperation not rewards and punishment. This doesn’t mean we must be permissive! Adults need to be the leaders, they have the experience, skills and maturity and it’s our responsibility to guide our children.

My workshop will teach you how to lead your children.
It’s not about making a child do what we want him to do. It’s about raising capable, compassionate, hard-working individuals who feel good about who they are, enjoy meaningful relationships, and live a life full of meaning and purpose. It’s about the long haul.

Sign up for my workshop here at!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March SPD - Parents' Connections

Explore raising children with special needs. Each month, we will cover sections of the book, Positive Discipline: For Children With Special Needs by Jane Nelsen, Steven Foster, and Arlene Raphael.

Positive Discipline is an approach to child rearing and teaching that emphasizes helping children learn valuable social and life skills that will help them make responsible decisions that lead to a more productive and satisfying life.

Parents of children with special needs must contend with the judgments of strangers, teachers, and even members of their own families. Much of the information and suggestions they receive are about managing their children. Positive Discipline will help you raise your children.

In March, we will discuss psychiatrists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs' belief that the primary motivation of all human beings is to belong and feel significant. Thus, a primary purpose of behaviour is to act on that motivation to achieve a sense of belonging and significance. Sometimes children make "mistakes" about how to find belonging and significance and "misbehave". We will analyze the possible mistaken beliefs that underlie children's challenging behaviours.

Register by emailing:

Monday, February 9, 2015


Remember that? Romance.

A few weeks ago, my cousin’s wife posted a picture on Facebook of her home; decorated in hearts for Valentine’s Day. All I could think is, ugh….where does she get the energy? She has two girls; two lovely girls, I’m sure. I have four monsters. Everyday chores are more than I can bear. Adding holidays to my list of things to do is just cruel.

So sad. Everything feels like so much work! Where’s the magic? And when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I guess I should ask, where is the romance?

According to The Gottman Institute, “Research shows that within three years after the birth of a baby, approximately 2/3 of couples will experience a significant drop in relationship quality and have a dramatic increase in conflict and hostility.” It is an international social problem; one that I am not immune to. Richard and I are busy…..what romance?

So I have to put my pride aside and say Valentine’s Day is for people like me; people who need that yearly reminder that Romance is important. A reminder of the part of myself that I’ve been ignoring for too long. Before children, LOVE was everything. I engulfed myself in love poetry, held on to sentimental thoughts; danced in love’s energy….life was beautiful.

I’m reminded of the article entitled, “How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage” on Danielle Teller writes, “Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring. Children always come first. We accept this premise so reflexively today that we forget that it was not always so.”

Another thing to pondor, “In the 21st century, most Americans marry for love. We choose partners who we hope will be our soulmates for life. When children come along, we believe that we can press pause on the soulmate narrative, because parenthood has become our new priority and religion. We raise our children as best we can, and we know that we have succeeded if they leave us, going out into the world to find partners and have children of their own. Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose. Is it surprising that divorce rates are rising fastest for new empty nesters? Perhaps it is time that we gave the parenthood religion a second thought.”

Sadly, that’s what I sometimes think….parenting is so hard, I want to press pause on my relationship with Richard. But life is an ever-changing organic experience. I can’t press pause. Relationships can’t be frozen, to be played at a better time. While waiting for the right time to come along, things are changing, people are changing, and a relationship that hasn’t been taken care of will fall apart.

And for those of you who still feel that children need to be our number one priority; further research has shown that relationship discord and conflict have a profound negative effect on infants and toddlers (and no doubt, on the development of our adolescent children as well).

I guess it’s very timely I am just starting to offer the Bring Baby Home Program developed by the Gottman’s at The Relationship Research Institute in Seattle. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of life for babies and children by strengthening the parental relationship.

And what about my relationship with Richard? You may ask. I have all the literature and research summaries on how to maintain a solid relationship; and it’s all very helpful. It really is. Just looking through the literature floods me with wonderful memories of our shared love.

How do I get over my “ugh” for Valentine’s Day?  William Shakespeare wrote, “Sweet love, renew thy force….do not kill the spirit of love with a perpetual dullness…” I found solace and a renewed energy in those long forgotten love poems I used to read in my youth.  I didn’t just brush my ambivalence away or accept my frustration over preparing for “another holiday” as the current state of affairs. What I’m trying to say is I’m making an effort to look for Romance and I’m finding it everywhere. Remember my blog, “Travelling with Children”? I explained that we can look at things in different perspectives and make arguments to prove each perspective right. I’m finding proof that there is Romance everywhere and Valentine’s Day gives us a wonderful moment to celebrate love.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects at least one in twenty children. Children with SPD don't process or experience sensory information the way other typical children do; therfore, they don't behave the way other children do. They struggle to perform tasks that come easier for other children. Consequently they suffer a loss of quality in their social, personal, emotional and academic life.

The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation is dedicated to continue their research into the knowledge and treatment of SPD, so that, as Lucy Jane Miller writes in her book "Sensations Kids", "the millions of sensational children currently "muddling through" daily life will enjoy the same hope and help that research and recognition already have bestowed on coutless other conditions that once baffled science and disrupted lives."