Posted in Third Family

Emma Update

I know everyone has been anxiously awaiting an update on our sweet Emma! I am happy to report she is doing AMAZING!!!

Mark and I have had 2 visitations at the residential home. The first one was a little awkward, trying to navigate all the rules and regulations. But once we got past all of that, it was a great visit. She was so eager to tell us about everything. Her grades have drastically improved! She went from failing every single class to now making A’s & B’s! She has not gotten below an 80 on any of her quizzes/tests! It warmed my heart to see her so confident. Responsibility has never been her strong suit, as I have pretty much done everything for all 3 kids since the day they were born. But, she now gets up at 5am every morning, showers, sweeps & mops her floor in her room, and gets ready for school. Along with that, she does her own laundry twice a week & even deep cleans her room. One thing she told me was that I’d be so proud, because she cleans it the way I would. She also is responsible for doing other chores at the home and seems so proud of her hard work.

The second visit was a little different. We had to pick her up the morning of the visit as she had an orthodontist appointment. So we were able to spend most of the morning/early afternoon with her. It was a little tough dropping her back off, because she wanted to go back but also wanted to spend more time with us. Thankfully we had visitation that evening. When we saw her we already could tell she was not as happy as she was earlier. She was struggling being back. So we took that time to reassure her that we are so proud of her for working so hard to accomplish her goals and ‘phasing up’ (which they have to do to be able to come home at their 90 day time). She has already phased up to Level 3. This time she had to write and read an essay in front of the staff. She said she was terrified… BUT she did it!!! By the time the visit ended she was in better spirits.

Along with visitation every other Thursday, she is able to call home once a week for 20 minutes. We look forward to this call each week because we get to hear about all of the wonderful things she is accomplishing.

Today’s call was AWESOME!!! I have not heard her genuinely laughing, (you know that cackling, belly laugh that she does) in so long! It made my heart do cartwheels! Her schooling is improving even more, they had and ‘Ice Cream Social’ that she was so hyped about – she said she even danced, the other girls taught her a few dances, she gets along so well with the staff. I could hear her laughing and joking around with her counselor (who has to be present with every phone call). She has always had a way of bonding with the adults in her life and everyone LOVES her! The director at the home pulled us aside after the first visitation and told us that Emma is awesome and she is one of his favorites. The way she just creates happiness wherever she goes makes my mom-heart smile. I just hope and pray that she now sees what we see when we are all around her. One of the best things I have seen from this time away is, Emma is starting to LOVE EMMA!

Posted in Third Family

The Changing Phone Call

*ring ring*

Here is a synopsis of the phone call that changed our family FOREVER!

Hello, Mrs. Third. Can you come to the school? Emma was turned in for vaping in the courtyard so we had to search her belongings. We did not find a vape on her, however, we found something more disturbing. We found a ziploc bag of pills in her backpack.

At first, the school thought they were Emma’s pills. But eventually after speaking with me, got to the bottom of the fact that she got them from a ‘friend’. You see, the night before this phone call Emma refused to come home from school. Instead of forcing her to come home, we chose to allow her to stay with her friend for the night. While some may see this as a bad decision, I think this choice was a good one. Because it led to where we are right now. I always say “Everything happens for a reason”.

When we got to the school to pick her up she was disrespectful & non caring towards dad and I. She had this ‘I don’t care what you say or think’ attitude. At one point Mark asked for her phone, she then looked at him in disgust and said ‘Uhm, why?’ To this one of the counselors that walked to the office with her took the reigns of explaining to her that she didn’t deserve to have her phone at that point because of the choices she was making. She complied with his request, reluctantly. Once we got the go ahead we left the school with Emma.

During our family therapy session that Wednesday… We found out that she had been using Ibuprofen, my seizure meds, etc to snort to get a *high*. Madisyn told us that she actually witnessed this while she, Emma and Emma’s friend were hanging out in our neighborhood. Emma blew up at her during therapy and Madisyn broke down saying she just wanted her sister to live and not hurt herself.

When we arrived home from the school, she was not happy that we were upset with her. So much so, that she decided she was going to run away. We were informed by the School Resource Officer if she did this to call the non emergency line and have an officer come out and take a report. So we did exactly this. But by the time the police arrived she had came back home. They took a report and talked to Emma anyway.

Mark and I decided that we would start going through her room, this was the last straw for us. She had ‘drugs’ on her at school and was possibly facing expulsion and because she now has a history (what we thought was a 1 time thing) of actually using pills. As we were going through her room we came across a make up container & 2 other containers FULL of powder, but it wasn’t make up. It was crushed up pills! We also found a whole ‘cutting/snorting kit’, marijuana vape cartridges, & 3 vapes. Because I have allergies to different medications (even to the touch), we decided to call the non emergency number again to file a report and have the stuff destroyed.

This time when she spoke to the police they spoke outside, she told the officer that she didn’t want to ‘go out like her bio father’. She wanted to ‘go out’ like his mom, and that was an intentional overdose. She told them she intended to line up ALL of the powder and snort it at once. So they Baker Acted her. This was her 5th Baker Act.

She was at the facility for 5 days. They wanted to release her sooner, but we fought for her to stay there while we worked on getting a treatment plan in place for when she was released. Prior to her release the doctor had contacted us about getting her into a residential treatment facility. [If you know our family, you know that we have been looking for a residential facility for suicide attempts for her for about a year now. There had been no help with that. Financial or otherwise. The least expensive facility that we had found was $10,000 a MONTH out of pocket.] When the doctor recommended residential treatment, we were devastated, because we knew this but haven’t been able to get that help. However, because there is now drug use, and Emma informed us that it’s been going on for 5+ months, there is hope.

We were told to contact a facility we haven’t contacted. I made that phone call, halfway thinking I’d get the same news, about the cost. But when the lady told me that they work with payment plans and it’s a ‘pay what you can, when you can’ because they are there to help place. I broke down! I just cried, I apologized to the lady, but told her that she just didn’t know what it meant to us to hear that we were going to get the help our daughter needs! This is why I said ‘Everything happens for a reason’. The facility is 100% voluntary, so Emma had to agree to go.

When we spoke to Emma, she took that first step! She agreed to go. She admitted she needed help and couldn’t do it on her own or at home anymore. So we picked her up from the first facility (because we had to transport her to the rehab facility on the 8th). We spent the evening together and let her know how proud of her we are.

On the 8th, Mark and I took her to begin her treatment. We toured a little bit of the facility and are pleased with the set up. The staff members were very welcoming and helpful and reassuring. We spent a while doing all the necessary paperwork, etc. When it was time for Mark and I to leave, Emma was so strong. I kept telling her how proud of her that I am and she is going to come out of this so much stronger and healthier. She didn’t cry. I didn’t cry. I didn’t want to cause her any emotional stress.

This was the hardest and most sickening decision we have ever made as parents. Being away from my daughter is going to be debilitating! I know this is what is best for her in the long run, but without her being home for a minimum of 90 days is going to be the toughest thing I have ever had to go through as a mom. I love my daughter with my whole heart and I want to see her go to high school, graduate, go to college, live out her dreams.

In closing, don’t take one day with your kids for granted! Please be mindful & kind to others. You may think that you know what they are going through, but unless you have lived it, you have no idea. If you used to see a lot of a friend, and you don’t anymore, reach out to them… They could be dealing with more than you know but don’t want to burden you with their problems. Especially your mom friends, you know we all try to keep it together for fear of being judged! Well I am here to tell you, this MOM is falling apart! This mom is without one of her kids at home, there is no cure for this illness that my daughter is suffering from. She will always suffer from this, but with therapy and support she can be a survivor instead of a statistic!

*I did ask my daughter if I could share her story, and she is okay with it.

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Emma, Madisyn, Third Family

Madisyn & Emma’s Bedroom Makeovers!

We have been in our house for 2 years and we had not painted a single wall. Well that changed this past week!

Madisyn – Before

Let’s start with Madisyn’s room. I began by removing her bed and going through all of the extra ‘stuff’. Her closet was just packed full of clothes she never wears and clothes she isn’t going to grow into for a few years, so needless to say, we downsized. I ended up getting rid of quite a bit of things she just didn’t use. Because let’s face it her 3 favorite things to do in her room are:

  1. Playing school games on her iPad with her friends.
  2. Making and playing with slime.
  3. Playing with Rylee, her guinea pig.

She has been begging for a new bed for a few years now. So we finally decided to take her to Rooms To Go. She chose this one in white, and I absolutely LOVE it! Her need for order and open space was what she put first when searching for the perfect bed, she is definitely her mommy’s daughter! The steps have drawers so she no longer needs a dresser AND it has a built in desk, awesome, right?!?!

Emma – Before

Emma’s room was even more cluttered and messy! Typical teenager’s room *insert eye roll*. She had a whole mish-mosh of decor, stuff she’s collected and just randomness. It took a little longer to de-clutter since she’s more of, what my grandmother would call a ‘pack rat’. Like me she gets bored with the same decor and set up in her room, but we both agreed minimizing the ‘stuff’ and maximizing the ‘space’ would make her feel more grounded. Those that know Emma, know she needs minimal distractions and structure to help with her anxiety.

Madisyn’s room was a bright pink color on EVERY wall, which may work for some people and I love pink, but only as an accent color. Emma’s walls were 2 different colors – 2 walls were baby blue and 2 were a pale yellow. Neither girls were happy with their current colors and I thought about giving them a choice for the walls, but honestly I prefer letting them pick a ‘theme’ for decor on one wall. When we were getting our Palm Bay house ready to sell, I really enjoyed the Greige color that Behr offers at Home Depot. It goes with everything and just looks so clean and sleek! And it is a color that will work in any room.

Normally I really try to get any project I start finished in one day. I get really anxious knowing that there are things out of place. But I am proud to say that we began the process on Saturday after a long morning at volleyball and ended the process last night. So all in all it took us 5 days to complete 2 bedroom renovations. I also added the kids bathroom and then the Master Water Closet (check out my 3rdMomof3 Facebook page to see those transformations) in those days because, well I’m crazy, so my hubby says! It kept me occupied while I waited for the girls beds to be delivered. The girls helped dad and I paint their respective rooms. We only had one mishap, when Madisyn (accidentally) decided to paint an outlet (her roller slipped) and caused the power to go out in her room. Thankfully daddy came to the rescue and changed the outlet!

Madisyn’s bed was delivered on Tuesday so we were able to complete her room first. Originally both beds were supposed to arrive the same day. But I am kind of glad Emma’s was delayed by a day. For Madisyn’s ‘themed’ wall she chose, you guessed it, Volleyball! We call it her VolleyWall! We originally weren’t going to purchase a new bed for Emma, because she has gotten a ‘new to her’ bed since we moved. However, I had a plan in my head to give her more space and also give her sort of a ‘quiet haven’. I decided to get her an inexpensive loft bed. We didn’t want to make a major purchase, because since she’s growing like her brother she will grow out of a twin bed in a few years. She was super excited to pick her themed wall. My Hero Academia and other Anime shows are her passion right now! So, obviously, this was her theme. It’s so awesome that she has her own little space, under her bed where she can cuddle with her dog and read all of her books. We will add her Magic Curtain posters from all of her plays once I get all matching frames, but she really didn’t want a whole lot on her walls.

Overall, I am so pleased with how their rooms turned out! I’m going to add more photos to my Facebook Page. These are just the before and after of the whole room! Let me know what you think!!!

More renovations to come in the near future!

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Amber, Emma, Madisyn, Third Family, Will

Only Child vs Multiple Children

How many kids should you have?

“You should only have one, kids are expensive.” “You should give your child a sibling, or they will grow up socially awkward.” “You have a boy and a girl? You should stop now.” “You have all girls, are you going to try for a boy?” These are the obnoxious questions/comments that we as parents hear all the time. But does anyone ask the kids how they feel? Well, I decided that I would get their take on living in an only child vs multiple children household.

What is it like being in a household where there are multiple children? I asked my 3 kiddos the same 5 questions and here is the feedback they gave me…

Emma, Madisyn, & Will
  1. Do you like having siblings? Why/Why not? W – “Yeah, I guess. Because it’s not always quiet.” E – “Yes, because I’m never bored.” M – “Sometimes, sometimes they only want to talk to their friends.”
  2. Do you ever wish you were an only child? Why/Why not? W – “Sometimes, (in typical teenage fashion) I don’t know why.” E – “Sometimes, because the arguing and fighting is stressful!” M – “Sometimes, because I would get more time with you and because it would be less expensive…” (my very logical thinker!)
  3. Why do you think your parents had multiple children? W – “I don’t know. That’s weird, I don’t know how to answer that!” lol! E – “So you and daddy would never be alone.” M – “I know this, cause you told me, it’s because you wanted one boy and one girl. And then you wanted 2 girls because you never had a sister and you wanted Emma to have a sister.”
  4. What is the best part about having siblings? W – “There is always someone to do something with if I get bored.” E – “I get to spend time with them whenever I want.” M – “I’m never alone. When we take vacations or if you/daddy or my friends are busy, I have someone there.”
  5. What is the worst part about having siblings? W – “The arguing.” E – “We don’t always agree and we argue.” M – “Sometimes they are annoying (I include myself in this, lol) and they only want to spend time with their friends.”

So as you can see there were multiple times that they gave pretty much the same answers. Even though they argue and fight this shows me that they are all 3 more alike than they care to admit sometimes.

What about the other side? If you have siblings there has probably been a time in your life that you’ve thought about what life would be like in an only child household? I know I have, so I decided to get answers from someone (well, the only person I know) that is an only child. When I asked my niece, Amber if she wanted to be interviewed for a blog post she said “Yes! Of course. I’d love to!”

Amber
  1. Do you like being an only child? Why/Why not? “I do because I have no siblings to argue with. But I like being near you guys cause I can hang out with them and send them home or I get to go home.”
  2. Do you ever wish you had siblings? Why/Why not? “When I was younger I did because I would get bored.”
  3. Do you consider yourself spoiled because you are an only child? “Yeah, especially by my grandma cause the other 2 grandkids are older.”
  4. Why do you think your parents only had one child? “I actually know the answer to this! Because of all of the issues I had when I was born and when I was a baby. They didn’t want to put themselves though that again.”
  5. What is the best part about having siblings? “Well, this is kinda the best and worst part… getting all of the attention from my parents. Best part – They are always there… Worst part – They are always there…” lol
  6. What do people assume about you because you are an only child? “That I am very spoiled.”

So you see, there really are pros and cons to each side of the debate about what is better… Having an only child or having multiple children.

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Third Family

SAHM… Is it a REAL ‘job’?

My journey of being a stay at home mom began 9 years ago. I was working full time, 50-60+ hours a week. My husband worked from home and I was becoming resentful. Resentful because he was watching our kids grow up. Resentful because he was able to be involved at school. Resentful because I didn’t know my kids as well as he did and the only time I really spent with them was bedtime & the weekends.

One night I finally just poured out my heart to my husband. I finally just let him know all the things that I was feeling and do you know what he did?!? He wrapped his arms around me and just said to me ‘Give your notice at work, we will figure it out’! I just broke down… was this going to become a reality? Was I really going to be able to spend all my time with my kiddos?

The next day I went into work and gave my 2-week notice. Even though I was so excited, I was also super nervous! I have been working since I was 15 and I always enjoyed working but ever since my oldest was born I knew my ultimate goal was to one day stay home and spend my days with my kids. I went full force into the stay-at-home-mom role! Throughout the years I have been the room mom, the PTA/PTO mom, the team mom, etc.

So, is being a SAHM a REAL ‘job’? I have been told NO! Since all 3 of my kids are in school all day, I’ve gotta be just sitting home and watching tv all day, right? “You don’t ‘work'”… “It isn’t hard”… “Your kids are older so you don’t have to do anything for them”… “All you do is hang out with your friends during the day and go to Starbucks”… Just to name a few things that I have been told! Yes, people have actually said these and much more to me! Well, in all of the jobs I have ever had, none has a schedule like this one!

My day starts at 6:00 am. I get my oldest up and out the door for school (yes, I wake him up, yes I know he is old enough to get himself up, but I remember how hard it was for me to wake up in the mornings, so I don’t mind). Then my youngest gets up at 7:00-7:30 to get ready for school (she is a morning person most days so this isn’t really a struggle), I take her to school at 8:15. I am back home by 8:30 to shower, get ready, and get my middle schooler up, then we head to her school at 9:00. And once all 3 kids are at school, this is when I make my Starbucks run, the one thing that gets me through my morning is my Starbucks Refresher, so yummy!

Once I get home I begin my cleaning routine. I do, at the minimum, 2 loads of laundry a day, I clean the bathrooms 4-5 times a week (teenage boy, need I say more? lol), the kitchen is the center of our house, so that gets cleaned 3-4 times a day, the hardwood floors get vacuumed daily (we have 3 dogs, that shed… A LOT!), the carpet gets vacuumed at least twice a week, once a week I deep clean the kids bedrooms (they clean them throughout the week, but I like to do a deep clean just for my sanity), all of this takes like 2-3 hours (sometimes more, depending on the day and how my cleaning OCD is that day). Ok, so now my day is done right? Uhm, nope! I get started on organizing our calendar, go through emails (so many emails… school, sports, etc), and now working on my blog.

The momi-van pulls out of the driveway at 2:50 to pick up the youngest kiddo from school. Thankfully the oldest’s school is super close to our house so he usually walks home, unless he has 2 1/2-3 hours of soccer practice, then we will pick him up at 5ish. At 4:00 the middle schooler gets picked up. Dinner gets made by me on nights that we don’t have sports or other activities, the other nights everyone has to make their own dinner. The nights that we do have sports/activities I am back in the car again, to football games, soccer games, etc. On Thursdays I take Madisyn & her friend to volleyball, thank goodness for moms that carpool! Some days there are field trips, class parties, sports games, theater plays, errands that need to be taken care of, on top of the daily to do’s.

I know there are moms that work from home, work outside the home, and still do some of these things that I do daily. But stay-at-home moms (& dads) don’t seem to get the same respect because society doesn’t see it as a REAL ‘job’. Just because you don’t get a paycheck doesn’t mean you don’t work.

So, is being a SAHM a REAL ‘job’? ABSOLUTELY!!! It is the hardest and most rewarding JOB I have ever had!

*Side note – I am very grateful that I have a husband that works from home so I do have help with the kids, if I have to ‘call in sick’ or can’t be in 2 places at once.*

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Emma

“Don’t Judge Me”

In a world where everyone has an opinion and judgement about everything, how do you survive as a special needs parent?

“Don’t Judge Me!”

I use this phrase A LOT! Most of the time I just quietly say it to myself… Other times I wait until I am alone and I scream these 3 little words! Why do we judge each other so harshly? I’ve been on the other side, I have caught myself saying ‘why can’t they make that child listen?’ or ‘if my child did that I would do this!’ Why can’t we as a society help each other? Even if it’s just a knowing nod, or a smile saying ‘I get it!’.

My daughter, Emma, has suffered severe trauma at the hands of another child and has encountered many bullies, both children and adults. She has been diagnosed with ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder, she’s on the verge of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, among other things she has going on. She also has an IEP at school. It’s not as extensive as it used to be, but she will still need some help all throughout school.

(A little bit of a backstory as far as school goes)

At her previous school she did not get the help that she needed, and unfortunately that caused her to fall further behind. However, since she has been at Avalon Elementary she has flourished! Last year, her 4th grade year, she finished with 2 A’s & 2 B’s! This girl had NEVER gotten an A before attending AES! She has had phenomenal teachers and they make sure that she succeeds! This year she has learned so much and is starting to have confidence in herself with her schoolwork. I have cried many many positive tears in the last year & a half because she has grown so much as a student! I never thought that was possible, as we were told that it would be unlikely that she would ever be on grade level. As a mom, that judgement devastated me! I have had some of her teachers and administrators from AES tell me how upset that they have been because the other school(s) held her back from reaching her potential… All because they didn’t want to deal with or didn’t understand her disabilities. Emma has said to me ‘Why do people judge me? Why don’t they understand that everyone isn’t the same?’. I wish I had an answer for her, except ‘people are just mean and opinionated sometimes’

Emma has daily struggles with expressing her emotions. She has the biggest heart of anyone that I know. I love that about her! Even with a big heart she still gets angry, frustrated, flustered, etc. Unfortunately, her most substantial obstacle is, expressing those emotions in an appropriate way. It makes me so sad when I see other parents judging her when she gets upset. All they see is this perfectly ‘normal’ looking 12 year old that towers over others her age showing emotion that most adults have trouble expressing! She gets angry and reacts, this is when I have to remove her from the situation so that she can collect herself and once she has a ‘time out’ she realizes that she should react in an appropriate manner. With Emma’s problem solving skills she operates as a younger child. I will say, though, since we have been living in Avalon her anxiety has gotten so much better.

Is Social Anxiety Disorder real?

Absolutely!!! Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Can you see a migraine? How about PMS? No, a person can tell you their symptoms but you can’t actually walk up to a woman and tell that she has PMS! So as a society we need to STOP judging others! We need to build a support system for each other and allow a safe place for other moms that are at their wits end or that just need to vent can do so! We hold everything in because we are afraid of the judgement! I’m tired of holding it in, sometimes being a mom is hard, sometimes it’s just downright unbearable! Most of the time it’s the most rewarding part of my life but there are times where I just sit in my room and cry.

(This is a time that I am afraid of judgement but I have to be completely transparent and honest with this topic) Sometimes I wish that her disabilities were more noticeable when you look at her. Maybe then other kids and especially adults wouldn’t judge her, or me! It is so hard to be out in public at an event or in a store and she has a ‘meltdown’. Not because I can’t handle the meltdown, because I have gotten better at figuring out what needs to happen, but because of the stares. I know what their thoughts are ‘That child is nothing but a problem”, “That mom has no clue what she’s doing”, “That child is just a brat”, I could keep going! I know these are their thoughts because people have actually said these things to me, or even worse, to Emma! I just look at them and say (the times that I don’t break down in tears) “You don’t know her story!!!” Even people that have known her for years judge me and judge her, those people are not involved in our everyday lives. I have learned to keep my circle small and only include those that I truly trust.

In closing, I want to say to those mommas that can’t see past this tantrum or this meltdown, or this days judgement from others… it gets BETTER! Emma has come so much further along than any of us ever thought possible! We have so many people to thank for her accomplishments and those people chose to help and guide her instead of judge her! The incredible administration at her school helps her find ways to deal with peer situations without judging her! She gets good grades at school, because her teachers believe in her and do not judge her! She has the most amazing Choir Director/Music Teacher that has taken her under her wing and has encouraged her to strive to do her best and does not judge her! Her ESE teacher saw such potential in her and introduced her to Magic Curtain which she loves and didn’t judge her! The director of each play she has done has helped her and been so patient with her and didn’t judge her! There are countless others that have continued to help my little girl see that she is extraordinary!

So see everyone, if we help others and not judge them we can help them reach their potential!

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Emma, Madisyn, Mark, Third Family, Will

Embracing the Chaos

Welcome! My name is Candace. I am a mother and wife. This is our journey… our chaotic and enjoyable odyssey!

Follow along as I begin this adventure in sharing our chaos. Normally I just post random things and small blips on Facebook or Instagram. However, some things need a more elaborate post. I have started and failed at keeping my blogs up to date a few times now. Nonetheless, I am prepared to do at least 3 posts a week. Sometimes I will add more, but I’m striving for at least 3. Three seems to be our magic number: 3 kids, 3 dogs, Third as our last name, etc.

One of the reasons I have struggled with my blogs before is my fear of not having anything to say that will make a difference. Lately, however, I have realized that the everyday chaos in our household (the positive and negative chaos) can be informative and helpful. If nothing else, but to show other moms that you aren’t alone. From struggles with a teenager, a tween-ager, a child with special needs and their daily endeavors, etc, to the unexpected food fights, the kids events, community events. I may even include some reviews here and there of restaurants, events, and many other things. I have a lot to say and can’t wait to share my adventures with you.

I have always had a fear of others reading what I write and judging me. But I have realized that this is me! This is my life and I am here to embrace the chaos!