Saturday, November 30, 2013

16 Years Later, An Unexpected Ride But A Happy Life Just The Same.


Sixteen years ago on November 30th, I was an excited bride ready to walk down the aisle to a man whose character and heart had exceeded all the things I had hoped for and asked God to bring me.
When Allan and I started our marriage we thought  that our time was our own, that there would be time to think and dream together, and that we would enjoy the "better, richer and in health" parts of the vows we took.  But somewhere along the way, expectations collide with real life and our hopes and dreams give way to hindrances and obstacles that begin to make marriage hard. We never thought it could happen to us. But it did, and we are now among those who deal with the daily stress of caring for a special needs child, finding ourselves disappointed and discouraged at times. But, I have a truth for you:  the love I have for my husband today has more depth, more strength, and more trust than it did the day we made our vows to one another.  That love has had some days and nights that tested it, but we’ve chosen to keep loving each other during some times when we didn’t feel all those warm, mushy feelings.

Sixteen years later, we know that marriage isn’t all roses and happy feelings.  It doesn’t always feel like it did that day sixteen years ago.  It feels different, but it’s stronger and it’s better.  I have a deeper respect for him now than I did then.  I have a steadier love for him.

We had an opportunity to leave Natalie at grandma's house last night and Austin was invited to a friend's birthday party. So we decided to celebrate it a day early.  
We were at dinner and we started to reflect on the last 16 years. We have truly grown up together. But through it all we have been so happy. We have so much in common, in that we love to laugh (especially at each other) and we enjoy staying positive. We focus a lot on our children and we value our family.
We talked about our unexpected journey with Natalie. You see, "special needs parents," no matter what our diagnosis is; lack time and energy, we suffer from high levels of frustration and unrelenting stress that can take its toll on a marriage. Marriage has its own difficulties, but with an autism diagnosis, we go beyond the normal struggles. We have extra financial strains resulting from medical costs too.

However, Allan and I understand that we cannot let our child's autism interfere or destroy our marital relationship. Because years of research around the world, shows that 
"the parents' relationship with each other trumps everything else!"  

It was a very special dinner. We talked openly about our feelings emotions and stresses as they relate to the care of Natalie. In times of stress, we tend to keep everything bottled up inside or explode over the slightest disagreement. But last night we shared insights about everything — the good, the bad and the ugly. We took the time to really listen to each other and I found that I love this man so much more than I ever did before. It's amazing, he is amazing. He has such a calm demeanor and a gift for seeing Natalie's challenges as "no big deal." He loves our daughter so much and completely accepts her for who she is--with or without words.  He is so patient and he puts all of his faith in God. I, on the other hand, am not as accepting of Natalie's diagnosis. I still cannot get past it. I still fight through it--every day. But my husband and I provide the perfect balance to each other and I am so thankful for that. 
We respect each other and we never blame each other -- we only support one another.
You see, we understand that a meaningful, beautiful life together, and a good and growing marriage, do not have to end with a child's diagnosis of disability. We have had to learn to lean often and hard on God's promises 
  For better or worse really does means for better or worse.  The challenges of raising an autistic child can become a blessing because we are in it together and we are a team. We make time to communicate about schedules, feelings and needs. We have to deal honestly with our frustrations. We get assistance and support and we seek help quickly and we take time for each other. We have learned that a strong marriage is essential. Without it, caring for our daughter is that much more difficult and challenging. 

So Happy Anniversary darling! Thanks for being on this ride with me, being my partner in parenting, and putting up with all my antics and whims!
I Love You
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. This week has been so challenging and I have found it difficult to feel thankful. 

My daughter has autism and she struggles to communicate...Can I be thankful for that? She has meltdowns and I can't figure out why, because she can't tell me...Can I be thankful for that? She is 3 years old and never said the words "I Love You..." Can I be thankful for that? 

I apologize, because personally, I am a big believer in looking for the silver lining in every situation. And in searching for the good. But this week has brought more challenges than I was ready for. I questioned myself as a mother and my ability to be everything that Natalie needs me to be...Will I be strong enough for the challenges that are yet to come? I have felt so much despair this week. As much as I have tried to stay optimistic, it has been more than difficult.

However, I really feel that I must stay positive and be happy and despite my sadness this week, I know that there is a lot to be thankful for. I cannot allow hard times to overshadow all the good. My kids need this from me, my husband needs this from me and I need this for myself. So, {sigh} as Thanksgiving approaches I want to focus my heart on gratitude to God, I can not allow myself to forget the simple everyday moments where we taste His goodness.The moments in the mundane events of our day where we enjoy time spent with those He has placed in our lives. The laughter shared around a table. The phone call from a friend. The encouraging word from a co-worker.

Life can be hard and times are tough for so many. Uncertainty and fears grip our hearts and steal our joy. But even in the midst of hard times, I do believe that we can always find something good in our lives to be thankful for.

I am so thankful that Thanksgiving will be celebrated in my home and that I will be surrounded by my loved ones. I am so thankful that I have my mom doing her wonderful cooking. I am thankful that I have an amazing husband and 2 great children. I am thankful for God and all the wealth He has given me.

My prayer for all of us at Thanksgiving is that we will be found with gratitude in our hearts and a song of praise on our lips.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18: Thankful for Memories

Today, I am so thankful for my memories. After all, memories make your life meaningful. I am especially fond of the memories I have of my paternal grandfather, who passed away about 12 years ago and my maternal grandmother, who passed away 3 years ago.

I only spent the first 5 years of my life with my grandfather. He chose to stay behind, 
when my parents migrated to the U.S.
Although we did not have a lot of time together, the memories we created will last a lifetime. I think about him every day. He was incredibly kind, caring, loving and giving. He enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and he loved them ALL the same. He was an amazing support to my parents and never said "No" He was always there for us. He made us laugh, he took us to the park, the aquarium and he introduced us to God.  My fondest memory of him was when he would take me to the park and push me on the swing. It felt so heavenly to have the wind going through my hair and I felt like I could stay forever. My sweet grandpa would swing me for as long as he could. When he was ready to go, I was never upset, because he would keep me there for so long that I felt completely satisfied with the moment. I keep a picture of the two of us in my jewelry box and I smile at him every time I open it. 

Thank you "Abuelo" I will always love you and cherish our memories.

My grandmother was the most amazing cook! and she was so beautiful (inside and out). She adored her grandchildren and great grandchildren and gave so much of herself to each of us. I can honestly say that we (her grand kids) are all better today because she was in our life.
My fondest memory of her was when I got to spend my summers at her house and help her make ham and chicken croquetas (Spanish name for Croquette,  a small bread-crumbed fried food roll). They were so yummy and I enjoyed watching her make these from scratch. We would make so many of them and she would package them and freeze them. The next day we would take the bus to Downtown Miami where we would visit my cousin, Alicia, at her workplace (a bank). There, my grandmother would sell all the croquetas we made the day before (except for the secret batch she reserved for us back home). The tellers and all bank personnel would be so excited about them. They really appreciated her cooking and I felt such pride. Sometimes we would go and have lunch with my cousin and I really enjoyed that too. After lunch my grandma would take me to all the jewelry stores and we had so much fun looking at all the pretty necklaces and earrings and trying them on. I was so blessed to have so many wonderful moments with her. 

"Abuela", You were such an important part of my life
I am so thankful for your love and the time you dedicated to me.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17: Thankful for Hope

Hope always has a way of finding its way into our lives when we need it the most. 

Life is not always sunshine and flowers. There are some bad days, days when you witness things that make you cry and feel insecure. Life is so different when looking at it through the Autism window and there are times when I feel helpless and angry that autism has resulted in a life that is much different than I had planned. 

But I have also experience feelings of hope as Natalie begins to make progress, and for this, I am so thankful.

Natalie gives me hope when she dances, she gives me hope in her smiles, she reminds me that there is hope with every new word she speaks and with every kiss that she gives me. She is a constant reminder of hope and I am so blessed to have that. Because whenever I do feel hopeless and sad, I don't have to go very far...I look at this face, 

at this bundle of joy and love...

and I am reminded, that hope is never lost.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16: Thankful for Toys & Imagination

Today I am thankful for Toys and Imagination. Toys and stuffed animals represent so much to our children. And we, as parents, get to take part in creating their life stories and all the memories that will be attached for years to come.

I love to see Natalie engaged in imaginative play. This is something that she was not doing before. But through ABA therapy and pre schooling Natalie has mastered imaginative play. She loves it when we put on our matching aprons and play in her kitchen. We get some uncooked pasta and fill up her play pans with a little water and we pretend to cook and mix and taste all kinds of goodies. We even play with flour and add a little water and mix it up in her play mixer. Yes, it does get a little messy (Okay, a lot messy) but after praying that your child engages in imaginative play and you hear therapists tell you that most kids who learn to use their imaginations eventually talk and those who never use imaginative play never learn to appreciate these milestones and celebrate them immensely. Who cares about the mess--I say, bring it on!

In fact, this has become one of my favorite parts of parenting – living out my own imagination and creativity to help build that of my daughter.

Toys and stuffed animals represent so much to our children. And we, as parents, get to take part in creating their life stories and all the memories that will be attached for years to come.
We have many years ahead of us reliving our own excitement baking cookies and waiting for Santa, finding eggs from the Easter Bunny and remembering to put teeth under pillows for the Tooth Fairy.
If nothing else, creating names and stories helps Allan and I to break away from the stressfulness of being the responsible adults. In a way, it helps us to maintain our sanity by having a little imaginary fun.
Natalie will grow out of the time of make believe one day, but my hope is that she will create long-lasting memories, as I did when I was a child, and always remember the comfort she had in her fluffy companions.
But for now, I will continue to foster her imagination and cherish the moments of her babbling her own stories and then holding tight to her stuffed animals, and play horses and dolls, while she drifts off to sleep.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 15: Thankful for Photography

Today, I am thankful for photography. Photographs matter because they freeze moments of our lives. Moments which sometimes may seem  of little importance to us but will be of great significance to others who search for the person we once were or the places we once knew. We may not think of it at that moment, but photographs will outlive us and will mean a lot to our great great grandchildren when they discover us frozen in that time. They can be small pieces of a puzzle that complete the larger picture of our lives. 

Photographs allow us to preserve the important moments and people in our lives. The ceremonies of birth and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, holidays and new houses are all recorded because they matter. Photographs personal stories, a timeline of our lives filled with faces and places that we love. They are our story, which we can share with others.

As a mother, I genuinely enjoy documenting my children's adventures. I love capturing all the moments, milestones and the every day. But I'm not the one usually taking the pictures. I have to thank my husband for that. He is so good about snapping these moments
and documenting everything with his camera. He never complains (even though I drive him crazy) about me telling him when and where to take pictures. He is such a great sport and a great photographer.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14: Thankful for Music

Today I am thankful for Music. I have always loved dancing, but I especially enjoy dancing with my children. When Austin was little, we danced all the time. We looked so goofy, but it made us feel amazing and the laughter never stopped. Today, I mostly dance with Natalie. We giggle like crazy and laugh so much. We love to dance together. Whenever the music starts (and it doesn't matter what type of music) we both jump onto the floor and dance together. She is truly adorable and Austin & Allan enjoy watching us and will join us as well.

Allan plays the guitar and Natalie is his biggest fan. She has been his #1 fan since she was born. She sits and watches him and you can see that she is paying close attention and truly enjoying the sounds coming out of his guitar. It's the sweetest thing and Allan melts every time.

Music is such a powerful thing. It can bring a rush of emotion that can be incredibly intense. Music can bring us so much joy and can also bring us to tears. 
Music moves people from all walks of life.  It can can trigger such profoundly rewarding experiences. 

Here are a few reasons to listen to music:

Experts say listening to music during exercise can give you a better workout in several ways. Scientists claim it can increase your endurance, boost your mood and can distract you from any discomfort experienced during your workout.

Which type of music is best? The best type of music for exercise is thought to be high energy, high tempo music such as hip hop or dance music.

For many people suffering from memory loss the spoken language has become meaningless. Music can help patients remember tunes or songs and get in touch with their history. This is because the part of the brain which processes music is located next to memory. 

Which type of music is best? Research shows that people with memory loss respond best to music of their choice.

Music works on the autonomic nervous system - the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function and also the part of the brain that controls feelings and emotions. According to one piece of research, both these systems react sensitively to music.
When slow rhythms are played, our blood pressure and heartbeat slow down which helps us breathe more slowly, thus reducing muscle tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. And experts say that apart from physical tension, music also reduces psychological tension in our mind.
In other words when we feel pain, we become frightened, frustrated and angry which makes us tense up hundreds of muscles in our back. Listening to music on a regular basis helps our bodies relax physically and mentally, thus helping to relieve - and prevent - back pain

Which type of music is best? Experts believe any type of classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven can help relieve muscle pain. Calm, slow music is also thought to help. 

So there you go...Now get up and dance! 
After all, Music is FUN and motivating!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13: Thankful for Smiles :)

I am so thankful for smiles. I love it when people smile at me and I always feel better when I smile. If I am having a stressful day and I am suddenly met with a smile, I immediately begin to destress.

Natalie and her winning Smile :)

Seeing my children smile instantly makes me happy! Natalie has so many different facial expressions. I wonder what she's thinking about? Being so young who knows but just the fact that she is smiling makes me feel as though I'm doing something right in this life. Seeing a smile on Natalie and Austin's face at least for one brief moment makes me forget about all of the other things in life that have me stressed. I want to do whatever I can to provide as many smiles in their life that I can.
Austin and Cousin = Great Smiles :)

5 reasons to Smile

Here are a few things that we may be interested in knowing about smiling - and perhaps encourage us to smile a bit more!

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive

We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in

2. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

3. Smiling Is Contagious

When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Changes Our Mood

Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress

Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take better able to take action.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 12: Thankful for a Wonderful Husband

“God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.” Max Lucado 

Today I remember, like it was yesterday the day that we took the opportunity to take a journey together. I also remember that many thought it was just puppy love and nothing serious, but it was not, today we are a mature couple, a couple full of high hopes and best of all .... Very happy parents.

Allan, you are a very special man, you're just what I wanted in my life, you're a great blessing ... my friend, my lover. God has blessed us and continues to bless us, God is always in our home thanks to him we can enjoy each other, in the company of our great treasures, our children.
In all this time, we have learned together, we've fallen and we have gotten back up, we've had many achievements, joys and moments that will remain marked forever, those unforgettable moments full of Magic, Joy, Love and some not so happy but that have taught us great lessons.

Thank you honey, for who you are with me, for giving me your love, for being a good Man, Husband and and Excellent Father ... 
I Love You

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 11: Thankful for our Veterans

“I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot.” —Gary Hart

Today is Veteran's Day and I am especially thankful to our true heroes.

Today is a day when we pause and we come together to honor the brave men and women who have worn the uniform of our country. We can never repay them for their sacrifice, but on this day we honor their service and thank them. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your sacrifice. And thanks for defending freedom. I hope that today everyone in the United States gives thanks to a veteran. 
Because we owe them our freedom.

Let us remember that a new generation of Veterans is currently serving overseas and in the line of fire. These men and women are in my prayers and my thoughts. Their heroism and valor is unmatched in the world and deserve our respect and our support. 

GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! and GOD BLESS those who have served and are now serving in our Armed Forces. HAPPY VETERANS DAY to each and everyone.For every one of you veterans out there, no matter when you served, wartime or in peace. 
I thank you from the bottom of my heart
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10: Thankful for Progress!

As this week comes to a close, I must say that it has been a very big week for Natalie and progress! I have always had hope, but this week has proven to be miraculous. 

First, on Wednesday. I picked up Natalie from "abuela's" house. When we got home, I started to play with her and I scooped her up in my arms. She had the biggest smile on her face and looked down at me and we stared at each other (love the eye contact, and that alone is a miracle) she then put her hands over my eyes and said, "eyes." I exclaimed, "Yes, Natalie, EYES!" next, she pointed to my nose and asked, "Nose?" (Now, I am yelling for my husband to come quickly). "Yes, Nose!" Lastly, she puts her hand over my mouth and says, "mouth." and I am in awe, "Mouth! Yes!" and guess what? she has done the same thing with my husband, Austin and her dolls and stuffed animals every night since!

On the next day, Thursday, we were playing with her crayons and I started to count them as I was taking them out of the box. When it was time to clean up, Natalie started to put the crayons back into the box and she SAID, "Two, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten." I lost it! I started to cry! I kept questioning myself, "Did she really just say all those numbers? was I imagining the whole thing? will she do it again?" I started to take the crayons out again and counted, she then started to say it again, "Two, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten." It was beautiful! It was amazing and such a blessing!

I have not been able to get her to say the numbers again since Thursday but I am very hopeful and I think she is progressing so well since she started school.

Just 5 months ago, Natalie had no language, no eye contact and was seemingly unable to follow the simplest of commands, like “come here.” Today, she responds to her name, enjoys giving eye contact and is learning and speaking new words.

So I am incredibly grateful and thankful for her progress!
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 9: Thankful for Weekends!

The best part about weekends is being able to spend the entire day with my husband and my children. I don't get to do very much of that during the week because of work, but on Saturday and Sunday everything is perfect.

It usually starts with me waking up and making pancakes, Pillsbury croissants, bacon and eggs. I accompany that with orange juice and by the time I am halfway done, the family has slowly started to wake up and come downstairs. They can't resist the aroma of yummy breakfast filling the entire house. 


I sit down and I take it all in. I enjoy the sunshine filling the house and my husband and kids sitting at the table enjoying what I just prepared for them. Yes, I am going to enjoy every moment of this weekend. I love my family so much and I am determined to soak every moment with them up and not letting these moments slip away.

Later, we usually go to the park and have Natalie ride the horses. Or we will take her to any local carnival or fair or the mall for the Merry-Go-Round. We try to make it fun for her, and in turn it is fun for all of us.

Here is Natalie (in grey shirt, in front of the two girls) enjoying the small roller coaster.
In the evenings we like to light up the grill and make something delicious!

Family is such an important thing to me and I am grateful for my family and the time that we get to spend together. Being able to spend time with them, getting to know them as they grow older, is such a gift in my life. Nothing can compare to the memories that we have made together and I am thankful for the many more that are still to come.

Happy Thankful Weekend!
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8: Thankful for Actions...when the words won’t come

Have you ever been to Hallmark or any card shop but you just can’t find the right card? When you are looking for a card that is not as simple as a 'Happy Birthday' or ‘Merry Christmas’ or perhaps even a crisis or bereavement. You read the words on the cards but none of them seem to express what you want to say. Perhaps that is why they sell blank cards? But sometimes you just can’t think about what to write. Sometimes words just won’t come... and you think to yourself, 
If I could only just see the person and give them a hug. Then I could show them I care...when the words won’t come.
If this is how I feel as an adult with a vocabulary of thousands of words at my disposal and an understanding of language that allows me to use those words to show meaning, thoughts and emotions, it is no wonder children with limited language and understanding find putting things into words so difficult at times.

Natalie cannot speak. Every now and then, she uses some of her words, "mom" "bye" "gotta go." But mostly the words won't come and so she shows me, through actions, what she wants to say.

If she is hungry, she takes me to the pantry:

She shows me she wants more by outstretching her arms and shows me she likes something by touching it:

She shows me she loves me..even when the words won’t come.

I tell my children all the time that I love them...but I also show them. I tell my husband that I love him, but I also show him, and he shows me as well. And long before we had children, before we even confessed our feelings for each other we had a special moment. Our relationship started with a hug. An embrace that expressed much more than any amount of words.  No words can ever adequately express the feelings and emotions of a first kiss. Almost 16 years later there are still many moments of silent love between my husband and I. When the house is quiet and he sits next to me to rub my back. When I am in a shop and see that gadget or tool he has been eyeing for months and I buy it as a surprise. When we have gone through another day of appointments and stresses and crying...and that smile and hug at the end of the day says more than the inside of any greeting card ever could.
When that smile and the light in the eyes shows love when the words won’t come:

So please share a hug, send flowers, smile and laugh together, praise someone, listen, spend time with people and show them you care. Because actions really do speak louder than words. I know my children love me. Even though Natalie is non verbal it doesn't matter because she shows me…even when the words won’t come.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 7: Thankful for Potty Success!

Allan and I were just getting ready to start potty training Natalie when we received her diagnosis. During the initial evaluations a therapist asked if Natalie was potty trained. I looked down and said, "No, it is something that we were getting ready to start and we will be doing that..." She interrupted and said, "Oh, don't worry about potty training now, she is non verbal, it is difficult and she may not be potty trained until 6 or 8 or more. Don't worry."  Is she kidding me? How dare she assume that Natalie can't be potty trained?  I felt so hurt and angry. For some reason, that became a touchy subject for me. In fact, a few days later, a colleague at work who has a child that is 1 month younger than Natalie, and who did not know about Natalie's diagnosis, asked if we had started to potty train yet. I answered No, but started to cry (a lot) right after. You see, at that moment, all I could do was picture Natalie at 8 years old, still wearing a diaper... and it hurt so bad. Since then we have had several other professionals tell us not to worry about potty training and they all seemed to be comfortable with the fact that Natalie may not accomplish this for a long time...Well, I was not comfortable with that, I was not going to accept that. 
Please understand that I would never push Natalie to do something she is not ready to do. But I wanted to try. After all, if I had not received the diagnosis, I would have been potty training her anyway, she is still the same child she was before Autism came into our life and I wanted to try.

I decided to wait until she started preschool. I spoke to her teacher about it and she suggested I start after 3 weeks of school in order for Natalie to get adjusted to the school routine first. After 3 weeks, I was ready to begin. The teacher suggested that I take her to the potty every 15 minutes and keep her there for one full minute. She asked me to start over the weekend and she would continue during the week at school. That weekend, we took off the diaper and had Natalie in underwear. At first we had very little success. I would take Natalie to the potty and I would say (in a marching band tune) "Potty!, potty! potty!..." all the way to the bathroom. She would get all excited marching into the bathroom. I would sit her down and I would say (again, in a musical tune) "pee-pee, pee-pee, go, go go!" ......and nothing would happen. So we would leave and set up the timer for another 15 minutes. But guess what? she was going in between the 15 minute intervals and as much as I tried to predict when she would need to go, I could not get it right. As soon as she would start to have an accident, I would scoop her up and run all the way to the toilet and sit her down and say, "Pee pee in the potty" Sometimes I made it in time and she would finish on the toilet and I would cheer and dace and give her a high five and we would do a "potty dance." You see, for Natalie, stickers, toys, candy, none of that works as a reward. Instead, all she wants is recognition, she wants to feel proud and make you feel proud of her. She loves the feeling of accomplishment. 
Needless to say that I did a lot of pee pee and poopy cleaning. But by week 2, Natalie had learned a new word, "A-Pee," meaning pee-pee. This was a huge accomplishment and incredibly beneficial! Because I was no longer needing to take her to the bathroom every 15 minutes. Instead, she was running over and grabbing my hand, and saying, "A-Pee, A-Pee." I would take her to the bathroom and she would go every time. Of course she still had some accidents and she had not accomplished the poopy part of it yet. However, every time she pooped on the floor (sorry for the visual) or draw some cool artwork on the walls using poopy finger paint (my apologies again) I would take that poop, we would march to the toilet, we dumped the poop into the water and I would say, "bye-bye poopy!"  
So after 6 weeks of training I am happy to report that, for the last week, Natalie has been accident free and she goes, on her own, to the potty and does both #1 & #2, and she even wipes and flushes all on her own!

Thank You for Potty Success!
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Please help me reach my Goal!