Embracing Big Changes in Life

At the end of October, I wrote about the prospect of losing Lytton to a mysterious illness. I had hoped to get more time with him as we thought we had a few options to manage his health. But towards the end of November, we had to do the compassionate thing and end his suffering. I learned a lot about embracing big changes in life during that time.

While I consider myself fortunate to have a few weeks to prepare for it, I am still in shock over the quickness he went from healthy to terminally ill. From the first sign of his illness to when we said goodbye was a month and a half. I prepared, but it’s hard to move that fast for such a substantial change.

Yet, significant life changes happen all the time. Our diagnosis. Buying a house. Losing a loved one. Finding someone new to love. The changes discussed in this post are the ones completely out of our control.

Change happens. Sometimes we can prepare ourselves for it, but often we cannot. What we can do is take the time to embrace the change. Regardless of whether you consider the change positive or negative, it’s going to happen regardless of your wishes. Rather than fight it, we find a way to work through it.

How Can Change Help You?

Change can help us, even if it’s unwelcome. I don’t know when I will reach the point where I can sincerely say losing Lytton helped me. Each day, I go through all the stages of grief as I try to move through my new normal.

Yet, I admit that losing him tested the effectiveness of the wellness journey I’ve made over the past few years. I did not need the confirmation that it works. But, the fact that I still haven’t experienced an exacerbation is proof that I am managing healthily. 

Lytton’s death reminded me of the impermanence of life. I pushed death to the back of my mind as something that happens to other people but hasn’t touched me. With that attitude, I did not appreciate everyone around me in the way I do now. I recognize that anyone can leave me permanently, with no explanation. 

Finally, it reminded me that change happens, and I can get through it. The last time I experienced a “negative” life shift was after my diagnosis, almost seven years ago. I regrouped and was eventually able to move forward. 

Change, whether it’s good or bad, can help you discover essential things:

  1. The importance of taking time for yourself. If you experience a life change, negative or positive, take some time to sit with it. 
  2. Self-care, again. The further I get into life, the more confirmation I get surrounding the importance of self-care. Self-care can be in celebration or to help calm oneself after the change.
  3. How resilient we are and why finding ways to adapt is essential. While we must accept an uncontrollable change, we don’t have to roll over. We can find ways to adapt and adjust to change. 
  4. Appreciate life before, during, and after the change. We can recognize what we had before, find ways to enjoy life as it is, and understand what life might be in the future.
  5. Finding the positive in the negative. It might take some time, but there’s always a silver lining even in the negative changes. You might find comfort knowing what’s going on with you, be at peace because a person no longer suffers, or allowed to try a new career opportunity.

Embracing Big Life Changes

The key, I’ve found, is to lean into the uncontrollable changes for better or for worse. There are some changes we can fight for, opportunities we can pursue even if the door keeps shutting. But often, significant changes are out of our hands. We cannot prevent the new direction our life goes in, so we can accept the outcome and find ways to adapt.

The first step is acceptance and embracing the big changes. Finding ways to adapt follow closely behind.

For me, while I would love to run out and find a Bombay kitten similar to Lytton, I am learning to reconnect with our other two cats as a form of acceptance. Lytton was such a significant presence in our household that often, the other two cats functioned like roommates we cared and fed. I am spending more time with them, whether they appreciate it or not, and loving on them.

After my diagnosis, I fought the information, choosing to be ignorant of my MS because it was too painful to acknowledge. Behaving this way did not improve my quality of life. But once I took steps to accept and adapt my reality, I found greater satisfaction with everything.

If there are negative feelings associated with significant life changes, it’s hard to accept and adapt, especially in what we feel is a timely manner. Remember to honor your timetable, but be open to acceptance as your goal once you’ve finished mourning (death or health change). 

Big changes are going to happen in life. We have two options when encountering change: embrace it or reject it. When we embrace the change, it allows us to heal and move forward. When we reject it, it can prolong our dissatisfaction and cause stress.

In the end, the decision is ours how we deal with change.


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Toddler Life Lessons

This post was originally published August 2018.


Toddlers are too young to understand deep, philosophical lessons. They are too young to understand moral quandaries. They are too young to really grasp right from wrong.

As parents, we know that just because they can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught. I feel like this is a “no, duh” moment many parents are saying to themselves right now.

Yet an issue I run into as I parent Jai with Ash is knowing what lessons to teach and how best to teach them. Questions I ask myself on a daily basis: is this something worth correcting Jai on? How do I correct him, with a warning or straight to time out? Should I follow the mainstream recommendation or go with my instinct?

A mentor once told me years ago, well before I met Ash, that you are never truly prepared to have a child. So if you want to have one, you have to just jump in and learn as you go. It won’t be easy, but the payoff will be worth it in the end when you have a functioning, well-adjusted adult that wants to have a relationship with you after they’ve moved out of the house.

But in order to achieve this, I have to begin training Jai to be polite, thoughtful, a good listener, able to share, and comfortable with adults as a toddler. The list is a bit longer than that, but those are the main concerns I have on a daily basis with a toddler.

As I am training Jai, I have to be mindful of several things: I’m an adult, what battles to pick and being humble throughout the whole experience.

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Final Thoughts: Home Life and Early Childhood Education

August was a fun and interesting month.

I did a lot of heavy lifting this month with my writing: talking about toxic friendships and how I dealt with them, and the importance of teaching toddler’s life lessons. I am ready for a three day weekend after all this writing!

I enjoyed the research I did for literacy and reading Peter Gray’s book Free to LearnI hope if you haven’t had a chance to yet, that you can check out the printables I made for cleaning and scheduling. I still need to make some tweaks to my daily schedule, but I am almost to a great place in my personal productivity.

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful weekend and here’s to the first month of the fall, September! Can you smell the pumpkin spice already?


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Featured illustration credit: Michelle Melton Photography


Early Childhood Education Blogs

For any parent wanting to teach their toddler at home, an essential resource is the variety of education blogs on the internet.

Twenty years ago it would be a trip to the bookstore to find a book among whatever the store had to offer. The publisher would vet a resource before printing to ensure the information was accurate and achieved a specific goal. Now we can search what we might need/want on our phone within seconds because anybody can put anything out there.

Therefore, finding a reputable resource can be difficult. Some blogs use tactics to shoot up to the top of the search results, which means that just because it’s on the front page of your favorite search engine doesn’t mean it is a quality resource to use. Often you have to dig to find meaningful results.

Not all parents go to school for early childhood education, so we aren’t familiar with the milestones necessary to teach before preschool. The researcher training I received means that I know that I can’t stop at the first set of results. I need to be sure whatever information I walk away with is credible.

I don’t want to be teaching him incorrectly or placing an expectation on him before he’s cognitively ready because the blog has their months/priorities wrong.

What you’ll find below are some tips for vetting your research to determine if a blog is worth following or if they are spreading misinformation. Operating under the belief a child should be learning something before they are ready can make the task of preparing them for school frustrating.

How to Vet a Blog

There are several steps I follow to determine if a blog or article is credible, especially if it’s on a topic I am unfamiliar with, like childhood education. Many of these suggestions seem like common sense. Still, even I’ve been guilty of skipping a step or two, only to find a resource isn’t credible later.

Pre-Research Steps

  • Go to the experts first. Determine what your national standards for a particular age and their recommendations are. I find these sites can be a bit stuffy for their ideas, which is why I branch out into the wilds of the internet.
  • Decide what you are looking for: activities or material for teaching.
    • Activities do not need as much vetting. Before you start the project, you can determine if it will be age-appropriate or doable.
    • Material for teaching is where it gets dodgy. If your child is interested in Space, you may find that you stumble upon a set of blogs that advocate for alternative theories on planet shapes. Even the ones that promote mainstream ideas may have incorrect facts that you inadvertently teach your little ones. 

Vetting a non-scholarly/non-expert blog

  1. Search for the activity or material you want to do with your little one. Read the blurbs underneath the site header on the search page to determine what the site will offer before you click on the link.
  2. Once you click on the site, make the following observations. These are all meant to help you determine the resource’s motivation for getting you to visit their page:
    1. What is at the end of the domain address? Is it a “.com,” “.edu,” or something else? My blog is a “.blog” for reference. This observation will determine the type of site you are visiting. Anything that isn’t .edu/.gov/.org (though .org can be problematic at times) means that the site is commercially run. It doesn’t mean they aren’t an expert, just that they may have other motives to draw you to their website ($$$).
    2. What do you see when you first visit the site? Are you met with pop-ups to join a newsletter? A bunch of ads (if you don’t use ad block)? Cluttered layout? None of these are bad on their own, because they earn the blogger money. Still, it helps you determine their monetary motivation. If you have to join a newsletter to get the resource, the blogger may spam you or try to sell you something.
    3. Is the resource sponsored? Many bloggers who want to remain reputable will disclose the sponsored post. If the post is sponsored, is it a company you are familiar with? If it isn’t, again, not a bad thing, but you may want to do a more thorough check to determine if the product is worth getting or if you’re going with an analog. If the blogger does not disclose sponsorship, but it is clear that’s what is happening, then consider finding another resource.
    4. Check to see if there is a clear bias on the page: this can be a belief system, lifestyle, or product recommendation. Again, none of these are bad, but it might affect the material or activity you want for your little one. It is just something to be aware of as you set it up/do your research.
  3. Check the length of the post. Quantity doesn’t mean quality, but I do find there is a healthy balance in some of my favorite resources. If a post has too many pictures before getting to a very short blurb on the activity, I am less likely to stay and use that specific resource. Likewise, if the post is too short, and I need more information, I’m going to go elsewhere.
  4. Does the information match up with the pre-research you did on the actual expert blogs? If not, but it looks like something you could use later, it would be worth bookmarking until then. But be mindful of all the other information posted on the blog.
  5. See if they link out to other resources within the post, especially if you are looking for teaching information. I try to link out to other blogs/resources as much as I can to demonstrate my ethos and commitment to quality blogging. This isn’t super important to your vetting process, but it may mean that they are a blog worth following for future ideas.

It may seem like a lot of steps to go through to determine a blog’s relevancy, but it’s worth it because it can weed out the bad information. Many blogs you stumble upon on the first page of a search are there because they deserve to be, but sometimes you manage to get a less reputable one in the mix.

Below are my current recommendations for some favorite childhood education blogs.

I was not compensated in any way to include these blogs. These are purely my recommendations from my research and experience.

Expert Blogs (US Only)

How to Teach Toddlers at Home

Preparing Toddlers for Preschool

Fun Educational Activities to do at Home

What are some of your favorite bloggers out there? I am always looking for more recommendations to add to my reading list. Leave a link to your blog (or someone else’s) in the comments.


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Month of Summer Fun

July is one of my favorite months because it is the quintessential representation of summer. Now that July is winding down, it doesn’t mean that summer is coming to an end, in fact, there are so many more wonderful opportunities to celebrate the season.

Reflecting back on this month, I really enjoyed talking about my favorite things: blogs to read, berry-picking trips, and preparing for the babysitter so mommy and daddy can go out for the day. We have a lot more library days planned and Jai still loves playing with his pigeon bath toy we made earlier this month.

In keeping with the season, for August I will be discussing homelife and early childhood education. I can’t believe it’s almost time for school, but that means less crowded trips to the local sites for Jai and me. We’re hoping to go to the zoo for the first time which will have a lot of fun learning opportunities.

What is your favorite summertime activity that I didn’t cover in this month’s theme? Comment with your thoughts and share your stories.


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