Child-Led Vs. Parent-Led

How much time do you spend with your kids? One-on-one. It’s a genuine question. How much time do you spend play-playing with your kids. [Play-Play Definition for the clarity of this blog post– Child-Led Play. Doing what they want you to do, imaginary games, etc.] I’m torn. I grew up with the generation of parents that spent time with you, but didn’t necessarily Play-Play with you. They might play Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders with you, but that’s different. They didn’t spend an hour or more a day, on the floor playing blocks, playing imaginary games, playing baby dolls, etc. They might help to facilitate your play. They might set up the pool in the backyard, draw a hopscotch for you, set up stuff to draw with, maybe sit with you and draw for a few minutes even. But Play-Play was reserved for you, siblings, schoolmates, cousins, grandparents, etc. Don’t get me wrong, my parents definitely spent time with me, and I always felt loved, but the play was different then. I would have thought it was so silly if my mom came in the play room with me and Play-Played for an extended period of time. Today, the parenting status quo is more about catering to the child. Engaging with them exclusively. Letting them lead the play. It’s difficult for me because I know that I grew up well, but I can’t help but feel selfish if I am not engaged with my kids or I spend too much time to myself, playing a game on my phone, watching a show on Netflix, or reading. Parents get critiqued all the time today for “missing moments”. I have seen multiple articles berating that parent at the park who dared be on their phone when their child was trying to catch their eye on the monkey bars. It is not as acceptable to go to the park and engage in your own business while your child engages in theirs. I’m also not suggesting that we put our children’s safety at risk by being overly absorbed in our activities. Our parents may not have had phones, but adults when I was a kid still had their hobbies that they did instead of “engaging” with us. This was accepted. It was not expected that the parent revolve their life around their child.

What is the balance? One of A’s first phrases was, “play with me” It was cute at first, but then I started to dread it. 25 times a day. After awhile I start to feel guilty with all my excuses. I try to spend time with my kids, but I can’t realistically Play-Play that much with my children. I have constant feelings and thoughts of guilt and selfishness circulating through my head. “Kids are only young so long. Someday she won’t want to play with me anymore.” But are those valid reasons? Should my day revolve around my kids? I only have 2 kids and I don’t work outside of the home. I undoubtedly have more time than the average mom. In spite of this, I still feel that there is not enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done; Upkeep the house, cook (there is not a lot E can eat that can be bought from the store) upkeep the family, upkeep myself and still spend what my guilt feels like is adequate amounts of time with my kids.
With E’s issues, he has a lot of therapy appointments. In addition, I’m supposed to spend a certain amount of one-on-one time with him a day interacting, doing sensory and language therapy at home, and drawing him out of repetitions. I try to do this when A is otherwise engaged, and in turn spend one-on-one time with her during the day. But does that one-on-one time have to be playing? When she demands that I Play-Play, is it okay to turn her down? Is spending time together while I get things done and a small amount of parent-led play sufficient? I am asking, because I genuinely do not know. Please comment with all the mommy advice you have. Or daddy advice.

FAQ about Epilepsy

In my last post, I talked about how E was recently diagnosed with Autism. I have received outpourings of support. It seems everywhere I turn, somebody knows someone, or has a relative, or has a child with ASD. The current statistics released from the CDC in 2014 are 1 in 68 have an ASD. For boys, the statistic is 1 in 42. So it is actually quite common. This explains why so many people I know have been touched by someone who has Autism. These statistics started me thinking about something else that effects a member of my family. Epilepsy. 1 in 26 people are diagnosed with Epilepsy. **1 in 26**. That is half the number of people diagnosed with Autism. Why then, is my sister the only person I know that has epilepsy?
I decided to talk to my sister about it. Her thoughts were that perhaps people are not comfortable with bringing it up. It’s something that she has struggled a lot with. People’s reactions to her and having public seizures.
When I tell people that my sister has epilepsy, I am usually met with a many questions driven by sincere interest and curiosity. It is my belief that if more people were informed on Epilpesy more people would be comfortable sharing it. It’s scary to watch someone have a seizure and so people in general become uncomfortable if they hear someone has seizures. They are afraid that they might have one around them and they won’t know what to do.

Below is a brief Q&A about epilepsy that I did with my sister. I compiled the most common questions that I get asked. If anybody has any other questions please feel free to comment and my sister will answer that as well.

Some background, Sara was diagnosed with Epilepsy at 13 years old. She is now 21. Her epilepsy is treatment resistant, which means while she is able to control the seizure’s intensity with medication, she still suffers from them regularly. She recently, 2.5 years ago, had a VNS implant surgically inserted into her neck, which is attached to her Vagus Nerve. It’s interesting stuff. Here is a link.

Do you ever hide your epilepsy from those that you know?
Yes. I used to more. For years I used to hide it. I would tell certain people but I didn’t like telling them. These days, it’s not that I hide it from people, I just don’t like going around telling people, “I have epilepsy”. In the past I wouldn’t tell someone and then if I were around them a lot, I would have a seizure and I would be forced to tell them. I used to feel that I had to flat out say I have epilepsy, but now if I am with them and I am feeling weird (pre-seizure aura) I might say something, or if it comes up in conversation I might say something. I used to think I had to hide it, then I felt like I had to tell people right away, now just if it comes up, then it comes up.

How do people usually react when you tell them?
They react differently. Some people act kind of scared. You can hear the tone in their voice. Like they are nervous and they don’t really want to be there anymore talking about it. Some people I tell them, and they say, “I’m so sorry!” and they just keep apologizing. I think, “Why do you keep apologizing, it’s not like you do did anything”. Some people just say, “Oh, I didn’t know that”. So really there is a huge variety of reactions. When I was younger and I would tell my friends, they would stare at me like I was a freak and then I realized they weren’t really my friends.

Why do you think people are so afraid when you have a seizure, even if it’s a partial?
It’s something that you hear about, but aren’t really familiar with. When people hear you have seizures then they are afraid you are going to have one right then, and they won’t know what to do. People don’t like different.

Do you think it’s fear based?
Yeah. Mainly.

What are the types of Seizures that you have had?
I’ve had three different kinds. The first one is the *Grand Mal Seizure* or also known as Tonic Clonic. These are the typical ones you see on TV. Where you fall on the ground, and you’re shaking and foam’s coming out of your mouth. When someone thinks of a seizure this is mainly what comes to mind. I had Grand Mal’s originally. Then I went on medication and I still had them. I went on a second medication, and I stopped having them, unless I missed a dose of my medication.
The second kind are *Partial Complex* seizures. This type of seizure is where it’s different for everyone. Partial Complex means movement. With mine, I would freeze in place, clench my left fist and I would twist my body and freeze in the air. I would stand there for about 15 seconds before starting to come out of it. That type of seizure happened for me for 2 years.
The third one and the only ones I now have are *Simple Partial*.
They don’t have movement. With mine, I’ll freeze. It’s almost like I’m staring off into space. I have no control over my body, but I’m aware of everything around me. Someone could say my name a billion times and sometimes I can respond, other times I can’t.

What’s it like when you have a seizure? Are you aware?

*Grand Mal* These are terrifying. They are the scariest things I have ever experienced. If I’m standing, I fall down to the ground. I’ve been lucky to have most of mine when I am already laying down. I twist to the left and I convulse. It sounds like the whole room is echoing. I hear what people are saying. Every word echoes in my mind multiple times. I feel out of body, I feel like I’m looking down on my body when I’m having one. I can feel myself shaking. I grunt involuntarily and as I come out of the seizure I can hear my body making that noise. It scares me. Quite a few times I have bit my lip to the point of it bleeding a lot. It takes about 5 minutes for me to come completely out of the seizure after the shaking. Even when your body is not shaking, you’re still in the seizure. Your body’s in the clonic stage. I’m exhausted for the entire day. I have a hard time moving on my own and I sleep for a long time after.
*Complex Partial* It feels like my stomach is jumping because it knows what is happening. I have an aura before, which feels like a sharp headache. This precedes the seizure. You see the world in a different way when you are in a seizure. You’re looking around and you have weird thoughts. I feel paranoid. I have completely irrational thoughts.
*Simple Partial* I have an aura with these too. Sometimes in these I clench my fist as well. I am more aware in a simple than a complex. My head throbs. The seizure lasts about 10 seconds. But sometimes they come in clusters, and then each individual one lasts about 5 seconds. The cluster could last much longer though. After a Simple Partial is over. it takes me about 30 seconds to be myself again.

Why do people use service dogs with epilepsy? Do you have one?
I don’t have a service dog. There are people who need them. The dogs are trained to have a sense that the seizure is coming. It then can alert the person or family that something is happening, and get the person to safety. I don’t have one because I don’t need one. Service dogs tend to be for the people who have seizures out of no where.


That’s all for the FAQ, please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have.

For more information, check out Sara’s blog:

And/or her YouTube Channel:

Road To Diagnosis.

Our little E was recently diagnosed with Autism. I can’t say it was a total surprise. We have had our concerns and have been keeping an eye on certain areas of his development for the past few months. For a long time his symptoms were masked by his constant stream of ear infections and his pain from food allergies. As we were able to get the health problems under control, the symptoms remained. Many of them got worse. Some things that were age appropriate at one time intensified instead of being grown out of.

We had 3 main areas of concern. 1. Speech 2. Tantrums 3. Lack of engagement. It’s hard this young to ascertain whether or not these are symptoms of a strong willed child, being slightly delayed, and/ or personality. So we were quite back and forth for awhile on whether these were things to truly worry about or not.

I had E assessed in Utah before we moved to Ohio for his speech. During the assessment they mentioned that they were actually more concerned about his behavior than his speech. Until then, I had never thought his tantrums were anything to be worried about. I just thought that he had a temper.

I continued to keep an eye on him. During this time, he started to regress in speech and in his social skills. He stopped babbling. And his tantrums became more frequent with more self harm involved.

As a young baby, I was never able to get him to engage in back and forth games or even back and forth facial expressions. He would laugh when we would throw him in the air or make funny noises at him but even that came late. (He didn’t smile or laugh until around 6 months.) If it was something that required a back and forth exchange, I could never get him to engage. These were things that I wrote off to his personality.

It took 2 long assessments before we were even referred to the developmental pediatrician. He exhibited enough red flags in the first 2 assessments that we were referred. The original pediatrician that we wanted to see was booked until September. After calling around, we finally found a great pediatrician in Michigan and made an appointment. He just happened to have a cancellation and we were able to get in. As prepared as I was for the diagnosis, it was still jolt to the system to actually hear the words.

We’re very optimistic and very grateful that we were able to catch it so young. We are starting intensive therapies with him. It will be very time consuming, but we’re willing to do anything and everything to help E.

E’s Unconventional Conventional Birth

E will be 2 years old in less than a month. In honor of that, here are some details about his birth.
I always thought it would be so cool to have the whole, water-breaking going into labor, rushing to the hospital with my pre-packed bag business, but both my kids were scheduled. E was a planned c-section. I woke up that morning feeling like I was going to throw up from nerves. Two years ago, I had this painful surgery, painful recovery, and then I have to do the exact same thing again. It was terrifying driving to the hospital knowing that in t-minus 3 hours I was going to be sliced open and have my baby cut out of me.
They checked me in and told me they were running behind. I was, honestly, a little relieved about that. I felt like I needed just a little bit more mental prep time. (MP is what my family calls it. Before you go to work, you have to have an hour of MP.) My family was there with me. Like parents, siblings, daughter. They were supposed to get there when I was in surgery, but because the hospital was running behind and my family was being super impatient, they came and waited with me in the pre-op room. The nurse got me ready, and I lied about my weight. Just by a few pounds. Who doesn’t? You feel at your worst, and then they ask you how much you weigh. They should just give you a paper to write it down on. Somehow saying it out loud is so much worse.
Finally my nurse came in and said it was time to go to the operating room. I asked her where the stretcher was, and she said we would just walk to the OR, and she could hold my IV bag. It’s terrifying enough to get cut open, but at least wheel me in! Walking myself into the OR was like the walk of death. The frustrating part is that the husband can’t come in until after you are all ready to go. So, I walk in the freezing OR and they are all just talking, like this is so normal and not terrifying. I know I have used terrifying a lot in this, but that is what it was, terrifying. They told me to hop up onto the table. “Hop up.” I felt like I was a little kid at a doctors appointment. “Just hop on up and we’ll stick this giant needle in your spine.”
They got that over with, and gave me some information about what was going to happen. Who the baby’s nurse would be, etc. They also asked me if it were okay if they had a high schooler in on it. She was thinking about being a doctor. “The more the merrier,” I said. They started giving me the medicine in the spinal block and warned me that a small percentage of women have blood pressure drops with it, and if I am one of those women, they would just give me a drug to counteract it. “I guarantee you I am one of those women,” I told them. On a good day my blood pressure is 90/60. I had a doctor tell me, “You’ll live forever with blood pressure like that, but on a side note, do you pass out a lot?” The answer is yes. I blackout a lot. That is a tangent though. Back to the story. They were about to start cutting and they still hadn’t sent for Eric. I asked them if he could come and join, and they said, “Oh yeah, the husband. Someone go get him.” He finally was there and they started. My blood pressure did drop, and they did give me the drug. About 6 times. I would start to fall asleep and they would get it back up. They got Baby E out quickly, and he started to cry. After the fear surrounding the Cholestasis*, it was joy hearing my little baby cry.  It felt surreal to finally see this baby, that we spent the last month protecting. Doing ultrasounds, NST’s, watching him.

Side note: Did you know they take out some of your organs sometimes during a c-section? I had heard tales, but didn’t think there was truth to them. I started to get shoulder pain and the doctor ever so casually told me it was extra air intake due to a certain organ being on my stomach. Eric was engrossed in all of this. He had asked me previously, if this time could he not stay by my head and maybe get closer to the action. He just felt like last time he didn’t get as good of a look as he would have liked. I told him no, obviously, that his number one duty was to stay with me and keep me from being terrified.
After they whisked the Baby E away and brought him to my waiting family, they started to stitch me up. They asked me how I was doing, I told them bored. I just wanted to get out of there and go hold my baby. It takes like 3 minutes to get the baby out and then you have to sit there for 20 minutes while they stitch you up. They finished, and transferred me to the stretcher. The doctor came over and shook my hand, and said, “Congratulations” and walked out of the OR to her next waiting c-section. I’d had surgery before I had my babies, but I can’t say until that moment, that I had ever had the good fortune of a doctor shaking my hand afterward right there in the OR.
The hospital stay was good. The nurses were nice, even the one who hid the formula in a cabinet because she did not approve of my supplementing with formula. I’ve had good experiences with my c-sections. Definitely not something, I’d choose, but my babies were healthy and so was I through it all.



Generic Whining.

I hate to admit that I am having a hard time. I feel like it shows weakness and I don’t like to be portrayed as weak or a victim. I don’t see others as weak when they go through hardship, but I do see me as weak. I have a giant microscope to myself and blinders on to others.
E is a hard kid. It takes a lot of energy and patience to get through the day sometimes, or if I am being honest, more often than not. So add a bad day or week, or weeks from A or from another household member and I’m at breaking point.
I see others around me with hardships. Harder kids than E. Hard things other than kids. I see them with different struggles and trials. Because of this, because they are harder than mine and they are getting through it and not complaining, I feel like it shows weakness to complain or admit that that I am having a hard time. I have so much good and so many blessings in my life that admitting that I am not handling things as well as I’d like just seems whiney.
E has tantrums. E is also not talking. He will be 2 in 2 months. I don’t know if the tantrums are a result of his frustrations with not being able to communicate or if they are a behavioral issue of their own or possibly both.
People relate the stories of their toddlers tantrums to me, and while they are trying to relate and tell me that they went through the same thing and it ended up fine, it often ends up worrying me more. Their described tantrums are like a headache, where E’s are a migraine. They make me realize just how different and intense his are.
I had a hard pregnancy with E and I couldn’t wait for him to be born and end the hard pregnancy. He was born and ended up being an extremely difficult newborn and baby. I couldn’t want for him to grow up a bit and get easier. Now he is in the throes of toddlerdom and I think it is time to stop wishing for it get easier and just accept the trials as they are.

They ALWAYS know.

Never, ever, as a mother make the cardinal mistake of saying, “I am going to have a really relaxing evening tonight after I put the kids to bed.” THEY WILL KNOW!!! They will then alternately get up, and take turns screaming through their doors at you. Until it is time for you to go to bed, and those dreams for a relaxing evening all to yourself are gone. As I am typing this, Kid #1 just got out of her bed and Kid #2 is screaming in his room. They know.

Even when I was pregnant they knew. At 25 weeks of pregnancy with Kid #2, I went a full 24 hours without throwing up. I told Eric because that was definitely something to be proud of. That day at work, somebody asked Eric how I was doing. He said, it seemed that I was finally on the up. Baby #2 sensed that, and I got sick again. I threw up for 3 days straight. Not holding anything down. Around 30 weeks I had a full 3 days without throwing up, and decided it was a long enough period to brag to husband about. As soon as I told him, I started throwing up again. I love my kids. But they know. They definitely know.

High Needs

E is a high needs baby/toddler. Everything he does is done very thoroughly and with intensity. He’s been like this from day one. I shouldn’t be surprised. Intense is something that is used to describe me quite regularly.

Lately, E has been waking up in the middle of the night. I used the term, “waking up” loosely. Waking up implies that he actually went to sleep. He talks to himself for a long time and then starts to cry around 10 or 11.

E has had his share of health problems, so we have been pretty loose with the sleep training up until now because generally when he is not sleeping at night, it is for a reason. He is teething, or he has an ear infection, or he ate something he shouldn’t have. Now, he is crying just because he wants to be with me. Which is cute in theory, but at 2 am, not so cute. He is stubborn, which is also coincidentally a word that is thrown at me often as well.

The first few times he started the crying, I would take him out, give him pain reliever, make sure he was okay and he would just laugh and run around. Clearly not in pain. I would put him back in his crib and he would scream and scream and scream.

We’ve tried changing around his nap time, his bed time, his awake time. The conclusion is just that he is stubborn. He knows we are awake, and he wants to be too.

Another theory is that he wants to cement his place as youngest child.

Just as we tried every sleep book for him as a newborn, we have tried every sleep book for him as a 20 month old. We have tried going in at intervals, we have tried not going in at intervals. We have tried like said above, changing around sleep times. We have tried bedtime routines. The result is always the same. Hours of crying.

He does eventually stop crying and go to sleep. And this phase will in turn eventually stop too. That is one thing I have learned. Everything does pass.

Food Allergies=Bane Of My Existence

Pinterest is awesome. I remember when I first discovered it. I was so careful with what I pinned. I wanted my boards to be carefully curated. I would only pin things that I thought were a reflection of me. I didn’t over pin and I was very exacting with what I wanted to display. Prior to Pinterest, I had notebooks filled and filled with lists, and things cut out of magazines.  

Now, my pins are 1. Clothes and accessories that I want to buy for myself or my kids. 2. Parenting tips. 3. Recipes. Lots of Recipes. 

I love Pinterest, I really do, but I also sort of hate Pinterest. It’s really not Pinterest’s fault. It’s the association. Like hating the doctors office because you’re always sick when you’re there. I hate it because it represents the weekly struggle of finding recipes that my entire family can eat. Every week, usually on a Saturday or Sunday, I make out my menu. I have a notebook just for my menus. I have three columns and three rows for each day. I plan out every meal and every snack for each person. I try to overlap things. I make a meal that I just have to change one thing out for each person. I’m a firm believer in, you should just eat what’s given to you, but I am also a firm believer in, it’s hard to never be able to eat things that you like. 

My son has several food allergies. He is allergic to milk, soy, eggs, cocoa powder, (now that one’s just cruel), and winter squashes. He also has a hard time with acidic fruits. These allergies, as you can see present quite a problem when trying to find things to cook. I didn’t realize until I had my son, how many things have milk and soy in them. Thing that you wouldn’t think needed it. Soy lecithin is the worst. Soy lecithin is my nemesis. Seeing those two words on a product that has no business being a soy product, makes me ragey. There have been moments where I forget where I am and I may have ended up scaring a co-shopper or two with my, “WHY SOY ????” rage.

My daughter is a picky eater, and it seems like the only thing that I can get her to eat is cheese and yogurt. I don’t think dairy is all that healthy for you, so this makes it tricky. I don’t just feed her straight cheese and yogurt. I usually try to put different things on her plate, and then let her have one favorite food as well. E.g. Pasta, Broccoli, and yogurt. I have often been given the advice of, “She won’t starve. If you’re strict and don’t give in and then you don’t feed her anything in between meals, she will eat what you give her at the next meal.” Maybe this works for other kids, but not with my A. She doesn’t eat. And then she loses weight and drops off the charts. When I go to the doctors office for her well child visits, I get a big print out that says, “YOUR CHILD IS UNDERWEIGHT!!!!” So waiting her out is not an option. Weight checks are a normal part of our routine and supplementing her with PediaSure when she completely drops off the charts is common. 

I try to not make two meals for dinner. Usually, I try to just substitute half of the meal if I can’t find enough soy and dairy free meals for the family that week. If I am making enchiladas, I will supplement E’s part with coconut yogurt instead of sour cream. Etc.

When I do find a brand that makes soy and dairy free products, I get emotional. Have you ever been completely lost and feel helpless, and then someone comes and points you in the right direction? Or maybe you got a flat tire, and someone comes and helps you? Well, that is how I feel when I discover a brand with no eggs in their mayonnaise. Or a cheap brand of coconut yogurt. I want to run to the headquarters and give the CEO a big hug. If you’re ever at Target, chances are, you might run into me, either screaming at the soy lecithin or crying over Amy’s Organics. 

At the end of the day, I am aware that there are much worse problems than mine. But it also doesn’t make mine any less challenging to me. I overall have figured things out with preparing meals for my family. I have learned to make a lot of things by scratch. It is time consuming, and finding new recipes that everyone will like is always a challenge. Food allergies are not an easy thing, and I am totally putting a teal pumpkin out on my step for Halloween. 

Check it out guys. Disclaimer: You may receive a lot of moms crying out of appreciation on your front porch.

Obsessions of our Time.

I’m convinced that everybody has a thing. You know, someone will talk about a hobby or something that they like to do, and we say, “Oh I’d never have time for that.” You think they are so great or so crazy depending on what it is and who you are, and you think you are so lame or so sane for not sharing the same hobby. We have a certain amount of free time in a day. Some people go to the gym, some bike, some read, some go running, some draw, some binge watch Netflix, some like to socialize. People generally have several things that they place of high importance. We tend to think the other person is weird for using up their free time doing the activity that we can in no way relate to.

I was talking with some people about exercise a few years ago. We were remarking about how crazy it seemed that all these new moms had all this free time to exercise. One person commented, “I could do that, but honestly, I would rather do other things during my kids nap time.” We all offered our judgmental remark about why we didn’t spend all that time working out. We all wanted to feel better about ourselves, because we didn’t exercise.

We may not have wanted to exercise, but there were other things that we were willing to do in our kids nap time- Read, nap, exercise, whatever.

Everybody has select activities/hobbies that they place above other things, that we are able to compromise things in our life, in order to make said activity work into our day. 

My thing is cleaning. I LOVE to clean and organize. I love it so much, that sometimes I hate it because it consumes me. I get obsessive about it. I feel like my house is as never as clean as I want it to be, and there is always something that could be cleaner or organized better. When I am stressed, I clean to relax. When I have guests over for dinner and they offer to help me clean up, I decline always, because I like to do it myself.

I was thinking the other day that I needed to get a gym membership so that I could work out after my kids went to bed. Or maybe even during the day-I could get a babysitter or drop them off at gym day care. In order to do though, I realized, something would have to give. Something else that I really enjoyed doing would have to be taken off my schedule. Even if it were just a few times a week.

My days are packed. I take care of my kids. I clean my house. I garden. I go swimming with my kids. Before bed, I take an hour or two to read. I was and am not prepared to take one of these things off my schedule. I decided that if I do want to exercise, I need to find a better option. Something that I could better incorporate with the things that I already do.

In the past, I may have felt bad about my inability to make the gym work. Now, I realize, why do something that is not going to work for me? Why set myself up to fail with an activity that I do not enjoy enough to make it worth my time. There are other forms of exercise that I enjoy more that I can do from home.

I think it’s human nature to focus on the things that you don’t do well, instead of the things that you do do well. I read a book that talked about how the American Dream can be a bit self-defeatist. Movies, like Rudy, encourage you to work harder and harder at something that you don’t have a natural talent for, while ignoring the many talents that you are blessed with. Similarly we should not ignore the actives that we enjoy doing because we feel like we should be doing something else.

The last two years, I’ve been working on myself quite a lot. I have been focusing on the things that I really like to do. I have been not comparing myself to others. I have been working on the best version of myself that I can possibly be. I have spent too many past years trying to be a cheaper version of someone else. It’s a losing hand.

I love to clean. I love to read. I love to sew. I love to swim. I love the hot. I love to garden. I love my family.  These are things that make me happy, and these are the things that I will continue to do.