The Father Effect

Have you ever had an issue plague your heart and mind for a long period of time, struggling with the doubt, never being able to fully move beyond a point in healing, and feeling as this is just the way things will always be?  I’ve experienced this for nearly all of my years of life.  I reached a point where I just accepted it, and lugged it around as if it were a part of me: an unwanted part, a part that didn’t fit, didn’t belong – much like a third arm that served no purpose, wasn’t useful in any manner, and just hanging there, a lifeless impediment.

I thought this was just the norm ~ and then, in an instant that all changed with a simple stumbling across a television program (of all things).

A mindless moment quickly turned in to a deep and revolutionary experience.  It sounds so dramatic; I suppose because it truly was.  I sat hinged on each scene, relating to so much of it. The Father Effect movie addressed so many of the emotions that I had deeply felt for decades.

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It did much more than that though.  It presented the “other side.”  I had always seen the situation through my eyes, from my perspective.  This movie presented the larger scope, and I sat genuinely in awe of the reality that there was far more to the issue than I had previously understood.

By the end of the movie, I can honestly say my perspective had changed.  It had morphed from one of resentment, loss, and mourning to one of forgiveness, acceptance, and healing.

I’d heard people mention in the past about how one day an issue melted away, freeing one after years of being weighed down by it.  I never understood (or quite honestly even truly believed) the testimonies.  That afternoon though, I did understand, and genuinely believed.  That weight, that extra lifeless impediment that was always present, was no longer there.

My feelings of utter worthlessness and not belonging anywhere were put in to perspective.  Their source wasn’t grounded in truth about my worth or ability to be loved. Rather, the source was grounded in someone else’s pain.  My father’s tossing me aside, his most recent wife’s not even giving me the courtesy of knowing he had passed away (I learned about that through Google), and the hurtful words uttered by others were not reflections of me. Rather, they were reflections of pained individuals seeking to assuage their own feelings with little to no regard for how it was impacting anyone else, including me.

The truths shared in this movie, and the way in which they were presented, are so very powerful, and healing.  I am thankful for the men and women who participated in the movie, and for the gentleman who created the project.  They, in their sharing, have aided in my healing and growth ~ for that I am sincerely grateful.

It’s with this renewed sense of self, and fresh understanding, that I can say without hesitation or lack of honesty, that regardless of what happened in the past, I love my father ~ and I choose to believe that in his own way, he loved me too.

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   May your memory be a blessing, (A)(B). 


Adventures in Potty Training

My younger son is at that age of transitioning from diapers to potty training.  It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been down the potty training road since there is an 18 year age gap between our sons, and I forgot just how long of a transition this can be.

I’ve re-familiarized myself with assorted books and articles, perused blogs addressing the topic, and spoke with his pediatrician.  What I gleaned from all of that was — he will be potty trained when he’s good and ready 🙂

We began over the Summer, thinking that warmer weather would mean donning fewer clothing items to shed when the potty was calling.  We planned for a successful transition: potty timer; videos; rewards; potty themed books featuring Elmo, Daniel Tiger, Caillou, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Thomas the Tank Engine Easy-Ups.



The Pampers Easy-Ups were appealing as he adores all things Thomas the Tank Engine, and the newer material has great stretch and better forming fit than the previous design.  The books, featuring his favorite characters, were terrific with holding his interest and reinforcing the goal of using the potty.

It was going well for quite awhile – then, after two and a half weeks of doing well, having absolutely zero accidents – and only wearing an Easy-Up for naps and overnight, he decided he was done with the whole potty experience.

Soon, we were back at the starting line.  I remind myself of his pediatrician assuring me that children will work within their own time frame, and his earlier medical issues did indeed play a role in a bit of a delay – so relax and allow him to move at his pace.

Since we were starting again, we began to rethink using disposable training pants so frequently.  While the toss-away training pants have been handy, especially for travel, I wanted something more friendly to both his sensitive skin as well as the environment.  When my older son was little, there were a lot of options for cloth training pants – not so when I headed to the baby store for my younger son.

I took my search online, during which I found the classic Gerber training pants, some popular character varieties, as well as a brand I had never heard of before, Dimore.  Feeling adventurous I opted to try a sampling of each.  I ordered the Thomas and Friends, Disney assortment, Mickey Mouse, plain Gerber, and the Dimore (with cars, trucks, and dinosaurs).


    Image: Dimore training pants

My initial observations were of the fit and quality of the fabric and padding. Both the character pants and the Gerber were much, much thinner than the Dimore, which led to accidents producing larger messes to clean up. The fun characters faded quite quickly after being washed/dried as frequently as needed during the potty training process.  The thin padding in both of these varieties also bunched after awhile, and there was noticeable shrinking after multiple washes in hot water.

The Dimore training pants have held up the best with multiple washings: the colors remained vibrant, the padding stayed in place with no bunching, and the size remained true (no shrinking as with the others).

Of them all, I have to say I am most pleased with the Dimore.  They’re absorbent, but not too much so that he doesn’t realize he’s had an accident.  They’re soft, and though they do have the thicker padding, they fit well under jeans, dress pants, and sweatpants.

The price point of all of the cloth training pants that I tried were about the same, with the overall value (in my estimation) being in favor of the Dimore training pants.

While I’m hoping that by Christmas we’ll have more progress with potty training, I do feel that the Dimore training pants will see us through to whichever point in time he finally masters potty training 🙂


Disclaimer:  I’ve not been compensated in any manner for the post, and the opinions herein are my own based on my personal experiences with the products mentioned.  I’ve paid full price for all of the items cited.  



A Sign Led the Way

With my elder son, I had taken so many things for granted: all of the ‘firsts’ that as a new mom, I had simply anticipated were ‘standard’ and in a way guaranteed without question.  While I was joyful with each of his milestones being met, I didn’t fully comprehend what a gift each of them were – and how each was, contrary to my myopic viewpoint, absolutely not guaranteed to be met without question.  This is a lesson that I learned fully with my younger son.

Little Llama the Younger was born with health issues the nature of which I hadn’t experienced before.  As the time passed, it was determined that even in the early months, he would benefit from physical therapy.

The milestones that Little Llama the Elder had reached with ease, were not as simple for his brother.  Each was a struggle for him, and again while I beamed with each accomplishment as I did with my elder son, I had gained a deeper appreciation for the gift that each milestone being reached truly was.

This was made clear yet again when, as his health issues steadied with the aid of several medications and the guidance of a pediatric gastroenterologist, his feeding and speech issues came to the forefront.

He was unable to consume more than liquids, and his speech was delayed. He was saying Mama, Dada, baba, with a sprinkling of gibberish intermixed.  He was frustrated – he couldn’t communicate his needs or wants to the degree other children his age were, and I was doing my best to discern what it was he wanted (not all too successfully).

It was about this time that the physical therapist who continued to see him weekly had mentioned in passing how some of her clients who also had children with language delays had looked in to sign language.

I was skeptical, but willing to try anything that would enable my little guy to be able to better communicate.  I Googled, I scoured YouTube and the local library.

Then, I found it.  Baby Signing Time, a dvd series focused on the instruction of American Sign Language for children ages 0-2 years of age. Rachel Coleman, donning an orange sweater and a sweet smile, sings as she and a variety of toddlers and babies demonstrate each ASL sign.  My son was mesmerized.  More importantly — he was learning to sign, and communicate.


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We purchased the 4 dvd set, as well as the accompanying books, flashcards and wall charts, and each was immensely helpful.

He picked up the signs quickly, and the first time that he was able to communicate that he wanted ‘milk’ I thought I’d cry.  He was so happy, so proud!  When he added ‘more’ after he had finished the milk I’d given him — I knew that this was the answer.

We watched together, learning the signs, and his vocabulary, in sign, blossomed.  My little boy was able to “speak” to me, and I was elated with the progress.

I wanted more.  I wanted him to have the richest, most broad vocabulary he could have. I didn’t want him to miss out on a single word.  Again visiting the Signing Time website, I purchased the Signing Time series, volumes one and two.  The information shared that it would teach over 1,000 signs.


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While the Signing Time series has the suggested ages of 3-8, I purchased it anyway.  Though he was well under the age recommendation, I thought it would, at minimum, be good for me to ‘get a head start on’ for when he was old enough.  I am so glad I didn’t decide to wait until he was older, because he absolutely loves them!

He would sign ‘baby time’ when he wanted to watch a Baby Signing Time dvd, and he’d sign Alex and Leah’s name sign when he wanted the original Signing Time series.

It provided fun, engaging instruction in American Sign Language.  It was clear that ASL was the key we needed to unlock communication for my little boy.  It was also clear to me that, for our family, the Signing Time resources were holding that key.

It was an absolutely amazing transformation.  My younger son had gone from speaking only a few words, to being able to sign complete thoughts.  He was able to convey feelings, wants, preferences, and observations.

As his feeding issues were being addressed and he was able to consume solid foods, he would begin to sign what he wanted to eat, or to drink.  We’d go through the grocery store, and he’d sign the foods and items of learned signs.  Each evening, he’d sign ‘stars’ and ‘moon’ when he wanted to go outside to see them.  He’d sign ‘bike’ or ‘car’ as they passed by while he rocked on the front porch with my husband.  He’d sign ‘outside,’ ‘play’ and ‘grass’ when he wanted one of us to take him to play in the backyard.

He was so engaged, so excited.  For a brief time, he even tried to teach our cat to sign (unsuccessfully, in case you were curious as to how his attempts turned out).

Shortly before Christmas, we learned that the Signing Time product line was offering the Signing Time Christmas Collection on sale.  It became a fantastic resource for us, and we learned so many signs relating to items and events surrounding the holiday and winter season.  It was wonderful to be able to have him more fully enjoy the holidays since he was able to communicate using ASL.


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Then, one special day, something tremendously wonderful happened —  as he was signing, he began to verbally speak some of the words as his little fingers and hands formed the signs.  I cannot even begin to express the joy of hearing his sweet little voice SPEAKING, and in more than mama, dada, or baba.

Today, three months shy of three years of age, you’d never know that he ever had a speech delay.  He speaks well, and in sentences.

Did we discontinue signing after he began speaking, and speaking well?  Absolutely not.

We expanded.  We moved on to the preschool series, Rachel and the Treeschoolers, Potty Time, and Signing Time Sentences.


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Why? We chose to do so because Signing Time had become such a part of our lives, and we noticed the continued benefit.  What we initially turned to in a moment of need, had developed in to a continued learning experience, wherein he’s learning a second language.

The Signing Time series, and other offerings of Two Little Hands productions, were such a blessing to my family — through them, my little boy was given the gift of communication, and for that, I am forever grateful to the production team, and to my little boy’s rockstar in the orange sweater, Rachel <3



Disclaimer: I have received no compensation for this post or the opinions contained therein.  I purchased all of the resources mentioned, as well as others, using only the general public offers that they extended on their website or via general email offers. All viewpoints and experiences are my (and my son’s) own, and I’m not in any way suggesting that the series or products will yield the same or similar benefits as they cultivated for my family. Signing Time has been a true blessing to my family, and I wanted to share our experience, in hopes that it may lead others to the assistance they may be in need of themselves.