If you've followed our blog at all, you know we do an annual post about autism for 2 reasons: my first job out of college involved working as a teacher at the New England Center for Children, a school for children with autism, and now that I'm a parent, I've seen, first-hand, the prevalence of autism, so I'm passionate about increasing awareness.
For this post, we reached out to a friend whose daughter has autism, asking if he'd be willing to share about the following: When did you first suspect that Zoe had Autism? What did you do? What are your favorite activities that you and Zoe enjoy?
Eric - Thank you for sharing so candidly.
"20 months went by, and it all felt normal. Zoe and I were thick as thieves and I loved spoiling her. I couldn't help myself. She loved swings, she loved being held by daddy and boy did she like to eat (daddy's girl for sure!) We thought everything was fine...I think about it constantly, did I miss the signs earlier? I don't know...but it still haunts me as early intervention is crucial with young kids on the spectrum. As the months went by we started noticing a couple of things leading up to her 2nd birthday that started to concern us. Anytime she would pick up a new word or skill, she would lose something she already knew. She was a bit slow in walking and when she did start to walk she would walk on her toes. She seemed to fixate on certain objects...I think my wife and I both had read enough about autism that we were starting to see some red flags. We decided to take her to a developmental pediatrician...I think we both hoped that the doctor would call us paranoid and tell us we were imagining things...that's not how things worked out. "Your daughter is on the spectrum of autism..." It felt like a vacuum had sucked all the air out of the world. It was devastating. My flashes forward on that day were darker and in a quiet moment alone I cried until there were no more tears. Would there be a father-daughter dance now, how do I protect her from this, she does not deserve this...I was sad, I was angry, but most of all I was afraid. Afraid is the unknown, afraid I would never get to know the girl inside of Zoe, afraid autism would take her away from me."January 23, 2011, in the middle of one of the biggest snowstorms NYC had ever seen, I held in my arms the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on, my daughter, Zoe. It was love at first sight. I was smitten and I was never going to let her go. It's weird, I distinctly remember sitting in that hospital room with this little nugget beside me, flashing forward to her wedding day and wondering what our father-daughter dance would be like, and how bittersweet it would be for me. Less than 24 hours in the world and I was already feeling territorial haha.
There was a short grieving process and then Heidi and I went to work. We weren't going to let this diagnosis take her away from us. We went about getting Zoe all the tools she would need to reach her full potential. We secured district support to enroll Zoe at REED Academy, we hired speech therapists and private ABA therapists. We threw all our resources at trying to improve Zoe's quality of life. She's sharp as tacks...she just learns differently and she has to fight through a cacophony of sensory input that I will never fully grasp just to simply focus. I'll never truly understand her struggle, but she is a fighter and she comes from a family of fighters and we are making progress thanks to hard work dedication and a strong support system of friends and the folks at REED.
Zoe is 5 now...she's the same kid really. Happy disposition, loves a good adrenaline rush, loves to eat. We love to be outside together, love to sneak cupcakes and ice cream when we are not supposed to but mostly we love to just be together. We are inseparable. We have a special connection...and while she may not say the words all the time, she doesn't need to. She loves her daddy and daddy will always love her to the moon and back." - Eric Chung
This year, Eric is trying to raise $20,000 for the Go the Distance for Autism charity ride. He will be doing 25 miles. Please consider joining Team Zoe as a rider or a "virtual rider" by clicking this link http://www.gtd4autism.org/
Back-to-School is always an exciting time for so many reasons, but in all honesty, the one thing I dread about the kids going back to school is packing lunches. I know it shouldn't be THAT difficult, but sometimes I'm just out of ideas, and I'm tired of making the same things.
All three of my girls have a milk protein allergy (that they're starting to grow out of, thankfully), so I've been packing dairy-free lunches for the past 7 years now. Aside from leftovers, these are my go-to school lunches. My kids love hot meals, so I just heat these up, throw them into a thermos in the morning, and they're good to go.
Along with these "entrees," I always pack a side of fruit for something sweet + extra nutrients. I wanted to share a quick and easy way to make fried rice that makes for a [relatively] healthy meal. I love making this when I have leftover rice from Chinese food take-out.
Super Easy Fried Rice:
What are your go-to school lunches?
To kick off the back-to-school season, Lollaland has partnered with Luca & Company and SoYoung for a Back-to-School Lunch Instagram Giveaway valued at $275.
To enter, visit Lollaland's Instagram @lollalandusa and good luck! Both Luca & Company and SoYoung's booths were near the Lollaland Booth at a tradeshow last year. These two companies really caught my attention. The FunPod by Luca & Company has been a God-send ever since I got one. Here's how we use our FunPod in the LollaHome. Oddly enough, my 2-year-old loves to just sit in it and play peek-a-boo, so not only is it functional, but it can make for fun times, as well. As for SoYoung goods - just take a quick look and you'll see why theyr'e so unique and chic! I LOVE their designs and aesthetic.
First, congratulations. You’ve taken an idea to market, built distribution, and I’m excited to see how you and NeatCheeks fare in the infamous Shark Tank tonight!
I know it’s been a while since we last talked in October, but it’s been exciting to watch your company grow, and now - Shark Tank! I was so humbled when you, fellow mompreneurs, reached out to me for advice, and there was so much to talk about. We have so much in common: we all have three children, we’re working moms, and all small businesses inherently share similar struggles.
Thank you for sending me a few samples of NeatCheeks. I tried them for the first time on my feisty two-year-old this week. She’s two so she eats independently, but it’s never neat. She is the third of three girls, so admittedly, she is a spoiled brat. I simply have not had the energy to set boundaries like I did with my older two. Anyway, she always throws a fit as I wipe her filthy face after meals, and I just power through the process because I know she’ll get over it one day. Before I cleaned her face with NeatCheeks, I showed her the little package (which is the perfect size, by the way), and told her it was a yummy wipe. She was instantly intrigued, and it worked like a charm! I even caught my six-year-old licking a NeatCheek wipe!
I’m really excited to see what the future has in store for NeatCheeks. Whatever the outcome of your negotiations in the Shark Tank may be, I know this will mean big things for you. Cheers to years and years of success.
Hanna Lim (Lollaland)
AND, for all you parents or Shark Tank fans out there, Lollaland and NeatCheeks are hosting a GIVEAWAY. We are giving away a Lollacup + a Lollaland Mealtime Set + NeatCheeks wipes to try in honor of NeatCheeks' appearance on Shark Tank tonight. To enter the GIVEAWAY, please leave a comment (any comment) on this blog post, and we will randomly select 1 winner on Friday, April 24, 2015.
AND, for all you fellow entrepreneurs out there, we always love to network and learn from others, so please feel free to comment here or reach out to us in Lollaland!
Many companies who have been on Shark Tank are in contact with one another. We are all entrepreneurs who often share the same struggles, and it's always nice to connect with other "mompreneurs" and network. Susan, from Freshly Picked, and I did a product trade. I sent her Lollacups and Mealtime Sets for her children, and she sent me a pair of her darling moccasins for my youngest daughter, who is now 21-months-old.
I am a sucker for packaging, and these little moccasins arrived in a simple white pouch with a cute little button (both emblazoned with the FP logo). Inside were the moccasins and a sheet of emoji stickers that my older girls had a field day with.
What I absolutely love about these shoes for infants/toddlers is that they're so lightweight, soft, and flexible. I absolutely abhor stiff shoes that give my baby blisters; There's simply no need for that. Freshly Picked moccasins have become our everyday + dress-up shoe.
There aren't many shoes that can look great with both leggings and a onesie AND a velvet holiday dress, but Susan has nailed it with Freshly Picked! We are kicking off the holiday season with a "Made in USA" giveaway that is valued at $120. One winner will win a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins (any color/any size) and a Lollaland Gift Set (1 Lollacup, 1 Straw Replacement Pack, 1 Mealtime Set, and 1 Canvas Tote - any color). This exciting giveaway begins Monday, November 24th, and one winner will be randomly selected on Monday, December 1st. To enter, comment below with your favorite thing about the holidays. For example: "Spending quality time with the kids."
NEW POLICY, PLEASE READ! The winner cannot have won any other giveaway including a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins and/or Lollaland products within the last 60 days.