Celebrations, Vacation

Our Asheville (Un)Vacation

FullSizeRender 2A few weeks ago we took our first “solo” family vacation- just the three of us. We decided to take a road trip to Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore, America’s largest privately owned home, put the town on the map- but its food and art scene have recently made it a vacation hot spot for many.

Nate and I have been talking about going for a while, and it seemed like a great option for us this summer. It had everything we were looking for:

Reasonable drive time? 

Restaurants? √√

Shopping? √√√

To this point Maddie has been a fairly easy traveler. We frequently do a five hour road trip to visit our family in Michigan, so six hours to Asheville didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. Typically, as long as we keep the car moving, have a warm bottle readily available, and a comfortable place for her to sleep, we’re good to go.

That was not the case this trip.

It seems that our 19-month-old Miss Maddie takes on more and more toddler characteristics every day. I’m laughing to myself as I write this blog- sometimes I focus on topics that are more unique to our family as one with special needs. But I’m happy to report that our adventures in traveling with a toddler were no different than that of a ‘typical’ family (i.e.- a little messy and not super relaxing).

Continue reading “Our Asheville (Un)Vacation”

Celebrations, Favorite Things, Vacation

More Sun/Less Stress: The Top Five Travel Products that Keep this Mama Sane

Summer is just about here, and that means family vacation time is upon us! We’ve done a fair amount of traveling since Maddie was born- mostly by car, and some by air. I don’t claim to be an expert, but through trial and error, we’ve found a few products that are key to making our trips a little bit less stressful. So whether you’re a new parents, or a parents with a LO with special needs, here are a few of our favorite thing.

Continue reading “More Sun/Less Stress: The Top Five Travel Products that Keep this Mama Sane”

Celebrations, Heart Defects, Holidays, Hospital Stays

Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak

rsz_riebel-52_copyMother’s Day is all about honoring mothers for the love and time they pour into their children. For me, it’s also a time to reflect on how I’ve done as a mother over the past year. Let’s be honest; we all have our good days, and our not so good days. After giving some thought to the last 12 months, I thought I’d share my deepest low (my “Pit”) and my highest high (My “Peak”). I find sharing experiences is really therapeutic and also helps other parents know they’re not alone. So I would love to hear from you in the comment section: What’s your parenting Pit and/or Peak?

My Pit

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Maddie had been struggling with bronchiolitis since February. When she was diagnosed, they warned us that it may take several months for it to clear up. And they weren’t lying. Over the next three months the illness continued to plague her.

On this particular weekend she seemed to be feeling worse than usual. On Friday evening I decided that a nice long walk in her stroller might help to relax her and give her a comfortable sleep. She slept all through the ride, ate a little something, and then slept another 12 hours- very atypical for her.

Continue reading “Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak”

Celebrations, Coping, Development

Comparison is a four letter word


Next to the actual diagnosis, comparing Maddie to other children is perhaps my biggest struggle. And I know this struggle is not isolated to parents of children with special needs. Many a mom friend has mentioned to me that they’re constantly comparing their children to others their age. Are they achieving at the same level? Are they growing, walking, talking, eating as much as the neighbor child? In fact, years before I became pregnant, one of my best friends described to me that, as a parent, you always want your kids to be the best: best dressed, best looking, best in the class. Continue reading “Comparison is a four letter word”

Celebrations, Vacation

Babies need vacations, too!

17457481_10104888937756462_1530028310908054299_n.jpgI had another blog that I was planning to post this week. But it’s a pretty heavy and challenging topic. And it just didn’t seem right to post it when Maddie is having such a PHENOMENAL week!

We took a much needed eight-day vacation to the southern Caribbean last week, and it seemed to do wonders for her. For the first time she’s babbling with some definite consonant sounds. And she’s moving more- lots of side sitting and lifting high when she’s on her belly! Even the teachers at daycare have noticed a big difference! Yesterday one of them said that it was “like a whole new Maddie” came back from the cruise. She noted that maybe even babies need a vacation.

The funny thing is that we didn’t do any therapies while we were gone. We normally spend time each day stretching and focusing on new skills as instructed by our therapists: sitting on her knees, being on all fours, transitioning, etc. Needless to say, she does not look forward to these exercises. In fact, she’s actively learning ways to avoid doing them. I can’t lie; I don’t look forward to them either. I feel guilty day in and day out because it never seems that we’re doing enough (but that’s a whole other blog post…) Continue reading “Babies need vacations, too!”

Celebrations, Events, Heart Defects

My Reason “Why”- Our story for the Heart Walk 2017


Our daughter, Madison Grace Riebel, was born on November 5, 2015 with a heart defect called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). This condition often corrects itself during the first year of life. However, due to the severity of Maddie’s defect, this turned out not to be true in her case. During her first eight months, we spent a lot of time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. We were in the NICU for three weeks due to oxygen desaturations. Once we got that under control we went home, but were then hospitalized with bronchiolitis (worsened by the PDA), and lived with that February through June. Then in June we ended up in the Cardiac NICU with pneumonia derived from RSV that went undiagnosed. Again, a complication of the PDA. In August Maddie had surgery to correct the PDA. Her cardiologist said that the PDA was much larger than she expected, and it would not have closed on its own. Amazingly, the procedure was minimally invasive, and we returned home the next day. Since that time, Maddie has had a huge increase in her energy level. She’s gotten several colds and upper respiratory infections while at daycare, but has recovered in a ‘normal’ amount of time. Her quality of life is excellent, and we’re so thankful for all the great care that she’s received. In late January, her cardiologist said that we could consider her heart healed, and we will not have another appointment for two years!