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Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom are those of LaTesha Gonzales. Join her on her journey of raising a child IntheNOLA. 
 
The 2017/2018 school year is coming up. And I’m nervous…
 
Last year was not the best year for Gabriel Gonzales. We moved Gabriel from a traditional daycare setting to a Montessori school. While we were very excited about his new school, we also knew that it would take some time for him to adjust to a new structure. In addition, his teachers had already warned us that because of his age (he was 2 at the beginning of the year and wouldn’t make 3 until September 22), he would probably need about 6-8 weeks to truly adapt to his new environment.


Six to eight weeks came and went, and another came and went, and another, and another, and another. We would literally beg him to be good before dropping him off in the morning, and then tiptoe into school to pick him up in the afternoon so that we wouldn’t hear about what he had done for the day.

One of the biggest reasons Gabriel had such a tough time, aside from his young age, was his speech delay. We noticed pretty early on (at about 18 months) that he wasn’t trying to say any words. So right at about 2 years old, we had him tested, of which he was found to have deficiencies in his expressive language, and he started speech therapy at the New Orleans Speech & Hearing Center (NOSHC).
 
With the new structure at school, although Gabriel excelled in some areas, he simply hated others. He speech began to improve since he was now in a class with 3-6 year olds and attending speech therapy once a week, but he was still having huge amounts of trouble communicating with his fellow classmates and teachers. Moreover, at Montessori, children are allowed to choose what they will work on, and he regularly chose the “works” (what Montessori activities are called) about bugs, animals, painting, or space. But when it was time to leave the “works” alone, my goodness, it was not pretty.
 
And when it was time to all sit together in a circle, it was not pretty. When it was time to do ANYTHING that wasn’t on his list of things to do, it was not pretty. Combine his overall stubbornness with his inability to effectively communicate and everything was simply not pretty. Crying, yelling, and whole body tantrums, both in school and at home, were his go-tos. And it was sooooo frustrating and confusing.
 
We agonized over if we had made the right decision. Should we have left him at daycare? Should we take him out and try to find a daycare for him in the middle of the year? Is he happy? How is this going to affect him in the future?
 
Then I started going down a real rabbit hole…maybe I didn’t eat enough healthy food when I was pregnant? What if the epidural had something do with it? Why didn’t I breastfeed more? Why didn’t I co-sleep more? What if he has serious behavioral problems? What if he has ADHD?
 
What if…? What if…? What if…? We like to have made ourselves crazy over the what ifs
 
We talked to our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. William Lister with House Call Pediatrics (yes, he comes to your house!), about his behavior and he did exactly what we needed him to do. Instead of fear mongering with us, he calmly explained that he sounded pretty normal. Yes, he had some issues with transitioning between activities and maintaining his emotional composure, but what 3-year-old didn’t! He said that he would have been more worried if we weren’t having some of these issues.
 
To assuage my other fears (because I’m a huge worrier no matter what), he did recommend meeting with the Tulane Center for Autism and Related Disorders (TCARD) for occupational therapy to perhaps help Gabriel cope with different situations. They have an extra long waiting list, so we’re still waiting to hear back from them.
 
In addition to his pediatrician, his teachers were always patient and kind, and reminded us that we had to remember that he was only 3 years old. Yes, he was definitely stubborn. Yes, he didn’t like to listen. Yes, he would cooperate only when he deemed he would cooperate. But at the end of the day, he was a 3-year-old boy.
 
Now that’s it been almost a year since Gabriel started school, his speech has dramatically improved in addition to his behavior. He’ll be 4 in September and his speech is probably that of a 3-year-old. With that improvement, the tantrums are less (although they still exist). One of the best things we did to help him was to implement using a timer. For example, if he’s watching television and his bedtime is coming up, we’ll say, “OK, Gabriel. When the timer goes off, it’s time to go to bed.” In that way, he’s much more amenable to doing what we need him to do.

Even though he’ll be entering his second year of Montessori school in a few weeks, we have decided to have him “repeat” his Pre-K 3 year. Last year for Pre-K 3, he was two going on three and this year for Pre-K 3, he will be three going on four on September 22.
 
This will make a difference for kindergarten because it means that he will spend an “extra” year in preschool before moving to kindergarten. Therefore, instead of being four going on five when it’s time to start kindergarten in a few years, he will be five making six. He’s incredibly smart, but we recognize his emotional maturity and feel that he will need more time before he’s ready to adjust to the “rigors” of kindergarten.

We would love for him to stay in Montessori school, particularly because of how it allows children to move at their own pace, but we’re also not opposed to the “no tuition” that comes with public school. Luckily, we have a few more years until we have to make that decision.
 
Until then, we’re just trying to make it all work. One day at a time. 

See LaTesha's previous posts:
Who’s ready to choose a New Orleans school? Not this NOLA mama…
Thanks to the baby for the high blood pressure
I kept Gabriel alive for a whole year! 
The reality of post-partum depression
Babies and boobies
An epidural saved my life. 
See LaTesha's previous posts:
There’s no turning back now!
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
I'm doing it ALL natural...
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
Gabriel is here!
An epidural saved my life. - See more at: http://www.inthenola.com/news/nola-living/item/3979-musings-of-a-first-time-nola-mom-babies-and-boobies#sthash.hsjYRrKr.dpuf

Gabriel is here!
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
I'm doing it ALL natural...
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
There’s no turning back now!

 

Published in NOLA Living
Editor’s Note: Over the past three years, I’ve (LaTesha Gonzales) shared my Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom. With a #NewIntheNOLAbaby in tow courtesy of our Director of Public Relations, Heather Ferdinand, heres her Musings of a 2nd Time NOLA Mom!
 
On October 16, 2017, I was the princess that I always wanted to be. Dressed in a flowing, magical gown with a crown of fall flowers adorning my head and surrounded by my closest family and friends, I celebrated the imminent arrival of my baby girl.
 
In stark contrast to my first pregnancy, which I detailed in Thank Goodness for Second Chances, this baby was being welcomed into a world of love and this baby shower promised to showcase just how much love she was going to be welcomed with.
Published in NOLA Living
Editor’s Note: Over the past three years, I’ve (LaTesha Gonzales) shared my Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom. With a #NewIntheNOLAbaby in tow courtesy of our Director of Public Relations, Heather Ferdinand, it’s time she start sharing her Musings of a 2nd Time NOLA Mom!
 
Thank goodness for 2nd chances…
 
After 16 years, I am now pregnant with my second child, a baby girl due in December 2016. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I mean, hell, I’ve waited SIXTEEN years to do it again…and not only to just do it again, but to do it differently than the first time.

Sixteen years ago, I was a typical 18-year-old New Orleans young woman. I had just graduated from Redeemer-Seton High School and was attending Dillard University on a full academic scholarship. Everyone was expecting big things from me…
 
As high school ended and my first year at Dillard began, so did another chapter of my life when in walked, actually ran, a beautiful, shirtless chocolate “man” (we’ll call him Richard :) of my dreams…a lil’ hood in that New Orleans way, a couple of golds (it was the 90s), plenty of charm and charisma, and also a good six years my senior. Although my family wanted to have no part of him, I knew he only had eyes for me, or so I thought, and I was “in love.” Who cared if he had no job, was living with his mother, or sometimes went out all night? All that mattered was that we were together…   
Less than a year into our relationship, I was pregnant. Completely unplanned and utterly unprepared. Richard already had a daughter from a previous relationship and here I was pregnant with his son. What did those nine months looks like? The pregnancy itself was beautiful and joyous, but the partner was negligent and uncaring. While life was magical with this growing baby in my belly, love was anything but.
 
Around month three, Richard moved us into his father’s home where we spent the first few months sleeping on a pool table turned bed. I continued my focus on my studies, tried to make the house a home, and wanted to believe that we could be a good family. But it wasn’t to be that way.
 
I spent a lot of time home alone, wondering when 
Richard was coming home. I often walked to school alone. I caught the bus to prenatal doctor’s appointments alone. In the end, I even birthed my son alone; he wouldn’t even take me to hospital because he didn’t believe I was in labor.
 
When our son was three months old, Richard had stayed out all night and didn’t come home until morning. I had waited up all night for him and at this point, I was done. After a pretty substantial fight, I packed my bags and left that day. Jobless, single, and on welfare, I had officially become a sad statistic.
 
But that wasn’t the end. The relationship with Richard was obviously not a part of my five-year plan and I knew I had to get back on track and I had to do it fast as I had no intentions of being a single mom on welfare. Talented with hair, I took a job as the shampoo girl and braid and natural stylist at my aunt’s salon. Soon after, I got my cosmetology license, moved to Miami where I worked part time for an educational specialist, evenings and weekends at a salon and spa, and eventually re-enrolled myself into college to finish my studies. I was determined to make something of my life after taking a short detour.
 

And sixteen years later, my life couldn’t more different. An undergraduate and graduate degree under my belt, travel to 20 countries and countless cities worldwide, entrepreneur, Zumba instructor, fitness consultant, and health coach, this time around, I’m ready. I have planned and I am prepared for this new life.
 
This time, I have TWO loving partners constantly showering me with love, a 16-year-old son who is a sophomore at Benjamin Franklin High School, and a soon-to-be 3-year old son from my partners. I have no worries about where my partners are or if they are coming home. We spend all of our evenings together, whether in or out of the house. Our house is a loving home and all of our meals are home cooked and eaten together as a family. I’ve never been to a prenatal appointment alone and my belly is rubbed, kissed, and loved every day. This is my wildest dream come true.
 
I couldn’t be better prepared to take the journey of motherhood again. I am truly thankful for this second chance to do it all over again!
 

Published in NOLA Living
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom are mine (mine = LaTesha Gonzales). Join me on my journey of raising a child IntheNOLA.
 
It seems a little silly that even though Gabriel is only two years old, I find myself dreading having to choose a school for him to attend, particularly since it feels like there's about 5 schools in the whole city to consider (an obvious exaggeration, but that certainly how it feels).
 
As a proud product of the New Orleans public school system (McDonogh #39 Elementary School, McMain Magnet High School, and NOCCA), I always figured that my children would also attend public school. However, I find myself somewhat frustrated with the whole process and I haven’t even put in one application!
Published in NOLA Living
Editor’s note: It is my pleasure to introduce Megan Braden-Perry as IntheNOLA’s newest contributor of Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom! Join Megan as she journeys her way through raising a child IntheNOLA.
 
Even if you love saving money and maybe enjoy clipping coupons, like me, you still might not be couponer material. When a friend added me to the Couponing with Nikki Facebook group, I let my competitive nature and tendency to overachieve shine. Not only did I want to save a buck by clipping “Qs,” but I also wanted to impress the girls with my “hauls.” “Wow! That Megan just joined the group and she’s exclusively breastfeeding her newborn, but she is killing the game right now,” I imagined they’d say in private messages. They’d be jealous for sure. Ha! That never happened. Not even close. Fast forward a few months and I was kicked out of the group for inactivity. Couponing proved to be too stressful for me, with little return on my time investment.
Published in NOLA Living
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