Thursday, March 9, 2017

Professional Identity Crisis

When you spend 7 years of your life pursuing the opportunity to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, you begin to form an identity and a foundation that defines who you are. The theories of child development and the importance of play begin to penetrate your blood until it becomes part of who you are. Coping skills and therapeutic interventions become your immediate answer to any challenging behavior or life circumstance, and you begin to think your biggest professional challenge is proving your worth as a profession to the other members of the interdisciplinary health care team.

But I've run into a completely different type of professional challenge... a professional identity crisis.

After 7 years of working to become a CCLS, studying to become a CCLS, fulfilling all of the requirements of certification, paying my annual dues, and advocating for my profession, I have reached a crossroads in my life.... I have never actually been employed for pay as a Certified Child Life Specialist.

I look down at my name badge and glance over my job description and realize that no where does it indicate "Child Life" or a "Children's Hospital."

My first inclination is to label myself a failure, hide away from my fellow child lifers, and avoid questions such as "Oh, what hospital do you work at?" (Which is what I have been doing for the last year or so...)

Or I can be proud of where I work and what I do, educate my fellow child lifers on non-traditional settings for child life, and educate my coworkers on the skills I do have because I am a Certified Child Life Specialist. I would like to be able to boast that option 2 is what I have been doing, but unfortunately, wallowing in the perception of failure is probably more reflective of the truth.

If you did not already know, March is Child Life month. It's the 31 days out of the year where Child Life professionals all across the globe 'go big or go home' when it comes to showing professional pride, educating others, and planning exciting events in the work place. So this year, as I reflect on my profession, my journey here, and my current place of employment, I want to swell with pride again to be a Certified Child Life Specialist. I want to be proud of what I worked hard for and feel no shame for the simple fact that my name badge does not read "Child Life."

No, because I am a Child Life Specialist. Every day I use my skills as a Child Life Specialist. I rely on my knowledge of developmental theory. I facilitate therapeutic interventions. I utilize play with children as an integral part of learning, coping, and communicating.

I am a Child Life Specialist, and I do not need a name badge to validate me as a Child Life professional.

So in the spirit of Child Life Month, let me tell you what I do every day.

  1. Coach parents: One of my main roles is to supervise visits between parents and children who have been separated by the Department of Family and Children's Services due to allegations of abuse, neglect, etc. (I am not employed by the state; however, the state contracts out my organization to provide psychosocial and clinical services to their clients.) Through supervising visits, we complete assessments and provide modeling and coaching to parents. This allows them to learn developmentally appropriate parenting techniques and demonstrate mastery of them. This is where I get to do child life! Most of my parents do not understand basic developmental milestones, appropriate developmental stimulation, and the importance of limit setting with their children. While most of my children here do not have a chronic disease, they are emotionally scarred from some type of traumatic experience.
  2. Support children: Even though in the visitation program, the client is the parent. All of our children have experienced some sort of trauma, abuse, neglect, or poor decision making on their parents part. Because of this we often see behavior challenges, emotional outbursts, and developmental delays. So not only do our parents desperately need to know how to parent in a developmentally appropriate way, they also are in need of knowing how to respond and support the emotional needs of their children in a developmentally appropriate way. This goes down to the basic need of not even knowing how to play with their children, so again this is where I get to do child life! I literally teach parents how to play with their children and use play as an integral way to learn from and with their children.
  3. CSI: One of my job titles is a CSI, which stands for Community Support Individual. One definition states that: "Community Support services consist of rehabilitative, environmental support and resources coordination considered essential to assist a youth and family in gaining access to necessary services in creating environments that promote resiliency and support the emotional and functional growth and development of the youth." As CSI, I work one-on-one with our residential children and teenagers, primarily the 12- 17 year old boys. This is where I get to do Child Life! Translated into Child Life lingo, as a CSI I teach, practice, and facilitate:
    1. Coping Skills: In the hospital, Child Life teaches and supports coping skills through new diagnoses, procedures big and small, and even death. In my organization, I teach and practice skills that allow my clients to cope through situations such as physical and sexual abuse, loss of family (i.e. realizing they may never be reunited with their biological family), and anger and depression as related to trauma, abuse, or neglect. My clients have experienced some of the most horrendous conditions and they have a lot they have to cope with every single day. It is my job to teach, practice, and support coping skills to assist them in managing the stressors of every day life as well as the uncertainty of their permanent living conditions.
    2. Life Skills: In the hospital, Child Life teaches and supports the big transition from pediatric care to independent living and adult care. Child Life also teaches and supports children to learn new life skills when given a new diagnoses or post major surgeries (i.e. transplants or amputations). In my organization, I teach and support the big transition of group care under the custody of the state to independent living as an adult. This includes: applying for and learning job skills; money management and understanding financial responsibilities; preparing and passing the driver's license test; finding and securing housing; applying for and preparing for college; and the list goes on. Not to mention skills such as time management, peer relationships, and respect for authority.
    3. Therapeutic Interventions:  In the hospital, Child Life facilitates therapeutic interventions that allow children the opportunity to work through their emotions, share their fears, and build new skills regarding their diagnosis, upcoming treatment or procedures, or even facing death. In my organization, I facilitate therapeutic interventions that allow my clients to work on impulse control, anger management, and effective communication. I use role play, modeling, and real life practice for situations such as peer pressure, conflict with authority, and peer conflict and this is just to name a few. Some of my kids are just very angry at their situation or very sad. They are all assigned to a therapist, but the fact that I am not a therapist for some reason opens a door for them to feel comfortable talking to me. (Sound familiar fellow Child Lifers? Often times your kiddos might feel more comfortable with you than a nurse??)
So, today I am a Child Life Specialist. Every day I am a Child Life Specialist. It does not take a name badge to define me as one. In fact, I actually have my certificate of certification hanging in my office along with all of my Child Life text books and favorite distraction toys.
Thanks for letting me share what I do. In all honesty, it was therapeutic for me because as I started this post by saying I have really been having a professional identity crisis. I've been second guessing myself and wondering if I wasted all of those years drowning myself in Child Life. But nope. Not at all. In fact, I plan on attending the national conference in May, and I know somewhere down the road I will be able to contribute to the infiltration of Child Life Professionals in non-traditional settings. For now, I have to maintain a relationship with the Child Life community, continue to pursue education regarding the growth of the field, and advocate for myself as a Child Life professional in the workplace.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Struggle is Real

Have you ever met the Joneses? 

Yeah, me neither.

1950's Joneses
2017 Joneses

However, I am a witness to and a victim of their influence on society. They're the standard of what to live by, what to wear, how to act, how to decorate your home, and even what you should wear in your engagement photo shoot.
As many of you know, I am in a major transitional phase in my life. And to be honest, it's a little crazy (Although, many of you I'm sure can completely relate!) 

Currently I am: 

  1. Attempting to qualify for full time employment by building my client case load;
  2. Planning a wedding and everything involved in that;
  3. Researching, saving, and planning for a house of my own; 
  4. Investing in my relationship with my future husband while preparing to be a wife;
  5. Teaching high school Sunday school and a middle school small group at my local church;
  6. Trying to focus on my physical health by working out and (trying) making healthy food choices; and
  7. Struggling to stay caught up on my two current favorite shows (This is Us and Grey's Anatomy). 
Not to mention, both of my parents are currently unemployed (although actively looking) due to extenuating circumstances in my dad's previous company. 

When I list this out, it sounds like so much more than it did in my head. The last month or so of my life has been very emotional for me. I have cried more than I ever had, and I have struggled to maintain my typical confident composure. But when I look back at this list, those are some major things going on. They each take time, effort, money, and more time to do right and to do well. 

What I don't want them to take, however, is my sanity, my love of life, and my joy. So tonight... as I sit in front of my computer... a little unsure of what I should do next... I open a new post on the blog. This post has absolutely nothing to do with being a Child Life Specialist, but everything to do with reality. Life can be so overwhelming. And those Jones'... they make it hard. I want to do it all right. I want it to appear as if I always have myself together, but the reality is that I don't. I struggle. I struggle with anxiety, stress, worry, comparison, and obsession. I struggle with what people think of me and how they might perceive me. I struggle with comparing myself to other people and their successes they post about on social media. I struggle with wanting people to see the good I do, and I forget that I am not here to impress anyone. I struggle with body image and thinking that I am not good enough. 

We all have struggles. I know you guys all have your own you try to keep tucked away in the closet so no one else can see them. Some of you, like me, post the perfect pictures on social media that show your best side, your newest outfits, and your best hair days. You check your social media for likes and comments, hoping for approval and acceptance from the Jones'. 

The sad thing is, none of this brings fulfillment, none of this brings a deepened sense of self-worth, and none of it does anything for our anxiety or insecurities. In fact, it feeds them. It's been quoted, "Comparison is the thief of joy," and I've found that to be true in my life. But I don't want it to be true. I don't want other people to have so much power over me that I allow what I perceive their opinions to be to steal my identity, my joy, and my peace. Notice I said "What I perceive their opinions to be." This is because our minds are our worst enemies. We create our own perceptions of what we think others think and then those perceptions become our realities. We compare ourselves to others until we've withered away. We forget our own strengths, downplay our own victories, and wallow in our shame. 

I think to myself, "Where is that girl who thought she could conquer the world?" Where is the version of me that knew I was so smart and I could do anything I set my mind to? Where is the confident, fearless, and assertive Caroline who never let anyone tell her no? What has become of me that I am so anxious about everything in life that it has literally crippled my ability to function? 

As of right now, I don't have answers to these questions. I don't have a full understanding of where things shifted. But something happened, and I feel that vocalizing awareness of it is the first step in the right direction. 

So thank you for being a sounding board for me tonight. Thank you for letting me be vulnerable with you about my struggles. And maybe, just maybe, I am not alone. 


P.S. For those of you who follow me on social media, I want you to know the real story behind my engagement pictures. Bear with me, but I feel the need to share it.

My engagement photo shoot session was included in my wedding package, so of course I couldn't say no! I had seen all of my friends and of course all of Pinterest post the perfect engagement photos. I was excited to say the least, but when it came to picking out clothes it became a major anxiety. My mom even made the comment that it was easier to find a wedding dress than outfits for the engagement photos. I started in my own closet, determined to not spend money on clothes I did not need. Surely I had something already that would work, right? However, after trying on every outfit in my closet, it was determined that we needed to go shopping. Shopping trip number one consisted of trying on a few things, but nothing that was "just right." (Remember, you have to have the perfect outfit for this photo shoot because "everyone is going to see these photos" and they have to "be just right." Or so I thought.) Shopping trip two consisted of trying on nearly every solid colored dress in my size in the whole store. Finally we left with two different dresses. 

I got the dresses and two other shirts home and tried them on again with shoes and such, and had a major meltdown. The dress didn't fit right. My chest looked weird in that dress. What shoes would I wear with that shirt? But I don't look skinny in that outfit... and the list went on. I cried. I felt frustrated that I didn't feel pretty in any of the clothes, and then I felt guilty for caring so much about this *silly* photo shoot. I wanted to look like all of the other girls in the other photos so bad that I was losing sight of who I was. I was caring more about what people thought about my photos and the outfit I wore than the fact that the photo shoot was an opportunity for me to spend time with my fiance. 

The day before the photo shoot came, and I had to give myself a major pep talk. I had to write out truths I knew to be true in order to cancel out the lies floating around in my head. I told myself that I am beautiful no matter what because beauty that counts comes from the inside not the perfect outfit. I told myself that at the end of the day it didn't matter if I wore the white dress or the blue dress because no one will actually care. I put on the outfits one more time and made decisions about shoes and jewelry. I told myself that I would make a decision and not second guess it. So that's what I did. 

Now, there is a lot more to that story that is probably better left untold, but when you see my pictures I want you to know that I'm not perfect, the pictures aren't perfect, our photographer wasn't perfect, and trying to be perfect only leads to failure. When you see my photos, I hope you can share in the little victory I had in choosing the white dress over the blue dress (with the help of my parents and sister) because the anxiety in choosing the "perfect outfit" had become crippling. 

I share this because I don't want you to go through what I went through. I want you to not compare yourself to me or anyone else. I want you to be unapologetically you. I want you to not suffer the thief of joy every time you open your phone or computer. I don't want you to struggle with the anxiety of trying to impress other people because in the world we live today, we're surrounded by a constant pressure to be more than we are and even sometimes more than we are capable of being (i.e. my mind instantly thinks about thigh gaps- who even made that a thing to begin with... I mean really). What's wrong with who I am? What's wrong with the real me? The simple answer... absolutely, positively - nothing. 
Here is one of our beautiful photos, but just know that it is not as perfect as it appears. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Toy Tuesday: Pop, Pop, Pop

Hello all! Long time no Toy Tuesday!

Today is all about my favorite app called Balloon Pop!
You wouldn't think that popping balloons could be so entertaining, but kids of all ages LOVE this app. I tend to use it most with preschoolers, but I've even had teens play.
You can change the settings to make the balloons fly slow or fast, make the balloons big and small, and you can change the game by popping letters or numbers.

This app can be used as distraction or helping an angry kiddo get some of their anger out.

The best part is for kids with visual impairments such as CVI you can disable background images and increase the size of the balloons in order to make them easier to pop
It's worth the $1.99 for the full version to be able to pop all the colors and shapes of balloons.

If you do not have this app on your iPad, download it now!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Go Child Life Go!

Have you seen this video yet?! Sydney has the privilege of working with this incredible lady! 


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Association of Child Life Professionals and a Personal Update

Have you heard? The Child Life Council or CLC is now officially the Association of Child Life Professionals or the ACLP!

They launched their new website this month! Check it out at! It features new web design, more organized menu, and lots of news and research! I haven't had time to explore the whole website, but it's worth checking out.

Here are some quick links to different places on the website:

In other news, the Annual ACLP Conference registration opened this last week and the early bird price is good until March! Sydney and I are both planning on going this year and Sydney is actually on the planning committee! We would love to meet as many of you as we can and network with our fellow child lifers! So start saving now and we will see you in May in Las Vegas! Check out this link to read more about the schedule, speakers, and social events!

Attempting to keep you updated in the Child Life world,
P.S. I finally survived and graduated with my Master of Public Administration in December! My graduate thesis is titled:
Not Enough to Go Around: Statistical Analysis of Staffing of Child Life Patterns
I know it's a lot to read, but if you are interested you can find a copy of it here. (Let me know if this link does not work!)

Child life programs are gaining popularity and support in pediatric care as the field grows. However, healthcare is growing rapidly and child life programs are struggling to advocate for their place within pediatric care despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics defines child life as a necessity. This study seeks to answer the question: How does the level of pediatric care offered by a hospital affect the staffing of child life programs? The sample (N=154) hospital
programs in this study offer varying levels of pediatric care. The independent variable is the level of pediatric care offered by hospitals, the dependent variables includes seven different staffing reports, and the control variables include demographics regarding bed size and percent budgets. Statistical analysis (ANOVA and ANCOVA) determined there is a statistically significant relationship between the level of pediatric care and staffing of child life programs. This relationship is impacted by the number of pediatric beds in a hospital. Future research should explore the relationship between adequate child life staffing and hospital revenue enhancement. This research is needed to show whether or not enhanced hospital revenue is due to an increased census, which could be a result of customer satisfaction from properly staffing child life programs.

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year Friends!

Long Time, No Blog.

I could sit and make excuses say I moved, was trying to make friends, traveling all over the place or I can just say I took a year off and it was nice.

I missed this blog though, I missed our readers and our new friends, and telling stories of child life.

So I'm back! Get ready for new toys, new stories, new tips and tricks and even some guest posts!

Now I have a lot of blog ideas in my head and in the draft section...I want to hear about how Caroline is integrating child life into her new position, and of course about her wedding planning! I have some new Toy Tuesdays ready to go and a few stories from the Emergency Department, but I want to know what do you guys want to see on our blog?

Leave us your ideas in the comment section!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

WakeMed Child Life Conference

I am so excited to head to Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend for a one day Child Life Conference at WakeMed! My dear friend, Mindy who actually shared her long journey of landing a child life job a few months ago on our blog, works there! Read about it here

Check out the conference brochure here

The workshops include: 

  • Child Life in Early Intervention 
  • Children of Adult Patients Case Studies and a Conversation about Ethics 
  • Child Life in Radiology: Reducing the Need for Anesthesia in MRI 
  • Food Play
  • An Inside Look into Clinical Experiences
  • Our Nation’s Pediatric Mental Health Crisis: A Basic Human Needs Approach to Behavioral Health Patients in a Pediatric ED 
  • So You’ve Graduated…Now What?
  • Self-Care for the Soul

I can't wait to report back to you with new and exciting interventions and ideas in the field of Child Life! Are any of you going to be there? 

Have you read our experiences at other conferences? 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day!

Happy Election Day America! Even if you are having a hard time with the Presidential election, go vote for Senate, State, and Local government issues!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Job Interview Tips

In light of my new job, I am publishing this post that I've had hanging out in our drafts folder for a while. I'd like to hear from y'all though! What are some major differences between internship interviews and job interviews that you've experienced??

While there are a lot of similarities between internship interviews and job interviews, they are also entirely different. Employers are not just looking at you as a candidate to teach and then send on their way, but employers are evaluating your potential to benefit their program for as long as you and they see fit. 

Check out our internship interview (and most popular) blog series here: 

While I do not have a ton of experience in this arena, here is some advice I have collected from my wonderful colleagues. 

1. Do your research on the hospital including Youtube searches, hospital Facebook stalking, search local news articles, and read as much on the website as you can take in. 

2. For first time job searchers: Go back and read ALL of your internship journals, assignments, projects, evaluations. 
For veteran job searchers: Go back and look through your own stories you've kept, journals you've written, performance evaluations, goals you've set and met, etc. 

3. Make sure you give your interview panel time to talk. Ask questions that will allow them to talk about themselves and the program they have built and developed. 
Sample questions include: 
-Tell me about your goals for this program. 
-Why did you choose this hospital? 
-What expectations do you have for child life in this position (or unit)?
-What qualities are you looking for in a potential child life specialist? 

What am I missing? What tips do you have to add to this? What are you looking for as a potential employer? 


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Autism: A Book Review

While I am still job searching and working on my thesis, I have taken up some reading to keep my mind fresh on issues that child life specialists might encounter. One of these is Autism. So I went to for some suggestions. 

This book for some reason caught my eye. It's called There's a Boy in Here: Emerging from the Bonds of Autism. It's written in very plain language from the dual perspectives of both a mother and a child. It was originally published 1992, so while reading it you have to remember that the language is a little outdated in regards to disabilities and autism itself.

The dual perspectives allows readers to dive into what life was really like for this family. Judy Barron narrates it from her perspective admitting that she felt like a failure or "bad mom" at first. She says that she new something was different about her son, but in the early 1960's there weren't many doctors who could diagnose him. So often we see mothers with young children who are so exhausted trying to do everything they can for children, but they feel trapped. Judy offers a very transparent picture of what life was like for her that I think many can relate to. The difference today is that there are a plethora of resources for moms like Judy to help children like Sean. 

After Judy narrates life in their household, Sean's thoughts are followed in italics. These little segments of thought allow us inside the mind of young Sean who thrived off of routine, predictability, and a logic of his own. 

After a narration from Judy about young, non-verbal Sean and his explosive behavior at a restaurant, Sean explains: 

"I had a rule about glasses of water when we went out to eat. To me water was tasteless, bland, not exciting. Therefore, it should not be served with a meal at a restaurant. That was my rule. They had to serve something I liked- Coke, for instance. When they brought water and set it down, I got absolutely infuriated! It violated my rule and made me feel out of control and helpless. I knew the waitress or waiter was doing it on purpose to hurt me and make me helpless. I had to show them that my rule was not to be broken!"

This example and many more allow us just a glimpse into the mind of a child with Autism and how they see the world around them. After I finish this book, I plan to read a more recent book and I look forward to comparing them! 

Check out the book on Amazon here

To find out more about the life of Sean Barron check out this news article that was written about him in November 2008. 

Do you have any book suggestions for me? I will add them to my list of books to read! 


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Job and More News!

Guess who has a new job!!!! That's right! This girl!

I will be working at a local children's home providing services to families who have been separated by DFCS due to abuse, neglect, or other negative circumstances. To say I am excited is an understatement!

At our main campus, we provide residential services to approximately 78 children ages 6 years old to 18 years old. We have several campuses throughout the southern part of our state. 

I will be working right off campus providing community based services to families and children. My primary role will be to supervise visitations with families and children. This will include assessing, teaching, and modeling affective/appropriate parenting skills as well as working with a multidisciplinary team to establish permanency for the children whether that be through reunification or adoption. 

While my job position is not titled "child life specialist," I truly believe that my skills as a child life specialist are so perfect for this job. Most of these children have been abused (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually) or neglected in the worst of ways. These children typically struggle to effectively communicate their feelings and cope with the multitude of emotions they are experiencing. Development of younger children can also be delayed due to abuse or regressive behaviors can occur. 

I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months about being a child life specialist in disguise in an organization that knows very little about child life! 

Also- Another update on my life.... I got engaged! 

Next October, I get to marry my best friend! 

Once again, I sincerely apologize about our lack of new posts... We had the best intentions of being awesome during the month of September... and then October... and now it's November... 

Maybe we will do better now! Hope all is well with y'all! 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mountain West Child Life Conference

Child Life Amplified: Your Mountain is Waiting
Hello guys, I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity for PDU's. A child life conference in Denver, Colorado will be happening September 23-24th. 

I will be attending, I booked my spot and my flight. I can't wait to learn some new things in the Child Life World.

Here is the link to the brochure:

The Keynote speaker is Kathleen McCue. You all probably know her name from her book How to Help Children through a Parent's Serious Illness. She will be talking about self care, which is so important for a child life specialist.

Then you can pick either Track A or Track B

Track A is devoted to Children and Grief: How Worden's Four Tasks of Mourning Guide Our Practice

Track B you can pick and choose a morning session and an afternoon session
1. Understanding and Working to Migrate Stress and it's lifelong consequences
2. Incorporating Child Life into Disaster Relief Services
1.Outcomes of Simulator Use in MRI
2.Understanding and Supporting Grieving Youth

I am going to be attending Track B 1 for the morning and 2 for the afternoon

My old co-worker at my Idaho Hospital will be attending Track A so hopefully she can tell me about her experiences as well.

Hope to see you there

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fight Song

Have you been discouraged lately in your job search, become complacent in your job, stressed about things going on in your family? 

Well maybe this song will encourage you. 

I was at the gym the other day looking for some motivation to run a few miles when this song came on Pandora, and now I honestly can't get enough of it. Most of you have probably heard it before, but I challenge you to really listen to the words and read her story about the song. 

In a news article by ABCnews, Rachel Platten said:

"When I wrote 'Fight Song,' I was in a particular low point. I needed to remind myself to not give up, that I still believed in myself and that I still had fight left," Platten said. "I didn't intend to write ['Fight Song'], you know, for the world to hear to be honest. I wrote it 'cause I needed it. And I wrote it 'cause I needed that reminder and I needed hope. And maybe there was this tiny place in my heart that I believed this could still happen. And the fact that it did is crazy."

Side note: We have both thoroughly enjoyed our summer, but stay tuned because we have a good amount of blog posts drafted up and ready to post during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Sickle Cell Awareness Month or better know as September!!!! 


Monday, July 25, 2016

Toy Tuesday: In Summmmmmer...

My newest light spinner, actually doesn't have any lights just some beach balls and a singing snowman.

The Kids LOVE it! 

I got mine at the Disney Store Outlet for the clearance price of $1.99.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Trip to Belize

Hey Guys! I know, I know... long time no talk. I don't know why in my not-so-busy schedule right now I haven't prioritized blogging, but I just haven't. 

But I have something so exciting to share with you! Last week I spent the week in a little village called Flowers Bank, Belize at a children's home with about 24 precious children. Crystal, Daniel, and I all spent time offering a helping hand to the houseparents who are currently there. We brought tons of arts and crafts activities as well as recreational items such as kickballs, footballs, frisbees, jump ropes, etc. 

The children ranged in age from 1-14 years old, most coming from backgrounds of abuse and neglect and because of this their precious faces cannot be put on the internet. There are two main houses on the property- one for the girls and one for the boys. There is also a house for interns to stay in, a dormitory for visiting teams, and a house in the back of the property for the farm hand and his family. The Hopewell House is a fully functioning farm that raises chickens, cows, pigs, and tilapia. 

While we were there Daniel celebrated his 28th birthday and the kids made him a birthday cake and sang to him. 

 This was a local produce stand. We were able to get tons of fresh fruits and veggies for the home with only $50 American dollars. It was crazy! Gas on the other hand was a lot of money! It costs $85 American dollars for 18 gallons of gas. 

After I organize all of my pictures and edit some of them to hide faces, I will post more! As a Child Life Specialists, we have a special skill set to work with children in such a variety of settings both in our back yard and internationally. My goal for the week was to make sure the children knew that I loved them, God loves them, and to find little ways everyday to help them work through conflict, gain control over their circumstances, and find pride in small victories. 

Most of the terrain was jungle full of exotic animals. 

More to come from me, 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Have you ever felt like a failure? If you are a typical human being then the answer should be, "yes." 

I know I can't be the only one who spends a day every now and then feeling like a failure. Feeling like I can't do or say anything right. Feeling like I'll never make it to where I want to be. 

Now- today is not that day, but I've been wanting to throw a pity party for a few days now. So humor me for a minute. 

I was a straight A student in college. President of our Child Life Organization. Worked a part time job. Volunteered every week at the children's hospital. Got accepted to a Practicum. Then I got offered 7 internships to hospitals all over the country. I thought I had it made. 

I passed my child life certification exam first try. Started graduate school. Now two years later, I am still not employed as a CCLS. I work part time as a preschool teacher and part time as a data collector for a longitudinal educational research study. I have applied for job after job and I just got offered my 2nd child life interview this past week. 

Now, if I let the failure mindset win me over, it might get a little ugly. When I compare my life to others, I could easily chalk my journey up to a beautiful failure because I am not where they are. But I am not a failure. 

I know, I know. Y'all are saying, "Caroline, shut up! You are not a failure!" I know... You're right...! And neither are you. So do yourself a favor, go look in the mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are. Tell yourself that you are not a failure. 
Tell yourself that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and the only way to get where you need to go is to continue doing your best. 

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” - Ellen DeGeneres

So maybe you need to re-evaluate your perspective today. Maybe you need to encourage a friend today. Or maybe you just need to take a deep breath and enjoy where you are at right now. Life's too short to spend it feeling like a failure! 

Editied to add: Caroline, you are not, nor ever have been a failure, you are one of the best people I know. If for some reason this job doesn't work out, it just means it wasn't the job for you. You are the very best and don't ever forget that! 
Love you, Sydney