Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Beauty, Being a mom, Children, Children with disabilities, Elementary, Faith, family, Helpless, Hope, life, love, Mom life, Scared, School, Special education, Special needs

The X Factor: School Life for Our Autistic Son 


I attended my first IEP meeting for this school year for wild man a few weeks ago.  As a mom I want the best for my kids. I want them to have a great education and be able to succeed. As a mom of an autistic child I want these things and so much more.

 The meeting went well. His new teacher, OT, speech director, principal and his teacher from last year all love him.  Which makes me feel like we made the right decision on the School.  We went over his daily schedule and how we could make it better for him.  This year he will have his major subjects in a regular classroom while his afternoons will be spent in the classroom equipment for special needs (this is the classroom which make us choose the school in the first place). Change is hard for him but I want what’s best for him.  

The meeting was filled with comments like “he is doing so great” “he is working so hard” and “he has come a long way”. All of which made me smile because he is doing great and working hard. And he has come a long way, a very long way.  It’s in these moments that I get lost and almost forgot he is autistic.  Everyone bragging on him and telling funny stories about things he has done.  I love seeing other people’s faces when they talk about him.  They just light up he has that effect on people once they take time to get to know him. 

But then there comes the reality.  Take this work page for example.  He scored a 3 out of 10.  I know placing him in the regular classroom is supposed to help him build social skills and help him become more independent.  But he is so lost when it comes to the actual school work.  I don’t want him to be overlooked or just passed through because of his disabilities. I want him to have a chance to learn and to grow just like any mother would.  I know many of you are thinking “it’s just one paper or he is just in 1st grade” but that’s my point. This is just the beginning. What happens now and how he is treated will affect the way things go from here on out. He does not bring many graded papers home but when he does most notes are “he tried hard” At what point will he become completely lost and what nothing to do with School? Will he always be this happy go lucky boy or will the struggles become to much for him the bear?  I worry because it’s my job to make sure he receives the best possible education he can receive. I worry that the other kids will start calling him names or talking about him because he does not get the answers right.  I worry constantly about how his peers receive him.  

But then my son does the most wonderful thing.  As I look at all the X’s on his papers and the comments my son, my beautiful intelligent son points at the papers and says “look momma I got this one right” and smiles great big.  Even in a world full of negativity and large red and green X’s my son only sees the good, he only sees the beauty. As his mom I worry about him in this crazy world we live in.  People are so cruel to each other and I am scared that the things that make him unique in Gods eyes will get him teased or even hurt in this world.  But God has given my son a unique way of looking at things. He only sees the good in people and in things.  He does not notice those that stare at him or say hurtful things about him. I am truly thankful for that.  As his mom I need to try and see the world the way he sees it.  I need to find the good.

So yes we celebrate the three right answers, because a year or two ago none of this would have even been possible. We celebrate that he can now write his name and that his teacher said he is now sitting at his desk up to three minutes at a time. (This is huge for him) We celebrate that he has even sat at the dinner table with us a few times this month and we were able to have dinner as a family(and this is huge for him). We celebrate the red and green X’s because they show us progress. He is moving forward in all areas of his life.  We celebrate because God has made this prefect little guy ours and we are the ones that get to watch him grow and succeed at life.   

We celebrate because we are blessed.  

Thank you wild man for opening my eyes to more than just the negative.  Thank you for helping me see there is beauty in everything, even in X’s. 

Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children with disabilities, family, life, love, Mom life

“Get Me to the House…I have to poo.” A day trip with my autistic son

via Daily Prompt: Carousel

Last week my beautiful mom had knee replacement surgery.  I was unable to be with her the day of her surgery and felt horrible about it.  One of the downsides to living in two different states. *sigh*  After she made it to her recovery room I received a phone call from her (she was still heavily medicated thanks to the anesthesia and pain medicine), it was full of giggles and phrases like “I know your a daddy’s girl but you will always be my baby girl ” and “Love you’s”. She was just letting me know that she was still alive and well and that the surgery was a complete success.  Guess even medicated she knew I needed to hear her voice telling me she was okay.   Thanks momma.  But I still needed to see her with my own eyes to “make sure” she really was okay.  So I told my husband I was headed home for a quick visit last Saturday.

As I planned my day trip my six year old asked if he could ride along.  Traveling is rough on him but there was no way I was telling him he could not go. His sad puppy dog looking eyes get me every time.  

Traveling with kids never goes as planned. Traveling with a son who is autistic always comes with its adventures.  This trip was no exception.

Our plan was to get up early and be on the road by 6am. We would fill the day with visits. First we would stop and see a friend who had also had surgery, hers was on her shoulder, next we would go see mom, swing by a baby shower and drop a gift off, seeing mom would be in no shape to go to said shower, and lastly have dinner with my best friend and her family before heading home.  Seemed like a realistic day.  The night before I packed his two backpacks: one with extra clothes for him just in case we needed them and one with his treasures, this included two tablets, his dads backup phone,cars, puzzle pieces, a notebook, a pen, his hat, sunglasses, and some toy pirate coins. I also packed him a snack bag that contained his favorite chips, popcorn, and juices.  We would be gone for less than a day but we were packed for a week long vacation. We were all set for the next day. 

Well we were until my son who never sleeps past 5:30 slept till 7:30.  Now I could have just set out at 6 like I planned but then my husband would have had to deal with the tornado that would have been our son when he realized mom went without him.  And seeing that my husband was keeping all the kiddos that would have made for a very bad day.   So I waited until he woke up.  We were on the road by 8:15.  Running a little behind my schedule but still we could manage to get everything in. 

That is until we hit the tunnels.  We have to travel through two tunnels in order for us to get back to WV.  I never thought much of the tunnels until wild man came into our lives.  The lighting and the noise that comes with going through a tunnel can set his system into sensory overload. I handed him his sunglasses, they help him with the glare from the lights, and told him to lay his head down.  It worked the first time. But the second tunnel was a different story.  When we arrived at the second tunnel he was in the middle of playing a racecar game on his tablet.  He did not hear me, or he decided not to listen me, when I told him it was time to put on his sunglasses.  The moment we were inside he started screaming. The lights were to much and the motion of us passing them made his stomach upset.  By the time we made it through he was sick and throwing his head against the window to made the lights stop moving.  I got the car pulled over and climbed in the backseat with him before he got sick. We sat until he was calm enough to get out and walk.  Lucky for us you can find a Walmart just about anywhere. He loves Walmart. So  I get back into the driver seat and we make our way down the road a few miles to his favorite store. There I parked the car and took my little guy in so he could walk around without cars flying past us.  The Walmart detour took a little over and hour and cost me over hundred dollars (hey he needed a few things for school why not get them while we were there?) 

As we walked the aisles of Walmart my sweet boy made many friends along the way.  He introduced himself to everyone we walked by or asked, “Hey hey what’s you name?” or “Hey hey I like you let’s be friends.”  Many of the passerby offered up their names with a warm smile, some even gave him Hi-fives.  But there is also the other side that shake their heads, or look annoyed just by his presence, and theirs always at least one person who tells me to control my son that he is a) being to loud, b) that he needs to respect people’s person space, c) or that he is being disruptive and I need to make him stop or my favorite d) I would never allow my child to behave that way.   It never fails. I am so thankful my son does not process what others think about him the way I do.  He is always just so happy in the moment. 

After he was feeling better and I knew he would not vomit all over my husbands car we are back in the car and head towards our destination. 
We were about an hour out when I called my mom to see if she was still at the hospital or if she was discharged and home.  She informed me she was still in the hospital but they were getting ready to discharge her. Have you ever waited to be discharged from a hospital?? Let’s just say What should have been simple turned into an all day ordeal.  By the time my sweet momma actually made it home it was after 3pm.  Visiting my friend who had shoulder surgery was not going to happen and as for the baby shower I missed it completely, we did drop the gifts off at the mommy-to-be’s mothers house so at least she got them.  

Before we knew it, it was time to go home. Wild man was not ready to go home however. He had a meltdown.  I tried to calm him down with a frosty but even that didn’t work.  There was no way he would be able to stay seated in an overly crowded restaurant if I meet up with my friend and her family for dinner.  So I text her and told her I was sorry we would not be making it. 

We started to trip home and he settled in to a video game, this time Minecraft, he was still upset but at least he was in his car seat and he could not reach me to kick me or hit me.  All was going well until we reached the tunnels again. This time a truck had broke down inside one of them and traffics was crawling through the only open lane.  It scared him so bad to have to sit inside the tunnel as we moved only inches over the next 40 minutes. Finally we could see the end and we were out. 

After that we had to stop and get out of the car.  Three straight hours in his seat had taken its toll on him.  When we stopped he proudly announced he had to pee.  I found a gas station and we went in so he could do just that.  We loaded back in the car with a fresh juice, bag of popcorn and a fully charged tablet. We should be able to make it home without stopping again.  

Ten miles down the road I hear, “Momma Are we there yet? I need to poop.” Words I did not want to hear.  See my sweet boy has this thing, he only poops at home.  He only poops at home in our downstairs bathroom. Nowhere else. Ever.   He will hold it for days if he has to, but the smell coming up front told me I didn’t have days or even hours.  I told him I could stop at rest area or another gas station but it was a no go.  He screamed and cried for the next 45 minutes and I was helpless.  There was nothing I could do but get us home as fast as I could. I may have driven a little over the speed limit. Maybe just a little. I was never so happy to see my driveway.  I pulled in the garage as my husband opened up the door to the house. I ran around the car and unlocked his safety belt and off he went.  I yelled over to my husband Watch out he has to go! as wild man ran passed him.  He made it, barely but he made it.  

Many would not consider this trip a success, but I do. True we didn’t get everything done or see everyone like I planned. But that’s okay.  I think sometimes God placed wild man with me to remove some of my OCD qualities.  With him we just have to roll with it.  Autism is hard, but we are learning more and more everyday.  There are days I wish I could get off this carousel ride of emotions and just go back to a time before we knew he was autistic. But that’s not possible. So I am learning as I go. I am learning there are those who will go out of their way to be nice to a six year old they don’t even know just to make his day.  I’m learning that there are no such thing as schedules or preplanned evenings.  I am learning some people will accept him and others will always judge him.  I am learning to be a best person because of him.   He loves freely and judges not. His life is simple. And I am blessed to get a front row seat.   In his darkest parts of the day in the middle of a meltdown or while he screaming because the house bathroom is so far away, I will be there to love him and get him through it. I will do whatever it takes to make his life better for he has surely blessed mine. 

Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, life, love, Puppy

Puppy Dog Kisses

Back while my husband and I were still dating we rescued a puppy.  Her name was Satin.  Satin was part Lab and part unknown.  Her mother had been dropped off along side the road and made her way up to a house that belonged to a friend of mine.  My friend took the dog to the vet to have her checked out she found out she was pregnant, most likely the reason she had been dropped off.  She was underweight and dirty so my friends family nursed her back to health while they waited for the arrival of the puppies. A few weeks later the mother dog gave birth to nine puppies.  This family knew they could not keep all of them but were willing to care for them until they were old enough to be on their own and then started looking for homes for both the mom dog and her puppies.  If homes could not be found they would have to take them to the animal shelter.  Ten dogs was to much for them to take on full time. 

My husband and I went to her house and Satin walked straight up to us.  We were looking for a male dog but she won us over with her sweet personality.  She became part of our family.

Satin and her stuffed toy
 

When JR became part of our family Satin became his dog.  He loved on her, played with her, layed on her, and rode on her. Satin allowed him to do things with her that she would never consider letting others do, I think she knew or could sense he was autistic.  He could lay on her for hours and she would never question it whereas my brother could try to pet her and she would bark are him.  Satin and JR had a special bond. She was his protector and he was her guardian. They were each other’s best friends.

JR, Devin and Satin hanging out at our old house

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but within the last year Satin had started becoming more aggressive not only with us but with the kids.  Maybe it was the move or maybe it was the fact she was nine I don’t know. All I do know is she wasn’t the same sweet dog anymore.  We had not one but two incidents in May that had my husband and I questioning if she was safe to have around the kids anymore.   We did not want to put her to sleep or take her to a shelter but we could not have her being aggressive with the kids, especially JR. He did not understand why he could not play with her the way he always had.  My husband took her to the vet and with a heavy heart we placed her in a no kill shelter (she stayed for a week before being placed in a new home with no kids or other animals) Our hearts ached. She had been such a huge part of our lives. We had no plans on getting another dog. No one could replace Satin. 

However by July we were having major problems with JR. He was lost without his dog. He cried for her daily, she would look for her every time we went outside, he called out for her in his sleep.  Our little guy was miserable and that was hard to watch.  So my husband and I had a talk and we decided that even though we didn’t really want a new dog, JR needed a dog.  And after looking around my husband found a 16 week old yellow Lab that our son named Frosty. 

Frosty has quickly became JR’s new favorite obsession.  He absolutely loves his new dog, and so do the rest of our kids.  Frosty runs with them and slides with them, lays down with them and just enjoys being with them. JR and Frosty have already went on dinosaur adventures and deep sea dives (in their kiddy pool) and I am sure there are many more adventures to come over the upcoming years.  He still misses Satin, we all do, but I am thankful for this new four legged friend that has made his way into our hearts. JR needed Frosty to heal and to help move forward.  Seeing the two of them together today made my heart smile.  As JR was hugging Frosty, his new puppy licked his cheek and JR giggled.  He said Look momma he gave me puppy kisses just like Satin use to.  He squealed with delight right before returning the favor to his puppy.   Aw puppy kisses there’s nothing better for a little boys heart ❤️ 

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Don’t let their perfect posts fool you, You are a great mom too

Well I did it again, well almost. I let myself get caught up in the fake world of social media parenting.  You may know what I’m talking about. Thankfully I was able to snap out of it before I started questioning my parenting skills.

We all have people on our sites that seem to have it all together.  Their kids take the perfect family photos, they make the honor roll every semester, they go to the store and their kids are perfect little angels, their homes always spotless and clutter free, they go on lavish trips for vacations or take cruises multiple times a year. Their kids are perfect in every way. They are the perfect parents.  When I use to see post like this I could not help but question my own mom skills.  I would look around at my beautiful chaos and think were did I go wrong? What are they doing that I’m not? I would beat myself up about not being the perfect mom.  But you know what, I don’t do that anymore. Here’s why

I am the best mom I can be. My kids are the best kids they can be. And news flash no one is perfect.  I gave up on having the perfect family photo a long time ago. Trying to get five little ones to sit still and face the camera is hard enough let alone trying to get them all to show me their adorable smiles at the same time.  Our family photos have them being kids. Someone is always looking off in the wrong direction or someone has dirt or candy on their face.  And you know what, I love my family photos. To me they are perfect.


My kids play hard from the time they wake up till the time they go to bed. So we have toys everywhere. My house is never “spotless.”  If that’s what you are expecting when you come to visit please don’t come over.

The truth is we are all doing our best at this parenting thing.  We should not feel guilty or upset with ourselves when someone else seems to have it all together. We all have bad days but we also all have great days. Don’t compare yourself to the mom down the road or to the mom at football practice. You, YES YOU, are doing a great job.

So if you’re the mom who makes a five star breakfast every morning or you’re the mom who serves Cheerios and pop tarts. You are amazing.

If you’re the mom that makes it to every PTA/PTO meeting at school and serve as the homeroom mom or if you’re the mom that just sends in the snacks or cash when asked. You are wonderful.

If you’re the mom who takes your kids to Disney or the beach for vacation or if you’re the mom who blows up the kiddy pool for the backyard oasis for the stay at home vacation. You rock.

If you’re the mom who makes sure your child is spotless or if you’re the mom who let’s your kids play in the mud. You are fantastic.

If you’re the mom who homeschools or the mom who pays for private school or the mom who uses public schools. You are changing the world.

If you’re the mom the works outside the home or if you’re the stay at home mom. You are beautiful.

If you’re the mom that does crafts everyday or if you’re the mom that slips the kids an IPad. You are doing great.

If you’re the biological mom,or the step mom, or the foster mom, or the kinship mom.  If you have one child or ten or if you have a newborn, toddler, teenager, or an adult “child”. You are loved and so needed.

If you’re a mom that ever questions her worth just look at your children.  They are beautiful, they are loved, and they are happy.  They might not always see eye to eye with you and that’s okay.  (On those days I keep a Dr Pepper and chocolate on hand) It’s okay to have bad days every now and then.  Truth be told there are days I feel I fail my kids miserably. But God placed these little loves with me for a reason. He saw something in me that I do not see. He in trusted me with their lives and I will do my best to be the best I can be.

We are all in this together. Parenting is hard. Be happy for each other. Don’t let yourself get pulled into the world of “how I should be a better mom look at her”  that social media beats in our heads.  You are a good mom.  So post those pics of your kid covered in mud, or the ones were they have  turned the playroom upside down, or the family photo were little Johnny is picking his nose.  Those photos make your family perfect.  Those photos make you are terrific mom.

From our beautiful chaos to yours we moms have to stick together.  We should Build each other up not tear others down


Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Can We Stop with the Fireworks Already!?

I, like most Americans, love Independence Day.  My husband was in the Army and I have several other family members that have served in the military.  I love everything that the 4th of July stands for. This includes the fireworks displays.  But our neighbors are going on night 10 of their celebration and I’m starting to come unglued.


Last Friday, that would be June 30, the celebration kicked off.  My husband and I were prepared for it. With the 4th falling on a Tuesday we assumed the weekend prior would be filled with neighbors setting off their own magical displays.  We tried to prepare our six year son, who’s autistic, but he really didn’t understand what we were talking about until he heard “the loud giants fighting” outside.  No clue why he thought the fireworks sounded like giants but that’s what he came up with.  The sounds scared him to death, much like they scared my other neighbors poor little dog (we could hear him barking up into the wee hours of the night) Friday and Saturday came and went and we thought to ourselves “we made it through” until Sunday night rolled around. By 930 they were celebrating yet again. By the time The 4th actually came around I was sure they had to be out of fireworks.  

But I was wrong. 


The sky around our little neighborhood lite up in bright colors of reds, green, blues, and golds. For hours different neighbors took turns setting off their displays celebrating their Independence Day. Which would have been beautiful if we could have actually enjoyed looking out the window. However in our home it was different. My husband and I took turns holding not only our six year old but by that time one of our three year olds and our 20 month old joined him in being scared to death of the giants that continued to fight night after night.  “Why must the giants fight momma? Why are they so mad? What did we do to upset them?  What if they don’t see us they could step on us momma”  

My husband and I are exhausted and so are three of our babies.

Tonight we are going on night ten. I am hoping (fingers crossed) that tonight is the final night of celebration. For nine nights we have shared our bed with not one but three terrified kids. Sleep is not something that has happened much.  I have claw marks on my arms and neck where baby girl has literally climbed up me shaking to get away from the noise.  I have a place on my leg where wild man was squeezing me and refused to let go until he knew the giants were gone.  It’s been a long ten days.

Pray the fireworks stop tonight. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s okay to celebrate it truly is, just please be considerate of your neighbors and their kids (or pets.) 10 days of fireworks is more than enough.   

Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, RAD, thankful

The Different Emotions of Vacation

Last week my husband and I took our kiddos on vacation, even our oldest son got to go with us this year.  The idea of us going out of our comfort zone of home for a week was down right freighting to me.  With wild mans autism he prefers to stay home where he knows his surroundings and knows what he can and can’t do.  With diva, you never know when her RAD will surface and disrupt the day.  I was not looking forward to a week of the unknowns at all.  I am sure I’m not the only mother that feels like this.  So many different emotions surfaced throughout the week.

 

EXCITEMENT:

Saturday morning the kids woke up around 6.  We loaded up the last of the “must haves” in the van and headed out.  Have you ever packed for eight people?  The amount of clothes, toys, snacks, drinks, and bedding quickly filled the back of our 12 passenger van. The excitement that filled the van made me happy.  We were pulling out of the driveway when the first showing of “LAND BEFORE TIME”  made its appearance on the DVD player.  The kids love Littlefoot, Sarah, Ducky, and Spike.  It’s one of the few things all five agree on.  For the next 7 hours the excitement built.  I can’t wait to see the ocean!!  I can’t wait to go swimming in the pool!!! I can’t wait to stay up late!!! ARE WE THERE YET??!!!  The closer we got the more giggles and and more more questions we heard.

Big Al was not a fan of the ocean so his first day of vacation started off by searching for sea shells.  To his delight he found several shells to his liking.  Excitement filled the air when he discovered a large brown rock that he insists is dinosaur poop.  He carried said dinosaur poop around as if it was the Vince Lombardi Trophy.  Every day after that initial find he surveyed the beach looking for more dinosaur poo.  No rock was safe.  We have a bucket of dinosaur poo that now sets at the end of his bed.   Oh the joy of boys.

OVERWHELMED:

Panic sat in when my in-laws called to give us the news about our house we had rented.  They arrived to our beach rental before we did.  The owner of the house was still in the house.  Her mother had came down to visit the week before.  The night before we were scheduled to start our vacation in her home her mother fell and broke her leg/hip, meaning they would not be leaving the house.  The rental company had tried calling us all morning to work something out with us ( according to the messages on my phone when we got back home they called us 12 times) but were calling the house number not my cell number.  As my mother in law told me what was going on I became overwhelmed.  I had rented the house because it was child friendly,  It had a pool in case wild man could not handle the noise of the ocean.  It had a bedroom set up with two sets of bunk-beds so all the kids could be in one room which would be easier for me to “bed hop” when they could not sleep because they were not in their own beds.  It had extra locks on the doors so I would not worry (as much) about wild man escaping.  I had spent weeks looking and securing the perfect rental house.  How would they find me something comparable in just a few hours.  When we arrived to the new rental, I must say I was impressed. The rental agency had given us and upgrade, a beach front upgrade.  We still had a private pool and there was a bedroom for everyone.  Instead of having to walk a block to the beach we could now be on the beach in just a few steps.  The agency told us they would help us with anything we needed and apologized for having to move us.  I packed sheets for bunk-beds not queens so they brought us sheets and a pack-n-play for baby girl to sleep in.  I went from being overwhelmed with fear to being overwhelmed with gratitude.

 

AGGRAVATION: 

We were at the beach all of a few hours before diva’s RAD started rearing its ugly head.  You can’t baby her when it surfaces, but her grandparents can’t help but baby her. I know they mean well, but it really does not help her or us. No matter what I did for her it was wrong.  I could not comb her hair right, I could not put on her bathing suit right, heck I could not even make her lunch without her screaming at me and saying ” I just quit.  You are being so mean to me.”   She had them eating out of the palm of her hands and she knew it.  Because her dad and I were “so mean” she got to go on not one but three outings with them.  Just her and them.  Once they took her for a walk in the beach to look for sea shells.  The second trip, we had decided to take the kids on a golf chart ride around the isle while my in-laws went down the road to do a little shopping.  Diva did not want to go on the ride so she began to stomp around and fuss that she didn’t want to go.  I tried to talk her into it but she saw them looking at her so she began to scream and they didn’t want her upset so they took her shopping with them.  As she walked out the door she looked back at me and just smiled.   The third outing they were running out to the store for groceries, diva and Big Al had been arguing, so naturally they took her so she did not have to “put up with him being mean to her” Aggravated does not cover what I was feeling.  I was aggravated at the situation not at my inlaws, let me make that clear. They only want what’s best for her.   It’s not fair to the other kids, she manipulates the situations and she got rewarded for it.  We have spent months trying to move forward and it all went down the drain because she refused to listen to us. RAD, ADHD, and FASD are not things we just made up in our heads. Her actions made for a long week. Today at the house was awful, she kept screaming and trying to start fights. When I told her to stop her response was “I will just call my grandparents they will take my side”  Lovely….just lovely.  

 

HAPPY:

Wild man was so scared of the ocean the last time we went.  The noise hurt his ears and the sand sent his sensory issues into overdrive.  So I was nervous to go back this year.  For weeks before our trip he would talk about the water and how he hoped to see a shark.  Thankfully we did not see any sharks, but what we did see brought tears to my eyes.  As my husband held his hand and walked him out to see the ocean shortly after we arrived my heart raced.  My oldest son held tight to Big Al and Elmo while my father in law had Diva.  Instead of running back to the house like he did a few years ago, wild man ran into the ocean, magic pajama pants and all.  He had found his peaceful place.  He played hard in the water and loved every minute of it.  He even played in the pool once we managed to get him out of the ocean.  All week he looked forward to going out and swimming in the great big blue ocean.  I have never seen him more at peace than what I did there.   Just thinking about it makes me smile and makes me happy.  

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Wild man taking on the ocean
Other happy moments included watching the kids blow bubbles off the deck, getting baby girl to say cheese when she saw the camera, eating ice cream cones after every meal, and seeing the kids enjoy themselves playing with their dinosaurs and play-dough.  Celebrating Diva’s 7th birthday was lots of fun at the beach.  I was happy to see my husband be able to relax for a few days.

SURPRISED:

I was surprised that by children made the trip ( it took us 7 hours to get down there and 8 hours to return home) without anyone getting sick in the car or peeing in their car seat.  I was surprised that we watched most of the 14 different Land Before Time videos and no one fussed about wanting to watch something else.

THANKFUL:

I am thankful for the beautiful works of art God provided in the sky each morning.   His mix of colors in the morning sky is simply breathtaking . I am thankful that God found a way to make me a mom to seven unique kids.  I am thankful my oldest son got to go to the beach with us and for the time we got to spend together.  I am thankful for my husband who works so had to provide moments like this for us.

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As a mom I know there really is no such thing as a vacation for me.  I was still the one up with the kids at all hours of the night when they could not sleep or if baby girl needed a bottle. I woke up between 5 and 6 every morning because wild man does not sleep in just because its summer break and we are on vacation. I still did the laundry and fixed their meals.  I worried, I rejoiced, and I cried.  Being a mom is the most rewarding and hardest job I have ever done.  I am tired, I am unsure of myself, I am loved, I am hated, I am scared, I am hurt, and I am sure I would do it all again.

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We survived our vacation. We had a few bumps in the road but overall we made some great memories.  I can’t ask for anything better than that.

From our beautiful chaos to yours  take time to feel every emotion God gives you.  Emotions are powerful embrace them.

 

Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Summer Days and Autism

Aw summer. Time for relaxing by the pool, drinking mimosas, and sleeping in.  Oh wait I forgot I don’t have a pool, nor do I drink, and my six year old is autistic so sleeping in to him means 5AM.  Oh the joys of long summer days.

We started our official summer break two weeks ago.  And since then I can’t recall a single shower or trip to the bathroom that I’ve not had an audience of some sort. I swear I know more than get in the bathroom door and they line up knocking to ask me life’s important questions: Why are you in there?   Did dad go to work?  Can I eat these?  Can you open this? Why does the baby smell so weird?   All questions that to them can’t wait five minutes for me to get out of the restroom.

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With wild man he needs a routine.  He needs to know what is going to happen from the time he gets up till the time he goes to bed.  He likes it that way.  So with the school days behind us he has started his own daily routine of things that I thought I would share.

Thanks to the Sprout channel, I am reliving the all famous Teletubbies.  The kids love them.  I thought for sure my time with these brightly colored singing wonders was long over after my older children out grew of them.  I was sadly mistaken.   Wild man loves the Teletubbies, the bright colors, the songs, the movements.  He takes it all in.  And now he is sharing this love with his younger siblings.  Elmo loves the color green so naturally he is Dipsy.  Big Al is the tallest so he is Tinky-Winky.  There’s not a pink but red is close enough for diva so she is Po.  That leaves yellow Laa-laa for wild man. Baby girl just dances around and giggles. They spend the mornings, while waiting for the sun to dry the dew off the grass, acting out their favorite parts of the show or making up their own story lines.

telletubbies

And then we have the name and question game.  While he loves Teletubbies he also loves annoying orange.  (I know completely different yet he loves them both.  And yes I know its not the best thing for him to watch so please keep your negative comments to yourself)  Since the Annoying Orange trend started with him, he has given everyone in the family and a few close friends nicknames that we all go my now.  For instance he calls me Apple now.  His dad is coconut. The list includes his siblings which he has named: Kiwi = big sissy her boyfriend is banana, Tug boy= big bubby, little apple= diva, marshmallow= Big Al, Tomato= Elmo (because he hates tomatoes and wild man finds it funny, and baby girl is Pear.  My parents are Onion (my mom) and cabbage (my dad)  while my husband’s parents are blueberry (husbands mom) and blackberry(husbands dad).  My brother is cookie while his kids are carrot and bindi. My grandmother even has the nickname of candies. And a few close friends are pineapple and peach.  One of my best friend and her daughters are potato, butter and gray.  While another is cheese (or cheese head but in all fairness she does live in Green Bay, WI) Every day, I mean every day, he will stop what he is doing to come climb on my lap and ask what each and every person is doing.  Where is kiwi and banana today? Are they coming for a visit?  Is onion at work? Is cabbage at his house?  He starts at the top of the list and works all the way down.  Asking something about each and every person he has nicknamed.  After the questions stop then this conversation starts:

wild man” HEY APPLE” “HEY APPLE”

me: What?

Wild man “blender”

me:  AYYYYYYYY

kids: laughing

It’s an Annoying Orange thing.  He says blender( or any object for that matter) I yell the kids laugh it repeats.  Sometimes for minutes sometimes for an hour.  Just depends on them.  Again I know the show is not great, don’t judge me.  We all have our weak moments in parenting.  It makes him happy and to me that’s important.

Once the grass drys its time to get outside and play.  He loves to be outside more than anything.  He could swing for hours.  Baby girl is still getting use to having everyone home all day everyday.  She is not liking sharing momma with the rest of the kiddos.  So while the bigger kids are outside swinging and hunting for dinosaur eggs she is all cuddled up trying to squeeze in a quick nap on momma’s lap.  She has defiantly become more clingy over the past few weeks.

After lunch its time to play school.  The school system here is fantastic.  The kids received backpacks filled with coloring books, easy read books, math, reading and social studies work books, flash cards and crayons.  Everything they would need to keep up with their studies over the summer. The funny thing is they love to do their “studies” after lunch, even the two little guys.  They actually ask for it.  While they work hard doing their math sheet or their coloring page, I pull out one of the books and read to them.

 

The fact that wild man is doing any of this things with his siblings this year amazes me. He does more parallel play than actual playing in most cases.  He has come so far since the move.  A year ago he would have been in another room while they watched TV, or if they came outside he went inside, or if we were at the table he would be wondering around the house.  But now he is trying to be with us, in his terms.  And his siblings and I love it. This could turn out to be an amazing summer.

At night he has a routine as well.  After he is all tucked in under his airplane sheets he has three things that must be done. First he sings his ABC’s both forward (A,B,C,D,E,etc ) then in reverse (Z,Y,X,W,V, etc). Second he recites the Pledge of Allegiance. And then he prays. While he says his prayers he thanks God for his apple and his coconut. He thanks God for his siblings, kiwi, tug boy, little apple, marshmallow, tomato, and pear.  He thanks God for the good day he had and asks God to help him sleep.  It’s the same prayer night after night word for word but it is the sweetest prayer I have ever heard.

My days may start early and my bathroom breaks may now draw a crowd, but I love being their mom.  Some days are down right exhausting but I would not trade them for anything.

His superpower is Autism what’s yours?

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Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, life, love, Mom life, thankful

We Had a Breakthrough…He tried Pizza!!

When wild man was two, he ate like any normal two year old.  We could go out and eat just about anywhere. By the age of two and a half he had stopped eating.  Back then we knew something was different.  He did not talk like other two year-old’s, he did not make eye contact, he would sit and line cars up for hours, he did not play with others he preferred to be by himself. He is destructive. He can tear through a clean room faster than anyone I know leaving a trail of broken toys and books in his path.  Back then we knew but didn’t want to know.  We contributed his delays to his unique begin and brought in early intervention workers to help get him caught up.  By the age of three we had a diagnosis, he was autistic.

My older two children were what I would call picky eaters. But even they would eat chicken, pizza, and pastas. I have had many people tell me, “If he were mine he would eat what I fix or not eat at all” or “Why don’t you  just make him eat.”  Autism does not work that way.  Wild mans diet consists of Stage two Gerber peas, orange creme yogurt,  KFC mash potatoes ,bread sticks, Cheerios, Trix, Pringles honey stix’s, fruit snacks, french fries,peanut butter and chips Dill pickle flavored or cheese flavored.  That’s it.  He will drink water, apple juice, Kool Aid, and milk.  He just turned six.  And even though his food choices are limited he is a happy healthy little boy.

I packed his lunch everyday this school year.  He ate with the regular kindergarten class and it did not take long for one of the little boys to make fun of him eating stage two peas.  Those are for babies are YOU a baby?  He came home and said, No eat peas momma I no baby.  I called the school to see what happened and was told the story.  The teacher talked with the little boy but the damage was already done.  And with one child in the class allergic to peanuts wild man’s limited list of foods was now down by two.  But we managed and made it through the school year.

For the last few days, he has been on this “Let me made food” kick.  He has help cut up vegetables, buttered bread, and tried his hand at making smoothies.  He is becoming a fine little chief.  If only he would eat what he made.   Well yesterday he decided he wanted pizza.  We turned on the over and got all the ingredients ready.  I keep it simple, pepperoni and cheese. He was so excited.  He arranged the pepperoni in straight lines and made sure there was enough cheese to cover all the sauce and crust.  He watched it bake while he reminded me it was the longest 15 minutes of his life.   When it was done I removed it from the oven so it could cool.  That’s when it happened.

 

      HE ASKED FOR A PIECE OF PIZZA!!!!

Pizza, Food, Italian, Cheese

At first I thought I misunderstood him.   I looked at him and asked, Did you say you want  a piece of pizza?  Yes momma,  I want that one (pointing to the square piece perfectly in the middle)  Alright then, let me get it for you.  Thanks momma, thanks alot. He was all smiles.  My husband and I stared at each other.  I quickly got everyone’s plates together and told my husband to get a plate for wild man.  If he asked for that piece of pizza he was going to get it.  My husband placed the plate in front of wild man at the table.  He looked at it and then sniffed it.  Again he smiled.  He looked over at me and asked, Me eat now momma?  Yes baby you can eat now.  So he touched it, he moved the pepperoni around, he pulled the cheese off, and then he took a bite.  And he swallowed.  Momma me not like the bread.  He said.  That’s okay buddy you don’t have to eat the crust.  Okay momma thanks.  So he sat at the table, picking at the pepperoni and at the cheese.  He licked the sauce off the crust and he ate dinner with us.  For the first time in over four years all of my kids were at the table eating the same thing….pizza.  And it was wonderful.   We have had pizza many nights for dinner over the last six years, why he decided last night he would eat it I will never understand, but I am ever so grateful he did.

To most this might not be a big deal.  It may sound silly.  To us this is huge.  For him to be able to try a new food without throwing up is a major accomplishment.  For him to sit at the table with us and staying with us for the full dinner is major.  The whole night was a miracle. For in that twenty minutes we were just a normal family.

 

Nothing about autism is normal.  Some days are just plain hard, but nights like last night give us hope.  Doctors told us he would not talk, yet at five he said his first sentence.  We were told he might not walk or run do to injuries that took place before he found his was into our home, but he not only runs he climbs and jumps.  When man says you can’t Our God says YES YOU CAN!! It’s all in His precious timing.

Wild man may never eat pizza again, or it could become one of his stable foods, only time will time. It may take another four years before he tries something new.  And that’s okay also.  For now we will celebrate the small victories because life is about the small victories.

 

From our beautiful chaos to yours celebrate in all things big and small.

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life

The Grocery store experience 

We all eat so therefore we must go to the grocery store. As a mother of five little ones I try my best to go when most of my little loves are at school. It’s both easier and cheaper on me.  However some days things don’t workout like I plan and I end up taking a few with me.  I’m sure we are entertaining for our fellow shoppers to watch. Which leads me to this blog.

A few days ago my youngest and I made a quick run to the local Food City before picking up the boys from preschool (I had ran out of coffee, I don’t function without coffee) Naturally she had been fighting sleep all morning so as soon as I placed her in the car she was out.  At this point I had a decision to make: go to the store anyway and hope she did not wake up or go get in the preschool pickup line early let and let her sleep and then take my three youngest to the store.  I did not feel like spending twenty extra dollars on cheap matchbox cars or whatever toy happened to catch my boys’ eyes so I opted to take my sleeping beauty to the store.  

I know we would not be long so I carried her. She did look sweet with her little head rested on my shoulder as I made my way up and down the aisles.  People stopped and let me cross in front of them or just stopped to smile at her.  The words “she precious” and “look how sweet she is” came out of more than a few mouths.  When I got to the register to checkout there were only two lanes opened. As I waited patiently a young clerk, early twenties max, came over and asked if I was ready to checkout. I told him I was, after all I was standing in line, and he took my little shopping chart and walked it over to lane 3.  He offered to carry my things out, but I told him I could manage and smiled. I grabbed my three bags in my right hand(I always buy more than what I go in for)  and out the door we went.  As we were walking out the door two more people stopped me and asked if they could help me to my car.

Why can’t people’s response be this way when I have my son with me?  

This question has made me both mad and hurt me over the last couple of days.


JR loves to spend time with me. The problem if we are anywhere other than our home his system goes into overdrive.  When I found out the grocery store had special needs shopping charts I was ecstatic.  The normal charts he can no longer get his legs in and if I place him in the chart there is no room for the groceries.  Does not sound like a big problem, but to an autistic six year old trust me it is. So about a month ago I decided to take him shopping with me.  Just me and him while my husband stayed home with our other kids.   He was so excited.  When he saw the chart his arms started flying. He giggled and said ” hey momma look at me” all through the store.  He is loud, he can’t help it.  He covered and uncovered his eyes a thousand times for the fluorescent lights hurt them. He covered his ears as we passed the cooler because the humming rolling off of them was loud.  He screamed when he saw the lobsters in the water tank. He didn’t notice the people starring at him. But I did. Some shook their heads while others whispered.  Times like these I am thankful for his autism for he does not see that they are judging him.  I even passed a store employee and I watched as her eyes traced my son as to say, ” why are you using that chart he looks perfectly normal”  I tried to let it go but I could not. I went up to the employee and told them to thank the store manager for getting the charts in. I made it a point to tell her he was excited to be able to go to the store with his mom and that I wished every store, not just grocery stores, had these charts.   She facial expression changed a little and she said she would be sure to tell the store owner. I thanked her and proceeded to go check out.  We waited our turn in the long line and not one person offered to help me and me wailing six year old to the car they were just happy to see us go.

I get it, babies are cute and sweet and everyone makes over them.  And for the record my daughter is adorable, however so is my son.  I’m so tired of the stares. And he is only six.  What will it be like when he turns 10, 16, or 21?  Why could they not see that he was just enjoying the day with his momma? Why would you ask a mom if she needed help with a sleeping baby and not ask to help a mom who’s child is having a meltdown?  I get so tired of the If you took him out more he would learn to behave comments.  It does not work that way, he does not work that way.  Why can people see what I see in him? 
From our beautiful chaos to yours look past the differences of others we are all beautifully made. 

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, Mom life

Simple trip to the Zoo

Tuesday was an exciting day for my five year old son. It was the big field trip to the zoo. For the last few weeks he had talked about “zoo day.”  We had spent hours looking at pictures of the different animals he would see there and learning the different sounds they made. He was excited and I was excited for him.

The permission slip was signed and his lunch was packed and the school had agreed to let his aid go with him. So on Tuesday he got up and got ready and out the door he went.  I dressed our other little ones and dropped them off to preschool and headed to the zoo. 

It was raining some but not enough to ruin the day. Wild man loves to play on the rain anyways so it did not even phase him.  He was all smiles.  He walked in between me and his aid “Ms T” and pointed out to everyone that his momma and baby sister was there.   He engaged well with the questions his aid asked him about the animals and he was eager to share his knowledge of his favorite ones.   My heart could not have been more full. 

He loved the giraffes
 

His class was given tickets to feed the giraffes.  I was not allowed (safety measures for the animals) to take the stroller passed a certain point, so he and Ms T went with the class so he could take his turn feeding the giraffe.  Pure joy came across his face as the giraffe took the carrot from his hand.  He clapped and jumped and smiled from ear to ear.  Life was good. 
When it was time for lunch we made our way over to the picnic tables so that the class could eat together.  The teacher and other staff passed out the brown bagged lunches the school sent and passed out the lunches the parents had sent.   My son sat patiently ( well as patiently as he can) waiting on his lunch.  The teacher asked me several times what I had sent his lunch in.  I replied, “I sent his green camouflage lunch box. The same lunch box he has used all year.”  They looked and looked and then sent someone to the bus to see if it was with another classes lunch.  The teacher then came over and looked at my son and asked him(and me) if he had taken it out of his backpack that morning.  My son’s reply “backpack backpack backpack” while clapping his hands in shear delight.  She then looks at me and says, “Well if he didn’t take it out of his backpack then it’s not here. We are working on teaching him to do things like that on his own.”  “We have an extra school lunch he can have if he wants.”  
Mad is an understatement.  First off, my son is still new to the “regular kindergarten room”. He goes to the regular room half a day and then to his autism classroom the other half and he has only been doing this about two months. He is still getting use to the idea and still learning the day in and day out routine of how things are done in a regular classroom. Second, he takes his lunch to school EVERYDAY because he has sensory issues that prevent him from eating “normal foods”.  Third, I get that they are trying to teach him to be independent however if you know he brings his lunch everyday would it have hurt to check his backpack that morning to make sure he took it out especially if you know he is still forgetting to take it out of his backpack?  I understand that the morning was most likely filled with chaos as the children were excited about the trip, but he is the only autistic child in the class one extra step would have changed the whole outcome of the day.   

We declined the lunch from school.  I am sure that the ham and cheese sandwich was delicious but my son does not eat meat. I do appreciate the teacher giving him her chips from her Subway meal she brought, I do really but I could tell she was not happy about it.   As I looked at him and then looked at all the other children eating their lunch I became aggravated.  This is Exactly why I was worried about him being placed in a regular classroom.  He looks normal and people overlook his abilities and lack of abilities.  But the truth is he is not like all kids his age.  What if I had not been there? Would anyone even noticed that he did not have a lunch?  

I seen the meltdown coming so I walked over to the little consession stand and paid $12 for two orders of nachos and cheese and two juices, one for him to eat and one for me to eat so he would understand it was safe to eat.  As I walked back over to the table I received the “we were told  to pack a lunch” head shakes and glares from some of the other parents while a few of the other kids wanted to know why my son got special treatment and got to eat from the consession stand when they were told they were not allowed.  At the end of the thirty minute lunch I was ready to scream.     

His aid was overly apologetic. She felt terrible that his lunch and been left at school.   She was sorry and I believed her. She went as far as to text my sons other teacher (the one in his autism classroom) to let her know he would need a snack when he got back to class. She could tell I was upset because my son was upset with the events that had taken place.  
As I left the zoo to pick up my preschoolers from class, my son was walking around with Ms T looking at the monkeys.  He was back to his happy go lucky self and I was thankful, still mad but thankful. 

As a mom I worry about things like this all the time. Is he being well cared for while at school? Is he making friends? Are other kids picking on him? Is he really adjusting to the new class or are they just overlooking him?  

And while I want to be mad(I am still pretty ticked) I am going to remember this day as a day my son played with the giraffes and talked to the zebras.  Yes we had a meltdown and people stared but at this point on our autism journey I don’t care.  It’s part of our life.  The smiles and laughs that day far outweigh the forgotten lunch. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s not the situations that make us it’s how we react to them that shape us.