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 Being a mom, Children, Children with disabilities, family, Lesson learned, life, Mom life, Rude

To the Rude Lady at McDonald’s…

Friday nights are our house have been Pizza Fridays for a few years now.  When you find something your autistic son will eat with you..you stick with it.  Tonight was to be no different.  My husband would call when he was about to get off work, I would place our order and he would pick it up on his way home.  4:30 came and went.  5:30 passed. By 6:30 the kiddos were raiding the cabinet looking for snacks until the pizza got home. My husband called around 6:45 when he got back into cell service range to let me know he was still about 2 hours away from home. 

So I called our pizza place and by this time in the evening on a Friday night we were looking at a 45 minute to hour wait on our order. By the time I ordered it and loaded up the kids and picked it up then drove back home it would be way passed our little loves bedtimes.  What to do what to do.  With it being pizza Friday I had not prepared anything to fix for dinner so take out it would be.  After a few minutes the kids agreed on McDonald’s (not my first choice) but with them serving breakfast all day long each child would be able to eat something for dinner. 

Now I know when people see my twelve passenger van in the drive thru the looks start coming my way.  And I know dear rude lady when you pulled up behind me you must have thought Great day why did they not go in?  It’s okay, most people think that. Many people see our van and assume its a church bus or a hotel shuttle bus, but rest assure it’s just our family van.  


Now there was no need in you pulling up behind me and honking your horn for me to move out of your way.  After all I was behind four other vehicles, I was not the one holding up the line.  And when the young cashier asked me to pull up to the third window to wait on my son’s sausage biscuits there was no need in you pulling up right behind me and given me the finger.  I was doing what they asked me to do.  I could have stayed at window number two and made you wait even longer on your food.  After you were handed your food and went to pull out you didn’t have to start blowing your horn again for me to move, for I was still patiently waiting on my four year olds food. As you maneuvered your car out of the drive thru line you did not have to roll down your window and start cussing me and saying things like “if you had so many orders you should have went inside.  Get out of my damn way”  I can assure you we had only one order and it was under twenty dollars.  


As You glared at me as you pulled off while driving with one hand so you could use your other hand to “wave” at me with one finger, I could not help but get a little angry because my children were starting to ask why you were so mad at us.  

When we finally got our order the cashier apologized for it taking so long and then she apologized for you.  See she had heard the scene you had caused and felt the need to show me not all people are mean. She suggested that you must have been having a bad day for normal people don’t act that way.

As we drove back home we passed a couple setting but the road.  What were they doing by the road you ask?  Well they were waving and smiling at the cars passing by.  They were spreading joy not hate.  As I passed them, even though I was still angry with you, I caught myself waving back and smiling back at them.  Their kindness won over your hatefulness.  

I hope you saw them as you drove off.  I hope their kind gestures caught your eye and made you think about the way you acted just moments before.  I don’t know your story, maybe the cashier was right and you were having a bad day. Maybe you had received some bad news at work or you were fighting with your spouse, whatever made you act so ugly in front of my kids I hope your evening got better after seeing those two strangers shared a friendly smile with you.  I know my evening was better after seeing them.

I could have come home still angry with you and your actions.  I could have complained to my husband about it after he finally made it home. I could have been mad at him for working so late which led to me having to go out in the first place. I could have spent my evening angry but I didn’t. I didn’t allow you to steal my joy this evening.  I chose to be happy like that couple standing alone side the road just waving and smiling at complete strangers.  

In all things choose to be happy, choose to see the good not the bad, spread love like the couple that was standing by the road not hate like the lady behind me at McDonald’s. We need more love and less hate in this world.

From our beautiful chaos to yours I hope you have a fantastic weekend.  Look for ways to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter, a smile can change a persons attitude towards a whole evening. 

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

Sorry Daddy but Only mommy can….

My husband has been working a lot of overtime recently, partly do the crazy weather and to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so my kids are use to it being just me at the house to cater to their daily needs.  So when he was actually home all weekend I thought I would get a to relax a little bit and he could take over.  My little ones had other plans.

Here are a few things that over the weekend the kids said “No Daddy Only mommy can do…..

Only mommy can build my Lego house just right.

Only mommy can make my waffles, and make his toast,and her breakfast muffins because it’s Sunday morning why would we  all want to eat the same for breakfast 

No daddy only mommy can go to the bathroom and sit in the floor while I poop in the potty so I’m not alone (with two boys potty training I spent hours in the bathroom floor this weekend) 

Only mommy can fix my hair, I won’t like it but only she can fix it

Only mommy can watch the YouTube video that sings Zombie Arms because I have to watch it and dance at least 100 times a day

Only mommy lets my finish off her coffee (after I’ve stuck my fingers in it)

Only mommy slips me a piece of chocolate if I promise to eat all of my lunch

Only mommy can sing my  Jesus songs with me at night cause her voice is sometimes kind of pretty

Only mommy can take me to bed cause  if she sings with diva she needs to sing the ABC song “frontwards and backwards” with me

Only mommy can yell at the Packers while they play ball daddy 

Only mommy can read me my book with holding my baby sister and making dinner because I have to hear the story right then

Only mommy can rock me to sleep 

Only mommy can kiss my boo boo better you can try daddy but it’s not the same

Only mommy can get up with Elmo at 430, big Al at 530 and manage not to need a nap

Only mommy can stay calm while we run crazy playing cowboys and dinosaur hunters with inside the house because it’s to wet to play outside 

Only mommy can push me in the swing cause she does silly rhymes while she pushes me up up up

Only mommy can build the bestest living room forts

Only mommy can help me with homework I forgot about until 20 minutes before bed on Sunday night

Only mommy can cover our faces in kisses cause she says she will miss this chaos when we grow up 

There are so many things that go on throughout our days here, it’s nice to know there are a few things that the kids seem to think no one else can do.  My husband is a terrific dad and he spends his fair share of time doing things with the kids, but on weekends like this one it’s nice to know they still love their momma and still think only mommy can on a few things.  

Taking a nothing special weekend and making beautiful memories.  I call that success. 

Posted in Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, Church, Faith, family, Hope, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Back to School 

Well it’s that time of year again.  The 2017-2018 school year has kicked off.   This year we have one in his second year of college, one in 2nd grade, one in 1st grade and two in preschool.  Our oldest daughter graduated college last May and our baby girl is at home with me seeing that she is not yet two.


With each school year we all can count on one thing….Germs. And even if your child does not share well with others, they will share their flu bugs and viruses I’m sure of it.  It does not matter how much the school cleans someone is always kind enough to share their sickness with with the rest of the class. It happens. And this year is no different.  We made it a full two weeks before the stomach virus hit our house with vengeance.  Over the last week it has claimed five victims in our house: my husband, Wild Man, Elmo, Diva, and myself.  Thankfully baby girl and Big Al were spared this go around. So far.

The good thing about were we live is that we get what I call unique holidays at our schools.  The kids had a four day weekend last week. They were off last Friday, due to the NASCAR race and then they were off Monday for this little thing called a total eclipse, maybe a few of you heard about that 😉.  Even way, with the extra days off thankfully the kiddos didn’t miss much school (Diva was the only one who actually missed school with her being sick on Tuesday) 

While taking care of the sick ones I could not help but notice that even though they all ended up with the same virus they all responded to it differently.  With Wild Man even though he was sick he did not slow down nor did he complain.  If I wasn’t having to clean up after him I may have never noticed he was sick by his actions.  That’s one of the hardest things about him being autistic, he does not/can not tell us he is sick.  We just have to watch and see what happens and try our best to fix it.  With Elmo, if he is sick you know it.  He becomes mommy’s cuddle bug.  He wants to be held and babied until he is all better.  He still believes in the power of “mommy’s magical kisses” and if he receives enough of these boo boo kisses he will be cured from whatever ails him. With Diva, well if someone has something she does not she can convince herself she has it.  She wants left out of nothing.  She is a hypochondriac.  I never seen her actually get sick but she insisted she was dying mover the less. And then there’s my husband….if any of you reading this are married you know what I’m talking about.  I love him dearly, so I don’t need phone calls or emails telling me that I’m ungrateful or that I’m being a disrespectful wife keep those to yourself, but I can’t be the only wife who’s husband needs more attention than a child when he is sick.  He came home from work and laid on the couch. I asked him to go to bed several times but was met with the “I’m fine right here don’t worry about me” comment. I know he was fine,  but our house still must function whether he is sick or not.  Do you know how hard it is to try to keep five kids quiet while their dad tried to rest on the couch?  It’s almost impossible.  ***ugh*** And then there’s me, mom.  When mom gets sick, well mom must keep going.  We power through the upset stomach and headache because our family needs us; sick or not.  It’s what most moms do. 

The way we responded to the stomach virus made me think about the way we as Christians respond to God.  We all had the same virus, God offers us all the same love.  We all responded to being sick differently, as Christians we all respond to God’s love differently.  Some of us choose to cuddle up with Jesus and seek Him out to make us feel better and feel safe. Others can keep on going day in and day out without slowing down to acknowledge His presence.  Still others crave Him when it’s convenient for them and then quickly turn back towards worldly things when we want to fit in.  And still others just keep going through life the same way as always because that’s just what they do, right or wrong.  

Walking in faith is not always easy and no two people walk this path the same way.   Our relationship to God is a personal one, you can’t do or respond the exact same way as another person because that is their journey not yours.  Just as the stomach bug effects so all different so does God’s grace.  What He has planned for me is not what He has planned for you.  We are all unique in His eyes yet He loves us all the same.
From our beautiful chaos to yours: Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!  Remember God loves you just the way you are❤️

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, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, foster parent life, life, love, RAD

When Reality Slaps You in the Face

I’ve started this post more than a dozen times.  Each time I get a few short paragraphs in and lose my cool.  So after taking a few weeks to calm down I will try again.  

One of my biggest pet peeves is being lied to especially if I ask a direct question.  As foster parents we are accustom to getting what I call half truths from the birth parents. These are just as nerve racking.  But when you come face to face with your foster child’s parents and they know their rights are being terminated and you ask them questions so you can help their child in the future why oh why do they feel the need to lie?  

My problem:

Two weeks ago we went back to the geneticists for our daughters test results. We know she has RAD, reactive attachment disorder, and ADHD and ADD but we also felt there was more going on.  I remember talking to her (birth) mom in the hallway of the courthouse after a few of the hearings.  She assured me that she never used drugs or alcohol while pregnant with her.  But in my heart I knew she was not being honest with me.  Even after her adoption was final and we were in the process of adopting her younger siblings the mother continued to swear to me she would have never used anything that would have caused injury to her second oldest child.   Her three children born after diva all had some type of substance in their system so naturally I questioned the truth in her statement. 

After we moved and she started seeing her therapist, the therapist pointed out that diva had many signs of a child with FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and suggested we make an appointment with the geneticist.  It took a few months but we finally got in and he spent over two hours with our little girl. After all the questions, the blood work, the measuring and re measuring he asked us to come back in a few weeks for the results.  

I was a little nervous going back in for the results.  But there in black ink we had it. Along with some other minor things our daughter did in fact have FASD.  What we had suspected for a while was confirmed. I was heartbroken, angry, relieved and sad. I was heartbroken for my little girl. For the life she would have to face. Her struggles were already so hard to add this on top of it seemed so unfair.  I was angry. Why had her mom done this to her? Why had she lied over and over when I had questioned her about it? I was relieved to have yet another piece to our daughters puzzle filled with an answer. So many times in foster care we don’t receive the whole story about the child coming into our care. Many times even after adoption through foster care there are still many missing pieces to their story.   I was sad for her.  Sad for the unknown of how this would affect her later on in life.  Sad that I could not undue the damage that had been caused by someone else.    

Why did her mom think it necessary to lie about what she had done? Did it make her feel better about herself? Does it help her sleep at night?  Does she even care what she has done to her children by making the poor choices she made?  

My daughter, now seven, as made the song Even If by Mercy Me her anthem.  She sings it everyday multiple times a day.  You can read about it in my blog called Even If.  She is wise beyond her years. ​
​The odds are stacked against her, yet she finds comfort in the fact Jesus is always by her side.  Her faith is strong when mine seems weak. Yes we will have bad days, yes the struggle with school work and behaviors will be real and difficult at times but we will get through it all day by day with Gods help.  

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 adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, college, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful

A Visit from Big Sis

I knew this summer would be hard on the kids. I have tried to make it as fun as possible but I am not the one they expect when it comes to summer time. See for the last four years every summer their big sissy loaded up her car and came home. (The importance in that being three of my kiddos aren’t even four yet so it’s been like this their whole life) For three full months they had her all to themselves and they loved it.  

I knew last summer would be her last full summer with us, but I didn’t tell the kids nor did I want to think about it much. So when she was here last summer worrying about not finding a summer job, her dad and I told her not to worry just relax and enjoy her summer.  Truth be told I didn’t want to share her with a summer job anyway, I knew our carefree summer days were limited.  She would graduate this past May. 


After her graduation she and her boyfriend took a vacation and then headed towards D.C., the area she will now call home.  I was excited when she called last week and asked if she could make a quick trip down to see us before getting completely settled into her new life up there. 

She takes her “job” as Big Sis very serious. She calls, FaceTimes, and checks in on the kids several times each week.  Wild man will tell you “Sissy is my most favoritest thing ever” She spends one on one time with them when she’s here and try’s her best to make sure to do something with them as a group. This visit was no exception. A few months ago when the Cars 3 trailer started playing she was talking to the boys and they asked if she would go with them to see it. She said she would love to go.  She was no more in our front door when the boys asked if she was ready to go see the movie.  They never forget a sissy promise.  After quickly freshening up from the seven hour car ride she help me load the excited little ones into the van and off we went. It was wonderful. It was the first movie experience with all five little loves so I was thankful to have the theater to ourselves, but to my surprise the kids did great. There were laughs, giggles, some tears (Sis and I cry at all movies) and of course popcorn. The kids had a ball. 

Next up we headed to the zoo.  It was drizzling the rain so the zoo was pretty empty.   I don’t mind going out with the kids in the rain. The rain normally keeps people in so we have don’t have to deal with the judgements stares that come from others when you have a child with autism or when they are judging you for having some many little ones. They can just be kids. Besides a little rain never hurt anyone anyways. I think the animals like that we ventured out as well. Many came up and playfully interacted with the kids. 

What could be better than the zoo with sissy?  How about seeing dinosaurs with sissy.   

On Friday we loaded up the van and headed out in search of dinosaurs. We were in luck when we stumbled across a dinosaur park not to far from us.  The boys loved seeing the big T-Rex and the longnecks. Elmo made sure we knew all the names of the dinosaurs as we followed the trails.  The kids dug for fossils and we took pictures of every dinosaur I knew and then some.  Another fun filled day had by all.


On Saturday morning Sis and I took Wild man to pick up McDonald’s. He always has to take a ride in her jeep. She said her goodbyes to the boys, dad, and baby girl before we headed out to watch diva at her dance recital. The recital date and time had changed from its original schedule making it possible for Sis to keep her promise to diva to see her preform.  Diva wanted Big Sis to do her hair so she did. We were both excited to see her perform.  She was able to dance in two numbers for her very first recital and she did a fabulous job .


After the recital it was time to say our goodbyes. She did not come back in the house for fear of upsetting the boys.  They realized what was going on as soon as I closed the door behind me. 

This summer will be different for all of us, but I am so thankful that I have a daughter to loves being a big sissy to all the little ones. I know things will be different, there suppose to be different. But I know in my heart she will always be their big sissy. No amount of miles will change that.  She may be all grown up and on her own now but she will always be my girl. So thankful she took a few days to come down and spend with them.  They loved having her here. The time may have been short but oh the wonderful memories that were made.  Thank you Sie, thanks for everything 

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.  

19146096_1741459195869511_7374012619315526573_n
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.

19030718_1741455132536584_1217249116697873206_n

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.

19030662_1741459542536143_1911313164762687404_n

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.