I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Our First Day of Homeschool

Yesterday was our first day of homeschooling. Well, it was actually our second b/c I had a trial run on Saturday - just in case, I failed, you know. There's nothing like the pressure of having to educate a 3 and 5 year old. lol.

Seriously, though, I couldn't sleep. I kept having heart palpitations. I spent hours getting ready and getting prepared.

It was all over in 35 minutes.

How did that happen??? The readings, the songs, the crafts.... all over in 35 minutes. So, the kids may not have learned a thing, but I learned a lot.

Here's a list of things I learned during my first day of homeschooling...

1. Toddlers have the attention span of a flea. There is no point spending an hour and a half designing a game for a 3 year old (or should I say... MY 3 year old) when his attention span doesn't span for more than a minute.

2. Some kids (i.e. MY kids) are unable to tell the difference between shaving cream and whip cream. Before you decide to get all crafty and have your kids practice writing numbers in shaving cream... TELL them beforehand that it is not edible.

3. Eli has zero interest in learning numbers. "Writing numbers in shaving cream" turned into.... "Look, T-Rex! Snow!!!!"

4. Plastic dinosaurs can be washed in the dishwasher.

5. Tell Noah that he cannot eat finger paint.

6. Tell Noah that he cannot eat hand sanitizer.

7. Tell Noah that he cannot eat soap bubbles.

8. Make sure Noah is full before we start doing crafts.

9. Hearing "Is it lunch time?" for the 2,013th time will drive a person crazy.

10. A sure fire way to get Eli to practice counting is by telling him that he can have as many mini-marshmallows as he can count....

Did you know he can count to 167?

Just kidding. He didn't make it past 11 (thank goodness!), but he's determined to learn.

11. There is nothing morally wrong with bribing your children. :-)

Wow. I learned a lot didn't I? What's that saying... Everything I every wanted to know I learned in Homeschool? lol

Noah's Mom

I've been tagged

So, Dreama and Buddy both tagged me. I'll play along.

The rules of Tag are:

Each person posts the rules before their list, then list 8 things about themselves. At the end of the post that person tags and links to 8 other people and visits those people's spaces and comments letting them know that they have been tagged, and to come and read the post, so they know what they have to do. Eight things about me:

1. I have a twin brother
2. I have always dreamed of being in the Peace Corps
3. When I was growing up, I wanted to be an Ear Doctor
4. I chose my major by flipping a coin during my junior year of college
5. Nothing tastes better than my mom's chicken and dumplings
6. I was vegan for many, many years. ( #5 shows that that's no longer the case)
7. My favorite band is u2 - and has been for the last 20 years
8. I eat all the popcorn jelly beans out of a mixed back of Jelly Bellys
9. My mom still cuts my hair in the middle of her kitchen floor
10. I still eat Ramen Noodles about 3 times a week

Oh, an #11.... everyone I know who has a blog has already been tagged. Guess that's what comes from living in a small town. :-) But it was fun playing.

Noah's Mom

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lots of News

Okay, before I start... I'm a bit embarrassed about my emotional blogging meltdown from the other day. It's just a subject that's waaaaaaaaaay too close to my heart - and it gets me every time. I can't help it.

I also found out that Logan's mother signed over complete 100% custody to the State of Texas. In other words, she officially gave him up. She and the family are not entitled to any visitation rights and he is not able to come home for weekends or over Christmas. It wouldn't have happened anyway, but this cements it all. He's 11. I just cannot imagine signing your 11 year old to the State.

Anyway, I can't think about it.... because in the midst of all of this, there has been some good news.

First of all.... Nandini's Scrutiny Report was passed!!!! Yea! Thank you ALL so much for your prayers. The judge passed it and has scheduled our final court hearing for next Tuesday, August 28th. That's the night of our August 27th, so the decision will be made when we wake up in the morning and we'll find out the next day. Again... even though it's scheduled for the 28th, he might not show up for work or the lawyer may not show up. It might get postponed. But we're praying he's issues the verbal guardianship and then we wait about a month for written orders and then another month for passport and visa. If everything gets approved on the 28th, we are looking at travelling around the end of October or beginning of November! That is so amazing. So please keep Nandini in your prayers.

Now, on to some really awesome and amazing news.... Noah said "I love you!". Yes, you read right. He actually talked. It happened on Saturday.. and truthfully, I should've blogged then because the excitement was so overwhelming. Also, he hasn't talked since then. He's actually had a rather crummy past few days (three new abscesses have popped up - 2 on his bottom. Ouch!). But he did talk on Saturday. He just woke up and said, "Momma". Then, I said, "Baby, I love you" and he said:

Aaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiii wub ooooooooooooooooo

Exactly like that. Very drawn out. Probably only a mother could understand it. But he said it. Then Eli got really excited and started shouting, "Say elephant! Say crocodile! Say giraffe!" and Noah actually said "Eh.... Kuh....Guh"... the first sounds of each word. It was amazing. And, yeah, he's stopped talking since... but it's in there and I think we're on the verge of something big.

Oh! And he's started giving kisses again. The last time he freely gave kisses was April 13, 2003. We were at Aunt Jayne's house and I remember it clearly because it was the first time he ever crawled up a flight of stairs. He was 3 days shy of 18 months and before we left, he leaned over and gave James and Tyler a kiss. And that was it. That was the last time.

Well... all of a sudden, he started giving kisses again. He even kissed Julie on the cheek after LifeGroup last week. He's also started coming straight at us with his mouth open wide and his tongue sticking out. Not sure where he learned THAT type of kissing. I think maybe I need to find out what Elmo is up to these days. Maybe he's been watching the PG-13 version of Sesame Street. :-) And, no, he didn't learn it from me. Puh-leeze. My husband's British, not French. hahah - yeah, yeah, yeah. Poor joke.

But things with Noah have just been really cool. Granted, he's awake right now banging on the baby gate. (One good thing about all of this is that he hasn't figured out that he can push the baby gate down. We would be lost without it b/c it keeps him from wondering around the house banging drawers in the middle of the night). Right now, though, he can see me at the computer and he thinks it's completely unfair that he has to go to bed - and he's going to wake up the whole house with his frustration. He's also not talking anymore and I think maybe he just doesn't feel good - but I know it's around the corner. And I've got hope. And hope is AWESOME!

Better get to bed. Maybe turning of all the lights will make him quiet down a bit.

Noah's Mom

Monday, August 20, 2007

Please say a prayer for Logan

I can barely see the keyboard because my eyes are so welled up tears. Today is the day that Logan, a nonverbal 11 year old child with autism, gets sent to a State School in East Texas. I am beside myself with grief. He was a normal, typical developing child until the age of 3 - when he regressed into full-blown autism. His family life is a mess. No one wants him, and I honestly think they've all waited for this day to arrive. I haven't seen him in ages, but his grandmother (who is my mom's best friend) says that he gets so excited when they come over. He strokes her face and smiles. He knows what's going on. And today, they are going to restrain him, put him in a white van, and take him away from the only home he's ever known. They can't see him for 3 months - but it's not like they would anyway. Today, that sweet little boy is going to leave and never see his family again - never see anyone that he knows ever again - and it kills me. He's not going to understand. And he's a big kid. A big 11 year old. And they'll restrain him. And drug him. And more than likely, he'll be abused - both physically and sexually. Every day... every single day I read reports about abuse in school, group homes, and state-run institutions. Every day. That is not a joke. It is what keeps us parents fighting.. to ensure that it doesn't happen to our child. That's why we're so desperate to find a cure - desperate to find some way of increasing our child's skills, language, and abilities... because we don't want this to happen to our children.

Autism affects 1 in 150 children. That's an epidemic. What is this world going to be like in 15 years when there are hundreds of thousands upon thousands of 20 something year olds that need full-time care? There's no adult daycare facilities in place to support 1 in 150 adults.

I have to stop now because I am really working myself up. I just want to ask you all to pray for Logan because he doesn't understand. He's not going to understand why his mommy and daddy aren't going to be there when he wakes up tomorrow - and why they don't come to see him. I can just picture him staring at the window waiting for their car to pull up - and it never does. For the rest of his life, it never does.

Please God, help these children. It is not their fault. It is not their fault.

Nandini's Court Date

I know I haven't updated in about 10 days now, and trust me, I've got some really amazing things to do share (Noah said "I Love You" if that gives you a hint!), but we're getting ready to go into Dallas this morning for a doctor's appointment and I wanted to catch the "Prayer Warriors" bright and early. :-)

Our Scrutiny Case (for Nandini) goes before the judge in Pune tomorrow. Basically, it's a preliminary hearing where a social worker reviews our file and recommends our adoption (or not) to the judge. If the judge approves, then he sets a future date to review and (hopefully) award guardianship to us.

This is the deal, though:

1. The social work job is a poor-paid, entry-level job for recent college grads. There's a high turnover rate, so a lot of the time the report isn't ready for the court date. If not, it has to be rescheduled.

2. Even if the report is ready, most of the time, the judge calls in sick or takes a vacation day. I'm not joking. It's not uncommon for a case to go before a judge multiple times.

3. Even if the report is ready and the judge is there, the stenographer is absent. It's a high-turnover job, too, and they've had a lot of stenographer problems this year.

So.... if all three conditions are met tomorrow, the judge can approve our case to be reviewed in about a month's time for verbal guardianship. After guardianship, we wait about 2 weeks for the case to be written up and sent to the U.S. Then, we wait another 2 months for immigration clearance and for Nandini's passport and U.S. visa to be issued. Then, travel!

But, here's the thing. The judge is QUITTING! We don't know when and once he does, it usually takes weeks before a new judge comes on board. That judge may or may not know about adoptions, may have to go through a significant learning curve, and may be anti-adoption. We know a family that went through FOUR judges before they got approved. So, if our judge approves the Scrutiny Report, we're praying that he awards guardianship BEFORE he leaves and doesn't just say, "Hey, I can't be bothered. We'll wait until the new guy comes in". If that happens, then we have to start completely over because new judges won't accept rulings that were made under old judges.

So, basically, we're praying that the Scrutiny Report gets passed (for us and Kristin V's family, who are also going before the judge tomorrow) and that the judge sets a date and awards guardianship before he leaves. The difference is that Nandini could come home in November or December vs. April or May. True, in the end, it's just 6 months difference, but that's huge in the life of a child - especially one who has never known the love of a mother and father.

Anyway, if any of you could spare a prayer today, that would be great. Pune is 10 1/2 hours a head of us, so the decision will most likely be made while we're all sleeping tonight. We probably won't find out the decision until Friday.

I'll try to update you all on the wonderful Noah miracles later on today (although there is nothing miraculous about him being up since 3:00 in the morning!! Ugh... do you have any idea how much money a month we spend on coffee??)

Have a good week!
Noah's Mom

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Introducing Nandini




It's occurred to me that I haven't formally introduced Nandini to anyone. Those of you who see me in person know about her, but there are some of you who are reading this that have no idea that we're in the process of our third adoption.

If you know me in real life, you know that 5 minutes can't pass by without me dropping her name in to the conversation. It's kind of like when you were younger and had a crush on someone and you managed to sneak their name into every conversation just because the mere sound of the name was so thrilling - even if it had absolutely nothing to do with the subject being talked about. Do you know what I mean?
Nuclear Physics? Well, did you know so-and-so took physics last semester?
The Greenhouse Effect? So-and-so's favorite color is green.
Slight lull in conversation at the dinner table? What a perfect opportunity to bring up so-and-so's name!
Do you remember those days?

Well, that's what I'm doing with Nandini. I have the annoying ability to name-drop her into every conversation that I'm part of..... and those that I'm not a part of, too (oops!)

It's just I am so unbelievably excited that I can hardly think of anything else. And if I'm not name-dropping Nandini, then I'm name-dropping Noah and Eli. So please forgive me. I'm just giddy with joy. I cannot believe I'm going to have a little girl. I am just exuberantly bursting with excitement... and I will tell anyone within earshot how excited I am. I'm sure you all know that very well by now.

Anyway, I realized that I've never formally introduced Nandini to anyone. So let me proudly introduce you to my soon-to-be daughter. She will be three at the end of October and lives in an orphanage in Pune, India. She has some special needs, but seems to really be thriving. A family is in India right now with their little girl and they emailed us and said that Nandini

".. came across as so high-functioning... a spirited, confident, spunky gal. Your family will be blessed with her as an addition to it."
They also managed to get some video of her, so we should be getting that soon. And there's another family that's travelling on the 14th and they're going to take pictures, too. We can't wait!
We are still waiting for guardianship, which might take another two months. Then it'll take two months for the passport and visa. So, if everything is on time, then we should be travelling at the beginning of December. The courts are overwhelmed right now, though, so there could be a delay. I keep telling myself that it's all in God's timing, but I have to admit that I'm getting really anxious. I can't wait to go and bring her home.
If you get the chance, check out http://www.themartinslife.com/ . It's the website of the family that is in India right now. They are an amazing couple. It's pretty neat because the wife is from the U.S., the husband is from England, and they have two little boys - one who was adopted from Liberia - and now they are adopting a 4 year old little girl from Pune. Hmmmm.... English husband, American wife, two little boys, and a little girl from Pune. Sound like anyone you know??? :-) It turns out they used to live in Van. Can you believe it? How cool it would have been if they were still there. They used to work for Mercy Ships, but have now moved up to north to work for Justice for Children International. They are so inspiring. Anyway, if you get the chance, check out their blog message from Saturday, August 4th. And don't worry. You won't get sucked into reading another blog. They do maintain a family website, but the blog is only temporary - just to let family and friends know how things are going on their trip. I think they're going to post one more time once they arrive home tomorrow and that's it.
Hope everyone has a good weekend!
Noah's Mom (and Eli's mom) (and Nandini's mom)









Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pictures


These are some new pictures of the boys. The first is a family shot of my mom (Nonna) and my dad (Papa) with Noah, Eli, and Alaina. Isn't she cute! My brother and sister-in-law adopted her domestically a year ago in May. They tried for 10 years to conceive and had 2 miscarriages. She is such a little blessing. A definite prayer request, though. Alaina's biological mom is pregnant again and due next month. It's a little girl. This is the b-mom's 6th pregnancy. She's also an addict. She's been using heroin for the last 9 months, so the baby will definitely have to go on methadone when she's born. We've heard the withdrawal is awful. Fortunately, although, Alaina had drugs (meth) in her system at birth, she's fine and didn't go through withdrawal. But this little baby...
We still don't know if the b-mom will let my brother and SIL adopt. She says she wants them to adopt her, but it all depends on if they get a phone call from the hospital in time - before CPS steps in. And CPS will definitely step in. They were able to adopt Alaina the VERY last minute.

We're just praying that if God wants them to adopt the new baby, then He will provide. They aren't sure they can afford the adoption. They're unsure about any potential health problems. Just a lot of questions. But she IS Alaina's birth sister and we would love to for Alaina to grow up with her. We also know that this new baby needs an awesome family to love and raise her, and my brother and SIL truly fit the bill. So, that's what we're praying for at the moment.

The second picture is of Noah listening to his head phones. He does this for 15 minutes a day. He listens to specially orchestrated classical music that helps with auditory processing issues. His receptive language (his ability to understand what we say) has improved a lot since we started. He'll finish the current program in about 6 weeks. Then, he moves on to a new program that's an hour a day. 30 minutes 2x a day. Yikes! But isn't he cute in his headphones??

The third picture is of Noah in his spinning egg chair. The top comes down and forms an egg shape. He can close himself in it and then we can spin him around. Eli has actually taken over and claimed it. He's in it right now spinning around and around as I type this up.

The fourth picture is of Eli with ponytails in his hair. He really needs male influence in his life. :-) He also has a scooby doo purse and two pink dogs that he's named "Jenny" and "Poom-Poom". Sim is just now getting home from work on time (after spending 2-3 months working late everyday) and he took him fishing yesterday.... so he's traded his scooby doo purse for a scooby doo tackle box.

The fourth and fifth pictures are of Noah in his room. Believe it or not, we actually let him jump on the bed. It's an old bed with a mattress that belonged to me when I was a toddler - so it's not priceless or anything. Plus, it's really good exercise for Noah. He's learned to bend his knees now when he jumps.

The last picture is of Eli and Alaina. She is such a tomboy - despite all the bows and dresses. As you can see, she's hijacked Eli's dinosaurs. :-)

That's all for now.

Take care,

Noah's Mom







We made a decision (about school)

For some reason, I just haven't been motivated to blog lately. At night, when I'm having trouble sleeping, I end up constructing all sorts of wonderful blog entries in my head. Then, when I wake up, I have no desire to type them up. I have become incredibly lazy. I. Am. Lazy....

which might horrify some people, then, when I announce that we have decided to homeschool. That's right. We are now homeschoolers.

If I had posted this last Monday when we came to the decision, my blog would have been punctuated with all sorts of exclamation marks and "yea! whoo hoo!". But, honestly, all I've wanted to do this past week is just throw up. See... now we've made a decision. The decision is over. I notified his teacher. I'm ready to send the district our "Intent to Homeschool" letter. The hard part - so I thought - is done. Now, though, I'm faced with the fact that it is my sole responsibility to educate my children. Their brain is officially in my hands. I can't hand them off to a teacher for 7-8 hours a day... and then blame the teacher if it turns out they can't read or can't do long division. (Do they even do long division anymore? Isn't there some sort of "new" math or something?). I can't even write a grammatically correct sentence - and I have a Master's in Linguistics. What on earth have I done????

Sigh. I know God has led us to make this decision. That, I am 100% certain of. I do have an utterly cool story to tell about that... but will save it to later. I'll let the weight of our decision to homeschool settle first. But, I do know that God is leading us to this. I also know that God probably does not want the kids to be 38 years old and not know how to read... so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to teach them how... some day. Anyway, it's definitely God's plan for our family, but I still feel sick about it.

I emailed Noah's teacher last week. She finally checked her email and replied on Monday.

You know, it would have been MUCH easier if she'd just been a real cow about it. She could've given me just a teeny, tiny bit of nastiness so that I could print the email off, wave it triumphantly in the air and proclaim, "A-ha! See! I knew I made the right decision!". And then I could sweep Noah in my arms and tell him how that nasty teacher would never hurt him again.

But the truth is... she's totally lovely. She genuinely cares about him - and from her email, I knew she was really going to miss him. She even said she wants to remain a part of his life. So, now, I'm faced with the fact that I took Noah away from Ms. Teacher of the Year. She is so awesome. The truth, though, is that he only had one more year with her and then he would be transferred to Life Skills. Also, no matter how much she loves him, she doesn't love him more than me. I still feel guilty, though.

So.. .basically, since the decision was made, every single bit of insecurity that I have ever, ever, ever had (and there are truckloads of them) has resurfaced and made me doubt our decision. That is one big ton of weight to carry around. Anyway, last week, I decided to shake off those insecurities and went to our local homeschool bookstore. There were quite a few moms there, so I decided to act like I knew what I was talking about, and it became painfully aware after about 10 seconds that I don't know squat about homeschooling. But no one laughed at me or rolled their eyes, so I left with my dignity intact.... until we got home. I unbuckled Eli from his car seat and noticed that he didn't have his shorts on. I think that all of the blood drained from my place. "Eli, please tell me that you took your shorts off at the bookstore", I pleaded with him. Poor, sweet, Eli. He decided to lie in order to save Mommy's self-esteem. He told me that he did take them off and leave them.. but that story quickly fell apart when I went into the bathroom and saw them laying in the floor.

That's right. I sent my son off in public wearing a T-shirt, sandals... and his Cars underwear.

What kind of mother am I? How on earth am I going to teach him the intricacies of grammar and physics and world geography when I can't teach him that you can't go out in public in your skivvies???? On the brightside, at least he had his underwear on. He has a tendency to run around the house completely starkers. Now, THAT would have been embarrassing. The point is, though, that I didn't even notice that he wasn't wearing shorts. And I think I can educate him??

The decision has been made, though. There's no turning back. I've got 4 weeks to get my act together. It'll be fine. I think I'm just going through 1st year/pre-homeschool jitters. Noah's doing great, btw. I'm doing the RPM with him daily. He told me that he wants to take piano lessons, so I ordered a piano number book from pianoiseasy.com. I'll incorporate that into his math lesson, I think. He also told me that we learn about Jesus at church - and then smiled when he handed me the Jesus card. Ohh! And someone directed me to a really cool Bible based education site that actually has lesson plans and crosswords and really cool stuff. http://children.calvarychapel.com/site/curriculum.htm . They have lessons available in English and Spanish. It may be old news to most of you, but I just learned about it.

Anyway, I know there will be good days and bad days - just like the boys would have if they were in school. It'll be fine. Deep breath. Deep breath.

I've got some new photos of the boys to post later. So check back and you can "ooh" and "ahh" over how handsome they are. (How's that for a proud mother?).

Take care,

Noah's Mom