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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

Did my title grab your attention? Get your mind out of the gutter, people. This is a family-friendly blog (well.... for the most part.... well.... most of the time).

Yesterday at RPM, Noah picked that he wanted to do a science lesson, so he learned about birds and then in a later lesson he learned about the life of a bee.

See, you silly billies. Perfectly innocent.

I have to tell you - and I know I'm going to sound like a broken record - RPM is the absolute best intervention we've done for Noah. And we've tried everything. And, maybe, all those "everythings" added up to get him to where he could really benefit from RPM - I don't know. All I do know is that I thank God we found out about it... and I'm so thankful that we live in Texas so that we can go twice a week.

Let me just say that I looooooooooooove Austin, TX. Is it not the greatest place ever? Where else in Texas can you wear tye-dye, birkenstocks, and smell of patchouli - and no one even bats an eye? Where else do they have radio stations that play Pink Floyd and Def Leppard back to back? And where else in Texas do you find signs in the front yard that say "Say No to SuperWalmart!" And where else do you find a capital city whose slogan is "Keep Austin Weird"?

Oh, Austin, TX, I love you so much. If it weren't for your over inflated housing prices, your traffic jams and lack of parking spots, I'd move to you in a heartbeat.

Sigh.

But the most important thing about Austin - regardless of all my ramblings - is that it's where HALO is. And HALO is where Soma is. And Soma does RPM. And Soma hired Erica. And both Soma and Erica have changed Noah's life. And that has changed our life - forever.

I know I've harped on this before, but for years, we thought Noah had MR (mental retardation). For three years of public school (PPCD), his goals where so basic and simple: stack a block on top of another, give high-five, climb up three rungs on a slide ladder. For three years. And I have to admit. I was depressed... because he wasn't able to do any of those things. And Noah would get pretty frustrated, too. And then we found out about RPM - and I won't get all into it because I've blogged about it before (you can read my first post about it here). But, still, it always amazes me about the things Noah can do.

Yesterday, he was doing double digit math - like what is 33 + 27. And then he'd choose between two answers, and he always got the right answer. Each time! And he would do simple word problems - like, if you have 9 apples and I eat 4 of them, how many are left. Right now, he always chooses between two answers and eventually it will move up to 3 and then 4. But also, he did a few basic addition and subtraction problems without an answer key at all. For example, Erica asked him what 4 + 3 is and Noah pointed to a chart that has the numbers 1-10 on it and touched the number 7. So, I was really impressed.

He also learned about birds and bees and was able to tell us that a bee hive is a hexagon shape. Now, I didn't even know that! And then he would work on spelling. So, they have a letter chart and Erica would say, "Hive is spelled h-i-v-e. Spell it" and Noah would point to each letter on the letter chart.

This is coming from a child who for three years couldn't point to the letter A when a teacher said, "Where's A".

And it all comes down to learning about each child's individual learning needs. Noah has progressed so much in the last few weeks. We don't have to tear paper anymore for choices. He is starting to point to answers with his pointer finger instead of slapping at the answer with his palm. Also, we learned that he's very interested in texture, so we put some sticky tape on each answer and that motivates him to take his pointer finger and choose the answer. He's actually motivated to pick an answer because he likes the way the tape feels on his skin.

And for you moms with kids who have autism... you know how hard it is to find a motivator.

Isn't that genius!

And the more we go, the more he progresses. We are still in basic, baby steps... think of building the Egyptian pyramids. It's going to take a long time, but each step builds onto the other. That's why we go every 2 weeks - because the more we do it, the more he progresses - and we're not equipped to keep up with his learning strengths, but the people at HALO are.

I could just go on and on. And I know it's probably really boring for people to read about, but it's the most exciting thing to us. I have no doubt in my mind that Noah will learn to read and write. I know with all my heart that one day I'll be able to have a conversation with Noah - a heart to heart with my beautiful little boy - and I can't wait.

So that's it for now. I'll try to post later on today about the Green Smoothie challenge... and Eli's, uhm... interesting take on it. :-)

Leslie

Thursday, February 28, 2008

On the Bloggin' Train

Not much to blog about since I've now posted TWO DAYS IN A ROW! Yay for me!! Actually this is the THIRD day. Is that a record or what?

Actually, I really don't have anything much to say at all. I just wanted to be able to say that I've blogged three days in a row. Shouldn't I be getting a medal or a box of cookies or something for my endeavor?

I really need to get up and get busy. I'm taking Noah to Austin for RPM in an hour. Ack! What a drive. 4 hours up and back - with no time to stop off in between. I learned the hardway with a "sidetrip" to Ikea that you don't leave Austin after 3:30 pm - because then you get stuck in the major traffic jam that is known as Belton and Temple. My goodness. Anyway, my mom is coming up at 8:30 to watch Nandini and Eli - which means, yes, she's out of the hospital and doing much, much better. And if there's anything that can get her blood pressure up and running, it's spending a day with my younger two kiddoes. :-) (And, for the record, she is dropping that dodo doctor like a hot potato!)

Noah is doing good with homeschool. I can tell that it's going so much better now that we're able to get to Austin more often. We found out that the Rod and Staff curriculum is the best one for him to use. He loves it, loves it, loves it. It's a Mennonite curriculum and is really simple and basic - no flash colors or drawings - and I think it's perfect for him. I can't rave about it enough. Actually, right now, we're just going to our local Mennonite store and buying story books. I need to get off my rear and start listing things on Ebay so that I can cough up the dough for the whole curriculum - which is surprisingly not that much - but, you know, we forgot to water that money tree in our backyard and it died sometime ago.

Anyway, I am in love with our local Mennonite store. They have the best foods - and so, oh my goodness, cheap. I've wanted to go in there forever - but I had a bit of an embarrassing incident at a backroads Amish store in Pennsylvania back in '01 that has kept me from gracing the door of anything Amish or Mennonite..... I was at a conference in Philly and rented a car with my colleague and we went up to Amish Country. Her family raised horses and she was looking for some sort of old-fashioned horse thingamajig - so we actually had to go off the tourist track and head down into the local stores. Well, I was just being an idiot and thought nothing of going in a sleeveless denim minidress. Hello??? What part of my brain thought that would be a good idea? In my defense, though, I was in my 20's and didn't have kids (which changes everything). Well, I didn't realize it was a big deal until we stepped into a local farm/feed store that only had 2 young men working in it. No big deal right? Until 5 minutes later when I turn around and, I'm not joking, practically every Amish woman in the community was standing behind the wood counter with their arms folded and their eyes shooting daggers - right at me! And let me tell you, I think I know what Eve must've felt like when she made a dash for that fig leaf. I said a quick "See ya!" to my friend and made a mad run for the car. And ever since then, once I got back to Texas, I've always ducked my head whenever I saw someone who was Mennonite because I had this fear that there was an Amish/Mennonite newspaper that got circulated around the U.S. - and that maybe on page 2 there'd be a picture of me in my offending mini-dress and hoop earrings with the words "WANTED" printed across my face and underneath, written in red, 'HARLOT!". So, yeah, that incident scarred me and I was always too timid to go into our local Mennonite store.

But I'm so glad that eventually my love for good, cheap food outweighed by desire for a good reputation and I went in and discovered the Rod and Staff books. Oh I love them so much! And if you google "Rod and Staff - Autism", you'll find that a lot of parents who homeschool their kids with autism use it. Oh! And the best part is that the people who work in the store are so incredibly nice. Did you know they have a big community in Guatemala? How cool is that? There's actually a Rod and Staff storybook about a little boy in Guatemala - but it was sold out. But Sim and I had a really nice talk with one of the ladies in there. Her son lives in Guatemala - so she was delighted to see Eli (who, in turn, was delighted to discover that they sold neon blue shark gummies). We had a great time. And, oh, and there's a boy in the community who has autism - who was also adopted like Noah. I don't know. It was just really neat. Here, all along, I was afraid of being judged and I was actually judging them. We're all just the same, aren't we?

Lesson learned.

Okay, I am seriously late getting ready. Noah is stil asleep and my house is a pigsty. It's my lifelong mission to fool my parents into thinking I'm actually a responsible adult who keeps a tidy house, clean children, and good, healthy food on the table. Which means, I've got 45 minutes to work a miracle.

Adios.

Leslie

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dangerous Surrender - Part II

Yesterday I blogged about reading Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren and how it terribly moved me and made be want to be Seriously Disturbed and Gloriously Ruined. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll have to read yesterday's post).

I wasn't quite finished with my blog, but had to stop to make dinner - which was already half an hour late.

Yep. As I was sitting and contemplating on how to save the world, I forgot about the hungry mouths in my own home.

Sigh.

I know that I'm already in the midst of God's will for my life. God has blessed us with THE most amazing 3 children in the world - each with their own needs, quirks, and personalities. They are wonderful. And maybe that's just where I need to be right now. Maybe my Dangerous Surrender was giving up my old life for my new life. And maybe my dangerous surrender is raising a child with autism - not a child who has recovered from autism. And maybe God's plan is for me to raise our children so that they can make the most wonderful difference in the world. Maybe God's plan is just for me to the their mom.

I don't know. I really don't know.

I know that we can't go out on the mission field. Number 1: we are nowhere even minutely near being spiritually equipped to do that. We're still beginners. And Number 2: we can't take Noah to very many countries because we can't vaccinate him.

Sim can't quit his job and do what he really loves - which would be going to third world countries and setting up sustainable communities. He is completely in love with The Roundabout Project - but he can't quit his job because we need the health insurance.

But if God told him to quit his job.. .could he dangerously surrender and do it? Could we vaccinate Noah if God told us, too?

Ugh. I don't even want to think about it. I'm not sure I could.

Isn't that awful?

There's a little girl that I've been thinking about - for a looooong time - who is available for adoption. I'm hoping that God has placed her in my heart simply to pray for her. Sim will kill me for even mentioning it. My parents will have a heart attack for even contemplating it. And our friends will say, "Honey, you are nuts. GET OFF those waiting child websites". And the thing is, I don't think we're meant to adopt her... at least I hope not. How horrible is that? To hope that God doesn't want us to adopt a certain child. And do you know why I don't want to do it? It's not because she has cerebral palsy or that she's too close in age to Nandini. It's because she's been with the same caretaker for over 2 1/2 years (since birth) and she is extremely attached to her. And I don't think my heart can handle the grieving that she'll go through.

Now how selfish is that? Here's a little girl that desperately needs a family and access to therapies, but I don't want to do it because it'll hurt my heart? Geez Louise. That's just really bad, isn't it?

Honestly, I don't think she's meant for us - or is it that I'm too afraid to let my mind go there. I do think she's too close in age to Nandini - and even though it would take at least 9 -12 months before she would come home, I don't think it's in Nandini's best interest to adopt again so soon... especially a child who appears to be so similar in personality.

But the truth is... it would be too much work. It would be too uncomfortable. It would be too heartbreaking. It would be too tiring. And I don't think I could handle it right now.

But what if God wants us to adopt her? Wouldn't his grace be enough to sustain us and help us through? How can I say that I want to dangerously surrender to God's will when in my head, I don't want to really listen to what He has to say in case it brings me out of my comfort zone?

Are we meant to live cushy, comfy lives or are we meant to make a difference in the world? I'll have the whole of eternity to live a glorious, cushy, comfy live. Shouldn't I spend my time on earth doing what God wants -even if it's difficult?

I'm not writing all this to say that we're going to adopt again. But I'm writing this to say how difficult it is to actually give in or even contemplate or even ask God what his will for your life is. Because what if it's not what you want? But, yet, I think of all those years I spent - on my own - trying to recover Noah... and how much more peace I have since I gave up and just handed it over to God. So, even though I know what's right, I still find myself resisting.

Boy, this blog post is going all over the place, isn't it?

Anyway, the point I guess, is that we'll keep praying that we'll be open to God's will and that we'll be able to do whatever He wants. In the meantime, we're going to raise our family - continue to pray for this little girl - and do what we can about the issues that concern us. If we're concerned about sweatshop clothes, then we need to buy Fair Trade or not buy at all.

But what about buying thrifted or used clothing. Does that count?

If we're concerned about the environment, we need to to continue to recycle and use non-toxic cleaning agents. We need to buy as organic as we can. We need to teach our kids about feeding the earth by composting and helping out local communities by buying local.

If we're concerned about child trafficking, we need to write to our local legislators. I've never even done that. Will it make a difference, I don't know. But it won't hurt to try.

There are so many things we can do here at home. We can write letters. We can sponsor children. We can send packages to orphanages. We can donate our time. And don't forget about the needs here, too. There are homeless shelters that need food. There are school children who need tutoring. Everyone can something, right?

But I can't end this entry without providing a link to the little girl that I mentioned above. If anyone is interested, please read about her. She has been waiting so long - and she deserves to have a loving family. She deserves to have a future that is full of potential.

http://www.rainbowkids.com/ChildInfo.aspx?id=1171

http://www.rainbowkids.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=95

Leslie

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Seriously Disturbed and Gloriously Ruined

So. Are any of you reading Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren? I read about it on Amy's blog and just instantly felt that I had to rush out and get it. Of course, I could have ordered it on Amazon and it would have arrived in just 3 days.. but no, I had to get it NOW. So I wormed my way into a playgroup for kids with special needs - all the way out in Rockwall - just so I could then say, "Hey, if I'm already out here, I might as well go the extra 18 miles to Mardel and buy that book." And that's what I did. And then I spent the next 2 days ignoring the kids while I sat spellbound to the book - and then spent another day completely traumatized.

And here I am. Seriously Disturbed and Gloriously Ruined.

There are so many parts of the book that I want to share... parts that I'm hoping make you think that this book is the bee's knees so that you'll go out and get it, too. I will probably get in some serious copyright trouble, but at least I'm acknowledging where it came from, right?

I don't even know where to start. Basically, Kay Warren is married to Rick Warren, who wrote The Purpose Driven Life. With her kids finally grown and on their own, she was mapping out the rest of her life and had figured that she and her husband would have a pretty cushy, cozy life travelling the world offering support to missionaries. Then, BAM! God spoke to her and introduced her to the issue of HIV/AIDS around the world - and it changed the course of her life forever.

And it's about what happens when you surrender to God's plan and will for your life.

Here's what she writes... and it just spoke to me. I even got out a highlighter and some sticky notes. I haven't done that in ages. I felt like I was a student all over again... and really I was.

Here's what she says...

I believe that God is looking for some disturbed people. He is searching for men and women, students, and young adults who will allow him to disturb them by making them truly see the world in which we live - so disturbed that they will be compelled to do something about what they see.

Most of us have grown up in a culture that promotes precisely the opposite approach. Parents tell their children, "Never talk about politics or religion; it makes people uncomfortable." And for the most part, we've obeyed this cultural edict. Instead of tackling uncomfortable topics, we talk about the latest TV reality show or the hot sports figure or the price of gasoline. Believers are just as guilty as nonbelievers! Even worse, we refuse to talk about the painful disturbing subjects - child prostitution, child labor, rape, poverty, injustice, ethnic hatred, greed, materialism, environmental distruction, HIV/AIDS. These are disturbing topics. But if we're not disturbed by the world in which we live, we will be consumed by the trivial, the insignificant, and the temporary. We will spend our days pursuing all the wrong goals, living by the wrong measurements of success, evaluting our legacy by the wrong standard."

She then goes on to say...

"It's very easy for us to remain aloof and untouched by the suffering that defines the existence of the vast majority of people on this planet. I have read that if you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world! If you have ANY money in the bank and some in your wallet and some spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy; 92 percent have less to live on than you do! If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the lonliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you're ahead of 500 million other people in the world. If you can attend worship services at your church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

I don't tell you this to make you feel guilty - but I do hope you feel uncomfortable. I hope these statistics disturb you. God in his sovereignty decided where you would be born and allowed you to live in a place that has almost everything anyone could ever desire, so there is no guilt that he has ordered our lives in such a way. The only guilt we bear is the guilt of ignoring the men, women, and children of this world who do not have what we have - the guilt of spending the majority of our time, money, and resources exclusively on ourselves and our families. THAT is legitimate guilt."

Basically, we should be disturbed about what's going on in the world and we should be ruined by it to such a point that we can't go back to our comfy, cozy lives and pretend it doesn't exist. We can't play ostrich and stick our head in the sand just because we don't want to face what is happening all over the world. We have a responsibility to help out our brothers and sisters in need.

We need to be seriously disturbed and gloriously ruined.

We need to do something.

And that's where I am right now. What do I do? What can I... a stay-at-home-mom in East Texas do? I have 3 children - 2 with special needs. We're a one income family and my hands are full as it is. Is there really anything else that I can take on? But there has to be, right? If everyone said, "Oh, I'm too busy to do anything" what would that accomplish? It just blows my mind to think of all the people in the world who are suffering. And orphans? One hundred and forty-three MILLION children are orphaned or abandoned around the world. That just kills me. What happens to all these children when they get older? What happens to the children who are orphaned by AIDS. There are 6 year olds in parts of the world that are head of the household. SIX YEAR OLD CHILDREN. That's Noah's age. Can you imagine if Simeon and I died - today -and Eli had to take over and care for Nandini and Noah? Can you even imagine? But that is a reality that is happening this very moment in parts of our world.

Kay writes about an instance in meeting a woman in Mozambique who was dying of AIDS. And when she asked the woman how she could pray for her, the only prayer request the woman had was for Kay and her friends to pray for her children:

"Would you ask them to pray for my children? Who will care for them? No one will want them when they find out I've died of AIDS".

It's so easy to remove ourselves, isn't it? To just pretend that it doesn't exist. But you know what? That prayer is the same prayer I pray for my kids. I constantly wonder what will happen to Noah when I'm gone. But at least there are options. Maybe Eli or Nandini or some family member or trusted family friend would care for Noah. There are options. But there are no options for millions of children around the world. There are 12 million children - just in Africa - who are orphaned from AIDS.

What are we going to do about it?

What are we going to do about the children who are being trafficked for sex and slavery? If you go to Love146.org, you'll learn that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. 32 BILLION dollars are spent by psycho wacko perverts who get their thrills from having sex with young children.

What are we going to do about it?

What are we going to do about the children who age out of orphanages and are forced out on the street with no skills or means of survival?

What are we going to do about the children who spend their days and nights bent over a sewing machine - for little or no pay - so that we can wear the latest fashions?

What are we going to do about the enviroment? What are we going to do about the pollution that WE'VE caused? What are we going to do about racism? What are we going to do????

I'm ready to be Seriously Disturbed and Gloriously Ruined.

How can I pretend that none of this exists?

The question is... what does God want me to do? I can't do it all. What do I focus on? As you can tell, my main focus is with children. Simeon's issues are with the environment. And our hands are full.

Are we going to Dangerously Surrender to God's plan for our lives? Is there more that we should be doing?

And more importantly......what are we going to do about it?

Leslie

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More 3 am rants and ramblings

What is it about 3:00 and my body clock. Am I on some sort of internal alarm system that I don't know about?

The truth is, I am in excruitating, I'm-gonna-die pain. And do you know what it all boils down to? A boil.

A stupid boil.

And it's located in a spot that I'm not even going to blog about. Of course, just writing that lets you know it can only be in a few places... but I will just let you guess.. because I am not even going to write about it. And I'm not going to the doctor because I have this fear they'll ship me off to some teaching hospital where a crowd of 22-year old interns and visiting physicians from all sorts of countries will gather around to view the awful existence that is my boil. It would probably get published about in some high-falutin' medical journal - with pictures - and I would just die of embarrassment. So, no. I'm going to try and treat it myself.

The problem is that when you google "boil - home remedies" you come up with all sorts of crazy things. Hairspray - as in Rave #4? Ummm... not there, thank you very much. Hunts Tomato Ketchup? Tumeric paste. Baking soda. Black Salve. But the most frequent one mentioned was campo phenique. And don't you know I'm about to wake Simeon up an ask him to run to Walmart... because, you know, I can't drive in this condition. And if it works, I think I might get a bumper sticker touting the wonderful healing properties of campo phenique. So, if you ever pull up at a red light behind a white mini-van with a bumper sticker that says, "Campo Phenique saved my..................." then run out and say hello. It'll be nice to meet ya. Oh, and don't even try to count the dots. I put in a whole bunch of them to throw you all off.

On to a more serious note, my mom is in the hospital. And I am SO mad at her doctor. I'm just going to warn you right now that I'm about to go into a big fit and tirade about doctors and pharmaceutical companies. I just want to clarify that I have nothing against doctors. I truly don't. But I'm dismayed about the state of primary care physicans. And pharmaceutical companies - Big Pharma - yeah, they make me massively mad. Not the people who work in sales or anything like that - but the head honchos who know that they shouldn't be putting certain medications out and do it anyway. And, of course, I understand that it's probably medically impossible to make any sort of broad scale medication that won't have side effects in a few people... but if one those people is a loved one... then it changes the tide a bit. And I'm not really thinking about Mom here - although she did have a reaction - but when I think about side effects and reactions, I always think about Noah. But that's another story.

The point is that my mom has had MRSA Staph in her ear for a year now. A year. She's been living with excruiating ear pain for a year. They've tried everything, but it keeps coming back. Well, she's got a dodo for a doctor and he keeps refusing to culture her ear - even though she had MRSA in it last Spring and it hasn't gotten better. Now, yes, she should've gone somewhere else, but she didn't. Well, the doctor says she doesn't have MRSA anymore and to just come back every two weeks for the rest of her life to get her ears cleaned. Okay... let me interrupt right here. This is a problem that I have. Why not try to figure out the cause? Instead of making someone pay a $20 copay for the rest of their lives to suction out an ear canel, why not try to get to the root of the problem? I can't help it. I'm a cynic. How much money, dear ENT, are you going to get from my mom's insurance company if you require her to come in and see you bimonthly for the next 30 years? Instead of bandaiding the situation together, why not try to get to the bottom of it? Oh, but you know what? If my mom is still in pain between those visits, you can always prescribe her with pain medication. And when the pain gets so bad that it causes headaches, maybe you can give her something to help with that, too. How much financial kickback do you get from Big Pharma for doing that? Again, oh wise one, why aren't you trying to solve the problem and be done with it? And true, my mom is just one person... but how much money goes in the pocket when an entire practice is treated this way?

And before anyway of you get disgusted with me and vow never to read my blog again, just know that I'm a woman with a boil. I can't be held responsible for anything I write while experiencing such excruiating pain. I may actually have to go to Dollar Tree and buy one of those inflatable plastic pool rings to sit on just so that I can finish typing this.

How about that??

Anyway, my mom finally insisted that the ENT run a culture - and he threw a stinking fit over it, but finally did it. Well, the culture came back as Staph, but mom was specifically told that it was NOT MRSA. I guess he wanted to show her who's boss. Well, he prescribed Bactrim. And a few days ago, mom started feeling really bad. She was running fever and was lethargic. On Monday, Dad took her to the ENT and the dodo doctor was on vacation. So mom saw the visiting doctor who told her that she indeed DID have MRSA and that it says so right on her chart. She was concerned that the MRSA might have gotten into mom's bloodstream and she wanted mom to go to the hospital for an antibiotic IV. See... because she's been on antibiotics forever and is on a ton of medication - she's like her own walking pharmacy - so she shouldn't be running any fever, right. But the visiting ENT's hands were tied because only a PCP can do the hospital orders. And mom also has a dodo for a PCP.

Man, she just picks the worst ones, doesn't she?

Are you still with me? This is pretty long, isn't it. I understand if you need to take a bathroom break.

Okay, again, I'm not against doctors. I have thought many, many times of going to medical school. The lack of sleep would just kill me. And after spending considerable time in doctor's office and hospitals over the last few years, I know it's nothing like it appears on Grey's Anatomy. And I have yet to see a McDreamy or a McSteamy. Oh, I know they exist. They just don't practice in small-town America.

Seriously, though, I think everyone goes into the medical field with a good, pure heart. For every goofball doctor you get, there are 20 that are fantastic. And I've not gotten to it yet, but the medical staff at the hospital in Kaufman just rocks. We are so impressed with them. They have been a Godsend. Really and truly. But I think the thing with doctors - mainly PCP's - is that they're just too overworked. Go into any doctor's office and the wait is forever. Can you imagine the stress they're under? And exactly how many diseases and illnesses do they have to be experts in? And then every patient comes in with his/her own personal medical history and list of medications they're on. So the doctor or nurse has to make sure nothing interferes with this medication or that one. And what about family history? And what about this and that? And there are jillions of diseases and viruses and bacterias out there. It is impossible to know about all them.... which makes sense that many PCP's have to treat the symptoms, not the cause. I get it. I really do. But if you continue to treat the symptom and not the cause, you'll never get better. You'll be a dog chasing its own tail around and around and around. You get this medicine which helps that... but it causes a side effect with something else... so you go on a medication for that... which causes a side effect for another thing... so you take something for it, too... when does it end?

Does it?

So, the visiting ENT called my mom's PCP - who, as I've mentioned is also a dodo - and he has a huge practice and can't give anyone more than 2 minutes of his time. He said - without even seeing mom - that she probably has the flu and to give her Tamiflu and call back in 2 days if she's still sick. So mom spent $76 on Tamiflu, but it made my dad mad and he took mom to the PCP to ask if they could just please do a blood culture to see if MRSA has entered her bloodstream. The PCP refused to see dad and the nurse wrote a prescription for blood work and sent her to Labcorp. They get there - only to realize the doctor requested a blood test for the flu - not for MRSA. And guess what... it takes 2 days to get the results back. He really just wanted mom out of his hair.

This is all happening in Arlington. My parents drive back to Mabank and my mom is feeling worse and worse. By supper time, she has a fever of 103.7. I know God urged dad to take mom to the ER. He did and they waited 6 hours to see a doctor. The ER doc said nothing's wrong with mom and that she probably has the flu and to go home. Well, Mom sat up and got white, clammy, and dizzy - so the doctor insisted on vitals being done. Her blood pressure started to rapidly drop and got down to 43/29. He said that if she hadn't come in - or if they'd been seen earlier and gone home - that mom would be dead. She would've died in the middle of the night.

Oh, and they did a swab of her nose and she does NOT have the flu.

Now, why did her PCP request the 2 day blood test and send her home? Because he's an idiot who doesn't care. If they'd listened to him, Mom would be dead.

Anyway, Mom is stabilized now. They think she had a reaction to Bactrim. (By this time, her entire body was covered in a rash). They also think the MRSA is in her blood and the culture should be back on Thursday. The doctors and nurses in Kaufman (especially the ER) are wonderful. Granted, they tried to send her home, too, but once they realized what was going on, they were determined to find a cause.

One more thing. Mom asked how she could get the flu if she'd had a flu shot. She was told, "Oh, the flu shots this year aren't working against the type of flu that's going around". One of the guys at the hospital said he doesn't even recommend the flu shot - or Tamiflu - because they're worthless half the time. So, here I go with my little conspiracy theory. Everyone pushes the flu shot, so you pay $20 bucks to Big Pharma to get your shot. Then, it "conveniently" fails and you have to pay $76 for Tamiflu. Oh, but just to be sure, let's also do a blood test - just to be on the safe side. Do you have your checkbook with you? You do, good? Make it out to.....

How do we know they're not all in cahoots? Just answer me that.

(On a sidenote, I know how serious the flu can be - especially in infants and the elderly. I would never want to make light of a situation that could be fatal - especially if someone reading this has lost a loved one to the flu. Even though we choose not to vaccinate, I would never want to encourage someone against vaccinating. I just have a problem with vaccinations that don't tend to work. And after seeing what happened to Noah and what's happened to thousands and thousands of children, I am very skeptical of Big Pharma. Very skeptical.)

Okay, it's after 4:00 and I need Sim to get his bohiney off to Walmart. My boil is calling. Thanks for bearing with me.

Leslie

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tales from the Restroom

It is no secret that I will talk about bodily functions whenever I get the chance. I've been changing diapers non-stop for 5 years now and have a son who had diarrhea for 2 straight years... so nothing is off topic for me.

So, with that, I thought I'd copy and paste a hilarious email that my friend Susie sent me today. I rarely crack up when I read things, but this had me in stitches. Hope it makes your day, too. :-)
**********************************************************************************

A 3-year-old tells all from his mother's restroom stall.
By Shannon Popkin

My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we're in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window. People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just-turned-3-year-old. And you never have to ask him to turn up the volume. It's always fully cranked. There've been several embarrassing times that I've wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco.

Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you'd been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall:

"Mommy, are you gonna go potty? Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy? Oh! You gonna sit down on DA toiwet paper now? Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?" At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full ... 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity.

Cade continued, "Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren't you? Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy! Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty? Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh .. Mommy! I'm trying to see in dere. Oh! I see dem. Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You are gonna get some candy!"

I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming new born when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting.

Trying to divert him, I said, "Why don't you look in Mommy's purse and see if you can find some candy We'll both have some!" "No, I'm trying to see doze more stinkies. Oh! Mommy!" He started to gag at this point. "Uh oh, Mommy. I fink I'm gonna frow up. Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!! Dat is so gross!!"

As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall. I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with myself: OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue will be long gone.

"Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!" He grunted as he tried to pull me off. Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door. "Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy? You wooking under DA door? What were you wooking at, Mommy? You wooking at the wady's feet?"

More laughter.I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation. "Mommy, it's time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy." He started pounding on the door. "Mommy, don't you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!"

I saw that my "wait 'em out" plan was unraveling. I sheepishly opened the door, and found standing outside my stall, twenty to thirty ladies crowded around the stall, all smiling and starting to applaud. My first thought was complete embarrassment, then I thought, "Where's the fine print on the 'motherhood contract' where I signed away every bit of my dignity and privacy?" But as my little boy gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little hands, I thought, I'd sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.

(Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids , Michigan , where she no longer uses public restrooms)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

UPDATE: Sweet 'E' and Baby 'D'

Well, the decision has been made. Why dont' you nip on over to Amy's site and see if they have a new member (or members) in their family. :-)

Auntie Leslie

Six Years Ago Today....

Six years ago we received the referral for our Noah. I can remember it so clearly. I even had all these pictures that I was going to scan, but our printer/scanner is broke. But someone at my office had a camera and they took pictures while I opened the email that day that had little Noah's referral picture in it. And those pictures are priceless. The look on my face as I saw my little boy for the first time is priceless.

Six years ago today our lives changed forever. We had no idea what awaited us. We had no idea that this little 4.9 pound three-month old baby boy would change the course of our lives forever. We had no idea that he would change who we were - that God would use him to touch our souls and transform us. I wish I could express how much I love that boy. I would give my life a thousand times for him.



Noah Partha Thomas, I love you SO much. You mean the world to me, and I am forever grateful that God blessed me by being your mom. I live to be your Mom.

Sweet 'E' and Baby 'D'

In one hour, an adoption committee is going to be meeting to determine if my friend, Amy, and her fanastic, amazing family is "THE" family that is best suited to adopt two little babies through CPS.

Actually, it's two separate hearings going on about the same time. The first little one, Sweet 'E' is a gorgeous little boy that Amy has her heart set on (and that I have my heart set on Nandini marrying. lol) . And the second one is a little baby, Baby 'D' that I haven't seen pictures of yet, but I'm sure she's just beautiful. She sounds precious. (And speaking of Precious, Christine, if you're reading this and if Amy gets matched with Baby 'D', I'm going to send her over your way for some hair help!)

So, anyway, even though it's not my adoption, I haven't gotten anything done today. I am just sitting on pins and needles waiting for the phone to ring or for an email saying that Amy is a new mom... even though I know the meeting hasn't even taken place yet.

If you get a moment, please say a quick prayer that the social workers will make the right decision and place both babies with the families that are best suited. Of course, I think Amy's family is best suited for BOTH - but God may have other plans. Either way, I hope you'll think about her family today, and I'll be sure to share the news as soon I hear. Or you can pop on over to her blog and check it out for yourself.

Leslie

Brittany's Hope

Today, I had to sent out an email to 50 people as part of our requirement for receiving an adoption grant from a wonderful organization called Brittany's Hope.

I really hate to solicitate money or donations - it makes me feel all oogey, but without the Brittany's Hope grant, we would not have been able to adopt Nandini. It would have been financially impossible.

I wanted to go ahead and copy that email on here for two reasons:

1. Some of you reading this might want to make a contribution to Brittany's Hope's annual Walk of Love. It's a bit like Race for the Cure. Each grant recipient finds donors to sponsor them for the walk. Since we won't be able to make the Walk this year (it'll be held in PA this May), someone will for walk for us.

2. I wanted to spotlight Brittany's Hope because it truly is an amazing organization. Not only do they provide grants for special needs waiting children, but they also have several humanitarian projects that would be wonderful for individuals, school groups. or churches.

If anyone reading this is interested in adopting a waiting child with special needs, I really encourage you to go their website and read about some of the waiting child who already have grants. These children are generally considered hard to place. Some of the children have more serious needs, while some have minor, correctable needs. It blows us away that Nandini had to wait three years for a family simply because she had a "label". Honestly, if anyone had taken the time to read her files and review her videos, they would have known that although her diagnosis seems really bad, she has surpassed it. I mean, she's remarkable, you know? Sure, she limps and will have to wear a leg brace, but there's no holding her back. She's smart, funny, playful - just a real joy to be around. And, really, every child - whether they're 100% healthy or whether they have serious needs - every single child on this earth needs a parent.

Here's the email I sent. I hope you'll take the time to read it. If you are not able to make a contribution - and, believe me, I know times are tough - would you at least visit the Brittany's Hope website and look at the children who are waiting for families and maybe say a prayer? Thanks.

*************************************************************************************

Dear Friends and Family,

Three months ago today, my mom and I walked into an orphanage in Pune, India and met a scared and shy little girl. She had spent over three years in an orphanage waiting for a family to call her own - all the while watching her friends being adopted one by one. The reason she waited so long for a family is because she has two significant special needs: porencephaly (a brain cyst) and cerebral palsy. Fortunately, an organization called Brittany's Hope recognized her potential and raised money to provde a significant grant to offset the costs for the family willing to adopt her.

That family was us.

Three months later, we cannot even begin to tell you the changes that we've seen since we brought Nandini home. Anyone who knows Nandini knows that she is full of life. She's an extremely spirited, joyful, and playful little girl. She is not defined or limited by her needs. In fact, she doesn't even know that she has something that others would term a "disability". Her potential is limitless.

Brittany's Hope enabled us to adopt Nandini. Without their grant, none of this would have been financially possible. Sadly, there are thousands and thousands of children around the world - including the U.S. - who are waiting for a family to call their own. One hundred and forty-three MILLION to be exact.

As part of our contract for accepting Nandini's grant, we agreed to invite our friends and family to make a contribution to Brittany's Hope's annual Walk of Love. The money raised will help provide grants for other special needs waiting children - with the hope that they, like Nandini, will find their forever family.

If you are able, we ask that you would please make a contribution to the Walk of Love. All monies raised will go towards providing grants to help children finally unite with their forever family. If you are unable to do so at this time, we ask that you would please spread the word about Brittany's Hope. They are a wonderful organization, and without their help, we would never have been able to bring our daughter home.

To make a donation, please visit our page at:
https://www.active.com/donate/2008WalkOfLove/nandini


To learn more about Brittany's Hope, their grants and humanitarian programs - or to learn more about children who have grants and who are waiting to be adopted, please visit their website at:
http://www.brittanyshope.org/



Sincerely,

The Thomas Family
Simeon, Leslie, Noah, Eli, and Nandini

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Simple Life Part 1: Autism

One thing about having 3 sick kids at a time is that you spend most of your days rocking one of them in a rocking chair. And if this happens to occur when the other two are sleeping, then you've got a lot of time on your hands to just sit and think. So, that's what I've been doing the last few weeks. I've had a real change come over me since Christmas. I am so desiring to live a live of simplicity. It's something that Sim's been wanting for a long time. I have no doubt that if it wasn't for me he'd be living in a tiny cottage in the middle of Wales or in a yurt in a forest in Colorado. He's extremely minimalist and detests waste. I'm not joking. His closest is extremely bare. Yesterday, he wore a shirt that he's had for 11 years. And even though I gave him two brand new sweaters 9 years ago, one of them still has the tags on it... because the other "still has a lot of life in it". So, honestly, I have no idea how he's stayed married to me this long - with all my pack ratting ways. I guess he was hoping that one day I'd see the light. And, wouldn't you know, that light just hit me like a spotlight about 6 weeks ago... and I can practically see the change in front of my eyes.

There are several ways that we are trying to live a life of voluntary simplicity. It's something that's going to take a long time (for me at least), but I think it will be better for our whole family in the longrun. We really are trying to declutter and live within our means and make wise purchases. We're really trying to think about what we buy and what we use and what we need - especially what we need vs. what we want. And, I have to admit, I can easily slip into the role of the Queen of the Wants. But basically, we're trying to declutter, recycle, buy used (except for underwear b/c that's just plain nasty), be economical, buy local and organic where possible, spend tons of time outside, and lessen our ecological footprint. All the while trying to raise three kids who appreciate our earth, who long to be in nature, and who grow up to be conscious and wise consumers who realize the freedom of living debt-free.

But I also think that living simply isn't just about decluttering the house and buying your winter coat at a thrift store. I think it's also about just slowing down. Not being involved in everything. Realizing that you're not Super Mom. One of the big changes in our lives - that we started about a year and a half ago - was to quit trying to recover Noah.

So, yes, I know this blog is titled Recovering Noah, so it's probably weird for me to say that we're not trying to recover him anymore. And, maybe, if you're reading this and you have a child with autism, you might initially feel sad or a bit letdown. I feel sad even just writing this. And while I still feel anxious and feel like we should be doing more (like spending $$$$ on more allergy tests), I don't ever want our lives to go back to where they were when we were in the throes of "recovering Noah".

I think anyone who is trying to recover their child can attest to the fact that it's an extremely emotionally and financially draining experience. ABA schools in Dallas cost $45,000 year. ABA consultants can cost $200 an hour. Private therapists - usually college students - are $15 to $25 an hour - and experts recommend 40 hours a week. GI's who specialize in gut issues for children with autism charge $500 an hour. DAN doctors are usually $200 to $300 an hour. Allergy testing is anywhere from $500 to $1000. The Yasko protocol can easily run up to $2000 a month. OT's are around $150 an hour. Cranial sacral therapists are $50 for 30 minutes. And guess what? Insurance doesn't cover it. Not a bit. Not a penny.

And, of course, there are all the success stories of children who have recovered. So you're left with the hope that your child can, too. Because other kids have. And all the "experts" say that there's a tiny window for recovery. If you can do all these therapies before your child is 5 - preferably before 3 - then there's a chance they might recover. Ahhh, there's that magic word. Chance. There's a chance he or she might recover. But you have to act now. And since autism affects each child differently, there's no manual to follow. And, if like us, your child doesn't respond to one therapy, then you can continue on to the next one... and the next one.. and the next one. And all the time, the magic clock is ticking. Your child is 3 and then 4 and then 5. But some believe that maybe the window doesn't close until age 6... so you keep trying... just one more year.

So what happens is that you spend all your time researching... hours upon hours researching medical journals and records. I truly believe that we autistic moms know more about autism, nutrition, and biochemistry than any recent medical school graduate. I'm not trying to be brash. It's true. Do you have any idea as to how many hours we spend doing medical research? In the first year alone, I spent over 1800 hours - at least - researching autism. That's just the first year. And I've been at this for 5 years.

But what happens is that you become obsessed. Every single thought is about autism. Every single conversation. Your life is only about autism. And it's not bad. You can't fault us moms. We're on a mission to save our children. I was on a mission to keep my child from being institutionalized. And when you're faced with that, you will do whatever it takes - and spend whatever time it takes - to find a cure.

And sometimes it works. I know kids who are now talking.. and kids who are now mainstreamed.. and kids who no longer have an autism diagnosis. But it didn't happen for Noah. He became what most moms of autistic children fear... a nonresponder.

So, we hit rock bottom. Or should I say.. I hit rockbottom. Simeon was willing to accept Noah for how he is all along. But I couldn't get the future out of my head. I would lay awake for hours crying because I couldn't bear to think what would happen to Noah when we die. I mean, God willing, that's not going to happen for 60 more years... but I found myself crying about it. I would worry about what would happen when he hit puberty... because a lot of nonverbal boys who hit puberty suddenly become aggressive - and many have to be put in an institution.

And one day, I found some pictures of Eli as a baby. And you know what? I don't even remember it. An entire year of Eli's life - the very first year that he was with us - and I don't even remember it. Not a bit. Because that was the year that Noah was at his worst... and me, too. We had therapists coming and going at all hours. We were constantly going to doctor's appointments, OT, PT, Speech, you name it. And if we weren't at therapy or didn't have a therapist at the house, then I was on the computer researching. And then we sold our house and moved in with my parents so that we could have the money to continue our quest to recover Noah. And I was driving 4 hours roundtrip hours several times a week to take Noah here, there, and everywhere. We even moved to Tennessee for 3 months because we thought we'd finally found a therapy that would help.

And it all came down on me like a flashing neon sign. I could not remember the first year of Eli's life. Here we where... financially drained... emotionally drained...driving all over the U.S. looking for help... feeling depressed because it seemed that everyone else was improving except for Noah.... and the whole time my kids where growing up and I wasn't making any memories with them. Noah and Eli's childhood was being spent at doctors' offices. That would be their memories. That would be what they remembered from their childhood. And that was awful.

So we made a decision and it was hard - very, very hard to cut back - on everything. We decided to focus on what was working - even if it didn't promise the miracle of recovery. We decided that we would no longer give Noah 100 supplements a day hoping that it would kickstart his methylation cycle. We would no longer go to DAN doctors where we'd be tempted to do chelation or the newest and latest product that had just come out. We decided to pull Noah out of school - for many reasons- but also because it wasn't fair to wake him up at 6:30 in the morning when he didn't fall asleep until 4:30. And it wasn't fair on the kids or Sim for me to be stressed out and anxious all the time.. constantly wondering if this supplement or that treatment would be one to pull him through. The kids needed their Mom and Sim needed his wife. Autism had already stolen Noah from us... I vowed that it wouldn't take me, too.

And that's how we came to "declutter" autism out of our lives. We still do therapies: homeopathy, which is cheap, safe, and longterm. It's also slow, but Noah's had no side effects to it and it's a very gentle holistic therapy. We do RPM in Austin twice a month, OT in Kaufman once a week, and we drive to Dallas once a month for cranial sacral therapy and that's it. It still probably sounds like a lot, but believe me, we cut out 75% of Noah's therapies - and it feels GOOD.

I don't really know how to explain exactly how this ties in with trying to live a simpler life... but just not having the urgent I have to do this right now because our window of time is closing is so freeing. And we've just really gotten to where we have put this in God's hands. He knows what His plan is for Noah. My purpose in this plan is just to love Noah and be his mom. We'll never quit trying to help Noah... but we're looking more to heal him than recover him. We just want him to be healthy... and who knows, maybe the rest will take care of itself.

So, anyway, Part 1 of our quest to live a Simple Life had to do with giving up our dream of Recovering Noah. We just had to release it like a balloon in a wind... and watch it float away. And, yes, it brought torrential tears. It still does. I still have to fight the urge to NOT take Noah to a DAN doctor or to NOT do chelation with him or to NOT spend money on this test or that test. Even earlier this week, I read an article about how Jenny McCarthy recovered her son - and I got terribly depressed and went to straight to the computer to research all the latest autism news - thinking that maybe I'd find something new that we hadn't yet tried. But, I have to tell you, he is doing so much better now. He is so happy since we stopped doing so much, and I think part of that is that we're not all so stressed out anymore. We made an active decision to not let autism rule our lives. And that decision has allowed us to finally live.

So, there's Part 1 of how we are trying to live A Simple Life. It was a huge step. A huge, heartbreaking, tear-inducing, oh my gosh, are we making the right decision step. And we made it. And we are better for it. And we're making memories. New memories. Precious, sweet memories. Ones that we'll definitely remember.

Leslie

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Various Ramblings at 3:00 in the Morning

I really have nothing interesting to say, but I'm up at 3:00 am and can't sleep - and feeling guilty that I haven't blogged in a while. So, I'm about to fix a cup of tea and start typing away.

Again, I have nothing much to write, so just thought I'd give some snippets as to what we've been up to lately and what's been going on in our house.

Let's see. I have to drive to Dallas today for a mammogram. Hmmm.. maybe that's why I can't sleep. The thought of my boobs being smushed into a vice keeps me waking up in a cold sweat. Darn mammograms! You know they were invented by men.

Noah just had a massive stinky - in the middle of the night - and now he's wide awake and shrieking. Wouldn't you be?

I just woke Sim up and asked if we could spend $500 to get Noah's allergy tests redone. I'm just sure that he has some new allergies and I'm a lazy butt unless I have test results in front of me that say "Don't feed Noah this or that" .... Sim said, "Can't we talk about this some other time?" I said, "When's a good time to talk about it?" and he said, "When it's not 3:00 in the morning"... but you know us autistic mom's... we can't sleep and head straight to google.

Eli has decided that he wants us to call him Obama. Sim and I were talking about the presidential election over supper the other day and Eli fell in love with the name Obama. He pretends that he's a fierce lion in the jungle protecting his tribe. So whenever we're playing, he demands that we say things like, "Obama, you're so brave! Obama, king of the jungle, I can't believe you killed that dinosaur with one swipe of your paw!" (Because in Eli's - I mean, Obama's world, dinosaurs coexist with jungles animals in the wilds of Africa.)

Nandini's hair is finally long enough to put into two little pigtails on the side of her head. It is so darn cute. She looks exactly like Boo from Monster's Inc. In fact, Eli has started calling her Boo-Boo because she looks just like her - and sounds just like her, too. We can't make head or tails as to what she's saying.. but she sounds adorable. Eli also calls her Lola, from Charlie and Lola. She is SO like Lola.

I love Charlie and Lola. We used to watch it all the time when we had DirecTV. Now, we just check out one of the DVD's from the library. They only have one DVD and I think there are 7 - so maybe the Easter Bunny will deliver a Charlie and Lola DVD into the kids' Easter basket this year instead of chocolate.

I am giving up coffee for the 1,756,456th time. Actually, I don't drink real coffee. I drink the International House French Vanilla coffee - which is really a heaping bit of sugar with a tiny bit of coffee in it. The problem is that I'm so tired all the time that I end up drinking it all the time and I'm totally relying on the sugar to sustain me. So, I'm giving it up. Plus, we get only a poxy amount of spending money each week and I don't want to spend $6 bucks of my blow money on two tins of sugar water each week. Garage sale season is coming up and that $6 could buy an entire summer wardrobe for one of the kids.

I am going to try and limit my coffee intake to Sunday mornings and LifeGroup. Twice a week. We'll see how long it lasts.

Speaking of garage sales, the Lutheran church preschool had a garage sale last week and I bought Nandini's ENTIRE spring and summer wardrobe, plus 3 books, 2 stuffed animals, and a pirate ship for $7.75. All the clothes were 25 cents each! Can you believe it? I also bought all of Eli's summer shirts and two pairs of jeans for Noah for next year. I found Gap jeans with an adjustable waist for a quarter. And it all came to $7.75!! I love going to garage sales out here.

Let's see. What else can I bore you with?

I am still on my quest to de-clutter. Gotta make way for all the garage sale stuff, right? :-)
Seriously, though, I am becoming obsessed with simplifying our lives. Nandini's wardrobe that I just bought consists of a few t-shirts, 3 dresses, 2 pairs of jeans, a windbreaker, a swimsuit and one adorable matching outfit with watermelon buttons. It's so cute! And that's it. (Plus a few things she can wear next year.) She already has a closet full of winter clothes that she doesn't even wear - and it just sitting there being all clutter-y. It drives me crazy. So, we gave a bunch to a friend and we're keeping just what she wears.

So, now I'm weeding out my own wardrobe. Anyone who knows me, knows that my uniform consists of jeans, cargos, a loose Indian top or a v-neck t-shirt. That's it. So, why do I have a closet full of clothes? Am I really ever going to wear a business suit again? Do I need 6 pairs of tailored pants that I haven't worn since I quit working. And on the other side of the spectrum, do I really need a closet of "going-out clubbing" clothes... when I haven't "gone out clubbing" since 1995? Why am I holding onto this stuff? So that I can one day hold up a skimpy outfit and say, "Look kids! This is what Mama used to wear before she hit 30, gained 15 pounds, and started sagging!" I mean, honestly, am I ever gonna wear that leather miniskirt again? I mean, maybe when Def Leppard roles into town this summer.. . but is it worth saving for that?

Anyway, I'm a mission to simplify our lives. We're going to donate or garage sale anything that's just sitting in our closet. If that leaves us with 2 pairs of pants and 3 t-shirts, so be it. It'll cut down on laundry. I've also packed away all the excess plates, bowls, and cutlery that's taken over our cabinets. There are 5 of us, so we have 5 plates, 5 spoons, 5 bowls, etc. We keep a few extra for preparing meals and that's it. I admit, it's a pain in the batooey having to wash up after every meal... and I did break down and put it all in the dishwasher last night because the thought of handwashing one more plate was going to make me hurl the plate through the window, but it's been nice not having so much stuff staring at me when I put the dishes aways. (Disclaimer: if you come to my house and see all the coffee mugs hanging up, don't think I've gone all hypocritical on you. We actually collect coffee mugs... which does add to clutter.. but we view it as art) :-)

We packed up our microwave. I'm starting to fill icky about microwaving things. We hardly ever do except to heat things up, but I'm reading more and more about eating healthy, live foods - and the microwave just radiates the nutrition out of everything. We're eating dead food with no nutrition or enzymes every single time we microwave something. I've been trying to eat more raw foods and it makes such a difference on my GI tract. Seriously, I'm not bloated or gassy or constipated...my stomach feels like a million bucks - just by eating raw fruit and veggies. We're trying to go vegetarian again - which also saves on our grocery bill. It is impossible to buy organic meat out here. It's just been amazing seeing how much better my stomach feels when I fill it with healthy, live food. Hey, if you want to see an amazing transformation.. check out the before and after pic at Rawkin. I've been reading her blog for a few months now and am just fascinated by it.

Don't get me wrong. Even though I'm trying, I'm not perfect by any means.... my mom is coming over today and fixing chicken and dumplings and I will most certainly knock all my kids out of the way while I make a beeline to the stove... but I guarantee I'll pay for it the next day. But I'm trying to at least eat raw up until suppertime. Now, the kids... not a chance. Although Eli and Nandini are slowly liking the idea of fruit smoothies with homemade almond milk for breakfast. Noah - my one kid who really needs a healthy raw diet - won't touch a fruit or vegetable if his life depended on it. He's such a carb addict. I'm going to try the GFCF diet with him again - which means I need to completely and utterly take anything with dairy or gluten out of the house because I am a weak, weak human being - and it's not fair to give it to the other kids and not Noah. So... this means I'll be perusing all the GFCF recipe sites looking for new foods to make. Darn! I had just gotten good at making scones, too. :(

Okay, I am absolutely rambling to the point of ridiculousness. I have to start getting busy on Mapquest. I've got to look up directions to the imaging center in Dallas and then have to go to Waxahachie to get Nandini's social security number. Can you believe Waxahachie is our local SS office?? Gee whiz.

So, anyway, this concludes our episode of nonsensical ramblings from Leslie at 3:00 in the morning. Hope I haven't freaked you out too much. After all, it is 3:00 in the moring - well, it's actually 5:00 right now... so I can't be held responsible for anyting I've written or said. I'm fully insured and covered by the Sleep Deprivation Act of 1896.

Leslie