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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

CNN Report on HALO

So many of you have asked what Noah does when he goes to Austin every other week to work with Soma and Erica at HALO. Well, last Friday CNN did a report on HALO and I'm linking to their video here. It's really fascinating stuff.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/28/Tito.autism/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

Leslie

We interrupt this blog...

to bring you an important announcement about lice, sleeplessness, and general malaise. We hope to resume normal programming as soon as possible.

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

Yeah, the lice is still there. Some people warned me that the Rid treatment might not be enough to get rid of it. They should rename that stuff "Might Get Rid Off" treatment... 'cause that whole plain Rid thing is so not 100% effective.

So far, just Nandi seems to be having an issue with it. The treatment worked great on Eli - and, fortunately, Noah, Sim, and I have all seem to have been spared. Although it didn't stop Sim from buzzing his hair off the other day and pouring half a bottle of listerine all over it. Hee hee. Yeah, apparantely he learned of that trick - as a "natural de-licer" on the internet. Just to let all you men folk out there know... don't go buzzing your hair and nicking your scalp and then pour listerine all over it.

Nicked scalp + Listerine = Massive Pain (and Sympathetic, but Amused Wife)

And, especially don't do it if you don't have lice. What's the point? Unless you like to inflict some sort of weird torture on yourself and smell like floor cleaner.

Anyway, we're still trying to nip the whole nit thing in the bud.. so we are going to be incognito for a few days. Besides that, the kids have been having horrible fits at night and I look like a walking zombie.

Do any of you feel that you spend your nights playing Musical Beds?

One kid wakes up crying, "Mommy", so you run in there (because your husband has selective hearing and manages to sleep through it all). And you comfort Child #1, only to then have to wake up Child #2 to go potty. Then you get back into bed, but Child #2 can't go back to sleep because you just woke him up to go potty. So, you run back in there and sit on the edge of the bed and rub his back until he falls asleep. Then, you get back to bed and hear music coming from Child #3's room... and you go in there and find him playing with a toy that you forgot to take the batteries out of. And then you hear Child #1 crying, "Mommy" because Child #3's toy woke her up. So you get her back to bed and then wake up Child #2 one more time to go potty.. because he has a peanut bladder. And then you all finally fall asleep only for Child #3 to begin his nightly ritual of shrieking like a howler monkey from 4:00 - 7:00 in the morning.

And, then, you know you're supposed to eat healthy and drink your Green Smootie, but all you really want to do is comfort yourself with an extra large French Vanilla Cappucino, a bag of donut holes, and a Krispy Creme.

Speaking of which... the one bright light in all of this.... Sim bought an indoor rowing machine.

Did you know that you can burn off a whole Snicker's bar in 20 minutes? And it doesn't require aerobics or coordination or trying to keep in tune to techno music? I love that thing!

In fact, I'm about to go burn off the coffee - with SIX hazlenut creamers - that I just consumed. And it'll only take me 20 minutes. Put on some Charlie and Lola for the younger kids, plop Noah in my lap (because he likes to do it with me.. and it adds extra weight... and he's the only kid that didn't get/doesn't have lice, so I don't mind his head rubbing up against me) and then burn those calories off. And I have to do it... because I know darn well my energy level is going to slide and I'll be needing another one of those coffees in about 1 1/2 hours.

And... can you believe it's the last day of March???? Summer's around the corner...

Leslie

Friday, March 28, 2008

Our Latest Adventure

Nandini has lice.

There, I said it. It's out there. There's no going back.

Nandini has lice. You know... lice. Nits. Cooties.

My little girl has cooties.

Ugh! This is so mortifying. How did she get them? How is it that she survived three years living in an orphanage with a hundred other kids without so much as a bug looking at her... but then we adopt her, bring her to Texas, and she gets lice?? How is that?

Where did they come from? We homeschool. It's not like she's gallivanting all over the hallways of our nearest public school. We haven't even been anywhere this week. Well... except for one place... the place where all disease runs rampant...

Walmart.

I'm going to blame it on Walmart. We've been 3 times this week. Maybe this is God's way of reminding me that I need to stick to our budget. Do you think He'd use lice as a way of reeling in my Walmart expeditions? Because if so, it's working. I don't ever want to step foot in there again.

Guess what? It worked, God!

Sigh.

This is so humiliating. So, this is how it all came into play...

We were at LifeGroup yesterday with our church. No big deal. Just sitting around chilling. We'd just sang Happy Birthday to Cherie. We were passing out the cake. And I happened to ask if someone knew how to check for lice because I'd noticed that Nandini had been scratching her head.

Now, in all honesty, I was fully expecting someone to tell me that I was being paranoid. That she had dry scalp and I needed to switch shampoos. But, nope. Plain as daylight. She had a critter infestation.

I would have so loved to blame it on the orphanage. To say, "yep, I bet she picked it up in India"... but, nooooooooooooo, I couldn't do that, could I? She's been here 4 1/2 months. It's plain and simple that she got it here. And. I. Wanted. To. Die. right on the spot. Right then and there.

So, I had to leave Eli at Dreama's and then take Nandini with me to Walmart to get some Rid treatment. It was awful. I walked in and felt like everyone knew that my little girl had nits. Like there was a flashing neon sign around us. Like there was a giant "L" stamped on our foreheads.

And there Nandini was.. sitting in the cart scratching her head like a monkey looking for dinner.

It was so obvious.

I called Sim from the store - completely freaking out - and he said I was making a mountain out of a molehill. But really, isn't that my speciality? Isn't that what I do best? I mean, if there was a college degree called Molehill/Mountain Making, I would have majored in it and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

He said that it's no big deal, that pretty much EVERYONE gets lice at one point in their life. But you know what.. everyone poops, too, but that's not something you go advertising on a T-shirt, is it? No. Some things are best left private and unassumed.

And lice is no exception.

And, for the record, yes, I do understand the irony of that statement... as I'm on here airing my dirty lice laundry. But pretty much everyone who reads this blog was actually there last night to watch the Nit News unfold.. so, really, I'm just rehashing old events.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Walmart. Dirty, dirty little Walmart. And guess what you can't find at Walmart? Lice treatment. Ya know why? Because they're sold out! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at that. Should I find great comfort in knowing that I live in an community that's overrun by cooties? Or should I cry at the fact that I live in a community that's overrun by cooties? Either way.. it didn't make me feel less ashamed. Especially when I had to wait in that long pharmacy line to inquire about whether or not they were sold out or if they actually keep the lice treatment behind the counter.

Now.. it was after 8 o'clock. The pharmacy should've closed an hour ago. But they were open... and there were a ton of people hanging around waiting for their prescriptions. So, we're waiting in line and Nandi is sitting there scratching her head like a little girl who has lice.. and I'm standing there with my head hung in shame and suddenly she starts grabbing boxes off the shelf. Little boxes for hemorrhoid treatment. Now, why on earth would they keep their Preparation H and other boxes right there by the pharmacy line? That's the most public place on earth. I mean, I don't have hemorrhoids, but if I did, I wouldn't want to weed my way through that hostile pharmacy line, stand there in the open, and scour the shelves for some treatment to take care of my 'roids. Heck no. I'd want them to hide those boxes in the back corner where they put all the tampons and pregnancy tests. Who stocks those shelves? Who designs the layout for Walmart? They should know better than that.

So, Nandi starts grabbing the boxes - as I'm not already mortified enough - and I have to scoot the basket over so that her octopus arms are out reach and I tell her she can't have those. "Why?" Oh yeah... she's 3. She's Queen of the Why's. "Why? Why Mommy? Why? Why? Why?" I explain to her that she just can't have them and she screams at the top of her lungs.. "WHYYYYYY??" which causes everyone to turn around and look at her. And what do they see? A little girl smiling innocently in the shopping cart with her hands in her hair scratching away.

I swear that some of them moved their carts away from us. Mothers shielded their children. People who'd been standing in line for hours actually left in fear that one of Nandu's nits would make an aerodynamic leap in the air and attach itself firmly into their scalp.

Okay, that last part didn't actually happen. Well, it could have. I don't know. I couldn't raise my eyes off the floor long enough to look.

Anyway, I found out that they had one bottle left of Rid stuff on the shelf... and several bottles of non-toxic stuff on the shelf... so I got the poison-y chemical stuff for Nandi and Eli and the other for Noah... and yes, I know that's not exactly fair, but I can't take the chance with Noah... and I can't take the chance that it doesn't work with Nandi and Eli.... so I spent $46 bucks on lice treatment, shampoo and a new hairbrush and off we went back to LifeGroup.

And that's it. We treated Nandini and Eli - got them all fixed up. We got back home and Sim was doing the laundry. Actually, Sim was PO'ed and doing the laundry. He is fully playing the Lice Card and saying that he is dead positive that the kids got it from all the garage sale (insert any foul word of choice) that I keep bringing home. So, now, I'm banned from Walmart and garage sales. And, then, we stayed up half the night washing four sets of bedding.

And, tonight, we get to spend a romantic night checking each other for nits. Yep, there's nothing destined to bring a husband and wife closer together than combing through each others hair looking for lice. Oh, I just can't wait!

Blech.

So, anyway, to all those at LifeGroup last night... I'm sorry that I had to dash out of there in such a hurry and interrupt the word of God with our lice escapade. To Dreama... thank you so much for being such a trooper and for letting us use your bathroom as a defestation campground. And thank you for delousing Eli and for not wearing rubber gloves while you did it. I think that would have just killed me.

To Cherie, I'm sorry that our nits ruined your birthday. I'm sure no one was able to enjoy their cake after that. And I'm sorry that your birthday will forever be remembered as the day that Nandini came down with lice. But, hey, I can guarantee that I'll never forget your birthday as long as I live.

To Julie.. I'm sorry you had to delouse your 4 year old - just in case. But on the brightside, isn't it awesome that he and Eli are so close that if one of them comes down with nits then the other one might too? Isn't it every Mom's dream that their kids have such close friends?

Abby, I'm sorry I snapped at you and told you to run inside and wash your hands after you tousled Nandini's hair. I hope I didn't scare you or make you think that I'm a mean old lady. Honestly, I was just lookin' out for ya.

And Mike. I know you tried to handle it all with a smile, but I'm pretty sure you sprayed your entire house with that Rid spray after we left. And I wouldn't be surprised if you started a bonfire in your backyard and burned all the towels we used in our attempts to delouse. Also, I bet a hundred bucks that you complained to Dreama last night that you couldn't sleep because you were up all night itching.

Speaking of itching.. Nandi just woke up and is scratching her head. What??? Doesn't that stuff die? Die Lice! Die!!!

Off to google.....

Leslie

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quirky begins with a Q...

I love my kids. I really do. They are so hilarious. I honestly can't remember a time in my life when I laughed so much. They are just the funniest, quirkiest bunch of kids I've ever met.

Now, don't get me wrong. If I'm completely and utterly honest, there have been a few days where the fighting and whining got to me so much that I just wanted to get in the car and drive away - without the kids. Of course, I never did - because I understand the repercussions if I did something like that... but, boy, the thought was there. And if the truth be told, at least once or twice a week for the past few years - when we're eating supper - I say to Sim, "Oh, honey, this food doesn't agree with me. I'm not feeling too great".... and then I dash off to the bathroom, lock the door, sit down on the bathroom floor and read a book or flip through a magazine. And then about 15 or 20 minutes later, I emerge feeling "a lot better" and join the family. Honestly, I've been doing it for so long that I'm quite surprised Sim hasn't suggested that I go to a gastroenterologist, but so far he hasn't. And he doesn't read this blog either, so if he discovers my little secret then I know one of you ratted me out!

But the point is, despite feeling overwhelmed on occasion - okay, on a lot of occasions - my kids are my life - and I adore them. They are too funny.

For instance, did you know that every morning they eagerly line up like little soldiers to take a teaspoon of cod liver oil??? What kind of sane and normal child does that? Even Noah! My kid who won't touch a vegetable unless it's minced up and disguised, opens his mouth like a baby bird and slurps the fish oil off a spoon every single day. And Eli and Nandini have actually gotten into a fight over who got the most oil. And they beg to take "fish eggs" which is basically cod liver oil in a pellet form.

Then there's Nandini, who actually turned down a sugar cookie the other day at an all-you-can-eat-buffet in order to get a THIRD helping of turnip greens. Now, I will admit that I don't walk around thinking of my kids as being adopted. In fact, sometimes people have to point out that I didn't, in fact, give birth to them - because I forget. But at that instance - when she chose the turnip greens over the cookie - it hit me like a freight train... "This child doesn't share one bit of my DNA".

Ah, Nandini. Sweet Nandini. Who sleeps with her tongue sticking out. Who I'm afraid is one day going to have a bad dream and actually bite that tongue off. Nandini who has a terrible temper and likes to torture the dog if she gets angry. Nandini, who likes to take off her leg brace and use it as a weapon against Eli's head. Nandini, who can toot like a grown man.

Her bowels should be labeled as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Yep, that's our Nandi.

Then there's Eli.. who has a weird obsession with his Peluche. And, no, that's not some preschool pet name for his you-know-what. Peluche happens to be his teddy bear that we sent to him in Guatemala when he was 3 months old. That thing is practically surgically attached to him, and he can't go anywhere without it. But the weird thing about it is that Eli has to rub Peluche all over his face and arms and tummy about 17,000 times a day. Honestly, it probably has something to do with his sensory issues - but it's a quirky little behavior that cracks me up.

And, of course, there's Noah. Quirkmaster of the U.S.A. He loves to stick suckers in dirty dishwater and suck on them. He likes to take the plastic potty seat off the toilet and stick it in the sink and run water over it. He likes to spin wheels on toy cars and hold his mouth up to the wheels as they spin. He has a nasty habit of chewing on dirty flip flops. (PICA, anyone?)
All of this, of course, can be attributed to his autism and mineral deficiencies.. but I like to think that he's just quirky.

Ah, quirky. My new favorite word.

Because, if you get too serious about it - which I've been guilty of in the past - you can easily overlook all the good stuff. So, I'm learning to lighten up. To get a grip. To remove the corncob from my backside. 'Cause in the long run, does it really matter if Nandi wants to stuff her toy poodle with pretend kitchen food? In fact, a few minutes ago, that poodle gave birth to a plastic canary in a bird cage. And I didn't even wince. Not even once.

And even though Eli has watched Barney's Waiting for Christmas video for the zillionth time this morning - because he says there are pretty girls in the film (??) - I didn't say, "Dude, I'm going to go nuts on your butt if you make me watch that one more time" (which I wouldn't have anyway, but, man, too much Barney will make you loco, you know what I mean?) I simply embraced the fact that he is 4 and that I'm glad he still watches Barney and Mickey Mouse Club instead of other types of videos that are marketed towards kids but are really too much for them.

And with Noah... who cares that he likes to sniff the bottom of his feet. Right? I mean, I'm sure there are perfectly normal people in the world who have weird foot fetishes. Aren't there? The main thing is that he's wonderfully happy, blissfully joyous, and he loves with his whole heart. That's what counts.

So. Today, I am embracing the quirkiness of my kids. My evergrowing brood. My two enchiladas and one hot tamale. My Noah. My Eli. My Nandini.

My three funny, wacky, QUIRKY blessings.

Leslie

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Movers and Shakers

Yesterday, I blogged about the eye-opening movie Born into Brothels - and how there's an educational curriculum online that discusses a lot of the issues brought up in the movie... and how important it is for us learn about these issues and what's going on in the world outside the 4 walls we live in.

For me, personally, I get jaded - a lot. I'm not too crazy about the younger generation that is going to someday lead our world. To me, it's just a bunch of selfish, video-game playing kids who sit in front of TV's all day playing the latest PS3 or Xbox or Wii or whatever. Although, I'm a selfish 30 something who sits in front of the computer all day... so who am I to complain, right? And, honestly, I'm sure my parent's generation viewed my generation in the same way... and I think we turned out okay. It probably just has to do with me getting older and I forget that I used to be one of those punk, goth kids that I now eye warily.

Oh, how we forget.

And, oh, how easy it is for me to digress in a blog post.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

Well there are tons of good kids out there... but you never really hear about them, do you? I mean good news doesn't sell. And that stinks. But if you look hard enough - and maybe take off those jaded glasses (note to self) then you can see that there are some awesome people out there... and some awesome things are happening.

I know I've posted about Nikki before (she's the one who designed my blog), but I have to do it again. I am in awe of her. I know she's not a kid (and Nikki don't be offended if I call ya one - anyone under 20 is a youngster) :-)... she's a college student up in Canada - and I am just so amazed and so proud that someone her age has her act together. I mean... I know what I was doing in college and it sure wasn't helping the world.

I know we all have blogs to read, but if you read just one blog, I would really recommend it be Nikki's. She just inspires the heck out of me. And when you read it, you just know that she's going to change the world. It's like you're sitting back watching something beautiful unfold... and I'm so privileged that I get to watch it.... that I'm in the process of watching history happen.. because she will change the world. There's no doubt about it.

So, do yourself a favor and check out her blog. And she also started a blog called Little Ways to End Poverty . I love that one... will definitely do Christmas and birthday shopping from the sites she profiles.

Okay, that's it for now. Off to an exciting day of wiping butts and picking up toys. Oh, to be in college again! (I may not have been changing the world, but I had a lot of fun!) :-)

Leslie

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kids with Cameras

Has anyone seen the movie Born into Brothels? It is hands down one of the best movies/documentaries that I have ever seen. In fact, it even won an Oscar for Best Documentary. It is THAT good.

I watched it in last January when I was laid up in bed with the most awful cold of my life. It probably didn't help that I was an utter mess to begin with, but then I watched this movie and, I mean, the floodgates opened and I'm surprised that it didn't cause a natural disaster. In fact, I really do think that the water level at Cedar Creek Lake rose solely based on all those tears I shed.

Wow. I guess my description isn't going to make any of you run out and get the movie, is it? I mean, who wants a movie that's going to be a tearjerker, right?

But do it. Get the movie. It will change your life. It's inspiring and uplifting and heartbreaking all at the same time. It's the movie that made us go ahead and take the mad leap of faith to adopt Nandini. Sounds strange, but it is. We had just gotten back Nandi's report from an International Adoption Specialist... and she basically had Nandini pegged as an invalid. But for some reason, watching this movie (and with lots of prayer), we decided to go for it - and we've never looked back. And we've never regretted the decision.

So, yeah, I can honestly say that this movie changed our lives.

Basically, it's about this photographer who goes to Calcutta, India (or Kolkata, if you prefer) and actually lives in the Red Light District while she's making a documentary on what it's like to work and live in a brothel. While there, she befriends the children who live there - whose moms work as prostitutes - and they are fascinated with her camera. So she decides to give the kids their own camera and lets them take pictures of their everyday life. And it transforms them. It is amazing to see how art can make such a difference in a child's life.

She then goes on to help some of them get out of the brothels - because most of the girls who grow up in a brothel never leave.. they end up becoming prostitutes themselves. So, the movie shows how she tries to get them into schools and how the local schools are resistant. It's just amazing. And you can go on the Kids with Cameras site and get updates on how the kids are doing. One now lives in the U.S. Another is starting college in India. And one, who was my favorite, decided to stay in the brothel. That broke my heart.

But really, do yourself a favor and get this movie. It may break your heart.. but, honestly, don't we all need to be a bit broken? How can we change and better ourselves and better the world if we don't allow anything to penetrate our hearts?

Anyway, the main reason I decided to post this is because I got an email saying that there's now an educational curriculum guide aimed at highschoolers and it's available for free online. You can access it here. I think this would be great not only for public highschoolers, but for homeschoolers, as well. Kids with Cameras partnered with Amnesty International to do the guide and it covers some really important topics. Like racism and discrimination. The right to an education. The transformative power of art. It's just really, really amazing.

And don't be turned off just because it's aimed at highschoolers. I'm going to do it, too. I think we can so easily get wrapped up in our own lives and our own problems - at least I know I can - so it's really important to see what goes on in the rest of the world - especially with kids. Because, as cliche as it sounds, kids are our future. The kids today are going to grow up and be the rulers of the world one day. And, honestly, that's really scary.

But don't despair. There are some awesome movers and shakers out there - awesome students who are making a difference, and I'm going to talk about one of them tomorrow.

For now, though, I've got to go. I've got three future leaders I need to tend to.

P.S. I have the movie if anyone wants to borrow it.

Leslie

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Easter Bunny Has Landed....

and left about 3 dozen broken plastic Easter eggs all over our house.

Easter Bunny... I'm not sure you're welcome in our house next year.

Seriously, though, we don't buy eggs each year. We reuse them and whittle them down each year. Which goes to show you that at one point in my childrens' lives I went absolutely berserk and bought a billion gazillion Easter eggs in order to make their day oh so special. That was back when I naive and didn't realize how annoying it is to find plastic bits under the bed and under the couch and stuffed here, there, and everywhere.

Grrrrr... does anyone else hate those plastic eggs as much as I do? I think after yesterday's affair, we have about 6 whole ones left... and so after next year...... maybe none... and then... FREEDOM!

You see, my kids could play with those things all year long. Plastic Easter eggs rank up there on my All-Time-Hate-List right along with playdoh and markers (because they always end up on the kid and not the paper... and just like a pair of socks, I'm never able to match the lid back up with the marker and then they dry out... ugh! it just frustrates me). Anyway, like I said, my kids can play with the eggs all year long. They love to hide things in them. You know, like bits of broccoli or dog food. Stuff like that.

Have you ever found a moldy broccoli floret in an Easter egg before? In July?

Yeah. It's not pretty.

Anyway, this year we raided our closet and each kid got a toy that I had accumulated throughout the year at garages sales or clearance sales. Does everyone have one of those Christmas/Easter/Birthday closets? (Amy, I KNOW you do!!). Well, a few years ago I found a toy called Puppy Surprise on clearance for $4.98, so I bought it and it's been collecting dust on my top shelf for the last two years. What a great present for Nandini's Easter basket!!

Uh, no. It wasn't. Has anyone actually seen this toy? No wonder it was on clearance. It is so disturbing. I mean, the basic premise is that you have to reach underneath the puppy, open a velcro flap and pull out baby puppies. Seems innocent enough. But there's something disturbing about watching my 3 year old sit in the middle of the living room floor, stick her hand up a pretend dog's uterus and pull out fake cotton puppies.

I mean, I'm not squeamish in the least bit. There are tons of toys that depict childbirth and I'm actually okay with those. In fact, we picked up some old 1970's plastic baby BOY dolls at a garage sale last summer that are so anatomically correct that they actually pee if you stick a bottle of water in their mouth. And, you know, I'm cool with that. Although the previous owner must've left one of the dolls outside and a dog got a hold of it. Yeah.. one of the dolls is more of a He/She now. We know what it's supposed to be, but it doesn't quite fit the bill.

Point being, I don't know why the other dolls are fine, but this pretend stuffed pink poodle with it's velcro womb is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

Maybe it has something to do with Nandini discovering that she could stick all sorts of things in that little poodle. Like pretend peas and carrots. Or tiny dinosaurs. Or awful, get-on-my-nerves purple and pink and yellow plastic Easter eggs. I had to spend all morning watching that poodle give birth to things that it never should have.

And.I.Am.Scarred. It left an imprint on my brain that just doesn't need to be there.

And then we went to church and over to my parents' house for, you guessed it, an Easter Egg Hunt.

6 eggs left. 6 eggs left. One more year and then I'm home-free.

So. How was your Easter?

Leslie

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Answer to Noah's Shirt Chewing: Part II

See that "Sitemeter" icon to the left? I signed up for it (it's free!) a few weeks ago and it gives me all sorts of statistics on how many people read this blog and how they found it. (Thanks to the 5 people out there who think I have something to say. I appreciate it!)It's a pretty cool site - it doesn't tell me who you are or give your email or anything, but it lets me know how many people pull up this blog a day. And it also tells me if someone found this site by googling certain things.

For example, someone found my site by googling "I ruined Amy's childhood". What??? No clue how that came about. And then someone found my site by googling, "What happens when you don't clean your bathroom for three weeks". Yeah... that one I can kind of understand. And don't you know, I cleaned my bathroom immediately after discovering that was what was leading some people to my blog.

I'm happy to say it's now spic-and-span. You could eat off it. But, um... yeah, I'm not going to try it.

But my main point of this post is that it seems we have a lot of shirt chewers out there. And it's pulling up a post of mine that I wrote last September. At the time, we thought Noah's shirt chewing was caused by agave nectar and sugar - mainly in the form of jelly. So, we stopped giving it to him and he stopped chewing.

Fast forward to now... he always ate agave nectar or jelly on a rice cake with peanut butter. Well, I'd heard that peanut butter really harbors a ton of fungus (can everyone say, "eeeeeeewww!"), so we quit giving him peanut butter, too. Plus, he wouldn't eat it without the agave or the jelly. So we stopped. Around that time, I also decided to start making things from scratch.. so I stopped giving him the Kellog's Animal Jungle Pancakes, which I admit, he ate all the time. And he ate them with agave nectar.

Now.. I know I'm making a short story long, but we originally thought it was the agave nectar and jelly because we went to Austin for a week and he stopped chewing. Plus, he didn't have those foods while we were gone. He did eat peanut butter, but he ate a different brand instead of the Whole Foods brand. Problem solved, right?

Well, we started giving him agave nectar again as a test - this was a few weeks ago - and no problem. Hmmm... okay. Then we gave him jelly. Makes him hyper and squealy - but no shirt chewing. Then, the other day, I went to Whole Foods and bought peanut butter because Eli and Nandini love it. I bought the organic WF brand and gave it to Noah. Instant shirt chewing. The next day, he had a Reese's chocolate egg. Instant shirt chewing.

You're guessing peanut butter, right?

Wrong.

It's palm oil. Who would've thought? He's been tolerating peanut butter lately - the regular kind that's loaded with sugar. But you know what? It has cottonseed and rapeseed oil in it. When I did a comparison, I discovered that the WF Organic PB has palm oil in it. The Reese's had palm oil in it. And, guess what, the Kellog's Jungle Pancakes have palm oil in them, too.

Weird, huh? I mean, what a freaky allergy. At the same time, he can't tolerate coconut oil. It makes him break out in a rash. So, maybe with palm oil being a tropical oil, too.... I don't know. But now I really have to keep reading the heck out of ingredients because a lot of those blended vegetable oils have palm oil in them.

Totally random post, I know. But just thought I'd give an update on Noah's shirt chewing for all those parents who are looking for answers themselves. And if you did stumble upon this post by googling "shirt chewing", then thank you. At least I know you're somewhat normal... unlike those nasty people who don't clean their toilets.

Oops. That would include me.

Leslie

Oh yeah! Break it down.

Yo! Wassup?? This is Lil' T-Rex and DJ Nan.D.NeE. Grand Funkmaster Noah Funky Monkey is directing this piece of classic His-Stor-EE for ya'll. See. You've been fooled. Those kids today... they don't know what real music is all about. Rap this. Rap that. We're talking Old Skool here. US3 sampling some Herbie Hancock. Yeah. That's where it's at. Don't know what we're talking about?

We're about to break it down for ya.

Here we go!

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know we have something special for you at Birdland this evening. A recording for Blue Note Records

What's that? yeah yeah yeah
funky funky, how bout a big hand now?
wait, wait a minute


Groovy groovy
jazzy funky pounce bounce dance as we
Dip in the melodic
sea, the rhythm keeps flowin, it drips to MC
Sweet sugar pop
sugar pop rocks it pops ya dont stop
Till the sweet
beat drops
I show and prove
as a stick in move
Hear the poems
recited on top of the groove
Smooth, mind,
floating like a butterfly
Notes start to
float, suttle like a lullabye
Brace yourself as
the beat hits ya
Dip trip, flip
fantasia

(ah, ah, ah,
what's that? biggity biggity bop)



Feel the beat
drop, jazz and hip hop
Drippin in the
dome, and mix is on the lock
Funk and fusion, a
fly illusion
Keeps ya coastin
on the river we cruisin
Up down round and
round, round the found
But nevertheless
ya gots to get down
Finesse the freak
thru the beat so unique
Ya move your feet,
the sweat from the heat



Ah, Fun-ky, Fun-ky!


Peace Out. Word to your mother.

**This is what happens when you're married to a man who loves old jazz and hip hop blends. He's also got a thing for African Tribal music. You should see Lil T-Rex and DJ Nan.D.NeE when Sim breaks out Afro-Celt Soundsystem. Oh yeah!

Here's the original US3 video for all you people who were in college back in '93.

Peace out, ya'll.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nandi's Leg Brace

Finally! Here are the pictures of Nandi's new leg brace....


First the old brace.....




Now, the new and stylish leg brace....






You can't tell, but there are actually butterflies all over the brace. Very cool! And, surprisingly, she loves it! She doesn't get to wear it much, though, because the bottom is very slick and we don't have shoes yet that fit it. I'm holding out until Stride Rite's upcoming sale. But we are headed to Austin today for Noah's session as HALO, so I'm going to stop off at the Target in Roundrock and see if it'll fit into a fake croc - just to tide her over.

Hope everyone has a good day. Sorry for the boring blogging - we've been pretty busy the past few days.

Leslie

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And Baby Makes Seven....

I know I'm supposed to post pictures of Nandi's new leg brace, but we just got a new camera and I haven't installed the software yet for my computer. I'll try to get to that today.

In the meantime, if you want a feel-good morning, head on over to Amy's blog and look at the pictures of her new little boy. He is so adorable!!

Leslie

Monday, March 17, 2008

Goodbye Inner Biker Chick

I have officially turned into a softie. Sure, I've always been a little on the sentimental side. Play an old Chicago or Journey song and I start swaying back and forth in the car. Hallmark commercials.... destined to bring tears. Elderly couples holding hands... yeah, I start to dab the eyes a bit. But for the most part... I've always been pretty cool (or so I think). That is until we adopted Nandini. And now I'm the mom of a little girl.... and there's no turning back.

I will say right now that my pet peeve has always been those sentimental, gushy, tug-on-the-heartstring-on-purpose songs about dads and little girls. Puh-leeze! Butterfly Kisses? That's for pansies. And that stupid song about the kid who wants to buy his mom a pair of red shoes for Christmas because she's gonna die that very night.... it's for wusses. I mean, seriously, do you really think that kid didn't have money to buy his mom a present? You know darn well he went around to the corner store and spent it all on the latest Xbox game. Come on... he totally scammed that Rob Lowe character in the movie.

That's right. There's a movie, too.

It's all about marketing and commercialism. Get some soppy song about a dad and his little girl and then all of a sudden it shoots to #1 on the Billboard Charts and then it becomes the #1 most played song for the Father/Daughter dance at weddings. It's all about the money, people. All about the money.

Which surprised me then when I found out that Steven Curtis Chapman was on board with the whole thing. I mean, I so admire the guy. I think he's fantastic. And then he comes out with a song called "Cinderella" and man, ugh!, I start tearing up every time I hear it.

The difference between those other songs and this one is that those other songs came out before I became a mom to a little girl... and this song came out after. Makes a big difference.

I heart this song.

I. Heart. It.

I can't even think about it without getting all blurry-eyed.... with the image of a little girl dancing on her daddy's feet. Sniff sniff. You're just going to have to excuse me for a moment while I grab a handkerchief.

Okay, there. I feel a bit better.

Steven Curtis Chapman, how could you???!!! You have what, 107 kids? You should know better than to write a song that's going to cause busy moms to pull over on the side of the road and bawl. Come on! Do you know how rare it is for me to actually wear make-up? And then when I do, your song comes on and I've got raccoon eyes and black rivers running down my chin.

What where you thinking???

I liked you so much better in your Speechless days. Dive and Speechless and The Change were great songs. So what's with this Cinderella nonsense? Don't you know we women don't need a reason to cry? What is it that you're trying to do here?? Huh?? Huh??? Tell me!

Have any of you heard this song? Am I just PMS'ing on an emotional hormone roller coaster or is this a great song or what?

Leslie

Have to dash....

Not much of a post this morning. It's 6:30 and we have to be out of the house in 45 minutes. The kids are still asleep and I'm still in my sweats. What am I doing blogging????? I need to get ready!

We get Nandini's leg brace today. Thankfully, she only needs one. It's got butterflies and purple straps. I'll take a picture of it when we get home. The only downside is that she WILL need to get two different sized shoes. One XW and one regular width. I know Stride Rite does the XW shoes because Eli needs them and they do have a Buy One get One 1/2 Half sale 2x a year... I think the next one is due any week now. I may call and start bugging them... "Hey, save all the cute clearanced shoes for me, please!"

So after that, we're off to Noah and Nandi's cranial sacral appointment and then off to Whole Foods to blow... uhm... I mean spend.... our weekly grocery allowance. I have made myself a list this time and I plan on sticking to it. Rice milk, rice spaghetti, Whole Foods brand pizza crust, Mixed Salad Greens, and something else. I can't remember. See. That's why I need a list. Otherwise I'll convince myself that those special St. Patty's Day cookies with the gorgeous green sugar crystals is something that I can't live without.

And the rest... yep, the rest we'll have to get at good 'ol Wally World. (Please, please let them build a SuperTarget out here. Please. Please. Please)

I'll try to post pictures later today or tomorrow of Nandi sportin' her new brace. In the meantime, have a Happy St. Patrick's Day. And don't forget to wear green.. .otherwise little old men use it as an excuse to pinch your bottom.

Leslie

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I think I'd better give a bit of fair warning on this post. If the words "boobs" and "breasts" cause your face to turn bright red, then you may want to skip over this post and check back tomorrow. But, if you have kids, then you've probably already been where I am... so read along.

Here's the deal... Eli has become obsessed with breastfeeding. He saw some people doing it in the church nursery, so now he's really into it. No, not literally. My four and a half year old is safely on the cup, but it's just something that really started interesting him. I guess maybe it's because he was never breastfed. Do you think kids internally/subconsciously mourn that - especially maybe children who were adopted? I don't know... but what I do know is that now I've had to go through every single animal in the book and discuss how they do or don't get milk from their mommas.

"Mommy, do cows breastfeed? Do kangaroos? Do alligators? What about dogs? And zebras? And coyotes? Do coyotes breastfeed? What about geckos? Do they drink mommy's milk? And snakes, and cats, and buffaloes, and lizards, and yada yada yada"

and my personal favorite...

"If babies drink cows milk, then do cows drink people milk?"

How do I explain to my four-year old that humans are the only mammals that drink milk from other mammals? And then, isn't that a bit gross when you think about it? You don't see a dog nursing from a gorilla do you? Or a colt from a cat? Ewwww.

The point being, though, is that Eli is all about the boob. The other day he came into the bathroom with Nandini's stroller. And inside was Nandi's giant pink bunny rabbit... and at the very bottom was Noah's monkey. But you couldn't see the whole monkey. Eli just had the head of the monkey sticking out between the bunny rabbit's legs. Well, naturally, my eyebrows raised and I said, "Eli. What's monkey doing?" And he just looked at me like I was an idiot... "He's drinking his mommy's milk".

Let me tell you, I was so proud of myself. I didn't make a big deal of it. I just calmly reached over and scooted that little monkey's head up a few inches and said, "You're right, Eli!" and he smiled, turned around, and rolled the stroller away.

Whew. Crisis averted.

So, then the next day, we got our Gospel for Asia newsletter in the mail. Each Christmas the kids pick out a birthday present for Jesus (usually a charitable donation) and this past Christmas they each bought chickens to send to India. (Okay, I have to apologize right now for the lack of transition. Yeah, I'm sure you're wondering how I can go from Eli's "boob" story to talking about Jesus - all in the same breath - but I assure you there's a connection). Sooooooooooo.. we got our newsletter in the mail and it had an article about some families who had received Christmas presents from GFA supporters. There was an article about a family who received chickens and how they're are able to make money from selling eggs. There was a neat mention about a lady who is paralyzed from the waist-down and unable to work, but received a hand-operated sewing machine and is now learning to be a tailor - and then there was a story about a family who received a water buffalo...

Well, Eli is also super into buffaloes at the moment. I'm not sure where he comes up with all this... but that's his new animal kick. So, I showed him the article and said that now this family can make money by selling the buffalo milk... to which he cried...

"That man is NAUGHTY!!! He's a BAD man!! He STOLE that milk. THAT MILK IS FOR THE BABY BUFFALOES!!!"

I tried explaining that the man's children won't starve anymore because of that milk... but he said

"YEAH, BUT THE BABY BUFFALOES WILL STARVE!!!" and then proceeded to bawl his eyes out.

Sigh.

Well. Let me just say that whatever Eli is into at the moment, so is Nandini. She is Eli's little follower... she adores him and wants to do whatever he's doing. So if Eli is into boobs, then so is Nandini.

And let me say, I don't know where they learned the word boob. Eli did go to daycare for a few months when we lived in Tennessee. I do remember that he started calling me a poopoo-head around that time, so maybe that's it. I don't think it was from me. It's not exactly a word that slips into my everyday conversation.

And that brings me to yesterday. We went to Studio Movie Grill to watch a free screening of Horton Hears a Who (awesome movie, by the way) and we were sitting there, enjoying the movie, when suddenly - out of nowhere - one of the characters calls the other character a boob.

And my heart just sunk. Because I know my children so well.

Nandini suddenly bolted up and shouted,

"Boob, Mommy. Boob! Boob! Boobies! Boooooo-beeeeeees!!! Booooooo-beeeeeees!!"

and then, completely unexpectedly, she turned around, yanked my shirt over the top of my head, pointed to my chest and said

"Mommy's boobies! Mommy's boobies!"

Thankfully, this was a movie theater and not Mardi Gras (not that it'd make a difference, Mom!!!) and I had on the appropriate undergarments. But, still, I think the sight of my bare stomach might have frightened a few small children. And caused some of the parents to giggle. Although I'd like to think they were laughing at a funny part in the movie... but I'm not too sure.

The point is.... if you haven't had a baby yet... do yourself a favor and breastfeed them. Nip that curiosity in the bud so that when they turn 3, they don't embarrass you by yanking your shirt up over your head in public. Although, I have personally witnessed a few breastfed two-year olds do the same thing to some friends of mine.... so we may just have to suck it up and realize it's a natural curiosity. And if you have a boy..... well.... boob fascinations are just in their genetic DNA. That's a fixation that lasts a lifetime.

What? You found this post offensive??? Awww... come on.... don't be a boob!

Leslie

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This and That (Mostly Boring Stuff)

First of all, I really want to thank everyone who left such great comments over the last few days. I am absolutely horrendous at responding to comments.. not because I don't like them (I love them!) but because I am one lazy cow. But I really appreciate all the comments that have been left and all the people who came out of lurkdom to leave them (Hi, Lee!). Christine, your comment about my neighbor was hilarious. I wish I'd thought of that. Paddy, I am so sorry you have to endure the ignorance of so many people. It makes me embarrassed. I really do think every student should be required to make at least one trip to another country before they are allowed to graduate from high school. It should be a requirement. To all my church friends and CMS buddies, thank you for your wisdom. Yeah, I know I could be a great witness to my neighbor, but in all honestly, I really want to flip him the bird most of the time. How Christian is that?? The more I think of him, the angrier I get... so really, I am in need of some prayers. It looks like the both of us are in need of an attitude change.

Michelle, you emailed and said you had a Shrek glass. Thank you so much!!! That is fantastic, awesome, wonderful, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious news! I tried to reply to your email, but it came back as undeliverable. If you could email me directly we can work out the details. Our blog actually has an email address: recoveringnoah@yahoo.com . Thanks!

And thank you to everyone who got so excited about Noah's progress. I know on a scale of 1 to a million, it's pretty darn small... but, man, those little improvements are amazing to us. Just yesterday, he climbed into his carseat and buckled the clip that goes across his chest. Yeah, baby!!! Can you believe it. Do you know what effort that took? He had to visually see the clip and have it register in his brain. He had to know that you use your hands to clip it... that the black part on the right clips into the black part on the left. His brain had to tell his hands what to do... and his hands actually obeyed. Wow!! He's also getting better and better and putting his shirt on... still with help.. but not as much.... and it just seems that he's making better connections with his brain and his body. He actually climbed onto the trampoline all by himself yesterday. Oh, and I was getting him dressed (he sits on the toilet with the lid down and I sit on a stool in front of him) and I said, "Oops, I forgot to put your socks on" and then I leaned over to pick up the socks off the floor and when I raised up he had his foot sticking out waiting for me to put the sock on! Okay, that's HUGE.... because it means he didn't need the visual of the sock - the actual sock - to know that it was time to put them on. He heard the word sock and understood it. These little things are happening now each day. Can you believe it???

His OT told us the other day that there is absolutely nothing wrong with his brain... that's is all about mixed up connections. It's a bit like a train track. The train can't run smoothly if a piece of the track is missing. Well, that's what it's like with Noah's brain. There are missing wires or connections or something, but by God's grace, I think those connections will be fixed. I really do.

I will say that we are doing some experimental dosing of homeopathy with Noah. He's been on a Sulphur remedy for over a year now - although it took him 6 months before he could take it more than once every 6 weeks and 10 months before he could take it everyday. It really helps keep his skin lesions down. Well, we also started him on Causticum. We actually stopped the Sulphur and just did the Causticum (per our homeopath's recommendation) and we noticed improvements but his skin got really bad without the Sulphur. Plus, too much Causticum is "caustic" to him. He gets really irritated and it messes up his sleep. So we're now doing Sulphur everyday and doing rotations of Causticum of 2 days on/7 days off. I really think it's helping. Of course, I'm giving all the glory to God, but I do believe that He is allowing all of this to work.

Too cool!

(And yeah, I know it's boring to read all about the homeopathy stuff if you're not into it, but maybe some of my autism moms might be interested)

Hey! If any of you are in the DFW/Not Too Far East Texas area, there's a free screening of the new movie "Horton Hears a Who" at all the different Studio Movie Grills this Saturday at 11:00. It's free for kids with special needs and their siblings. I am so excited about this. Our kids NEVER get to go to the movies. It's impossible. Plus, Sim's always working and I wouldn't even attempt it by myself. I would be way too paranoid about Eli getting scared, Nandini being loud (she's 25 lbs and I bet 24 of that is voice-box) and Noah laying down on the floor and rolling around. But this particular event (which they do once a month I found out) is specifically for kids with special needs... so no one will even bat an eye. Whew. Sim has to work so I've bribed a friend to go with me and we're heading out to our first movie ever (with 3 kids).

You can go to the Studio Movie Grill website and click on "Family Fun" in case you want more info.

Well, this is a bit boring, isn't it? I've been trying to blog every day and it's actually made me realize that I don't have all that much to say. And my funny has disappeared! Where'd it go? Don't tell me I used up all my funny? Ay yai yai!!

Leslie

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Four Months Ago Today...

Can you believe it's been 4 months already??? It seems like yesterday that Mom and I walked into BSSK (the orphanage) and saw Nandini for the first time. Oh, how she hated me! Those first few weeks were so hard... she grieved so much. But it shows how much she was loved at BSSK and how much they loved her in return.

Four months have made such a difference. We have finally begun to understand each other. Her little personality (or should I say BIG personality) shines through more and more each day. She is joyful and playful and full of life. She's full of giggles and tickles and and hugs and kisses.


It WAS hard... it was so hard... but I am SO thankful that we put this in God's hands and listened to Him. I know with all my heart and soul that He led us to Nandini. There is no doubt in my mind.


So here are some pictures from that first day that we met Nandini. It took her several weeks before she would fully smile and start to trust us...... but now... well, now.... let the pictures speak for themselves....







The first moment I saw Nandini. She was fascinated by the camera. This was before she realized that I was the woman who was going to take her away...

Here she is sitting at a table picking up playdoh. They wanted her to play with it, but she refused. She just sat there touching it and withdrawing from everything around her. If they put a toy in her hand, she dropped it. They put a crayon in her hand.. she let it fall. She became so withdrawn that it scared me. Later on, I realized that she was protecting herself.


Can you see her staring at us? They hadn't brought in her blanket yet. When they did, she covered her head up and every so often would peek out from under the blanket to see if we were still there. For some unknown reason, that's when I knew that everything would be okay.


Our leaving ceremony. Notice that Mom and I are the only ones smiling.


In the hotel room. This went on for hours and hours until she cried herself to sleep.


So forlorn and soo sad. It broke our hearts.

Wow! Look at her now!!! One of her favorite things to do is play in the dress-up box.

With her beloved dolly (who she actually named, "Dolly").....


Sitting Pretty.


I know I posted this one the other day, but it's one of my favorites. Plus, Nandini is still asleep right now so I don't have any actual pictures from today.


Being silly. So silly.

Let's see.... what can I tell you about Nandini? She loves pomegrantate fruit leathers from Target. She loves to watch Charlie & Lola and Mr. Bean. She loves turnip greens and green beans. She doesn't care for chocolate, but loves peppermints. She loves to wear dresses over jeans and doesn't care for the color pink (although she has a closet full of it). She loves animals and hotwheels. She likes to play with her pretend kitchen... and sometimes sneaks food out from the fridge to "cook" for us. She loves butterflies, ballons, and bubbles. She loves going to "school" each day (homeschool) and loves to color. She adores her brothers and her Nonna and Papa. She loves digging in the dirt and getting dirty. She can't stand hairbows or ponytails and can already spot a garage sale sign two blocks away. She thinks it's funny to pull the dog's tail and blow bubbles in her drink.

And she loves us.

She. Loves. Us.

Yeah!

Leslie



Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Neighborly Love

Did you know that my kids are "brown"?

Gasp!!! Quelle horror!!

Yep, and apparently it's causing some speculation on our block.

I've noticed that one of our neighbors hasn't been very friendly to us since we brought Nandini home. He no longer acknowledges our waves as he drives past or smiles at us if we happen to be outside at the same time. We noticed it, but didn't get too upset over it. We just figured that maybe he was going through something funky in his own life.

But the other day we happened to be at our mailboxes at the same time. I was holding Nandini and it was impossible for us to avoid each other. So I walked over and said hi and introduced Nandini (because he hadn't met her yet). He eyed me with suspicion and do you know what he said?

"Are you Muslim or something?"

What??? Where on earth did that come from? I was in total shock. Not because I was offended - I have friends who are Muslim - but because I was completely caught off-guard. It was totally unexpected. I just said, "What? Why would you think that?" and he said...

"Because you keep adopting all these kids from I-RACK"

(Yes, I know that's misspelled, but that's how he pronounced it. I-RACK.)

So what do you do?? I was stunned. Of course, later, I came up with all sorts of clever things to say, but at the time all I could muster was... "Uhm, Nandini's from India" to which he replied...

"Same thing. It's all in the Middle East"

Yikes. I was just dumbfounded. Had absolutely no idea what to to say. No idea. I should have used the opportunity to educate him, but was so stunned that I just mumbled something and went inside.

I later thought about sticking a rolled-up world map in his mailbox, but do you really want to tick off someone who already views you with suspicion?

Can you believe it? This is 2008. How can people still be so ignorant??

What would YOU have done?

Leslie

Monday, March 10, 2008

Something Exciting Is On The Horizon

I have no idea what's going on with Noah..but something is. And I'm really getting excited about it.

You know that tingling feeling of anticipation that you sometimes get? I don't know.. maybe it's the same feeling that little kids get the night before Christmas. I can't really explain it. But I feel very excited - like something is about to happen but I don't know what. I can't put my finger on it, but I just know that something is going on with Noah.

Last night, he threw a big fit at church. Now, most people wouldn't be doing high-5's with their husband over that, but I couldn't wait to get home and tell Simeon all about it. Because Noah doesn't throw fits. He doesn't. He's always good as gold - which is really abnormal for a 6 year old. Throwing fits is normal. And Noah threw one. He threw a big one.

So. He was in his Pioneer Club class and I was sitting on the floor with him while the other kids were around the table. No big deal. The goal for me is to get Noah to just stay in the room - even if it means he sits on the floor next to me spinning the wheels of a huge Fisher Price dump truck. And that's what he did.

I had his little lesson book in my lap and was reading it to him and helping him find the verse in Psalms. Miss Linda, the teacher, was explaining to the kids how to look up Psalms - and that the P is silent - so I went over that with Noah and he actually paid attention. He did really good for the most part, but then he decided that he'd had enough and he wanted to leave the room and go wandering (he likes to hang out on the stage next to the guitars). And I wouldn't let him. Well, that made him mad. So I had to take him to the bathroom and give him a talking to.

Basically, I told him that I know he's smart and I know he knows what's going on. I told him that we're not doing this anymore. He needs to sit with his friends and pay attention to the lesson - that he's not getting away with this anymore.

And do you know what he did??

He started sobbing and wailing.

That's good!!! Because that means he understood what I said. He knows that there are consequences for his behavior. He knows he can't use autism as an excuse. He knows that we have high expectations of him... and he doesn't like it.

How typical is that???!!!! That's awesome!!

I had to take him to the bathroom twice, but after the second time, he sat in the classroom and didn't make a peep. He stayed in the classroom. He lined up with his class at the end, and he sat in my lap with all the other kids during the closing.

It means that something's happening with him. I don't know what it is - but this was a breakthrough.

All along, we thought that Noah was severely mentally delayed. Then, RPM showed us that he's got a fully functioning brain in a mis-wired body. He knows exactly what's going on, but can't coordinate his body to do what his brain is telling it. He can't dress or undress himself. He can't color or eat with a fork. He can't wash his face. But yesterday, something happened. Somehow, the words I spoke to him actually got through to him and he understood them. And his feelings were hurt. He was mad. And he had an appropriate response to it. (He also hit me several times on the arm in anger). That's actually good. It was normal, typical behavior. A normal, typical response. I mean, yeah, it wasn't nice. I didn't appreciate getting screamed at or have my arm get slugged... but it was normal. Somehow... for those few minutes... his brain and his body were able to coordinate.

What if this is only the beginning?

Last night... he also put his head through his pajamas and stuck his arms through the sleeve. He also tried to pull up his pants. He sat and listened while I read him a story. This is amazing!!

Anyway, I'm just rambling and not making much sense... but I just had to somehow try to put my excitement down on paper.

Nandini is tugging at my arm right now, so I need to finish this up. But I'll keep you all posted about any new developments.

Have a good week!
Leslie

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Evolution of Eli's Tantrums

So many of you made comments (mostly in person) about Eli's tantrum photos that I posted the other day that I thought I'd make you feel better about your own children by posting even more. Because really, there's nothing better than seeing another child act up to make you realize that your own little dumpling isn't so bad after all.


Mind you, we have a lot of pictures of our precious Elias in various stages of tantruming, but we didn't get this particular camera until he was about 15 months old, so they're all of that age or later.


And although we don't have a picture of it, probably one of the most telling indications that we would have a tantrumer on our hand would be the words of one of the caregivers in the orphanage when Eli was only 9 months old:


"You have to make sure his bottle is exactly at 8 ounces. If it is under 8 ounces or over 8 ounces he will scream and cry. It has to be exactly 8 ounces or he will throw it down and not take it."


Oh, you were right, sweet lady. You were right.

So, I leave you with...... "The Evolution of Eli's Tantrums"








What a sweet little baby. Look at that face!! Just pure joy. Don't you just want to squeeze those little cheeks. Why, he must be the happiest baby in the whole world!

Yes.. that's what we thought, too.......


Oh, and how sweet he was with his brother - playing so nicely. People would always comment on it.

You'd never guess that the sweet baby brother left a scar on his older brother's back in the shape of 20 odd teeth would you?


Look, here they are again.... playing nicely. Unfortunately, I didn't get the picture of Eli actually hijaking Noah's sit-and-spin while he was playing with it.


Would you lookey there? That looks like an empty bottle. And while I don't have a picture to show you the aftermath of that bottle being empty, the memories are still fresh and alive in my brain.


Oh, yes. A classic tell-tale sign that something emotional is brewing underneath. Hitting his head with his hand... looks so innocent. It's not. This particular picture shows the start of a major tantrum over not finding enough Easter eggs in the backyard... even though he managed to get every single one because Noah wasn't interested.


Yep, here's another sign that trouble's brewing. The classic lay down in the floor and glare at you sign. Such a familiar sight - that these tantrums all run together. I can't even recall this particular one.


Oh yeah! Here we go! A scene from the files of "Eli's Tantrums". It went something like this..

"I want to go in the rain! I must go in the rain! I want to! I want to! I waannnnnnnnt to!!! Pease, pease, pease??? Come on, let's go! Come on!!!'

Then.... sobbing...

"It's raiiiiiiiiiiiing! I'm wet. Pick me up, Daddy. Pick me up!! Waaaahhhhh! I don't wike the wain! (sob, sob). I'm all wet!!!! WAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!


Here's another one. It's come with a tip. If you don't think you're going to like the feel of a bag of flour poured on your head... don't do it. Simple as that. Don't be a stinker and dump it all over yourself with glee and then get all mad at Mommy when you realize it got ya dirty.

But don't worry. We don't let him get away with it. If you stop by our house at any given time of the day, you might find the scenario displayed in the above picture. As Nandini puts it, "Time-Out Eli!!! Time-Out!!!"

But here.... here is the doozy of all tantrums. So much that I broke out the camera and took a jillion pictures because I was shaking my head in disbelief over the ONE HOUR AND 45 MINUTE tantrum that ensued. Don't worry. I didn't put ALL the pictures up....

As you can see, Eli is shoving away his plate of food without even trying a bite. He is refusing to even touch it. Not even a single bite. Nope. We put the plate in front of him and he defiantly pushes it way.

Let the tantrum begin....


Here he is crying out for me to save him... but obviously I'm too busy with my face stuck in the camera to actually offer any help. It's one bite, dude. Just take the bite!!



He reaches out for Sim to pick him up... still refusing to even taste the dinner.

Oops, that didn't work. So he decides to just slap at Simeon instead. I think it's been going on for about an hour by this point.

No, I will not take a bite and you can't make me!! What's wrong with you people. Just leave me alone!! Can't you see I don't want it? Why don't you eat it??? Just go away, go away, go away!!!!


And after nearly 2 hours of refusing to touch his dinner, he falls asleep - exhausted - at the table.

Yep, so there you have it. You think you've got it bad??? Just consider this my Friday gift to you. Go into the weekend refreshed and renewed in knowing that you're not alone... that somewhere in Texas there is a little tiny boy who is, most likely, tantruming at this very moment.

Leslie

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 10

Yesterday was Day 10 of the Green Smoothie Challenge.. and on Day 10 something miraculous happened. I ate a salad for supper. A salad! Me! Eating a salad! And actually choosing it for my dinner!

Wowzers.

I have such a bad habit of making my kids eat things that I would never eat. Like cucumbers and tomatoes. Or carrot sticks. Or fresh fruit. And then I'd feel smug knowing that I was a good mom because my kids (with the exception of Noah) were eating fruits and veggies... and then I'd scamper off to the pantry and sneak in bites of corn chips.

Oh, the shame!!

Even when I was vegan, I subsisted off of spaghetti and chips and salsa. Not exactly the poster child for healthy eating. But, yesterday, on Day 10, for some unknown reason, I actually craved a salad for supper. That's all I wanted. Just some mixed greens, some spinach, a chopped cucumber (!), some raw sunflower seeds, cracked pepper, sea salt, and Braggs Vinaigrette. That's it. And you know what... it was the best meal I've ever had. Seriously. I LOVED IT.

Sim was cracking up... like, really cracking up over the look of utter surprise on my face. He couldn't believe I was in shock over eating a bowl of salad. His exact words .. between gasping for air from laughing so hard.... were, "You're acting like you just ate a bowl of dog turd. It's just salad."

Yeah, nothing like the image of eating a bowl of dog turd to ruin the most exciting moment of my life.

Thanks, babe.

But, seriously, this is a mega moment for me. And afterwards, I drank a Blue Smoothie. Still technically green because it had 2 cups of spinach in it - but instead of adding some fruit from the Dole Mixed Fruit bag, I added about a cup of blueberries and it turned blue. Delicious!! Eli and Nandini couldn't get enough. Nandini even threw a fit when she realized it was all gone. And Noah... Noah drank 6 sips of it!!! Tiny, baby, sips... but sips nonetheless. Oh my goodness. Can you imagine if he starts drinking the smoothies and actually gets fruit and veggies in his diet? This would be a major, major breakthrough.

Very cool evening last night. Very cool.

So, now, we've got to go back to the store and get more blueberries. And, who knows, maybe I'll even get brave enough to add other fruits in. And maybe some kale instead of spinach. Not sure about that one, though, although people say it's great.

I'm also getting so excited about fruit picking season because there are a few blueberry farms not to far from hear. I'm having visions of stocking a deep freezer full of blueberries.

Yeah, I know. I know. One salad does not make me a recovered chocoholic. But at least I'm excited about it.

And, yes, I'm going to just say it. I will probably have chips and cookies at Life Group tonight - and coffee with artificial hazlenut creamer. I'm a big enough person to admit I have some major hypocritical tendencies. But I'm trying. That's good, right?

But this is the best thing.. and I'll leave you with this. You know that flab that hangs over when you curl up in fetal position to fall asleep? Surely you know what I'm talking about. That blubber that just flops over and makes you gasp, "Where on God's green earth did that come from??" If you don't have it... then I highly suspect that you still have the words "teen" added to your age or you're no longer sportin' the original body that God gave you (hello, plastic surgery) or you're just genetically blessed and I hate you. But if you know exactly what I'm talking about, then just know that spinach must be some magic whale blubber zapper because that flab is slowly shrinking. It is! I don't even weigh myself anymore. I just curl up in fetal position and see how much belly flap touches the sheet... because it's not supposed to hang over and touch the sheet, is it? And you know what? You can't always tell if it's there when you stand up - it's very deceiving. But just lay down in fetal position for a moment and see if you suddenly exclaim, "Oh my gosh, what the heck is THAT????". If you do... then you've got the whale blubber.

Anyway, a bit too much information... but if that's not enough to motivate you then I don't know what is. So grab yourself some spinach and start blending. Give it 10 days and then just try to tell me that it didn't change your life.

Leslie

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Photo Essay

This is way overdue, isn't it? Lately, this blog has turned into "Leslie's House of Fun" - so I decided, for today at least (lol), to get back to the basics of the blog and post some pictures of my Three Musketeers....


This is Eli climbing - as he always seems to be doing. I think he may be part monkey.


Mama Ruby on the seesaw with Noah. And, nope, she didn't need help getting off. She's a sprightly young thing.


Pa Lester proving that 80-something is the new 30-something. Man, he's a lot more agile than I am!!

Eli and Nandu making "dirt food" at my parents' land.....And they actually expect you to taste it! Oh, the antics of preschoolers.


How's that old Peter Gabriel song go? "Diggin' in the Dirt..."


Nandi - all decked out with her shovel - waiting to help Papa dig the trenches.


" Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's off to work we go...." Don't worry. They got paid with cookies.


My two handsome boys - chillin' on the back porch.

Nandi and Eli in the outfits I brought back from India. Nandu is actually wearing Noah's, but she insisted on putting it on after seeing Eli in his.


Nandini and Eli on the seesaw at Mom and Dad's place.

Finally! Eye contact!!! Hello, little Noah. You're growing up so fast. Where'd my little baby go??


Noah walking the plank with Mom.



A familiar scene in our kitchen floor of Eli having a meltdown. So dramatic, that little guy. He's actually thrown himself on Noah (who likes to lay on the floor just for fun) and is crying out, "Noah! Oh, Noah!! Oh, Noah!!! Nooooooooooooaaaahhh!" as if Noah is actually going to save him from the evil wrath of Mom (that would be me). Who even knows what he's tantruming over. Dude's got issues.


Familiar scene: Part II. Look out for this kid to win an Oscar in 2028.


Eli and Nandini mesmerized by the site of the first ducks of the year. I don't think Nandi had ever seen a duck before. I literally had to carry her in the house. She would've stayed out there all day.


A picture of our first ducks of the year.


Noah drinking out of his Shrek glass from McDonald's. This is actually a really big deal. Do you know how long he was on a sippy??? And look, Ma, one hand!!

P.S. If any of you have a Shrek glass to spare, we would be so grateful. There are 4 different ones and he broke 3 of them. This is our last one and you can't get them in the store.. and it's the ONLY glass he will drink out of to take his vitamins. Just another quirky thing about autism.


Yeah, we're so cool. We're actually too cool for this picture. What are you doing even taking it? Get out of here!


Little Miss Pigtails. Man, she looks at least 5 here, don't you think?


A pull-up on the ceiling fan. What on earth is it doing there - and, more importantly, HOW did it get up there????


Noah eating - or rather not eating - his potato and cauliflower korma. We loooove it when the kids don't finish their Indian food because then we get to polish it off for them.


A rare moment when they're both smiling and not trying to kill each other.

Playing doctor...but, you know, in a good way.

Nandi playing with the crib and doll that my mom made me when I was a little girl. That there's an antique!


Eli chillin' on the rocker reading the dinosaur book I picked up at a thrift store in Austin.



And, last but not least, the TRUE state of my house. This mess happened by 8:30 in the morning. Clean as a whistle the night before - but then Hurricane Eli and Tornado Nandini came blazing through and left mass destruction. Noah... good as gold. He just minds his own business and strums his guitar. Seriously.

And that's a a few days in the life of the Three Musketeers.

Leslie