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, August 29, 2008

Insanity

Is it possible for one's children to drive you to the brink of insanity?

I mean, I'm beyond the point of locking myself in the bathroom with a pint of Ben and Jerry's "Imagine Whirled Peace".

I am fully contemplating stashing a spoon in my purse,driving to Walmart, marching to the frozen food aisle, flinging open the doors containing the Blue Bell, and copping a squat right in the middle of the formica floor.

And it's only 10:30 in the morning.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Please Help Abby's Family


PLEASE HELP ABBY'S FAMILY!!

Does everyone follow the Riggs family blog? If you are not familiar with this amazing family.... check out their blog.


They are a diverse family and full of love. They have 4 biological children, 2 children from Guatemala, and a beautiful daughter from Ethiopia.


One of their Guatemalan children, Abby, was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. Bless her little heart. She is precious!


Abby has some pretty intensive chemo treatments 1-4 times per week for the next 5 MONTHS.... This means lots of time at the hospital, lots of time needing to be spent helping Abby.... a lot less time for making meals and cleaning houses, etc...You can read more about what is going on at the Rigg's blog.


So many of us who do not live in the area have wanted to help but haven't known what we could do. WELL HERE WE GO!


We are trying to put together meal plans to serve this family during this difficult time to relieve some of the stress. We want these precious parents to be able to focus on their children as much as possible. Let's help them do that!


If you are interested in sending or giving money for meals, that is welcomed. Either contact Amy to send the payment, or pay via paypal. (Directions on how to do this below)


A few ladies in OKC area are going to be making frozen meals at Supper Thyme to give to the family. (One meal to serve 7 is approximately $25) If you live local and are interested in delivering a frozen or refrigerated meal to them at the hospital, either message Amy at amyde63@hotmail.com or leave a comment at her blog.


Directions to give via paypal: Once you are logged into your account, click Send Money. In the "To" box, type in my email address - amyde63@hotmail.com Type in the amount, and then click services/other, and then click continue. Wah lah.


Would you also consider posting this on your blog to help us spread the word??? THANK YOU SO MUCH! This is what we are supposed to be for one another.... let's stop long enough to care.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Week of School

Not a whole lot to report here.

We started back to school on Monday. Our first day went a WHOLE lot better than last year's - except that Noah still thinks that glue is meant to be eaten.

Hey, at least he's not sniffing it.

Gotta keep positive here.

Anyway, this homeschooling thing.. sometimes I think I've got it under control and sometimes it just kicks me in the butt. But, so far, so good. Of course, we're only on day 3 and we didn't actually do any schooling today because we went to OT and then decorated the house for Sim's birthday.

Of course, by decorating, I mean crepe paper and banners from The Dollar Tree.

Because, obviously, we're a classy bunch.

The kids are going to make birthday cards out of dried beans for Sim. We're doing a shape theme this week and they're going to make square patterns out of the beans. And then we'll have a whole lot of fun practicing our math skills as we pick up all the excess from the floor.

Ba da bing, Ba da boom! There's our schooling for the day.

No, don't worry, they're learning lots of things.

Math: We'll all weigh ourselves tonight after eating Sim's birthday cheesecake and see how much weight we've gained.

Language: I'm sure they'll learn some new vocabulary after I weigh myself.

P.E.: They get plenty of exercise by running away from me whenever I ask them to do something.

Health: Did you know that eating grape popsicles makes your poo green? Fascinating.

Science: See Health.

History: We're actually still stuck on the "Dinosaur Age" - but, boy, will they be proficient if (when ) we're ever through.

Astronomy: Did you know the first dinosaur in space was the Maiasaura? Yeah, that's actually not in our book or on our curriculum, but it is true. Cool, huh?

Geography: This one we're actually all really good at. Sim and I love geography and with four different countries represented in our immediate household, we're always finding ways to sneak some geography in.

Nutrition: Um, well. Um. Hmmmm... They know that blue food coloring turns their poop green. Does that count?

Should be an interesting year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eli - On Being Green

I think I might be raising a future Al Gore here. The environmental activist part - not the whole aspiration to be President of the United States part.

Poor Eli. I'm pretty sure this blog has ruined his chance of establishing a future political career. You know, what with the crazy mother and all.

Plus, it's come to my attention that one of the requirements of being a politician is that you have to wear a comb over. And, knock on wood, no son of mine will ever be sporting a side part.

Unkept nails and dirty ears, yes. But a side part? No.

I think Eli is blossoming into a tree hugger. I couldn't be more proud. Except, of course, when he woke me up at 12:30 last night to inform me that he no longer needs a night light because night lights waste electricity. I'm not kidding. He woke me up after midnight to tell me this.

Darn that Elmo and his Sesame Street Loves the Earth video.

You, too, Jack Johnson and your groovy little beach voice and songs about Recycling.

And then Eli chided me this morning for letting the water run too long when I was washing Nandi's hands.

And then he called our neighbors "trashy" because they had trash laying in their front yard.

That little phrase, I'm sure, came from childhood innoncence and not anything that he might have overheard me say in a private conversation.

Just clarifying.

Anyway, here's Eli's short and sweet PSA on why it's important to recycle...

Oops, for some reason You Tube isn't accepting my video. Man! And it was so cute, too.

I'll keep trying...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

So I Still Don't Understand This Facebook Thing..

Okay, I must be ancient. I am sooooooo far behind the times. I have decided to claw my way into the modern age by signing up on Facebook. I don't actually remember how I found out about it, but my oldest friend, Kirsten had her first baby last week and posted all the pictures on the site - which meant that I had to get with the times if I wanted to see the pictures of her precious little boy.

If any of you got a flurry of Facebook activity from me today - that would be why.

I just don't get it. It's like speaking a whole new language.

I.Really.Truly.Do.Not.Understand.It.

Seriously, this is not my thing. I mean, I sent my first text message just last week - and that was in response to KK sending a picture of her newborn on my phone.

Do you have any idea how long it took to send that text?

35 minutes.

It took FOREVER for me just to write "OMG!!!" because I didn't know where the exclamation points were kept on my phone.

Please remember that I got through my entire undergraduate degree on a dot-matrix word processor.

If anyone knows of a Facebook 101 tutorial, I'd be eternally grateful.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dolls are for Sissies...

Okay, so I haven't actually spent the entire last two weeks just sitting on my butt watching the Olympics.

I've actually watched them while standing up, folding laundry, cooking supper...

Hardy har har.

No, seriously, while I admit to practically OD'ing on all that is Beijing, leotards, and anything involving goggles, these last two weeks haven't been a total wash.

For example:

I spent half our weekly grocery money at the Scholastic Book Fair at our local library - where admist all the Dora books, Fancy Nancy Books, Disney Princess Books, and everything that is sparkly and pink... my little three old decided that out of all of them, she just had to have this...



That is the one book that she just couldn't part with.

Clearly she is surrounded by too much testosterone.

She also wants a shark theme for her birthday.


Last year, while we were waiting for Nandi's adoption paperwork to go through, I had all these visions running through my head of having tea parties and playing dress-up. Although, this isn't what I had in mind....









I was sort of envisioning things involving tutus and tiaras. Think "Swan Lake".

Not Darth Vader.

But, hey, nothing changed her tune faster than realizing that she could wear one of her pretty Indian dresses during our Olympic Open Cermonies Feista a few weeks ago. Remember, she wanted to represent Great Britian so that she could wear some of the boys' clothes... but then she realized that she could wear one of her "pretties" if she represented India...

Ignore the stain on Sim's shirt. He'd be mucho embarrassed if he knew I blogged this picture. But don't the other two look cute?? And yes, Sim is actually holding a wooden spoon. What can I say? We ran out of dowel rods.

It's all about living within your means, folks. Creativity is the key.



And while I'm normally against my kids wearing things that have writing across the butt... seeing that half the population thinks that Eli is Korean or Chinese, we had to come up with some specific advertising. (Thank to Amy for picking this little gem up while in Guatemala last Fall.)


And Noah is representing the good 'ol GB.

Can you tell??



Hmmmmm.... you think a Brit lives here????



And in case you think I was being completely anti-patriotic by not dressing up, please re-read my last post about spending an entire week devoted to Michael Phelps.

I rest my case.

We also cooked up an excellent meal of Asparagus and Shrimp Fried Rice to kick off the start of the games...



..... and which the kids hated. They ended up eating PB&J instead.

A few days later, Nandi competed in her own Olympic event...

The Let's-See-How-Fast-I-Can-Rip-Open-A-Thing-of-24-count-Toilet-Paper Rolls-and-Spread-Them-All-Over-the-Floor.

Then I made up a new event called.. Let's-See-How-Fast-You-Can-Pick-Them-Up-Before-You-Land-in-Time-Out.

Needless to say, she was pretty fast at the first event, but didn't find the second one nearly as much fun...



But the last two weeks have put her on a possible future career path...

Can you say future gymnast? Keep an eye out for this one in 2020.




And, by the way, we will accept any and all donations to send her to Bela Karolyi's gym camp in Houston.

It takes a village, people.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Letter to Michael Phelps

Dear Michael,

I can call you Michael, right?

I just wanted to say what a thrill it has been to watch you achieve your goal of winning 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I was there every step of the way. Well, except for the 400m freestyle relay, because my husband turned the channel for five minutes (literally five minutes) to watch some ridiculous news show and we missed it. However, I was able to watch it numerous times on Youtube before NBC yanked it off.

Well done, Michael! Well, done. I am very proud of you.

It has also come to my attention that you are going to receive quite a bit of endorsements - including a $1 million dollar bonus check from Speedo. That's wonderful news, Michael. You deserve it!

However... I think it's time to let you know how much anguish you have caused me since the beginning of the Olympic games. You see, as one of your biggest fans, I made it a point to stay up late every night in order to watch you swim. This resulted in many things... sleep deprivation, ignoring my children, stomping around in a bad mood after going to bed at 1:00 in the morning only to be woken up by my children at 5:30. Completely ignoring my husband. Feeding my children junk food. Living off coffee for the last 10 days....

As you can see, Michael, staying up late and rooting for you took it's toll.

And this is why I'm writing this letter. I believe, that as your biggest fan, I'm due some sort of - oh, how would you say it - financial remuneration for basically devoting the last week of my life to you and your Olympic dreams.

Now, you may wonder how exactly you're responsible for all of this, but had you set less lofty goals for yourself - say, maybe trying to win only three gold medals instead of eight - I might have had some extra time last week to devote to my husband, children, and home. Instead, I was so focused on watching you swim that I never even noticed when my three-year old shoved a pair of scissors up her nose. Fortunately, my husband, who is just as big a fan - but a lot less obsessive - noticed and yanked the scissors out of her nose before she caused any permanent damage.

But, Michael, do you understand the repercussions of this? She could have made a third hole in her nose. Do you know how embarrassing that could have been? Now, she didn't actually do it, but the stress of thinking that she could have is more than I can bear... so I think you should be held responsible for the emotional stress of constantly replaying "What If" scenarios over and over in my head.

You can make the check out to Leslie. That's with an i and e - not an "ey".

Also, Michael, I have been surviving on about 3 or 4 hours of sleep for the last 10 days. Had you just put a bit of thought into it and actually skipped the Beijing Games and held off until the 2012 London games - which is in a much friendlier time zone - I would not be in this mess.

Unless, of course, London decides to schedule swim meets at 10:00 in the morning and then I'm forced to get up and turn on the TV at 4 am. But still, it's better than not even getting to watch you swim until 10:00 AT NIGHT.

I don't think you realize how this constant lack of sleep has affected me. Sunday was my birthday. 35. Yep, halfway to seventy. We had a big day planned of going to the outlet mall and eating at McDonald's.

Some of us, Michael, did not just get a million dollar athletic endorsement.

Anyway, lack of sleep causes severe emotional fragility. The fact that I broke down in Old Navy upon the realization that my two sons have outgrown the cute 5T pajama sets and are now forced to wear clothes in the big boy section - which are not nearly as cute - and thus, I could not spend my birthday money on them (aren't I a good mom?) by buying them matching dinosaur PJ's... well, the fact that I actually broke down over that and sobbed... well, I put the blame squarely on you.

No, it had nothing to do with me PMS'ing. Or turning 35. Or feeling stressed out that I actually went shopping on tax-free weekend. No. It had everything to do with devoting the last week of my life to you. You, Michael. You.

But nothing compares to the sheer horror that my husband experienced when I bawled my eyes out over the fact that a fish fillet sandwich now costs $3.59.

We're not talking the meal, here. We're talking just the sandwich.

$3.59.

Clearly, old Ronald McDonald is on crack.

And needing to support his habit.

There is no way that a teeny bit of a fried fish patty should cost over two bucks.

The point, though, is that I lost it. Absolutely lost it. The cumulation of the last week's events reached the breaking point. Lack of sleep. Lack of good nutrition. Depression over realizing that I will never get to be in the Olympics. Depression over realizing that I will never look like a beach volleyball player. Weight gain over consoling myself with chocolate chip banana muffins. Ignoring my children. Ignoring my husband. Ignoring my blog. Ignoring my friends. Sleepwalking through the day because I stayed up too late watching YOU.

Michael, babe, you owe me. Big time.

Feel free to email me personally and I'll give you my snailmail.

Oh, I also take Paypal.

And, if you're feeling extra generous, slipping a few tickets to the London Games wouldn't hurt.

Enjoy your golds!

Love,

Your Biggest Fan

P.S. Lest you think I'm being extremely harsh on you, I am writing a similar letter to the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm Still Around

I know I haven't been blogging much lately - but I'm still here. I'm gearing up for the start of school and furiously trying to get Noah's lesson plans done. It's a serious time-killer because I have to rewrite everything from his various curriculum.

Remember he doesn't talk.

And he answers questions by pointing to choices.

And we're teaching him to spell so that he can point to a letterboard and spell out answers.

And with CP, his body doesn't always cooperate with his brain.

Needless to say, it's exhausting. And having to plan lessons is exhausting, too.

I'll give you an example. We're doing Apologia Astronomy this year.

That's just a fancy way of saying that he'll be studying the solar system and learning all about the planets and stars. But is there anything better than seeing the look on people's faces when you tell them your 6 year old "severely autistic" child is taking astronomy this year?

I think not.

So, anyway. There's a section in the beginning on how a long time ago people used the sun and the moon and the stars to tell time and seasons. There's a part in there about how some scientists believe that birds follow the constellations when they migrate south for the winter. That's why they fly at night during migration and not during the day. They follow the stars.

Well, to explain this to Noah, I have to first define migration. Then I have to let him know about North, South, East, and West - because flying south and flying north won't make any sense to him if he doesn't understand what that means. Then I have to explain that in the north it's very cold and that it's warmer in the south. You can't just assume that he knows this. Since he's nonverbal, he can't just interrupt and say "What's migration mean?" or ask why birds don't just stay up north in the winter. And you have to make sure he understands all this - so we have to constantly stop and ask him questions. And sometimes it can take several minutes before he stops stimming long enough to answer a question. So, basically, that one sentence about birds flying south at night and following the stars can actually take about 15-20 minutes of teaching.

Then there's a tiny blurb in the book about Stonehenge. So we have to explain what a monument is and tell him that it's in England and then since he learned about the 7 continents last month, this is a perfect opportunity to review which continent England is on, and "Oh, do you remember who's from England? Mommy or Daddy? You've been to England before" blah blah blah.

It'll get a bit easier when he gets older, but right now we have to assume that he doesn't have all this background knowledge and just teach everything. And since we're doing 5 subjects this year - and I'm doing Pre-K for Nandi and Eli - well, I haven't been able to blog much.

Plus, there's the little important fact that the OLYMPICS start in TWO DAYS.

Anyone else an Olympic junkie?

Me! Me! Me! Me!

Remember how we've been without TV ever since we gave up DirecTV at the start of the year? Well, my dad came over and climbed into our 375 degree attic and fixed up the cable so that we can get local channels.

He said he did it because he loves me, but I think the real reason is that he didn't want me and my brood of wild and crazy kiddoes descending upon their little travel trailer for the next 2 1/2 weeks.

He saw how that went down during the four months of American Idol last Spring.

He wasn't itching for a repeat.

Anyway, we're going to spend tomorrow and Friday constructing our country flags and making banners and streamers (Sim has the job of making the construction Olympic torch and flame) for the opening ceremonies. Eli's super excited about representing Guatemala in the futbal jersey that Amy brought back for him last year. Nandi, not wanting to be outdone, has decided to represent England in the opening ceremonies so that she can wear the mass of English football clothing that we've accumulated over the years. Noah will do India proud in a traditional Indian outfit - and Sim and I will represent the country of Tired and Worn Out Parents and just slum it in t-shirts and shorts.

My flag might have a picture of a chocolate bar on it and his might have a bottle of beer. We haven't decided yet.

And, of course, we'll be eating Chinese food on Friday in celebration.

So if you don't hear from me, just know that I'm up to my eyeballs in school curriculum, construction paper, tape, and glue.

Oh. And television. Of course.

Leslie