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

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Pumpkin

I haven't had much time to write these last few days. We're watching my adorable little niece for a week - and boy has it been one adventure after another.

She's two.

'Nuff said.

Anyway, I wanted to give you a link to a really neat post that I read on another blog this morning. It's all the things you can do with one store-bought pumpkin. Just one. Pretty cool.

But then again, I'm boring. So, this might just only appeal to me.

And I love pumpkins. In fact, I'm about to get the kids ready to make a trek to Walmart specifically to see if they carry the new Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses. Yum!

Hey. I need something to help get me through a week of adventures with a 2 year-old, 3 year-old, 5 year-old, and 6 year-old.

Here's the link: http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/2008/09/guest-post-all.html

Leslie :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My New Look

Sooooooooooo...... what do ya think? Do you like it?

If you're reading this from Google Reader or Noah's old blog then you're not able to see it. You'll have to go to our blog site at: www.recoveringnoah.blogspot.com .

Anyway, I decided it was time for a change.

I was looking at some autism blogs yesterday - and there are a lot of Recovering So-and-So blogs out there - and I realized that my blog is doing a serious injustice to someone who stumbles upon it looking for autism treatment and advice.

Let's face it. It's been a long time since this blog was solely about autism.

At the time I started this blog, it WAS all about Noah and autism, but about a year ago that all changed. It's going to sound really strange, but Nandini has been a catalyst for a lot of positive change in our lives. Adopting her sort of symbolized that life DOES go on. And by doing so, it created a new family for our lives - full of new dreams and new hopes. In a strange way, it allowed us to heal and say, "Okay. This is our life. We're not going to be stuck in the past of "what used to be" or "what could have been". I know it may not make sense, but it helped push us forward.

And I needed that because I was stuck in the past and caught up in this fervent desire for Noah to recover.

Don't get me wrong. It's still there. All I have to do is think about him outliving us and my eyes well up.

Actually, it's happening right now.

At the same time, though, I've come to a place of peace where I'm finally able to start making new dreams for our family and having new hopes for Noah and new goals for our lives.

Autism still gets me down. Changing diapers on an almost 7 year-old gets me down. Not being able to go certain places or do certain things gets me down. Watching him cry and not knowing why... it gets me down.

But I'm able to find joy in Noah and I can celebrate him. He is pure bliss.

So, that's why I changed the name of the blog to Recovering Noah... Discovering Me.

People with special needs used to frighten the heck out of me. When we found out the week we travelling to get Noah that he had cerebral palsy (after having his referral for 7 months and not knowing), I remember saying to our adoption agency..

"Well, at least it's not something like autism."

Wow. God knew, didn't he?

I NEVER thought I could handle having a child with special needs - much less three of them! (Yes.. Eli received a Visual Processing Disorder and Sensory Motor Planning Disorder diagnosis a few months ago. That's another post in itself).

But God showed me that I could handle it. Noah showed me that I could handle it.

And so that's how, in all of this, that I've come to discover me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Pray for Misty

A few months ago, you may noticed a picture of a beautiful woman with the words "I Pray" appear on my sidebar. I don't know Misty, but I followed her story and her battle with Stage IV brain cancer.

Misty passed away last night.

I encourage you to click on that photo and read the moving tribute that her husband wrote for her and how strong his faith remains in God - even though Misty wasn't healed on this earth.

If you have a few moments, please remember her family, her husband, and her little girl, Olivia, in your prayers. And please pray for all those who prayed for a miracle and who are upset and don't understand why God didn't heal her. Please pray for those who will now question whether God exists, and please pray for those who will use this is a way to say that He does not.

I don't understand it myself.

But her family is uplifted and has peace in knowing that she is completely healed and with Jesus right now. And for that peace to happen - during this time of grief - you know God is involved.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Absolutely Gorgeous Photos (If I do say so myself)

I saw my friend Amy today. She is not only a brilliant blog writer but an awesome photographer, as well. And her adoption of little Kaden will be final in a few weeks and then, fingers crossed, her blog will go public again so you can all enjoy it. It's a good one!

Anyway, Amy took some wonderful pictures of the kids today. I am so proud of them.

Here they are!

























Monday, September 22, 2008

Nandi's Finalization Pics

Here are a few pictures from the adoption finalization that I posted about a few days ago. Isn't Nandi cute??








And would you like to know why I'm wearing glasses? Remember, last month.. how I completely dedicated a week of my life to watching Michael Phelps win all his golds? Well, during that time, in my sleep-deprived stupor, I gathered a load of dirty clothes off the bathroom counter and inadvertently scooped up my contact lens case with them. And since I'm a lazy cow and can't take the 2 seconds necessary to actually tighten the lid on the lens case each night, the lenses feel out in the wash.

That's right. My lenses went through the wash - spin cycle and all. Probably the cleanest they've ever been.

R.I.P. you beloved disposable contacts. I know I was only meant to wear you for two weeks, but you saw me through 2 1/2 fantastic months.

It's okay. My eye doctor doesn't read this blog.

Anyway, my prescription ran out and so I had to get my eyes checked to get new lenses - and I simply wasn't organized enough to get all that done before Nandi's finalization. Even though I had a month.

Besides there are more important things to notice - like the fact that Nandi wore her hairbow through the entire ceremony. Granted, it was only 5 minutes and she yanked it out immediately after - but she was blissfully coiffed and coordinated for the pictures.

Seriously, though, the most important thing of all is that that's the day we officially became a family. So in the immortal words of Sister Sledge... "We are family. Get up everybody and sing!"

So get on up and do the funky dance. Celebrate the fact that we have a daughter. Our daughter has a family. And our sons have a baby sister. Life is good.

And I don't need my contacts to see that.



Dirty Pillows and Ice Cream

Are you intrigued yet?

That's what Noah wants for his birthday. I kid you not.

He has this obsession with pillows. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. I guess it depends on how you define obsession. Let's just say that he is in love with his pillows. They're kind of like his blankey. He wants to take at least one in the car with him all the time - and he goes around the house stealing all the pillows and then piles them on his bed and rolls around in them.

Oh, to be a 6 year old autistic boy.

So, anyway, we went to Austin last week for our mini-vacation - which may not seem like a vacation to most of you - considering that we go to Austin all the time, but we got to stay in a hotel with a free breakfast buffet, a swimming pool, and basic cable.

The kids thought they were at Disneyland.

Well, since we were in Austin, Noah did some of his RPM therapy at HALO and his therapist, Erika, did a session on his upcoming birthday. She asked him what he wants and he spelled out:

P-I-L-L-O-W

Eight in fact.

EIGHT. Eight Pillows for his birthday.

He's a bit extravagant, isn't he? I suppose he's going to want a new bed to fit all those pillows on, too. Maybe a new duvet cover. A whole new bedroom set.

Nah, he's cool. He let Erika know - through a series of choices - that he wants 8 pillows exactly like the ones he has.

And his current pillows...... well, they're nasty.

So nasty in fact that you might want to run some Purell over your hands if you happen to come into contact with them.

He can't stand the pillow cases because - as he told Erika (again, though choices) - he likes to look at the edge of the pillows. He likes pillows that have a seam all the way around them that stick out a bit.

And since he doesn't like pillowcases, and he takes them everywhere - in the car (which is a disaster zone in its own right), to the park, outside on walks - well, you can imagine that they're pretty dirty and gross.

And heaven forbid if you happen to wash one and it gets all funky and messed up and... clean.

Anyway, he dragged his dirty old pillow into the HALO clinic and informed Erika (through spelling and choices - remember, he's nonverbal) that he wants eight pillows exactly like the ones he currently has.

Brilliant.

Does anyone have some pillows sitting on their curbside that they would be willing to donate?

Apparently, germs are not an issue.

Oh, and he also wants to return to Austin for his birthday and go to Phil's Ice House and Amy's Ice Cream on Burnet (NW Austin).

A 7 hour round trip to get a $2.35 cup of ice cream.

Truthfully, I think he just likes to climb on the cows.

The point being, however, is that we pretty much have to go. We actually weren't planning on returning to HALO until next semester because, frankly, the gas is killing us and Erika's fees literally just doubled because she's now in the second year of her apprenticeship. But if we ignore Noah's birthday wish, then he'll question why he has to do RPM anyway if we don't listen to what he has to say. And we're in a critical period with his therapy, so we really need to let him know that his voice is important.

Plus, we get to go back to Austin. And I love Austin.

I wonder if they make shirts that say, "I left my heart in Austin".

I digress.

So. There you have it. October 16th. We'll be turning a half-day's drive into a little boy's 7th birthday wish. And we get to see the smile on his face when he realizes that we listened to him.

And his smile is beautiful.

I'd drive to the ends of the earth and back just to see that smile.

So, 7 hours won't be so bad.

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

A slightly sad side note: The hotel room threw away 2 of Noah's pillows. We brought 4 with us and on the day we were checking out, they came in and cleaned the room. I guess they thought the pillows were theirs - and they were embarrassed at how gross they were - and they chucked them. Noah did okay until halfway home when he started crying hysterically - and then got home and saw his empty bed.

Seriously. That's how dirty they were/are. The hotel room actually chucked them.

Anyone want to come over for a party at my house next month? I have 8 pillows that I need to drag through the dirt, run over, and spill juice on. It should be fun.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Have You Yearbooked Yourself?

I came across this funny website where you can put in a picture of yourself and it'll put you in a "yearbook" from 1950 all the way to the year 2000. Too cool.

Here's how our family turned out.


This is meant to be 1994. I'm not sure why.. because this is the spitting image of what I looked like in 1988 and '89.


I was a bit stunned to realize that I look exactly like my mother.


And even more stunned to realize that I look exactly like Granny Betty, too!
Here's Noah.
My goodness, isn't that boy handsome?



I'm thinking I should let him grow a 'fro. Kinda suits him, don't you think?




Now all he needs is one white glove.



It's a bit scary to realize that I had some major crushes on guys who sported this hairdo.



Here's Nandi:


She looks like a cross between an early Janet Jackson and Tootie.


Is that chia pet on her head?




Do you think she uses Aqua Net or Rave?


My absolute favorite. Girlfriend is going to get herself some horned rims!





And here's Eli:

Is it awful to have a crush on your own son. Seriously, isn't he just the cutest.




I am SO letting his grow out on. I love this one, too.




Sigh. I heart you Eli. I truly do.


You're even adorable with thick rims.


We did Sim's, too. But I think he's too embarrassed for me to put them up. There were some classic ones, though. Especially the one with the frosted mullet!
You can do them, too. www.yearbookyourself.com











Monday, September 15, 2008

Heeding God's Call

Since I'm leaving for vacation in a few minutes, I thought I'd sit down and write something that I've wanted to get off my chest all day.

Earlier, I spoke to a friend of mine who recently submitted paperwork to adopt a large AA sibling group through foster care. And she's getting flack from her church.

A few months ago when Sim and I were looking into adopting an infant girl who was HIV+, I mentioned it to some ladies at our church and they were overwhelmingly supportive. In fact, when I got scared and said, "What am I going to do with an HIV+ child?", one of the ladies simple said, "Love her."

Love her.

Why can't all churches be like that?

As Christians, God tells us - no, COMMANDS - us to look after widows and orphans. So why are some of us so quick to judge those who do? Who cares if my friend will have her hands full? Why aren't we being more supportive? Who are we to judge people who are heeding God's plan for their lives?

With the upcoming election, the party lines are vividly split over the issue of abortion. Now, this post isn't about whether or not abortion should be made illegal, but if it IS made illegal, let me ask you this... What are YOU going to do about all these future unwanted children? If you are doing NOTHING now, then what makes us think you're going to take care of them in the future?

Will you only adopt them if they are white and perfect?

Will you adopt them if they are black, Hispanic, Asian, or bi-racial?

Will you adopt them if they have autism? Cerebral Palsy? Mental Retardation? Down Sydrome? History of Sexual Abuse? Rad?

Will you lift up and support your Christian brothers and sisters who do adopt them?

Or will you sit around and gossip and put them down because it makes you feel uncomfortable - because you know it's something you could never do.

What are YOU doing to help the thousands upon thousands of children in U.S. foster cares and orphanages around the world?

People are so focused on these children who are not yet born - but then they don't even care for them once they are born. People say, "Well, you can place them for adoption." Yeah, maybe they'll get adopted as cute infants - but what happens to the ones who have special needs or who don't make it into foster care until they're 3 or 7 or 10 years old - with siblings attached.

I don't know what I'm trying to say here. I guess I'm just mad that people would actually give someone a hard time because they want to keep a sibling group together. Because they want to give them a family and a chance for a better future. And yet they are doing NOTHING to help any of these children and can't even have the decency to support someone who wants to make a difference and who is actually trying to obey God's will for their life.

That's all.

P.S. For the record, I'm pro-life, but I don't think the government needs to make the decision for an individual. I am, though, eternally THANKFUL and GRATEFUL that my childrens' birth mothers choose LIFE because they are the best things that have ever happened to me.

Our Week in Review

I'm trying to remember exactly why I didn't blog this week. At the time, things were so incredibly busy, but now I can't even recall half of what we did. Which is probably why I should blog more often, right? Plus, now I have to play catch up.


So here is our week in review:


Sunday - Don't remember


Monday - My mom took the kids to the East Texas Gator Farm in Grand Saline.


That place is awesome. It's still not entirely complete, but the kids were able to pet a baby alligator, bottle-feed baby pigs, hold a ferret, feed the ducks, watch the gators get fed, burn off energy in a bounce-house and then have a picnic of fried shrimp and sno-cones. Yum!











Tuesday - Can't remember what we did. Although it probably involved breaking up lots of fights, replacing batteries in broken toys, and potty-training.


Wednesday - Had to get up at the most insane hour (4:15) to be at Ft. Worth by 7:45 to FINALIZE Nandi's adoption.


That's right. She's officially ours! Her name is now Nandini Noelle (Insert Last Name).


She looked so cute! I would love to show you a picture, but guess who forgot their camera on this important day? Yes, that would be me.


I guess it had something to do with having to get up at 4:15 in the morning. The fact that I managed to put all the shoes and socks in the car, plus a change of clothes for the inevitable - and the inevitable did happen - was a miracle in itself.


Fortunately, my parents had a camera, so I'll post a picture as soon as I can remember to borrow it and download the pics. They don't have internet access right now.


A camera full of pictures? Yes. A computer to download them all on? No.


I did, however, manage to take a picture of the stuffed animal that the bailiff gave Nandi as her finalization gift. Each child gets a beanie baby (they've been doing this for awhile - Noah received one at his finalization day nearly 6 years ago) - and usually they're really cute and cuddly little beanies.


Look what Nandi got:



A rat. Did you catch the tail on that sucker?



I think she was slightly horrified. I had to practically force her to take it. And within five minutes she was trying to steal the cute little teddy bear that the 9 week old baby in front of us received.

That's right. Within minutes of adopting our last name, she was already trying to commit a petty crime.

Welcome to the family, sweet one. :-)

Thursday: Why can't I remember what we did just a few days ago??


Friday: Went to astronomy class, where my friend Tristan and I took charge of the little ones. The bigger kids were studying the sun, so we decided to have the Pre-K'ers do a fun little sun craft:





Did you see Eli's sun? (You can click on it for a closer view). It's the one at the bottom. Despite what you may think, we don't actually let him stay up late watching horror movies or take him to peruse the Halloween aisle at Party City just for fun.

Saturday: We lost all of our electricity for 27 solid hours. Thanks, Ike.

We ended up spending the night in my parents RV. Yes, that would be three kids, one parent, two grandparents, three dogs, and one tiny bathroom. But, ahhh, there was air-conditioning!

Sunday: Since we were at my parents, we decided to have an impromptu birthday party in my parents' garage for Eli. We've actually never had an party for the kids before (except for Noah's 3rd birthday), and I think this is the last year we can get away with it. They're starting to catch on that other parents throw real parties - and get presents that don't come from a garage sales.

Man, I was hoping they'd never catch on to that.

I guess the remote control dinosaur that I snatched up at the Mansfield Community Garage Sale last April - and managed to store until yesterday - gave it away. You know, considering that it didn't actually work.

Come on, Mom. I know this isn't new. I'm FIVE, you know.

Not for three more days, sweetie.

(Note to self: bring a stash of batteries and a screwdriver the next time I hit up a community garage sale)

Here are a few pics from the event. Kudos to the Canton Walmart for being able to whip up a dinosaur cake in 5 minutes flat.

And for carrying a remote control dinosaur that actually worked. Well, until Eli broke it less than an hour later.

Which is why we do garage sales in the first place.









There's our week in review. We're off to Austin for a mini-vacation later today. I may have to steal Eli's twenty for gas.

Have a good week!