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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Change of Direction....

... Public School!

Yep, you read right. So, pick yourself off the floor, dust off your clothes, and sit back down at the computer.

Nandi is starting school next week!

Notice the exclamation (!) mark? Does that give you a sense of how giddy I am?

Well, if Nandi could type, I'm sure she would have put a billion gazillion exclamation marks because that girl is hyped about starting school.

Of all my kids, she's the one that will really strive in public school. She has such a thirst for knowledge. It's like her little cup of knowledge never gets full. I could seriously spend 8 hours non-stop teaching her and five minutes later she'll say, "More Nandi school?"

So.... school it is.

We originally had her tested for PPCD (public pre-school for kids with disabilities) where Noah went, but she didn't qualify.

Did you catch that?

My little girl who is missing a large chunk of her brain, who we were told would never be independent and who would have severe cognitive issues for life DID NOT QUALIFY for special education.

High-fives all around.

The diagnostician said that her behavior issues could stem from the fact that she's bored. They said she's very smart and most likely bored - that she's not being challenged enough. So I am all for her being challenged - in public school. Because. I. am. worn. out.

That's right. I am passing the torch. Passing it right on to someone who will get paid to teach her.

So there ya have it.

No, seriously. It's not that bad. It's not like I'm going to throw a party or anything. Although if someone wants to stop by with a guacamole tray and some chips, I won't turn it down.

Here's the deal. It's only Pre-K. It's for three hours a day in the afternoon. I'm still going to continue working with her in the mornings and then do 1:1 with Noah and Eli in the afternoon.

So, it's no big deal.

But the thing is.... it was a huge deal trying to decide whether to put her in school or not. I mean, I literally agonized over it. I'm not joking. I was making myself sick over it. Everyone - I mean, everyone I know homeschools and I just kept thinking that I was going to be viewed as a failure if I put in Nandi in school.

I guess in my warped little mind I thought that in order to be the perfect mother that I had to homeschool, and bake bread from scratch, and sew all the kids' clothes, and make fresh food from our garden - which meant I had to garden - and do all sorts of arts and crafts and all kinds of stuff.

But here's the thing... no where in the Bible does it say that the Proverbs 31 woman has to homeschool.

Okay, quit laughing. I know the words Proverbs 31 woman and me don't exactly fit in the same sentence. But still. It was a relief to realize that the Bible doesn't say I have to homeschool my kids. Yeah, it does say "train up your children.." but you can still do that and send your kids to school.

I was putting soooooooo much pressure on myself. It was ridiculous.

And here's some other things that knocked me off my imagined Perfect Mom Pedestal...

1. I can't sew. I made a "D" in 8th grade Home Ec.

2. I can't bake bread. Yeah, my bread maker can make it, but I can't. I literally cannot handle anything that involves dough. I can't roll cookies. I can't make pizza crusts. If it involves a rolling pin then I can't do it.

3. I can't keep a garden. I've never even kept a houseplant alive for more than 3 weeks. And the ones I did manage to keep, I got tired of and put in a garage sale.

4. I am the least crafty person alive. And it's sad, really, because I come from a long line of women who could give Martha Steward a run for her money. I mean, there is some serious talent in my family. Unfortunately, it completely skipped me.

So for the past few years, I've been trying to be someone I'm not. I've been trying to fit into some mold of what I thought a perfect mom should be - and I've been miserable. The decision to try public school has been such a relief. Like there's so much pressure that's just gone now.

And, true, I'm still homeschooling the other two. But I think I was so miserable because I was deliberately holding Nandini back from something I knew would benefit her - all because it would shatter my idea of what a perfect mom should be.

Please note: I never put these standards on anyone else. It was just something that I did to myself.

I am so proud that I gave up that ideal. Now, this isn't saying that I won't homeschool her in the future, but I'm going to make a decision that's best for her and her educational needs. If she's struggling or hates it or is just plain miserable - whether it be a month from now or 6 years from now - I'll go back to homeschooling her. But if she loves it and is striving and blossoming more than she ever could at home, then school it is.

We're just waiting for a paper to come back from Austin and then she'll start. She's already registered. She's got some new school clothes. A cool new thermos and she'll finally be able to put that embroidered backpack to use.

We're all excited about this new chapter in our lives.

As for Eli and Noah... well, Eli says he's never going to school because they won't let him take his Peluche and his dinosaur toys with him. And Noah... I plan to homeschool Noah indefinitely, but we'll see how it goes. As long as he's nonverbal and in diapers, I want to keep him home. I've heard too many horror stories involving abuse and noverbal kids - so I'm confident in my decision.

And that's that. I've been blessed to know some really cool homeschool moms - and I look forward to cultivating those relationships - and now I'll get to meet some really cool public school moms. too.

It's the best of both worlds.

P.S. Nandi qualified for Public Preschool because she has a speech delay.

P.P.S. If you read my post from the other day, you might have noticed that I mentioned that I'd be 80 years old when Noah was 58. That would make me 29. Um, yeah. Only in my dreams.

See. Complete lack of mathematical skills. This is why public school might be in my kids' best interest.....


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

Yikes. Has it really been a week since I last blogged? That just shows you how crazy - and busy - things have been.


Well, it's Tuesday. And while I'm not sure if I'll do the Ten Things Thankful Tuesday list every Tuesday, I'm going to do it today.


First of all, check this out........



LOOK WHO'S SEVEN!!!


Isn't he just the cutest? Such a stunner. I wish I could take some of the credit but, alas, I cannot.

Noah had his birthday last Thursday, so in honor of that I'm going to do a 10 Things Noah list. These all occurred in the last week.

I'm thankful that:

1. Noah has started eating with a fork. This is huge! One of those "is it ever going to happen things". He mastered the spoon a few months ago, but now he's mastered the fork, too. And that means... no more spaghetti sauce fingerprints on the walls!

2. This is the first year that Noah has actually acknowledged his Halloween costume. My parents bought the kids costumes this year and Eli and Nandu got theirs first. We didn't think Noah would even notice - but he was SO excited and proud when he got his Spiderman costume. He grinned and grinned and clapped his hands. It was so awesome.

3. This is the first year that Noah has acknowledged his birthday. I mean, he didn't blow out the candles or open his presents, but it's the first year that he's shown recognition on his face. He smiled when my mom lit the candles on the cake. He smiled when we opened the presents for him. And, man oh man, does he love the slew of pillows he received.

(Remember? He wanted eight pillows for his birthday.)

4. We were able to cut Noah's toenails for the first time without actually having both of us (me and Sim) sit on him. I have no idea what happened, but he just stuck his foot out and let me cut them. Completely normal. No wrestling. No holding down. No being afraid that CPS is going to waltz in and see you pinning down a screaming child while your husband is trying to trim said child's toenails without actually cutting off the toes.

5. Noah watched five minutes of a Winnie the Pooh cartoon. When your child has spent 6 years watching the same Baby Beethoven and Elmo video 10 times a day, you get excited the minute he turns his attention to something else.

6. Noah continues to be a cuddly little boy. The other day - again, a first! - I woke him up, opened the curtains and then felt a pair of arms around my waist. He had gotten out of bed to give me a morning hug! Those of you who have children with autism know how amazing that it is...

7. For the continued clarity that Noah is experiencing. Just this past week, he started taking us to the cupboard, lifting his arms to be picked up and reaching for the cereal. Then, he walks to the fridge, opens it, gets the rice milk, and brings it to the table. These little step-by-step sequences are so new for him. Yay, Noah!

8. He no longer throws his glass down when he's finished drinking. Just last night, he took his cup of rice milk to his room, drank it, and then brought the cup back to the kitchen table and sat it down. I cannot tell you how many broken glasses we've had over the years because he used to just toss his glass on the floor when he was finished. Not anymore!

9. I'm thankful that we've found out a way to give Noah a bath/shower. He's absolutely terrified of the bath. So, now I put on a swim suit (because, hey, I don't want to scar him) get in there with him and give him the quickest shower you've ever seen. He clings to me like a spider monkey, and I'm certain that one of these days he might actually suffocate me (he wraps his arms around my neck sooooo tight), but I can honestly say that since I've started getting in there with him he is clean as a whistle.

I actually have no idea what that saying really means. It's kind of a creepy saying if you think about it. Clean as a whistle. Eww. What does that even mean?

Okay. I'll stop. Does anyone really want to hear my stream of consciousness?

10. I'm thankful that he's a small guy. I sometimes worry about being 80 years old and having to carry a 58 year-old Noah out of the bath. But for right now, he's only 40 pounds and I'm young and sprightly (ha!), so we're managing.

There. There's my top 10. Not bad. It's made me realize that we had A LOT of great things happen with Noah last week. A ton of firsts. And for that I'm VERY thankful.

Oh. And we've started seeing all these changes since we started using essential oils on him. One of Noah's homeopaths recommends specifics ones for him to take and we order them through Young Living. Right now, he's using three: Hope, Abundance, and Nutmeg.

He smells like a Christmas spice ball. Seriously. Like a Glade air freshenser - expect natural and better.

And way more expensive.

Be sure to give him a sniff the next time you're around him. It'll give you visions of sugar plums dancing in your head.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Back Open!

Amy just finalized Kaden's adoption on Friday... which means.....

Her blog is open to the public again!

It's an awesome and uplifting blog. You should all check it out:

www.buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

I'm going to be honest. I didn't want to blog today. I haven't blogged in the last few days. Frankly, it has been a very rough week.

Noah has had a HORRIFIC stomach virus. Enough said.

Nandini has been running a 102.5 temperature for a few days now and is whiny, whiny, whiny - but still manages to fight with her brother every second of the day.

Eli still manages to fight with Nandini every second of the day.

And we have seen some behaviors emerge that I thought we had finally taken care of.

I actually put myself in time-out yesterday because I thought I'd otherwise explode.

Where's the Mother of the Year Award?

Anyway, I just haven't wanted to blog. But then I read Shara's blog today. Every Tuesday she does a blog post about 10 things that she's thankful for that week- and, I thought, you know maybe I should do that.

Did you know that when you're in a big, bad, funk that it's actually hard to think of 10 things (besides the usual health, home, and family)? But, aren't you curious to know if my mood improves by the time I get to 10?

So, here's my Ten Things Thankful Tuesday list. I'm thankful that....

1. Sim is able to get Thursday off so that we can all go to Austin for Noah's birthday as a family.

2. I was able to buy the most adorable dress for Nandini to wear to my cousin's wedding - and it was an excellent price! (Big Going Out of Business Sale!)

3. Eli slept in until 7:00 this morning - and didn't get up at his usual 5:30.

4. We were able to buy Abby a care package and my kids did not throw a temper tantrum in the store because they wanted to keep it for themselves.

5. Abby's story has really touched Eli and he specifically asks to pray for her during each meal. (Someone once told me that I needed to "get" another child because Eli was not a caring person. It has been a blessing to see him develop into a loving little boy.)

6. After living here for two years I've found a really good friend.

7. My dad is going to watch the kids this Saturday so that my mom and I can go to my cousin's wedding shower in Arlington.

8. I have a wonderful and amazing husband who rubbed my shoulders during the entire hour and a half of Dancing with the Stars last night. Nandi was sleeping. Eli was playing. Noah was rolling around on the floor with pillows. And I got a fantastic shoulder rub. It was a great way to end a stressful day.

9. Even though I haven't done a proper grocery shop in ages I still have enough food in my pantry to fix breakfast this morning.

10. That I visited Shara's blog this morning and read her Ten Things Tuesday list because it inspired me to write my own. And, you know what, I DO feel a bit better.

Now, if anyone knows how to handle the 5 year old rolling on the floor and whining because he's "HUNGRY! AND YOU TAKE TOO LONG ON THE COMPUTER!" then I could add a #11 to my list.

I guess I'll get off the computer and fix him breakfast. :-)

Leslie

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pulling It Together

A few days ago I wrote a post about my friend Amy - who's adopting a sibling group of 5 children through foster care. This means that she and her husband, Todd, will be raising 12 children. And, apparantely, a lot of people think she's crazy.

The only crazy thing about her is that she moved into a lovely house that was painted a beautiful shade of light green - and she painted over it with brown. ( She also doesn't understand the beauty of the blue house up the street, either. Maybe it's because she wasn't born and raised in the south. I really don't know.)

But, despite being color blind, she is an amazing person. An amazing mother. An amazing friend. And she wrote - yep, you guessed it - an amazing blog post this morning. Since her blog is private until the adoptions are final, I asked her if I could copy her message this morning.

So, here it is:

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

So I've definitely been a slacking blogger here lately. Have you ever had one of those times where you just cannot for the life of you focus? That is how I have been these past few days. Can't even finish a thought- so bear with me here. I wouldn't really call it being overwhelmed- I'd say it's more consumed. Funny because as I posted earlier that is the word the Lord keeps giving to me- consumed. Consumed by Him.

Since we have 'spilled the beans' about our new additions it has been, to say the least, interesting. Honestly, you will probably laugh about this- but I didn't really realize that it was that big of a deal to adopt five kids at once. I always say that God can use even stupid people- so here I am- all signed up- check the stupid box. To me it just seemed so simple- a sibling group of five needs a family- we love kids- we are passionate about adoption- so where do we sign up?

Apparently not everyone sees it that way.As I have shared with some- I'm okay with people being shocked. Since we are figuring out that not everyone adopts five children at once -when they already have seven children- I am going to be OK with 'shock'. What I am having a hard time digesting though is the downright rude comments. So once again- guess I am stupid- because I just cannot see how this could be anything but a beautiful thing.

I never said it would be easy- I do know that much. But this is not about easy. I didn't sign up for easy. It's not about me being a perfect mother. Not possible. No such thing. I know there will be days where I will fall flat on my face (I do that now with seven). There will be plenty of days were I don't get it right, days when I am so tired, so exhausted, and feel like I have nothing left in me to give. And yet it will be those times when God will be glorified the most because in those moments I will be reminded more than ever that this is not about me- it's all about Him.

So stick around and see... I have no idea how to parent 12 children- but I am willing. Willing to give all that I have, willing to work hard to figure out what works best for each child, willing to give up my comfort so that a child can be safe, cherished. Willing to love- regardless of if they love me back, willing to give up my space, my time, my energy, my sleep and some days my sanity.

And want to know another stupid thing- I'm EXCITED about it! God used stupid little me- He trusts me to raise His most prized possessions. He loves me that much! Oh I am more than just signed up- I used a permanent marker. :0)

Once again I wanted to say a MEGA HUGE thank you to so many of you who have emailed, called and wrote about us on your blogs. God has blessed us more than words can say through you our precious friends, family and fellow adoptive families. Your support far outweighs the rude comments any day!

You guys rock and we love you all!

Monday, October 06, 2008

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Think one person can't make a difference in this world? Check out this blog post: What's Love Got to Do With It?

Amy got me hooked on her friend Carolyn's blog - The Stitch That Makes the Sweater Perfect. Carolyn and her family just adopted a little girl, Selah, from Ethiopia a few months ago. Two months ago to be exact.

Selah is HIV+ and was literally dying when Carolyn travelled to bring her home.

Check out the before and after pictures. Two months. This change happened in two months.

Amazing.

Last Day to Register to Vote!

I am a huge procrastinator and inherently lazy - so I wait until the last minute to do everything.

Yep. I've lived here for two years now and never registered to vote in this county.

I'm to blame for not voting in local officials who will push for a Target and Chik-Fil-A to open in our area. It's my fault. I take the blame.

Anyway, Sim called today and "gently" reminded me that I need to get off my tail and register before 5:00 pm today.

Notice how I put gently in quotation marks? Yeah. Because it didn't really happen that way.

That's called sarcasm, my friends.

Seems I'm married to a man who is also a procrastinator and who has been in this country for twelve years and is still not a U.S. citizen. Which means, 'ol Brit Boy can't vote in the upcoming Presidential election. And he's hoping that I'll cast my vote for him.

Hmmm.. we'll see. Although we agree on MANY issues, I say that if anyone ever hurt my family or one my kids, I wanna that see that sucker fry. Just saying.

Wow. Where did that venom come from? Hard to believe I used to be the campus advisor for Amnesty International.

That was before I became a mama and the thought of some $#%@! doing something to one of my kids makes me want to do things that will put me in jail.

Geez Louise. Did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or what?

I need to get another cup of coffee and a Reese's.

Is there a reason for this post this morning?

Oh yeah. Today's the deadline to register to vote. I honestly have no idea who I'm going to vote for. I am so liberal on so many issues... but conservative on many others. Maybe I should run for president.

Ha! Did you get your laugh in this morning? I was hoping I could make you giggle with that statement and cause your Monday to be a bright brighter. :-) See, I'm thoughtful like that.

Here's the link to register online. Don't forget that you have to have it postmarked by 5:00pm today in order to vote:

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/100408dnmetvoterregistration.d8cd7a2c.html

Happy Monday!

Oh, and if you stumbled upon this blog by accident this morning - I just want you to know that I'm not really a grumpy cow. I'm PMS'ing. Why my PMS ends up lasting 4 weeks out of the month, I'll never know.

Friday, October 03, 2008

You're Invited to a Virtual Baby Shower!

My friend Amy - you know, Amy who takes the awesome pictures and who has 7 kids and has an amazing blog and is just an amazing person - you know, THAT Amy - well, she's expecting again.

This time it's FIVE.

Yep, you heard me. Five.

As in 7 + 5 = 12.

Isn't that awesome?!

Angel at The Voice of Adventure has done an amazing blog post today about Amy and her new family and has put up a paypal button for donations. Seriously, you've got to check out her post because it's really wonderful.

I tell you, that is one GORGEOUS family.

And well-behaved,too. Please share your secret, Amy. I have at least two kids who could benefit. :-)

So do yourself a favor and head on over to Angel's blog . It'll put a smile on your face.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Verdict

I drove to Target this afternoon to try out the new Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses.

That's right. I drove all the way to Mesquite.

Because when I get a craving, nothing - not even the price of gas - is going to stop me.

In fact, on the way up there, Sim called and said:

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going to Target."

"Target? Why??"

"To get a bag of the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses."

"You're driving all the way to Mesquite for that?"

"Yup. Got a problem with it?"

Even Sim knows not to interfere when I'm on a chocolate mission.

So, imagine my delight when I get to Target and discover that not only do they have a whole shelf of the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, but they also have CANDY CORN flavored ones, too!

While some of you may recognize the start of the Fall season by the weather turning cooler or the leaves turning color or reruns finally being over... I know that Fall has officially arrived when I can walk down the aisle of any grocery store and see bags of candy corn on the shelf.

And Target carries Candy Corn flavored Hershey Kisses. Does it get any better than that?

It was as if God had smiled down on me and said, "Here child... because I know you work so hard."

So, I buy two bags for myself and two for a friend of mine who just had a baby last week and is breastfeeding - because she says that breastfeeding causes you to crave chocolate.

I guess I've been breastfeeding for the last 35 years and didn't know it.

Anyway, I get home and try a bite. One word:

Gross.

Okay, two words. Eeeeew, gross.

How about three words? Nasty, nasty, nasty.

Four? WHAT?? WHERE'S THE CHOCOLATE????

There's no chocolate in there. None. Not one bit. It's a complete scam for suckers like me.

I was craving chocolate - not fake vanilla that leaves a weird coating on the roof of my mouth.

It's a pretty good thing our nearest Target is an hour away or I'd be marching right up to the customer service desk, plopping my disgusting faux chocolate on the counter and demanding a refund.

Hershey's should be ashamed of themselves.

Or at least put a warning on the bag that reads:

"Attention! This bag does not contain chocolate. If you are PMS'ing then DO NOT buy this bag of candy. It will tick you off even more."

There you have it. Don't waste your time with it. Unless your taste buds are screwed up. Then, you might actually find the taste pleasant.

As for me. I've decided to stick to Reese's. Good 'ol Reeses. You can never go wrong with one of them.

And just for people like me... they come in a cute pumpkin wrapper this time of year.

I. Need. Chocolate!

I was absolutely gutted yesterday when I discovered that the new Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses are only sold at Target.

Absolutely gutted.

You see, the nearest Target is an hour away.

I know. I know. What is the world coming to do? If they can put a McDonald's on every 10 mile stretch of highway and a church on every corner... why can't they at least put a Target in every town?

Hey, I'd be happy with every county.

I think a meeting is in order with whoever is in charge of Henderson county. He's obviously slacking in his duties.

And I say he because if there was a woman in charge you know darn well that she would have advocated for a Target by now.

And possibly a La Madeline.

Anyway, I was so excited when I saw those little hershey kisses in the Sunday paper- all wrapped up in their bright orange foil - that all my literacy skills went out the window and I failed to read "Target Only" underneath.

I marched into Walmart with an air of excitement that I haven't felt since I hit the 90% sale at CVS and marched straight to the Halloween candy aisle with Noah and Alaina in the buggy and Eli and Nandi running - uh, I mean walking - beside me.

And I couldn't find them. The Hershey Kisses, I mean.

It was only then that I realized that they were a Target exclusive. I mean, what is with that?? Does Hershey's have an agreement with Target to where only they get the cool seasonal chocolates? Are we rural dwellers just out of luck?

I have no idea what my face looked like when I realized that, but it caused a passerby to actually stop and ask if I was okay. She then said, "You've sure got your hands full!"

Raise your hand if you've heard that at least twice this week.

Nandi and Eli were touching every single bag of candy they could get their grubby hands on. Noah had taken off one of his shoes and was trying to eat it. Alaina was screaming "No!" at the top of her lungs. No reason. Just because.

I mentioned she's two, right?

And I thought, my goodness, I'm going to pack these kids up and drive the hour to Target just to get my Pumpkin Spice chocolate.

But instead, I drove to a friend's house and we let the kids strip naked and play outside with the water hose while we stuffed our face with a bag Hershey miniatures.

Because we're classy that way.

But, today. Today's a different story. We have to go to Occupational Therapy today. And it's 30 minutes closer to the nearest Target. And the kids have been fighting since the crack of dawn. So... I think a trip to Target is in order.

Actually, it might be the only thing that saves my sanity!