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, July 31, 2009

The Great Motorcycle Debate

What would you do?

Sim just called and one of his workmates bought him a motorcycle.

That's right. Bought. Him. A. Motorcycle.

A little Kawasaki 250.

All of his workmates were in on it.

Is it obvious that Sim works entirely with men? Because if there'd been a single woman on his crew, she'd have been the voice of reason that said,

"Sim drives two hours to work each way. Do you know what kind of traffic he drives through? It's a nice thought, but saving a bit on gas is not going to console his wife and their three children when he gets plowed down by an 18-wheeler."

Ya'll, I may have a heart attack. And he hasn't even driven the thing.

I mean, on one hand, that is so incredibly sweet of his coworkers. I mean, who does that? Who says, "I think I'll buy a motorcycle for someone." It's awesome. It's fantastic. It's really, really nice.

But I love my husband and I would like him to stay in one piece.

Is that too much to ask for?

What would you do? Sim likes the bike and, of course, feels obligated. I, however, think he should be thinking of us and what might happen to us if something happened to him.

And while it's true that accidents can happen in cars, too, I don't know.... there's something about motorcycles that just really scares me.

So. What would YOU do?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Idols Live Pictures (aka: Noah Meets Anoop!)

In case you haven't read my other post , Noah got to meet Anoop last Thursday when the American Idol tour came through Dallas.

In no particular order, here are some pictures from the concert and from the meet and greet after the show.

P.S. Don't let Noah's nonchalantness in the pictures fool you. He was exhausted by the time the concert finished. He may not be reacting in the pictures, but his reaction during the concert said it all. He had the time of his life!!!!

Thanks again, Anoop and Mike for setting this up for us!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Noah Met Anoop!!!! Video Blog

Okay, so I guess you can tell from the title of this blog post that Noah met Anoop. (!!!!!) And I've been dying to tell you all but have been without a computer for the last week. Aarrrgh! Anyway, there is SO much to tell - and quite honestly - I don't think I could do it justice by typing it all out... so I did my first ever video blog.

Just to warn you.... I can talk! My "short" video ended up being 16 minutes long. Yikes. But it really does tell you everything that happened and how Noah did and what the concert was like and how it went when Noah met Anoop. BUT... I also did another version that ended up being 1:36 because I was completely mortifed when I turned off the camera from the first video and saw that it was 16 minutes long!

So... version 1 is the longer, but detailed version, and version 2 is the short and sweet - but-you'll-totally-miss-what-happened version.

Point is.... NOAH MET ANOOP!

Pictures to come!!!

P.S. Youtube said my video was too long - lol! So I had to edit it into two-parts. Lucky for you all! ;-)

P.P.S. What's up with the goofy frames that Youtube decided to showcase as the cover of my video blog? Goodness!

Video Blog Part 1

Video Blog Part 2

The Short and Sweet Version

Monday, July 20, 2009

Headed to Austin

Hey everyone. Sorry I haven't posted the info on Eli's therapies just yet. This weekend was a whirlwind and we're leaving today to go to Austin for a week. Noah starts his 4 day RPM "camp" at HALO tomorrow. He's so excited!

I am technologically way behind, so I don't have a laptop or a blueberry - oops, I mean blackberrry - or an Iphone. Which means... I will be without internet access for the week.

Strangely, I'm actually looking forward to it.

Hope you all have a great week and hopefully I will be full of blog posts when we get back.

Prayers are very much appreciated for the drive down there. Nandi is... how shall I put this... not exactly the best traveler.....

Back next week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eli - Boy Wonder

I wonder what Eli's knight name would be? Sir Eli the Great? Sir Eli the Conqueror? Sir Eli the Boy Wonder?

We have seen so many changes take place with him these last few weeks. It is truly mind-boggling.

Now, I won't go into the therapies we're doing with him just yet - I'll save that for another post. Ya'll know by now that I can be a bit of a jabberwockey, so if I don't cut to the chase then this post will quickly turn into a novel.

Okay. So, a year ago Eli tested in the bottom 1% of all 5 year olds in the nation for coordination. He couldn't kick a ball, couldn't crawl on his hands and knees without falling, couldn't even draw a circle.... the list goes on and on.

Fast forward to now. In May we started taking Noah to a new therapist and we had to buy these expensive glasses that flash lights into your eye (I'll get into that in another post.) Anyway, they were, like, a hundred and fifty dollars so we decided to get Nandi and Eli tested to see if they could use them, too.

Might as well be able to use the glasses on all three kids....

So we got them tested a few weeks ago and Eli started wearing the glasses for 3 minutes a day. In the LAST WEEK, Eli has learned to..... insert drum roll....

1. Ride a bike with training wheels

2. Ride a bike withOUT training wheels

3. Cross the monkey bars start to finish at the park

4. Swim 18 feet in a pool.

5. Joined a basketball and soccer game in session at the park WITH other kids - whoo hoo!

If this hasn't soaked in, then let me explain what Eli was like a week ago....

1. He was afraid to ride a bike - any bike - because he thought he might fall.

2. He couldn't even hang from the monkey bars. Didn't have enough strength.

3. Couldn't swim AT ALL. I mean, just this past Tuesday he was too scared to swim 3 feet into my arms. The next day, he swam 6 yards.

4. He had never, ever, ever joined a game at the park. He's always been scared of failing and has awful anxiety.

Now he has this super duper confidence and he's even asking about playing soccer next year. What??? My Eli? Really???

Anyway, he still has a looooooong way to go. We just saw a pediatric ophthalmologist yesterday who specializes in visual processing disorders and he's going to start Eli on a regime of exercises that will address his learning issues. And we're still seeing the attachment therapist - who let me lay on the couch for an hour yesterday and pour my heart out. Ahhhhhh, it felt goooooood. We were meant to be there for the kids, but she could tell I was ready to crack.

Man, I left there feeling like I'd just had a hour long massage, a facial, and a huge dose of lipo.

In other words... I was a brand new woman.

The point is... (see how I ramble) is that Eli is doing great. We still have a lot of issues to address, but Eli is slowing climbing his Mount Everest and I really think that one day he'll reach the top.

So. Have I piqued your curiosity? Are you wanting to know what all we've been doing to turn him from Eli the Scared to Eli the Brave? It's quite lengthy and I want to make sure I do it right because I feel so strongly about it. But I'll post about it soon. I promise!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Miracles are alive and well in East Texas...

You know, God is starting to open my eyes to the miracles all around me.

For years, I've thought that only two things could constitute a miracle:

1. That Noah would be miraculously healed of autism overnight


2. That I would be able to pass by a bowl of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and not grab a handful

Unfortunately, neither have yet to happen.

But if I keep focusing and keep waiting for that one major miracle to happen - for Noah to be healed of autism - I'm going to miss all the everyday miracles that occur in my life.

Just for Noah to be alive - for him to be walking and to be healthy - that in itself is a miracle.

Anyway, the other day God showed me two very distinct miracles to illustrate that even though my prayers may not be answered He is still very much a part of my life and looking out for me and my family.

The first one happened about two weeks ago when I was cooking spaghetti. I had a huge pan full of boiling water and took it to the sink to drain. Because I have no sense of balance and my coordination skills could rival that of a newborn foal, I somehow managed to tip the entire pan of boiling water down the front of me. I mean, it spilled all over my groin area, down my legs and covered my feet.

I was wearing cut-offs and flip flops.

If I'd been a boy, I could have easily gone from a Daniel to a Danielle in about 2 seconds flat.

My shorts were soaked.

So I screamed in anticipation... but you know what? It was like I was watching the whole thing in slow motion... and as the water poured down the front of me, it felt like cool water from a stream. It didn't leave a mark. It felt like fresh spring water.

A whole pan of boiling water poured down bare skin... and it didn't leave a mark. Now tell me that's not a miracle.

The second miracle happened yesterday.

By now, you know Nandi's story and you know that she can be a downright stinker sometimes. Well, yesterday, as a joke, she decided to hide from us and lock herself in our hot minivan.

It was 4:00 in the afternoon and 103 outside.

It must've been 140 in the van.

We were all outside when it happened. We were sawing some countertops over at my parent's house and we didn't hear her slip away. We didn't even hear the van door open and shut.

But when we were ready to go inside, we couldn't find her.

My mom had already looked at the van and didn't see her, so we turned to go inside to look for her and by the off chance my mom turned her head and looked at the van one more time. This time, she saw Nandi's tiny little head pop up from the steering wheel.

My dad ran over and tried to open the van, but Nandi had locked herself in and was laughing hysterically at us while we all panicked. I couldn't find my keys anywhere and she refused to open the door. Then she started panicking and crying and couldn't remember how to get herself out. My dad was ready to break the window when she finally unlocked the door.

Ya'll, I did not know a child could get that hot and survive. She was roasting hot. For Pete's Sake, she's only 28 pounds! Her hair was matted to her head, she was burning up. And she had a hot wheel in her pocket that burned my hand when I pulled it out.

She'd been in for about 6 minutes when we found her. Most kids die within 10.

And I know, I just know, that God whispered for my mom to turn her head one last time before we went inside to look for her. And the fact that my mom even saw her is a miracle. She's so tiny and so dark and the windows are darkly tinted. I honestly don't know how she spotted her. But she did.

Don't tell me that's not a miracle.

Anyway, I couldn't help but cry over "what could've been". What if we'd gone inside? What if mom hadn't turned her head?

We were 4 minutes away from losing her.

And, ya'll, I don't know how to explain it but it really hit me how much I don't want to lose her.

I mean, yeah, she probably irritates me more than any person on this planet. And she pushes my buttons like a kid going on a joyride in an elevator. And she might very well bankrupt us with all this ridiculously expensive attachment therapy. I may end up on anti-depressants by the end of it and might eat the equivalent of 2 tons worth of Kit Kats by the time she turns 18... but, good grief, I don't want to lose her.

It just made me realize how much I love that little girl. And it IS hard, but it'd be a lot harder without her. And the fact that God saved her yesterday made me realize that He's not through with her yet. She still has a purpose on this earth.

And since I don't think God would allow that purpose to be solely so that she can irritate me to death, then I'm thinking He has some pretty big plans for her.

And that's pretty exciting.

And, finally, Miracle #3... which isn't really a miracle as it is a real life Hallmark commercial...

This afternoon our doorbell rang and it was our 75 year old neighbor. He had hobbled over here carrying an ice-cold watermelon in his hands and said that he couldn't eat it all himself and remembered that I once mentioned how much my kids love melon.

Now, I haven't talked to this neighbor in ages. We wave at each other when we drive-by, but our lives have gotten pretty hectic and we haven't spoken in a long time. Nothing personal, just, unfortunately, a way of life.

He doesn't read my blog. He doesn't know what I blogged about a few days ago. He doesn't know anything about RAD or autism or that I've been feeling pretty lonely. He had no agenda.

He just thought of us and acted on it.

And it was exactly what I needed. It was just the sweetest thing. And it came in the form of a 75 year old man who was simply being neighborly.

And in today's day and age... that is a miracle.

I hope you all get to witness some miracles this week.

I think they're all around us.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

You know, I don't think I have ever posted a recipe on here before. It's not really my thing.

Plus, I don't want anyone coming back saying they wasted a bunch of money on a food dish that ended up tasting like cardboard.

Insecurities, you know.

However, that has all changed. I am giving you a link to the BEST chicken tikka masala I've ever tasted... and it's done in a crockpot.

What is that I hear? A chorus of angels singing, "Hallelujah"?

If you love Indian food and don't mind gaining 5lbs in one sitting then you HAVE to try this. Admittedly, it's a bit of a pain because you have to marinate it overnight, then bake it for 30 minutes before you throw it in the crockpot, but it is sooooo worth it. Serve it over a little basmati or jasmine rice and I guarantee you'll be thinking you're eating a dish that was prepared in a kitchen in the middle of South India.

Unless, of course, you're Indian or British (CTM is hugely popular in the UK).... and then you might just start laughing.

HERE is the recipe. Thanks for the link, Peggy!

Oooh, oooh! I almost forgot. It calls for 3 lbs of chicken. We only used a pound of chicken and kept the other ingredients the same. Do that if you like your CTM with a lot of sauce. If you use the 3lbs then I'd recommend doubling the other ingredients.

And get this... it tastes EVEN BETTER the next day. Seriously, does it get any better than that??

Sensory Friendly Films for Children with Autism

My lovely friend, Myia, just facebooked me a link about how AMC theaters and the Autism Society of America have teamed up to show monthly movies that are "autism friendly".

In their words...

"In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing - in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned. "

Oh. My. Goodness. This is fantastic!!! We LOVE movies, but we never get to go because anyone who has a child with autism will understand that sometimes it can be a bit too much. The lights, the noise, the smells... you get it, right? And then our kids have the tendency to wander and make noises. Some grunt, some shriek. Just the sort of thing that causes the people in front of you to turn around and give you the stink eye.... usually accompanied by a smattering of words that you don't want your children to learn.

This is PERFECT! They're showing Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs tomorrow. You can find more info HERE. I think AMC is doing this all over the U.S. - so click on the link and see if maybe you can go to one of the showings tomorrow.

Guess who is going to be SUPER excited when I tell him?? Although I might wait until the last minute because I really, really, really don't want to hear about it nonstop for the next 26 hours.

Oh, I've learned my lesson on that one!

Thanks for the info, Myia!

P.S. I haven't forgotten all the WONDERFUL responses to my last blog post. A big thank you is coming up, but I wanted to get the word out about the ASA and AMC partnership because the next movie showing is tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why I Haven't Been Blogging

I know that I haven't been blogging much lately. I don't know... I think I've just lost interest in it.

In the past, I could blog about mindless, frivolous drivel - like how Sim didn't know who Rick Springfield was or my letter to Michael Phelps or how I'll drive across Texas in order to find a bag of special edition Hershey kisses. I could write about things that were fun and lighthearted - but I just can't find that place inside me anymore.

Now, I did nearly blog the other day about how I almost had a panic attack when I thought that L'Oreal discontinued my favorite lipstick, but it just seemed pointless and unimportant - especially when compared to the real stuff going on in my life.

I don't know what to blog about anymore. I know that blogs are meant to be for the blogger only and that you should be able to blog about anything you want - but I can't help but recognize that blogging about RAD is alienating me from the people in my real life. And, quite honestly, I'm not sure if I want people in my real life (IRL) to know what's going on.

It's like I/we/my family has turned into the white elephant in the corner of the room. People just don't know how to act around us anymore. They don't know what to say - and quite frankly - I get the feeling that most don't believe us.

Many believe that a good spanking would do the trick. Put some fear into them! They'll never respect you unless they're scared of you.

Good grief. If your friends and family think it's your lack of parenting skills that are the problem... if your friends and family don't understand... then what to do you do?

Being the parent of kids with special needs is already a lonely place. I can't tell you how many friends we've lost over the years. I am still reeling over losing my best friend five years ago because she couldn't handle Noah's autism. We're talking closer than close. We talked every day. Vacationed together. The works.

And that pain is still very real.

And so you tend not to get close to people in real life because you know that sooner or later they're going to move on - especially if they have kids. If they don't have kids, they just won't understand. And if they do have kids, chances are that they'll get tired of you making excuses...

Sorry. I would love for us to all go to the movie, but Noah shrieks really loud and will run up and down the aisles and we'll get asked to leave.

You have a pool? Ummm... we can come over, but we can't play in the backyard. Noah's really attracted to water and I'll have to spend the entire time keeping him out of the pool.

Yeah, I'd love to go to the park.... as long as you don't mind hanging out at the swings. That's the only place that Noah will go to at a park.

I would love a girl's night out, but Sim works late hours and I'd have to hire a sitter and we can't really afford that. Maybe next time.

Amusement park? Water park? It'll be really crowded and I can't watch all three by myself. Nandini has a tendency to run away from me in public and Noah's in a stroller and can't go on a lot of the rides.

Birthday party? Are all three of my kids invited or just Eli? He's scared to be away from me and gets nervous around a lot of kids. Sim works weekends, so he can't watch the other two and I don't feel comfortable just dropping off Eli. Yeah, I do understand that you don't want my other two there, but Sim's working. I don't know what to do.

Sorry, I can't. I don't have anyone to watch the kids.

Don't you see? It gets pretty old after awhile.

People in my real life just don't get it. They don't understand that it's no fun for me to hang out with a bunch of people when I'll have to keep dragging Noah away from the pool or the pond or the road. There's no point in going if I'm going to spend the whole time doing that.

And I realize that people might find it easier just not to invite us places. Who really wants their day/party/event ruined by a shrieking, flapping, spinning child? Or a daredevil child that has no fear? Or an almost 6 year old who is scared of everything and suffers anxiety? I understand that it's probably just a lot easier for us to just stay home.

I really do.

I'm also aware that I turn every conversation into a therapy session. I know I do it. But this is my whole world. This has been my world for nearly 7 years. I'm pretty sure that I used to have a life outside of this, but I can't quite remember what it was. I know that I can be an emotionally exhausting person to be around. I know that.

And I also know that unless you're going through it or have been through it then it's really hard to understand.

Do you realize that pretty much not a single person in my real life has asked how we're doing? No one has called up and said, "Hey, I don't have a clue what you're going through, but just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you."

People don't know how to act around us. They don't know what to say. And most think it's a parenting issue - a discipline issue - and think we should get out the belt and quit whining.

Can't you see why I don't want to blog anymore?

I just don't know what to blog about. I don't want to blog about what's going on and be made to feel vulnerable and exposed when most people think it's our fault anyway.

And then it seems really stupid to blog about nonsense stuff when the truth is that we're really hurting right now. This RAD stuff is kicking our butt. It's the hardest thing I've ever been through. Sim and I will look at each other at night and just think, "How the hell are we going to get through this?"

It is frightening to realize that your child's future depends on whether you have the patience, resources, money, and energy to help them get through it.

That's a powerful burden to bear.

And it's easy to say give it to God. That God has his own special plan for our children. And that's true. But I don't think God wants us to sit on our butt and not do anything.

The problem is that we don't know what He wants us to do. And what if it's not His plan for my kids to heal? Do you understand that RAD kids are the ones who can kill? Who can easily end up in gangs? Who get institutionalized? Who end up in jail?

Do you have any idea what it's like to live with that?

It's hard to enjoy the moment of the day when you are scared to death of the future.

I don't know. I've blogged way to much. Spouted out more than I even wanted to and now I feel really vulnerable and foolish and exposed.

I hate to lump RAD in with mental illness (but it is sorta the same thing), but I've often read that living with someone who has mental illness is the hardest thing in the world to do because people just don't understand. It is so misunderstood.

By the time you read this, I'll be feeling a lot better. Actually, it's like a huge weight has been lifted off me because I've really wanted to say all this for a long time and I really didn't know how.

I'm hoping that this blog post will break the proverbial ice and I'll be able to write again.

And despite how this post sounds, I'm really trying to stay and positive and see the good things that are happening. They're few and far between.... but they're happening.

I just feel, though, that I really needed to get this out. I really just needed... to say it. That's all.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Christine's Big News

My wonderfully brilliant, funny, and just-plain-gets-it friend, Christine, has some big news to share.

As some of you know, Christine is a preacher's wife in a small town in Oklahoma, homeschools five children, and is also a mom to two beautiful RADishes.

She's got some pretty cool knock-your-socks-off news. God is about to send her and her family on quite an adventure...

Head on over there to check it out. Let's just say that Simeon is very jealous and I can already see the wheels turning in his head...