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, August 27, 2009

And My Baby's All Grown Up...

Well, it’s been pretty quiet on this end, hasn’t it? I thought I’d wait until things got better to tell y'all how Eli’s first week of school is going. And by getting better, I mean waiting until it doesn’t take 3 teachers and a vice-principal to pry him out of the car and me not sitting in the parking lot clutching my bosom crying, “My baby! My baby!” and not caring that I was holding up the carpool lane.

And that day… was today.

The little stinker hopped out of the car, waved goodbye and took some unknown teacher - who’d better not think she’s going to replace me - by the hand and then he was off.

And then I sat in the car, leaned on the steering wheel and cried, “My baby! My baby!” and promptly called my husband and informed him that I needed to get on medication to sort out my mood swings and indecisiveness.

It’s hard living life as a complicated woman.

Only one more day and then I have him for TWO WHOLE DAYS before I have to send him back off to the land of Oh-My-Gosh-How-Much-Trash-Can-One-Lunchroom-Cafeteria-Generate and Please-Tell-Me-That-Those-Kids-Wash-Their-Hands-After-Picking-Their-Nose-and-Wiping-It-On-The-$36.48-Stash-Of-School-Supplies-That-I-Just-Bought.

And since I’m sounding completely neurotic right now, I might as well tell you that I called Sim yesterday and complained that I was….. bored.


Apparently, I never realized how much time and energy it takes to break up two screaming/biting/I hate you – you just breathed in my air space/ children All.Day.Long.

And when those children are separated… it becomes quiet.

It is such a totally new concept for me that I actually had to sit down with a carton of Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and contemplate it.

Nevermind that it was 9:30 in the morning....

Wow, just wait until Nandi starts Pre-K next week. Oh my word, whatever will I do???

I might just have to buy some ice cream and contemplate it.

P.S. This picture of Noah actually has nothing to do with this blog post, but thought that I'd show you that Noah celebrated the quiet and the freedom by eating shaving cream and trying to drink my contact solution.

I guess I know where I need to channel my energy......
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Birthday Present to Me

So, uh, I turn 18 this week. Okay, well, 18 PLUS 18 - and one thing I've learned - quite recently, actually - is that I don't need more stuff. Having too much stuff leads to too much stress.

Where do I put it? What do I do with it? Is the thrill of it still there after I buy it and get home?

The answer is most often no.

Hi, my name is Leslie and I am a garage sale-aholic. Seriously. It runs in my veins. My first dollar was earned when I was three and I sold a plastic bird whistle at my Pa Lester's stand at Trader's Village Flea Market.

And then I helped with his stand when I got older.

And my parents actually have a stall at First Monday in Canton.

Trust me, when I say that my entire life has been about finding a bargain and snapping it up - because you never know when it might come in handy. And duplicates? Awesome. Triplicates? Even better.

Don't believe me? Remember my post about how Nandi has moved into our closet? (It's a 10x10, just as an FYI, and I will post pics. Don't want anyone thinking we've shoved her into a 1x3.). Anyway, THIS is a picture of what came out of the closet.

I thought some of ya'll might enjoy that. It always helps to know that someone else is more of a slob than you, right?

Consider this my gift to you. My "pat-on-the-back-you're-doing-a-GREAT-job" boost of confidence.

I'm such a dear, aren't I?

So, the point is, I have too much stuff. I have toys that I bought on clearance 11 months before Christmas so that I could save on the following Christmas... only to forget that I had them and, thus, requiring me to buy new ones.

I have Birthday presents and clothes bought year-round at "get-em-while-they're-hot" sales... only to forget where I stashed them when the time came.

I have had countless garage sales and clear-outs. The local charity resale shop actually decorated their entire office with my children's' toys at Christmas time.

I am not joking.

They loooooove us.

And for the longest time I couldn't stop. I mean, how you can resist a pair of jeans for 50 cents? Or a kid's winter coat for $1.00?

There's nothing wrong with garage sales, if you can control yourself.

But if you can't, then you end up with this:

Ah, there's that picture again. You love me don't you?

(Hey, let me just tell you that our room does NOT stay like that, okay? That is a result of the big closet clear-out... .and is one of the reasons I've been MIB (missing in blogging) lately. I've been going through a lot - literally! lol)

Okay, so here's the point. I am reforming myself. I'm taking my bargain addiction by the... uh, whatever you take them by... and declaring myself FREE from my addiction to STUFF.

I went to three garage sales the other day and didn't buy a thing. Whoo hoo! That's the first step!

The second is to not stop at any garage sales at all (as Sim pointed out). And I did that, too!

And the third is... well, I don't know what the third is.... it's open for suggestions.

BUT, this all brings me to my birthday. This is going to be the year that I make good decisions. I am not extravagant by any means, but I'm learning that a bargain is really only a bargain if it's something that you need and something that you'll use.

I am also learning that I want to do more good in the world. I don't want to just feel like I'm making a difference. I want to actually make a difference.

Nikki, the adorable college student that designed my blog, once wrote about how she's only going to give presents that make a difference. And that she wants to only receive presents that make a difference.

And I really like that attitude.

Sim and I sat down and discussed it. Do we really need another CD? Another DVD? Do I really need another $10 shirt from Target? No. NO!!

So our new plan is to give a gift that gives. We're not only going to do this with us, but with the kids, too. They'll still get one toy and one outfit, but the third present will be a gift that gives.

Eli wants to help someone in Guatemala. (Maybe a sponsorship? An onil stove? Chickens?)

Nandi said she wants a gift that will help dogs (her favorite animal). Maybe a T-shirt that benefits the SPCA? Or a bag? Or an ornament? Or a trip to Walmart to buy dog food and treats for our local shelter?

Noah has already given to KIVA this year. And we'll do his RPM therapy with him to find out what gift he wants to receive for his birthday.

As for me... this is what Sim and the kids bought me for my birthday:

Isn't it adorable? It's a cute little necklace that was designed by Selah, a little girl who was adopted from Ethiopia and who happens to be HIV+. Her family is now trying to adopt Selah's biological brother and sister from Ethiopia and all proceeds from this necklace ($25) go directly towards their adoption.

So, I get a super cute necklace AND the money spent goes towards reuniting a family.

Does it really get any better than that?

You can get the whole scoop about Selah's Necklace HERE - you know, just in case you want a super cute necklace, too! And while you're at it, don't forget to stop by Positively Adopted and check out some of the necklaces that my friend, Chantelle, designed. I've already put a bug in Sim's ear about them for Christmas. *grin*

Oh, and my parents gave me some money for my birthday, too, so I'm finally getting a pair of THESE:

They're a pair of TOMS SHOES. And they are right up my Birkenstock loving alley.

In other words, "I HEART UGLY SHOES".

I do. I really do.

Actually, I've been wanting a pair for ages, but always got suckered into the fact that I could buy 4 $10 pairs of shoes for the cost of one pair of Toms. But, that's exactly the type of thinking that's gotten me into so much... stuff. And if you buy a pair of Toms shoes, then they will actually donate a pair to a person in need for FREE.

Now, how cool is that?

So, I now have a cute, cute necklace and my lovely winter shoes will be arriving this week. (Only in Texas can a pair of winter shoes be thin canvas. Aren't you Northerners jealous??)

And that's that. This is the beginning of my 18 + 18th year. And this will be the first year that I actually remember what I got for my birthday.

Now, THAT's what I call a great start to, hopefully, a fantastic year.

India's Independence Day

My friend, Amutha, had this video posted on her Facebook page and I just had to steal it and post it over here.

It's of an adorable little girl singing the Indian National Anthem in honor of India's Independence Day. Enjoy!

P.S. I'll be back to blogging soon. As in, probably sometime today or tomorrow. I'm finally getting my groove back... I think.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Amy's Pickle Jar Overfloweth

I really encourage all of you right now to head over to Amy's blog and read about the AMAZING thing that God has done in her life.

It is a true testimony of what happens when you hand everything over to God.

Amy and her family have felt led to adopt from Ethiopia for a long time, but they didn't have the funds to pay for an adoption. Finally, she just said, "Okay, God. If this is what you want, we'll do it. I don't know how we'll do it, but we'll do it." And they all took a leap of faith and took their first step towards another adoption: they set up a pickle jar on their counter and started putting in all their loose change.

And then Amy mentioned the pickle jar on her blog and that their family feels led to adopt from Ethiopia. And even though the money isn't there - and even though it may take 5 years to save - this is what God is planning for them and they can't ignore it any longer.

And then.... well, you need to head over there and find out not only what happened next... but what's going to happen because of what happened next.

While you're at it, go ahead and bookmark her blog. You will love it! I promise.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Curious Case of the Unattached Child

Well, I'm writing this to let you all know that I'm going to be offline for awhile. Not sure how long. Maybe a day (hopefully). Maybe longer.

Eli and Nandi have been sharing a room (I know, I know - what were we thinking) and we're moving Eli into our closet. Sounds silly, but it's actually a huge walk-in closet that currently houses our computer and loads of other odds and ends. Basically, it's big enough for a twin bed, a dresser, and the few toys that haven't been confiscated and put into indefinite time-out.

We're not doing this because anything happened between the two of them. Quite the opposite. We're doing it to protect Eli from Nandi. She's being a little, um, aggressive lately.

I have the lovely bite marks to prove it.

Anyway, the behaviors are escalating and all started with a school shopping trip yesterday. Heaven forbid I want her to wear nice, clean clothes. Apparently, it was too much for her (even though she acted like she was having a wonderful time) and she immediately turned on me when we got home. And when that didn't work, she broke Noah's favorite toy.


So, today, things have just been way out of hand and I did something I've never done before.
I asked for help.

A friend came over and picked up Eli and Noah and took them to her house for the day. I hated to ask because I hate not being able to handle this on my own, but it was for their own protection.

We are also going to have get rid of our dogs. Well, one of them sticks to me like glue so I think she'll be okay, but we have to find a home for our sweet little deaf dog. She adores Nandini, but she gets hurt - a lot.

Anyway, after a day of bite marks, cereal boxes emptied on the floor, our kitchen cupboard stripped, broken glass and finally, the contents of our bookshelves strewn across the floor... I picked up the phone and asked for help.

So, now, I'm taking Nandi with me to Walmart to get boxes to pack up all our books (shoulda been using the library anyway), getting some locks for the cabinet, and a makeshift clothes rod to store my clothes. Oh, and we're taking back some of the clothes we bought yesterday to pay for a toy replacement for Noah.

The whole point of this blog entry, though, is to let you know we'll be without a computer until we can run a new line. Fortunately, this lucky lady is married to a phone tech, so it's shouldn't take too long.

Anyway, Eli will be getting a new room and we have to find a place for the computer and my clothes. Luckily, I wear the same outfit five days in a row and literally own two pairs of shoes - so the clothes things will be pretty much a non-issue.

And that's it. I'll post pictures of Eli's new room once it gets finished. He's totally excited.

Wish us luck!
*UPDATE: We've decided to move Nandi into the closet instead of Eli. #1, it'll be easier on us because we can keep an eye on her that way. #2, it might make her feel safer, and #3, Eli starts school this month and might actually make friends and want to invite them over. I mean, people already think we're a bit loopy.. the last thing we need is for some kid to say, "Hey Mom, this is my new friend, Eli. He sleeps in his parents' closet!"