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, October 30, 2009

Who's Feeling Lucky?

So, as most of you know, India is a country that is near and dear to my heart. In January, I'll be travelling with a group to Andhra Pradesh to volunteer at Sarah's Covenant Homes. If you haven't met Sarah, then you should! She is one of the most amazing, dynamic, selfless, funny, and giving people I've ever come across. Not only does she have a heart for India, but she has a heart for abandoned children who have special needs.

Currently, Sarah has 44 children and she's taking in 10 new children next week. Can you imagine the cost of parenting 54 kids?? We're trying to raise money to help make things a bit easier on Sarah and her kids.

SCH has only been up and running for about 2 years now. So they're still needing lots of stuff: wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, educational toys, clothes, and school supplies. 11 of us will be travelling to Sarah's in January and we can take 2 suitcases each. Let's fill those babies up!

To help raise money to buy supplies for Sarah's Covenant Homes, we're holding a bake sale and raffle on Saturday, November 14 at a local grocery store. You do not have to be present to win. Which means YOU can buy a ticket and help bring supplies to Sarah and her 54 amazing kids.

Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20. If you make a ticket donation (at the ChipIn button on the top right of this blog), we'll enter your name into a drawing where you'll have the chance to win one of the following prizes:

1st Prize: New Wilson NFL Game Ball Autographed by Emmitt Smith (retail value: $350)

2nd Prize: iPod Touch 16 gb Second Generation (retail value: $229)

3rd Prize: Nintendo Wii (retail value: $199.99)

The drawing will be held at 2:00pm on November 14th and all winners will be notified via phone or email by 5:00pm that evening. Prizes will be delivered or mailed out on Monday, November 16.

We hope you'll help us reach our goal of raising $1500 for Sarah's Covenant Homes. To learn more about Sarah, please visit her BLOG. You can also read the profiles of all her kids and learn about sponsorship opportunities by clicking HERE. I'm also going to leave you with a video that we made to help spread awareness of SCH and the wonderful kids that have touched our lives. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ever Have One of Those Weeks???

Well, it's been a truly frustrating week. One of my kids has a birthday today and the week leading up to it has been awful. We really turned a corner in the last few months, but this week... whoa, did we slide back down the hill. Good grief. There's been peeing in the bed for the last 4 days and today, birthday day, was greeted with pee soaked sheets and two "accidentally" turned over bowls of cereal at the breakfast table.

Happy Birthday!

Actually, this is not the birthday post. I'll do a proper one later. Things really had been going great. About 90% better and we were so proud of our little RADling. It's just amazing how things like birthday and holidays can cause regression.

In other news from the week of H-E-double hockey sticks, we pulled Eli out of school and then stuck his little bottom right back in two days later. That deserves an entire blog post dedicated to just that. Someday. What I can say is that I've been played. Played hard. It's a scary thing to realize that you live with a master manipulater. He's a sweet, wonderful little boy, but has some definite "mom" issues.

He seriously DOES have some issues that warrant him having 1:1 educational instruction. But at this point in time, I just can't do it. It was an awful week and I'll blog about it later.

And the worst part of the week was that I was having such a terrible week PLUS PMS'ing and couldn't turn to my usual comfort foods: chocolate, coffee, anything dripping with butter and cream, and my mom's chicken and dumplings. Okay, I did have a bowl or two or three of my mom's chicken and dumplings but ended up paying for it for 3 days.

Just. Not. Worth. It.

I do feel better eating cleaner and have lost 13 pounds, but good grief... trying to get through PMS week without chocolate?? That's insane.

I'm living on the edge, ladies and gentleman. Lock up your chocolate bars. I can't be held responsible for what might happen if you eat a Reese's in front of me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Family Needed

I have had the great pleasure of meeting so many fabulous people through the blogging world. It's amazing how different circumstances - circumstances that can bring you to your knees - can connect you with people who care - and who understand exactly what you're going through. Mainly because they've gone through it themselves.

Many, many months ago I was able to connect with Corey. She's beautiful and funny. She's an adoptive mom, too. And a RAD mom, too.

She and her family have had to make the most agonizing decision to disrupt the adoption of their 8 year old son. I hate to use the word disrupt because it makes it sound like they're giving up or being really casual about it... like taking a puppy back to the shelter if it gives you too much trouble.

That is NOT the case. Sometimes you just can't know what it's like unless you've walked in someone else's shoes. And, sometimes, you have to make decisions that just plainly make you want to die. The decisions hurt THAT much. And sometimes you just wish that you could trade places with your child... that all the trauma, and abuse... all the physical and sexual abuse.. sometimes you wish you could just absorb it all from your child so that they could be healthy again. Because you love them THAT much and it kills you that they're going through all this.

And sometimes you have to look at the children in your home. The other brothers and the sisters... and say, "I will not let you get hurt again." You look at your little girls and you wrap them in your arms and you beg and plead with God to make everything better. And so you try everything that you possibly can to help your child, but you know that if he come's back home that your other children will be hurt again.

So, because you love him and you want the very best for him, you make the agonizing decision of finding a new family for him. Because you know that he CAN heal, but not in your family. Not with so many young ones around.

I really hope that you'll visit Corey's blog. Maybe you know of someone who is looking to adopt. Maybe you know of someone who has experience in this area. Maybe YOU'RE the family that she's looking for.

But also, please visit her blog and lift Corey and her family up in prayer. She is in deep, deep pain. We need to pray that not only does God heal her son, but that He heals Corey's pain and the grief and the guilt that she's feeling. Please let her know how much she is loved.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Look Who's Eight!

My sweet little Noah Bear is turning 8 today!!


I've already been gently reminded by my husband that it's a bit pointless to get teary-eyed over the fact that Noah will be 12 in four years. I think he muttered something along the lines of, "Good grief, woman, get a grip!"

But I can't help it. My baby is growing up!!

I'm going to share something with all of you that might make me sound like like a looney..... but a few years ago, I was in a really terrible place - and in the midst of my despair, I heard God's voice speak to me.

Now, there are three times in my life that I've heard God's voice and this was one of them. And He said that Noah would talk between the ages of 8 and 9... so much in fact that I would jokingly regret praying for it all these years!

It's really taking a lot for me to write this out and publicly broadcast it. I mean, what if it wasn't God's voice talking to me? What if it was my imagination and I'm going to be embarrassed if he never talks?

It would be very easy for me to enter Noah's 8th year in a fit of despair because when Noah was little and had just been diagnosed with autism, 8 was the magic number that I always held in my head. Noah will be recovered by the time he's eight. Noah will be playing soccer and be in school and be like a typical eight year old. All this will be like a long forgotten dream when he's eight.

And, of course, here we are and things are pretty much the same... despite everything that we've tried.

But, despite that - and knowing that I may sound foolish and may end up being embarrassed in the end - I'm not going to be depressed about Noah's birthday by remembering what could have been. I'm choosing to enter Noah's 8th year by trusting that it was God's word that I heard and that Noah will talk in the next years.

I'm going to celebrate Noah's birthday by not what could have been... but what will be.

Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet boy!!! I love you, baby, to the moon and back. Mommy

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Toss to the Future

A few months after I turned twenty, I hit a crossroads in my life. I had become disillusioned with college and was being strung along in a dead end relationship that I needed to end but didn't have the strength to do so.

I needed to find a way to escape from everything. I needed excitement in my life and I needed adventure in my life.... and I needed to find a way to get out of taking mandatory Calculus in the Spring semester.

So I signed up to study abroad.

I was certain that it was going to be the start of a new me.... a single me... and just the ticket I needed to get out of taking that dreaded math class.

I wanted to leave as soon as possible, but I couldn't decide where to go. So I narrowed my choices down to England and France. Mainly because at twenty years old, the world revolved around my social life and I was pretty sure that England and France had the cutest guys on the European continent.

So much for the new and single me, eh?

I'd never been to either country.... actually, I'd never even left the continental U.S.... but in my 20 year old mind, I envisioned that the boys in England would be gorgeous rock stars with even more gorgeous accents and that the boys in France would just be plain gorgeous. Nevermind that I made a 'D' in French IV. I had learned enough to ask for the bathroom, the finest chocolates and I could certainly bat my eyelashes and call a potential amour "mon petit chou".

But in the end, I couldn't make up my mind. So I did the only thing I knew how to do...

I flipped a coin.

I figured it was a win-win situation. I'd have my excitement and my adventure and my accents... and I'd still get out of taking Calculus. So I held my breath and tossed a coin to my future.

It landed on heads and I headed to England.

And everything fell into place. And everything that happened from that coin toss led me to where I am now. After my semester abroad, I moved to England and enrolled as an international student. That experience led me to my first post-graduation job, which led me to another job, which led me to a Rotary grant that sent me to India for 5 1/2 weeks, which led us to adopt, which led me to where I am right now this very minute.

And now it's sixteen years later and I find myself back in the very same predicament that led me to that fateful coin toss when I was twenty years old.

I've become disillusioned with school and there's a cute boy who is breaking my heart. And I've got a quarter in my palm that is waiting for me to make a move.

But I'm not twenty anymore and life doesn't revolve around cute boys and trying to get out of math class. Problems can't be solved with the naivety that a coin toss brings. But I don't know what to do.

Before I became a mom, I had this fantasy view of what being a parent was really like. I envisioned Mommy & Me classes at the library and play dates at the park. I saw carpooling with the neighborhood kids in the mornings and having lunch with neighborhood moms in the afternoon. I saw karate and scouts on the weekdays and cheering on sports on the weekends.

But in all those fantasies, I never envisioned learning disabilities. Or anxiety disorders. Or irrational fears. Bullying never played into my visions of parenthood. Or a crying child begging me not to send him to school.

When you're twenty, the world revolves around you. And people tend to give you some slack because you're young and you're learning and you have to learn from your mistakes.

But when you're thirty-six and a mom, the world revolves around your kids. And people don't cut you any slack anymore. They all have opinions about what you should do and they certainly don't mind voicing them. And you're not allowed to make mistakes anymore because your decisions affect so many people.

So here I am with a coin in my hand and I'm trying to figure out what to do about the little boy who is breaking my heart. People say that kids have to learn to be their own person - that they have to learn to live in the real world. But what if the real world is scary for them? And what if they're not ready?

And what if they're only six.

If kindergarten is hard, then will first grade be hard? And will second grade? And what about third? What will his view of himself be by the time he hits third grade? Three more years of bullying and three more years of anxiety and three more years of struggle?

Do I keep him home and teach him myself?

And that's where the world steps in. Because a lot of people have kids that fit into that fantasy world that I envisioned. And many don't know that this world - this also very real world - exists.

I never knew it did.

So, here I am with a coin in my hand and wondering if I'm brave enough to toss it. And I'm wondering why I'm not brave enough to trust myself and I'm worried because I'm too scared to pray about it.

Because it's not a win-win situation. I know what I want to do... but is it the right thing to do?

Sometimes I wish that I was twenty again.... when life revolved around Tripping Daisy concerts and dates on Friday night. When I was free enough to throw caution to the wind and flip a coin to my future.

But that's life.

C'est la vie.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Somebody Get Me a Hamburger! Stat!

Yes, I'm still here. Considerably lighter, as you'll find out in a minute. But first things first....

Our computer is still hijacked with a virus. Actually, we've been too busy to take it to get fixed, so we're still scamming... er, I mean, borrowing my parents' laptop for the time being. And since Noah's attracted to the keyboard and the blinking lights, we have to turn it off everytime we get off it... which means, we've canceled all opportunity for me to be seduced by the come hither and check thy email looks everytime I walk by, so I haven't been on it much lately.

Okay, so the real truth is that I'm just too lazy to turn it on and wait for it to boot up. Plus,
Sim's still working crazy long hours and someone has to do the parenting around here. And even though Eli thinks he's the boss of the house, he's definitely not, so I'm having to step up and do some parental duties which includes, but is not limited to carting them off to school every day, wrestling through homework in the afternoon, throwing something on the table for dinner, and working like crazy to get them into bed before Dancing with the Stars comes on.

It's not like I'm fanatical about the show or anything, but there's nothing like ending your day with a bang by watching hot Eastern European men doing the cha cha and the rumba in sparklies and sequins. Something about it just puts a smile on my face.

So, anyway, besides wrestling the Three Musketeers pretty much solo for the last few weeks, I got really sick last weekend and ended up spending three days in bed curled up in fetal with bottles of Motrin IB, Vicodin, and a lifetime supply of ThermaCare heat pads plastered all over my body. After two trips to the doctor, one trip to the ER, and two doses of morphine... hello! everyone was looking attractive and merry and I might have proposed to the on-duty nurse... I was finally told that I most likely have endometriosis and irritable bowel. Oh, and a possible UTI.

Now isn't that what you all wanted to hear? How many of you are worried that I'm going to be blogging every grisly detail about uterus linings, bloating, and my irritated bowels?

No need to worry. While I have no shame in blogging about every detail concerning the contents of Noah's pull-up, I have no desire to let Computer Land know about my nether regions. Or as I like to call it... my never regions... 'cuz you ain't never gonna hear about it.

However, I will blog about the fact that I've been forced to go on a gluten-free, dairy-free, caffeine-free (no chocolate! no coffee! no fun!) diet. That, plus the fact, that I literally lived off 3 bites of applesauce and 2 sips of veggie broth for 3 days has left me 9 pounds lighter.


I may have the insides of an 80 year old woman, but if I put on some spanx, suck my stomach in until my eyes bulge out of my head, and forget to breathe, then I can just about button my size 6's. And zip them.


Now, all I need to do is open my my mouth in the shower when I go to India in a few months and I should be back to my fighting weight in no time. (Kidding, Sarah!! Kidding!)

I will say that I am so thankful for my husband and the fact that he took three days off work so that I could hog the bed in agony. Plus, there's nothing that draws a couple closer together than when holding a loved one's hair back so they can throw up in the commode. (That morphine didn't feel half as good coming out as it did going in.)

Our marriage reached a whole new level last weekend.

I did go through a lot of emotional searching... or should I call them crises... when I realized how utterly helpless I had become. Lots of worrying about the future and the kids and what would happen if I got really sick. But I won't burden you all with that right now. Besides, you know it's all bound to pop out in a post in the next few weeks anyway.

Anyway, must end this post and figure out what we'll be having for supper. Fortunately, Noah's been on a gluten and dairy free diet off and on for years, so I've got it down pat. If only I could find something to conquer my moods. Do you know what it's like to take pasta, Reeses', ice cream, and Sonic's Happy Hour away from a complicated, tempermental woman?

It ain't pretty. But it is 9lbs lighter.