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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

India Slideshow Video

These are just a few of the pictures that we took in India. There were so many - it was really hard to choose. The majority are on Facebook, so shoot me an email if you want to see all of them.

Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My boy Michael (Picture and Video)

This is a picture of me with my boy, Michael. Isn't he handsome?

I know that I keep posting videos of my boys, but believe it or not, I do have pictures of my girls, but I just haven't posted them yet.

Okay, rereading that sentence I realized that saying I'm going to post pictures of "my girls" probably didn't come out the way I meant it. You all know I'm talking about pictures of the little girls I feel in love with and not... uh... uh.... you know, THE girls... like... uh... the name of that place where people swear they go just because the hot wings are supposedly fantabulous.

Okay... so, uh.. yeah, let's get back to the point....

Michael is the sole reason I'd planned on going to India. Michael is mostly nonverbal and has autism and Sarah wanted to see if I could do RPM (the therapy we do with Noah) with him. And, of course, I was dying to meet Sarah and see her kids.

And then I get to India... and completely fall apart.

I wasn't prepared for how meeting Michael in person would affect me. That first day all I could think about was how much he reminded me of Noah.

I mean, here I was.... I just waltzed right in with my box of tricks (therapy stuff) thinking I would bring Michael all this "stuff" and work with him and show everyone how smart he is and just... I don't know... ride in there on my white horse and save the day.

Nevermind the fact that it has taken SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS of intensive intervention to get Noah where he is today (and he's still considered severe). And nevermind that Noah lives in a house where his toys and therapy equipment sit out 24/7 for him to use anytime he wants. And nevermind that Noah has a mom who is willing to fight to the death to get him the help he needs.

I was so full of myself and honestly thought I could make a difference in just a few days. What was I thinking?

It was very humbling.

Anyway, the reality is that Michael lives with about 17 other boys and the therapy toys that I brought him can't sit out 24/7 because they'd get broken. Because 17 other children would want to play with them. And because one of the boys at the Angel Home literally takes anything and everything and throws it on the roof.

They have to keep things locked up.

So, Michael wouldn't have access to the stuff I brought. And he wouldn't have constant access to the swing we bought. And there's really not anyone there to do hours upon hours of 1:1 therapy with him because, really, the only person who would advocate for him like that is a mom.

And Michael doesn't have a mom.

And when all those realizations hit me... I just crumbled.

And I told Sarah that I wouldn't be able to work with him while I was there because I couldn't emotionally handle it.

Really nice of me, huh?

In the end, I sucked it up and gave it a try. They brought Michael in from the Boy's Home and I was able to spend a few hours with him... and you know what my biggest regret is? That I didn't spend the whole week with him.

He is fantastic.

Man, I just cannot being to tell you what an amazing boy he is. Now, the RPM therapy that I did basically flatlined b/c 1) I don't speak Telegu and 2) I did everything wrong by showing him all the toys first... which, of course, he didn't want to put down to do academic work.

But he did make a few choices and the point is that I was able to just be with him for awhile.

He loves to be picked up and spun around and around. Oh my, he has the most infectious laugh! And he just seemed - to me at least - really happy to have someone pay attention to him. Kids with autism are so easy to be ignored because they're often content being on their own - and I'm not implying by any means that he's ignored at Sarah's - but he just, I don't know, seemed so happy.

And he remembered me the next day! I have a video of him sitting still and then suddenly rocking back and forth with excitement when I start talking to him.

Really, ya'll, he is awesome. He's so much higher functioning than Noah. And I got him to say a few English words that Sarah's never heard him say before! I really and truly believe that he would be high-functioning and verbal if he was worked with 1:1.

He has sooooooooo much potential.

I definitely plan on going back sometime and can't wait to work with him... properly, this time!

And as far as me thinking that I couldn't make a difference, well, the house sister at the Angel Home saw me with Michael and is now going to set time aside each day for him to swing in the swing and play with some of the spinning toys and do some of the exercises I showed her.

I am so glad I let go of my ego and just worked with him. It wasn't great and I probably looked like I didn't know what I was even doing.....but his house sister saw something out of it that got her excited.... and praise God, that's what really matters.

Here's a video of Michael when we put him the hammock swing that we bought with everyone's donations. To say he had a blast is an understatement... :)


Monday, January 25, 2010

India Pictures are Up on Facebook

One thing I really detest is uploading photos to Blogger. It takes forever - and, though, I'm sure there's an easier way to go about it, it's so cumbersome. My plan is to eventually do a slideshow put to music and post it on Youtube and this blog. It will take a week or two before I get that together.

In the meantime, if you want to view the photos in my album on Facebook - but aren't friends with me on FB - please email me at recoveringnoah@yahoo.com with your name as it appears on FB and I'll add you.

I'll try to add more videos and do more blog entries this week.



Sunday, January 24, 2010

We will soon resume our regularly scheduled blogging

Just wanted to write a quick post and ask everyone (you know, all five of you out there) to please bear with me while I'm adjusting to being back home. I'm suffering from horrible jetlag and just can't seem to get it under control. I've been up since 1:00 this morning (it's now 6:00) and I'll soon be headed to bed.

Thank goodness I've been blessed with a fabulous hubby who puts up with it. But he goes back to work tomorrow and I dread to think of the state I'll be in.

Anyway, I live in a house with extremely light sleepers, so the clicking of a keyboard in the middle of the night just won't do.

As soon as things return to normal (i.e. as soon as I quit keeping vampire hours), I'll post more videos and pictures and thoughts and such.

Just wanted to explain the lack of posting on here since I got back.

Had a fantastic time. Sooooo much to sort out, but am looking forward to getting back into a regular routine on Monday morning. Right now, I just sort of mope around the house in a half state of extreme tiredness and depression. The trip to Sarah's was my life for the last year and it's hard to figure out what to do now that it's over. Although, realistically, I know it's just the beginning.... especially seeing that Sim plans to make a trip over this year and I've already had people emailing me asking if we'd plan another group trip. It is very hard, though, to get back to "normal" when all I can think about is those precious children halfway around the world.

Please don't take that to mean that I've been neglecting my own kids... not at all. I'm glad to be back, but I definitely left a piece of my heart over there.

Okay, Nandi just wandered into the kitchen and needs some snuggles. And then it's off to bed.

Good morning everyone! And good night to me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Boys: Justin, Jasper, David, Nathan, & Noah (Video)

I'll be posting videos all weekend. Please scroll down to see if you've missed any videos that I may have already posted.

I love my boys!! They completely captured my heart... probably because I could see my little Noah in each of them. Whatever the reason may be, I am in love with each of them and wish I could just take them home with me and give them a family.

I did have some video of Joshua, but Nicky was in it and he was not feeling well and was crying, so I decided not to post it out of respect for him. I have to say, though, that Nicky is one of my favorite boys there. I see such potential in his eyes. I really do. Oh my gosh, my heart just swells thinking about him.

These videos are short, but I can't help but post them. If you read Sarah's blog (and if you don't... why not??) then you're already taken by the children, so these are for you. :-)

The little boy at the end of the above video opened up so much by the time we left. I finally got him to smile and laugh! And he came up to me with his arms up and then wrapped himself around me like a little spider monkey when I picked him up. He is a child that would absolutely flourish with attention and love from a family.

P.S. The courtyard in the video is about to be tiled thanks to the generous people who donated money to Sandwich. This will make it so much easy to wheel around wheelchairs and will allow the floor to be even so that the children won't fall and hurt themselves. I can't wait to see the pictures!

Isn't Noah the greatest? I never saw him without a smile on his face. He loves to be around people and would blossom in a family. He loves to be outside and watch all the activity around him.

Noah is one the children who can't walk, but can sit up if put in sitting position. He would benefit so much from a proper wheelchair designed for children with cerebral palsy. The majority of kids at SCH have CP - yet they only have one CP wheelchair. Please pray if it's on your heart to donate funds so that kids like Noah and Justin and Jasper and David and Nicky and Josh and so many others can sit outside and participate in activites while being properly supported. The plastic chairs they sit on are just not designed for children with poor motor control and they really need proper wheelchairs designed for children with cerebral palsy.

Jaron Videos

Well, we're back. We arrived back late Wednesday night and I've spent the last day and a half sleeping, recuperating, and trying to sort through the many, many emotions floating through my head.

I was afraid that I would forget the kids once I arrived back home and settled into my routine, but I've found it's impossible. They're all I think about. I'm not sure what God's plan is for our family in regard to Sarah and her kids - whether it's to go back short-term or move there long-term - or whether it's just to spread the word and try to get people to volunteer or send financial support - but all I know is that those children are firmly ingrained in my heart and are now a part of me.

And can you all please take a moment and think of my dear mother who most likely just had a heart attack in reading the above paragraph?? (Love you, Mom!)

I most likely won't post tons and tons of thoughts just yet because I barely seem able to make a coherent sentence right now. So, I'll just be posting lots of videos over the next few days when I can.

My kids HATE me being on the computer, so I'll post here and there. Right now, I have tons of videos to upload and that'll be the bulk of my blogging over the weekend.

Here are 3 videos of adorable Jaron that I wanted to share. If you don't know or remember his story, please read it HERE before you watch the videos.

And P.S., Sim is planning a trip to Sarah's for either the end of Spring or sometime in the Fall. He has to check the vacation schedule at work first. Do you know how lucky I am to have married a man who shares my passion for orphans with special needs? Of course, we never planned this path 13 years ago, but God knew, didn't he?? I am so excited that Sim is going to meet the kids and see Sarah's vision at work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Last Day in Ongole

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their sweet and inspiring comments on the blog post I wrote over the weekend. Ruth, I. Heart. You!!!! :-)

I would love to make this another long post, but the truth is that the only reason I was able to do that on Saturday was because I was literally in bed for about 24 hours and I borrowed Sandwich's laptop. The computer here at the internet "cafe" (lol - you really do need to see this place!) has a sticky keyboard and it's very hard to type... so this will be a short one and I'll save the long ones for when I return.

This is my last blog post until probably Thursday or Friday. Today, we run errands and I'm going with one of the ayahs to buy spinning toys for the kids with autism. I'm very excited. I was finally able to pull myself together yesterday and work with Michael! He is so smart and has loads of potential. I truly, truly believe he has the potential to be high functioning and verbal if he is worked with consistently. I love that little boy.

Tonight, we take the kids to the fair and I'm very excited. We're taking the ones that were in Sandwich and Rosebud's group all week. Christopher is in that group and I haven't even begun to tell you how crazy I am about him. Issac, too. More about that when I get home. (And, YES, I do love the little girls here, too. I'm not all about they boys. lol. Rachel is wonderful and don't get me started on how I just want to stow Victoria away in my suitcase...)

I also have TONS of pictures to post.

Regarding Jaron, he is in a different room from "my boys". But I will say I was very excited to see him. He has put on weight and all of his bed sores are gone! Praise God!!!! I also got to see his ayah feed him yesterday and she fed him exactly like a mother would... very delicate and gentle with love in her eyes. It is obvious that he holds a special place in her heart and he is LOVED here. Again, thank you Jesus!

I have to end this now. We leave for Hyderabad tomorrow and we're all very sad. But we will be taking several kids with us who need medical attention at the hospital, so we get to spend some more time with them which is good.

Please pray for our trip. Several of us have been sick, and honestly, I'm worried about the flight home and the 8 hour drive to Hyderabad with a kid on my lap. My stomach is still not right and I feel for everyone who has to sit next to me. (blush... snicker!)

Will write more when we get home. One more thing, I'm afraid this computer has a virus so if you get any weird emails from me or attachments, don't open them okay?

Praising God that He allowed me come on this trip and spread the word about Sarah's and the amazing children here. Will write more in a few days.

Check out Erin's blog for some pics: www.allrpreciousinhissight.blogspot.com

Leslie :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Happens Next

I’m laying here in bed in a hotel in the middle of Ongole, India with a raging case of Delhi Belly. Aren’t I just the luckiest girl?

Fortunately, Sandwich is letting me borrow her laptop while she and Rosebud work with their group of kids this morning. She thought it might be good for me to type out all the millions of thoughts that have been running through my head since we arrived.

I’m thinking that maybe it might be good to give everyone here a break from hearing those millions of thoughts every single time they turn around.

So, where do I begin?

Not too long ago, a well-known blogger went on a mission trip and I was so excited to see how it changed her life. I really enjoy her blog, but it seems so materialistic at times and I was really curious to see if it changed her in anyway.

I followed the blog everyday while she was gone and only rarely did she mention the poverty and the heartbreak that she saw. And it’s not been mentioned at all now that she’s returned.

And I’ve always thought about writing her and saying, “Did that trip change you at all? How do you cope? How do you see what you saw and go back to the life that you had?”

And that’s where I am right now. How do I go back home to my 24 hour Walmarts and my air-conditioned house and my anything-and-everything-that-I-could possibly want and forget about what I’ve seen here?

What do I do with my life now?

Sandwich said that if you have the money and resources and the available love then you adopt. If that’s not possible, then you cut back and change your lifestyle so that you can send financial support. But it may not be possible to do any of those things… and you should always remember and perhaps learn to accept the blessings that God has already given you because they are your true priority.

I am very blessed by my three children. But that doesn’t mean that I will stop thinking about the kids that I’m leaving behind. I have to find a really delicate balance where I can continue to function emotionally and physically when I get back home… but I don’t want to forget what I’ve seen.

Right now, every time I close my eyes, I see Nicky’s face. And David’s. And Jasper’s. And Sam’s. And I feel helpless because I know exactly what needs to be done to help them. I know the therapies and the exercises and the equipment…. But I feel powerless to help them. Because what they really need is a Mom.
These children need a Mom.

And, as a Mom, that breaks my heart.

There are 84 children here at Sarah’s. And they are all amazing, but there’s a group of 8 or so that have my captured my heart. Most people love little cute cuddly babies…. And believe me there are many here and I’ve been loving on them like crazy. But it’s the older boys… the ones that are 8 and 9 and 10 and 11 that have sent me to my knees.

I have fallen in love with Nicky. He just arrived and is around 8 or 9 years old. He has beautiful dark skin with these amazing eyes and straight teeth and beautiful smile. He was just recently abandoned but was obviously loved. He’s healthy looking and is not malnourished. His mom or his grandma or whoever watched him obviously loved him. And she or he loved him enough to leave him in a church, which is where he was found a few weeks ago.

I love that little boy! He has CP, but he doesn’t scissor his legs and he isn’t curled up at all. He just lays on his back all day and looks at the ceiling with those beautiful eyes. He knows when you enter the room and he will smile back at you if you smile at him. And he loves it when you blow raspberries in his hand. He giggles and reaches his hand to your mouth for more of them.

He knows what’s going on and he is very aware. He’s in there, you know? You can tell that he is very smart and all he needs is a home and a mom (or a dad) who will give him the love he so desperately deserves and needs. He’s smart! He could graduate from college. He could have a life. He needs a family.

I dreamt last night that that my mom smuggled him out of Sarah’s (smuggle is not the right word to use b/c Sarah’s is not a place that anyone needs to be smuggled out of), but I dreamt that she took him without telling anyone and I found her and Nicky at an amusement park. Nicky was in a special CP wheelchair and mom was feeding him those nasty orange peanut shaped marshmallow candies. And he had the happiest, most content look on his face because he knew that someone loved him.

How do I go home and forget about him?

How do I forget about Nathan and his beautiful dark eyes with the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a boy. He is crippled up with his head turned and his mouth slightly open, but you can tell that he’s gorgeous. He has fair, fair skin and the most beautiful hair. And he cries to be picked up and loves to go outside and sit in your lap. He nuzzles your neck with his open mouth and makes sucking movements and I joked to Sarah that that I’m going to return home with a hickey! Lol I would have to explain to my husband that it was given to me by the most gorgeous boy named Nathan-with-the-beautiful-eyes.
How do I go home and forget about him? How do I let my kids play outside and take them to the park when I know that Nathan is laying on his back and waiting for someone to pick him up and take him outside?

When I do therapy with Noah, how do I forget about Sam who desperately needs a sensory therapy program? Sam, who has cerebral palsy. Tiny little Sam who laughed the most delicious laugh when he was bounced and rolled on the exercise balls that Faye brought. Sam, who giggles with delight when you blow raspberries on his stomach. Sam, who loves to be tickled and picked up. How do I forget him?

And Justin? Lovely, beautiful Justin with the wavy hair and lopsided grin. Justin, who was 2 weeks away from walking until he had a devastating stroke a few months ago that left him flat on his back. Justin, whose bed is by the window and who feels sunshine on his face, but also hears the sounds of the kids playing outside. Justin, who cries a pitiful cry when you to try to take him back to his room after he’s been sitting outside in the fresh air.

And there’s Noah. And Jasper, who easily gets neglected from the attention , but who is very aware of what’s going on. And Joshua with his protruding tongue and bald head which lends the effect that he’s severely disabled with no cognitive awareness.
But it’s not true.

And I haven’t even begun to talk about Michael, who has autism and who broke my heart the first day. I still can’t talk about it without dissolving into tears. One day I’ll tell the story, but not now.

These boys need moms. They need families. They need love. And if they can’t have that then they need volunteers to come out. They need 84 volunteers – one for each child.

There are ayahs here, but their jobs are to feed and change and bathe the children. And that in itself is a full time job. There are two physical therapists, but they are divided between 44 children. There’s a teacher and early childhood specialist, but someone needs to be working with the kids nonstop. Someone needs to be stimulating the children nonstop.

They need YOU. Who out there is up for the challenge?

I am so grateful to Sarah… that God created her with a specific purpose and that she listened to His call. She didn’t have to. It’s a heartbreaking call. It really is. But she obeyed God’s plan for her life and she has rescued these children.

I know that in the adoption community it is not PC to say that you rescue or save a child, but I don’t care. These children have been rescued. They are clothed and fed and changed. The ones that are able have the opportunities for school. They receive needed therapies and surgeries. They receive proper nutrition and medical care.

They have been rescued.

But there’s still so much more that needs to be done. First of all, you need to come here to see the need. There are great things in place, but so much more that needs to be done. Getting them out of the govt home was the first step. But there are many more steps that need to be taken.

You need to come and see what needs to be done.

We also need to get equipment. The children are growing. The boys are heavy! (That’s a true testament to the fact that Sarah is making sure all their nutritional needs are being met).

There’s one CP wheelchair and they are not readily available in India. We need to find out how to purchase a container to ship. We need money to get through customs and tariffs, but it needs to be done. Off the top of my head, there need to be 30-40 pediatric cerebral palsy wheelchairs. We also need adaptive bicycles and trykes… exactly like the ones Noah and Nandi received for free through Ambucs.

Sarah needs standers so that the kids can strengthen their muscles and get off their backs. Anything and everything that can be associated with cerebral palsy is needed here.

We need a playground! We need more therapy swings with stands. You can buy them at First Monday and the stands cost more than the swings, but Victory Home has a lovely front courtyard that is about to be tiled (thanks to Sandwiche’s donations!!) and hammock swings would fit perfectly out there for the nonwalkers who need fresh air and stimulation. Little Sam would love it!

We need volunteers. (Have you noticed that I keep saying “we” as if I’m a part of SCH? Once you come here, you will feel a part of it and you will leave half your heart here).

We need lots and lots of volunteers to work 1:1 with the kids. There are two little blind girls that are part of the group that came last month. They are amazing! They blow me away with their potential. They need someone to come teach them Braille. They need things to provide with them with lots of stimulation. My mom took some basic kitchen sponges – the ones that are thick with yellow on one side and green on the other side – and covered them with lots of different types of material: fake fur, burlap, sequins, felt, etc. The blind girls loved it… they just kept rubbing the covered sponges all over their face and their arms. Then they’d take two different types of sponges, like burlap and fake fur, and rub one on their face and then the other to feel the texture. Then, one of the girls was told it was time to clean up and she packed up all the sponges and toys and put the lid back on the box. I mean, she did a better job than any of my children… and my kids can see!

In my opinion, we need to raise money so that Sarah can hire several people to give massages to the kids. These children need to be touched and not just for diaper changes, baths, and feeding.

We need to raise money for a sound system with speakers that can attach outside in the courtyard – if there is such a thing. The kids LOVE music, but the ayahs don’t play it. Theresa, the special educator out here, bought the ayahs a CD player, but they put it in the closet and don’t take it out. There needs to be a way that music can constantly be played outside or in the rooms to provide stimulation and help prevent boredom for the nonwalkers.

We need sponsors for the kids. It’s $150 a month, which I know is a lot, but you can even partially sponsor one of the kids for $75. There needs to be monthly financial contributions that can be relied on. There needs to be more homes and more ayahs and more teachers and therapists.

It WILL happen, but it can only happen if people are touched and moved and feel led to give.

Big sigh. I thought that by typing all this out that I’d be able to convey my feelings, but I’m sick – literally – and have to keep getting up every 10 minutes and then when I come back to type, I’m feeling all disjointed. Plus, I can’t help but be distracted by the Bollywood videos on TV. It never fails to amaze me that in such a conservative country that all the film stars cavort half-naked on television. It’s puzzling.

Anyway, I will end this. I know this post was all over the place. It was very cathartic, though, to be able to type it up and get some of my feelings out. I have to be very, very careful what I expose myself to because I feel things very, very deeply and can quite easily be consumed and overwhelmed from all the suffering and needs in the world.

So, like, I haven’t been able to think about the earthquake in Haiti because if I let my mind go there, I would probably not be able to get out of bed. I can’t allow myself to think of all the millions of orphans in the world because the situation is so huge that I will be swallowed by it. And I already feel completely broken by what I’ve seen here in Ongole.

It’s not that it’s bad – because it’s not. It’s because there are a select few that remind me so much of my Noah and my heart grieves for those little boys who weren’t given a chance when they were little – Sam and Nicky and David and Joshua and Justin and Thomas and Noah and Nathan and Jasper – children who need mommies so desperately. And it kills me to know that I’m leaving them behind. They are in safe hands at Sarah’s, but they have so much potential that won’t be tapped into unless they have 1:1 care or a family willing to step forward and say, “That’s my son! Let’s bring him home”.

Okay, enough of this right? Many, many more thoughts racing through my head. But let me leave with this: pray about how you can help. Sarah’s is one of hundreds if not thousands of organizations that exist to help orphans worldwide. Just pray about how you can help someone even if it’s not Sarah’s.

We all have the capability to make a difference in this world. We just have to figure out our calling. And respond.

And for me… the biggest question is what do I do now? What happens when I wake up in my own bed on Thursday morning? What happens on Friday? And Saturday when my routine returns to normal? When I know that halfway around the world my little Nicky and my little David and my little Nathan are lying on their backs waiting for love?

I’ll settle back into my routine and my time will be consumed by three little children who miss me so much. Three little kids who are the light of my life. Three little ones who have serious physical and emotional needs that need to be met. Three little sweeties who need the attention and love and availability of their mother.

But will happen when I close my eyes? Will I see the faces of the ones that are left behind?

How do you continue living the life you lived when you know what’s waiting on the other side of the world? Even if you’re not able to adopt or can’t afford to sponsor or already have hands that are way too full. What happens next?

What do I do now?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Admitting Blogging Defeat

Okay, you're just going to have to go to Sandwiche's blog to find out what's happening. We have about 15 minutes in the morning to get on email (between the time the Internet place opens and we leave for SCH) and I just can't get it all in. My mornings are spent emailing my husband telling him I miss him and emailing my parents and assuring them that, no, I have not decided to move here. LOL. Parents, eh??

Although the thought has crossed my mind. Many times...

Anyway, Sandwich brought her laptop and is able to type up blog posts in Word and then copy them to her blog in the morning which is how she's able to keep every one so up to date.

So please go to her blog to see what we've been up to. I promise to email more when we get back.

Just an FYI to our church buddies... we have an amazing team here. The teens are doing great. I am just floored by how everyone is adjusting. The only tears have been mine! We were truly, truly blessed with our team. We all get along and we're all supporting each other and it's amazing to watch the teens just jump in there and love on the kids.

P.S. Nikki, if you're reading this, COME HERE! You will never regret it. It's also very financially doable. We'll talk more when I get home... got lots of info for you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Ongole!

We made it! Hope you've been reading Sandwiche's blog (www.blessingssandwich.blogspot.com). She's been giving all the details. I've been very emotional since meeting the boys at the boy's home and can't really formulate thoughts right now. But when I do, watch out. It'll be a watershed!

Sandwich and I have joked that everyone needs to go to her blog for the facts and my blog (when I do eventually blog) because mine will have all the emotional content. Everyone knows I live and breathe through my emotions... and India is a very emotional place.

India with adorable little orphans who melt your heart is even more emotional.

India with adorable little orphans who have autism and who melt your heart is.... uh oh, here comes the tears...

For our church group, we're all okay. Everyone is doing great. I'm actually the only one who's had a breakdown... and out of the TX group, I'm the only one who's been before. The newbies are handling it great! lol

Off to Victory Home today. 66 kids!!! Oh my. I cried for 5 hours (s'rsly!) last night over 18 boys. What will today bring???!!!

I need to end this b/c we're about to leave. But I will leave with these parting words. Get your butt over to Sarah's Covenant Homes. They NEED volunteers. It will change your life. Even if you're here for only a few days.

It will break you.... but it is worth it.

Lots and lots and lots of thoughts to post when I get a chance.

Do me a favor when you get off the computer. If you have kids... go give them a hug. Hug them up and squeeze them and just tell them how much you love them. Not every child gets to hear that. Call your mom and dad and tell them you love them and thank them for all they've done for you. Realize how lucky you are to have a family.....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On Our Way to Ongole

Hey there! Guess what time it is? It's 5:15 in the morning. Who needs to get off her butt and jump in the shower and get ready to leave for India in an hour? Me!

Just call me Last Minute Leslie.

I just finished handwriting 10 letters to the kids, one for each day that I'm gone and feel like I've written 10 short stories. I'm getting all emotional. I'm going to miss my kids so much!! It just feels differently leaving this time, knowing that I've got three little ones at home. The good thing is that Sim will be home for two weeks and he's, you know, the "Fun Parent". I came home the other day and found him with one end of our balance beam (it sets about a foot off the ground) raised up onto one of our kitchen chairs which just happened to be sitting on top of our coffee table. I walked in and found Nandi literally touching the ceiling!

For those of you who are local, please check in on my kids now and then and make sure there aren't any broken bones. Sim is, uh, quite the adventurer. If I come back and find out that all three have newly purchased unicycles, I might just collapse on the floor. (Lol - Love you Sim!)

Well, I know that I promised that I'd write about all the things we bought with your donations and I feel a bit like scum for not doing that yet. Please don't think I don't appreciate your donations, because I do. You all have helped contribute 8 new beds with mattresses, blankets, sheets, and pillows to Sarah's Covenant Homes. You've helped buy the complete... and I mean, the full-on complete, mega collection of Signing Time DVDS, books, CDs, and flashcards (a whopping $750 value that we got for $250 on Ebay!!). You've helped buy Boardmaker Plus... which is invaluable for PECS, 10 chewy tubes for sensory issues, three therapy swings, books and supplies for speech therapy, a complete ABA program for the kiddoes with autism, bean bags, and cones. Oh my gosh, there's so much but I can't even think right now. Let me just put it this way. We're taking 16 bags of fully stuffed suitcases and duffles that are jampacked with donations! And that doesn't count the 8 bags that the volunteers we're meeting up in Newark are taking. Wow!

I can promise that I'll take LOADS of pictures. I want you to see your donations in action. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

Also, I can't end this without giving a big shout out to my brother and his youth group in Balzora Springs. They spent all New Year's Eve making blankets for the kids at Sarah's Covenant Homes. And let me tell you, they are beautiful!! Thank you Mark, Beth, Jessica and everyone in the youth group. We love you guys!

Oh, and one more thing. Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my blog post about Noah saying "I Love You". Wow, I didn't know that many people read this blog! And the funny thing is... some of you lurkers... well, I actually lurk on your blogs! Small world, eh. :-)

Okay, this post isn't coming out how I wanted. Probably because subconsciously I know that I need to get off and jump in the shower. I have to leave for the church in 30 minutes!!! Yikes!

Be sure to check my blog while I'm gone. I'll update while I can. Also, my friend Sandwich is going on the trip, too, and she's been blogging about the trip for awhile: http://www.blessingssandwich.blogspot.com/ She's also taking her laptop, so she might be able to update more frequently.

Thanks again! Be back soon!

Leslie :-)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Noah said, "I love you, Mom"!!!


I can't believe it!!!

I walked by him sitting at the table and kissed him on the head and said, "Have I told you this morning how much I love you?"

And he said, "Iduvumum"

Of course, I was stunned. And I said, "Noah, did you just say, "I love you mom? Yes or No?"

And he said, "Esssss"


Of course I cried. And called Sim. And called my mom. And Noah was so pleased with himself that he took me by the hand and led me straight to the TV so that he could watch an Elmo video. I guess he thought, "Hey, I told you I love you, so now I get a freebie."

This officially goes down in history as the best day of my life. (Doing carthwheels and happy dances and thanking Jesus).


Friday, January 01, 2010

Noah on Christmas Morning (Video)

If you haven't read today's earlier post, Noah asked for a globe for Christmas... on Christmas Eve, nonetheless. Santa nearly had a panic attack but managed to pull through in the end.

Oh, and Sarah, if you're reading this, Santa left two extra swings (like the one in the video) for us to take to India. I would like to thank Santa's elves (blog readers) for making it possible to buy two swings to take to India (by purchasing raffle tickets. In fact, I'll be doing a blog post next week on what your donations were able to buy).

P.S. I have no idea why my voice is so high in the video. It's the voice I reserve for puppies and babies.... which might explain why so very few babies like me and the little Yorkie puppy I was playing with earlier today bit me on the nose.

But, more importantly, check out the mile wide smile on Noah's face when he gets in the swing. It's worth enduring my voice for....

On the 12th Day of Giving... and the Best Christmas Ever

Sorry I haven't been blogging lately... I've been spending a lot of time with my older son who is now... BABBLING!!

Remember how I told ya'll that a few years ago I believe God told me that Noah would start talking around 8 or 9 years old?? Well, babbling's the first step, right??


So, let me tell you what we did for the 12th Day of Giving. We gave Noah the gift of normalcy.

You see, for the last 7 1/2 years, I've babied Noah. Some for good reason (he still relies on me to meet most of his basic needs like dressing, changing, bathing, etc), some for selfish reasons (while my other "babies" were getting bigger, it was nice to know that I could still cuddle and rock Noah and baby him) and then some reasons were purely because I'm lazy (it's easier to carry a child than have him throw himself on the floor in the middle of a parking lot and refuse to move).

But on Christmas Eve, we decided that we had to do something about it.... and the main reason was because Noah had started biting me. I mean, he's a pure sweetheart, but he's totally nonverbal and he gets frustrated.... and he started to take it out on me.

Now, I'm used to being bit. Nandi is the queen of biting (although she's getting much better), but Noah. Oh my word. He is strong. His bites hurt so bad that I thought for sure he's part Kujo. And so you know what we did? We put his hiney in time out.

Time Out.

I made him sit in the Time Out chair while I kneeled in front of him so that he wouldn't move and he stayed there the entire time.

Of course, I'm a wimp and it was only for 2 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime because, you see, Noah has never been in time out before. Ever.

He's my baby.

But Sim and I both noticed that Noah actually seemed relieved to be treated like a normal kid.

Isn't that amazing? He was actually glad that we gave him a consequence for biting me. And you know what? He hasn't bit me since.

He just wanted to be treated like any normal child.

So, we decided right then and there that we are going to give Noah the gift of normalcy. We are going to do our best to give him a normal childhood and help him learn to do things on his own. It's not going to happen overnight, but we are going to work towards it.

And the first thing we did... on Christmas Eve... was have Noah write a letter to Santa. Because most kids write letters to Santa, right? See, Nandi and Eli wrote letters a few weeks ago. Sim says in England that you write a letter to Santa and then throw it in the fire and that's how it reaches the North Pole (not sure if that's what all households in England do, but Sim grew up doing it) and so N & E wrote their letters and Sim burned them awhile ago. But we never did one with Noah.

So, I sat down and did RPM with Noah (where he makes choices and spells by pointing to a letterboad). And this is what Noah's letter to Santa said. Seriously. No, really. Seriously.

Yo! Wassup? I would like a G-L-O-B. Love, Noah

Isn't that hysterical? No Dear Santa. No Hello, Father Christmas! But Yo! Wassup?

And, uh, yeah I do homeschool him. What of it? ;-)

Anyway, of course I panicked because it was Christmas Eve and turns out all Noah wanted was a globe that he could spin (never mind that he already had 3 of them in his room that he'd already broken). The boy wanted a globe and I was determined to spend our entire retirement in finding him one at such a late date. Thankfully my parents (who sell things at First Monday) had one and we picked it up and put it under the Christmas tree in the wee hours of the night.

I have a video of him on Christmas morning and I'll try to upload that later today or tomorrow.

So, this blog post is getting really long winded and boring and I'm not even nearly through. So let me condense it and say that since we've started requiring things from Noah (making him do things himself, making him utter a sound in order to get a toy or watch a video) he is actually starting to babble. Oh my gosh, it's beautiful! And he babbles in crescendo. Really! It's amazing.

He also has the best eye contact and is really wanting to hang out with us more. Wherever we are in the house, he wants to be near us. And this is the first Christmas that he was actually interested in his presents. He didn't open them himself, but he sat in our lap and was very interested in what we were unwrapping. And he played with his toys this year!

That, plus just letting go of expectations and keeping Christmas really simple, well, it was the best Christmas ever. It really, really was.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, too!