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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer Break Catch Up

Well, it's Memorial Day and I'm sitting here by the pool while the kids are splashing around.

That probably sounds really nice and relaxing, but the truth is that the pool is a little $15 thing we bought at Walmart and I'm sitting in a garage sale lawn chair and sweating like a pig who's just realized it's about to get stuck on a spit and roasted.

Ewwwww.... that's not a very good visual, is it?

Anyway, Nandi and Noah are out playing in the pool while Eli - who is currently shunning anything that involves being outside in 98 degree temperature (no doubt about it, he's my son) - is inside driving Sim crazy.

And I'm sitting here watching three ducks giving my kids the stink eye because they think that anything involving water is their territory.

It kind of amuses me that there's a huge 'ol lake right across the street and I end up having to shoo ducks away from our plastic swimming pool every evening.

Well, the purpose of this post is to play a bit of catch-up. I honestly don't know where the time is going. I end up spending just a tiny fraction of my day on the computer, yet I still can't manage to get anything done. How on earth did I ever accomplish anything when I was on the computer all day?. Father Time is disappearing before my eyes.

So, anyway, here's a little update on the fam:

1. Eli is officially a 1st grader! My gosh, he actually made it. I'm so proud of him. It was a very, very difficult year - probably the most difficult year - emotionally - that we've ever been through (and that includes the years we had an autism diagnosis and a RAD diagnosis - so you know it must've been tough). The school continued to have to pull Eli out of the van each morning at least a couple of times a week. Homework was hell. Sorry, can't pretty that up and make it sound any better than that. It was hell. But he made it.

And you know what he did when we drove away from school on Friday afternoon? He cried because he was going to miss it so much. I had no choice but to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Anyway, he made one good friend, participated in the talent show(!!! He told dinosaur jokes) and he's learning to read. So it's good. We'll see what the summer brings, but right now, I do have plans to put him in 1st grade next year. (I'll tell that story and the reasons behind it later). Which brings me to...

2. Nandi! She's officially a kindergartner now. She is doing soooo good. She was voted Most Improved girl of her class and she can't wait to start school. Life can be tough with Nandi, but she has a real thirst for learning and it's exciting to see that. She would "play school" with me all day and everyday if I would let her.

Nandi's been having some spacing out issues and her doctor thinks she's having seizures. Her first EEG didn't show anything, so they sedated her and ran another one last week. Basically they got her good and drunk and saw a side they'd never seen before. (hee hee). Boy, was she ticked. She refused to go to sleep and got really violent. Finally, after 1 1/2 hours (!!), she crashed and they were able to run the test. They found a spot that they couldn't figure out, so she's going back for another one on Thursday.

That'll be Thursday at 7:30 in the morning. So remember us please. I swore last week that I'd never do it again, but whadya do? Praying everything comes back normal. I know nothing about seizures. It's a language I don't speak, and I think we already speak too many languages, you know?

3. Noah's doing good. He's glad the hot weather is here so that he can do his favorite thing in the world.... open his eyes wide and stick his head in the water. During the winter months, we actually have to hide the dog water because he'll just bend over and stick his little face right in it. So, with summer here, he knows he's guaranteed to get his water fix at least once in the morning and once in the evening.

Noah is doing good. Kind of the same. Every once in a while we see little gleams of progress. Today, Sim and I were on the couch and Noah just came in and scooted his little tush right between us. That was nice.... it's nice when his brain connects with his body and he's able to do things that are more typical for a child. We're seeing a few more of these brain/body connections. The other day we forgot his stroller at the Dallas World Aquarium and he was forced to walk. Oh my, he did so good! We were all amazed. He did, though, manage to steal some guys lemonade slush and he kept caressing some blonde lady's bottom, but Sim said I had to forgive him for that because he'd of done the same thing if he could have gotten away with it.

It was pretty funny, though, because the lady kept turning around and glaring at the guy behind her and never even once noticed that it was the cute little boy standing catty corner to her. heehee

4. Sim is back from his India/England trip. He really enjoyed it, although I don't think he cried once, which makes me think that either he's really insensitive or I need to go on a good antidepressant. He had a brilliant time and I think it was really good for him to get away on his own for a while. Our lifestyle can be rather hectic and stressful and we're not in a position to take vacations away together, so I was really happy that he was able to have a bit of an adventure and get away for a couple of weeks.

After India, he hung with his parents in London for a few days and met up with his best mate, Olly. They've been best friends for nearly 30 years and I so admire their friendship. It's one of those where you can go a whole year without talking and then meet up and it's just like yesterday. He is very blessed with a core group of friends in England and is looking forward for their big reunion next year when everyone's going to gather at Olly's place in Wales to celebrate their 40th birthdays. I'll have to stay behind, but he'll take Nandi with him (it's her turn to meet the family) and I'll get to watch all the chick flicks I couldn't watch all year, so it's a win/win situation. ;-)

5. As for me, I'm looking forward to this summer. It's going to be a cheap one as we're completely broke. I was forced to buy spaghetti sauce in a can this morning during my weekly Walmart shop and if you know how much of an organic food snob I am then you can appreciate my misery. I also had to buy storebrand milk and cheap white bread.... so if you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks it's probably because I've sprouted 3 extra arms and developed some sort of unknown intestinal illness.

Oh, I kid.

But I did draw the line at storebrand eggs because I watched Food, Inc a couple of months ago and a tear still trails down my face when I think of that chicken farmer. My $3.48's for you, dude!

We don't have a lot of plans this summer. The kids will be doing swim lessons with Miss Stephanie next week and I'm going to watch my beautiful niece, Alaina, for a couple of days in July. Our 14th wedding anniversary is next Tuesday and while I wanted to go see Wicked, I think we'll probably end up going to a matinee showing of Iron Man 2 and splitting a meal at Chili's.

Cheap and romantic. That's how we keep the flame alive.

Eli is driving us crazy with his incessant begging to go to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, which really is nothing more than a creek with big rocks that snakes hide under and a couple of statues of dinosaurs, but he finally wore us down and we'll go when Alaina comes in July.

Hottest time of the year. I'm already bracing myself for the crying and whining... and that's just me. I shutter to think how miserable Mr. It's-Too-Hot-Outside!! is going to be.

We're headed to Austin for 4 days at the end of July. Noah will do his RPM camp at HALO and then we're headed to Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio for a day. It's the world's only fully accessible fun park for kids and adults with special needs. It's totally free for the kids and 5 bucks for us. Pack a cooler of drinks and some PB&J and we've got ourselves a cheap day out.

We've also got a Gotcha Day coming up (Eli's in June) and two birthdays (mine and Sim's in August) and a load of school shopping to do (I'm trying to decide if the kids really need new clothes or if they can somehow make highwaters come back in fashion) and that's our summer.

Oh, and well, we're gonna have to do some homeschooling in there, too. I'm doing Handwriting without Tears with Eli and Nandi this summer... and since handwriting is synonymous with tears in Eli's world, I'm really hoping it delivers the goods.

And I think that's it. Nothing too exciting.

Okay, gotta go. Noah is drinking out of the water hose and I have visions of snakes living in that thing and getting in his throat.

I have a very active imagination.

Did ya'll ever see the Buffy episode where a snake comes out of Willow's mouth? Gross!! Oh, and that reminds me.....my brother was wearing this super awesome shirt at Alaina's birthday party the other day. It said...

"... and then Buffy staked Edward. The end."

I got a good laugh out of that one.

Of course, my 13 year old niece was like, "Who's Buffy?" and my 58 year old mom was like, "Who's Edward?"

Have a great summer!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ongole is Underwater

Please pray for the staff and children at Sarah's Covenant Homes in Ongole, India. They were hit by a cyclone and there's a lot of devastation. You can read more about it online or you can read Nikki's personal account HERE on her blog.

Please also remember Genie and Linda who are two volunteers from our church that our volunteering at SCH. Linda is a nurse who went to SCH to train the staff in emergency medical procedures, and Genie is a wonderful lady, who at 64, said she finally discovered her passion in life... helping the orphaned and special needs children of India.

As far as I know, power is out across Ongole and it's impossible to reach SCH. Nikki mentioned on Facebook (just before her computer battery went out) that they were unable to make it to the children's home today and will have to try again after the floods subside.

Many people are left homeless now. No word on how the boys at Angel Home are doing. It's half a mile from the coast.

Please remember the people of Ongole, our volunteers, and the kids at SCH.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Baby Got Book

I love parodies. They crack me up. And, apparently, I'm one of the only people who hasn't seen the Bible video below called "Baby Got Book". It's a different take on the "Baby Got Back" song... which, I admit, I still turn up full blast when it comes on the radio.

When Noah was little, I made up a parody called "Baby Got Flax" and it was all about fruits and veggies and wholefoods. But, uh, no... my rapping skills are pretty scary so there is definitely no video coming your way.

So enjoy this one below. It's cute.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Noah's Waited A Whole Year For This Day...

That's right! Anoop's debut album hits iTunes today! Whoo hoo! Party at Noah's house!

If you've just found this blog then you may not know that our little boy, Noah, has autism and is nonverbal. And kids with autism - as a general rule - aren't that interested in a lot of things. Noah, especially, likes to spend most of his days sitting on his bed spinning the wheels to toy cars or outside swinging on a swing.

He may watch Elmo videos, but he doesn't watch TV or anything outside of Sesame Street.

He likes music, but only music that he listened to as a baby... like The Wiggles "Yummy Yummy" and They Might Be Giants.

So, imagine our surprise last year when the American Idol season started and Noah ran to the TV all excited when a contestant named Anoop Desai appeared on screen and started to sing.

I mean Noah went nuts. He was glued to the T.V. and would hop up and down and clap his hands and get all excited. When Anoop would sing a ballad, Noah would calm down and just gaze at the T.V transfixed - and if Anoop got a negative review, Noah would leave the room. It was amazing to watch... amazing to see that this college kid from North Carolina could wake Noah up from a deep autism slumber once a week for 5 or 10 minutes. We lived for Tuesday nights.

Eventually, Anoop got voted off, so we made a CD of all the songs he sang on the show and Noah loved it. All three kids loved it. All of their favorite Anoop songs on one CD. Perfect.

Well, fast forward to a year later... and BAM! Anoop has released his very first CD as a solo artist.

And you know what? It's pretty darn good. I mean, really good. As in, go to iTunes and download that baby right now!

Listen, I'm not going to lie. I don't really like R&B and Pop. I'm not sure if that's the genre that this album falls into because basically, in my mind, music categories fall into Christian, Country, 80's rock, 90's Britpop (as in British.. NOT Britney), David Cook (muy caliente!), The Best Band Ever: U2 and a final category called "Why would anyone want to listen to anything else?"

BUT... I really like this. It's catchy and I found myself doing a little shoulder shimmy and shake to practically every song. I mean, it's worth checking out. Although the first song has the word "Da*m" in it.... which I don't really like my kids hearing. I guess the words "Gosh darn it" or "Golly geez whiz" didn't really fit into the melody. But all's forgiven, Anoop, because you have put out a really awesome album. Plus, you just look so darn cute on the cover!

Isn't that what every 20 something up and coming R&B artist wants to hear? That some mom just wants to pinch his cheeks and go, 'Oh, look at you, sweetie. Lookin' so cute on that cover. You're so grown up now. Yes you are!"

Really adds a lot of street cred, doesn't it?

But seriously, it's a great album - and Noah loves it!

When the single "My Name" came out on iTunes a few weeks ago, we downloaded it and the first time we played it, Noah came running in from outside, stopped right in the middle of the living room, and froze. He had this look on his face like, "I know that voice! I know that voice! I don't know the song, but I know that voice!". Ever since then, whenever we play it (and it is a catchy little number, let me tell ya), he now runs to the CD player and hops up and down and spins around and I swear he's dancing.

And he's done the same thing with the full album. Right now, no matter what he's doing, he freezes and strains his ear to the stereo and just sits still until the whole CD finishes. So. Incredibly. Awesome. to. Watch.

So, a big shout-out to this man right here below:

Your CD has obviously passed the "Noah Test". Two thumbs up. 5 stars. No doubt about it, you rock! Or is that you "R&B"? Heck, I don't know. But you did a great job.

P.S. You can order the CD or preview it by going to iTunes and search for "Anoop Desai". Or you can just go straight to his official site HERE .

P.P.S. Here's the very first time Noah saw Anoop perform on AI last year. Been a huge fan ever since:

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Flowers that Last

Okay, I would be really remiss if I didn't mention this super-duper Mother's Day fundraiser going on over at Sarah's Covenant Homes.

Wait! Don't click off. Don't let your eyes glaze over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm talking about India. Again. For the gazillionth time. But ya'll, it's my passion. Plus, my kids totally helped out with this one.... and surely some of you have some compassion and admiration for me doing crafts that involve tiny glue dots and rhinestones with a child who has RAD.

I mean, seriously, do ya'll know how many rhinestones and sequins and glitter stickers accidentally got knocked off the table, stepped on, and ground into the floor during the making?

Enough that surely you'll want to whip out $10 and say "God bless this woman's soul! I wouldn't even attempt that with my own child. "

Oh. Wait. You mean the "take pity on me" route's not working? You're not moved yet? Hmmm... different tactic.

Okay, how about this? How about instead of giving your mom flowers for mother's day.. flowers that are just going to wilt and die and drop their petals all over the floor - that you know your mom is gonna have to clean up anyway - why don't you give her flowers that last?

And this is where my kids come in. You see, they spent a lot of time putting together these cute flowers that my husband took to India (did you know he's in India right now? Probably not b/c I've been too busy having a child induced nervous breakdown to blog about it). And these flowers were given to Sarah who is going to pass them on to Nikki from Blogs for a Cause (and who just arrived in India today) and she, in turn, is going to take some really cute pictures of SCH kids holding these flowers - with messages written on them - so that you can send them to your mother or your friend or your sister or your aunt or your teacher or just any woman who's made a difference in your life - and they'll receive an email on Mother's Day with an explanation that a donation was made in their name to buy life saving emergency medical equipment for SCH.

But the best part is that they'll also receive a picture of one of Sarah's kids holding one of the flowers that my kids made with a personal message coming from YOU.

It'll look a bit like this:

Or this:

Except that it'll be one of the SCH kids and the flower will have your message on it. I mean, you can write anything on them. Sarah has some great examples on her blog post HERE.

I admit... I'm sending one to myself of Michael, the little boy with autism at Sarah's, and it's going to be a picture of him holding a flower saying, "God has a purpose for my life.". And I very nearly sent one to myself with a child holding a picture saying, "Never, ever, ever forget."

These pictures will be printed out, laminated and stuck to my fridge as a reminder of my time in India and how much these children touched my heart and changed my life.

But really, you can have it say anything. And if anyone wants to send one to me that says, "Go ahead and eat that chocolate bar. You look fabulous and no one cares." , well, hey... I'm not stopping ya! ;-)

Seriously, though, it's $10 and it goes to a great cause. Did you read Sarah's post about Evelyn's death? NO ONE was at the hospital! A hospital without doctors. Unimaginable in our country. And if some of the emergency medical equipment had been available at Sarah's, then Evelyn would probably still be here. Do me a favor and read that blog post. It's heartwrenching and Sarah did her best to save Evelyn's life.

A friend from church is going to India in 2 weeks and bringing a nurse with her. If we can raise enough money to buy some of the equipment then Sarah and her staff can be trained on it while the nurse is there.

Just think about it, okay?

And before you click off, don't forget... Nandi made most of these flowers. Have ya'll forgotten how creative she is? Let me remind you....

Yes, it's the Jesus Meet Vegas cross that Nandi did for Easter last year.

I mean this girl has Bedazzle It! written all over her. So you can only imagine the different flower combos that she came up with.

And if you're lucky, you might even get a picture of the orange rhintestone gemmed one that just screams Late Elvis meets 1980's Dolly Parton.

It's worth $10 to receive a picture of the flower that very nearly pushed me over the edge.

And the reason our puppy pooped rhinestones for a week.

Click on the flower button at the top of this post for more details (of the fundraiser and how to go about it... not the details of my puppy!)