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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

GIven Much

We're on vacation right now and, boy, do I have a lot to blog about!! Whether I actually get around to it is another matter. I really should just do another video blog (or vlog as the cool kids call it), but seeing that my last one was, like, 30 minutes of pure ramble, I think I'll give it a pass.

Right now, we're in the hotel room and I'm watching Noah's face as Sim tries to feed him french fries dipped in Marmite. Sooooo gross. And such a British thing. Of course, Noah's favorite way of eating french fries is to dip them in water and get them all soggy.... which isn't much better if you ask me.

Anyway, my friend Chantelle wrote a fabulous blog today that I totally could've written myself. Except I didn't. And she did such a good job of it, I thought I'd send ya'll her way. You can read it here http://this-little-life-of-mine.blogspot.com/2010/07/im-super-mom.html.

She's a speakin' my language!

Tomorrow, we head out to Gonzalez, TX to see the fabulous Christine from Welcome to My Brain. She's like medicine to my soul. A wonderful RAD guru who sees me for free.

Don't get better than that!

Anyway, we're about to head to a museum. It is sooooooooo stinkin' hot in Texas that doing anything outside is a nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares, it's not really a vacation when you take kids along is it? I mean, I cannot tell you how many times we heard "Are we there yet?" on the measly 3 1/2 hour drive down here. Or "I'm bored!" "I wanna go home!" "She breathed on me!" "He keeps kicking the seat!" yada yada yada

I'm more worn out than before we left. And while I actually - gasp - kept up with my exercises while on our trip (yay for the hotel fitness room!), I totally counteracted it by dousing my stress in Sonic Sundaes and food from Curry in a Hurry.

Okay, enough about that. Sim's giving me the stink eye - which is code speak for "Get off the computer. We're on vacation!".


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Day My Vanity Turned Me Into A Giraffe

This post kind of goes along with Courtney over at Storing Up Treasures. She's challenging everyone to take off the warpaint and show our faces in all our God given glory... warts and all.

The first picture was taken right after I washed my face this morning. I admit that the headband is hiding all the gray hair in my bangs. I've been repeatedly called out on all the gray that I have. I'm sure me and Ms. Clairol need to make a date real soon. This weekend perhaps?

Anyway, Eli took the second picture. I'm wearing the shirt I slept in last night. Can you read it? It says "Mrs. Darcy" on the front. And don't worry, I don't think my husband cares one bit that I go to bed wearing a shirt that says "Mrs. Darcy" on it. He's just thankful that I finally stopped wearing the one that had a blow-up photo of Mr. Bean on the front.

True story.

And, besides, I think his heart went a little pitter-patter, too, when Colin Firth emerged from the fountain in Pride & Prejudice.

Come on... don't pretend you don't know that scene. I know you know that scene!

So, the point of the whole thing is that Courtney is encouraging us to embrace our natural beauty with the point being that no matter what our outside physical appearance looks like - if we are beautiful and Godly and loving on the inside then that beauty will transcend our bodies and radiate on the outside.

Plus, it's also important to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.

Or so says the article I read in Shape magazine about a Victoria Secret's model.


Anyway, so there I am. Zit on chin and all.

One of the best things about being in your late 30's is that you don't care about posting pictures of yourself without make-up on the internet for the whole world to see. But when I was 20? Heck no! And I didn't even have wrinkles or gray hair or even zits then. I mean, I can distinctly remember the day that I let Simeon see me - at age 20 - without make-up on for the first time. And I knew it must've been love for me to do that. Sad, huh?

Seriously, one of the best things about getting older is that your priorities start to change and things that used to be important just aren't that important anymore. I mean, I know I say that and here I am trying to work out and get in shape and curb my addiction to all things made from the cocoa bean.... but if I can blog about having a mustache, then, by golly, I can show a picture of me without make-up on.


(Incidentally, the mustache post was written about a Girl's Night Out 2 years ago..... and, obviously, I didn't really learn my lesson, did I? See below)

Now, with all that aside, let me explain to you the very real lesson that being vain taught me this past week and how this rather embarrassing lesson is encouraging me to rethink things.

See.... we live on the lake and we have this tiny little Gilligan's island boat - really, it's like a tiny aluminum fishing boat circa 1961. It goes about 5 miles an hour. But it works! And it doesn't sink. So there ya go.

Anyway, we've been spending time on this boat and I've developed a rather nice tan. Complete with gigantico tan lines. You know those Barbie dolls you had when you were a kid? You'd undress them and they'd be completely white underneath that swimsuit? Well, yeah, that's what I looked like. Except not like Barbie. I've always been more like Barbie's best friend, Midge. But you get the drift.

Sooooooo.... a couple of week ago I scheduled a mammogram. Now, breast cancer runs in my family and I've had 2 benign cysts removed, so I normally go every 6 months. And, you know, really, the technicians there at Baylor could care less what you look like. I mean, they see hundreds of women a day. They don't care that I have the worst tan lines in the world.

But it mattered to me.
And don't laugh! I can't help my quirks.

Gosh darnit, I refused to have a complete stranger see me looking two-toned! You have noooo idea how bad it looked. So I bought some of that Jergen's self tanner and went to work. At first it was great. But then, I got a little greedy. And I slathered it all on after I took a shower. And I had wet hair. And my wet hair hung over my shoulder. And it dripped water all over me. And before I knew it, I had rivers of water running over me that completely washed off part of the tanner I had just put on.

Basically, it streaked me. I had white streaks all over my chest and stomach from where my wet hair had dripped.

So, I panicked. I only had 4 days until the mammogram. And I was loving my new tanned self. So I put more on. And a couple of hours later I put more on - because I was trying to even it all out. But I couldn't get it worked out. I had dark patches here. Light patches there. Then I tried to rub more on the light patches which made it darker. So I had to put more on the other patches to even them out.

By the end of it all, I looked like a giraffe. A giraffe. A ridiculously spotted giraffe with patches of light and dark all over my chest and stomach.


And when it was time for my mammogram and I had to undress, I could swear the technician suppressed a giggle. Instead of looking like a mature woman who was about to undergo a screening that could potentially save her life, I looked like a fool who should have been out grazing the plains of the savannah.

I just set my jaw and stared straight ahead and tried to find my happy place.

I have never been so embarrassed.

From now on, no more self-tanner for me! God loves me how I am. My husband loves me how I am. And, shoot, if it's good enough for Barbie, it's good enough for me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today's Random Prayers & Google Searches

Today was one of those days where I just wanted to throw a toothbrush and a change of clothes in a backpack and hightail it outta here - without the kids. Okay, we'll maybe I'd bring Noah because he was the only who didn't make me feel like slamming my head in the freezer door over and over again all day long.

And to top it all off, Sim was supposed to be home 20 minutes ago and just called and he's at least 2 hours from home. So I figured I'd blog out my frustrations real quick so that I don't bombard him with relentless venting the moment he walks through the door.

Okay, so maybe I'll vent just a teeny tiny bit because otherwise he might think he's walked into the wrong house.

Don't think of it as me being a nagging wife. Think of it as me maintaining honest and open communication. Yeah! Yeah! That's it!

So, here's the deal-io. Despite my previous admissions that I can't wait to send Eli on the first bus back to public school, deep down inside I am secretly dying to be a homeschool mama. I mean I looove the idea. But is it just a far reached idea or could it possibly become a reality?

While still maintaing my sanity?

Basically, I've spent this summer doing a homeschool trial run. I already HS Noah, but this time I threw Nandi & Eli into the mix. And it's been simple, really. We're just doing Sing Spell Read & Write and working on Eli's kindergarten flashcards that his teacher sent home last year and reading some books. Easy-peasy.

But. The. Child. Does. NOT. Want. Anyone. Telling. Him. What. To. Do. Period.

The pinnacle was when he threw an all out tantrum complete with throwing himself on the floor and flopping around like a fish out of water all because I asked him what sound the letters b + u (bu) make. And he absolutely insisted that he did not know and could not tell me and would not tell me and I would never ever make him.

He swore up and down (well, he didn't really swear - more like he shouted up and down) that it was too hard for him.

But then my mom called from a garage sale and I asked if there were any T-O-Y-S and Eli perked up and said, "Toys!!"

But, uh, yeah. "Bu" was just too hard to sound out.

Anyway, the day started at 5:30 and is still going full steam ahead while I type this. And, let me tell you, me and God have had some serious talks today.

Here's how most of those talks started:

Dear God, please let me know if you want me to homeschool. Please?

Dear God, I want to homeschool, but I might seriously go insane.

Dear God, I cannot do this.

Dear God, you picked the wrong woman.

Jesus, I love you, but, dude, you made a huge mistake choosing me for this job.

Yeah, not only did I call Jesus "dude" but I criticized him as well. Yikes

Dear God, I'm going to lose my mind. I mean it this time.

Jesus, seriously, please answer me. I'm waiting.

Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.

HeeHee. Which led me to do a wikipedia search on Judy Blume.

Jesus, please give me the grace to handle this. No matter what your will is please give me the grace to handle it.

And my google searches today included the following... and, yes, I am massively detailed in my google searches:

Should I homeschool my child? (Because, you know, Google has all the answers, right?)

Homeschooling a defiant child.

Homeschooling a child who wants to be in control.

The homeschooling parent who wants to be in control.

Homeschooling a child who doesn't want to be told what to do.

Homeschooling a child who manipulates his mother.

Will I mess up my kids by homeschooling them?

Homeschooled children who grew up to become strippers.

Homeschooled children who grew up to become serial killers.

Clive Owen movies. (What can I say? I needed a distraction)

The Kratt Brothers. (My guilty pleasure. 6:30 am never looked so good.)

The IT Crowd Season 4. (My new favorite British television obsession)

Reece's Rainbow. (Because obviously adopting another child is EXACTLY what I need)

My son won't stop talking about Toy Story 3 and it's driving me crazy. (I just wanted to see what it would pull up)

Homeschooling a child who never ever stops talking.

Homeschooling kids with RAD.

What the heck are Swagbucks?
(Yes, I actually typed "What the heck.." I type just how I talk)

How do I get Sharpie marker off my bamboo floors? (Thanks, Nandi)

How do I get Sharpie marker off a door? (See above)

How to get Sharpie marker off a leather couch? (Cheers, Nandi)

Can a child die from drinking contact lens solution? (Oh, Noah)

Is natural floor cleaner harmful to a child? (Uh, you can guess, right?)

Depression & homeschooling

Homeschooling & Isolation

Losing myself in motherhood.

Yep, I actually googled all that crap. And, contrary to what it looks like, I did not spend all day on the computer. I'm just an extremely fast typer and the kids actually sat still for an hour and a half to watch Toy Story.

Which led me to pray... Dear God, I'm so thankful for Toy Story right now, but please please please keep Eli from talking about it all friggin' day long.

God just loves it when I use slang while talking to Him. Keeps it real.

So, what about you? Anyone else all in a flux over homeschooling? How can something so simple be such a hard decision.

P.S. For any naysayers, I haven't gone into all the reasons I'm contemplating it but there are a thousand reasons I could go into but posting every single one of them is not in Eli's best interest. I mean, I do post a lot of stuff on here, but I'm not going to list out all of Eli's issues on this blog.

Rest assured, if Sim - the level headed one in the family - thinks it's in Eli's best interest, then you know it's serious.

One more month to decide.

Dear God... please don't make me wait a month to know what to do. Can you tell me in, like, the next five minutes? Thanks!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Zany Adventures of Dino Boy, Bat Girl, Spider Girl, and Dr. Pepper Man

Several weeks ago, we went to my niece's 4th Birthday Party. Now, let me tell you, my sister-in-law, Beth, is Miss Cathy Creative. I mean, she can do things with a sewing machine that Martha Stewart can only dream about.

She's gives me quite a complex, my SIL. Her crafting abilities blow me away.

Anyway, my niece is quite the little tomboy and she was bound and determined to have a super hero birthday party. So we get to the party and the kids are all given a little something that Beth had whipped up a few days prior.

Namely, hand painted super hero shirts and homemade superhero capes.

You'll have to look at the pictures below. They are the cutest darn things I've ever seen.

Then the kids were treated to an outdoor obstacle course where they had to chase the bad guys through pools of lava (a sandbox turned into a swimming pool with water dyed red and a 2x4 to cross), go through the ring of fire (aka a hula hoop hanging from the swingset) and scale tall buildings with a single bound (a rock climbing wall).

Then they came in and stuffed their faces with superhero cake and refueled their powers with ice cream. And then slept the whole 3 hour trip back home. Ahhhhhhhh.

They had such a blast! Hope you enjoy the pictures below. And aren't those shirts and capes adorable??!!

P.S. We were also treated to a special appearance by Teen Wonder (aka my 13 year old niece, Jessica, in her superhero costume.

P.P.S. Thank you so much for the sweet comments that were left on my blog post about Noah and CapriSuns/Gogurts. :-)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Seeing the Miracle in Capri Suns and Gogurts

A few years ago, when Noah was around 4 1/2, I got so excited because he finally ate sandwiches cut into strips. Up until then, he'd only eat peanut butter on rice cakes and refused to touch sandwiches. And I remember calling my mom and telling her that this means that maybe one day he'll eat sandwiches cut in half and eventually maybe he'll even eat a whole sandwich.

Because, you see, to me that was what normal kids did. And it wasn't so much an abnormal vs normal thing. It was more like that's what all the other kids did and I really wanted to hold onto that. I thought it'd help him blend in more at picnics and parties and get togethers.

I mean, yeah, I know it doesn't really change anything... but it meant a lot to me.

Well, fast forward 4 years and Noah has finally discovered Capri Suns and Gogurts! And, yes, I am considering that a miracle. lol

We don't really buy that type of stuff... but they served Capri Suns at the library picnic the other day... and Noah drank it! This is really huge for three reasons:

1. Noah doesn't do straws
2. Noah doesn't do new things
3. Noah actually drank it without squeezing it all over himself

In our life... where everything that most people take for granted is a cause for celebration... well, you know we celebrated! And bought ourselves a pack of Capri Suns. Or two. Or five.

This week we're watching our 4 year old niece, Alaina, and she looooves Gogurts. That's something else we'd always avoided because we hate to buy things for the other kids if Noah can't have it... and they just always seemed like they had the potential for a big mess.

But we bought some because Alaina likes them and you know what? Well, you can guess can't you? Noah liked them, too! He didn't eat the whole thing because he doesn't care too much for dairy foods, but he tried it and he didn't make a mess!

Okay, so, I know it seems corny that I'm so excited over these little things. And I know they seem like little things, but, to us, they're pretty big.

So this 4th of July weekend, we're going to hit up the celebration at the Heritage Village, go out on the boat, take the kids to see Toy Story 3, celebrate our Independence, and muse over the miracle of Capri Suns and Gogurts.

Happy Fourth of July!!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Summer Lovin'... Having a Blast

When life hands you blueberries........

Make Blueberry Muffins!

When life hands you apples....

Make Apple Pie!

When life hands you baskets and baskets full of tomatoes and zucchini....

Make Tomato & Zucchini Soup!

When life hands you cucumbers....

Make Cucumber Salsa!

I am so grateful for my Pa Lester and Mawmaw Ruby... and it warms my heart that Noah, Eli, and Nandi have been able to spend time with them this summer. The kids love wandering through their garden... picking blueberries and apples and foraging for zucchini and eating tomatoes off the vine.

My grandparents are a huge blessing to me and and even bigger blessing to my children. I thank God that the kids are able to know their great-grandparents and make memories with them this summer.

P.S. Don't forget to check out the BEST blueberry muffin recipe ever! Be sure to swap buttermilk for the milk. It's delish! Thanks for the blueberries, Pa & MawMaw!


Noah Just Can't Stand Technology

We've spent A LOT of time outside this summer. Noah is crazy about water, so most of our mornings are spent with Noah in the little pool and Eli riding his bike up and down our street while Nandi draws with sidewalk chalk in our driveway.

As for me? I use it as a time to sit outside and catch up on my emails or returning phone calls. It's pretty much the only time I can do it, so I do take advantage of it.

Wellllllllll..... the other day I had my phone sitting in the folding chair by the little pool and I walked to the mail box to get the mail and I turned around just in time to see Noah fill a bucket with water, get out of the pool, walk over to my chair, and pour the entire bucket of water on my phone!

I guess he told me, huh?

Thank goodness I didn't have my laptop out that day. Good grief.

He also took my CD out of the stereo and bit into it and turned off The Bachelorette while I was watching it the other night. Guess he doesn't like my taste in entertainment....

Anyway, I'm beginning to wonder what Simeon whispers to him every night that he tucks Noah into bed... especially as I know Sim tends to question my choice in music, television, and could quite happily live with never seeing a telephone again.

I'm beginning to smell a conspiracy.... What do you think?