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, April 29, 2011

Tea, Hats, and a Royal Wedding

We are tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired! Or as Nandi likes to say, "Ti-rud!"

We had our little Royal Wedding Tea Party with the kids last night. Nandi decorated our hats all by herself. We were pretty impressed.

What do you think?

Eli didn't want to be left out, so he strapped a pink flamingo to an old baseball hat.


And Sim managed to find an old cowboy hat.

Noah's not much of a hat wearer... but he did promptly eat "Princess Catherine's sapphire engagement ring"... aka a ring pop which left his lips a ghoulish dark blue.

We served cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, scones with currants, strawberries and cream, fish and chips, and a nice pot of tea.

We tried three different dresses on our William and Kate paper dolls.

Eli colored a pictures of the "official engagement portrait".

Sim unwrapped the various pieces of china he brought over from England....

And we woke up just in time to watch Kate step out of the car in her gawgeous! wedding gown.

She looked beautiful.

We gathered all the kids in bed, drank tea, and finished up last night's scones.

And then Eli turns to me and says, "Marriage looks boring. I think I'll skip it."

Spoken like a true 7 year old!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Royal Wedding Tea Party

It's no secret that I'm a self-confessed Anglophile.

I have an English degree that I got in England where I met the love of my life (who is now my husband).

I love British history, Jane Austen, and Colin Firth. And not necessarily in that order.

I love PG Tips tea, clotted cream, and nothing tastes better on French Fries than a bit of salt and vinegar.

I also adore British rock bands, Mr. Bean, and Colin Firth.

Oh, did I already mention that?

And my kids know, without a doubt, that I must be left alone if Masterpiece Theater is airing on our local PBS station on a Sunday night.

But, having said that, I'm really not big on the Royal Family.

I mean, sure, I'm fascinated with the Kings and Queens of yore. But the modern Royal Family just doesn't interest me as much. Maybe, because with the invention of the internet, everything is already out there.

Or maybe it's because I'm older and they're younger. I'm not really sure.

But I do know that I incurred the wrath of my mother-in-law when I once casually stated that I didn't understand why the Royal Family continues when it's obvious the Queen doesn't do anything.

Boy did she school me!

And, I'm fairly certain that she now does the sign of the cross whenever someone mentions my name.

But, anyway, despite all that, and despite not having a huge interest in today's Royal Family, I do distinctly remember being a 7 year old girl and lying on the carpet of my Granny Gilda's house and watching Princess Diana walk down the aisle on the television screen.

And I don't remember a whole lot from 30 years ago, but I do remember that. And I want that for my kids, too. Especially as they're technically half-British and go back to England with Simeon whenever they get the chance. (Nandi's going for the first time next month).

So, I think this is something they'll always remember.

And that's why we're throwing them a Royal Wedding Tea Party tomorrow night.

Now, I know the wedding will actually take place at 5am our time on Friday morning... and it's entirely true that our kids are usually up at that hour (well, Eli is) ... but Thursday night seemed like a good time.

We plan on drinking this tea....

You can buy it on the international aisle at Kroger's for $8.49 for 80 bags. Steep, I know.

Pun intended.

We'll be having cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off...

Strawberries and cream...

The world's best scones...

Made from this recipe . There's another recipe, too, which got excellent reviews. I haven't made it, but am definitely saving it for future use.

And because I know that this won't satisfy my hungry kids for supper, we'll also be having fish and chips. With salt and vinegar, of course!

I don't have a picture of that, but I usually just buy the Walmart brand of breaded fish and I usually make homemade oven fries... although I'm thinking of just buying some frozen ones because I'm feeling particularly lazy this week.

Simeon is also going to break out his prized English china that he brought over from when we first got married. He was brought up in a very refined household and he has a huge appreciation for National Trust sites and English china and pottery and the fine arts.

Which is why everyone was surprised when he married into my family. Our most cultural outing when I was growing up was going to Pancho's on Saturday night and seeing who could eat the most tacos and raise the flag first.

Gosh, I miss those days. Sopapillas with honey. Mmmmm.....

Anyway, no Royal Wedding Tea Party would be complete without royal hats, so I managed to find two Easter-y/Old Church Lady (okay, I know that is totally not PC) hats at our local thrift store and Eli and Nandi are going to decorate them with a slew of fake flowers, feathers, and rhinestones that I scored from Dollar Tree.

We'll also hang out the Union Jack Bunting...

And maybe we'll even color some William & Catherine coloring pages or do some Wills & Kate paperdolls or even attempt to replicate a double-decker bus which can all be found on THIS PAGE.

Because an event like this, as much as it's overplayed in the news right now, won't come along for probably at least another 30 years.

In which case, I hope to have remembered to save enough toilet paper rolls to make THIS.

Can't you just see one of those loo rolls all done up in white with a veil and some yarn hair?

What's that?



Maybe I do like the Royal Family.

Just a little bit.


Monday, April 25, 2011

It Pays to Be a Pack Rat

Eli is one of those kids who, no matter what movie he's watching, always has to reenact scenes once the movie is over. Always. For days on end until he watches something else. He's been like that since he was a toddler.

Which means we've had to endure countless reenactments on everything from Barney's Beach Party to Finding Nemo to the Lion King and Shrek and Tarzan to most recently How to Train Your Dragon (oh have mercy, they're coming out with a sequel) and Kung Fu Panda (which, much to my dismay, is also getting a sequel) and a hilarious play-by-play of Mary Poppins, which we recently rented.

What this means, though, is that it is practically impossible to get rid of any of our toys because, heaven forbid, Eli decides to reenact a scene from a movie and I "accidentally" sucked the toy up with the vacuum or Sim made a "This is it! I've had enough of this junk!" trip to the Goodwill.

It also means I am so incredibly glad that I didn't get rid of that box full of Polly Pockets that I bought from my friend, Amy, at her garage sale a couple of months back - even though Nandi showed no interest in them whatsoever.

And I'm so thankful that I kept the geoboard that my dad made for the kids a few years ago - even though it held their attention for approximately one week. I still remember that week....

It was pure bliss.

And it means I'm so glad that I didn't throw out Nandi's Flynn Rider doll the day after Christmas when she popped his legs off and decided she didn't want him anymore. I think it was the sting of knowing that Santa paid $19.95 for that Flynn Rider doll and it wasn't about to go in the trash. I popped the legs back in and put it in our "I know you're gonna want this later" bin.

And guess what? Mama was right. Because we read this book last week....

Product Details

And we watched this movie......

Which means.... what you see below was inevitable...

And although the movie took great liberties with the plot from the book, I think my kids took even more. Of course, they made do with what they had... but I certainly don't remember the Lilliputians being petite blondes wearing skimpy bikinis.

And I certainly don't remember one of them having her hands down Gulliver's pants...

No wonder that Flynn Rider's got such a smile on his face....

I should've thrown him in the trash when I had my chance.

Friday, April 22, 2011

In honor of Good Friday and Earth Day...

This song makes me cry every time. I cannot imagine watching your baby boy give his life on the cross so that others may live. In honor of Good Friday, Mary, and wonderful Jesus who died so that I may live... I hope you enjoy this song.

And in honor of Earth Day today... may we all be a bit more mindful of our beautiful earth and the resources we have. And may we remember to use what we have instead of rushing out and buying new things to replace those that are easily fixed.

May you all have a creative husband like Simeon and a daughter like Nandi who was willing to give up part of her precious tea set to help find a solution to end pollution. (i.e. our mailbox that could've easily ended up in a landfill).

If it's broke... just find a way to fix it!

Happy Good Friday and Earth Day everyone!

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Saturday I Became a Warrior

Back in January, an old friend that I haven't seen since High School announced that she wanted all her friends to do something called The Warrior Dash in honor of her upcoming 40th birthday.

Now, I'm not the least bit athletic. Oh, I like to think I am. I put on my tennis shoes, and my workout gear, and my Bob Harper DVD's, and then I do about 5 minutes of cardio and collapse on the couch and spend another 40 minutes watching Bob look at me through the television screen and yelling at me to get off my butt.

I have a totally inappropriate crush on Bob Harper.

But, anyway. Seeing that I'd spent the months from Halloween to Christmas in a total food coma, and the fact that I seem to be perpetually having some sort of mid-life crisis, I thought, "Why not?" Why not do the Warrior Dash. I'm a warrior, right? I mean, I deal with all sorts of crap on a daily basis. Surely, I can do a 5K-obstacle-course-thingamajig where you have to go through swamps and climb over rolling logs and scale net ropes and jump over fire.



And I had 4 months to get ready for it. Four months to get in fighting form and build arm muscles that would make Cameron Diaz weep and finally get one of those butts that can bounce quarters off it. Four months.

On the second day of training, I decided to jump over a small pile of leaves that our neighbor was burning. Totally burned the you-know-what out of myself. I still have a scar on my right ankle.

And, thus, ladies and gentleman, my Warrior Dash training officially ended.

But I'd already paid my 50 dollar registration fee and I wasn't about to back out. And sure, I cried myself to sleep last Friday night and had a panic attack that could rival the time I didn't do a lick of work on my oral presentation of Tess of the D'ubervilles in 12th grade English and I completely made up, on the spot, some sort of gibberish in a ridiculously phony accent that would've had my father-in-law calling the police on me for destroying the English language....and well, you know what....

I still did okay.

And, you know what? I did just fine at the Warrior Dash.

I didn't come in first.

I didn't come in last.

I walked the whole dang thing.

But it wasn't about that. It was about catching up with old friends and celebrating the fact that we're all still here to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday. It can't get better than that.

Here are some pictures from the day....

Hanging with some of my peeps, Bethany and Tristan. We all carpooled together. I don't have the pictures of the birthday girl back yet.

A picture of our shirts with our nicknames on the back. Yes, mine says "White Knuckles". It was given to me by an old Native American guide who, I thought was going to have to call in a helicopter to carry me out of Mesa Verde back in 1995. I was literally paralyzed with fear and stuck on a vertical ladder for what seemed like eternity. Finally, about 4 men had to push me up while others pulled me up.

Ya'll, I have never in my life had so many men's hands on my derriere at the same time. Sigh. Good times.

Lol. Kidding!!! You know I totally did the oogy dance as soon as I pulled to safety.

My shoe with my tracker on it that says "Free Beer". We all got free beer, a Viking helmet, a medal, and T-Shirt that says "I survived the Warrior Dash". For the record, I did not use my free beer ticket. Because I do not drink.

You Orlando Trauma Mama's keep your mouths firmly shut, you hear me??

But, no. I did not use my beer ticket. I did not eat a turkey leg. I did not pass go. I hosed off and drove straight to the nearest Chik-Fil-A and dreamt about taking a shower. (For the record, it took 2 showers, 3 hair washings, and 4 washing machine washes to get all the mud out of my hair and clothes.)

This is the three of us after the race. Obviously, Tristan and Bethany aren't true warriors and must've tip-toed through the whole thing. Either that, or they don't have coordination challenges like I do. I gloriously made out with the mud several times.

Don't want to take your muddy shoes with you? Want to help out people in need? Then donate the sneakers you wore in the race!

Because poor people really need smelly, nasty, muddy shoes!

Kidding. It was for a great cause. But I'd sure hate to be the person who had to wash all those shoes off.

Now, the best part, in my opinion, was the people watching. Because where else, except for 12th century Scotland, do you get to see men wondering around in kilts.... and nothing else.... you catch my drift? Or should I say draft.

Oh, I crack myself up.

And this fine idiot, er, I mean, fellow, must've thought to himself... "Oooh, rope courses! Cargo nets! Hay bales! Straddling rolling logs! Why, I think I'll do all that in a jock strap!"

I'm being completely serious. A little gust of wind proved our suspicions.

Ya'll, you couldn't pay me enough to be the ER doctor who had to remove all the splinters from his yoohoo. Seriously.

And this, my friends, is the piece de resistance.

This is why I'm definitely signing up for next year.

Because even though my work-out consists of lifting my hand from the salsa bowl to my lips while beautiful Bob screams at me through my television set..... and even though I've had 9 Caramel Frappes from McDonald's in the last 3 weeks.... and even though I will probably never ever ever ever lose those last 5 lbs....

I am pretty darn sure that I can fill out a Hooter's costume better than this guy....

See you next year!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

There's Only One Reason We'd.....

Make sure all the juice stains were mopped off the floor and bookshelves dusted.....

There's only one reason we'd actually sweep under the rug and the couch and put away all the countless children's DVD's that collect on the coffee table.... and the floor... and around the TV... and under the couch...

There's only one reason, I'd break out the Easter crafts and make it look like we're regular contributors to Family Fun magazine.....

There's only one reason (and only very few times) that you'd actually be able to see what our countertops look like and eat off the floor (although I wouldn't recommend it)...

There's only one reason all the scribbled bits of paper would be pulled off the wall and I'd spend 2 agonizing hours trying to tie flimsy butterflies to fishing line - which, did you know, is invisible?? - and hang them from the ceiling to make a little girl's room a bit more cozy....

(Sorry for the fuzzy shot. Photography... not my forte).

There's only one reason all the dinosaurs would be shoved in the closet and the bookshelves adorned with things that make little boys look refined and cultured... you know, like horses and books and star student pendants.

There's only one reason that I could convince Sim that it was high time to replace our toilet cover seats.... (one day we'll get proper flooring)....

There's only reason that we could actually convince Noah to "please, please stay dressed... just for a couple of hours... please!".....

There's only reason that we could get this picture of Eli and Nandi playing Tangled and acting like loving siblings.... (Eli, your momma has a picture of you holding a barbie doll.... here's a new spelling word.. B-R-I-B-E-R-Y)....

There's only reason I'd have apples, cinnamon sticks, and cloves on the boil to mask that oh-my-gosh-what-is-that-smell? Please-tell-me-someone-has-gas-and-that-we-don't-have-a-lost-hard-boiled-egg-somewhere-in-this-house.....

There's only one reason I'd break out the apron and make banana chocolate chip muffins AND a fruit plate complete with vanilla bean fruit dip.

The only reason would be because we had a visit from our SOCIAL WORKER....

And the only reason we'd be having a visit from our social worker is if we were getting a HOME STUDY....

And the only reason we'd be getting a home study is if we.....

You guessed it! We're PAPER PREGNANT!!

I can't go into all the details just yet, but I can say that we're adopting a little boy who is just under two and he is the cutest most loveable thing ever. I can't say right now where he is, but it'll probably be January or February before we're able to travel. I also can't say his name, so I'll just have to call him Little N for the time being.

That's right... we're going to have three N's in our family! Noah, Nandi, and Little N. Eli is totally cool with it because he says being the only "E" in the family makes him special.

Too right, Big E!

I can't wait, though, to be able to share Little N's adoption story with you someday. It's truly amazing how it all worked out. It's one of those things where you just know that God's fingerprints are all over it.

So that's our news!

Oh, and one tip from me to you. If you should happen to have a home study one day, please make sure your husband doesn't serve the social worker coffee on one of these napkins....
Fortunately, our social worker used to live in London and likes British humor. Whew!