Tomorrow is April 1st….

April….Autism Awareness Month….Autism acceptance month….A Month where people who don’t pay much attention the rest of the year turn their eyes on the Autism community.

A month of “Light it up Blue” and profile pictures on Facebook, and the myths, facts, and blog posts fill the internet.

All this is well and good. We need more awareness as a society. We desperately need more acceptance and understanding.

Tonight I have been looking back through posts I have made in Aprils past….reading over things I have written, wondering what I would say this year. To be honest, I am still not sure, will have to take things one day at a time I guess. I MAY do a 30 days of Autism in Pictures again, it’s been a while since I did that, and that was , to me, a beautiful way to showcase what our flavor of Autism looks like. Imagine that, me, a photographer, expressing my thoughts with words and photos. ( LOL)

For now….Here is a one stop list of posts I have written that are meaningful to me as we head into another April, not including the 30 days of snapshots posts, as those are linked off to the right hand side…..

This is Our Autism

“Autism is love, Unconditional, deep love, stronger than any meltdown, bigger than any low. It is a love that keeps me going even on those days when I want to give up. It is a love that enables me to pick up the pieces, calm him down when he falls apart, to fight with doctors, to stand up for his rights at school. It is a love that is like nothing I have EVER known in my life.”

This is Our Autism revisited

“Autism is NOT the end of the world.

Autism IS beautiful

Autism is NOT Despair

Autism IS looking at the world differently

Autism is NOT a disease that is contagious, or in need of a cure. My kids do not need Fixing. They may need help in some areas, and a little extra support in others, but they do NOT need to be cured, or fixed.

Autism is Different, but NOT Less…”

There IS Hope!

“It is a Powerful thing! When someone loses hope, it is dangerous. Hearing the phrase “Your child has autism” Can be a very devastating thing to a parent, it’s true. The road is hard, it is an uphill battle, this I wont deny. There is grief, anger, sadness, days I feel overwhelmed. I cry, scream “Why??” , but I cling to HOPE. NOBODY , not a Doctor, Family members, even strangers, should EVER lead a parent raising a special needs child to think there is “No hope”.”

Aware

There are many others, and as I read through each of the posts I have written, I realized each post I have written is important in it’s own right. some made me smile, some made me laugh, some brought tears to my eyes, reminders of the not so easy days. This has been, and continues to be a roller-coaster of a journey, and I am incredibly thankful for the blessings that are my children. I am thankful God has blessed me with gifts of writing and photography, that I can capture the moments, that I can help others along the way. I have been reminded tonight of why I write, why I need to keep writing.

For now, I need to go try and sleep off this Migraine I have been fighting off all day. I will be back at some point tomorrow…..

 

Better than I ever could have dreamed…

When I found out that I was having a little girl, I had visions of Ballet recitals, toe shoes, pink tutu’s, You get the idea. What I got is entirely different, but I would not change either of them for the world.

What I got was one Basketball playing, Book reading, Martial Arts loving artist, and one softball player, well they both play softball, but my Youngest, she LOVES it!. Both love their blue jeans. Both are proud to tell any who will listen that they love Superheros, Lord of the Rings, one loves Star Wars, one loves Star Trek, one is a whovian, both love Harry Potter, and there is so much more. They compare belches like the best of the boys, and sometimes to listen to their conversations about “Natural bodily functions” One would swear they were listening to a couple of boys.

So here we are, we traded Toe shoes for softball cleats….DSC_0229 copy

Tutu’s for slide pants…DSC_0898 copy

and Basketball Jerseys….DSC_5011 copy

and Ballet recitals for Ball games….

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We still wear hair-bows….

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We traded Classical Music for Softball chants and cheers…

Leader: We don’t wear no mini skirts
Team (echoes): We don’t wear no mini skirts
Leader: We just wear our softball shirts
Team (echoes): We just wear our softball shirts
Leader: We don’t play with Barbie dolls
Team (echoes): We don’t play with Barbie dolls
Leader: We just play with bats and balls
Team (echoes): We just play with bats and balls
Leader: Sound off
Team: 1, 2
Leader: Sound off
Team: 3, 4
Leader: Sound off
Team: 1, 2 Together: 3, 4!

instead of Pirouettes, we do Lay ups….

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and Makeup? who needs makeup when you have eye black….

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and the best cure when getting Hit by a softball? Rub some infield dirt on it….

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I am so incredibly proud that my girls have embraced their uniqueness, and have found what they love. I am so thankful and Blessed that God has given me the privilege of being their mom.  I LOVE watching them in their elements, and am looking forward to another season of life at the Ballpark, the sights and sounds, the dirt, the sunflower seeds and pickle Pops, the crack of the bat, the friendships made, and the lessons they learn that continue off the field….

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Let’s give this another try….

I realize I have not written in a while, 2 years to be exact. that’s not to say I have not been writing, but more that Life has gotten a bit chaotic and messy, as it has a tendency to do. In the 2 years since I posted last, I started on a journey of health issues and a search for answers, my oldest child graduated from High school and started college, my Grandmother; my biggest prayer Warrior and inspiration passed away, and lots of other crazy stuff some of which I am still processing.

In the midst of the madness, the chaos, the upheaval , the rollercoaster has continued, memories, good and bad have been made. I focused a lot on my poetry, and posted several to my facebook page just for it.  I have come to realize I miss writing, and that I need to get back to it. I am returning to a place of doing what I need for ME to keep my sense of who I am in the midst of the madness that is life. I am reminded that when I write, I discover things about myself, about my faith, my creativity, and the world around me.

So, that’s that, and I will be back shortly as I have a post brewing in my head, but wanted to get this out of the way first.

The Garden of my Heart

This is How my day began….

 This was My Status on Facebook this morning:  “struggling to quiet the negative committee in my head today…feeling like I am gonna snap and say something I will regret if somebody pushes the “do not push button”…..

From the time I woke up this morning, the Negative committee in my head has been shouting. Reminders of past hurts, Negative things people have said about me, doubts about my parenting, doubts doubts doubts. The kids woke up fighting with each other, and the downward spiral continued. It was like a Big Ominous Dark cloud was hovering over our house. As I sat working through the war waging in my head, combating each negative thought as it surfaced, I found myself standing at a Crossroads….

This was the resulting Facebook Status: “Is it better to lock one’s heart away, to protect it from pain, perhaps to “shut down” or like in Once upon a time, rip one’s heart out to avoid heartache…or to love to the fullest, to experience life with all it’s joys and heartbreaks, to accept the pain and understand that when You let people in, they will at some point hurt you because nobody is perfect. The crossroad has been reached, the paths make no sense. Become a hermit and Hide from everyone?…no, that would surely be death , slow, painful, lonely death. Keep going on the path currently traveled, letting people in, giving and looking for good in all? Not sure that is right either. Too much pain, seems naive. That leaves the 3rd path; Guarded, careful steps. Accepting the pain, forgiving and learning to not be too trusting, without growing bitter and cold. Praying through a Mountain of negative thoughts today….”

Life has thrown many curve balls my way, and more than a few land mines. Things meant to tear down, to break a person, to destroy. There are many reasons I should not be sitting here typing this. The list of reasons why I should be bitter and angry is long. The argument for hiding away from the world is a strong one. Locking my heart away forever, shutting out all but a VERY limited few certainly LOOKS like the best path. That being said, I have learned enough about myself through the course of this journey called life to know that to lock my heart away is not the answer. It would enable bitterness to take root. It would slowly kill the creativity and compassion that I have grown to realize I need.  It is also becoming clear that the current path is not working, in fact it has become dangerous. I have realized I have been too trusting, that looking for the good all the time is  Naive, and there are people who will take advantage, who will use and abuse such trust and kindness. The 3rd path seems to be my best option. It is FAR from the easiest, and in fact it is probably the hardest. It means accepting the pain, and working through it. It means forgiving, and refusing to let the poison of bitterness take root. It means continuing to be a part of the world, to keep giving, to continue to feed the compassion and creativity that I thrive on, while guarding my heart and making sure that I don’t allow myself to be used.

As I continued to work through the jungle of thoughts in my head, The positive thoughts began to regain control of my mind. As I prayed , my focus changed. I began to remember who I am, that I am important, that I am not worthless. I was reminded that I am here for a purpose, and locking myself away will not accomplish that purpose.  I was reminded of the Parable of the bags of Gold.

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.  To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.  So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.  For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

To lock myself away, to Not use the Talents I have been blessed with, would be the worst thing I could do. I have been blessed so that I can bless others.  The trials I have overcome have enabled me to be there for people facing similar battles. And so, I will continue to capture life’s beauty one Photo at a time, and I will continue to share my thoughts, to write when I can.

This was the Facebook status that came from the shift in perspective:

“It’s not you who creates insecurities in your mind; it’s others who plant that seed. It’s you who waters that seed and allows it to grow.”

It’s about Perspective….will we feed the negative thoughts an allow them to take root and grow? or do we combat them with Positive truths. what we choose to give power to is what will grow and thrive.

{Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.}

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It all comes down to a Choice….Every day, sometimes more than once a day. Will I focus on the negatives, on the hurts, the fears, the doubts? or will I choose to hold on to the positives, to focus on the blessings in my life. If You give something root, it will eventually begin to grow. What will You grow in the garden of Your heart and mind? I choose to weed out the bitterness, resentment, fear, doubt, hate, anger, rejection, jealousy, and make room for love, compassion, peace, hope, faith, joy, trust to grown. Some days , like today, are harder than others. This is after all, a fight.  I am reminded of a couple of quotes…, one I have said a lot recently, to a dear friend…and one apparently I need reminding of tonight….

“Promise me you’ll always remember:

You’re braver than you believe,

and stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think.”

― A.A. Milne

“I’m quirky, silly, blunt, and broken. My days are sometimes too dark, and my nights are sometimes too long.

I often trip over my own insecurities. I require attention, long for passion, and wish to be desired.

I use music to speak when words fail me, even though words are as important to me as the air I breathe.

I love hard and with all that I have… and even with my faults, I am worth loving.”
– Danu Grayson

My BellaBug, her dolls, and a DIY day with Mom

My Youngest is as obsessed with American Girl dolls as Her big brother has ever been with any of his obsessions.  She has a growing collection of dolls that have been given to her from some very special people in her life…..This is her “doll family”. Not all of them are American Girl, but she loves them all very much….

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Here she is with Josefina, Isabella, Mary Grace, Molly, Wolfina and Hero bear….These are the ones that take turns going places with her, that are the closest to her heart because of the love that went into how she received each one….

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She is always asking for more furniture and accessories, and let’s face it, the stuff is not cheap. SO I headed to Pinterest and started gathering ideas for stuff we could make ourselves. I figured it would save money, and give me and her a way to spend some quality time together.  Today started like every Saturday, with her wishing she had somebody to play dolls with, so after breakfast we headed to Hobby Lobby armed with a supply list for  3 simple projects I had found on Pinterest…a suitcase, a mailbox, and a desk/chair set.

I didn’t take any photos of the actual crafting process ( yeah yeah I know) because I was having too much fun with my BellaBug, and by he time we were through, my hands were covered in hot pink spray paint, glue, and glitter. All in all it was a Great day, and mission accomplished. My Girl now has some new things for her dolls, and we had a great “Mommy daughter day”, something that was VERY much needed. Between Daddy being in the Military, and being the youngest of 3, and both older siblings being on the spectrum, I often worry that she feels I don’t devote enough time to just her. Today was packed full of memory making, smiles, and quality time with my BellaBug, and I am sure that those memories will long outlast any of the doll items we made today….

Molly with the finished suitcase made from a Plastic Pencil Box….

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Molly checks the mail….

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Mission accomplished…BellaBug and Molly with everything but the desk, which is not finished yet…

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Thank You Pinterest for inspiration that I will actually use, mixed in with all those wonderful ideas I will most likely never attempt! LOL

Favorite things

When it comes to toys…

my son has a handful of favorite things…

collected to the point of obsession…

lined up…

played with…

and well loved…

Here is today’s Montage…

an update to a Post I made in 2011

Favorite things…

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30 something Webkinz….EACH Has a Name, and yes, He can list them all

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles….

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Star Wars Droids….

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Legos…

The childhood Favorites of Veggie Tales, Buzz Lightyear and Thomas the Tank Engine are still there…

Old Favorites that still get revisited on really rough days…

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Oh yes, this would not be complete without Adding the Nintendo ds….

My sweet boy is growing up…

These are His world…

The friends he counts on…

that safe place he disappears to…

This is Our Autism…Revisiting a previous Post

Back in June of 2011, I wrote : “Autism is love, Unconditional, deep love, stronger than any meltdown, bigger than any low. It is a love that keeps me going even on those days when I want to give up. It is a love that enables me to pick up the pieces, calm him down when he falls apart, to fight with doctors, to stand up for his rights at school. It is a love that is like nothing I have EVER known in my life.” as a conclusion to a Post titled “This is Our Autism” which was in response to a question a Fellow Autism Momma, Blogger, and Military wife, who also happens to share the same first name as me posed. The question “What is Your Autism?”

I Have been doing a lot of thinking about this again, in light of something that is going on in the Autism community. Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, and grandmother to an autistic child, took time just this week to call for a National Autism Plan, based entirely on her opinion (which, therefore, is the opinion of Autism Speaks) that autism has “stolen” three million kids, and is making those kids’ families miserable. Here is a snipet of what she has to say….( You can read the full post Here, but PLEASE if You do….Take the time to read the COMMENTS, to hear the voices that are speaking out.)

Each day across this country, those three million moms, dads and other care-takers I mentioned wake to the sounds of their son or daughter bounding through the house.  That is – if they aren’t already awake. Truth be told, many of them barely sleep—or when they do – they somehow sleep with one ear towards their child’s room—always waiting. Wondering what they will get into next. Will they try to escape? Hurt themselves? Strip off their clothes?  Climb the furniture? Raid the refrigerator?  Sometimes – the silence is worse.

These families are not living.

They are existing. Breathing – yes.  Eating – yes. Sleeping- maybe.  Working- most definitely – 24/7.

This is autism.

Life is lived moment-to-moment.  In anticipation of the child’s next move.  In despair.  In fear of the future.  

This is autism.

I am angry, The above comments made by an organization claiming to speak for my children, my Family, and so many others in the autism community has gotten it SO wrong. Am I saying life with Autism is easy? NO! But it is not something that needs fixing, or  a cure either. Yes there are times when my son wanders, and my children climb on furniture, and raid the fridge…..but Guess what, That is Part of having kids! I can remember , as the oldest of 4 kids growing up….Couch cushions strewn across the floor became rocks and if you stepped off onto the floor, You melted in Hot Lava, so we jumped from cushion to cushion, couch to chair…you get the idea.

When my non verbal child wanders, it scares me to death, BUT I have learned ways to keep Him safe, and still allow Him to explore the world We live in. I have learned to read His cues, and He has found ways to let me know “hey, mom, I am done and I need to go home”.

Autism is not, and never will be the end of all hope. My children are amazing, brilliant individuals. My daughter draws the most amazing artwork, a very visual and creative thinker. My son can make my computer do things I had NO clue it could do. They are NOT Broken!!!!! God made them special JUST the way that they are, and for an organization like Autism speaks to take the power it has, and irresponsibly feed the fear and lack of hope that society piles on families goes against everything I have fought for. I am not saying that it is easy, FAR From it. I  sadly lament not enjoying the parenting experience I always wanted and thought I’d have; birthdays, school, church, Dances, Concerts, slumber Parties, any social gathering for that matter, even bowling or going to the grocery store can feel like I’m being beat by this awful disease! I have days when I just curl up and cry, When I listen to friends complain about how their teenager spends too much time on the phone, or breaks curfew, is over board boy crazy, ect, and I look at my daughter who seems to have no interest in boys, didn’t ask for a cellphone until she was 15, and still RARELY uses hers, doesn’t live at the mall. I am Thankful she has a firm grip on who she is, and that she doesn’t look to her peers for acceptance,or approval, but I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t sometimes ache for those “typical mom moments”. There are sleepless nights, and meltdowns, sensory issues, and trials and hardships…But nothing in life is easy, and a little love and patience goes a long way. Sometimes I feel like I mourn the death of the parent I would be as much as the child I thought I’d raise. I know my Husband mourns those Father son bonding moments…Football, Riding dirt-bikes, ect. , and I know that there are things I will never be able to do with my daughter, like take her to see her favorite Boy Band in concert…it’s too crowded and too loud. There are days when I actively plan ways to live longer and take care of myself better because I know I have to be here to take care of my son. No one else will ever be willing or able to do it. Some people have the luxury of money or extended family to rely on, many of us do not. Should we make the best with what we’ve got? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean pretending to the rest of the world that it’s a “gift” or anything short of an ongoing challenge. They don’t advertise Boot camp as a Glorious Vacation in Paradise, neither should they make autism out to be just something “different than expected”. That would also be completely irresponsible & untrue. Autism is a spectrum, and there is no One autism. It is challenging and some days it seems down right impossible, BUT it is NOT the end of the world.  There was a time when I lived in fear of what tomorrow may hold, BUT I have learned that when I focus on the unknown and worry about tomorrow I miss today’s joys. My children deserve to be loved, and accepted for WHO hey are, not shunned and feared because somebody only hears the word Autism. To say that my family is not Living, that Autism will break me, that my marriage will fail because Autism causes too much stress is fearmongering, and there is NO PLACE FOR IT!

Autism is NOT the end of the world.

Autism IS beautiful

Autism is NOT Despair

Autism IS looking at the world differently

Autism is NOT a disease that is contagious, or in need of a cure. My kids do not need Fixing. They may need help in some areas, and a little extra support in others, but they do NOT need to be cured, or fixed.

Autism is Different, but NOT Less…

So, this is a glimpse at My Family…..and Yes, We ARE Living, ENJOYING the moment to moment. Because Life is not the Breath You take, It’s the Moments that Take Your breath away!

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and, one more….

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Because the statistics say we should have divorced YEARS ago…I mean, Dual Military, 2 Children with Autism, Oh, we married too young, yeah, we have heard it all…all the reasons why we would never last, and I am not saying Our marriage is perfect, FAR from it! we have our ups and downs, but Autism has not destroyed our Marriage, in fact I think it has drawn us closer as we work together to make sure our children know that they are NOT broken, to give them the best love and home we can.  We are committed to each other, and to our children. When a mountain comes up, we climb it together. We have weathered many storms together, but To say we are just barely existing, ready to break at any moment, Autism speaks, You could not be more wrong. We don’t want or need pity, or fear. There is no place for fear, Only love, Hope, Joy, and Faith.

1 Corinthians 13: 3-7 {The Message}

“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Dakota~Heart