The Rollercoaster

As another summer Vacation winds to an end for my kids, I find that it is very bittersweet for me. This summer has been; in some ways; a LONG exhausting, emotionally and Physically Draining one. In Other ways it has been wonderful, has flown by too fast, and I ache to slow down the steady march of time. As another school year approaches, I find myself looking back at how fast time has flown by. My oldest is headed into 10th grade, The Boy is headed into 7th Grade, and my baby….yes I know, your not a baby anymore….is headed into 5th Grade.

I know that I really have not written much since 2012 arrived. I have struggled with the words this year. I have wondered just how much do I write? I have contemplated the whole “if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all” concept. The fact of the matter is, I have 2 teenagers on the autsim spectrum ( well the boy will be 13 next month). The challenges of all things teenagerish have been…. whats the word I am looking for here?…..exagerated? Amplified? Intensified? Complicated? ahh yes, Complicated…..complicated by the challenges of all things autism. the onslaught of puberty has sent my sweet boy into a tailspin of regression, and much like when he was a toddler, I have to watch his every move. The difference is, he is much bigger now…scooping Him up into my lap to calm down a meltdown is no longer an option, scooping him up and redirecting is no longer an option. In fact, He has made the (correct) observation that He is as tall as mommy is now…and has on more than one occasion, told me he is “an adult now”.

I wrote the above before school started. We are now into day 4 of Back to school and the anxiety is still running high. The change of routine has things all sorts of out of whack. I hope things start to settle down soon. I am EXHAUSTED!

The rollercoaster of a summer….the highs were….WOW! and the Lows…well OUCH!

We saw our Oldest go with the Youth Group on her first Mission trip….I was a WRECK, but all reports say she did fine! I gave the chaperoning adults a LONG list of what to watch for as to sensory overload, what to do to help her calm down, Challenges, ect. The reports I got when they returned were that she worked hard, maintained an excellent attitude, and had a great trip!

We saw an intensification of the Boy’s elopment issues…and had some VERY scary moments ( thankfully all ended well). He is now on the “kids to watch for” list at Toys R Us ( as in if he shows up unsupervised call mom and dad),  has a Medical Alert Bracelet, and per our request, a note has been made with 9-1-1 that if a call for our adress is recieved, be aware there are children with Autism in the home.

In the Midst of all the ups and downs with the older two and all the extra attention they required this summer, I started to worry that my youngest was not getting enough of my time…the biggest argument my girls had this summer was the oldest telling the youngest “Your Normal!”…and let me tell ya, that was NOT pretty…It was WAR for about a week! We have always tried to not use words like “Normal” because, well lets face it, in this house, “Normal” is boring. We have tried to teach the kids to celebrate their differences, rejoice in their strengths, to stop and slow down, to enjoy the smallest of moments.

As we head into another school year, It delights my heart to see my Oldest LOVING school again. She has dreaded school since 2nd grade. I have not seen her THIS excited about school in a LONG time! The Boy informed me taht the Ninja Turtles and Jedi need to stop school because school is dangerous, and the youngest told me that “she is just terrible at everything school related”. It is going to be another interesting, challenging year. I am ready though…Ready to fight if need be, to do whatever I can to make sure my kids have a good year, and get the education they need, with the supports in place to ensure they do the best THEY Can to their Individual Abilities. At the end of the day, that is all I can do. With Lots of Love, Prayer, and Patience, this too shall pass.

 

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Priceless

This weekend was Memorial Day Weekend, and for me it was an emotional one. Memories of childhood raced back to my mind, and I longed for simpler days…for Community Parades, and BBQ’s, Memorial wreath Ceremonies, small town USA celebrating our Nation’s True heros in a BIG way. There are other Factors in place that added to my rollercoaster of emotions this weekend…..Autism, Chaos of the school year winding to a close, kids routines all out of whack, and much more. Lets Face it, I was a MESS this weekend, and the tears flowed freely.

Yesterday, in the middle of all the tears, the ups and downs, the storms raging around me, God gave me a Beautiful Priceless Gift…..

My Youngest wanted to go outside and play in the sprinkler, so outside we went. She was having fun, but was sad that her older two siblings did not want to play with her. This was par for the course, as they are both on the spectrum and are usually content in their own worlds. The next thing I knew, my son came flying out the door in his swim suit, and for the next two hours I watched Him interact with his little sister. I got lost in teh harmony of thier laughter, and relished in the beauty of my youngest two children enjoying the day…together, without fighting, or whining, and of course, I took a Bazillion Photos….cause, well Like my husband likes to say, my camera is my 3rd eye!

When I pulled the Pictures off my Camera late last night, exhausted and ready to go to bed, I found one that captured the priceless beauty of the day perfectly….

There is SO Much I love about this Photo…
the fact that My Princess got QUALITY time with her Big Brother…
who is usually in his own world…
It’s Moments like this that melt my heart,
 that make all my tears worthwhile,
 that remind me that no matter how hard it gets,
 it IS worth every struggle,
 every fight,
every tear,
every sleepless night….
The Giggles and HOURS of Laughter that led to this Photo…
It reminded me that while we may be poor by the worlds standards,
We are rich and blessed beyond measure with priceless treasures that no money can buy.
 I am SO thankful that even in the midst of life’s darkest storms,
God blesses me with moments like this…
a reminder of what is truly important.

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 23

Almost a Year ago we Packed up everything we owned and moved. We Didn’t move Far. We Moved because we needed a bigger house. When we moved we left behind something Money can NEVER buy, something FAR more precious than a Bigger house, FAR more Valuable than all the possesions in the world. We Left behind a Circle or Friends who Love my kids. These Friends do not see Disability, do not see age, do not see color, they are just FRIENDS. Yesterday we took the kids over there for a visit, and it was the Highlight of my weekend.

My Facebook Status Yesterday ( Dak got me up at 4am and I was EXHAUSTED): Highlight of My weekend….took the kids over to Visit their Friends on the Court today….Watching Dak PARTICIPATE, Take Turns, and Play Duck Duck Goose on the Trampoline makes the lack of sleep, coffee overdose, and no Nap ALL Worthwhile!!!!! ( and YES I took Photos :P)

This group of kids, with mine included ranges in age from 6 to 14. Two of them are autistic, one of them is fighting Cancer, NONE of this slows them down. When they are together, it’s like it all just fades away. Sure they have moments when they fight…that’s kids for you, BUT NOBODY Messes with them.

If This is our Future, then I would say we are in good hands…because of Kids like these…

.♥Playing Duck Duck Goose ♥

( and yes, Dakman not only took turns, but Participated the WHOLE time, Interacting, laughing, smiling)

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 14

Author Note: This should have been published yesterday, but I had to finish the Photos before I could post it

My Facebook Status after Baseball Today: “Home from Dak’s Miracle League Baseball Game. LOVE Saturdays for SO many reasons! I Get to watch My boy play Baseball, I get to spend time with other Parents who Understand the roller Coaster that is raising a Special Needs Child, AND I get to watch my Girls interact with thier Friends who understand thier Roles as Siblings….Miracle League is Truly one of the Biggest Blessings in my Life.”

Miracle League Baseball because “Every Child Deserves A Chance to Play Baseball.”

As a Mom of Special needs children, This truly is one of the Biggest Blessings in My Life.

It has become more than just watching my son get a chance to play baseball…

 it has become something more….

a chance for me to talk to other moms who know what it is like to love a child with special needs….

 it has become a way for my husband to connect with his son…

 to watch them do something we thought they may never get to do together….

It has become a way for my “NT” child to connect with other “NT” siblings who understand what she faces with special needs siblings….

It has become more than just a game, it’s a community, a family, and I am blessed to be a part of it….

♥I will leave you with this Photo…

one of my favorite moments…

Dakota steals home so He can go sit down in the dug out and get a drink

( He used to just walk off the feild, so This is progress  :P) ♥

♥ and In Closing…The Miracle League Song…

I simply do not have the words to Thank all of the people who work so hard every year to make this happen…

The Buddies who volunteer to help the kids who need help…

the coaches…

The Businesses and churches who sponsor teams….

The amazing woman who handles all the coordinating, organizing…

Thank you each and every one for giving parents like me one of the greatest Gifts in the world…

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 10

Ok, so My goal to post everyday isn’t going so well this year. The challenges of having two teenagers on the autism spectrum in the house are, well…overwhelming at times. We have seen regression in many areas…behavior issues we have not seen in several years have returned. To say I am exhausted would be a VAST understatement!

Today as I logged in to Facebook, I saw a Blog post that struck a chord with me, Hate the Autism/ Hate the Child?  It got me thinking, and I mean REALLY thinking. I have said in the past that my kids don’t need “fixing”, that they are not Broke, just wired different, and I stand by that statement. Does that mean though, that I LIKE every behavior? No…There ARE things they do that I would change. My Heart aches when my son can’t tell me what is bothering Him, and yet I KNOW something is wrong. And that gut wrenching fear that hits when He decides to take off from school, church, or home…yeah I could live without that. It is no different than when I tell my youngest to stop whining, or some other behavior she should not be doing. I Guess what I am saying is this…I Love ALL three of my kids, in SPITE of Autism, in SPITE of those behaviors that I don’t like. God made them EACH Special, and regardless of their challenges, they are ALL Blessings. There are days when my Patience is SHOT, when I want to scream ” I Can’t TAKE IT ANYMORE!”, when I just want to go off and hide somewhere.

Yes, There are GOOD things loving a child with Autism has taught me…like how to appreciate the simple things, to take life at a slower pace, the value of a smile, a hug….One of my favcorite quotes is…

“You can complain because roses have thorns,

or you can rejoice because thorns have roses”

I have learned that wether it is with my kids, in my marraige, or in life in general If all I focus on is the Negative, I am going to be miserable, but I Can’t ignore the Bad all together either. Sometimes to see the Rainbow, one has to go through the storm first.  This past weekend, my Husband and I celebrated our 16th Wedding Anniversary. The road has not been easy, we have had our share of challenges, fights, and struggles, but we have learned a lot along the way….

Lessons learned in the 16 years I have been married to the AMAZING Man God Brought into my life….

 1.) NEVER fight in front of the kids

 2.) I MUST respect my Husband and Honor HIS Leadership. God placed Him as the Head of Our Household.

 3.) HONEST Open communication is KEY.

 4.) Resorting to name calling and fighting dirty won’t accomplish anything.

 5.) Don’t go to bed angry.

 6.) Even after 16 years, It is still fun to flirt with my husband.

 7.) No Matter how hard things seem, He is always there for me, I can depend on Him.

 8.) Without Trust, things unravel quickly.

 9.) I get more help with the kids if when He gets off work I don’t ambush Him as soon as He walks in the door. Give Him time to decompress first.

 10.) He needs “Alone time” as much as I do.

 11.) Submitting to His leadership does not make me weak, It is what God called me to do, and it actually makes me stronger. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

 12.) He can’t read my mind…If something is bothering me I need to TELL him, without backing him into a corner.

 13.) He worries about the kids as much as I do, He just expresses it differently

 14.) There is nothing wrong with being married for 16 years and still acting like newlyweds!!

15.) Even though I am a stay at home mom, that doesn’t mean I should stop dressing up for my husband.

 16.) I Love Him more today than I did when we met. The road has not been easy, but Walking it with Him by my side makes it all worthwhile.

 Our anniversary is April 6th….

16 years ago a Marine from Alabama and a Marine from Upstate NY said “I do” in North Carolina…

I Love you “Bama”,

For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part

 I am so Thankful God Brought you into my world in the middle of the desert in California!

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 3

Snapshots, moments frozen in time…Precious memories…

This is day three in our Journey into what Autism Awareness means to me.

If you would like to start at the beginning…..

Day 1, 2012

Day 2,2012

Last year as we walked this snapshot journey, Our Husky, beloved dog and Friend Passed away and all three kids had a REALLY hard time dealing with the loss…(See Day 12,2011  and “How do I help them to say Goodbye?” )

The Healing Process began when a Friend gave my Youngest a Cherished stuffed animal, lovingly named “Wolfina” who goes EVERYWHERE with her…

The Healing Continued as we spent time on my Parent’s Farm…

surrounded by LOTS of Love and animals

*Helping Grandpa let the Cows out after Milking*

*Dak and Uncle Dave with Uncle Dave’s Dog…Buddy*

perhaps the biggest Highlight of the whole trip ( for the kids anyway) was getting to meet Aunt Hilary’s Horse, Cash…

There is something Amazing and beautiful to watch when my children get on the farm, and spend thier time around the animals. There is a wonderful connection, and I see a different side of my kids, almost like for brief moments in time Autism fades into the background, never completely gone, but it’s like relating to the animals relaxes them….the animals don’t judge, they just love, maybe that is the reason my kids seem to relax more around animals than people, they can just BE…

This past Christmas, after much discussion, and many months of listening to the kids ask for a new dog, and many tears over missing Fang, we decided to get them a pair of Black Lab Puppies for Christmas….

To the Beloved animals that lick tears away, Play fetch, Run, bring HUGE smiles and Laughter….

Our Family would not be complete without you….

You seem to understand when each kid needs to snuggle..

or run and jump…

You make LOTS of noise to let me know when something is just not quite right….

You Protect, Love, Play….all without question or judgement.

Trying to explain the loss of our Beloved Fang to Dak was ( and continues to be hard) but Beauty and Beast have stolen our hearts and are helping heal the ache.

♥Forever in Our Hearts…we Miss you Fang♥

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 2

The Special Bond between Siblings….

2 with Autism, one “NT”…

and yet, they love each other….

Look Out for each other…

enjoy spending time with each other ( MOST of the time!!)

 

 *Spinning in circles and Laughing together*

*In thier Safe Place during a Tornado Warning…Keeping each other Calm*

*Splashing in Mud Puddles*

*She is His Little sister…

She is His Baseball Buddy…

She is His Friend”*

♥ They fight often, but they also share Precious Sister Moments ♥

I truly hope that As they Grow they will remember the lessons learned growing up together…

That their friendship will grow stronger….

That they will continue to look after each other and cherish the bonds they have that only brothers and sisters share….

That the compassion and awareness gained by growing up in the “Special Needs” community will stick with them forever…