Monday, August 31, 2009

Quote of the Week: Laughter of Children

"The laughter of children is an international language."
~ Anonymous

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Back to School Socks

It's back to school time which means new clothes, a new back pack, new school supplies, and of course, in our house it means new socks - new back to school themed socks!
(And ya know how much we love socks in this house!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: A Special Gift

A few years back my BFF gave me a book called A Special Gift by Carrie Gruman –Trinkner, which is a devotional book written by a Mother of a child with special needs for Mothers of children with special needs.

I did read a few of the devotions in the book when Lani originally gave it to me but at the time J and I were doing a couples devotion but the book has always remained on my bookshelf knowing one day I would pick it up again.

That day came this summer when I was having such a hard time dealing with Noah’s meltdowns. I just opened the book one night and read the first devotion it opened to. That particular devotion happened to be about how as Moms we get so busy taking care of and worrying about our children, their health, and their special needs that we can easily become stressed and we need to take time to not only refresh ourselves but to refresh our souls as well. It was just what I needed to hear that day and almost everyday since I have read a devotion in the book.

I like that they are written by the Mom of a special needs child and that most of the devotions in the book deal with the unique challenges that we face as Moms of special needs kids. The author writes about her special needs child some and also weaves in the stories of other mothers of special needs children in each devotion.

Each devotion begins with a scripture that in some way relates to that particular devotion and then ends with a prayer. The devotions are not terribly long, usually a page and a half. After a day of meltdowns, reading something long is the last thing I want to do plus my eyes can’t take too much reading at this time so the fact that they are pretty short is very nice after a long day.

Curling up in my bed and reading one of these devotions has now become my perfect ending to the long, stressful days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Held

There is a song called Held by Natalie Grant, that I listened to over and over and over and over again right after we lost Darcy, our baby who died before we even held her in our arms. A fellow birthmother and friend, Amy, had shared that song with me before I even was pregnant with Darcy and after I lost Darcy I thought of the song. 
Those were dark days –those first two weeks after I lost Darcy - I was such a mess. J’s Mom and Dad were both in the hospital, it was summer but luckily Noah was in summer camp, and I was just a grieving mess and could barely function - just getting out of bed to take a shower felt like a major chore. My poor J was pulled in so many different directions working, dealing with his own grief, trying to take care of me and Noah, be there for his parents, etc. Thankfully, we have supportive family and friends because I don’t think we could have made it through that time without them.

So in those two weeks, I probably listened to Held at least 50 times. Every morning when Noah left for camp, the house was empty and I would turn on the song and sit there and either sing it or just sob and listen or some combination of both. I’d listen to it repeatedly until I had no tears left to cry. (Not many people know that and I now just shared that little secret with anyone who has access to a computer!)

I was angry with God at that time in my life. I had done things right. I was married, I planned that pregnancy unlike the others and it hurt so bad to lose that baby. Somewhere deep inside of me though, when I heard those lyrics, I was comforted.

After about two weeks of listening to Held daily and just being an emotional, grieving mess, I felt a little bit of peace. I told myself that enough was enough. Noah needed and deserved a good Momma, J needed a wife, my parents needed a daughter, my friends needed a friend, and so on….. It was time to join the land of the living again. I put the song away, got out of bed that day, and made spinach lasagna. J came home and had the most surprised look on his face when he saw me putting the lasagna in the oven. He gave me a kiss and said “you’re back.” I was – I was back. I was different, but I was back. Of course, the grief of loosing Darcy didn’t go away and it will never go away completely but I was trying to move forward.

Ever since those dark days, I can’t listen to the song Held without crying. I’ve heard it at church a few times and on the radio a few times and would have to switch it quickly before the tears started up.

Until the other day………

I listened to Held and for the first time while hearing the song, I didn’t sob for the baby I lost. I did get teary eyed but not until the chorus and it was for a totally different reason.

This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell we’d be held

It struck me listening to those words…. In my darkest days, when I was angry at God, he was still right there holding me. When I made that decision to get out of bed and participate in life again, it wasn’t my brain talking, it was God in my heart talking. He held my heart and he led me to healing.

That song will always remind my heart of the baby that I never held but now it will also remind me that as a child of God, I am always held.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quote of the Week: Something Wonderful

"I'd rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."
~ Steel Magnolis

Friday, August 21, 2009

First Day of School

Noah's first day of school was Tuesday. I had hoped that Tuesday morning wouldn't be too bad since we went to the school last week and have been preparing Noah every day since but Tuesday morning was pretty bad. He did not want to get up and get dressed and refused to cooperate at all. He cried most of the morning until the bus finally got there. Noah loves riding the bus so I really thought that would perk him up as it has in the past. But no, he cried as he got on the bus too. He had a pretty rough day at school Tuesday and refused to cooperate, eat, or participate in any activities.
All the other mornings this week have been pretty good. He's gotten dressed much easier and hasn't cried nor fussed. His behavior at school is slowly improving. We all knew that it would take a little time to adjust and he still has a bit to go but he is improving and behaving a little bit better each day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blog Issues

I'm having blog issues. I can post but I can't add pictures, or change the font, or center things, add links, spell check, etc!!! It's super frustrating because I NEED to blog. The strange part is I had a friend log in to see if she was seeing what I see and she wasn't. It's totally normal on her end. I had to send her a screen shot of what I'm seeing so I could understand so I'm guessing that means it is on my end? Although, I am trying to contact Blogger anyways to see if they can help me figure out whats up but I am not having much luck with that!! So, hopefully, I'll get things figured out ASAP and be able to post again. Noah started school this week and I have lots to say about that!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quote of the Week: Something to Learn

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.” ~ Vernon Howard

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Open House

The open house at Noah’s school was yesterday. This is when he got his teacher assignment for next year. He wasn't looking forward to going but was pretty decent while we there although he did have several meltdowns later, including a huge one during the car ride home.  He’s going to be facing a lot of changes this year. He’ll be moving to the middle school section. He’ll even be changing classes once a day. He is already familiar with his new teacher, Ms. F, (he used to sneak out of his classroom and go to this teacher’s classroom every chance he got to visit a little girl he liked!) and a few of his classmates though. He’s even going to have cooking class one day a week – I already let his teacher know how much he loves to stir! He’ll have a different bus driver this year. (He’s had the same one for the past 5 years.) He already knows and loves her though so I hopefully we will be good on that one but it’s just one more change for my little man who doesn’t like change. School starts on Tuesday so between now and then, we’ll be looking at some of the pics I took at school to prepare him for the new teacher and his new classroom although I didn’t get any good ones because he was just not in the mood! He already got a new (Clemson orange of course!) back pack so now all he needs is a binder/folder and then we’re good to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: In the Afternoon Sunlight

I don't know why exactly but I'm loving this picture. I love that it is sort of smokey. I love the afternoon sunlight lightly streaming in just a bit. I love that he's just watching a movie and not paying attention to his crazy Momma with the camera in her hands, yet again. I love his innocence. I love him. 
* * * * * * * * 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Noah's Meltdowns

I actually wrote this post about two weeks ago but couldn’t decide if I really wanted to post it or not. Then I came across this quote by Helen Keller: “Believe when you are most unhappy that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, then your life is not in vain.”  I know we’re not the only parents dealing with this and perhaps someone reading will know that they are not alone in what they are dealing with……

Sometimes Noah will have what I now refer to as (autistic) meltdowns. Think temper tantrum and that will give you an idea as to what these meltdowns are like. They involve screaming and crying as well as hitting, biting, scratching, and kicking not only himself but anyone or anything that is within his reach. Basically the only thing you can do during his meltdown is remove him from the situation if it was a situation that set him off, make sure that he is safe and can’t harm himself or others, and then just ride it out which usually means we are holding his arms so that he can’t hurt himself. They eventually result in pure exhaustion by anyone involved.  

Sometimes the meltdowns do occur as a result of a situation. For example, if we are somewhere and Noah begins to feel over stimulated that might set him off. But then other times he could be in that exact same situation and be just fine, so you just never know. Other times, I know that they occur as a result of communication frustrations. Sometimes he gets so frustrated trying to communicate his wants and desires and we don’t understand and that upsets him. And then other times, I just have no clue what sets him off and is going on in his head.

I’ve rarely mentioned these meltdowns to anyone until recently. Have you ever heard someone say that when a child has temper tantrums it is the fault of the parents for poor parenting and discipline? Well, I’d heard people say that before and so I thought that Noah’s meltdowns were my fault (I didn’t realize that they were associated with his autism) so I just didn’t talk about them until we realized they aren’t tantrums – they are meltdowns. I recently found some really great information online that compared typical temper tantrums to autistic meltdowns and it was clear to me that Noah is experiencing meltdowns NOT temper tantrums. And so, I finally decided it’s time to not be silent about the meltdowns. Maybe there are other Mom’s who are dealing with them and might have some suggestions that I haven’t tried yet. 

Just the possibility of a meltdown affects our lives. We haven’t been to a sit down restaurant with Noah in a very, very long time (um, since he was about 5 or 6!)  because that type of situation can often result in a meltdown. Our family understands this (especially my my parents as they have experienced many themselves!) and is supportive and helpful but some of our friends are a different story. I think that when we can’t drop everything and run over or don’t want to expose Noah to certain situations (i.e. a party with a lot of people) they take it personally, like we don’t want to spend time with them when that really has nothing to do with it. I really don’t think you can completely understand how involved it is and what it all feels like, unless you have experienced or witnessed it.  

So, lately we have felt pretty alone in dealing with these meltdowns to the point of where I’d prefer to stay at home then chance going somewhere and dealing with one. While they are not easy to deal with in any situation, they are much easier to deal with at home than in public with others staring and making comments. 

He used to only have them every few months but lately he has been having them a lot more frequently! I really think that he is just out of his routine now that summer session of school is over. He LOVES school and does so much better during the school year so we are hopeful that things will get back to normal (or our normal rather) when school starts back which is not very far away!

Noah will be 13 in October so I also wonder if we aren’t dealing with some pre-teen hormones. He’s also realizing that he has limits and it frustrates him. For example, he was trying to turn the lamp on by himself the other day. He got very mad that he couldn’t do it. His brain knows what he needs to do to turn it on but his little fingers just won’t cooperate with him.  I just feel so isolated, depressed, alone, overwhelmed, and exhausted lately. But I am hopeful, very hopeful, that things will get better soon and it feels good just to get my feelings out! 

I must end on a positive note…. 
Noah's been trying lots of new foods! He currently loves French toast for breakfast and will even help me make it – he stirs the eggs, milk, and the secret ingredient. I tell him stirring is the most important part and he loves it. 

Regardless of whether or not others can relate to the post, I think that it might give you a small glimpse into the life of a family dealing with a child with special needs. It’s not easy but as a Christian I know God will not give me more than I can handle and it feels good to have just gotten all these thoughts, feelings, and emotions out on paper. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Creating a Post It Note Holder

Using an acrylic picture frame, which you can find at most Dollar Stores and other stores like WalMart, you can make a cute spot to hold your post it notes for your desk. These are easy to make, inexpensive to make, and can be made to match any d├ęcor. They are great for teacher's gifts as well as a nice little gift for co-workers and friends!
I've been re-doing my "office area" (it's really just a corner of my room but I am trying to make it an organized and peaceful place to work in!) and I made the "hope" post it note holder pictured above to match my new desk decor. (More pics of the "office area" re-do coming soon!) 

Materials Needed: Acrylic Picture Frame (I used a 5 x7 frame purchased for 1.00$. You will need the type of acrylic frame that has a stand on it.)   Scrapbooking Paper Ribbon Embellishments (stickers, flowers, buttons, rub ons, etc.)  Scissors Glue (I used tacky craft glue.) Post it notes
Instructions: Step 1: Trim the scrapbooking paper so that it fits inside the frame. Once it’s trimmed, place it inside the frame. 
Step 2: Embellish the frame as you wish using ribbon, stickers, flowers, buttons - really, whatever you like! You'll be putting any embellishments on top of the frame. (In some of the ones I made last year pictured below, I printed out images off the computer and used those.) I always put ribbon at the top.  Just remember to leave enough room for your block of post it notes.
In the hope frame, I added a coordinating flower and a metal sticker that says “hope.” 
Step 3: Finally, you’ll add your post it notes. When I made some of these to sell at craft shows last year or to give as gifts, I actually glued the post it notes on since they were being transported and shuffled around but when they are just sitting on your desk, you really don't have to glue them on but of course, if you want to glue 'em on, go for it! 
Finished! How easy was that? 

These are so simple that I made a bunch last year, here’s a few of those to get your mind going as to all the different kinds you could make! 
This one says "Love Bears All Things." (Clip art off my computer)
For the teachers..... 
Breast cancer awareness
This one says, "Dance like no one is watching." 
One of my favorite quotes - "What you are is God's gift to you, what you become is your Gift to God." 

Aren't they cute?!? If you make one, I'd love to see a photo!! 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quote of the Week: Dance in the Rain

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Unknown 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Watching Uncle A.

When I went to Summerville with my parents for my brother's birthday, I asked my brother to make a little video message for Noah since Noah wasn't able to go with us. Noah LOVES it and I've had to play it over and over and over and over and over......... (you get the point!) 

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Quote of the Week: Patience

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have for instance." ~ Franklin P. Jones

Yes, he’s definitely taught me patience!