Monday, April 30, 2012

Tonight, I was searching for some teacher appreciation gift tags, and I stumbled across my new favorite blog. I navigated there from a Google image of a gift tag, and I was happily surprised to see that the title of this blog is KIDZ, A Special Place for Special Needs.....I LOVE IT!!!!!

I, of course, clicked on their autism label and came across this amazing poem. I feel as if I could have written says it so perfectly. I was thinking of sharing it on Mother's Day, but it's too good to wait!!!! ENJOY!!!!

Footsteps With Jacksen

 I'd never seen the place
Where true beauty lies
Until I found it twinkling
In those magical blue eyes.

The way they laughed and sparkled
Like they were dancing to a song,
Those precious eyes held secrets
I'd learn you stored before too long.

As you grew I began to notice
You would shield those big blue eyes,
You wouldn't share your sparkles,
Just the tears formed from your cries.

You did not care for company
Or friends to call your own
Instead you spent your playtime
Lining cars up all alone.

While other kids made milestones
I waited for the day
Your words would flow together
And you would have something to say.

Something deep inside me
And something in those eyes
Told me there was an answer
To his heart wrenching cries.

The day I learnt that AUTISM
Was to become etched into my heart
Was the beginning of a life
Filled with magic from the start.

The days I feel disheartened
Alone and filled with fear
He finds a way to show me
Why I'm meant to be right here.

I am meant to be his mother
He is meant to be my son
We are meant to face together,
This journey just begun.

By Fiona Goldsworthy

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stamping It Up!

One day this week, Ethan woke up VERY early. We typically don't have much time to play in the morning before school, but we did that day! Although Ethan really wanted to play with play dough, I just didn't feel like getting all of that out. So, instead I suggested playing with the overhead projector. We play with different things on the overhead, but here he is playing with yellow transparent numbers 1-100. It's hard to see, but here is what I mean...

This was taken on a different day, but this is how he plays with the overhead. We shine it on the white board by the front door.

After he was done playing with the overhead, he asked to play with stamps. This is amazing because I am always forcing encouraging him to do anything that would fall in the "Messy" category. Finger painting, water beads, shaving cream, silly putty, and......stamps. He just doesn't like his hands to be messy. (He gets that from me.) So, when he ASKED for stamps.....I QUICKLY got them out before he could change his mind!!! I took a few pictures & even got some video of Ethan VOLUNTARILY playing with stamps! He is doing so well!!!!!!! What a blessing!!!!!!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Week of Grandparents!

I just realized that Ethan was personally involved with every single one of his grandparents last week!

It started with Grandma Holly giving him a very handsome hair cut Sunday night. Ethan HATES getting his hair's the touching of his ears, the sound of the buzzers, and the tickling of the falling hair. We are so blessed that Grandma Holly went to cosmetology school & had 4 boys to give hair cuts to.....she has years of expertise on giving a cranky kid a haircut!!!! She will usually come to our house so we can give Ethan a bath afterwards. We place him in a chair with either a favorite show on TV or his iPad on his lap. We wrap a towel around his shoulders to prevent hair tickling. Grandma doesn't use any buzzers until the very end.....and she has swapped to using a mustache trimmer because it isn't as loud. Brilliant! Holly does a great job cutting his hair & talking to him while one of us holds his hands & reassures him that everything is okay. (We have even found a Sesame Street song online about a barber, and this has helped Ethan's anxiety.) After the haircut is over, either Corey or I will give him a bath while the other one vacuums. Thank you, Grandma Holly!

This week, Grandma made a special visit the day after the hair cut. She found sight word flash cards that she thought Ethan would enjoy playing with (which he has), and Ethan kept saying, "No haircut today." And Grandma kept assuring him that he was only there to play with the flash cards. It was quite cute.

Thursday, Corey & I had to go to Ethan's IEP meeting at school. Grandpa Buster has retired from his full-time career, and is currently working part-time. We were fortunate that Grandpa was available to take Ethan during this meeting. Grandpa & Ethan went on a "date" to Steak-n-Shake.....Ethan's favorite restaurant, and then back to their house to jump on the big trampoline. Ethan & Grandpa Buster LOVE cars, so it was awesome when Steak-n-Shake's kid toy was a 1957 paper-folded Chevy. This was the first time that is was just Ethan & Grandpa Buster....and they both did very well! Thank you, Grandpa Buster!

Ethan received a VERY BIG surprise in the mail this week! My dad lives about 6 hours away, and it is a difficult drive for us to make, so we don't get to see him & my step-mom that often. So, they have started sending the grand kids things in the mail. Ethan got his first package from them this week, and.....since he could read his name on it......very excitedly brought it over to me, and said, "I need help to open, please!" Here is Ethan excited to get a surprise in the mail!

He was very excited to find a Toy Story 3 DVD inside, and he ran it over to show me! Then, Corey told him that there was more in the bag. Ethan went back to the package and found 3 books.....Nemo, Toy Story, and CARS! Well, he dropped the DVD, lined up the books on the couch, and then picked up the Cars book, sat on the couch & began to read it! This kid is CRAZY FOR BOOKS! We have read them every day since. He loves them! Thank you, Papa Steve & Nana Sue!!!

And, finally, on Friday night, Ethan had date night with my mom. She took him to Wendy's for dinner, Menard's for playing on the indoor playground (found out it wasn't up yet.....yikes!), and then back to Grandma's house for playtime! Ethan stayed the night with Grandma, so I had packed 3 books for them to read before bed. I was told that when Ethan found the books, he was VERY excited. So, Grandma read those 3 books, and then got out a big pile of her own books. They stayed up late, reading together in bed, and then drifted off to sleep.....very quickly. The next morning, she took him to Hardees for breakfast and then to our house for playtime. Thank you, Gwamma Linda!

Ethan & us are so blessed to have such a close knit family. They are all very supportive of our family, and love Ethan so much. It was a fun week spent with LOTS of grandparent time! THANKS GRANDPARENTS! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Movement of Imperfection

Last Friday night, I planned a date night for my husband and me. The last time that Corey & I had date night was................hum..........well, it's been so long that I can't even remember when it was! Needless to say, it was long overdue.

After my mom picked up Ethan for their "date", Corey & I headed off to a neighboring town. We were attending a dinner & presentation for parents of special needs children. Here is the flyer for the event......

For more information about the Sisters of Imperfection, click here.

It was such a wonderful night. When we walked into the conference room, there were vendors set massages, a health information table with free healing tea samples, Thirty-One, and the authors table of stuff for sale. Our dinner was SO good! I definitely went over my calories on this one! Salad (with cranberries! That always freaked me about before, but it was really good!), grilled chicken with HUGE cheese & spinach filled ravioli, sauteed green beans, and the best chocolate pie EVER MADE!

After dinner, we heard from Gina & Patty, the authors as well as mothers of kiddos with special needs. They were sharing their stories about their kid's diagnosis, their frustrations, their victories, their lessons was great. Regardless of the differences in diagnosis, it simply amazes me how I can quickly connect to other parents of children with special needs. We are all on a similar path, and it was really nice to be able to connect with these speakers as well as the other parents at our table. We laughed a lot, cried a little, and celebrated our kids & how blessed we are to be their parents. It was great!

The concept of the Movement of Imperfection: "Today, more than ever, our society is obsessed with achievement and perfection. This is especially true when it comes to our children. It seems you can’t go anywhere without hearing about how someone’s child scored the winning goal or reading a bumper sticker that says, "My honor student loves me." 
So what’s a parent of a child who's not a star athlete or Rhodes scholar to do?
You can join The Movement of Imperfection. This long-overdue movement invites parents of "non-perfect" kids to come out of their messy closets and talk about the accomplishments of their children. With bumper magnets like "My Bipolar Kid Loves Me AND Hates Me," we're wearing our badges of imperfection and telling the world with humor and grace, "We're not always O.K., but that's O.K." I love this idea so much....whether you have kids with special needs or not, and have officially joined the Movement of Imperfection. If you would like to know more about this or want to join the movement, visit their website or find them on facebook here.

Here we are listening to the Sisters of Imperfection. I have the teal scarf on in the back, and my husband is sitting in front of me.

Introducing "The Movement of Imperfection"

I know I said I was backing off on reading about autism, but this book is full of I had to buy it! Here Patty is signing my book.

After dinner, Corey surprised me with an overnight stay in the hotel. It was a great rare opportunity for us to talk & connect. We even had breakfast just the two of us! When we got back to get Ethan, he had had a GREAT time with my mom.....Grandma is WAY more fun than Mom & Dad! It was a great date night for everyone!!!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Learning to Find Balance

A couple of weeks ago, I had a realization that I was taking care of everyone else.....and never taking care of myself. So, for 2 weeks now, I have been trying take some time & take care of my mind, body & soul. And, to keep myself accountable, I will be doing occasional updates here.

I'll be honest....this has not been easy for me. There are already limited hours in a day, and I feel like there is too much to do as a mother, wife & caretaker of the home. So, my changes have been small, but it's a start, right?

Mind - I have pulled back on my autism/parenting related reading & researching. I have pulled out some puzzles, magazines, and cookbooks to do or thumb through during our rest time instead. I have considered reading some of the popular series such as Hunger Games or Twilight, but when I do that....I don't do anything else until I have read the entire series. Maybe this summer....

Body - This has honestly been my focus the last couple of weeks. I have downloaded an app on my smartphone, and it keeps track of my food, exercise, water, sleep, and weight. MyFitnessPal has a scanner on it, and I am able to scan the bar-codes on my food for easy recording. I LOVE IT! I have really been focusing on healthier eating, drinking more water, and moving more. I am still trying to figure out when I can get in my daily exercise as well as WHAT to do. But for now, I have been going on walks or bike rides or playing Wii Dance 3. I have already lost some weight, and I have more energy.

MyFitnessPal example
I found this water bottle at Kohl's this past weekend. I love it! It holds 64 oz of water, and for the last 2 days, I have been able to drink TWO of them! If you would like one, click here!

Soul - I have been doing daily devotions in the morning, as I was previously. However, I have signed up to receive my devotions online. I typically write in the morning after my devotions, so it has been easier to do it all on the computer. It's so funny. The day that I began to think about finding an online daily devotion, my friend posted that she had been writing devotions for a couple years, and was now making it available in a blog format! It was PERFECT!!!! If you would like to follow her online devotions, go to (Is that meant for me or what!?)

Also, I have realized that most of my life is spent either alone or with children. So, to combat the isolated feeling that creeps up on me so often, I have done a couple of things. I have decided to stop nagging my husband about needing a date night, and just do it! I took him out on a date last weekend, and it was GREAT! We went to a dinner for parents of special needs kiddos, and it was a much needed time together. We laughed a lot! I will be taking him on dates more often! HA! The other thing that I have started doing is Sunday lunches with my sister's family & my mom. So often, Sunday afternoons are filled with sleeping kids, busy husbands, and bored me. So, my sister & I decided that this time of day we should have a big lunch, put the kids down for nap & enjoy catching up on our lives. We have done this for 2 Sundays now, and it has been so much fun! Even though I see my family often, we never get a chance to sit & talk without interruptions. PLUS! I'm getting good use out of my cookbooks finally! (You know I only know how to make coffee....and that's it!)

Well....that's it. These are the small steps that I have taken in order to have a balanced life once again. So much of the past years have been dedicated to Ethan....which I wouldn't do any differently.....but as he is getting older & doing so well overcoming the challenges he faces, I feel like I am able to take a step back & spread my energies on other things.....including some time for taking care of me. do you keep a balanced life? What are some things that you do in your life to keep things in order? Got any ideas? Send them my way! Share with us! Post a comment!!! We would LOVE to hear your tips & tricks!!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Awhile ago, this blog received a facelift. Wanting to have a design that was unique & personal, I contacted my amazing artistic cousin, Jenny. And I LOVE the new look!!! Since that time, she has developed a website for others to receive this same kind of individualized & creative self print OR in digital form!

If you submit a photo to her, she is able to create several types of looks.....depending on your preference! She can do a comic book look, an oil painting print or a sketch-up style (which is what I choose)! She can even take photos of several different people & create a group picture of all of them! IT'S AWESOME!!!! She is very easy to work with, too! She was able to create a design for me that was PERFECT....even though it was difficult for me to tell her exactly what I was thinking. She's that good!!!!

Check out her new website, Here are some sneak peeks!!! These would be great gifts! I'm already thinking about using her services for our next Christmas card!

Oil Painting
Comic Book

Sketch-Up Style

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Walk With Me!

Each year, Easter Seals holds Walk With Me events all over the country. This year, we have decided to do a "Courage and Coffee" team and walk in honor of our Ethan. I am SUPER excited to do this! Our event isn't until July, but these walks happen all over! Check here to see what is available near you!

If you live locally, and you would like to DO this walk with us (which would be OUTSTANDING), you can register under the Courage & Coffee Team here. The cost to participate is $20, and you will receive a t-shirt. Kids 12 & under are FREE!!! AND IF we get them soon enough and IF I can sweet talk my vinyl guy (aka my husband), we may be able to put our team name on the shirts!!! WOO-HOO!

If you can't get to a walk or are not available to participate in a walk, you are still able to make a difference! Donations are very much needed & appreciated! They can be submitted here.

I am very excited, and I hope we have a HUGE group! I would love it if I didn't even know many of the people walking with us because they were invited by our friends & family members! INVITE EVERYONE!!!

July 21st, 2012
Bloomington, IL 
Easter Seals Walk With Me
Courage & Coffee Team

7:15-7:30 am - Meet in Pekin Kmart Parking Lot for Donuts & Carpooling
(Bring your own coffee). 
Leave for Bloomington.
You could also meet us there!

8:30 am - Registration and Ambassador Meet and Greet

9:15 am - Warm Up and Ambassador Introductions

9:30 am - Walk begins!!!