Friday, April 27, 2012

5 Years and Counting

Hubs and I spent last weekend in Savannah, Georgia celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary. I really can't believe it. Some days it feels like it was only yesterday we stood before our family and friends and declared our unconditional love and commitment to each other. Other days, it feels like that memory is much more distant and that it's been much longer than 5 years. ;)

I'm really a lucky girl. My husband is the best. No, really. He is. Not only is he a great husband, but he's an amazing father to our 2 kiddos. He doesn't mind changing R's diapers, or answering KK's crazy, silly, questions over and over...and over again. He'll be the first one to realize I need to get out of the house, before I lose all sanity. He's also the one to wipe away my tears after a long and stressful day. The one who supports me as I try to find my way back into this world, after being so focused on R and his autism for the last  year and a half.

So, we celebrated the fact that he's an awesome hubby and I'm a pretty fantastic wife! In Georgia. Doing absolutely anything we wanted to do. Whenever we wanted to do it. Sleep until 9:00 a.m., and pee without KK invading the bathroom. Eat whenever and whatever we wanted. It was pretty fabulous.

Here's a peek at our trip. I'm sure I'll share more again next week! Happy Friday!

Forsythe Park

We chatted with a woman, in one of the (many) squares, who was making these flowers out of palm leaves. I love, love, love them! If were getting married all over again, I would have them at my wedding! 

 City Market

Eating ice cream, listening to music, and watching the boats float by. Perfect night! 

It's difficult to get my hubs to enjoy Starbucks as much as I do. I was pretty excited when we were sitting in the square with Starbucks in hand, and it definitely warranted a picture of his cup! ;) 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome Wednesday Blog Hop {Guest Host}

I am so excited to be guest hosting the Welcome Wednesday blog hop with Kelley from Haute Mom. It's an easy way to discover some super fun blogs and meet new friends! I hope you'll join in on the hop!

How it works:
1. Follow the hostess, Haute Mom and the guest hostesses. Be sure to leave a comment so that I can follow you back.
2. Follow one other blog (at least.)
3. Link up your blog for all of us to love.
4. Make an attempt to check out at least two new blogs. Don't know where to start? How about the two blogs above you? If you love the blog, become a follower and leave them a comment letting them know.

So link up! You don't have to post about the hop...but you know how we ladies work, the more the merrier. We would love it if you would help us spread the word and help Welcome Wednesday grow!
Haute Mom


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time Out for Mom: Vacay!

This has been a long time coming. Hubby and I are leaving for vacation early in the morning! We have never spent even one night away from the kiddos since they joined our family, so this is going to be interesting for all involved.

Boy, does my mom have her work cut out for her. My kids are no joke- they take every ounce of energy out of me, and one of two things will happen for my mom. Option #1: They will be complete angels and my mom will wonder what the heck I complain about all the time. Option #2: They will be themselves and my mom will be super exhausted come Monday afternoon. Good luck, mom!

I can only imagine how M is going to feel about this. I think she's under the impression that Nana is coming for a weekend sleepover- with all of us. This morning she was saying, "No mom! Don't go, don't go! Stay here!" as I was leaving to head to the salon.

Good thing we're sneaking out super early, so I don't start sobbing before we even get out the door. Oh, there will be tears. As much as I'm looking forward to a long weekend away with hubby (Lord knows we need it), I'm a little sad about leaving the kiddos.

Well friends, enjoy your weekend. I'll have a full recap of our travels next week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Hindsight is 20/20. We all know this. Last week I surprised myself- giving advice and sharing my experience with another mom who is just beginning a journey of her own to figure out if her son is touched by ASD. Even if your family isn't touched by Autism, read on. The message can pertain to any family facing adversity or challenge.

I knew in my heart months before an official diagnosis was given to R, that it was Autism. There was really no doubt in my mind. I started grieving before the diagnosis was given because I was scared as hell. Your world is turned inside out and upside down before you even hear the words or see it on paper. Some try to pray it away. Some make excuses as to why it "couldn't" be Autism. Some believe it certainly could not happen to their child. Guess what? All of that is normal.

Here is a snippet of a few things I wrote to this awesome mama. I think some of us could use a reminder, and there may be some of us who may need to hear this for the first time.

"I struggled for a long time and there are still days that I struggle. If there's one thing I've learned on this journey, it's that Autism isn't a life sentence. They just view the world through different lenses, and we have to adapt the way we approach parenting, education, and just life in general."

I surprised myself with my "wisdom", and realized that I've come a long way since those months before and after R's diagnosis. Some days are hard- really, really hard. There are also so many days that are amazing- full of smiles, accomplishments, and pure joy! 

When R was diagnosed, my world came crashing down. I felt like he was served the death sentence because we had a list of "nevers" in front of us, and all of a sudden the identity of our family was changed forever. In those early days, I thought this meant that everything we ever wanted for ourselves and our children was thrown out the window. 

The dreams we dreamed when I was pregnant with the twins are still dreams, they are just a little different. We've had to do a little tweaking, but we don't ever rule any dreams out. I hope some day my husband is able to take R to a football game, teach him how to throw a baseball, and do all the "boy" stuff dads and sons do together. These things might take a little longer to happen, but that's ok. I believe deep in my heart that they will- we're just on a different timeline than a lot of other families.

I will never hold either of my children to a lower standard- no matter the challenge. I believe everyone is capable of doing what they want to do, you just have to believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in your children. Believe in your family. It may not be easy, but do it anyway.

Every family faces challenges- big and small. The challenges we face on a daily basis can have an effect on our goals and dreams, but we should never dismiss them. You may need to take a detour to get there, but you can get there. I promise.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Don't let comparison steal your joy"


Who's mom cried during an IEP meeting yesterday? R's mom! Yep, that's right- that would be me. R just turned 3, so he is moving from Early Intervention/Help Me Grow into the school district (he is already part of the preschool program there, it's just a "technicality" now that he is 3). So, during the last three weeks, they have been conducting a bunch of assessments and yesterday I received the results of said assessments. 

R's teacher started talking and I pretty much lost it. I was staring at a paper of percentiles and developmental ages and my heart sunk. It sinks every time I have to go through something like this. There is just something about seeing these results on paper and having someone speak them out loud. Severe. In just about every category, my son fell in the "severe" range. This shouldn't be a surprise to me- when he was first diagnosed in January of 2011, he was diagnosed as "severe". He was re-evaluated just a few months ago as "severe". Now the school is saying "severe".

A year ago, all I could focus on were the numbers, percentiles, labels, and comparisons; Autism masked the image of my son in the months following his diagnosis. The days and months following the diagnosis were a struggle. It was hard to find the "good" in all of this, and I held a lot of anger inside. 

There came a point in time where I embraced the diagnosis. I started believing this wasn't a life sentence for R. Now, I am able to focus on R just as he is. Rejoicing in the progress he has made. Hopeful for his bright future, and ready to take on another day. Living in gratitude that he is happy, and (for the most part) healthy. 

I am so proud of R and the progress he has made. He has the light back in his eyes after being lost for so long. The comparisons, percentiles, and labels do not define him, and they never will. 

I will not allow comparison to steal my joy. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Take Time for Mom: DIY Jewelry Hanger

Every day, as a mom, you are faced with choices. Fold the laundry or do the dishes? Relax or organize the linen closet? Clean up the disaster the kiddos made or catch up on House (insert your fav show here)? I feel like it's almost always a choice between taking care of my well-being or getting x,y, and z accomplished for the kids or the household.

I intentionally take time to work on projects, crafts, blogs, and photography because those are the things that keep me grounded. Yes, the dishes may be piling up and there's a good chance I'll trip over a matchbox car or princess shoes... but I'm ok with that. Well, I'm ok with it sometimes. Sometimes you just need to do something that you enjoy, and I find this especially true when you're a stay-at-home mama like myself.

So, a couple months ago I talked my hubby into making me this jewelry/scarf holder. He constructed the "bones" and I embellished it. I found all of my knobs and hooks at Hobby Lobby (during a 1/2 off sale, of course!)- aren't they fun? The total for this project was around $20.00 because we have a bunch of scrap wood in our garage that hubby used, and I used left over paint.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mess-Free Finger Painting

I found this project on Pinterest and it has been a big hit with my kiddos! I love it because there are no hands, tables, faces, floors, or hair to wash afterwards. It truly is mess-free!

This project is fun for all kiddos, but it also has a great benefit for those who deal with sensory issues. If the feeling of finger paint doesn't appeal to your kiddo, this is a fantastic project to try with them! They don't get messy or sticky hands, but can "squish" the paint around the bag without the sensory overload the paint may cause some kiddos. It could be the first step to getting them to touch paint again (or for the first time) by gently easing them into it.

Kids can "draw" pictures, practice writing numbers, letters, and shapes. You can teach about primary and secondary colors- mixing colors to make others. Older kids could play "tic tac toe" or "hang man". The possibilities are endless and there are ideas for all age groups with this. Awesome benefits from this very simple idea!

Instructions for Mess-Free Painting

Fill a 1 gallon ziplock bag with washable finger paint. You could use tempera paint too, but I use the washable paint in case one of the kiddos tears a hole in the bag and gets some on their clothes. A few squirts of each color will work just fine. Use as few or as many colors as you wish! 

Lay a white piece of paper on the table (I use scratch paper- helpin' the planet by re-using!), then lay the bag of paint on top of the paper. 

Tape the bag to your table with painter's tape. Painter's tape is the safest for your table, but I'm sure masking tape would work just as well. I'd stay away from packing tape or duct tape. Scotch tape doesn't hold these very well- I've tried when I ran out of painter's tape. 

That's it! Let the kids explore and create! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"That Sucks"

Being a mom of 3 year old twins, one of them with Autism, sometimes makes me want to scream. Or take up kickboxing. Or drink copious amounts of coffee. Or drive around town by myself looking at houses, when we're not quite ready to buy (a couple years- patience!). I think every mama feels this way- regardless of what challenges their kiddos present.

During those moments/days/weeks of hardship, frustration, and exhaustion all I want is for someone to say "Yeah Jess, that really sucks. It just sucks.". It's validation of my feelings, I suppose. It lets me know they are truly listening to me and can put themselves in my shoes. My friend, Jenny, is best at this and I absolutely love her for it.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the encouraging messages from friends and family. Those are needed, too. One I hear often is "God will only give you want you can handle." I know "God only gives you what you can handle." because He entrusted me with this child who has Autism. It is my responsibility to love him unconditionally and to do everything I can create a joyful life for him. I don't take my responsibility lightly, and I know I can handle it. I know I'm handling it every afternoon when I read Rman's progress log from school. I know it every time I hear him randomly spit out a word. I know it every time he tolerates sitting next to his sister. I know it every time he giggles. I know it at the end of every day, when I settle in for the night and I've survived.

The point is, I know all of these things that people say to me. I know I'm a good mom. I know I'm doing everything I can. I know that they know I'm doing a good job. I know they think I'm strong. I know they think I'm the best advocate for my child. Sometimes, I just want them to know that some days it sucks. That's it- plain and simple... some days suck.

There is just something about someone putting themselves in your shoes. As a special needs mom, I feel that no one can ever fully or truly understand how this disorder has effected my entire life and my family's life. If someone can put themselves in my place, even if just for a moment, it brings comfort to my soul.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good Eats

Yesterday, we celebrated Easter with my favorite people- my family.

We laughed.
We visited.
We hunted for eggs.
We had brunch.

The food was plentiful, and it felt like Thanksgiving all over again. I could have napped for a couple hours after that feast. There was the traditional ham, meatballs, hash brown potatoes, quiche, and egg casserole. Then, there was the "good stuff", the sweets. Fruit pizza, cinnamon rolls, and petite vanilla scones.

Yummy, right?

Those scones were delish. I think I ate 3, and secretly hoped that there would be a lot of leftovers to go with my morning coffee. I made them from scratch using Pioneer Woman's recipe for Petite Vanilla Scones.  Most anything I make from PW turns out fantastic, but these, by far, have been my fav! 

In fact, I think it's about time I grab some coffee and a scone(or two). I put chili powder in my kids pancakes this morning, and I am in desperate need of caffeine! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

My One.

1 in 88 kiddos will be diagnosed with Autism; 1 in 54 boys. These kiddos are more than a number. More than a statistic.

Here is MY one. He is so much more than a number. He is curious, bright, intelligent, determined, happy, lovable, cuddly, funny, goofy, silly, handsome, brave, strong, unique and inspirational.

He may be one in 88, but to me and to the rest of my family, he's one in a million! I love you, Rman!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I heart faces {happiness}

Happiness is.... 

...being silly, laughing until your belly hurts, and throwing paint all over your favorite people in this world.

 This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge – 

I Heart...

-Lazy Sunday mornings

-When my kiddos sleep in

-Wide Awake Coffee Co. Espresso Beans (Sorry, Starbucks. This brand stole my heart!)


-Warm socks; seriously the BEST

-GNO (Girls Night Out)

-Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products. Basil is my favorite! 

-Pick Your Plum (hello, obsession! today's deal below!)

-Anthropologie. I am in need of these measuring cups.

Stenciled wood floors. In love.

What do you heart? 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Light it up BLUE 2012

Monday, April 2nd, was World Autism Awareness Day, and Autism Speaks held it's annual "Light it up Blue" day. I asked friends and family to wear blue, order custom blue bracelets (I ordered them), and change their porch lights to blue. The response was overwhelming and we were definitely feelin' the love and support. Here are a few photos from friends and family "lighting it up blue"!

Monday, April 2, 2012

what is Autism?

April is Autism Awareness Month! I put together this graphic on autism to give some quick info. Tomorrow I'm going to share all the awesome love I felt today from my friends and supporters during  "Light it Up Blue"!