Monday, May 27, 2013

Just an update

Often times I think about writing another blog post and yet when I actually get a chance, I either forget, don't feel like typing, or best excuse-- I go to bed instead!  But, can you blame me?  I'm exhausted all the time.  Not even sure why.  I mean, yeah, I have a 14 month old that I chase around most of the day, housework to do, a 2 year old in the evenings and weekends-- who is constantly sick and whose Autism can sometimes give me a run for my money--, a 13 year old who mentally exhausts me, but thankfully is super helpful and a good kid, and a husband who works evenings leaving me with all 3 kids at once.  Is that really an excuse to be so tired and needing to go to bed so early most of the time? 

Still I am exhausted and no amount of sleep could probably make me feel 100% again. At this rate, all I ask for is one thing-- for my little ones to sleep through the entire night without coming into bed, waking up with nightmares or needing comfort, every single night.  I mean, I love them and don't mind doing the "mom" thing most of the time, but when you spend half your night tending them and not sleeping, it can be pretty draining.

Besides being tired, I am also finding myself.  After 33 years one would think they know themselves-- their wants, needs, desires, fears-- and yet I feel I know nothing about myself.  I always say that what I have gone through in my life has made me who I am today-- but who is that?!  I mean, I know I'm a mom and wife.  But who *is* April?  If you take away being a mother and wife, who is left-- what is left?  I'm actually working on figuring that out, and so far, so good.  I'm not super pleased with who I am discovering, but I am not horrified either!  Haha.  I know I can be someone better and I am working on that.  My first step-- to bring myself closer to God.  My relationship with Him isn't what I want or need.  I truly desire to have a more intimate relationship with my Savior and so that is my first step in discovering myself.  Really, who knows me better than He does?

There are other steps I am taking but that is number one, so I will leave it at that.  Aside from discovering myself, life has been full of craziness.  Ephraim has missed a lot of school due to sickness-- mostly ear infections.  He has finally been referred for tubes and his surgery is on June 3rd.  Lorelai will be having tubes as well-- we just have to wait until her pediatrician is back (June 3rd, coincidentally) for her referral.  (We know she will get one because the last time we saw the pediatrician she said one more ear infection for both kids would lead to tubes and while she was on vacation we took L to the ER and sure enough, she has another ear infection!)

Bretton did track and field this spring and I am so pleased!  To be honest, ever since he was a little boy I have thought "If he does track and field just once in his life, it will be a dream come true!"  So, my dream was fulfilled!  I hope he sticks with it next year, but if not, I truly enjoyed seeing him participate this year.  He even made it to the Championship meet-- something you have to qualify for.  He participated in the 4x100, discus, javelin (not the typical kind for safety reasons), and shot put.  He qualified for shot put and discus.  I did all the throwing events as well, so it was nice to reminisce and to be able to give him pointers. 

Anyway, I am off for now.  I need to make breakfast, get Bretton up so he can mow some lawns, and hopefully get some cleaning/organizing done today.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April is Autism Awareness Month

It has been a long time since I have written.  There is a lot to catch up on, but it will need to wait for another time.  This post is for and about Autism Awareness.  April is Autism Awareness Month, and if you know me or have read my blog, then you know that my youngest son has Autism and I have felt deeply in my heart that I need to help spread awareness.  Not just having people know the word.  But to know Autism-- or at least, to know it as much as they can without experiencing it themselves.  Every case of Autism is very different than the next one-- sort of like snowflakes. :)

So, my plan is to try to post at least 4 times in April with facts and information about Autism.  I will also include how certain things in our daily lives are affected by Autism.  Don't forget to share my blog and to leave comments for me about your experiences or thoughts regarding Autism.  (Keep in mind that I monitor my comments and will not keep negative and rude comments, or any that try to cause arguments.)

So, let me say this for tonight: My family is participating in the "Light It Up Blue" campaign that was founded by the organization Autism Speaks.  There is huge controversy on them and their tactics.  While I personally disagree with many things that they do, or don't do in some cases, I don't feel that it is supporting Autism Speaks, per se, by lighting our home blue, or wearing blue,etc. Just supporting Autism.  I think that the idea behind the blue lights is mainly to spread awareness.  We do not financially support Autism Speaks but we do feel that more awareness and education is needed, and therefore we are "going blue".  We see it as a way to get the word out and bring Autism "to light". 

We already have our lights on.  They will be on all month.  I made some shirts that we will wear, and I have a few other things up my sleeves if all works out.  But really, in the end, our main goal as a family who deals with Autism every day is to spread more than awareness.  We want to spread understanding, acceptance, education, and advocate on our son's behalf.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Pinterest Sunday: Hershey Cake

So, if I am going to do the Pinterest thing and blog about it (see my last blog post) then I figure I should try to stick with doing it on the same day each week.  I mean, blog about it on the same day, not necessarily make the item that day. 

It just so happens that I did make one today, and it was a Hershey Chocolate Cake found here.  The recipe calls for dark cocoa, but I didn't have any.  After having a piece, I am OK with it being regular.  It was SO chocolatey!!  Even Bretton, who will eat as much cake as possible said it was very rich and didn't completely finish it. 

The recipe also calls for boiling water, but the person whose blog I got it from used coffee.  I used the coffee.  It came out great, and you couldn't taste the coffee.  The cake itself was moist, but not overly so.  The frosting was good, but had a distinct cocoa taste to it, so next time I make it I will be cutting down a bit on the cocoa in the frosting.  Otherwise, it was a fabulous recipe and definitely a great choice for someone who wants a rich chocolate "kick"! 

Oh, and I just made a 2 layer cake, which meant using the recipe as is, but doubled the frosting as most frosting recipes seem to not be enough.  This was *more* than enough when doubled, so I may not double it next time and see how much it really turns out to be.

I took pictures, but can't upload for some reason. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gotta Love Pinterest

I could spend all day on Pinterest.  Which is scary.  In many ways.  Like, wasting my time on there instead of doing things that need to be done or spending time with my family (not that I spend all day on it!).  Or making everything I find on there that I like.  That would lead to me being another 100+ pounds overweight and in debt from crafts! 

Since I love it so much, I thought I am going to try at least 1 thing a week from there.  Whether it be 1 meal, one dessert, one craft, one site to read, etc.  Then, I will try to post on here about what that one thing I chose was, why, how it turned out, etc.  I'm starting today.

The first Pinterest item up is this oh so lovely looking Hershey's Dark Chocolate cake.  My problem though, is that I didn't have any dark chocolate cocoa on hand, so I am just using regular.  We'll see how it turns out later.  I found the recipe here, but she found it on Hershey's site.

I'll report back later.  I need to go get the first half out of the oven!

Friday, December 28, 2012


Ephraim is doing well.  There are times where it seems like he has regressed in many areas, and we wonder when he is ever going to "get it"-- to learn the new things we are teaching him, but then in therapy sessions like today, we see it.  Progress.  The greatest part: we aren't the only ones seeing it.  His therapist said in the past few weeks he has seen great progress in Ephraim, especially in his communication.

Ephraim is still considered non-verbal, but he has started saying a few "words" here and there.  (If there is a beginning sound that relates to the item he wants/needs, it is considered a word.  Such as "ye", can mean that he said "yes", if in the correct context.)  He has said: more, eat, yes, no, and go, on a fairly regular basis.  A great sign that verbal language will probably occur at some point in the future.  This is exciting, but we also are aware that it might not happen, and so we aren't getting our hopes up.

E has also been signing a lot more lately as well.  He uses "more" on a consistent basis, as well as "eat" (for both eating and drinking) and "all done".  We are really trying to work on "help" as well, since often times he gets frustrated and needs help but has no way to tell us other than with negative behaviors.

He is really enjoying, and quite good at, basic puzzles, shape sorters, etc.  He has also increased his joint-attention by more than 50%!!  This alone is HUGE!  Joint-attention will help him in so many ways, both socially and academically.  His joint-attention with me is by far the best.  He will sit and look at me for 20-30 minutes sometimes.  He stares at me, laughs, plays with my facial features.  I use this to engage him in learning by asking things like: "That's mama's nose, now where's Ephraim's nose?"  "Where are my eyes?"  He has never been able to point to things, especially when asked, but he has started to point to facial features in the past week or so when we have good joint-attention.

One of the hardest things right now, learning wise, is PECS.  He really doesn't want to pick up the symbol, and when he does, he definitely doesn't want to release it! But, there is still improvement seen here too, and that is all we can ask for.  His therapist thinks that within a few weeks at school he will be ready to move onto phase 2, which means that he will have a pretty good handle on reaching for the symbol he wants (not the item), picking up the symbol, and releasing it into someone's hand, [with lots of prompting occurring] (phase 1).  Phase 2 is learning to get the symbol, wherever it may be, and take it to someone without prompting.   He hates being prompted, so hopefully he will like phase 2 better and take to it more quickly.

The trade off for him doing so well in some areas though, is that he regressing in other areas, and has more negative behaviors occur.  He also has more stereotypies (no that's not spelled wrong, and yes, it is a word), which we often have to stop, which is not an easy task.  His sleeping habits have gotten worse, but I beleive in time that will come back around.  We can only ask so much of him right now, he is is doing great, so we can't complain (too much- haha) about his sleep habits or negative behaviors.  We can only work on those as well and hope that as he gets older things will fall into place.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Life Changes

As the few of you who read my blog know, I am a busy person (probably not as busy as many, but busy enough) and we have had a lot of changes recently.  I haven't even thought about this blog-- though I wish I had.  I so want to keep up, but my life doesn't seem to allow me to.  When I do have a chance to write, I don't feel like it!

Anyway, one of the changes was our big move-- and hopefully last move!  My in-laws generously bought a house for us (we will "rent" until the mortgage is paid off) and we are now living much closer to Eric's job and in the school district where Bretton attends so he is now home with us for good!  Life is much easier in the way of transportation and getting places when you live closer to town!  The down side is we are now a 1/2 hour from our family, which is hard with the kids...

Another change, which leads into yet another change, is Ephraim is receiving in home services/therapy (which I might have mentioned before).  He really doesn't like it much, especially PECS, but he is getting better and doing well.  While in home services are great, I am unable to give him all the time and attention he truly needs and deserves.  With Lorelai also needing attention, I can't keep up on all the things that E needs in order to stay "in our world".  He really needs one on one as much as possible.  So, it was a super hard decision for us, but we have decided to send him to Woodfords Family Services.  He will start out 3 days a week, 6 hour days.  Eventually, we will move him up to full time.  The school is an hour away, and he will be riding with someone we don't yet know.  I think that is the hardest part for me.  But, others do it all the time, and I know that we have to do what we have to do in order to get him the best services possible.  This program is an ABA program with mostly children diagnosed with Autism attending.  On the days he isn't there, we will still have CDS come for in home services and we are going to be doing some in depth research on floor time therapy, as that is what I believe would be a better choice-- something very appropriate for his age.  We will incorporate that into his nightly routine.

Of course, Eric and I are both worried sick about sending him.  Not because we worry about him being cared for and learning, but because we have never sent him to preschool or daycare or anywhere really.  A few family members and friends have had him, but not on a regular basis.  Eric was with him for the first 1.5 years of his life and I have been with him since then.  Like many children with Autism, Ephraim doesn't mind being around other people when he is able to be in his own world, doing his own thing.  But, when you request for him to do something outside of his world, it is hard enough to be his parent whom he knows and trusts.  With other people, it isn't so easy.  If he doesn't know you at all, or only knows you as someone who makes him "do work" then it is very challenging. 

Obviously, the people at this place are trained in dealing with this, but when I think about him acting up, having a hard time responding to them, being resistant, wondering where his mommy is, etc:  it breaks my heart.  I know the first few days, maybe even weeks is going to be hard.  Especially since he may be confused as he will only be there every other week day.  He will  eventually go full time, but right now we want to see how he responds to it in general.  I don't honestly know if we are making the right decision by only doing part time or if we should just start right off full time.

At this point, Eric and I just hope that it works out for all of us, and that Ephraim can get into a good routine quickly.  We also hope that Eric can figure out what to do about work.  He works many evenings, which would mean he wouldn't see Ephraim much at all.  Ideally, he would like to have a set schedule with his guaranteed 30 hours, but that isn't going to happen.  As it is he is lucky to get 30 hours, but has to work whatever is available to get them.  Plus, he is starting to wish he was home and I was working!  Sheesh!  I always thought I wanted to be a SAHM.  Part of me still does, but I have to be honest: part of me feels overwhelmed and alone.  I sometimes wish I was working and that we had just put the kids into daycare.  Of course, of all the reasons that we decided that I would resign from my job and stay home was because E needed a lot of extra time, attention, and therapies that he wouldn't get at just any daycare center.  Don't get me wrong, I love being home, too!  I'm not sure if anyone would really understand, and I am sure I have been, and am being, judged for feeling this way, but it is what it is.

So, a week from today, E will start school.  I have to believe it is the best decision we can make for him for now.  Eric and I are going to wait it out a bit to see what happens, then make decisions regarding whether I should work part time, or just stay home with Lorelai.  We could certainly use the extra money.  If you want to call it extra.  Anything we bring home, now or in the future, goes to bills.  There is no such thing as extra money-- though we so wish there was. But that is another whole blog post, that I probably won't ever write.  Ha!

Lastly, I have started a small business of sorts.  If one can call it a business when one doesn't get much business at all!  Though, I have received a few orders and am thankful for those, I was really hoping that I could make enough money to help pay a bill or two so that we don't feel so strapped every month. :\  I'm going to attempt some new/more products in the coming month or so and if I still don't get much business, then I guess it is a flop.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alert Bracelet or Not?

This past spring Ephraim had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital for some stomach issues.  He was constantly being asked questions that he couldn't answer, and probably had no knowledge of them even speaking to him.  Luckily, I was there with him the whole time, but even then when I said he was non-verbal, they would still try to get him to talk to them.  Ever since then I have wondered if we should have some sort of informational jewelry or whatever for him (and even the other children).  I think about how there is always the possibility that something could happen and Eric and/or I may not be there or be able to respond.  If this was to happen, the youngest 2 children would have no way to give any information about themselves or us. 

Now, even more so, with Ephraim's official diagnosis, Eric and I are leaning towards getting him a bracelet (or something) that states his name, date of birth, and the fact that he has Autism and is non-verbal.  But, am I jumping the gun?  I think sometimes that maybe I am, but then I think about how Ephraim doesn't respond to his own name, not to mention to people he doesn't know.  I don't want to "advertise" info, but on the other hand, it is vital information to make sure he is safe and understood in the event of an emergency.

So, if I do get him one, do I put all the information on the back of the band, which would mean the person reading it would need to take it off him, which may or may not be a disaster in and of itself?  Or do I put the information on the front where anyone can read it?

To be honest, I'm not ashamed of his diagnosis and lack of verbal skills.  That isn't why I'm not sure about putting in on the front.  I am more concerned that others may take it the wrong way, or that he himself may one day find it to be a "label" or a "flag" to others.  Does this make any sense? 

I am considering doing one for both Bretton and Lorelai as well, considering anything can happen to either of them as well and Eric and I may not be there or respondent for them either.

So, what do you think?  I am looking for honest, yet respectful, opinions.