Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Natalie's Dream Team - Overwhelmed with Gratitude

We did it! 
Natalie's Dream Team

Natalie's Dream Team participated in the

 'Walk Now For Autism Speaks' event on October 26. 
It was a day full of fun and entertainment with an atmosphere of excitement.
I must admit that this was one of the best days of my life. Words seem impossible in times like these and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. 
Nothing Brings People Together Like Love and this event was a testament to that. 
I was both humbled and inspired by the great turn out!
Thank you to all of those that were there to support Natalie and our Family and to those that were not able to be there, I know you were there in spirit. 
Together, we are changing lives and helping children and individuals with autism, plus their families, thrive!
Marching along
Natalie's Dream Team started with a goal to raise $500 and a goal of 6 team walkers. But by October 26th we had raised $1,050 and had 39 walkers!
Natalie with big brother, mom and dad

It was an amazing time with family, friends and host families. A beautiful walk through the Nova Southeastern University campus in Davie, Florida, 
where Our Brown-Eyed Girl, 
Natalie was the Star!  

Natalie with cousins and grandma

Early on I had decided that I wanted to record this incredible event by having a photographer capture all the moments before, during, and after the walk. I reached out to one of my local mommy support groups for references on good photographers for this type of venue. I was blessed to receive a a response from one very special mommy in this group who is also a photographer. She reached out to me and said that she too had been touched by Autism and wanted to donate her professional services to Natalie's Dream Team. Her name is Dani of Portraits by Dani and she was an incredible photographer and a lovely person. She took many photos and never complained about my numerous requests. She was such a trooper, taking the time to photograph individual families and walking along with us while snapping away with the camera. I can't wait to have those beautiful pictures and share them with all of you. But in the meantime, I have included pictures taken by family and friends.
Uncle was so proud to be carrying Natalie's banner

My family and I sincerely thank you for your love and support. 

We couldn't be more blessed having friends and family like you in our lives.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Smart Cookie

Hello everyone, I have been a little absent from blogging lately. I apologize for that. It has been crazy at home and work. But I did blog a couple of weeks ago about Natalie being our every day miracle and I am so happy to report that Natalie continues to amaze us every day.
 I wanted to share one of these amazing things that occurred last week.

Natalie loves Nestle Crunch Bars. So last week I purchased one for her. When I opened it I stared at the letters imprinted on the bar. I decided to use this as a learning tool and cut up the bar by dividing the letters. 

I thought that I would give each letter to Natalie one-by-one and teach her what the different letters were.

I thought that I would be teaching Natalie something new and fun. But, once more, my daughter would be the one to amaze me. 
I handed Natalie the first letter, and noticed that she was examining it and not eating it. She looked up at me and we smiled to each other. But before I could say the letter she exclaimed, "C!" 
I was stopped in my tracks. I think time actually paused for a moment. You have to understand how off guard this caught me. She RECOGNIZED the letter and she SAID the letter! After eating it, I gave her the next letter and, again, she yelled, "R!" next "U!" Next the N. But this one she did not say. So I said it for her, "N." But when I gave her the next C she said "C" and then the final letter....Yes! she said "H!" I was so excited! She actually recognized and said all these letters: 

I honestly do not know how she does it. She simply amazes me. Watching my daughter deal with her struggles associated with Autism and being non verbal, old and new, is truly inspiring.

It was one of those days where you look back on it and was a great day. 
Thank you God.

Here is one quote and one poem that truly captures my feelings and I wanted to share with you today....
Living with silence teaches a great deal. When you cannot speak, you learn to share more from the heart. Instead of giving words, you give love -Author unknown

A Special Child
by Sharon Harris

You weren't like other children,
And God was well aware,
You'd need a caring family,
With love enough to share.
And so He sent you to us,
And much to our surprise,
You haven't been a challenge,
But a blessing in disguise.
Your winning smiles and laughter,
The pleasures you impart,
Far outweigh your special needs,
And melt the coldest heart.
We're proud that we've been chosen,
To help you learn and grow,
The job that you have brought us,
Is more than you can know.
A precious gift from Heaven,
A treasure from above,
A child who's taught us many things,
But most of all- "Real Love"
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Freebie for non verbal friends

Awesome idea for the upcoming Halloween event. Megan of Lane 34 Studios has created a Halloween Freebie for non verbal children. I know that I will be having Natalie give these out on Halloween as her way of saying "Trick-or-Treat."

If your child or loved one is non verbal, you may want to take a look at this. 

Hello everyone! So today's freebie is something near and dear. I have several friends with children that are non-verbal for one reason or another. My boyfriend's son is also non-verbal. In the past I have seen a little tag that floats around the web for these special children. It is not always feasible to pin something to your child and with the way things are these days no one wants their child's name on their shirt either!

So I decided to come up with an updated "card" version that you yourself, or your child can hand out at Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween, in your neighborhood, or at a trunk or treat etc... 
Click here for the entire post and free download

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Letters to Santa

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought I would post some information about a program that I support each year. This organization is called Letters to Santa. They assist families across the U.S. with Christmas gifts, Easter baskets, care packages and school supplies.  The most admirable thing is that this entire program was started in 2011 by a wonderful high school student named Mary Kate. This program matches low-income children with generous people who are willing to sponsor them by sending gifts.  

For more information, go to the Facebook page here or the webpage here

I have been sponsoring children through this program since 2011 and it makes me feel wonderful to be able to assist a child with his or her Christmas wishlist.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkin Patch & Fall Festival

We enjoyed a fun day at the pumpkin patch and farmer's Market last weekend. 

Happy Fall & Hope You Are All Enjoying This Beautiful Time Of Year!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Natalie, Our Every Day Miracle

Let’s face it, as a parent of an autistic child, some days are better than others. Being a caregiver to any child brings with it unforeseen challenges. But, a relationship with an autistic child brings with it its own gifts including perspective, wisdom, faith and love. 

Last night was one of those 'not so great' moments. Not because Natalie suffered a meltdown or because she had a bad day at school. It was because my husband had a weak moment, and to see my strong guy hurting, is too much for me to bear.

After dinner, Natalie wanted to play with her Play-Doh Ice Cream maker (her favorite toy at the moment). Hubby and I were having some fun, making some cool ice cream. We are always talking to Natalie and trying to engage her. We ask her questions and try to get her to make choices, "Natalie, would you like the pink Play-Doh or the blue Play-Doh?" as we hold the two up by our eyes. This establishes eye contact and gives her the opportunity to make a choice. She usually does well with this. But last night, we could not get her to respond to us. I was okay and continued to play but Allan kept at it, trying to get her attention and asking her questions. However, Natalie was very quiet and in her own world. I looked up at my husband and his eyes caught mine. He looked so sad and said, "I just want to hear my baby talk" .....I died......

Daddy's Girl

My "rock" the one who is always so that moment, he broke and I was broken, with him. In response, I cried and said, "I want to hear her voice too!" Then...silence. We said nothing more to each other after that. I felt horrible and even now, I can't take that teary eyed look he gave me out of my mind. I felt so sorry for him...I felt sorry for us, and I felt sorry for Natalie too.  

But today is a new day and I feel differently because I remember that it is my honor to be Natalie's mommy. Last night we had a weak moment. But guess what? We get to witness a miracle every day. For example,  Natalie calling me 'mom' again after a year filled me with joy. Natalie waving to a complete stranger in the supermarket blows my mind! Natalie randomly approaching another child in order to play causes me to dance in celebration and seeing her run to her big brother to give him a kiss is the most beautiful thing ever!  See, for me, all those little “normal” things,other parents take for granted every single day, are the highlights of my life. I was given the most wonderful little girl I can imagine and I was given the gift of time with an early diagnosis to help her out of this. That’s what I love about my Natalie, she makes me realize the joy in every single little moment, in every single little action of her life… and mine.  I feel honored and glad that she is mine and I am grateful that she was given to me instead of someone who would not love and care for her as much as I do.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes!

I wanted to give everyone an update on Natalie's first week of school and share a victory with all of you.

First of all, Natalie absolutely loves her school and her teacher. Dad wakes her up each morning and gets her dressed.  She then hurries down the stairs, grabs her backpack and lunch bag and waits by the door. She no longer wants to have breakfast at home. Instead, she has breakfast with her teacher at school. When Natalie enters the classroom in the morning, she independently puts her backpack in her "cubbie" and hangs her lunch bag on her little hook, she then turns and waves goodbye to dad!

She is happy after school as well and she has gone to sleep by 9:30pm every night this week and does not wake up until morning! 
So needless to say mom & dad are two very happy campers.
But wait! I haven't told you the best part .....

On Thursday, when Natalie got out of school she was extra giggly and she was dancing around and skipping about. She then started to put her hands on her head, her shoulders, knees and toes. My mom asked what that was all about. I said, "Oh mom, they must have been playing that preschool song, where they sing, head, shoulders, knees and toes as they point to those body parts." 

So I thought it was so cute and I started to sing the song for her and we were both giggling and we were touching our heads, our shoulders, our knees and our toes, and we were having such a great time. But then, as we were going to start again, Natalie put her hands on her head and exclaimed, "Head!"........I almost fell over, I was in pure amazement, "She said 'head', oh my God, she said a new word!" I called my husband at work and I gave him the news and he was so happy and my mom is yelling, "I told you she was smart, I told she was going to do great!" I was jumping and hugging Natalie and she was full of giggles! 

Needless to say that the rest of the week was filled with the singing of
"heads, shoulders, knees and toes"

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Giving Matters

You know that giving makes the world a better place...

I am so lucky to work for a wonderful company that encourages it's employees to offer their time and give to charity and serve those in need. 
For more than 100 years, Chiquita has been committed to improving the communities where we do business. At Chiquita, we focus our involvement on programs and organizations that improve the lives of our employees and those in the communities where we work and live. Preserving our planet and promoting sustainability are also integral parts of Chiquita’s charity focus.  
By giving out what you have without expecting anything in return, you start living a meaningful life. You get to realize your true calling in a life and world full of challenges. If you find meaning in the lives of those in need and do something about it, you will also find meaning in your own life. You find yourself in better health and peace and you achieve more happiness. That is the magic of selfless giving. I work for the Research & Developement department, and when we  read about how budget cuts in aging service dollars had impacted the seniors that are served by Meals on Wheels, we decided that we had to help the only way we knew how—by providing fresh bananas and service to needy seniors who deserve to be treated with respect and should never go hungry. We arrived at the Senior Center with excitement in our hearts. We enjoyed meeting the seniors and the wonderful people who work and volunteer at the center. The entire staff is made up of loving and giving people. The seniors were so happy to get fresh bananas and they were so grateful. Although they were thankful and appreciative of what we were doing, it was us, the Chiquita group, that got the most reward from this experience. We are so happy and grateful to Broward Meals on Wheels for providing us the opportunity to serve these amazing seniors and for giving us a wonderful experience that we will not forgot. They can be sure that we will be doing this again and again. 

To learn more about Meals on Wheels click here
To learn more about Chiquita go here

  • “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
    — Albert Pike (1809 – 1891)
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Natalie turned 3 last week and we celebrated her birthday with a Curious George theme.
Let the pictures tell the story....

Look Who's 3

Favor boxes
Very Happy
Happy Birthday to Me!
Making a Wish
Brother Loves Me!
Uncle & Cousins
I Love Train
Thanks Abuela!
So Excited!
For my kitchen!

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Please help me reach my Goal!