Friday, August 30, 2013

Long Weekend = Amazing!

Long weekends are awesome! But, I’m sure you already knew that! I mean, who doesn't love having a Friday or Monday off in the typical work week?

We have no plans and since Natalie really dislikes being strapped in a car seat, we avoid road trips. Instead, I would like to rest and just enjoy some great family time. I had a few ideas in mind and I am hoping to do at least one from this list.
  • Cook some lobster tails on the grill and maybe even a shrimp bisque and enjoy it outside on the patio table.
  • Take the dog to the local dog park and enjoy watching all the doggies play.
  • Go on a family bike ride around the community or local park.
  • Go fishing.
  • Plan a pizza night, we've never made our own pizza but this might be a fun thing to try!
  • Plant a family garden.
  • Fly a kite.
  • Turn the backyard into a water park (slip 'n slide, water guns, turn on the hose)






....and of course just laugh it up and have a good time! 
NO WORK! NO THERAPY! NO STRESS!
Wishing everyone a Super Fun & Happy Labor Day Weekend!
ENJOY!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fear

Yesterday was a therapy day. Natalie had both behavioral and speech/language therapy. Therapy days are usually awful. I have to witness Natalie cry, and get upset. It usually leads to a meltdown. And all I can do is cry and feel hopeless...and then...the fears creep in. I start to think about Natalie's future and a hundred "what if's" come into mind. Then, my B I G G E S T   F E A R....What if Natalie never learns to speak?  I get so mad at myself. Why do I allow these fears to take over me, to take over my thoughts? I know that God is with me. I know that God is with Natalie. I know that with God ALL things are possible. I know that fear comes from the devil. But these fears just sneak up on me and suddenly they are there--in my heart (my heart is racing and I can hear the thumping in my ears!) and in my thoughts. 
They catch me offguard. It's always going to be a struggle for me. Fear is such a strong emotion.

Fear is a lifelong battle, but God is our lifelong Protector

May God help me to be a FIGHTER who fights for the Lord with the weapon of his WORD!



Monday, August 26, 2013

My baby boy turns 15 today!


Fifteen years ago today I became a Mom to a healthy baby boy, who taught me so much about being a Mom. Experiencing motherhood envelops all the fear, struggle, pain, failure and success that being a Mom has to experience... and still continues. For 15 years Allan and I have been teaching him, coaching him, hanging out with him, laughing with him, playing with him, dragging him to events. I still have all the drawings and writings he made for me in the elementary years—I love you mom! My mom is the best because...; My mom rocks; etc., etc.

I love to think of those fun moments.
Of course there were also the times in the last 15 years when we were correcting him, lecturing him, grounding him… (gulp) yelling at him… it’s weird to think about it all—good and bad. My parenting was so imperfect. Constant second-guessing. Was I too lenient? Was I too strict? Did I teach him enough? Did I lecture too long?

 He didn't know how to celebrate his birthday. Nowadays it seems birthdays are not too much of a big deal to him -- not like before. We normally celebrate at home with a pool party and invite his cousins and some friends. But since he has been undecided we took him on a shopping spree this past weekend and we celebrated with some family, and bought a birthday cake and we sang and he blew out the candles. He made plans to see a movie with some friends Saturday night and we will be taking him out for dinner tonight -- sushi is his favorite (just like his mommy).
Happy Birthday, Austin. We are so proud of you beyond measure, and I cannot wait to see what you do with your life. You will be a success at whatever you do and I look forward to loving your children and telling them all about what a great kid you were. You are my heart. I love you baby! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUSTIN!





Thursday, August 22, 2013

I See the light!



Today Natalie was evaluated by the school board. They had a speech pathologist and psychologist perform the evaluation. She also had to have ANOTHER hearing test done--even though she has already had 2 done previously. Please note that these hearing tests are a nightmare. Natalie seriously dislikes them and it is nearly impossible to get through it and everything goes downhill after that. To add to my stress, my husband was unable to join us and I was so nervous. I hardly slept, I was scared and I didn't know how I would be able to get through a 2.5 hour evaluation that included a hearing test. So last night and this morning, I prayed--A LOT! I prayed--DEEPLY.  


Natalie and I woke up and we had a good breakfast, I got her ready, put her in the car seat and off we went....Have you ever felt God's presence? Well, I felt it on that drive to the school board.  I truly felt God right there with me, giving me strength, reassuring me and I felt his warm smile upon me, letting me know that he was taking care of things...and you know what? I felt 100% better, I felt strength in knowing he was there and he was listening and he was going to deal with my concerns, my worries and that he was taking care of us.  

So guess what? God took care of everything! Natalie took the hearing test and she was so compliant, she was wonderful! They were able to give her a much more thorough exam and they took their time and I was told that she passed and her hearing is perfect. I was flabbergasted! and then I whispered, "Thank you Lord." Next, the evaluation. This team of ladies could not have been more wonderful! They were so sweet, so caring! I felt like they loved and cared for Natalie as much as I do. I wish they would have been the ones that first broke the news of Autism to me. They were so sensitive and positive. They told me that it wasen't my fault, they told me that Autism is not a death sentance, they said that I was doing everything right and that I was doing everything that they would do if Natalie was their daughter. They hugged me, they smiled, they were incredible, so again, I said, "Thank you Lord." 

We have to retun on September 16th for the results. But these ladies went ahead and told me that Natalie qualifies for Full time preschool and therapy as of September 17th. They will also provide door to door transportation. 
"Thank you God!" 

So I am happy, I see a light at the end of this tunnel. I see hope and I am so thankful to God because with him ALL things are possible and he does listen and he is there. 

    Dearest God Our Father, I love You! I adore You and I Thank You!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Exhausted


I am exhausted, I am sad, I have cried and cried today. The last 2 days of therapy for Natalie have been very difficult. She does not want to cooperate at all, she cries and screams and will not give in. She is strong willed and refuses to do what is being asked of her. I have had to chase her, and have had to endure meltdown after meltdown. The therapist was frustrated my mother was upset (just like a grandma, she blames the therapist for upsetting Natalie and Natalie can do no wrong. God Bless Grandma), and I was sad, heartbroken and just exhausted. Some days it's not as hard but other days it's extremely stressful and emotional. 

I am sure that it will get better (I pray it does). 

Sometimes it feels like it is too much to bear. 


Monday, August 19, 2013

School Daze

Where has the time gone? How did we get from there to here? Is it possible that all of these years have gone by? I've barely gotten over sending my first born to kindergarten, and now, here he is on his way to his first day of high school. I wanted so much to take him into school today and walk him to his first class. But, of course, Austin would never allow this, because at this age, they do not want to be treated like children anymore. So I took a deep breath, said a final prayer for Austin (and for myself), and went inside the house and peaked through his bedroom window .  My heart pounded as I watched him walk further and further down the street on his way to the bus stop. Letting the tears flow, I called my mom for moral support. 



When we are children, we perceive time as passing very slowly and think of each day as a lifetime. To an adult, and maybe a parent in particular, the important milestones in life seem to collapse together, one by one, at a very high speed. I remember the day that my son was born. I remember the drive to the hospital and the way that he smelled at the second that they handed him to me and told me that he was mine. I remember all of these moments, and while my mind knows that fifteen years have passed, my heart aches that those years seem to pass so quickly.
Austin's first day of Kindergarten
Austin today


I told Austin last night that he is never alone and to never forget that. His dad and I will always be his managers, his warriors, his biggest supporters and his number one fans. We will always be his mom and dad and we will always advocate for him, in order to assure that his life is happy and healthy, and successful as only HE can define it.

Whether you’re approaching the first day of school as a kindergartner or ninth grader, a teacher or a parent, we all know the day can be filled with anxiety and stress.  Are the lunches packed?  What am I wearing?  Who do I have for math?  Just remember that first days are important and if we can help it, they probably shouldn't be rushed or overlooked.  So take a moment to appreciate it in the ways that you can.  



Friday, August 16, 2013

Childhood Friends


I have received so much support since Natalie's diagnosis and I am so grateful for that. I have come to cherish and love some of my friends even more because of their support, their hugs, and the understanding and care they have shown me. However, what is it about childhood friends? Last night my best friend from childhood (3rd grade!) reached out to me.  Her family moved to Greece at the end of that school year and I was heartbroken. I tried to find another friend just like her--but no one compared. We found each other again, via Facebook, about 3 years ago and we were so happy to reconnect. Of course, life is busy and we both have children and a husband and work and we live far away from each other. So we haven't kept the communication lines as open as we would like. But after reading her message to me last night I realized that she still holds a very special place in my heart. Her words were like so many that I have read and heard since Natalie was diagnosed. But what was it about that message that impacted me so deeply? 



I stayed up late and wondered all morning. I did some soul searching. You see, the names of our childhood friends are immortalized on the first pages of the book of our lives, as those companions of adventure, shapers of dreams and accomplices of mischief ... In her hands I learned the true meaning of friendship, with every moment that we shared there were so many mutual expressions of affection and tests of loyalty. 


My childhood friend and I.Please excused those socks..Honestly, what was I thinking!


Thank you. I can say that the time we shared during those early years of my life were one of the best chapters that I lived, because you always saw beyond my appearance, trusted and believed in me, You valued me just the was that I was. Impossible to forget the games we played, the running, jumping, bike riding, dancing, dress up, visiting, going for walks, and sharing every day of the year.

You cannot erase the many fantastic stories of horror, laughter and pain, we made up between the two of us, but especially so many dreams we built and we shared. In sickness, in joy and pain, there we were, we made pacts of friendship, to never ever forget the time we spent together even if distance tried to separate us.

And although much time has passed and the roads have taken us in different directions; although each of us has been writing her own story, with new characters that have given us new meaning and recreated our lives ... Although maybe if we met in the street we would find it difficult  to recognize each other because our faces and appearances have changed; nothing that we lived and shared in those childhood years could ever be erased. 

Today, I feel so happy to have reconnected with my childhood friend, because although 30 years have gone by her name has been immortalized in my life. She will always be my best friend, the friend that through her existence, made my life richer and happier ...

Thanks for not ever forgetting me, just as I will never forget you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Walking the road with a child with autism is not easy



Autism cannot be seen, it is invisible, known only to the person who has it, others see what autism manifests but nothing else, and when you explain it it sounds like something so difficult to imagine! 


It is very difficult to explain autism, mothers and fathers who have a child with autism often say that it is impossible for someone who does not live close or have a child with autism to understand. Yet, we all agree that it is important to try and understand it because we are all part of the same world and those who are different still deserve respect and opportunities like anyone else. 

A child with autism must be allowed to be a child and at the same time we must help that child. We cannot lock them in a therapeutic room and take away their childhood because the damage would be greater. A child with autism CAN and never forget it, they just need more help and different types of aid than others do, and not for lack of ability a child with autism has the same abilities as any other. What happens is that socially they behave differently and it is up to us to help these children understand that they are a part of a society that will not reject them for being different and that with learning they can be very happy within society. Do not judge these children, instead help them. They want to do, and if you help them they can make it. We did not ask to have a child with autism, we simply did, just like it could have happened to anyone else even to you. Yes, I am dealing with my own demons and I am doing my best to get my daughter all the help and aid that she needs. But if society helps us than everything would be easier.

Thanks for listening.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The 'A' Word



Today someone at work overheard me on the phone with Natalie's therapist. He approached me and asked if Natalie was okay. He wanted to know what type of therapy Natalie was doing. I know that I did not have to answer his questions but he seemed genuinely caring so I tried...I tried to say the word. It was horrible. Why does the "A" word still haunt me? Why does it still bring me to tears when I say it out loud? I can write the word with no problem, Autism, Autism...there, I wrote it and I am okay (I think). But when I say the word, I choke up; I can't breathe and the tears begin to flow like a river.


Every time that I have attempted to tell someone about Natalie's diagnosis, I have to stop, I find it so difficult to talk about it. Sometimes I say it as fast as I can... but I can't...it takes several attempts. I hate that word, I hate the stigma attached to it.  I want to hear her voice, I want her to be accepted, I don’t want her in therapy every week.  

Yes, I hate the 'A' word. But I remind myself each day that my daughter is not autistic, she has autism.  Autism does not define who she is; and she is still my precious little girl.

My precious little girl

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grandparents, a family treasure




I was so lucky to have had wonderful grandparents in my life. They loved me, they cared about me, they taught me about God and they offered me support at all times. They never judged me and they always gave me the best advice. I believe that good grandparents, are fundamental to the emotional growth of our children and thankfully my kids have pretty awesome grandparents as well.


The protection, the show of affection and unconditional love of grandparents is
unmatched. Their stories are treasures put in words that give younger generations a sense of identity.


Grandparents are the best confidants and counselors. Children see in them the individuals with whom they can talk about issues that, according to kids, their parents do not understand. Grandparents, thanks to the years they have lived and the experiences they have had with their own children, know how to put "up" with children and explain, at the child's level, the issues in a simple and entertaining manner. Teens can talk about issues that, with their parents, they would be too ashamed to discuss. All of this gives a grandparent one transcendent importance in the education of our children.

Grandparents also make excellent intermediaries between father and son when presented with a conflict.
Not only do children benefit from a relationship with their grandparents but it works the other way around as well. Grandkids give their grandparents a new reason for living. Not only for the continuity of the family, but because it is like reliving the time when they were parents, only without the work it involves,    thus making it easier to enjoy. 


Grandparents foster a sense of identity that everyone in their childhood needs in order to feel safe in life. This identity means knowing who I am, who I look like and my place in my family. But above all, we get a sense of belonging, then know that you are part of something, it helps to make you feel how important you are to others. That is why, grandparents create a sense of security that helps their grandchildren perform better in the world. 


With grandkids, the grandparents get to be someone new. They don’t know about the crazy things they have done, and grandkids figure that anyone who’s  lived since dinosaurs roamed the land must know something.

Grandparents, whether through blood, marriage, or adoption, play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren.  Truly cherish the unique and special relationship you have with each and every one of your grandkids. 

As a parent, I feel truly blessed that my kids have their " abuelos" in their life. Cherish, love and learn from your grandparents, while you still have the time to do so! 






Sunday, August 11, 2013

RCI Oasis of the Seas Review and Experience

Hi Everyone!

My family and I are back from our cruise vacation. We had such an amazing time and we did not want to come back. RCI's Oasis of the Seas is a wonderful cruise ship with excellent staff and I highly recommend it.  There was so much to do and although we had some people tell us that a ship this large with over 5,000 guests would feel crowded we did not experience that at all and this is thanks to the ship's design. I felt like it was so well distributed with so many events and things to do that we never had to make lines and never bumped into people. There were plenty of elevators and we never had to wait very long to move from deck to deck. The ship rides more like a city than a cruise ship. It is the perfect get away where you feel like you are on vacation and not just waiting to reach the next destination port. I imagine that there will be families that won't ever leave the ship at all.


On Deck 14 they had their award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program staffed by a college educated staff. They have developed different age appropriate curriculums and are sponsored by Crayola and Fisher-Price. The program is divided into age groups. Natalie was in the Royal Babies and Tots, ages 0-3 program, which offers activities designed to foster parent/child bonding and development. They also offer a Fisher-Price Toy Lending Program, where parents can stop by Adventure Ocean and borrow toys to entertain the little ones in their stateroom.  For the older kids they offer the Aquanauts program for ages 3-5 where they enjoy becoming Adventure Scientists (they have an amazing lab!); there are also the Explorers  ages 6-8, Voyagers, ages 9-11 as well as Teen only venues like Fuel night club.  Natalie really enjoyed participating in this program daily and she was so excited whenever we would arrive to Deck 14. Austin joined some of the Teen only venues and enjoyed making new friends.


video


The food was always wonderful and the shops were superb! Natalie LOVED swimming in the kids pool area and the Merry-Go-Round located on the Boardwalk was a must for her (at least 6 times per day). It was all very enjoyable. Allan and Austin did zip lining on the ship as well as in Labadee, Haiti. They also did the rock climbing on the ship and took private surf lessons in the surf pool. 


Here are some quick facts about Oasis:

  • It's the largest cruise ship at sea
  • First ship to feature 7 neighborhoods
  • Original, hand carved carousel
  • First ever b each pool where guests can wade into the water or sit in chairs in the water
  • Longest Jogging track at sea
  • Central Park has 12,175 plants and 56 trees
  • It's larger than the Eiffel tower, Chrysler Building and is equal to 3.5 football fields
  • It can hold 6,296 guests!

I put together a little video (located in the middle of this post) to show you how our trip was. Please feel free to ask me any questions regarding our experience.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Where is the humanity?

Hello, I was going to write a Bon Voyage message today because I will be going on my cruise vacation tomorrow. But something happened yesterday and I feel the need to write about it.

I took Natalie for a doctor’s appointment yesterday and while we were sitting in the waiting room I saw this cute and energetic little boy. I could see that he was different, although I wasn't sure why. But I also saw that he was quite adorable and I loved his bubbly personality. He was dancing around the waiting room, without his shoes, and he was humming a tune. His mom did not seem bothered and I was quite entertained watching him. He was making Natalie smile, so I immediately liked him. But soon after, a family walked in and sat down. The mother was very serious and when her little boy took off his shoes in order to join in the dance his mother screamed, “Luke! Put on your shoes! I will not have you prancing around like a crazy kid without his shoes! Sit down and don’t move.” Her little guy immediately complied. But I saw how this hurt and embarrassed the dancing boy’s mother. She quickly retrieved her son and put his shoes on and asked him to sit. He looked so sad and I felt so sorry for him. He was squirming and was starting to cry and he seemed uncomfortable in his shoes. He managed to finally take them off and he started to dance again. The other (the serious) mommy shot him a stern look and then looked at his mother in a disapproving manner.  The dancing boy’s mommy was clearly embarrassed and stressed. She yelled at her little boy to put his shoes on and behave -- but he kept dancing. I am sure that the looks from the disapproving mother weighed heavy on her and she was clearly ashamed and maybe even felt guilty about not being a “good mother.” She got up, slapped her little boy’s hand and yelled at him. She forced him into his shoes and made him sit. He cried and I could see tears flowing down his mommy’s face. I decided that I needed to do something because this situation was breaking my heart and it just didn't seem fair. I sat next to the mommy and quietly said, “Hey, it’s ok. I don’t think your little guy has done anything wrong. In fact, I was coming over here to thank you him for making my little girl smile. Usually, the waiting area is so boring and time goes so slow, but thanks to your your little boy we were very entertained and happy. If you don’t mind, I’d like to play musical chairs with him and Natalie and if it’s okay, we would like to take our shoes off, because clearly we all dance better without shoes.” She smiled and seemed relieved. She agreed to let Natalie and I play with her sweet little boy. We took off our shoes and I put some of the children’s chairs together and played a musical tune on my cell phone. After a quick demonstration we started to play and quickly he and Natalie understood the game. We all laughed and soon, even the reception staff was clapping and cheering us on. Other kids joined in and we were having a grand time! Meanwhile, the disapproving mommy asked to use the restroom, she was buzzed inside the office and we never saw her or her son again. As the rest of the kids played I sat with the dancing boy’s mommy to watch them and I told her that we have to pick our battles and that, in my opinion, this wasn't one of them.



So what if our kids want to play in the rain? So what if they get muddy while playing outside or get sand in their shoes while at the park? They are smiling, they are happy and they are making fun memories. That is what matters. I’m not saying that we should not teach or discipline our children; I’m just saying that we need to pick our battles. We shouldn't let someone else impose their ideas or rules on us.

It is so easy to turn a sad or bad situation into a positive one if we just show a little compassion; just a kind word or act can help another person and in bigger ways than you think. So I challenge everyone to please, show your human side each day. We are all connected in some way. Let’s not judge, let’s not criticize. Instead, let us show mercy and empathy. We can all relate to any situation in some way or another. Let’s use that to bring a smile to someone each day. One simple act can change everything, let’s make it a positive act.


Thank you for visiting me today and Bon Voyage until the 12th!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Our First Throwback Thursday

Hello!

I thought that it would be fun to do a Throwback Thursday each week. And since I started blogging very recently I thought that it would help many of you get to know more about Natalie and our family. 
For our first Throwback Thursday I thought I would post pics and comments of Natalie's First Birthday.

The theme: Zebra Stripes and Hot Pink! FUN!

 I Love my baby!

 She really enjoyed having her picture taken!
...and of course we HAD to have a Zebra!.
...with mom & dad
 Cupcakes!

 Cake!
Natalie & her Abuela with the Pin the tail on the Zebra that her Abuelo drew. 
He even made the tails. I thought it was quite cute!
Happy 1st Birthday Natalie! Mom & Dad Love you so much!


Thanks for joining me on our 1st Throwback Thursday!

Please help me reach my Goal!