June 15, 2016

Autism Diagnosis - My Husband's Thoughts

Today I am sharing what my husband had to say about our son's autism diagnosis.  He wrote this post back on March 9, 2016.

A good part of me refuses to believe my boy, my son won't be able to achieve all the dreams I'vehad for his future. Every man wants a son to be his little prodigy, and to teach him all that he knows along with something he doesn't know (but pretends to). But, after an autism diagnosis, I wonder what his future holds, and struggle to reconcile what I want for him and what is realistic.

I've never been someone who will say they can't do something, and I think that's a big reason why I can't bring myself to say that my son can't either. To me, this diagnosis is a new challenge to be overcome with therapy so he'll be just like me. That's really it too- I want him to be like I was as a kid growing up because I know how to talk to (a version of) myself. I know what I did/didn't want or need to hear growing up, and I can use that knowledge in teaching my son. But, how can I do that now? How can I know what's going on between his ears? How do I know the best way to talk to him, to play with him, work with him, teach him? The fact is I don't. In reality, I would never know what's between his ears, regardless of whether he was autistic or not. Everything I think I can teach him in his life; pitfalls to avoid or opportunities to take advantage of seems less likely to be of value now, even though that potential value would have been questionable regardless. As a result, I suppose I feel less valuable now. I have an amazing wife who's an unbelivable mother. I've always said that my job is to not screw up- Amy will raise amazing kids. My role was to be someone they could always count on for counsel or have a fun time with. But, is that what my son is going to want or need? A child isn't going to come to a parent for counsel until they're older with more "adult-like" questions or concerns. What if he never has those concerns? What if he's like the 80% of autistic kids that end up living with Mom & Dad and never moving out? What use is any advice on renting an apartment or buying car insurance or a bunch of other silly things that are necessary in life, if they're not applicable to him?

Typing this up, it's becoming clear that the real problem here lies between my own two ears. I value myself based on what I can give to my children for their lives- not the material stuff, but knowledge and experience that they can recall someday when they're older and be thankful I was around to share what I know. I'm not saying I know a lot; its the scarcity of knowledge that makes the little I do know even more important for me to share with my kids.

Amy asked me to write about my experience with my boy and his diagnosis, and all I talked about was me. I guess that's the real moral of the story: his autism has become my problem, not his. I'll love my son forever & always, autistic or not.

June 14, 2016

Autism - The Signs

I mentioned in this post that after Kase was diagnosed with autism in September I started a private blog.  I had so much going on that I just needed a place to get things off my chest.  I've since stopped writing over on that blog and (obviously) started up again on this one.  I don't want this blog to be all about autism, but because it is a big part of our lives, I do want to feel like I can talk about it and share things.  I think it's important for parents to continue to share their stories because most people that do not have a loved one with autism have no idea what it's like.  I think if we want understanding and acceptance in this crazy world that we need to share our experiences, good and bad.  I also want people to know that we are not embarrassed or ashamed of it.  I have no problem telling people that my son has autism.  I know a lot of people like to keep it to themselves, which is fine.  But I am so incredibly proud to call this amazing boy my son.

Which leads me to this post...

I am going to just be copying and pasting some of my posts from my other blog over here.  I just want to have everything all in one place.  These are my raw emotions right after his diagnosis.

I also have a Facebook page where I share stories about us, but also share lots of other autism related things.  I love having that page because I don't feel like I am blasting my personal page with autism stuff.  If people "like" my page, they know what they're going to get with my posts.  If you're interested in following along over on Facebook, you can "like" my page here.

I will not be copying all of my posts over here, but there are a couple that I just wanted to have saved on here.  This first one is "The Signs", where I share what things led us to get Kase tested.

(Written on October 10, 2015)

Let me start by saying this blog is a place for me to share my feelings and my son's story.  I may not always have the right terms for things or say things in a way that everyone agrees with.  I am not an autism expert.  Far, FAR from it actually.  I am just a mom who's son was diagnosed with autism just over a month ago.  I don't know why I feel the need to say that, but just please know that I am not perfect, I have a lot to learn, and I am just here to share my honest feelings.

Now, what made us decide to have him tested?

He was always a very happy baby and was always right on with all of the major milestones.  He did not have any signs at all from his infant days.  When he turned two, he wasn't talking much.  His big sister, who is now 4 1/2 was a late talker as well.  We were worried about her for awhile, but one day it's like it just clicked for her and she started talking really well.  She is now thriving and is advanced in many areas academically.

So with my son, we were worried but we kept saying that he'd be fine and his speech would come, just like his sister's did.  But the closer to 3 he got, we started noticing new things that he was doing that eventually led us to be concerned enough to talk to our pediatrician.

The biggest thing was he started arm flapping.  I noticed it awhile ago too, but really only once in a great while.  But then it started to be a lot more, mostly when he gets really excited.  He loves to play with balls, balloons and bubbles and those things are what cause the most arm flapping.  This is something that we felt like he should have been doing less, but instead it got much more frequent.

He also recently started walking closely to walls (or our vehicles when he's playing outside).  He will put his face close to the wall and look out of the corner of his eye.  I now know that this is called "Stimming", something I had never heard of before.

Those two things, along with the delayed speech, concerned us.  I was at the pediatrician for my baby's 4 month appointment and I brought it up to the doctor.  She told me she would put in a referral for him to see a pediatric neuropsychologist.  She didn't think we'd get in for 4-6 months.  Thankfully we were able to get in a few weeks later.

His first appointment was on August 19th, five days shy of his 3rd birthday.  It was considered a consultation, but the doctor evaluated him playing and interacting with us.  He told us that day that he thought our son seemed like he had one foot in/on the spectrum and one foot out, which is exactly how we felt.  There are so many classic autistic behaviors that he DOES NOT do.  He interacts with us, his big sister, other family members SO well.  He makes eye contact (although I learned it's not always "meaningful eye contact").  He sleeps awesome.  He doesn't have sensory issues with noises, water, certain clothing.  He likes to snuggle.  He doesn't really obsess over certain things like wheels on toys or anything.

But the few that he does do, are concerning.  We then scheduled the actual eval to be done on September 3rd.

We went from feeling pretty good about the first appointment to feeling completely overwhelmed after the second appointment.  To the point that I was crying in the office.  Although my husband and I kind of expected the diagnosis, getting it confirmed and hearing that he should have intense in-home therapy 25-30 hours a week, was a lot to handle.

Just in the last month we have noticed more things that he's doing.  But how do I know if it's something that 3 year old boys do or if it's something that we should be worried about?  Little boys do weird things, ya know?

I will do a separate post with some more detail about the evaluations and the diagnosis.  I do have to say though quickly, we are fine with the diagnosis.  The "A" word is a scary thing.  He definitely has some things that he needs help with.  And if it takes a diagnosis for him to get that help, so be it!  Thinking about the future is the hardest thing for me.  I try to take things one day at a time, but I am guilty of crying in my bed at night when I think about the hopes and dreams we had for him and his future.  Then I force myself to remember that he's only 3 and there is so much research out there showing that early intervention is key.  So although sometimes I let my mind wander, we refuse to accept a different future for our son.  We will do anything and sacrifice anything for him.

Tomorrow I will be sharing a post that my husband wrote about his feelings about our son's diagnosis.

June 8, 2016

What's In My (Mom) Bag

Although it does have diapers in it, I just don't feel like I can really call it a diaper bag anymore.  I use it all the time, whether I have the kids or not, except when I run out real quick to the store.  Then I usually just grab my wallet or small little crossbody purse.

But anywayyyy...

Let's get into this thing.  It is the Around Town Tote from Thirty-One and I love it!  It's pretty big, but I like big purses.

Here is a look at the inside before I took anything out to take pictures.  This was a day I had been out with Kase for an appointment, but it's pretty much always the same.  When I get home from being out I will throw out any wrappers or random stuff that makes its way in here.

 Here is all the stuff that stays in the main part.

1. Extra set of clothes for Kenley
2. Wipes
3. Wallet
4. Planner
5. Three Orla Kiely bags from Target (more on these below)

I keep this separate Zipper Pouch in my van with an extra set of clothes for Kyla and Kase, which I have never had to use.  But you know the one time I didn't have extra clothes is when they'd spill all over themselves or something!

Since it's such a big purse, with only the one interior pocket, I have to use smaller bags inside.  It would drive me absolutely insane to just throw everything in the big section.

This first one just has some pens and note pads.  #plannernerd

This one is big enough for about four diapers so I usually keep two for Kase and two for Kenley (used one for Kase that day).  If I'm going to be away for the day or longer, I take a separate diaper bag.

 This last one has two sections.  One side has a few feminine products, a small tube of sunscreen, band-aids and a thermometer.  I sometimes have some baby Tylenol or some other medicines in this section too.

The other side is for the kids snacks.  Usually I keep some goldfish crackers, a couple suckers, and a fruit pouch.  Today for Kase I grabbed a fruit pouch and juice.

Here is a peek at the interior pocket, which does have a zipper, which is nice.

And everything that is inside currently...

1. Boogie Wipes (a must!)
2. Wet Ones (I go through SO many of these!)
3. Sunglasses
4. Hand sanitizer
5. Kleenex
6. Random hair tie
7. Lip gloss
8. Chapstick
9. A pacifier for Kenley

And that's it!  I'll be honest, at this point in our lives, we don't go out all that much.  It's mostly to the store, appointments and taking Kyla to and from school.  Come this fall, things will get a little crazier I'm sure.  And some day, we might even brave going out to eat as a family once in awhile! :)

Oh, and if you love this purse (or anything else from Thirty-One), email me and I'll hook you up with a nice little discount :)  (amymrsmommy@gmail.com)

June 6, 2016

Why Sunday's Are Hard

Before we talk about Sunday, let's talk about how I got to meet my new nephew on Saturday!

I now have two nieces on my side and three nephews on Tyler's side.  I absolutely LOVE being an aunt.  Cooper was born on Thursday and we got to see him and his big brother Trey on Saturday.  And as an added bonus, Tyler's other brother and his wife were there so we got to see our other nephew, Kellen, too!  He is only three months old.  It's going to be so fun watching all our kids grow up together!

I'll be honest, I do not miss that newborn baby stage, but I sure do love to snuggle them :)

Now, can we talk about Sunday's?  Do they stress anyone else out?  It seems like sometime in the afternoon, around 4:00, I get really anxious/depressed/sad.  I start to think about Tyler going back to work and everything going on for the week ahead.  I guess it's just that I'm in a stage of life right now that is really hard.  Each day seems so long and I count down the minutes until Tyler gets home from work.  He is usually gone one night a week traveling for work, which makes things just a little bit harder.  Most of my anxiety stems from Kase's therapy schedule and the fact that we have people coming in and out of our house multiple times a day (when they actually show up!).  I plan on doing another post sometime about how all of that is going, but it's just a lot to handle.

Thankfully my mom is amazingly supportive and comes up once a week to help me out.  Now that she is off for the summer it will be easier for her and she will be able to stay longer.  I'm seriously so thankful that she does this and I know the kids love it too!

I tried not to be too much of a downer yesterday and ended up being pretty productive.  I mowed the yard, did my first T25 workout in a long time, and even walked/jogged on the treadmill!

It felt really good and I'm hoping it is the jump start I need to get myself back on track with my exercising!

When I was done I realized that everyone in my house was napping so I pulled out this book that I recently bought myself.  I only got a few pages in before Kenley woke up, but I can already tell I'm going to enjoy it!

I spent some time working on Etsy orders last night and then crawled in bed and caught up on some TV shows.  I rarely watch TV anymore so I am way behind on some of the shows I watch.

I'm really hoping this is the week I get my butt in gear with exercising and eating better!

So tell me, do you get the Sunday blues like me?  

June 1, 2016

Stitch Fix Giveaway

If you only ever read one blog post of mine, this is the one you do not want to miss!  I have teamed up with some awesome bloggers for a huge Stitch Fix giveaway.  Like $700 huge.  Can you believe that?  We are giving away $700!  So awesome!

In case you haven't heard of Stitch Fix, it is an online personal shopping service where a stylist hand picks five items just for you.  When you sign up, you take a survey, answer questions, and offer any special requests for them.  If you have a special event one month, you can let them know what you have going on and they will customize your fix for you.  You pay $20 for the service, but that can be applied to any item you decide to keep.  Whatever you don't want, you send back in the prepaid shipping bag that they provide.  I love how simple they make it.

Although I've only received two fixes, I absolutely love it.  It's such an easy and fun way to shop.  And as a stay at home mom, it's a nice little surprise to get in the mail each month.  If you aren't already signed up, you can use this link (and I will get a referral credit).

Unfortunately, my next fix isn't scheduled to arrive until Friday.  If you're like me and are terrible with surprises, you can peek on the app and see what you're getting.  So I did that and took some screenshots to share with you all what I'm getting.  I will share my reactions later, how everything fit and what I decide to keep.

I'm really excited about this first tank top.  It's definitely my style and I have high hopes for it!

This next shirt is cute, but I worry about the length.  I like my shirts long.  But I'm not counting it out just yet!

The same with this next one.  Cute, but seems like it's going to be short.  I also feel like my arms may look big in this one.  But we'll see!

There isn't a picture for this one, but you can see that I'm getting another maxi dress.  In my last fix, I showed you the maxi dress that I got.  I'm really hoping this one fits better!

Also in my last fix was a cardigan.  I asked for another cardigan, but one without the weird zipper.  Just a basic cardigan that I could wear with a few different things.  I like how this one looks.  Not sure about the color and how much I'd really have to wear with it, but I'm still excited about it.

Check back next week to see pictures of everything on!

And now the reason you're all here....the giveaway!  There are many ways to enter using the Rafflecopter link below!  It will end on Wednesday, June 8th at 11:59 EST.  GOOD LUCK!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up with Maria from Crazy Together.