Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Blessings

Happy Easter to you and yours.

He is Risen watermark
image courtesy of Stephanie Ackerman of Homegrown Hospitality

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3 Little Questions That Can Make a Big Difference

Do you ever feel like things aren't going your way?  That the world is out to get you?  That you can't seem to meet your goals?  That no matter how hard you try, things just aren't working out?

How about your child?  Does he sometimes just seem to wake up on the wrong side of the bed?  And you could promise him the one thing his heart truly desires and it still wouldn't make him happy?

Back when I was homeschooling my big girls, we would occasionally have days like this.

My solution was to push through the bad moods, the tears, the unhappiness.

And that was just my behavior!

Then I went to hear a very smart lady speak.  And she said something that stuck with me.

On days when absolutely nothing seems to be going right, stop whatever you're doing and ask your child three simple questions:
  • Do you need a snack?
  • Do you need a shower?
  • Do you need a nap?
These three seemingly simple questions can totally turn a kid's day around.  They may not even realize that they're cranky because they just need a couple of Nilla Wafers and some milk.

But here's where the really genius part comes in.

These three seemingly simple questions can also turn my day around.

I'm no longer homeschooling any of my girls but I still have days when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, when I can't seem to get anything done no matter how hard I try, and I feel like everyone is out to get me.

Before I totally start to lose it, I ask myself those same three questions.

And I've discovered that nine times out of ten, I'm grumpy because it's 11 AM and not a bite of food has passed my lips.  Or I'm mad because I'm still in my grubby yoga pants and one of Ryan's t-shirts at 2 PM.  Or I'm simply exhausted.

It's amazing what a little cheese toast and some iced tea can do for your spirits. Or a nice, hot shower. Or a quick little cat nap.

Take a minute to ask yourself those three little questions.  Then take a few minutes to take care of yourself.

You'll feel better.  

And then your family will, too.

A "from the archives" post - December 2011
Which is why the comment form looks so funny, fyi. Please feel free to leave more comments!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Enough Awareness. More Action.

Here we go again.

Wednesday, another CDC survey was published stating that autism numbers are continuing to rise.  Last year it was 1 in 88.  This year?  1 in 50.  Click here if you want to read just one of the many articles. 

I'm not going to lie.  

Raising a child with special needs is hard.  

Like mind-blowing, body-aching, brain-sucking, emotion-wreaking, heart-grieving hard.  

And as a mother of two older daughters who are far too quickly approaching marriage and childbirth, I am seriously concerned about the high, high risks of them giving birth to children who are almost destined to be diagnosed with autism, not because of anything genetic, but simply because of the growing numbers with nothing being done about it. 

Most of you know how I feel about Lily and autism.  I don't believe she actually has it.  I believe she is ill and with proper medical treatment, in time, she can recover.  Click here to read the story of the Bird.

When I bring up the story of Lily's regression with most doctors, they don't have any answers for me.  I even questioned a neurologist about it once and her response?  "Oh, lots of kids regress."

Umm... excuse me?  Really?  And don't you think that's strange, Doctor??  I mean, if I was a neurologist, I might be trying to figure that one out.  Just an idea.

Maybe nowadays lots of kids regress but I can assure you that regression has not always been such a common, matter-of-fact aspect of child-rearing.  I certainly never heard anything about it 19 and 16 years ago when I had Ryley and Reagan.

And I can promise you that not one single one of them will ever admit that a vaccine could've triggered something in Lily Bird.  Because even though the number of vaccines we give our children continues to rise right alongside the rise in the numbers of autism diagnoses, by golly, vaccines do not cause autism.  And even when I remind them that I am not saying that vaccines might have caused Lily's autism but rather triggered some kind of negative process in her body, they are just adamant.  Because vaccines are the holy grail of modern medicine.  And the government offers them to us out of the goodness of their hearts because surely they want all of us to be happy and healthy. 

Sorry.  I snuck up on my soapbox for a minute there.

Y'all.  Awareness is not the answer.  It's time for some serious action.

First, let me ask you a question.  If you are the parent of a child with an autism diagnosis, did your child regress?  Was he or she developing normally and then for whatever reason, suddenly start regressing? Losing skills?  Did you watch your child disappear right in front of your eyes, helpless to do a single thing?

Then maybe, just maybe, your child does not have autism.  

And maybe, just maybe, the reason for some of the high number of diagnoses we're seeing today are because what looks like autism may not actually be autism.

Again, I'm not talking about all kids diagnosed with autism.  Just the segment of those who regressed.

Lily is a patient of Dr. Michael Goldberg, a pediatrician in California who has totally narrowed his practice down to treating those children like Lily, who were just fine for a while, and then began losing skills.

If your child fits that profile, will you take just six minutes and watch this video?  

I'm not asking you to become a patient of Dr. Goldberg.  I'm not getting paid to promote his practice.  I'm not selling his book and getting some kind of kickback.  I'm not asking you to change what you're doing, to stop all therapies, and quit all biomedical treatments.

You're already good at thinking outside the box.  I'm simply asking you to do a little more of that outside the box thinking.  To consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, your child could be more successfully helped if you quit thinking of his or her diagnosis as autism.  And if you started demanding real medical treatment for your child who is ill - not with a psychological disorder but a real physical illness.

If we parents will come together and start demanding that our kids receive the medical treatment they deserve, we will be heard.  And when we unite and share a common voice, the right people will ultimately hear us.  And change will happen.  And our children will get well.

Because, really, our children are what this is all about.

My child is what this is about.

And for her, I will do what it takes.

No more awareness.  It's time for action.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why I Love Social Media

Have you ever read a book and the characters become so real to you, that you find yourself thinking of them as actual living, breathing people?

I remember one of my friends sharing with me that a few years ago when the state of Indiana was experiencing massive flooding, her first thought was, "Oh no! I need to pray for the Baxter family!" 

Then she remembered that the Baxter family was actually from a fiction book series she was currently reading.

In my opinion, that's some dadgum good writing.

Well, to me, social media can be a bit like that.

Except the people on the other end of my computer aren't fictional characters.  They're actually real.

The friends I've made through social media are one of the most unexpected pleasures of having a blog.  Not only have I discovered an incredibly supportive and encouraging special needs community, but I've found people who express a genuine interest in my family, most especially Lily Bird.  There are friends the world over, most of whom I will surely never meet "in real life" who truly want to learn how to support special needs families.  They want to help spread awareness.  But most importantly to me, they pray for my baby girl.

Let me just share with you a couple of truly special and sweet social media moments.

If memory serves me correctly, Kimberlee, aka javadiva, was one of my first Facebook friends outside of those people I really do know.  Now we follow each other on Twitter and Instagram, too.  

Back in January, I posted this Instagram picture of Lily Bird taking a walk on Town Lake...

 and this was Kimberlee's (javadiva) comment:

Can you imagine reading something like that about your child?  From someone you've never met, no less??  Talk about melting a mom's heart.  Kimberlee has a BFF in me, for sure, whether we ever meet or not.

Then there's Joanna, aka smilinjo33, a fellow special needs mom who lives on a little island in Maine.  I can always count on Joanna when I need something researched online because she is a google queen.  She is also fierce when it comes to getting what her sweet daughter, Tess, needs.  

After sharing a "getting ready to call the doctor and not hanging up until I get what I need for my kid" online conversation with Joanna, imagine my surprise when a few days later, I got a sweet package from her in my mailbox.  Inside, this pin I'm wearing on my shirt...

that says, "Mama Bear is here", and, for Lily, a little stuffed animal lobster since the island Joanna is from is famous for it's lobster.

Again, all this sweetness from someone I've never met. Yet I consider Joanna a friend and am confident that if I needed help, she would do whatever she could.

And then there's Melaina, whose handsome son Owen is quite similar to my Lily.  We share stories of our kiddos and pass along helpful tips and ideas for sensory fun and learning.  Actually, Melaina's better at that than me.  But also?  Melaina just sent me a link to a candy store that features all natural treats geared towards people on special diets - "all the fun without the funny stuff", it says.  In my book, a good friend is someone who shares candy with you.

Then there's Karla.  And Karen.  Allie.  Lizbeth.  Debbie.  I could go on and on and still not remember everyone who has blessed me with their kind and encouraging words.

I might complain about technology and get frustrated when my computer freezes up or my phone runs out of charge or Facebook changes its settings yet again.  

But then I remember that technology has brought some pretty special people into my life.

And through social media, Lily Bird is being prayed for by more people than I can possibly imagine.

That is a gift.

The gift of friendship. 

And for that, I'm so grateful.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Would You Rather.....

It's the last day of Spring Break.  

So let's do something...

But it's only going to be.... 

if you play along.

I'm going to ask a "would you rather" type question and you're going to answer in the comments section here or on Facebook.  

We'll all get to know each other a little bit better and have some...


So here we go!
prompt idea from here

If you've been around here for any length of time, I don't think you're going to be surprised by my answer - a library.  Tons of books at my fingertips, keeping my brain fed by reading for knowledge but also good fiction when my brain needs a break, comfy furniture, plus uninterrupted reading time, assuming that I'm alone in this scenario.  If I'm not alone, I'm fairly certain my answer would be different.

What about you?  Where would you rather spend the rest of your life?  Got another place in mind? Share it!  Let's chat.

Oh, and thanks for having a little....

with me today.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Break... with Brownies!

Hey Y'all.  

It's Spring Break here.

Which means no school for the Bird.

And that means not much blog writing time for me.  So today's post will be short and simple.

Reagan and I kicked off the break by heading to San Antonio. 

Reagan has finished all her driver's ed classes and now she's just working on getting all those driving hours in.

First, we hit up Trader Joe's: 

 then headed to the airport to pick up Ryley.

Monday morning, we had a yummy breakfast out, then headed to Town Lake to soak up the beautiful weather and do a little walking.

The Bird loves Town Lake. 

She's also pretty happy that Ryley is home from college for the week.

We ate some good Tex-Mex for supper (something that Ryley really misses when she's in Virginia) and then headed home to eat some of the yummiest brownies we've had in a while.  Oh, and they just happened to be paleo, too.  Click here for the recipe.

We're also using this week off from school to change one of Lily's meds.  I always get a little nervous when we adjust medications because we're never totally sure how Bird will respond.  If you think about it, prayers for a smooth transition and positive results would be greatly appreciated.

Have a great week, dear readers!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Story To Make You Smile

Imagine you are a waiter.  

You are waiting on a group of four adults and they request to be moved to another table.  As you are making the switch, you overhear them make an offensive remark about another family in the restaurant.  A family that just happens to have a five year child with Down's Syndrome. 

The remark?  "Special needs kids should be kept in special places".  In other words, special needs kids should be kept hidden away from public view where they might bother someone who is trying to eat. 

What would you do?

Say nothing?  After all, if you speak up, you might not only lose a tip that night, you might lose your job.

Now stop imagining.

Because I didn't make this up.  

Michael Garcia is a real-life waiter at Laurenzo's Restaurant in Houston, Texas and this exact situation happened to him.

And what did Michael do?  He rose to the occasion and has become a local hero.

Here's a great feel-good story that'll make you smile and serve as a gentle and happy reminder that while it sometimes seems the world is overrun with jerks, there are still a whole lot of amazing people out there. 

It's people like Michael that reassure me that I can do this special needs parenting thing.  A kind word, a  smile that isn't one of pity, an offer of help, including Bird in conversation all the while knowing she can't respond, standing up for my child and others like her.... these are the things that keep me going.

So.  Have a fun weekend, sweet ones.  And if you, like Michael Garcia, get the chance to be amazing, I hope you'll do it!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Paleo Banana Bread

Last week, I had some bananas that had gotten too ripe for eating on their own.

 I'm always happy to have a few overripe bananas because it's a good excuse to make banana bread.  I mean, it would be wasteful to just throw out that fruit we paid good money for, right?

So the search for paleo banana bread began.

And boy, did I find a good one.  I thought Lily was going to eat the whole loaf!

paleo banana bread gluten-free recipe
photo courtesy of Elana's Pantry

I don't know if you're like me, but a slice of warm banana bread just makes me happy.  

I think maybe it reminds me of my Mamaw Askew, who made the best banana bread ever.  In fact, I added a cup of pecans to this recipe because that's the way Mamaw always made it.

Have I made your mouth water yet?

Well, fret no more.  Click here for the recipe then get in your kitchen and get to baking!  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Favorites: Special Needs Books

I am a total bookworm.

I love books.

I mean, I love books.

Probably a tiny bit too much.

But hey, there are worse vices in life, right?

And I've gotten over my need to own ALL THE BOOKS and I actually utilize the library quite often these days.

Today, I thought I'd share with you my top five favorite special needs books - the ones that helped me in the early days of diagnosis, the ones that inspire me, and the ones that I reach for time and again.  Maybe a few are familiar to you?

1.  Mother Warriors by Jenny McCarthy.  I know what you're thinking.  I'm not a huge Jenny fan either but this book gave me hope that I myself, just a little ol' mom, could take on whatever challenges were before me and conquer them.  Pretty motivational stuff.

2.  How to be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism by Eileen Garvin.  This book gave me a unique look into how my big girls might feel about having a special needs sibling and what the future could look like for all of them.

3.  The Myth of Autism by Dr. Michael Goldberg.  The book that answered so many of my questions about Lily, ultimately gave us her real diagnosis, and confirmed that she does not have autism.  This book is the reason Lily is a patient of Dr. Goldberg's today.

4.  The Out of Sync Child (and companion book The Out of Synch Child Has Fun) by Carol Stock Kranowitz.  Introduced me to the concept of sensory processing and showed me all kinds of "out of the box" ways to engage Lily in play.

5.  The Everyday Advocate by Areva Martin, Esq.  This book continually teaches me how to stand up for Lily, how to assert myself, and how to get some results.  Some pretty good how-to's there, don't you think?

Got some more to add to the list?  Leave a comment and share it with everyone.  There's power in being informed.

Have a terrific weekend, my lovely readers.

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