Answer Me This #2

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!

Answer Me This

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

I wore a pink blouse and black slacks, LegoFan wore his new green shirt and tie, and Diva wore a beautiful long, pastel dress with pretty pink flowers on it. She also added some pearl-colored sandals with chunky crystals on them – her new faves!

2. Easter Bunny: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

We never really focused on the bunny and always kept that casual. The kids figured that one out long before they began to question Santa. And we never had any photos taken at the mall. The costumes are never good and they really creep me out! But they still like egg hunts and a few surprises Easter morning; and so I oblige, with pleasure.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else’s house?

I’d prefer to celebrate at my own house – if I had one.

First, I enjoy entertaining. I enjoy having people over and creating a warm, family environment. But a very close second has to do with all LegoFan’s allergies and anxieties. It’s just better for me to have control over the food and lack of furry animals. It’s better for him if he’s in a setting where he’s familiar and comfortable.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

Is this a trick question? I think it’s impossible to come up with just one. I’ve always loved Brach’s Jelly Beans – not the Jelly Bird Eggs, not the Spiced Jelly Beans – just the plain ole, regular, original, Jelly Beans. But I really, really, don’t like the black ones and the red ones. Can we get bags made without those two flavors, please?

And then there’s the chocolate… M&Ms, Mounds Bars, York Peppermint Patties… I’m getting hungry!

Lastly, I love the eggs: mint, raspberry, marshmallow, and nougat. Love. Love. Love!

5. Do you like video games?

No. I don’t understand them. I can’t seem to play them. Much to LegoFan’s utter disappointment. He loves them: Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, anything LEGO. I just don’t see the fascination. But he’s good at them. So we have the Wii U in the house, the kids play the games, and I try to understand.

6. Do you speak another language?

I took three years of French in high school. I learned a little Italian when I went to Rome for World Youth Day 2000. And I tried to teach my kids a little Latin. So I guess the actual answer to this question is no. I can say and read a few words in several languages, but I cannot speak any of them other than English. And sometimes I question that ability!

Now join us over at Catholic All Year and play along!

7 Quick Takes #2

— 1 —

Confession. Reconciliation. Penance. Good things happen there. Especially when you ask God to help you make a good, honest confession. Something enters your mind that you hadn’t considered mentioning. Apparently God had something to tell me.

God nudged me this afternoon; and, believe it or not, this post is part of it.

Crucifix

— 2 —

Psalm 41: 10-14 ~ (10) Even the friend who had my trust, who shared my table, has scorned me. (11) But you, Lord, have mercy and raise me up that I may repay them as they deserve. (12) By this I know you are pleased with me, that my enemy no longer jeers at me. (13) For my integrity you have supported me and let me stand in your presence forever. (14) Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, from all eternity and forever. Amen. Amen.

Someone whom I trusted hurt me. A lot. This someone still jeers at me. A lot.

When I first read this, I looked at verse 11 and thought it sounded a lot like revenge. However, perhaps it means something a little different. Perhaps it is more about my attitude and outlook. When the Lord has mercy on me and raises me up, that in itself is the repayment this person deserves, in that I am not controlled by that person’s hurts and jeers.

I think there is a secular saying about this: Living well is the best revenge. I don’t wish revenge on this person; however, I do wish to live well. And it is by God’s grace and mercy, as well as my integrity, that I shall.

Decoupage Cross

— 3 —

Legofan saw his pediatrician this week, who was pleased with how well he is doing. He warned me to expect growth of approximately four inches over the next year. Ummm… can we do that all in the summer time so that the length of his pants doesn’t matter??? He’s already coming close to looking me in the eye. How bad does a 40-something year old woman look in these?

High Heel Boot from JustFab.com

— 4 —

One of the things I’ve been doing for LegoFan is giving him Plexus Slim and ProBio5

I actually signed up with the company so I could get the products at wholesale. The ProBio5 is a probiotic, which many doctors suggest for kids on the spectrum. The Slim was actually designed for diabetics, but has improved the lives of many by helping them get off various medications.*

*(Standard disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I cannot diagnose, prescribe, or treat anything. If you are interested in these products, not only will I make a commission, but I would suggest you talk to your doctor before using them. I am only sharing our experiences with them.)

LegoFan has shown some incredible improvements after using these two. In general, he has become more compliant and less argumentative. He has allowed himself to step out of his comfort zone and actually talk to people. And his art has improved! He used to rush through art and barely follow the directions. Now he takes his time and actually puts details into his creations. I love these positive changes we are seeing!

Bowling

— 5 —

Diva has been amazing me with her creativity and sewing ability. She watched a video about how to sew one of the Mario characters out of felt. This video came with a template and she set out to make it. Ever since then, she has been designing her own patterns! She has made Captain Toad, Waccas (your guess is as good as mine!), Benny the 80s Spacesuit Guy and a Micromanager from the LEGO Movie, and the Unknown (don’t ask me which one) from Pokemon. Most recently, she has designed a princess doll, but she’s not finished with this yet, so I don’t have any pictures. This girl is amazing!

LEGO Movie Benny
Sew - Captain Toad
Sew - Micromanager
Sew - Waccas

— 6 —

For me, I am loving that spring is finally here! Despite allergies, I am enjoying having the door open in the house, and the windows down as we drive. Flowers and trees are starting to bloom, and even parts of the city are starting to look pretty.

Flower Up Close

Rose

— 7 —

April is the month for Autism. Given that LegoFan is on the spectrum, and I run four different businesses, I decided to team up with some other vendors to do a fundraiser for an amazing group called Pathfinders for Autism.

LegoFan has benefited directly from their services, and we just love the ladies associated with Pathfinders! To that end, I am donating a percentage of my profits from all of my businesses to Pathfinders this month! So, if you are in the market for…

Hair Jewelry from Lilla Rose

Hair Jewelry from Lilla Rose

Personalized Jewelry from Origami Owl

Personalized Jewelry from Origami Owl

Health & Wellness products from Plexus

Health & Wellness products from Plexus

Essential Oils from Young Living

Essential Oils from Young Living

… please click on the photos and they will take you to my sites. You can order directly from there, and then come back and post your order number in the comments (I can delete order numbers so they don’t stay on the blog). That way I can track things and make my donations accordingly.

* Just in case I wasn’t clear, the links will take you to my websites, where I will make a commission off each sale. In this case, your purchases will not only help me keep my kids home, but they will also help a worthwhile organization, Pathfinders for Autism. Thank you for helping us!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Blessed

Blessed

For a few years now, I’ve been reading people’s “One Word” posts. I even wanted to select a word for myself. But last year, I had three words I liked and I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. So I did what any sensible person would do…

I just gave up on the idea.

Ok, not so sensible. But this year, as soon as I remembered the “One Word” idea, my word was there for me. There was no hemming and hawing. No deciding. It was just there.

BLESSED

Apparently I’ve been having too many pity parties over the last few months. Or maybe I just need to be reminded that, despite my current circumstances, I truly am blessed.

With this being 2014, I thought I’d kick off this year of the BLESSED with 14 blessings I can count in my life right now:

  1. My God ~ My Faith ~ My Salvation – This wonderful God blessed me with the gift of His Son; and, thus, the gift of salvation. This Son, Jesus, died for me, so that I might live. This photo is of my Origami Owl locket. In it is a plate that is stamped ‘Blessed,’ the word ‘Love,” and a cross – all to remind me of the love my God has for me!  Blessed Locket, Origami Owl
  2. LegoFan – I’m listing him first, not because he’s loved more than his sister, but because he was born first. LegoFan has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, as well as a host of other things. He has taught me some much-needed patience. He has shown me true joy. I am blessed to know him and to be his Mama.  LegoFan Ornament
  3. Diva – Obviously, she was born second. She is developing into a beautiful young lady. She has brought femininity back into my life. She has humbled me. I am blessed to know her and to be her Mama.  Diva Ornament
  4. My Mother – I don’t have a photo she’d be happy with me posting, so this will just be text. My mother is one of the few family members who truly supports me in my endeavors to continue homeschooling the children, despite being a single parent. She has supported my decision in word and deed. I am so blessed to have her in my life and to know that she supports us.
  5. A Place to Live – We are not currently living in a place I would choose to live. But, my children have a safe place to be, play, and learn. We have a place that is warm and shelters us from the elements. We have something soft under our heads when we sleep at night. We are blessed to have somewhere to be each day. A Place To Live
  6. A Car to Drive – Earlier in 2013, my car was a mess. It had dents, a crack in the windshield, a hole in the floor from the driver’s heel, and had parts falling off of it. The worst thing? Two windows wouldn’t stay up and there was no heat. Then the brakes went out… It was time to send it to the auto graveyard. So I looked for used cars. I set my budget and was determined to stick to it. I made a list of cars available at a few different dealers in the area and we set out to look. We had struck out at most of the dealers and there were only two left. We drove onto the lot and were a little disappointed in this little lot with some broken down cars and a trailer for an office. They didn’t have the car I came there to see. But being the good salesman he was, the employee told me he had a few cars come in the night before that had not yet been advertised. He showed me one, but it wasn’t what we needed. Then he showed me another one. It would not have been my first choice, or even my 10th probably, but I gave it a chance. It was $500 less than my budget, that was a good start. He gave me the VIN and told me I could go run a CARFAX on it. I got on my computer and researched the make and model only to discover that it was one of the better made cars out there. I ran the CARFAX to discover that this car had no accidents or any other problems reported in its history. It seemed like this car was supposed to be for me. After I bought it I realized that I had asked God for something safe and reliable; and He delivered. But not only that, like Solomon asking for the right thing in Wisdom and getting more than he asked for; I, too, got more than I asked for. I got some features I’d only dreamed about having! I am very blessed to have been directed to this car; and it has grown on me too! A Car To Drive
  7. Food to Eat – Food has been something of a struggle for us. LegoFan has battled food allergies all of his life, and each time he’s tested, we find something new. This past year, we ended up going gluten-free, and change is not always easy. But we have found things to like, and new ways to prepare some of our favorite foods. It’s a journey. But we have food, and we are able to prepare and enjoy good things to eat. We are blessed to have our daily bread! Gluten-Free French Toast
  8. Clothes to Wear – I am definitely not a fashionista, and I’ve had a love-hate relationship with clothing over the years! So right now, my wardrobe consists of jeans and t-shirts. It’s not where I want to be, as I’d like to feel a bit more feminine most of the time. But I have something to wear. My children have things to wear. My mother sometimes picks things up for them too. And then there’s the time when I found jeans for LegoFan for $2.67 and blouses for Diva at $2 – what blessings! Then Cammie over at A Woman’s Place posted about her thrifty find called thredup. I went over there and found a treasure-trove of dresses for Diva at great prices (if you go over there via my link, you will get $10 off your first order with them, and so will I). We are truly blessed to have such clothing to wear. "New" Dresses
  9. Homeschooling – I love this blessing! To be able to be such an integral part of my children’s education is amazing. I get to see the light bulb go on when they figure out something new. I got to be the one to not only teach them how to read, but also the one to show them the joys of a good book. I was privileged to be there with Diva as she struggled through long division and came out victorious. I am able to encourage LegoFan as he tries to find ways to communicate his knowledge, even if they are a bit unconventional. It’s a road we travel together; one in which we learn and grow together as well. I am blessed with the freedom and ability to be my children’s teacher. Science Experiment
  10. The Internet – I know, this can be a blessing and a curse. It is both to me sometimes. But coming from the perspective of blessings, I have been reunited with friends from college, high school, and even elementary school through facebook. I have had the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals through twitter and facebook. I have the chance to write, explore my thoughts, and share parts of my life via this blog. I have found deals to save money on things we need, as well as ways to earn a little money. I have ‘met’ several wonderful ladies through blogs and homeschool groups. I am blessed by what I have chosen to use on the internet, and what it has to offer.
  11. My Plexus business – I recently decided to join Plexus to help improve my health and to help me earn a living to take care of my babies. This company is dedicated to natural ways to get your body in tip-top shape. Their most notable product is Plexus Slim and I just started taking it. I guess I will have to post before and after photos along this journey.  I am blessed to be in business for myself with a company that helps to improve others’ health.plexus_slim
  12. My Origami Owl Business – This was the first business I really joined. I fell in love with the concept of Living Lockets – I loved being able to design and re-design my own jewelry, and that it told my story! And it’s just plain fun – fun to wear and fun to present! I am blessed to be in a business that is fun and prides itself on being a “Force for Good.” Locket - Heart-Shaped
  13. My Lilla Rose Business – I just love my Lilla Rose business. I ended up joining Lilla Rose at roughly the same time as Origami Owl – and it wasn’t planned that way! Lilla Rose has the most beautiful hair accessories – I call it Hair Jewelry! But it’s not just that they’re beautiful, they actually hold my hair! All of it. All day. And NO headaches! But I got something else when I joined Lilla Rose: I got a Lilla Rose family! We have a group on facebook that is so supportive and encouraging, that it’s impossible not to succeed. I am very blessed to be a part of this company, to be able to wear these lovely products in my hair, and to be a part of the Lilla Rose family. Lilla Rose Flexi Clip
  14. God’s Majesty – God sends reminders of His blessings constantly. Sometimes it just takes me longer to see them. But they’re always there. God is the Master Artist and there is just so much beauty in His world. God’s Majesty fills me with awe. I am blessed to live in a world with so many beautiful sights, that He provides them for my (and your) enjoyment!

Fall GlorySunset on the WaterFlower Up Close

As this year continues forward, I know there will be difficult times. I know there will be days that I have a hard time remembering to be grateful. This post will serve as a reminder ~ and permanent record ~ that I have a lot for which to be grateful.

I am truly blessed!

What is your word for this year? If you’ve written a post about it, feel free to share a link in the comments.

* Disclaimer: Most of the links in this post are for my businesses, one is an affiliate link. All are ways to help me help my family. I am a single parent trying to keep my babies home and take care of them in the way I feel God wants me to. If you click on the links and make a purchase, you will be helping us, and I will be grateful.

This Is Autism

I first read about Suzanne Wright’s op-ed when I read John Elder Robison’s resignation from Autism Speaks. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, and I applaud Mr. Robison’s strength of character.

Her words included: “despair” ~ “fear” ~ “depleted”

I read that my exhaustion is going to make me ill and become broken, leaving my child with no one to care for him.

That may be the way that Suzanne Wright feels about people with autism, but it’s not how I feel about my son. I feel Blessed!

Locket - Autism

And I’m a single mother. And I have a son on the Autism Spectrum.

LegoFan BDay

I may be tired at the end of each day, but I am far from ill and broken. I do not live in despair. I am not depleted.

Driving Range

But there was a time when I lived in fear… It was when I was reading all books written by so-called experts. Like Cammie over at A Woman’s Place, I now focus on my own experiences and that of actual mothers & adults who live with autism day-in and day-out. They paint a much more realistic picture. This is where I read about things like:

“Hope” ~ “Love” ~ “Delight” ~ “Laughter” ~ “Intelligence” ~ “Break Throughs” ~ “Accomplishments” ~ “Amazing”

Cheer

When LegoFan was first diagnosed, I was told there was a possibility he would never leave home and probably never hold a job. I no longer believe that; however, even if it’s true I’d be happy to have him.

Comforting

LegoFan is truly delightful! Our house is never dull. In fact it is the complete opposite! It is full of life, smiles, laughter, and activity.

Bowling

Cammie mentions a cure in her post and it’s something I’ve thought about before. In fact, I told a friend shortly after LegoFan’s diagnosis, that if someone appeared on my doorstep with a magic pill that would “cure” his autism, I didn’t think I’d take it. The caveat to this is that if it would truly improve his quality of life, I might consider it. But at what cost? LegoFan’s contributions to our family are not something I’d like to live without. He is amazingly smart; he remembers things I forget, and he has an incredible way of making a room brighter just by entering it. His heart is huge; and his love is immeasurable.

Allergy - LegoFan

Ok, let me be real for you here. It’s not easy. It is challenging. I have my difficult days. In addition to being a single mom, I home school my children. So I am with LegoFan all day, every day. I am the only one who coordinates his meds and his appointments. I’m the only one who drives him to doctors and groups. So, yes, I am tired. But would I say I’m exhausted to the point of being ill or broken? Most certainly not.

Curiosity

Would I trade my LegoFan for anything? Hmmm…

Back To School 2013

What do you think?

Davidson Family Fundraiser

If you have not already heard, the Davidson family of Little Flowers Family Press lost everything recently in a devastating fire.  You can learn more about the details at the following links (the first is from Rita Davidson herself):

Little Flowers Family Press Blog

News Coverage

Local Story

Here is a facebook page that has been set up for their family – please ‘like’ it: Facebook Page

Three of the four Davidson boys are autistic, as is LegoFan. I know how difficult change is for children on the spectrum. This complete change in their way of life must be wreaking havoc in their young lives in ways many of us cannot understand.

I would like to help the Davidson family, but I am not in a financial position to do so. Last night I had an idea to use my direct sales businesses to help. While I admit it may not be much, I would like to donate 20% of my sales from Lilla Rose and Origami Owl so I have set up a party in each of them. If you are interested in helping in this way, please click on the links and follow the directions below. Most importantly, this family needs your prayers. Please join me in praying for them.

Origami Owl

Locket - AutismLocket - Forever FamilyLocket - FootprintsLocket - Grandma

 

To order Origami Owl Jewelry, please go to my website here. When your order is complete, proceed to check out. On that screen, there will be a section called “Party Information” where there will be a dropdown menu. Please select Little Flowers Family Press as your party then complete your order. What you order will be shipped shortly after payment.

Lilla Rose

FOTM Aug 2013 Tidepool Treasures 4Lilla Rose Accessories CollageLilla Rose Badge Clip CollageLilla Rose Collage

 

To order Lilla Rose Hair Accessories, please go to my website here and place your order. This is a party-specific link so your order will automatically be calculated toward the Davidsons’ total. Any order you place through this link will not ship until I close out the party (which I was planning to keep open until the end of September). However, if you would like your order to ship prior to that I have a way to do it, Please just leave me a comment and I will contact you.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section and I will answer them for you.  Also, please share this with anyone you think might want to help. Thank you, in advance, for helping this family and offering them a little hope.

for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Our Gluten Free Journey – Prologue

Today marks the end of a full month on a gluten free diet. We see the allergist tomorrow to find out where we go next. But it has been a very interesting month!

Why did we go gluten free? LegoFan was diagnosed with several food allergies and asthma in his early years, some life-threatening. So I guess it makes sense to go back to the prologue instead jumping right in to Chapter One.

Allergy - LegoFan

When LegoFan was a baby, he was nursed exclusively until he couldn’t get enough nourishment. I had to start adding cereal at a very early age. He, whether nursing or eating cereal, would develop these horrible rashes on his face and nothing would make them go away. The pediatrician suspected allergies but told us we couldn’t test him until he was a year old.

At one year, he was finally tested. We were blessed to get in to see one of the top allergy specialists in the country at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She was so thorough and asked the right questions. We left with the diagnosis that LegoFan was allergic to eggs, the deadly peanut, and garlic. Garlic was the one that shocked me. Don’t get me wrong, I was horrified over the other two and worried what his life would be like. But it was the garlic that seemed just weird; random. I mean LegoFan has some Italian blood in him; how can he be allergic to garlic? But it was the allergist asking the right questions regarding flare ups that led to her even testing for garlic.

Allergy - Eggs

That was the beginning of our journey with food and the challenges it has had for my son.

At age two, he was given a monitored food challenge to see what effects, if any, the egg would have on him. He “passed” and was cleared to eat foods with eggs in them. I have a great photo (before digital cameras) of him eating his first chocolate chip cookie and ending up with chocolate on his face! He loved it!

He would eventually be cleared of his garlic allergy, but new foods began to give him problems. He could eat red apples, apple sauce, and drink apple juice, but green and yellow apples made him break out in hives. He could eat green pears, but brown pears also gave him hives. Although he can now have brown pears, he still cannot have yellow and green apples.

Allergy - Apples

As he got older, he also developed allergies to grasses, trees, flowers, dogs, cats, horses, mice, and dust. His peanut numbers kept going up, and he started to develop allergies to all the other tree nuts. As you can imagine, grocery shopping has changed for us multiple times and can take forever!

Allergy to TreesAllergy to Grass

Well, we recently moved and saw a new allergist for the first time in ten years. He ran a complete set of tests – 56 skin pricks on his back! He was miserable by #10! He was reacting to almost everything. In the five columns of pricks, one of them had hives so big that they merged into one large hive. It was all I could do to keep him from scratching!

Allergy Skin TestAllergy skin Test - 1Allergy Skin Test - 2Allergy Skin Test - 3

He ended up testing positive to so many things with this test; and then he had to undergo the blood work! Between the two, we had several new things; so many that he would have very little to eat if we eliminated everything. He had been having some strange reactions lately, so we decided to do some sort of elimination diet. LegoFan tested positive to allergies to wheat, barley, rye, and oats. So we decided on a gluten free diet for a month…

This post is linked up with Our Simple Farm, Homemaker’s Challenge, Whole New Mom, Home Sanctuary, and Allergy Free Alaska – go check out what everyone else has this week!

100th Post – Thanksgiving

I find it very appropriate that my 100th post will be one of gratitude. I’ve seen a few people posting alphabetic gratitude lists on FB each day, so I would like to do that here as well.

I am grateful for:

A: Asperger’s Syndrome

B: Board Games

C: Creativity

D: Diva

E: Eternal Life

F: Faith, Family, & Friends

G: God

H: Homeschooling

I: Ice Cream

J: Jesus

K: Kisses

L: LegoFan & Love

M: My Mother

N: New Chapters

O: Open Air

P: Photos & Photography

Q: Quality Time with my children

R: Restoration

S: Sunsets & Sunrises

T: Tradition

U: United States of America

V: Victories; small, medium, & large

W: Wisteria & Weeping Willows

X: eXcitement

Y: YOU

Z: Zestiness

Thank you for reading – for subscribing – for commenting!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autism Speaks Walk 2012

For anyone reading who does not know, my son is on the Autism Spectrum. Each year, for the past four years, we have participated in our annual Walk Now for Autism. This year we are blessed to be able to have the walk before Hurricane Sandy threatens the coast. It is supposed to be a beautiful fall day.

LegoFan is an incredible young man. Despite being born with, and developing more, food allergies; and having asthma, and Asperger’s and ADHD; he is the happiest kid I have ever met. He doesn’t let any of this get him down – he usually doesn’t use any of it as an excuse not to do something (ok, he sometimes uses his allergies as an excuse not to have to go outside and, instead, play the Wii…)

I homeschool him and Diva and I have seen him blossom over the last few years! Of course, there are challenges – he hates to write, rushes through his work, moves around constantly, and gets out massive amounts of Legos in between subjects. He even refuses to do certain things if they make him feel uncomfortable; but we work through those (and I usually end up with a little less hair…) and he tends to be successful in the end, no matter how long it takes to get there. He is incredibly smart – reads (when it’s something that interests him) at about a high school reading level, does math like a computer (when he slows down to pay attention), and understands scientific concepts that boggle my ancient mind. But he has to be interested in order to do this – sometimes I think that’s the most difficult part; finding a way to make something interesting to him.

So each day brings something new. I never know what’s going to happen on any given day; even if I have planned out the school day, the cleaning schedule, and the doctors’ appointments. I just never know when he’s going to find something interesting or uncomfortable. But thanks to efforts from groups like Autism Speaks, I am learning how to handle different situations as they arise. Autism Speaks provides so much help, research, and education to families like us all over the world.

I know things are tight all over the place right now, but if you want to help families affected by autism and you have the means, we would love for you to join our team with a donation directly to Autism Speaks – this link will take you to our Walk Now page. We hope you will take a moment to check it out and consider a donation.

Thank you from LegoFans and their families everywhere!