Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's official

I have begun to fund raise for my trip to India.  This makes it all official.  I am scared to death.  I have thought about cancelling the trip . . . too afraid . . . how will I raise the money . . . what will my kids do without me . . . am I crazy to travel in June when it is SO HOT in India . . . what am I doing???

I am stepping out in Faith.  I am following God's calling. 

A dear sweet child who lived at the home I will be serving died this week.  These children are so sweet yet have the hardest life.    Please visit Sarah's Covenant Homes to learn more about this fantastic ministry. 

I will need approximately $3500 for my trip.  I have created a CHIP-IN page to track my fund raising.  Check it out and please contribute, any amount will help! 

What I need more than money is prayer.  This trip, in order for me to pull it off is going to take an immense amount of prayer.  For starters please pray for Autumn and Rayne.  They will be without their momma for 3 weeks, a very long time. 

I can't wait to update on my journey!  It's going to be one crazy ride!!!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lots of Kids . . . Lots of Tips

Although my family is not a huge family we are on the larger size with 5 children ages 16 - 6.  I live with my sister and her 3 children.  We run our house like a married couple, finances and discipline and all.  Here are a few things we do to keep organized.

Sock baskets.  These two sock baskets sit at the bottom of the stairs on the first floor.  We got tired of trying to figure out everyone's socks so now ALL the socks go in these two baskets and if you want a pair it's up to you to find ones that fit you!


Another thing we do is our weekly calendar on the dry-erase board.  This is in the kitchen next to the refrigerator.  I list every activity and appointment for the week.  My dad watches all the kids after school so this helps him see what is going on for the week.  It also is helpful for Hilary and to coordinate our schedules.  The kids LOVE it too, the more they know the more they can help us out!



Autumn and I take medication everyday.   Every Sunday I set up our pills for the week.  This is a HUGE help.  Autumn takes several pill several times a day.  Her medication case is the white one, each day pops out.  In the morning I leave out the day's container for my father.  In the afternoon he gives Autumn her pills and it's easy and simple, he doesn't have mess with medicine bottles or dosages. 



A few years ago I labeled these three containers and they have been such a help.  "Shooters" are medicine cups and syringes, Riley calls them "Shooters" and it just stuck.  Teddy suffers es from very dry, irritated skin so we put his creams in the white container.  Autumn has asthma so we keep her inhalers and nebulizer medicine in the yellow container.  We also keep Teddy's inhaler in there too although he doesn't have to use it that often.


We keep all our prescribed medicines in this 3 drawer container and the 3 colored containers stack up nicely right next to it.


When I'm having a good night I will prepare all the lunches for the next morning.  Aedan buys lunch each day so here are Riley, Teddy, Autumn, and Rayne's lunch bags ready to be packed.  I can't tell you how smooth the morning runs when the lunches are already made.  I don't know why I get lazy at night!!!!


We installed these hooks in our kitchen by the back door.  All the kids hang their bookbags up on them, it keeps them nice and neat!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

India ...

So I think my trip to India is coming along.  I am getting excited and getting scared at the same time. Satan continues to try to stop this from happening including Autumn's last set backs.  But I will move on with my plans.  God is in control and He is definitely in this. 

I have decided.  God has decided I will go to India at the end of June.  I will be going for three weeks.  I will be there for 4th of July (one of my favorite American holidays).  I will be there for the ending of school and the beginning of camp.  There is a lot to pray about. 

I will soon begin to openly ask for donations to make this trip happen.  I know God is faithful and I know He will provide. 

There is a lot to do!  It feels good to have a date in mind.  And yes it will be hot!   And yes it will be humid!!!  And yes it will be rainy!!!!!  I'm not going on a vacation.  I'm going to do the Lord's work.  I don't want to be comfortable.  I want to grow.  I want to be stretched.  I want to be Jesus' hands and feet.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Autumn

The past two days have not been Autumn's best. 

Yesterday I received a call from my father (who watches me and my sister's 5 children after school).  He said Autumn and Riley were having a BIG fight.  He said Autumn pushed Riley into a bookshelf.

I left work and headed straight home.  Autumn has never gotten violent with other children.  She can destroy a room but she has never put her hands on another child.  This was serious.

By the time I got home the fire was put out.  My dad was able to calm Autumn and he said he hugged her and went to be with Riley.  When he returned into the room where Autumn was he saw Autumn cleaning up the room she had destroyed.  She was cleaning up all by herself, he didn't ask her to, she just did it.

My dad took Hilary's kids out of the house and left me with Rayne and Autumn.  Autumn swears Riley hit her first.  Riley says she didn't.  I tend to believe Autumn.  Riley has been known to hit (she's 6) and Autumn does not hit anyone . . . she will push back if someone does it first . . .but she never does it first. 

I had Autumn clean her room.

She then had to write Riley a "I'm sorry" note.  She did not like this but she did it.  This is what she wrote:

"I'm Sorry . . .OK!?"

Too funny.  I decided to increase her Risperdal in the afternoon.  Hopefully this will help.



This morning Autumn had another meltdown.  I ended up at the bus stop with her, she was in tears screaming "YOU DON'T LIKE ME!"

After she got on the bus I sat and cried.  I called her teacher to warn her about Autumn's morning.  She heard the hurt in my voice. 

When Autumn got home she showed me this letter her teacher wrote her.  I am blown away by her teacher's kindness and understanding.  Take a look:






Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekend Meltdown

Structure is what makes most children with Autism's life managable. 

So how do you handle the weekend with a child who needs structure? 

Really weekends are unstructured. 

No wake up time.
No set time lines for meals.
Activities vary week to week.
And on the lazy weekends, when nothing is planned, there are
H-O-U-R-S of unstructured time.

So come 7:00pm on Sunday night (tonight) all this unstructured time was just too much for Autumn.
She had a major meltdown.

a hyperventilating,
uncontrollable,
throw everything on the floor,
snot flinging,
mouth drooling,
unrelenting,
crying,
moaning,
"I can't calm down!"
M E L T D O W N

As soon as her meltdown began and I knew she wasn't going to snap out of it on her own I sent her to her room.  Well I had to walk her to her room.  It is there the majority of her meltdown occurred.  I told her I would tuck her into bed once she calmed down.  I continued to put things away in my room and soon realized Autumn could not calm down by herself. 

She needed deep pressure. 
I put her blankets on her, including her 20 lb. weighted blanket and then laid on top of her. 
Talk about deep pressure!
Within in 60 seconds it worked.  She had completely calmed down.
I gave her a kiss and said what we always say to each other,
"See you in the morning!"

I learn something new every day, and today I learned I must structure our weekends if I want peace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Puberty

Autumn does not want to grow up.

If she had it her way she would probably choose
to be 3-years-old . . . forever.

So here is the HUGE dilemma . . .

PUBERTY!

How do you get an 11-year-old girl,
who doesn't want to grow up,
get through PUBERTY?

Well, I don't have the answer.

Autumn's Psychiatrist
(the most fantabulous Pediatric Psychiatrist around)
told me during our last appointment
that this will be the toughest stage of life
to get Autumn through. 

Wow . . .

Autumn has 3 goals to work on for her Psychiatrist.  We see Dr. Edwards every 2 months for medication monitoring and Autumn is old enough now to have goals that she comes up with herself. 

Here are her goals:

1. Talk like an 11-year-old. 
(Autumn constantly talks like a "baby".)

2. Make a list of ways to calm myself down.

3. Calm down by MYSELF!  

So you put a kid like Autumn who has
major sensory problems,
is Autistic,
has ADHD,
and struggles in a major way
with any kind of change or transition
through a life-changing adventure such as puberty
and well . . .  you have a  . . .
MESS

My heart breaks for Autumn.
Every change her body is going through she struggles with.

Breasts.
Body hair.
Body odor.
Growing height.
H e a v i e r weight.

You can't control puberty. 
NO CONTROL. 
It's Autumn's worse nightmare. 
NO CONTROL.

Although I don't know exactly have the answers to getting her through this stage of her life I do have one technique I use to get by each day. 

It is a technique her Psychiatrist
taught me and it's very basic.

Very Basic.

"Autumn . . . this is how it is."
"Autumn . . . this is your job."
"Autumn . . . it is what it is."
"Autumn . . . this is the rule."
"Autumn . . . we can't change the way things work."

Basically I tell her there is no compromise.  This might seem cruel or inflexible however it is best for a child who is inflexible herself. 

See with Autumn you would could argue with her until your blue in the face and never convince her that your way is the right way. 

Puberty.  It is what it is. 
You can't control it.
You can't change it.
You just have to roll with it. 



Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Coola-Doula!

I love childbirth.

I love babies.

I love supporting families during childbirth.



Here is my latest baby I helped bring into the world.  Ok,so it didn't end in a vaginal birth.  After four days of trying to give birth vaginally my best friend Sarah had a C-section but the end result was the same and I was there at the hospital supporting her the whole time!



Mercy Maranatha
September 16, 2010

Ten months before she was born I was a Doula to her cousin Henry's parents.  You can find Henry's mom here.  This birth too ended in a C-section but I was there the whole time to support the family.


Henry Thomas
November 9, 2009


Here are my two little peanuts.  They are cousins!!!

I have my next Doula job all lined up! 
The baby is due in April!!!  Can't wait!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life and Death

Today was literally filled with Life and Death.  I woke to a text message from one of my managers.  She told me her sister had passed away early this morning.  She was 50 years old and had battled breast cancer for 5 years.  It was only 2 weeks ago that my manager's sister told her that her fight was over.  I asked my manager what happened, I thought her sister was doing okay.  She told me that for 5 years her sister fought cancer, fought hard.  The pattern would go like this:

chemo . . . radiation . . . bad days . . . chemo . . . radiation . . . bad days

My manager thought that this Thanksgiving was just another bad day . . . until her sister told her that the cancer had spread to her liver.   My manager waited for her sister to tell her what the next treatment was, she always told her what the next step would be.

What is the next step???  Her sister did not answer.  She said . . . "that's it, there is no next step".  Two weeks later she died.

I can't imagine losing a sister.  I just can't. 

Life is extremely fragile.  God is in total control.  I don't mean to get morbid but it's true.  We have no control.  Every relationship we have could end tomorrow.  EVERY ONE. 

My day began with death however ended with life. 

My second job is as an adoption caseworker for a private adoption agency in New Jersey.   Tonight I had to do a routine Post Placement Supervision for a family who was placed with an adorable newborn 4 months ago.  This is a New Jersey placement so I am required to complete 4 supervisions before the adoption can be finalized.  I was the one who approved this family during their home study process so I have known them and was routing for them during their wait to add a child to their family of three.  They have a 7-year-old biological son and have turned to adoption to grow their family.

This family was matched with a birth family within 6 months.  This is not typical and was very fast.  In August they welcomed their daughter into their home.  The birth mother and father already had a son and could not financially or emotionally care for another child.  They painstakingly decided to parent their second child through adoption.

The adoptive couple was at the hospital with the birth family when their daughter was born via c-section.  Since the birth of their daughter the families have communicated via email and the adoptive family has sent pictures and updates of their daughter. 

Tonight was my third visit and all family members are doing great!  The baby is growing strong and healthy.  This visit reminded me of how lucky I am to have my two daughters.  Although it is extremely difficult at times to parent them on my own I know that there are women and men who can not have children of their own. 

I am extremely blessed to have given life to my two beautiful daughters.  I am also blessed to have had the ability to parent them. 

Life and Death.  Both are so fragile. 

God is in control. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today

Today was a good day.   I've been trying to pull it together and for the most part I am.  God is working on me and I like it.  I have many, many areas of my life I need to work on but for now God is being patient with me and I love who I'm becoming.  For the first time, well in a really long time, I feel like I'm becoming who I'm suppose to be. 

For most of my life, well let's be honest, for my entire life I have felt like the black sheep.  I said this to one of my friends the other day and he gave me that look like,  "What? Your nuts".  Well yeah I am nuts and I have felt nuts for a long time!

The more I get to know myself God, the more I realize that I am who I'm suppose to be.  That might sound confusing and writing it is confusing me but it's true. 

I dated a guy a couple months ago and he said I'm intense.  At first he liked that about me, it was one of the things he was attracted to.  He then became a super psychotic, narcissist and the INTENSE part of me was a major turn off to him.  He would say, "You're so intense", but in a total negative way.  He would make me feel ashamed about being "intense".  At first I apologized for being SO "intense" but I now realize I LOVE that part of me!  I LOVE being intense. 

My feelings are intense.
I love deep.
I feel deep.
I hurt deep.
I care deep.
I laugh hard.
I cry hard.
I work hard.
I play hard.

It's who I am and I refuse to apologize for it.  Some day, if God wants me to have a life partner, I will be with a man who LOVES my intensity.  I want someone who is just as intense as me. 

I think that's why I need to go to India, by myself.  I need to learn more about God and in turn learn more about myself.  I love who I'm becoming but there is SO much I need to work on.  There is so much going through my head. 

This I know. 
I know that I love God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.
I know that I want to live a life that leads others to Him.
I know that I am not perfect and I never will be.
I know that I suffer from depression but that it's part of me, who I am.
I know I'm beginning to love this part of me, the part that suffers from depression.
I know that God has a super huge plan for my life and my children's lives.
I know that being a parent to a almost 17 year old scares the crap out of me.
I know that I could be a better parent.  That I have messed up A LOT.
I know that I eat way too much.
I know that I'm ashamed I have gained weight after having gastric bypass surgery.
I know that this depresses me, A LOT.
I know that my thirst for more in life is a good thing.
I know that I could be a better friend.
I know I have let people down who are close to me.
I know I should love and treat my mom and dad better, they deserve more from me.
I know that one day I will wish I treated my mother with more respect.
I know that lack of forgiveness is at the root of my disrespect.
I know that God loves me . . . just as I am TODAY.
I know that it is very hard for me to BELIEVE what I know.

Sorry for rambling but I felt compelled to start writing again.  I try so hard to "blog" so others will find it interesting but the truth is I then don't want to blog at all.  I use to write a lot.  I use to write poetry specifically.  I didn't write for anyone else, it was for me.  I still have my poetry books.  So tonight I decided to write for me and I'm going to continue to write for me and God.  I want Him to fill these pages and if someone decides to read the writings then good but I'm not going to write for the reader anymore.  I wanted to write about Autumn and her struggles.  I wanted to write about my weight struggle.  I wanted to write about my trip to India.  The truth is I'm going to write what I feel and if some of those topics come up then so be it.

That's it for now.  I'm so tired and it's way past my bed time :). 

TTFN