My Family

"Life will knock you down. You can choose to stand up again."

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day Eight

Day eight, we departed the ship. It was a crappy morning! We didn't want to leave! My parents surprised the family with a trip to the Everglades, an airboat tour and a gator tour. I freaking held a gator! A real gator! I wanted to die! Listen, this trip was a dream trip. The only missing was Brooklyn, and that was a HUGE piece missing. We made some great memories. It was paradise in every sense of the word. We laughed so hard. We played hard. We rested A LOT! We ate even more! I got stuck in a water slide. I also got stuck on a ropes course TWICE. Jackson and Braxton have Facebook friends all over the world now. Kaydon ate his heart out! Colton swam for hours on end. Josh just relaxed and laughed and loved being with his boys. Our room steward was outstanding, extraordinary and perfect. We miss you Marvin! The food was outstanding. Being with the whole family was amazing in every way! We are so thankful for this trip of a lifetime!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day Six and Seven

Day six was spent at sea and we just swam and ate and did what lazy cruisers do! Day seven was spent in the Bahamas. I have to tell you... I was not impressed. The people in the Bahamas, at least at port, are VERY aggressive and somewhat scary! They were coming at you from every direction. I couldn't get back to the ship quick enough! It was warm and sunny and cool to be there and say that we were there. The kids got some cool souvenirs, for sure. But, I don't have any need to go back to visit. Still a great day, though!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day Five

I am sorry about the sideways pictures. It is what it is, and this post will tell you of my biggest regret! Day five was spent in St. Thomas. I didn't get off of the ship. Only Josh and Braxton got off. I was just completely happy with sitting my butt on the ship all day and doing nothing. It is my biggest regret. Josh tells me it was the most beautiful island, and I believe him. I so wish I had more to say about it. Maybe someday, we'll go back.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day Three & Four

Day three was VERY similar to day two, except that everyone was feeling much better! Day four brought us to St. Martin. Oh my gosh, People! This is my favorite place on Earth! We got off of the ship and took a water taxi to St. Martin. The natives on the water taxi were pure perfection. They had the long braids and dreds, just as you would imagine. They sang and sold soda and water, which we bought! They had the coolest accents and I wanted to just eat them up! We got to St. Martin and just walked around the "streets." You had to pay to use restrooms, or to walk or sit on the beach. So, we did neither. It was quaint, simple, and beautiful. The natives were the happiest people I have ever seen, and yet they had nothing. We talked to our boys about it as we walked. These people have nothing, yet everything. They were funny and kind and happy. We walked by the school. It was completely open-air. I just wanted to eat those little jamaican kiddos up! SO cute! Josh had attended a jewelry conference on the ship and had got me a set of free earrings and a necklace. He had a coupon for another free necklace, so he and the boys went into the jewelry store to get it. They were in there for a LONG time. Little did I know, he bought me a wedding ring. I have been wearing the ring my dad bought my mom. My wedding ring is perfect, beautiful, so special, so meaningful, and I am in love with it. Pictures will be in a later post. It makes me love St. Martin even more! Paradise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Autism in Our Home - Part 3 - Travel

I love this picture of Colton and Uncle Skipper! It was taken a year and a half ago. I love it because it shows happiness and love. No questions asked. As you might imagine, traveling with kids is tough. Traveling with an autistic kid is extra tough. Traveling with an autistic kiddo who has a mother who is the worst traveler EVER is a complete nightmare. Josh is super-human. Seriously. The key to this trip was to be prepared, organized, and flexible. Every plane ride had me either sitting with Josh or my dad. Whomever I was not sitting with, Colton WAS sitting with. Colton was prepared with this DVD player, headphones, and DVDs of his choice. He was also prepared with chapstick and gum. We also tried to explain to him that the lines would be long and that we would have to do silly things, like take off our shoes, etc. He did GREAT through all of this. Customs was seamless. He did great. It wasn't that he didn't have questions, or concerns, but we were prepared for them. The whole family was. He did get restless, but we were able to calm him quickly. The only issue came on our flight home, from Florida to Atlanta. We were in the line for security. There was a woman in front of him. Kaydon was behind Colton and I was behind Kaydon. The woman was inpatient and grumpy. It took her FOUR buckets to put all of her stuff in to go through security. Colton patiently waited, but after two buckets, thought she was done and got his bucket. She VERY rudely said, "You need to wait little boy." He looked at me and broke. I very seriously leaned forward and said, "That little boy has autism and is being as patient as anyone should be expected to be. Got it?" He then repeated a few times, "She was mean to me Mom." Nothing else came out of her mouth. I explained to him as quickly as I could that she WAS rude, but that it was over and perhaps she was having a hard morning, also. I also told him that he did a great job. Travel is something that we do in our family. We drive to wrestling tournaments. We used to travel to football games for Josh. We have driven to California, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, etc. All of our kids are good travelers. For us, it is about being prepared physically and mentally. It is also about preparing Colton. Colton needs concrete information. That is not always possible. So sometimes, we prepare him with the fact that we aren't going to have it. We make sure he has his DVD player and his DVDs. We make sure he has his headphones. He also will have a book now and then, and sometimes a stuffed animal that is small and can be comforting to him. Gum is a must for him, as is chapstick. Those things make him feel better to have. We don't give him him things that are exuberant, or that would spoil him. However, we give him things that help him, and thus help everyone! We also prepare the other kiddos with the fact that they need to be patient. This was a great trip for him. I was SO pleased with him! He held the alligator without a problem! He ordered his food with respect and kindness and gratitude. An older gentleman stopped us in the buffet seating area one morning and said, "Your son is really something. He introduced himself and everyone he knew to me in the pool yesterday." Josh and I immediately apologized. The man said, "No, no. Please don't. Kids don't do that anymore. He wanted to get to know me and he wanted me to know who he knew. What a gentleman of a kid you have!" I was reminded that it really is all in perspective. So many people would have thought Colton was odd or annoying or needed to go away. This man praised him and thanked him for being his buddy that day. Autism is a beautiful thing. We just need to see it that way!

Day Two

Day two was a bit rough. The seas were rough, the wind was blowing, the air was chilly and we were a wee bit miserable. At least I was! The patch wasn't working like I needed it to. The boys were not feeling the best either. We were at sea the entire day. So, the pool was busy with our kids. The ping pong table was busy with our kids, the basketball court and soccer court were busy. We hung out, ate a lot, played a lot and just tried to keep everything down. Really, though, it was beautiful sailing!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day One

We flew to Miami, then shuttled ourselves to Fort Lauderdale where we stayed the night. Saturday morning, bright and early, we loaded a ship. People, I got on a ship AFTER flying all day! This was big. Me and my patch loaded that boat and then we played cards in our cabin until we set sail. It was beautiful. It was really, really beautiful. Saturday was spent setting sail, walking around the ship, swimming, and eating. I was sold at "Welcome Aboard."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Autism In Our Home - Part 2 - Communication

The autism spectrum is enormous. One of the differences between autistic people is their ability to communicate, their means of communication, and to what extent they are able to communicate. Many autistic people are non-communicative. They don't speak at all. Even that group can be diverse, though, as some might use sign language or written communication - just not verbal communication. Others do not communicate in any form. Colton is communicative. He speaks, writes, laughs, yells, cries, screams, sings, etc. He has always been communicative. However, Colton's communication is not considered appropriate. Please keep in mind that Colton is 11 1/2 years old. Examples of Colton's communication are as follows: Colton will holler out "AMEN" after a prayer at church. Loudly. Very loudly. Colton will sign the wrong words to a hymn in church VERY loudly. This can be misconstrued as a child who needs to be disciplined, who is being a smart-alec, who is just plain disrespectful. Colton, though, is not intentionally being any of those things. He is simply communicating the way that feels right to him, in his world. Colton will also go up to anyone at anytime in any environment and just begin asking questions, such as, "What is in your purse?" or "What is wrong with your neck?" or "Can I come play at your house?" This is where both boundaries and safety issues come into play. My dear friend, Heidi, was returning home from the grocery store a few weeks ago. It was about 45 minutes after school had let out. She saw Colton on a street corner, with about a dozen Utah Power workers. She stopped, as she always does if she sees Colton and told him to get in the car. She apologized to the Utah Power guys. Thankfully, they said, "Oh, no worries. He has been here with us for a while, just asking questions." Another time, Colton was walking home from school and Heidi's husband saw him. He told Colton to get in the car. Colton said, "I don't have my bike." Derek asked him where it was. Colton pointed to a house. So, Derek took him to the house and waited. Colton had randomly put his bike in a stranger's garage. Derek watched as Colton walked right into this house (again, strangers!) and into their garage and brought his bike out. Colton has also been known to walk into the house across the street from us. It will be 7 am and Colton will walk right in (we live in the boonies, so no one locks doors). No one is awake in the house. It is dark. Colton will find their iPad, sit down and play it. They will wake up to Colton in their house, playing on their iPad. Finally, shortly after we moved into our home, Colton went into the second pasture and cut the next door neighbor's horses mane. The WHOLE mane. With otter pop scissors. Needless to say, they do not speak to us. The animal was not injured, by the way. A few days later, Heidi asked him why he did that. His matter-of-fact response was, "She couldn't see out of her eyes so she needed a haircut." Again, the world that Colton lives in is slightly different. Boundaries, appropriate communication and safety are an ever-present issue. I will be writing several posts on communication, as it is a big part of his autism and the autism journey in our home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Autism in Our Home, Part 1 - The Diagnosis

This sweet boy, after a lot of evaluations, doctor visits, and tests, has been officially diagnosed with autism. As many of you know, autism is an enormous spectrum. I am going to blog once a week about autism in OUR home. As you read these posts, please don't expect that others who have autism will be the same. All autistic people are so incredibly different. This blog, and these posts, will journal what autism is like in OUR home, and with OUR child ONLY. I also want to say that ALL doctors, therapists, school personnel, and psychologists are in complete agreement with this diagnosis. Although it is a bit of a punch in the stomach to us because we had been going off of a false diagnosis of ADHD for two years, we are so thankful that he now has an accurate diagnosis and we can move forward with the resources we need. ***** Autism is something that normally begins to show symptoms and characteristics in infancy and toddler years. Looking back, the signs were there, I just didn't know that they were signs. I was so focused on Kaydon's health and being a single mom of four boys that I didn't think that they were "signs" at all. For instance, I had Colton's hearing checked twice while he was a toddler. I was deeply concerned that he had hearing impairment. I was told that his hearing was fine and that he must just have selective hearing. I went with that and moved forward. Also, looking back on many pictures of Colton as an infant and toddler, he rarely smiled, and when he did it was a very uncomfortable smile. These, in fact, were characteristics of autism. ADHD symptoms and characteristics are also often times seen in autistic people. Therefore, we are not the only family who has had a misdiagnosis. And, in fact, Colton is remaining on the medication that was prescribed to him for ADHD. These medications help to stabilize his mood and help him to function at a higher level. Colton is considered semi-high functioning autistic at this point. Colton is communicative, as opposed to autistic people who are completely non-communicative. However, Colton's communication is very inappropriate, and is far below age-appropriate. I will be discussing his communication in future posts. As we move forward with this diagnosis, Colton will receive the resources he needs in school through a new IEP. He will also be seeing a new therapist outside of school who specializes in autism. Colton has been told what his diagnosis is, although he doesn't seem to understand what it is or what it means for him. This is to be expected, however. And so the journey begins, or continues...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Jackson vs. Homework

Jackson was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework on Saturday while I was baking. He had me laughing so stinking hard. He is a little high strung, kind of like his mama. It was hysterical!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

After-Christmas Party

On the Saturday after Christmas, Uncle Matt, Uncle Mike, Aunt Jen, Kyra, Jessica, and Josh Sides came over to do some skeet shooting in our backyard. Afterwards, I served up a soup bar with homemade rolls and dessert for everyone. Then, we had a table tennis tournament. Braxton may or may not have been injured in the playing of table tennis. Josh may or may not have broken one of our kitchen table chairs. Kaydon may or may not have said a bad word. I may or may not have LOVED watching all of the action!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Day 2014

Christmas Day was a little different than any other Christmas. We didn't get Brooklyn until 1 pm. The boys decided that they would wait to open gifts until Sis got there. We had our first snow fall in West Point on Christmas morning, so the morning started off with the boys going out to play and play. It was so fun for them to be outside in the snow... finally! Josh got up and made our traditional scones and we all ate and then just relaxed until Sis arrived. We opened gifts, then everyone just hung out, playing with their toys and enjoying the entire afternoon. Brooklyn went home Christmas night at 9 pm. Oh, and everyone got a carry-on suitcase for the trip!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas Eve 2014

I was very, very sick for the five or six days leading up to Christmas. Therefore, not many pictures, which breaks my heart! On Christmas Eve, we went to Grandma LeAnne's house. Uncle Matt & Aunt Jen, Uncle Mike, Uncle Colton, and cousins Kyra and Jessica were there. We had a delicious spaghetti dinner and then opened gifts. We laughed lots and loved being with family! Josh helped me make dessert to take and share. He did a great job! The cupcakes and peppermint bark was delicious!