Letter to my son

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Reagan, some of these words that you say….I believe I understand now.  You feel so intently.  You have a tender heart and a sensitive soul, and that is what I love about you the most.  When you say words that take us by surprise, those ugly words are so foreign upon your lips, because that is not what your heart speaks.

You have a tremendous love for animals and you will save lives one day.  You torment your sister, but at the same time, you will have her back when she is crossing the street. Family is everything to you, and though you will not tell me, I know you love me.  I do not think that video games are your priority, I think that time alone with your dad is what you want, and that is the activity that you choose. You look up to your older brother, and miss him all the time because he is older now and has his own life that is separate from you. You must know you will always have a special connection with him.

My dear son, how you are such a worrier.  What I would do, to take those stresses away from what burdens you and keeps you up at night.  You worry about what your friends think of you, you are consumed with time, and you want to please your teachers and it hurts you when you don’t feel you’ve worked hard enough.  I’m proud of all you have done, and you have to know that you can do no wrong in my eyes.

Be free, and just let it go.  Life is just beginning, and there will be plenty of time to worry about bigger problems. Be a kid and be silly and carefree. Stop agonizing over all the little things that don’t matter.

I love you so much.  It is like looking into my mother’s eyes every day, and I love that God has graced me with this through you. You have such a big heart, and I never want you to change, Reagan, but please stay guarded.  Life is so cruel, and people can be ugly spirited. Stay true to yourself, and loyal to your sensitive nature.  Protect your heart, but love freely and unconditionally.

 

Patience

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You do it, admit it.  You get overwhelmed with life’s stresses. It consumes you all day, keeps you up at night. You worry about everything to the point of having physical discomfort. The non-stop doom pressing down, causing migraines and anxiety, shortness of breath, and restlessness.

Why?  Did we forget to turn off the coffee pot?  Were we late on a deadline?  Did we forget to send our kids’ school lunch?

STOP.  BREATHE. LOOK AROUND.  Sit, and make a list. Scratch off your list as you go so that you have a sense of accomplishment. Try not to FEEL so much, and get organized.

Go OUTSIDE.  Be one with nature. Take everything in, and BREATHE.

It will come when you are ready.  Your answers, your closure, and your solace.

PATIENCE.

My Special Boy

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Here is what I have learned about Special Needs, and this is what makes it tougher.

When you have a child with special needs in your family, it affects every member, ESPECIALLY the siblings(s).  Reagan is constantly fighting for attention, recognition, and feels the need to interject his ideas, opinions and thoughts, even when it is an interruption of our interactions with Bailey.  I am not oblivious to what is happening, and I do know that he needs more from us, as a result of Bailey’s disability.

I believe that I have two special needs children. Maybe Reagan is not officially diagnosed, but he needs more than the average child.  He needs the reassurance that he is worthy, being heard, and that he is just as loved as Bailey.

It may cause behavior problems from time to time, but quick corrections (and threatening to take away video games) are  normally successful.  He is not a bad kid, he is a wonderful son.  He has a tender heart, is very sensitive to what is happening around him, and he tends to be a follower with his classmates.  He wants his friends to like him.  He enjoys being the center of the universe, as he is.

I love that his heart is so big, and that he loves HUGE when he wants to.

Asian Salmon & Veggie Casserole

Salmon

I love to create my own recipes, though you will never hear me brag on my failures, LOL.  Hence the burnt chicken and dumplings and chicken enchiladas that had NO sauce and were hard as a rock.

I LOVE the Asian flare of sweet & salty, so I made a mixture of soy sauce and brown sugar.  No specific measurements, but I coated the salmon with a ton of it, and then baked it for about 20-25 minutes in a 350 preheated oven.  It was absolutely delicious!!  A TON of flavor, which mean this is one of my go-to meals from now on.

As my side, I sauted fresh veggies that I had on hand (pictured here, it is potatoes, squash, zucchini, onions).  After they are soft, I poured the mixture until a greased casserole dish, and sprinkled cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. You are basically just doing a reheat to melt your cheese and get the top to crust over.  This is a dish that I make all the time, because you can use any vegetables that you have in stock that day.  It is yummy!!

Thanks ALL, Enjoy!

Hilarious

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Bailey will fixate on something, and refuses to let it go.  She will repeat it over and over again….”Christmas is today”, “There is no school tomorrow”, and it doesn’t matter what my response is, she will beat it to the ground.

I am not the type of person who can “let go”.  I will hold on to something and keep it in for the LONGEST time, as to not upset or hurt anyone.  I don’t enjoy making waves or trouble.

Bailey has been testing my limits.  When she doesn’t like my response, she will scream, throw herself down. She will hit herself, and even “fake” choke herself.  If she is near me, or sitting with me, she will strike out with her fists, or pinch and pull my hair.  I have had many bruises from this, and I just lick my wounds and try to move on. Emotionally, it is not an easy task.

Long after her meltdown has simmered, and she is back to herself, I am still holding on to it.  I hide it well from most people.  I’ve been told that I am hilarious, but truth be told, when I am at my most “hilarious”, is when I am struggling the most.

Into The Storm

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Before I get going with my blogging about Autism, I wanted to clarify that this is MY perception of autism, and my personal experiences only.  Occasionally, I may refer to educational links, but this blog’s purpose is to express myself and everything that I go through as a parent with a special needs child.  With that being said…..

I was in denial with Bailey’s diagnosis for quite some time.  I would observe other parent’s children, and think to myself, “Bailey doesn’t do that”, or “wow, I’m so glad she isn’t that bad”.  I always said that she didn’t have sensory issues.  She loves the movie theater and the loud noises don’t phase her.  She doesn’t grow anxious during fireworks.  She really never had many of the typical traits that other children do on the spectrum.

However, as I learn more about this developmental disorder, it all becomes more clear to me. I have a new discovery about her every day. Bailey DOES have sensory issues, but strangely, only recently.

Thunderstorms…..one night we were laying down and it was raining outside.  No big deal, right?  And she was fine.  We were chatting and she was giggling.  Then the rain started pounding on the roof, and here came the thunder and lightening.  She was a little taken aback, and rolled over and cuddled with me.  A little bit later, we noticed that some rain was coming in from under the sliding glass door.

That was a moment that she cannot let go.  From then on, during a rainstorm, she would go around the house and put towels around any of our roof leaks, she would remove ANY of our personal belongings when waking up in the morning…..bottled waters, tissue box, and even my cell phone charger cord.  I asked her why, and she said, “because it will blow away”.  Needless to say, when my husband and I wanted to watch Into The Storm, we decided against it.

When it rains now, she will crawl into my lap and cover her ears.  She will put the palms of her heads over them, or stick her fingers in them, anything to drown it out.  She is constantly worried that it will rain.  It bothers my heart that she is so anxious about this, that she misses the beauty and peacefulness of the rain.

If anything scares her at all, she covers her ears.  Bailey has sensory issues.

There, I said it.

 

My Grieving Period

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Our journey with Autism started a few months after Bailey was born, though the grieving process didn’t hit until she turned 3 years old.

Bailey was behind on the usual milestones, such as crawling, walking, and talking.  There was always some concern, but she was happy and healthy.  At age 3, we had her tested for a developmental disability through the school district we were living in at the time. They ran a series of tests, which involved observations of role play, free play, and asking her a series of questions. Hearing loss was ruled out immediately.  She had no desire to role play, but only wanted to play with animals.  No verbiage, only sounds and motions.

The word Autism was horrible for me, but it did pass through my mind that night.  The next morning we went back to get her results, and there it was…..that emotional crash.  For me, it was devastation. My negativity kicked in.  She won’t EVER talk, never have any friends, and never tell me about her day. She would never be able to function on her own, much less live by herself as an adult. I made the serious mistake of googling Autism, which of course pulled up all of the most awful stories. No hope, no happy ending, and only emptiness and sadness. Bailey ran around and played while I cried in silence.

We made the decision to enroll her in school at age 3, by the suggestions of the counselors. That was another emotional setback for me, because I was not ready for her to be in school, away from me and my protective arms. I cried every morning after dropping her off, and did my best to put on a brave face for my son, who was 4 at the time.

Putting her in school was the best decision we made. She was immediately pulled into a classroom with 3 loving teachers who adored her. They were nurturing and gentle with her during this transition, yet they challenged her and she was forced to communicate in many different ways. They endured my window stalking and constant tears. They were an amazing support system, and I will ALWAYS be grateful to them.

Today My Bailey speaks in complete sentences. She has her quirks, but she is in the 2nd grade with other regular mainstream classmates. She has FRIENDS that want her to sit next to them and eat lunch with them. They wave to her while driving by. They are crazy about her.

The monumental day that I will never forget, and that I tell everyone who will stand to listen to me……

For two years, she would get off of the school bus, and I’d be waiting there. I would ask her, “how was your day, Bailey?” and she would only look at me. A blank look, as if she wanted to respond, but couldn’t.  Seriously, I could FEEL the words on the tip of her tongue. It broke my heart every single day, but damnit…..I still asked her every single afternoon, “how was your day, Bailey?”

When she got off of the bus one day….I grabbed her backpack and hand, and asked with a sigh…..always ready for the pressing gloom. “How was your day, Bailey?”

“I played dinosaurs”.  Kindergarten, age 5

“I lost my animal”. 1st grade, age 6

“Mrs. Sink wouldn’t let me go to the toy store.” 2nd grade, age 7

You can imagine how my heart has soared.  Happy tears only, though, and that is all I wanted.

 

“Dad”

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Everyone has lost someone that is close to them, and everyone grieves in a different manner.  When I lost my Grandpa, it was a feeling of loss that I hadn’t felt before.  We had a special connection that everyone else didn’t understand or even see. Towards the end, he was in assisted living and had the beginning of Alzheimers.  He always knew I was “family” and a few times called me his daughter.  He and my grandma raised me since I was 8, so yes, I was his daughter.

I can still feel his long bony fingers around my hand. I can still hear his labored breathing. I try to focus on the funny times, like his war stories that were comical at times, and how he used to grunt when I’d poke him in the ribs.

But honestly, all that I can remember is crawling into that hospital bed with him after he was already gone. And everyone trying to get me away from him.

Everyone grieves differently.  That sense of loss never goes away, it just keeps coming in waves.

 

M U S T H A V E C O F F E E

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Yup, it sure does!!  For me, I will drink coffee all day long into the evening. Do I have a problem?  Probably. Will I stop?  Nope!!

Long live the Kuerig and Texas Pecan Kcups.  And I should have stock in Starbucks from all of the Salted Caramel Mochas.  They know me by name there, which isn’t a great sign for my dependency.  I just have to laugh.

Truly, coffee is my savior.  During the summer, when the kids sleep a little bit later, I make myself get up before all of the chaos begins. I will sit in silence and drink my coffee. And I’m not just drinking my coffee…I’m drinking in the peace that I won’t get for the rest of the day!

Mamas have to get that peace where they can, no matter how small the time frame!!

Rose Colored Glasses No More!

Jax

I started my dog rescue adventure when my 3 year old daughter was enrolled in school.  I desperately needed to redirect my sadness.  I needed to focus on my son, Reagan.

Reagan and I would drop off Bailey at school, and then we would go to different areas where there were strays, and we would put out bowls of food and water. Reagan stayed in the car and giggled and watched.  Sometimes I would contact rescues and no-kill shelters to have them picked up, and sometimes I would sit and try to gain their trust. That was a turning point for me as a rescuer.  The stray population was overwhelming, and I had always known that, but seeing these poor animals eye to eye was a another ballgame. It took me to a whole new level. I fed and loved on these animals, and that was all that I had to give at the time.

One day, there was a mini white lab. He was sweet natured and wanted to come home with me. I had to drive away and I didn’t look back. My face was streaming with tears. The next day, there he was….on the side of the road. He had been hit and killed. I almost lost my composure with my son in the back seat, but I left food for the others and drove home. My guilt and grief kept me up all night long.

After that, I proceeded to “stash” a stray in our house every now and then. Literally…..STASH!!  My husband would come home and be like, “what is that scratching noise?” or “do you hear that?”

DENIAL!!!  Hahahaha!!

From that I upgraded to finding lost dogs. I helped owners find at least 9-10 dogs right there on the streets of San Antonio. I found great satisfaction in returning those dogs to their tearful owners. But you know what?  There were more owners who didn’t even care that their dogs were gone, possibly dead. That was when I realized the capacity of a human’s cruelty, and knew that I loved and trusted animals more than humans. That is something that will always stay constant in my heart.

I wanted to do more, and I have done more. I have reconnected many RESPONSIBLE families that were in the kill shelter. They didn’t know, geez…..their dog was almost killed by our very own city!!  I had a huge binder full of their pictures, and I would spend countless hours matching these poor souls with the shelter’s website pictures. When I had a match, it was a miracle, but it happened, time and time again. It was a very slow process of educating these families, and it was my starting point.

This was my beginning in dog rescue. You will read MUCH more about this, and I hope that you continue to follow me.