Monday, August 14, 2017

Deep Thoughts From Noah #80

Natalie: What's the difference between a manicure and a pedicure?

Noah: Manicures are for guys.

Me: Manicures refer to a beauty treatment for your hands and fingernails and pedicures are for your feet and toenails.

Noah: (totally serious) But they are called MANicures...I thought they were just for men.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Slow and Steady Wins the ASD Race

As the old cliché goes, you can't know where you are going until you know where you have been...

2016 It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint Race
2014 Pacemaker 
2013 Know It All
2005-2012 Potty Train Wreck
2005 Life on the Ranch
2003 Oh the Places I've Been
Oftentimes when I'm feeling stuck or low about a challenge we are having with Noah I will look at old photos or posts I've written to remind myself that "this too shall pass" -- with the help of God, friends, family and the community we've discovered through Miriam School and Action for Autism -- we are going to make it. Noah is going to succeed. His gifts may be tougher to unwrap, but with time and patience we will all have the opportunity to enjoy them. Over the last year we've learned Noah has an ear for music and oftentimes only needs to hear something once to play it. This discovery has lead to an increase in both his self esteem and joy for life. Not only that but it has played a role in supporting finger strength as he continues to struggle with handwriting. This summer, thanks to Action for Autism, Noah received 1 on 1 keyboarding instruction to support his education. I'm happy to report he increased his skills from 1-2 WPM to 7 WPM. Though he still has a long way to go -- we are celebrating the small victory.

This August marks Action for Autism's 9th Annual Family Fun Walk. Our goal is raise $350 to support an organization that has been a light for our family for 9 years! If you would like to make a donation to AFA, please visit their website  or contact me directly. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fur and Friend Therapy

Last Sunday I introduced my family to a longtime friend of mine, Claudia and her husband, Don. Claudia and I first met nearly 20 years ago when we struck up a conversation while lacing up our boots at Brentwood Rink. She was new to skating (and fearless!) while I was taking a renewed interest in the sport. We both went on to skate for Ice Rhapsody, an adult precision team, however, Claudia left the team to pursue her love for singles skating. If there's one thing Claudia has taught me it's that to live your best life you must be passionate about it. I've seen this in her work (always tops in sales), her fondness for furry things (volunteering her time with rescue groups and mom to 5 kitties and 3 dogs), her love for her family (both blood and those she's adopted as her own). If you could see her aura I imagine it would be fiery red in color set against a backdrop of woodland animals and unicorns.

In recent years she's made her lifelong dream of owning a horse a reality. Not only that but she trained hard and pursued her passion of competing in horse shows. She invited our family to spend an afternoon at her home visiting and getting to know her team which includes two, gentle horses - Spackle and Trader and a pony with a little attitude, called Buddy. Natalie (lover of all furry creatures great and small) was thrilled with the opportunity to ride a real, live horse! Noah was slightly less enthused...."Why do I have to wear pants?! I'm NOT riding a horse. I DON'T WANT TO!" he said, as we left the house. However, once he set eyes on her horses it was like a switch had been pulled and his fears turned to excitement.

"I want to ride, can I ride?!" he asked.

And ride we did! We began our visit with a bumpy tour of the property via her dumper, then both kids took turns not only riding on her gentle mare, Ms. Spackle - but learning commands and doing a sort of obstacle course with her. We brushed them, fed them carrots and even finger painted on Spackle. We passed the rest of the day catching up and getting to know the rest of her family which includes a 3-legged pup called Tre, a shy Pomeranian named Ivan, a friendly Maltese-mix called Perse and a clowder of five, senior yet lovable felines (Noah was in heaven!) Joe, Toby, Woody, Gerry, and George.

Thank you Claudia and Don for opening your home and your hearts to our family. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

"I liked Buddy the best...he liked me," said Noah.

"Mom, she said I was a natural!" shared Nat.

"She is a bit mischievous  but I LOVE her!" said Nat.

"Spackle is such a cutie," she said.

 "Buddy and I are alike - we're both lazy and funny," shared Noah.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Summer Snapshots Weeks 7 - 9

Week 7 began with a trip to Purdy, MO. A little town home to a camp with a big purpose -- for more than 20 years Camp Barnabas has been offering sleep away camp to kids and adults with physical, cognitive and learning challenges. A Christian-based camp, they provide 1 on 1 support to campers and have been developing a program for siblings, too. This summer both Noah and Natalie spent six days and five nights - swimming, floating, canoeing, and more while making new friends and growing their self-confidence in a safe, loving environment.

Noah meets his missionary and "cabin dad"
This year Barnabas built two new cabins called "Ewok village" for siblings.

While the kids were away, Steve and I enjoyed a belated, 15th anniversary dinner. We dined at Pietra's -- a delightful, Italian restaurant located in St. Louis Hills. While the restaurant has been in business for 50+ years, we had never heard of it and likely would have never eaten there had it not been for a gift card Steve received from a job well done. We filled up on steak and pasta and finished with one of the best-tasting tiramisus I've ever had.

To distract myself from worrying about whether the kids were having a good time at camp, I took part in a free painting class offered at Oak Bend Library. My friend, Stacy and I enjoyed a morning of getting in touch with our creative side.

Once the kids had returned from camp, we I took part in Rockhill Library's "Terrific Tuesdays". One week we programmed ozbots and played with 3D pens while another time we dusted off our wands and made a trip to Hogwarts via some Harry Potter yoga.

School is just around the corner and Natalie loves nothing more than shopping for supplies. "I just love the smell of new pencils!" After shopping we stopped in Culver's for a little treat. She's been dying to try a malt. She loved it. This one made with their "flavor of the day" - chocolate custard, salted caramel and bits of Hershey bars. It was so thick she had trouble drinking it through the straw.

I am always amazed at the number of fun, engaging classes offered through our local libraries. This time Noah took part in Webster Groves Library's LEGO Star Wars event. They brought in a rep from Snapology and the kids went to town building characters and light sabers from galaxies far, far, away.

For two weeks we (and when I say "we" I really mean Steve) has been caring for our friends chickens who were out of town. They gave us their tickets to see COCA's production of Beauty and the Beast. Though I've seen the show several times -- the live orchestra, costumes and story line never ceases to give my heart a squeeze. "Mom, are you crying?" asked Natalie. "No," I replied while turning my face away from hers. sigh. Noah had had no interest in going. "I DON'T want to go! I've seen it before." However, he was one of the first to give the performers a standing ovation. hmmm...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Deep Thoughts From Noah #79

Noah/Natalie: Can we have two Oreo cookies?
Me: Sure
(Kids go to open package and discover there are only 2 cookies left)
Noah/Natalie: There are only 2 left!
Me: Ok, so you both get one.
While Natalie begins eating her cookie, Noah is upset.
Noah: But, I wanted two cookies. She could just break hers in half.
Me: So, you think she should have half a cookie and you should get one and a half cookies? That's not fair, though.
Noah: No, she could break hers in half and then I could give her half of mine. Then we'd BOTH have two!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Musings From Natalie #148

"Mom, I just made up a new joke...wanna hear it?"
"What's a chicken's favorite vegetable?"
"I don't know."

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Snapshots Weeks 4-6

Summer is in full swing and taxiing kids to camp has become part of our routine -- Art Camp for Nat and Miriam Sports (social skills) Camp for Noah. While both camps were in opposite directions/times - I didn't mind as I view them as an enrichment -- a way to supplement their education while giving me a bit of a reprieve. This season is also a time to play hard, but also slow down and visit with friends we don't get to see as much during the hectic school year.

Below are some of the gems Natalie created during her time at camp.

A Dog's Purpose
Lilo & Stitch
Beauty and the Beast
Natalie won the Des Peres Fishing Derby for biggest and most fish caught.

We enjoyed a lovely day at Grant's Farm with our friends the Magees.

We met my parents at Powder Valley Conservation Center to listen to a concert by music duo Shortleaf. The musicians specialize in traditional Ozark folk music and weave stories of Ozark culture and natural resources into their concerts.

We discovered a new and improved way to make and enjoy chocolate chip cookies...The perfect shape for dunking into a cold glass of milk.

 Natalie and I walked in the Webster Groves Community Days parade on 4th of July with area Girl Scouts.

Later in the evening we enjoyed food and friendship with the Clarks and several other families. Together we watched the Webster Groves fireworks show.

Pop, Pop Pop goes the Poppers


Noah had been complaining of headaches recently and I noticed he had been reading more than usual and wondered if the two were linked. We had his eyes checked and turns out our guy is far-sided. His only request -- "Can they be green?"

The kids are both headed to Camp Barnabas which means double the costumes needed for the theme dance parties the camp hosts each evening. Yikes! In past years I was usually able to throw something together for Noah the night before using bits and pieces we had lying around the house -- not this year.  The themes were a little more complicated and Nat likes to think outside the box. For example, one night is "Down the Yellow Brick Road" and they suggest dressing up as a scarecrow, tin man or lion "as they search for their hearts, minds and courage". But, Nat told me she just wanted to be Toto. Hmmm... Another night the theme is "In the Belly of a Whale".(as a Christian-based camp I think they were thinking more along the lines of Jonah) and wearing swimwear, etc. but Natalie immediately shared she'd like to go as a mermaid. Gah. However, with a little ingenuity, scraps from my craft stash and some help from Dollar Tree - we were able to get the job done.

Noah was not excited about dressing up at all...that is until Natalie shared how instead of being "Prince Charming" for the All In-vited party -- he could go as a knight...and using a bit of Star Wars fabric -- he was a Jedi Knight.