Friday, April 30, 2010

The Greatest Commandment

As I was sitting at a stop light today in our quaint downtown, I was people watching. Let me start by saying....I am not trying to be judgmental in this post or when I make this statement: We have a lot! I see women dressed nicely pushing their babies in prams careful not to mess up their manicures and hoping their beautifully styled hair is not getting too wind blown. I see people driving EXTREMELY expensive cars, trying to parallel park, to eat at the favorite local mexican food restaurant. I also see people dressed casually in cut off shorts and t-shirts with flip flops and ponytails. I see people walking everywhere....some who look to have a whole lot and some who look to have just a lot. I know, that we (as in my family) have a lot, and I often find myself conflicted by that. I remember walking around downtown dressed nicely....window shopping....and not thinking a thing about having a lot and even buying more. I still walk around downtown dressed nicely....window shopping, but now I do think about having a lot; and I don't buy more. I'm not, by any means, perfect or proclaiming that I never buy anything I don't need. That would just be a lie. What I am saying is that I am at a place in my life where I am feeling Jesus call me to serve more, do more, help more, give more, not buy more....well unless it was for a need for someone else. I weigh out and think about every single purchase I make, and that has been hard; because I have a lot of wants. I have been struggling a lot with judging people by what they have as I have become more aware of how many children are doing without. I have been praying about this and trying to remember that I don't know everyone's motives. I know there are many very wealthy people who give a lot, and there are many who give a little, and many who don't give. It's not my place to judge, and I've been praying that I won't. It has been a real struggle for me to let my daughter buy certain things that I consider to be frivelous, but that she does not. I have been struggling with what we have and how I think a lot of what we have is frivelous. I am not a frivelous person, but that doesn't mean that there aren't things I want. I've been struggling with how much more we could give if we didn't have debt to pay off. I don't proclaim to know it all, have it all figured out, or even really grasp how much we have and how much others don't. Would I sell everything and live in poverty if Jesus asked me to? I don't know. I would like to believe that I would, but honestly I don't know. I know that I am blessed to live in America. I consider it a blessing that I was born here where there is plenty to eat. I don't think "things" are blessings. I don't think God blessed me with a nice house or car, and if I was living in poverty; I wouldn't think God wanted me to watch my children die of starvation. I think it's circumstance and part of free will that began when Adam and Eve ate the apple. I do think that God can definitely change circumstance if He so chooses, but I don't think He ever changes them to cause harm. I also think that it's okay to have a nice house and some other stuff as long as they don't encompass who you are, become your goal in life, your focus, your GOD; or as long as stuff doesn't interfere with your relationship with Our King! I think being the hands and feet of Jesus doesn't necessarily mean you have to live in poverty, but I think it means you have to embrace what you have and use it to serve God by serving others and always give Him the glory. Sometimes that may mean that you have to evaluate where your head is at and realize that we have a lot, and evaluate where you are spending your money, your time, your energy. I have been feeling called to do away with a lot of what we have, so that we (my family) can focus more on HIM and what HE is calling us to do. What I'm saying is that in my walk, I am starting to understand what Jesus said in Matthew:

Matthew 22:36-39 (New International Version)

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'a]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[a]38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'b]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[b] 4

FRAGILE X

Drug shows promise on fragile X syndrome, a leading cause of retardation, autism

08:33 AM CDT on Friday, April 30, 2010

Gardiner Harris, The New York Times

An experimental drug succeeded in a small clinical trial in bringing about what researchers called substantial improvements in the behaviors associated with retardation and autism in people with fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of these mental disabilities.

The surprising results, disclosed this week by Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant that makes the drug, grew out of three decades of painstaking genetic research, leaps in the understanding of how the brain works, the advocacy of families who refused to give up and a chance meeting between two scientists who mistakenly showed up at the same conference.

"Just three years ago, I would have said that mental retardation is a disability needing rehab, not a disorder needing medication," said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, who was told of the Novartis trial results.

"Any positive results from clinical trials will be amazingly hopeful."

Dr. Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, cautioned against too much optimism.

The trial involved only a few dozen patients, only some of whom benefited from treatment. The drug is likely to be years away from being commercially available and could fail in further clinical trials, he said.

But if authenticated in further, larger trials, the results could also become a landmark in autism research, since scientists speculated that the drug may help some patients with autism not caused by fragile X.

One child in 5,000 is born with fragile X syndrome, with mental effects ranging from mild learning disabilities to retardation so profound that sufferers do not speak, and physical effects that include elongated faces, prominent jaws, big ears and enlarged testes. It mostly affects boys.

The gene for fragile X was discovered in 1991. Work since then has found that fragile X patients seem to experience an overload of unchecked synaptic noise – synapses being the junctions between brain neurons.

The Novartis drug and others like it are intended to lower the volume of this noise so memory formation and high-level thinking can take place, allowing children to develop normally.

Gardiner Harris,

The New York Times

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TAKS

Today is TAKS testing for students across Texas. I'm going to go ahead and put it out there.....I DON'T LIKE TAKS! I know that it is suppose to be helping improve learning in Texas schools, but I still DON'T LIKE IT! Now let me explain why:
1. Some children just don't take tests well. I will have to give props to most teachers I know, because they do try to modify the way the test is given in order for all kids to be successful. BUT some kids still just aren't good at taking tests.
2. There's too much emphasis on this test, and some kids get completely overwhelmed and stressed out by it. I have one daughter who can't be bothered by TAKS and one who was a tad bit nervous (for her first TAKS experience)....mostly excited, because she gets to have goldfish throughout the day. I don't buy goldfish, so what a treat for her!
3. There are some students, who barely speak English, and are being asked to take this test in English. I know this for a fact, because I tutored many of them last year. How does one expect a person to take a test in a language they are just starting to understand and speak?
4. I disagree with the fact that a school's rating should be based on a test score. I also disagree that many teachers have to "teach to the test" in order for their grade level and school to get such rating. The teachers have to do training and other things to prepare to give the test.
5. The entire school shuts down during testing days....the schedules are changed....you can't go have lunch with your children....HEAVEN HELP YOU if your child is sick!

I will tell you....my children's elementary school is the BOMB! I mean I absolutely LOVE IT! Sure there have been things and are things that I don't agree with or particularly support, but overall I could not have asked for a better school or staff for my children. This school is supportive of its children and families. It is a loving learning environment. It is very communicative with parents. It has great leadership. The teachers are fun and go out of their way to make learning fun and interesting. It offers a wonderful program for the academically talented children and has a phenomenal PAT teacher (program for the academically talented). It offers a phenomenal special services program and has phenomenal special ed. teachers and aids. This school reaches out to many of its students and families who are struggling financially and offers them love and acceptance. But mainly I love it, because it loves us back. The teachers and staff love my children. It is a great school. Honestly that right there is enough to earn an exemplary rating! We don't need a test to tell us that!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Family Outing!

Guess where we went this weekend?



Ding....Ding....Ding....You're Right! The Driving Range!
NPayne only plays golf a few times a year....
but when he knows he is going to play....
he likes to practice his swing!
He likes to help Drew practice hers too.

Addi is quite a natural! She can swing well and hit HARD!
Bryna Mae enjoyed seeing if daddy could hit the 100 yard sign...
which of course he did....
because he is a STUD!
Cal really loves golfing!
He always says...."I DID IT!" when he hits it!
Elliot was really into it!
She had a little trouble hitting it at first!
So she re-thought her strategy....
....And decided that moving the tee up just a tad
would benefit her attempts!

She was right! She hit it every time after that!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Help Make A Difference....Take Two!

For the past two years, my daughter Addison has held a lemonade stand to help raise money for Autism Speaks. This year, she decided to go a different route for a fundraiser. She decided to share the story of her brother...."The Story Of Cal!" Please watch the introduction video and slideshow, and then PLEASE if you feel compelled or led to do so.....DONATE! I use to believe that one person couldn't make a difference but not anymore. When she raised nearly $2000 from lemonade stands, I learned that one person can make a difference. With the help of family, friends and many strangers, the idea and inspiration of one little girl has made a difference. Please know that your donation will make a difference! Thank you for your support by donating or just watching "The Story of Cal". The most important thing is awareness. Once autism is diagnosed, treatment should begin immediately. The earlier the better. Watch the slideshow...."The Story of Cal", you'll be glad you did!
Again thank you and God Bless!

Make sure you scroll down and pause the music at the bottom of the blog, so you can hear the introduction and the slideshow!


You can also donate to Autism Research Institute by clicking here!

For larger versions of the video and slideshow, see the previous post on this blog!





video video

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Help Make a Difference

For the past two years, my daughter Addison has held a lemonade stand to help raise money for Autism Speaks. This year, she decided to go a different route for a fundraiser. She decided to share the story of her brother...."The Story Of Cal!" Please watch the introduction video and slideshow, and then PLEASE if you feel compelled or led to do so.....DONATE! I use to believe that one person couldn't make a difference but not anymore. When she raised nearly $2000 from lemonade stands, I learned that one person can make a difference. With the help of family, friends and many strangers, the idea and inspiration of one little girl has made a difference. Please know that your donation will make a difference! Thank you for your support by donating or just watching "The Story of Cal". The most important thing is awareness. Once autism is diagnosed, treatment should begin immediately. The earlier the better. Watch the slideshow...."The Story of Cal", you'll be glad you did!
Again thank you and God Bless!
Make sure you scroll down and pause the music at the bottom of the blog, so you can hear the introduction and the slideshow!

video

Larger version of intro, click here

To view the Story of Cal, click here

To donate to Autism Speaks, go here: http://givenow.autismspeaks.org/cal


Loss

My 9 year old daughter, Drew, lost a classmate last year to leukemia. It was truly devastating to her and many people at their school. I can't even imagine the pain of losing a child....I really can't. If I ever let myself go there, I immediately want to return from those thoughts. The loss of Jayla was heartbreaking. Jayla has a little brother and sister, and it so happens that her little sister Jayden is in my little B-Nut's class....KINDERGARTEN. We have been taking Jayden home from school for a while now....just to help out a little. I feel like I've known her forever....she's funny, sweet, and not one bit shy! She loves the twin boys that I keep and Elliot! She can't wait to get into the car and see them each day....even though it's just for a few minutes. I have a soft spot in my heart for her....not only because of what she's lost....but also because she's endearing! Jayden donated marrow for her sister, Jayla, and it wasn't successful. I don't know if Jayden even understands all that happened with that part, but I know that she knows she lost a sister. When the anniversary of Jayla's death came, April 1, I was a little nervous that day when I picked her and Bryna up from school. What would I do if she mentioned it, or cried, or anything? So when she bounced her little self into the car that day and did her usual tickling and "baby talk" with the boys and Elliot, I was relieved. She never mentioned it. I was glad to see that they are moving on. I'm not saying that she didn't realize what happened one year earlier, I'm just saying.....she wasn't dwelling on it. I have to admit that I think I would be dwelling on it. Today I went on a field trip with Bryna's class. We went to the Omni to see a 3-D movie called Bugs....which should have been rated PG-13 due to violence and sexual content....but that's another post all together ;). Anyhoo....while we were eating lunch, Jayden slid over to me and said....."Will you have another baby?" I said, "No honey, I think I probably won't." She said, "My mom wants to have a boy." This was the first time I had heard her mention her mom in all the time I've been taking her home. I said, "Well you already have a brother." She said, "Yes, but my mom really wants another baby; and she wants it to be a boy." A little lump formed in my throat, and I just smiled at her. For the rest of the field trip, I noticed her holding on tightly to the parent's hand that was her chaperone....secretly I was sad that she wasn't in my group. Everytime that mother would let go of her hand, Jayden would seek it out and not let up until she had it in her grasp again. Once the movie was over, and we were waiting our turn to exit; I noticed that she was fast asleep in her seat. Her chaperone said that she had to wake her up twice during the movie. Their teacher, Mrs. Step, looked a little concerned when we were on the bus; and she learned that Jayden slept through most of the movie. I told her that she may get motion sick, and that's why she didn't look so good. I get severely motion sick, so I closed my eyes through a lot of the movie as well. Mrs. Step asked Jayden if her tummy was upset, and she nodded her head yes as she leaned on the window of the bus. Then I watched her.....and as the kids are all laughing and talking with their seat mates....I saw her drifting off to sleep again. I stared at her face with her cheeks jiggling over each bump the bus made, and I couldn't help but think that she looked sad. She was asleep, but to me she looked sad. Before I knew it, I was crying and staring hard out the window; so that none of the other chaperones or the teacher would think I was a nut. I knew that if one of them asked me what was wrong....I would break into uncontrollable sobs....so I just sucked it up and wiped away the tears. As I sat with my little girl snuggled up against me, it hit me hard again....their loss. I realized that even though Jayden and her family are moving on, and even though she's only 5, they still have sad times and days when they miss Jayla so badly that they can't help but be overcome by it. I don't know if that was a day for her today, or if she was just tired or motion sick; but I know that Jayden has lost a lot for a 5 year old little girl. And I know that she has a piece of my heart!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rain, Ranch, Bluebonnets, Umbrellas, LOVE....

Take it from me, there's nothing more romantic than shooting engagement photos in the rain!
Want to see more...click here!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm On My Soap Box AGAIN....

Did you know that 26,575 children die PER DAY in the world from preventable causes? It's a staggering number, and when I think about all of these children LOSING THEIR LIVES because they don't have enough to eat or clean water to drink or medical care....it makes me SAD and MAD! I know many people think...."I'm only one person, what can I do?" OR "Is my $20/month really going to make a difference?" The answers are "LOTS" and "YES"! Pray about this and see where God leads you! I've been praying about this for a long time, and He is leading me and many others; and we are on a mission! I have to be honest....I wish our mission was moving along a little faster....but I'm glad it's moving at all! If you aren't sure where to start, go to the World Vision website by clicking here. There's tons of information on how people are helping....pray, listen, act! PLEASE!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Watermarks

As odd as it may seem, since I'm a blogger....I'm not a huge blog reader. It's not because I don't enjoy reading blogs, it's because I just don't have time. I do read some blogs, that I have come to enjoy and that belong to some of my friends (blogging friends and face to face friends); but I don't read them every day. I usually have a couple days a week where I can sit down and read through their blogs. You might have noticed that I haven't been posting every day either....this just makes me sad....because I love to write. I've always had an affinity for writing.....having people read it....is sort of great and humbling all at once. I didn't start this blog to attract millions of readers. I started it to journal, write things I felt compelled to write about, and share the love of Christ. I hoped there would be a few readers, but honestly having people read it is just a bonus. When someone tells me they read something on my blog, I am usually initially surprised and then grateful. Truly I have a passion for writing and although I may not be that good at it....I find it very fulfilling. A few other things I have a passion for are Jesus, my family and photography which brings me to the originial intent of this post.
You will notice that my photos, on this blog and on my other blogs, will now have a watermark on them. This is because I discovered, while reading someone's blog on my designated blog reading day and time, that there was someone who was "stealing" her photos and passing them off as her own. She was even commenting on other people's twitters like she was this person, and she entered the photos in contests as if she took them and they were photos of her own children. Can you say "creeeeeepy"? Although NPayne has told me all along...."You know that people can 'steal' your photos? You need to watermark them!" I didn't really think twice about it. It didn't bother me. Honestly I thought why would anyone steal photos of my kids, since that is who I usually post photos of on this blog. I always watermark photos on my photography blog, because....well...that's what you do when you're a photographer. After I read about someone "stealing" Brittany's photos of her family and not only passing them as her own photos but as her own children, it gave me the creepy heebie jeebies. I decided that even though I don't have millions of readers and followers like many bloggers do, I didn't want people "stealing" photos of my kids. Some may find it flattering for someone to use your photos, but I find it creepy and wrong!
So from now on, my photos will all be watermarked in some fashion, because these are MY children....and of course NPayne's children....and most importantly God's children. To me, it's sad that people feel compelled to do this; and I have prayed for this woman who stole the photos. There must be something that made her do it....she's lonely or sad or missing something in her life....don't you think? I'm not trying to pass judgement....just trying to understand.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunday Sermon Summary....Forgiveness!

PSALM 51....written by David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband,Uriah, killed!

1
(A)Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of
(B)Your compassion (C)blot out my transgressions.
2(D)Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And
(E)cleanse me from my sin.
3For I (F)know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4(G)Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is
(H)evil in Your sight,
So that
(I)You [a]are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
5Behold, I was (J)brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6Behold, You desire (K)truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will
(L)make me know wisdom.
7Purify me (M)with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be
(N)whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear (O)joy and gladness,
Let the
(P)bones which You have broken rejoice.
9(Q)Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
10(R)Create in me a (S)clean heart, O God,
And renew a
(T)steadfast spirit within me.
11(U)Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your
(V)Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the (W)joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a
(X)willing spirit.
13Then I will (Y)teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will
[b]be (Z)converted to You.
14Deliver me from (AA)bloodguiltiness, O God, (AB)the God of my salvation;
Then my
(AC)tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15O Lord, (AD)open my lips,
That my mouth may
(AE)declare Your praise.
16For You (AF)do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a (AG)broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
18(AH)By Your favor do good to Zion;
(AI)Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then You will delight in (AJ)righteous sacrifices,
In
(AK)burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.

Ken's sermon was based on forgiveness. To sum it up simply, if you ask and truly long to be forgiven for your sins...no matter what they are...you will be forgiven. That's what Jesus died for....we are washed in His blood, so that we may be forgiven and live eternally with Him. Just ask and truly in your heart want to be forgiven. And then comes the hardest part for some of us....you have to accept His forgiveness!

Matthew 4:17
17(A)From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "(B)Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Project

Let the countdown begin.....

My amazing daughter has been working long and hard on a project.....not for school, not for fun (well she has enjoyed it), not for church....but for her brother....and all the other people in the world affected by autism!

Stay Tuned....It's AMAZING....just like her!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

There's My Boy....And This is His Story: REPOST

Since it is Autism Awareness Month....I decided to do a few re-posts about my sweet son, Callahan! This was originally posted in September 2008! Cal is now 10....soon to be 11!
In the mix of my 4 princesses, there lives one prince....Callahan. He is the second to the oldest child (age 9) in our family and is a wonderful brother: older and younger. When Cal was about to turn 4 years old, he was diagnosed with autism. I don't have all the answers, and I don't claim to; but I hope by sharing his story and some of our struggles and praises, we can possibly minister to another family who might be fighting this battle.
When Cal was a baby, I remember thinking how much slower he was at doing things than Addison had been. I remember thinking, it's just because he's a boy - boys usually do mature slower than girls. I knew this well, because at the time I was teaching a transitional kindergarten class which was designed for children who were kindergarten age; but who were not ready to attend kindergarten either emotionally, academically or socially. My class that year had all boys. I remember thinking he's not talking... maybe it's because he can't hear very well. I remember thinking he's not walking because he is sooooo big, he just can't heave himself up yet. All the while I had a nagging feeling inside.
When he was 2 and we went for his 2 year old checkup, my pediatrician asked me the standard questions: Does he ?? Does he ?? Does he ?? All of which I answered "NO"! My pediatrician arranged for ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) to assess Cal, so he began to receive services. He qualified for speech (he wasn't talking at all yet), OT and PT. His motor skills were extremely delayed, and he exhibited "floppy" muscles and lack of balance. He was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, because he couldn't tolerate the feel and texture of many things. He slept with shoes on his feet and never took them off, except to bathe, until just recently. He had gag reflux and threw up many things that he ate. He received the services for about 6 months without much progress.
Cal began to have chronic fluid on his ears, never ear infections, but just fluid. We treated him with antibiotics for about a month, and then my pediatrician recommended getting his hearing tested; because he still wasn't talking much at all. Sure enough...he failed the hearing test which was actually a relief to me, because I thought this explained all my son's delays- he just can't hear. We had tubes put in his ears on his 3rd birthday which alleviated the fluid, and he was able to pass his hearing test YEA!
ECI only services children until they turn 3, then the children are placed into our public school system for services, which is exactly what happened with Callahan. Remember, we live in Texas, so laws are different depending on where you live. He was tested through the school system, and his score was that of a child who was severely "mentally retarded" the diagnosticians words, not mine. I left there, sobbing and knowing in my heart, that my boy was not "mentally retarded". There was something terribly wrong, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. The good news, for lack of a better word, was that because his score was so low; he qualified for every service available through the public school system. He began school that summer, one week after he turned 3.
When he was about 3 1/2 years old, he finally started to talk. He had been receiving a lot of speech, as well as, other therapies. I noticed, as he would start talking, that everything he said was completely out of context and constant repeating (echolalia). Cal would say "Hello Chris, Hello Will" over and over and over again....several days after they had come over to watch football with us. He would repeat phrases over and over constantly that had nothing to do with what was going on around him. I started thinking to myself, this boy is autistic; but I really didn't know what that meant. All I knew was what I had seen in the movie Rainman. I started researching and looking it up and had come to the conclusion that he had High Functioning Autistim. About that time, the school district called an ARD. They informed N Payne and I that they wanted to test Callahan for autism. N Payne and I sat in the ARD and nodded in agreement. I remember the therapists, teachers, counselors, everyone looking at us in a sort of disbelief. One of them said something like....usually parents are very defensive and upset when this test is requested. N Payne said something like it's not that we aren't upset about this possibility, but we too think that may be the answer to this riddle. We consulted our pediatrician, as she too had mentioned the possibility of autism. She said the school districts assessment would be sufficient, and we would not need to seek another assessment. Our school district happens to be top, in the area, for special services(praise the Lord). She referred us to a neurologist, just to rule some things out, and she had a blood test taken to test for Fragile X. By this time, I was pregnant with Bryna (our 4th child). We had Drew before we really suspected anything was not typical about Cal, she and Cal are about 19 months apart; and she seemed to be developing as a typical child should. I remember sitting in the room when they gave me the autism test results and went over in great detail what that meant. I remember thinking, through the explanation of everything, I need to pay attention to this; but all I kept thinking was my son has autism. I remember leaving there and calling N Payne to tell him what we had already suspected. I remember him saying, "Now we know what it is, and we know he's not just a defiant (actually he said a brat, but I prefer the word defiant). Now we can help him".
By this time, in Cal's life, we had faced many many challenges with him. Transitions were horrible, and an extreme temper fit was guaranteed. His eating had become increasingly challenging. Cal had become very aggressive....biting and hitting me several times per day. We felt trapped, by this child that we didn't understand, because we never knew what was going to set him off. People, stared at us when a meltdown occured, which during this time was quite frequent. There were countless sleepless nights for Cal, and he was nowhere near being potty trained (he was 4).
Then there was the Fragile X diagnosis...yes he did have it, but it was extremely mild. My pediatrician referred us to a genetic specialist to help explain this diagnosis and to see if we needed to get our daughters tested. I remember when she called me to give me the results, the first thing she asked me is "Do you know the sex of your baby that you are carrying"? I did know that it was a girl, and I told her that to which her reply was "Oh Good"! Then she said the test results for Fragile X were positive. I had never even heard of this before he was tested and had since read about it enough to know that it was a genetic disease and if he had it, it had come from me. My heart just sank, because I thought this is all my fault. As a mother, I felt I had failed my child. I still carry guilt about this, although I know there is nothing I could have done to change it or nothing I did to cause it. I had read that Fragile X can sometimes cause a person to exhibit autistic behaviors, so I immediately assumed his behavior was the Fragile X not autism. We were told that Cal's diagnosis was mild, and the genetic specialist couldn't determine if that is what caused his autistic behaviors; because Fragile X was a fairly new "disorder". He did give us hope that there could be a cure for Fragile X some day, because they do know what is affected by it (X chromosomes). Our girls would need to be tested, later in life, to see if they are carriers like their mother; so they would know if there was a chance their children could have it as well. If we ever had any more boys, they would definitely be affected by Fragile X probably not any more sever than Cal, but nonetheless they would have it. As generations go on (in Cal's grandchildren) there will be more severe mutations of the X chromosome and more severe Fragile X and possibly mental retardation. Since this diagnosis, we have had another daughter (not planned, but that's another blog story); and my husband decided that he didn't want to have anymore children(I had hoped for at least 7). This was due largely in part to the Fragile X. He loves Cal as much as any father could love his child (sometimes I think more), but he doesn't want to risk having another boy being affected by this genetic disorder. It makes my heart ache, and I weep when I think about it....not the Fragile X part... I've dealt with that; but the not having anymore children part (that too is another blog story). It has been 5 years since Cal was diagnosed with autism, and it has been a long and winding road. He has made huge strides, with a lot of therapy and support, and he can now carry on a conversation with you. It may be a conversation that is completely scripted from a TV show or song or something that he's heard, but he does have a large vocabulary now. He is learning how to interact with others, and he is learning how to transition. Most average people, who meet him, just think he is quirky; but as one friend said to me "Aren't we all?" I am still learning as well. I know that this child was put on this earth for a specific purpose as I believe we all are. In my heart I believe that one of the things I am suppose to gain from having Callahan in my life is to not take anything for granted and be grateful. I have read about so many children, who are so much more severly affected by autism, and my heart breaks for their families. There are many who will never hear their child call them mama. I am so blessed that I am able to hear his voice, and he will talk to me. I don't know if Cal will ever be cured, but I do know that his disorder is not life threatening; and for that I thank God daily. There are families who face so many more challenging circumstances than ours has. I'm not saying that I haven't shed many tears and still often do; but I am also grateful that our circumstances are what they are. As Cal grows and thrives, my tears of sorrow have often turned to tears of joy. Having 4 typical children has taught me that we, as parents, do tend to take for granted some of the little things in life that our children do: non prompted kisses and hugs, looking in your eyes and telling you he loves you and knowing what that means, being able to communicate with your child, having him make friends, going to any restaurant you choose without wondering if he will go in or not. When the day comes that Cal looks me in the eye and tells me he loves me, I will know without a doubt that God is in that moment; and He is looking at me through those very soulful eyes of my boy.

Boys and Girls

It's been a long time, since I've had a two year old boy in my house....almost 9 years. Besides the fact that my two year old boy wasn't a typical rough and tumble kinda two year old boy and the fact that I only had ONE boy at a time, I've noticed the following differences in little boys and little girls. What I'm about to share with you is based solely on observations of two year old twin boys that I keep during the week and my own three year old girl.....also remember Elliot is a full year older than the twins. Now hold onto your hat, because I am going to share my findings with you; and I have a feeling you will be astounded at what I've observed....NOT!

First....boys like trucks....BIG TRUCKS...firetrucks....mail trucks....
garbage trucks....basically any kind of truck. They will ever so loudly exclaim....
"BIG TRUCK" or "FIRETRUCK" or "BUS" whenever they see one.
Girls....not so interested in any sort of transportation!
Girls love to pick flowers and collect them in a vase, bucket, flower pot,
or whatever they can find.
Boys like to step on flowers.

While playing inside....girls like to color, stamp, paint, dress up, etc.
While playing inside....boys like to wrestle, run, and jump on each other.

Girls say things like...."That's beautiful", "Can I wear my tutu?", "Oh no you don't."
Boys say things like...."Run!", "You can't get me!", "Hit it!"

Girls use magic wands to perform....well...magic!
Boys use magic wands to sword fight!

Boys don't mind getting dirty and brush themselves off when they fall down.
Girls gasp at getting dirty and cry a lot when they fall down....
immediately needing a kiss to make it better.

Girls are bossy.
Boys let girls be bossy....or at least one boy does.

Boys laugh at words like..."poo poo", "potty", "pee pee"!
Girls don't laugh at words like...."poo poo", "potty", pee pee"!

Girls will sit for hours and let you read them books.
Boys will let you get through the first page before they bring you another book to read.

Girls pull up their own pants and put on their own shoes and will proclaim "I can do it" when you try to help them.
Boys haven't figured that out yet and will gladly let you do it for them,
but they are learning.

While playing outside....boys climb trees, throw and kick balls, sword fight with baseball bats (I do try to control this), throw rocks, swing, and RUN!
While playing outside....girls color with sidewalk chalk, pick flowers, throw and kick balls, try to take above mentioned baseball bats from above mentioned boys (I do try to control this as well), swing, and RUN!


Boys scream with glee when they hear a loud noise.
Girls scream with fear when they hear a loud noise.


I've also observed that two year old twin boys and my three year old girl ALL do the following....
laugh, whine, complain, giggle, pout, make messes, clean up messes, feed themselves, climb into their own carseats, sit in time out, say "I'm sorry!", give hugs, get hugs, love their lovies, run, play, love to be outside, love books and music, sing "Twinkle Twinkle" and "ABC's", dance, take naps, are getting good at sharing, love the slide and the playground, love to go to school, crack themselves and each other up, are very ticklish, love Addi....Drew...Cal....Bryna, and have the best smiles EVER!

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Jesus said....By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter

Here is one of our Easter photos!
Don't my children look grand, if I do say so myself?
The lavender bush is our neighbor's,
and we love it so much.
It smells simply heavenly and makes quite a nice backdrop for a photo.
Easter baskets filled with goodies....mostly practical....
because that's how the Easter Bunny and I roll!
Speaking of neighbors.....guess what?
We have the best neighbors in the whole world.
Our next door neighbor, Ms. Pam, brought over these
yummy cupcakes! She also wrote the sweetest card
expressing her gratitude and love to our family.
Ms. Pam lives alone, and the children adore her
and are always looking for things to do for her.
The lavender bush belongs to her.

And guess what else?
I have the best friends in the whole world too.
My lifelong friend Cynthia and her family always
host a huge Easter egg hunt and lunch....even in the
midst of remodeling their house...which is why there's no grass!
They still make it so special for the kids!
And guess what else?
We have the best neighbors in the whole world...
did I already mention that?
Well that's because we do.
When we returned from Cynthia's,
our across the street neighbor....
Ms. Diane....who also lives alone
and we love....came over and brought
these cute little Easter bunnies and some candy.
Aren't they cute? Four sweet girls and one sweet boy!
God continues to bless our family with wonderful relationships!
And for that, we are so grateful!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Immature or Conservative

My oldest daughter is a quiet, sweet, generous, talented and exceptionally bright young lady. I know....I know....aren't they all? :) When it comes time for her to choose her courses for the following year, I always send her GT teachers an email and ask them for their opinions for the next year. They usually all say the same thing...."She can continue in GT if she applies herself." Although she is very bright, Addi is not always motivated to do above and beyond what she needs to do in school. She does just enough to make a good grade, but she won't push herself further. She doesn't study much or do anything besides what is required. I have to admit....she's the same kind of student I was. I always made good grades and did really well in school without exerting much effort. When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided that I wanted to be in the top 10; so then I started to attempt to study a little more. Honestly even by my sophomore year, it was too late for me to make top 10. I was in the top 15 out of my class of 400+, but I didn't reach my goal of top 10. NPayne and I know that Addi is able to achieve much more than she does, and although we don't want to nag her or push her too hard; we know that she really needs to start developing better study habits. NPayne went to meet with her GT History, Language, Social Studies teachers last week. At the beginning of the meeting, they were both leaning towards her moving from GT to PreAp (which is still Advanced Placement....just not as much material is covered). He asked them why they felt that way, since she was doing well in both of their classes and basically never lifts a finger. They both said they thought she was immature and naive. HUH? They then proceeded to tell him that "she doesn't seem to have the same interests as a typical 7th grader....she's not interested in reading any of the books in class....not even the Steven King books." NPayne kindly explained to them that Addi is by no means immature, she may be a little naive; and quite frankly that's okay with us. He told them that she was the oldest of 5....with one sibling being a special needs child....and that he trusts her to take care of them all for a couple of hours while we go out for the evening. He told them that she is surrounded by "young" things still, and that she spends all of her time at church, Girl Scouts, in band, or with her family. He then explained that she probably wouldn't choose most of the books, she had available for her students, because she would think they were inappropriate. Then NPayne hit them with the following statement...."I think you are confusing conservative for immature!" The teacher's reply was simply....."Oh!" He asked them if she was their child, would they let her take the easy road out next year; or encourage her to strive to do more? He told them that Addi may not have the same interests as a typical 7th grader, and we are A-OKAY with that! She then said...."You seem to know your daughter really well!" To which he replied, "Well yes, I am her father!" Then she replied, "Well you may be surprised at how many parents have no idea what their 7th graders are like." So Mrs. Hill....to that last statement I am going to accept as a compliment on NPayne's behalf....but I am also thinking that it's quite sad that there are so many parents who "have no idea what their 7th graders are like." What I do know is that Addi is a true blessing, and I am so very grateful that she is not a typical 7th grader....at least from what Mrs. Hill explained. I hope that she will always sing to her own song, walk her own walk, stand strong in her values, and hold her chin up high for being so called "immature" or what we refer to as "conservative"!