Friday, May 28, 2010

Eleven Years Ago Today.....The Best Day of 1999!

Eleven years ago today at 12:33 pm....NPayne, Addi and I welcomed with great joy a baby boy into our family. Callahan Leigh Payne was born weighing in at 9 pounds 13 ounces and the biggest baby we would have. He was such a huge chunk of love and held such a huge part of my heart. He was born on my Mamaw's 80th birthday! From the moment this big bald boy entered the world, our lives would forever be better. Labor and delivery were quite difficult....to say the least....and I remember just praying that my son would make it through okay. He did, and although we have had some life changing diagnosis with our boy; we are so thankful at what God has brought us through Cal. He has taught us so much about real true unconditional love....about how to appreciate the little things....about how to not take things for granted....about how love, support, faith, encouragement and mostly hope can change someone's life for the better. Thank You God for choosing us for him and him for us.
Cal has been so excited about this birthday....almost annoyingly so at times! ;)
Everyone at his school has been personally invited to his party, as a matter of fact,
everyone he sees....whether he knows them or not.....has been personally invited.
One thing that Cal does is.....live out stories, books, and TV shows.
He has not totally grasped that fiction and real life are not always related.
After reading "Arthur's Birthday" literally hundreds of times over the last few months,
Cal has decided that we should have a surprise party, have grandma make a chocolate cake, surprise our neighbor Brittany with a party on the same day as his; and get him some Thomas leggos. He is living out that story and making it his birthday! It's really amazing the memory he has, but it's even more amazing that he is putting himself and friends as the characters in the book. We were told before that children with autism don't know how to "imagine" or "play make believe". Well our son does....of course he is expecting a chocolate cake! :)
Cal is amazing in many ways, and although Autism and Fragile X definitely can set him apart in negative ways; he is also set apart in some very positive ways....
He doesn't lie....he doesn't know how to.
His brain works like a living breathing calendar and clock.
If I ask him what day Nov. 3, 2010 is on....he can tell me.
He is not embarassed to hold my hand....even at 11!
He still loves to play with his sisters.
We don't have to worry about what he's doing on his iphone, itouch, ipod, internet;
because he has no desire to own those things....he's happy with his trains.
He doesn't care about having "things" like everyone else,
because he doesn't understand peer pressure.


I love how much Cal loves to swim.....it took him until he was 6 to venture willingly into a body of water....but now he loves it. I remember signing him up for swimming lessons when he was 3, and he cried so hard the first day that I never took him back. I also remember the first time he was watching his sisters swim, and he asked if he could put on a swimming suit. As NPayne dug around for a swim suit and put the size 3T on our 6 year old, I cried when he got into the pool. I remember crying tears of relief and joy that he actually enjoyed the pool.
Cal simply adores his sisters, and I LOVE how he looks out for them.
He is so very concerned for their well being. If one of them is crying,
he wants to console them. If one of them is doing something he feels may be
dangerous, he wants to warn them. I love the bond he has with each one....it's different for
each of the 4 girls....and each bond is beautiful.
I love how Cal will refuse to wear a coat, gloves, hat
boots, or anything to keep him warm....unless it's snowing.
Then he will gladly put them on to play in the snow. I love
that he will throw snowballs and help build snowmen, and that he
will stay outside until he's soaking wet.
I love that he is a wonderfully made boy.
He was made in the image of our savior, and
for that we are so grateful. Cal lives out WWJD
without even realizing it. He doesn't have to be
intentional about how he treats people. He is naturally
remorseful, and naturally caring.
I love how much Cal loves to swing.
He will sit outside on our tree swing for hours
just simply swinging and watching cars pass by.
He soaks in mother nature and all her glory,
and he is happy to do so.
I love how Cal is happy with the simple
things.
I love that he doesn't have to be busy to be happy.
I love that you can see his mind working when he's thinking about something.
I love that his soul shines through in all he does.

I love that Cal will run outside and stand on our sidewalk,
so he can see the train pass by when he hears its whistle blow.
I love that Cal is learning to be proud of his accomplishments.
I love that he is working hard to do better, but mainly that he is having fun!
I love that my boy will now let me take his picture
just about anytime I ask. As a photographer,
not being able to take his picture without him getting upset
was heartbreaking. Now he lets me take it often, and he will even smile!
I love that Cal is simple and complicated.
I love that he is obedient.
I love that we don't have to be so intentional in everything we do anymore,
but I love that schedules and organization have helped him learn to be more flexible.
I love that he will now go to the shoe store and try on shoes....he won't wear them until August....but at least he will go pick them out.
I love that he will let NPayne and his mama cut his hair and clip his nails
without it ruining his whole day.
I love that he will now wear a collared shirt!
I love that he will let me kiss him on the cheek without wiping it off....at least most of the time.
I love that he has friends, teachers and family who adore him and support him.
I love that he will ask me to play catch with him,
and when he catches the ball in his mit.....he will
run around the bases yelling, "RUN CALLAHAN RUN!"
This journey, of Cal's life, has had its ups and downs....
as most life journeys do....it's been so challenging at times
I was at my wits end, BUT I have never given up on him; and he has never given up on me!
I can't imagine his life journey being anything different.
Cal has taught me more than I could ever explain.
He has taught his sisters, his daddy, his family, his community more about life and love and hope than most people ever do on their life journeys.
He has made me a better person!
I love you my sweet boy....with all my heart and soul....I LOVE YOU!
Mama

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dreaming

I've been dreaming about moving to the country and living off the land....not completely but mostly....growing our own food. I wouldn't raise my own meat....mainly because I am not a huge meat eater....but also because if it was alive, I would want it to stay that way. I've been dreaming of a place where there's no TV.....and we listen to music all day long....maybe even music that my children play and songs that NPayne has written for us! I've been dreaming of watching my children make mud pies and frolick in a field of wildflowers.....a place where we can swing in a hammock! I've been dreaming of making cakes and pies and cookies and bread from scratch....every single day! I've been dreaming of sitting on my porch swing....surrounded by nothing but beauty....reading my Bible and writing in my journal. I've been dreaming of moving to the country and letting Drew adopt several special needs dogs to satisfy her kind and nurturing soul. I've been dreaming.....that my children could fish all day or read all day or pick flowers all day, and that they would all be overflowing with joy just from the atmosphere. I've been dreaming....please don't wake me!

Monday, May 24, 2010

CENSUS

So this guy, from the Census Beareau, calls today. He begins by stating all these laws and rules that the state requires and tells me that by law I have to verify my census with him. Then he asks me all these questions, which of course, I have to answer....because it's the LAW! Some of the questions were as follows:
1. Was NPayne staying in an assisted living on April 1, 2010? I chuckle a little and say "NO", but I'm thinking that he may wish he was from time to time.
2. Was NPayne incarserated on April 1, 2010? Uh....."NO"!
3. Were you incarserated or in a group home in March or April of 2010? I think to myself....Not unless you count my current living situation as being incarserated, since I can never leave the house without someone being shackled to me , but I simply said "No"!
4. Have any other people joined the household since April 2010....like a newborn? I think to myself....Stop rubbing it in that my baby is not really a baby anymore, since she's now 3 1/2 and all my babies are growing up way too fast! But I simply and sadly answer "No"!
5. How is Elliot A Payne related to NPayne? I think to myself....Well she's the cutest little strawberry blonde with these ringlets and blue eyes, she actually looks just like me not at all like her daddy; but again I just say my one word answer "Daughter"!
6. Is Elliot A Payne NPayne's biological daughter, foster daughter, step daughter? Again I think to myself....She wasn't really planned, but she was so desired and wanted; and then I answer "Biological"!
7. Is Elliot A Payne hispanic? I think to myself....I wonder why he didn't ask if she was asian or african american and I answer "No".
8. Of what race is Elliot A Payne? Then he lists off about 30...some of which I thought may even be offensive to some people. I answer "White"!
He ends by asking me if I would like the # to contact someone if I have any questions and thanks me for my cooperation and says have a nice day.
It was interesting....if this happens to you....let me know and share some of the quesitons the caller asks you!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Props

I bought these 2 chairs off of Craigs List a few weeks back. I wanted just one to use for photos, but I ended up taking both....too good of a deal. They sat out in my shop for a while, and then I brought them in my house. They are waiting....waiting....waiting to be re-upholstered.....waiting....waiting....waiting for a nice desk to sit behind. The picture below is the one that was on Craigs List, so this is not a picture of them in my house. After the waiting....waiting....waiting is over, I'll post a picture of them in my house! Let the creative juices flow! Oh and don't you worry, I will still use them in photos.
As a matter of fact.....
Does this look familiar?
This is the well wish/business ad
we placed in the dance program
for our sweet dancing queen Bryna!
The chair looks as cool as I thought it would!
I love furniture in fields. Now all I need is a cool old couch.
Anyone? Anyone?


Izzy

Izzy is gone, and we are a little sad! Okay Drew is a lot sad!

Friday, May 21, 2010

IZZY

Guess what showed up in our backyard yesterday?
There he was playing with our Australian Shepherd, Finn.
There he was waiting for my kids to come out and play with him.
There he was waiting with baited puppy breath.
There he was already answering to the name, Izzy, which Drew gave him.
OUGHT OH!

I know you are wondering how he just appeared in our backyard,
and quite honestly so are we!
However last Friday we had a horrific wind and thunderstorm here.
So horrific, in fact, that our neighbor's electrical box fell in our back yard...
you know the big ones attached to a telephone pole....uh yeah....that one....
telephone pole still attached!
As a result part of our fence was knocked over.
When the guys from the electric company were here (until 3:00 am I might add),
repairing it and cleaning up all the oil it leaked...who knew those things leak oil....?
They did plant some grass where the oil had spilled,
and they did put the telephone pole and attached electrical box
upright and steady; and they did repair PART of our fence.....
BUT there's still part that is falling down.
That is how we suspect Izzy united himself with his new buddy Finn!
Oh Me Oh My....the girls are getting attached already!
We are going to put our "Found Dog" signs out this weekend,
but if nobody claims Izzy.....well I wouldn't be surprised if we
gained a new pet. Dream come true for Drew....actually
more like an answered prayer. She has been begging for another dog
and doing all sorts of research on adopting a dog....mainly a special needs dog.
Her wish may just come true!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm Addicted To....

dishes
linens
babies
chairs....it's a sickness really! ;)
old stuff
coffee
pastries...especially lemon torts
tea cups
mascara
vintage jewelery
Target
French Vanilla Yogurt
shoes
photography
my family
Jesus

Monday, May 17, 2010

FINANCIAL PEACE

I LOVE MY JOB! Well actually I LOVE MY JOBS, since I have several. I love painting furniture for folks, capturing photos to last a lifetime, creating cool stuff out of junk, taking care of my house and family, being a teacher, and BEING A MOM. I LOVE THEM ALL! One thing that I am so fortunate to have done is go to college and get a degree. NPayne was not that fortunate....honestly it was due to many things....but he wasn't really motivated enough, his mom couldn't help him pay for it, and he had to work to help his mom pay their bills. I'm not suggesting that you can only go to college if your parents pay for it....believe me I was fortunate enough to have my parents cover my college expenses....but many people I know paid for it all by themselves. I have no intention of paying for all 5 of my children to go to college. NPayne and I will help them, and we have discussed offering them an incentive....."you get a scholarship, we'll match it", "get all A's and B's, we'll cover your tuition", etc. But honestly we can't afford to send all of our children to college, and even if we could; we wouldn't pay for all of their college. That's a decision we made a long time ago....it may not be right for everyone....but it's right for us. Anyhoo....NPayne wasn't afforded the luxury of college....as I said partly due to circumstance and partly due to his own decision. He doesn't want to seem hypocritical when he tells our children to go to college, and he would like to really love what he does, so he has been contemplating going to college. One thing that he has told our children....over and over and over....is to go to college, so that hopefully they will have a choice in what they do for a living....hopefully they will love what they do. You see NPayne doesn't! Don't misunderstand, he has a good paying job that we are extremely grateful for; and he doesn't hate his job. BUT....he's not ecstatic about it, and he doesn't have a great or even a good working environment. However for the time being that's where he is staying, because honestly we need his income. I have offered to go back to work full time, so that he could get a lower paying job that he would LOVE; but he wants to stick with our decision that we made a long time ago....that I would wait until all of our children were in school. We started Financial Peace 3 or so years ago, and it has been the hardest but best thing we have done! I'm telling ya....living on a cash only diet is HARD for us, but it's so great to know that we aren't adding anymore to the outrageous debt that Americans have. Again don't misunderstand....we have debt....but we are slowly paying it off. In a few years, when Elliot is in school....our house will almost be paid for in FULL...YAHOO; and I will be working more. Then we plan to kick that debt's booty! We have some friends....who started Financial Peace about 6 months before we did....and with them both working 2 jobs....they paid off $85,000 in 3 years. They are my motivation....it can be done! It can be done, and we are going to do it too....not in 3 years....but not over our entire lifetime either! As challenging as it is to live on such a tight budget, I feel like it is a reward as well. Living on cash only has made us really pick and choose what we spend money on....besides the usual living expenses. It has made us realize that we don't "need" 1/10 of what we use to think we did! I really encourage anyone, who has debt of any amount or uses credit cards regularly, to check out Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace. It may not be the easiest change you will make, but it will change your life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Live Like You're Dying!

I have that song..."Live Like You're Dying" by Chris Allen....last year's American Idol winner....just in case that makes a difference....stuck in my head! I have been singing that chorus for weeks. Anyhoo....not only does that song have quite the catchy tune, but it also has a great message! My daughter, Bryna, LOVES LOVES LOVES music....actually my whole family loves music; but she's got a constant song in her head. She sings EVERYTHING, so anytime we hear a catchy tune....she immediately "tunes" in and starts singing....whether she knows the words or not. So every time "Live Like You're Dying" comes on, she asks me to turn it up. The other day as we were singing the chorus very loudly....because I don't know all the rapping part of that song....she stopped singing and asked, "Mama what does this song mean? What does live like you're dying mean?" As I started to explain to her my interpretation of that song, I really started thinking....I need to apply that to my life EVERY SINGLE DAY! I also started thinking how hard that would be for me to do, because I....like lots of folks....often take my life, my days, my family, everything for granted. Having a special needs child has really helped me appreciate the little things and not take little things for granted, watching my dad die has made me realize how our life can change and end so quickly, standing by my friend who has lost 2 babies during childbirth and nearly her own life has made me so grateful for the life I have to live; BUT.....I still find myself taking things for granted, easily irritated by little things, focusing on the negative sometimes more than the positive. I do try, try, try, try not to do that; but sometimes I do. I want to live my life like I was dying....I don't actually want to be dying....but I want to appreciate every moment of every day! One of NPayne's very close friends was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age....his parents had both already passed from cancer, and he didn't have any other family....so his buddies were his family. He was not a believer. Chris, NPayne's friend, lived with us for a while and lived like he was dying....even before he was. He was happy, fun loving, daring, and full of life. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he was given a short time to live. Chris took his inheritance, which was significant, and did everything that he had always dreamed of doing in his lifetime. He blew through his money in just about the time that he was suppose to die, but he ended up living for several more years. He had accomplished his goals, his desires, and now he could die a happy man....right? As the years passed, he became very very ill. When the time came for him to die, NPayne and all of their buddies were there by his bedside. NPayne, along with other friends and a very devoted hospice nurse, spoke to Chris about Jesus and His love for Chris. One of NPayne's friends had his 5 month old daughter in the room, and as Chris accepted Christ in his life....that baby girl started pointing and staring at the ceiling....she was giggling all the while. Her daddy said he believed she could see angels! Everytime I visualize that moment, I think about how happy Jesus was to have Chris coming to join Him; and I think about Chris's mom. The last few weeks of his life....all I could think about was her, looking down from heaven, watching her 34 year old baby suffer and die a very painful slow death. All I could think about was how she had once rocked him, had big dreams for him, how she wanted him to get married, how she wanted to watch him become a father and make her a grandmother, how she died when he was a young boy, how she longed for him, and how she wanted him to accept the gift of salvation offered to him. When NPayne got home, from the hospice center, the night that Chris died and told me that he had accepted Christ; I cried myself to sleep. Part of it was because I was so sad that he had died....this sweet, fun loving, vibrant, young man. But the other part was because as a mother, I just felt such relief that I thought his mother....who was looking down from heaven....was feeling. Obviously I don't know what heaven is like and if people really look down on us or even know us when we get there, but I like to imagine they do. When I think about Chris's mom seeing her son join her in heaven; I think that is the feeling you get if you live your life like you're dying!

Dancing Queen

Here is my beautiful dancing daughter....B-Nut! She loves dancing, and she is quite the dancer for a 6 year old! I love to watch her share her talents!


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Little Things


Having a son with autism has allowed me to learn many things....mainly to appreciate the little things....the simple things in life. A friend of mine, who has a son with cerebral palsy, once said that she has found life with her son with special needs is a much simpler life. Not an easier life but a simpler life. She went on to explain that there aren't as many events and activities to attend. There aren't a lot of bday parties, sleepovers, practices, etc. Sure there are other things....therapy, doctor's visits; but overall their daily life and mind set with their special needs son was simpler. I have to agree. I so appreciate the little things, the things that can often be taken for granted....and I use to have to wait a very long time for these things to occur and then grasp onto it like it might be the last time I ever experienced it. I have learned to appreciate any sort of spontaneity with Cal, his excitement over something that seems mundane to most, any sort of affection. As a young boy, his sensory issues were extremely challenging. Clothes, food, shoes, hair cuts, baths, you name it.....he didn't like it. I remember my cousin asking me once how I dealt with the fact that he wouldn't kiss me or hug me or allow me to kiss him or hug him. He use to violently wipe my kisses away, because he couldn't stand the way it felt to be kissed. As he has gotten older, with therapy and maturity, he has progressed....his sensory issues are still there....but they don't rule his life like they use to. He will now lean in for a kiss on the top of his head....not on his actual skin or his lips....but he will lean in when I ask him for a kiss. Same thing with a hug...he will lean in for me to hug him. He doesn't hug back YET! Every now and then if he lets me kiss him on the cheek, I may catch him gently...almost discreetly....wiping it off; but for the most part he deals with it. The other morning as I was sending my children off to school....I was kissing them, telling them I love them and God bless them. As they hurriedly ran to the car, Cal ran past me as I was doting on one of his sisters before sending her off. I shouted to him...."I love you Cal!". The next thing that happened was a huge blessing.....he turned and looked me in the eye and said with a smile "You love me mom!" It wasn't a question but a statement....like he knew what I was saying and he was trying to say "I love you too!" but he wasn't sure how to form the words in the right way. Then he blessed me even further....he ran back over to me, completely unprompted, and leaned in for a kiss on the head. Of course I kissed him. As I grinned like a 6 year old and blinked back tears.....I watched him smile at me as he ran back to the car! I kept thinking....he told me he loved me....although it was in an unconventional sort of way....he did tell me he loves me. Now don't misunderstand, I do think....I know....that Cal knows his family and many others love him. I know that he knows the feeling he gets from being showered with love. I know that he loves me too, but to have him express it in a physical and verbal way was a huge blessing.....one that I've only experienced 1 or 2 times in his almost 11 years of life. I'm not trying to sugar coat having a child with a special need and make it sound like it's all sunshine and roses, because believe me it hasn't been and still isn't. BUT my son is thriving, maturing, making so much progress (thanks to the love, support, encouragement, faith, hope and of course tons of therapy); and I am overjoyed. The little things....the simple things....those are starting to be apparent more often, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to experience them and really appreciate them. I'll be the first to admit that if I didn't have Cal, I would probably take all the kisses and hugs and "I love yous" that are lavished on my by my daughters for granted. I may have ever known that there are parents who never experience those things. But because I have Cal, I have come to know that those kisses, hugs and "I love yous" should be appreciated, accepted wholeheartedly, and cherished. I am not suggesting that parents with typical children don't appreciate the love lavished on them by their children, I am just saying I don't know that I would have appreciated it and treasured as much as I do....if I had not experienced first hand having a child who didn't and couldn't express love in a physical and verbal way. One thing I always TRY to do is....accept with excitement and such gratitude any sort of affection my girls (and my son) lavish on me and return it to them as often as I can. And I can't ever begin to explain how much I cherish their kisses and hugs and "I love yous".

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

video
I had to work last night and when I came home, my MOTHER'S DAY began....
I was greeted by a house full of happy children, a clean kitchen, clean sheets, and a nice tidy home. It carried over to today, when I was awakened with breakfast in bed and then escorted to my computer to watch a wonderful slideshow presentation made by my sweet children. It ended with the above video! I wish all the mothers out there a wonderful day. I pray for all those who have lost their mothers. I wish all the children, in the world, had mothers! Being a mother is the greatest gift I've ever been blessed with! Thank YOU GOD!
REMEMBER TO SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BLOG AND PAUSE THE MUSIC, SO YOU CAN HEAR THE SHORT BUT SWEET VIDEO!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Magnificent Seven

I am one blessed mama! Happy Mother's Day!







Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Confused State Of Mind

It's approaching the time of year where my heart and mind become very confused. As the end of the school year draws closer, I find myself so very excited to have my children home....I can hardly stand it....sleeping in, eating lunch together, lazy days by the pool, cooking out with friends, and on and on and on!! We are pretty low maintenance in the summer which is EXACTLY HOW I LIKE IT! We do some organized and fun things but mostly I like to hang out and be together. So why am I confused you might wonder....it sounds like I am very excited about summer. This is true....I am, BUT....I also start to feel a little melancholy about my kids leaving their school and teachers. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my children's elementary school and their teachers.....I LOVE them. So now you see where the confusion comes in.....I LOVE summer (not the heat in Texas part) and having my children home with me and spending lots of time with family and friends. But I am also sad to see this chapter in their lives closing....not because I don't want them to succeed in school and move forward....but because it seems like just yesterday it was the first day of school, and I was sending them off to embark on a new year full of wonderful experiences and relationships. This year I am especially melancholy as my sweet son leaves his treasured and so deeply loved elementary school....that he's been at since he was 3....and moves on to the middle school. He will have a wonderful special ed. teacher there next year, but the thought of the last day of school this year and saying goodbye to all of those people who know him, have loved him, encouraged him and watched him blossom....well...it's almost more than I can bare! I mean REALLY it is! I can't even type it, much less say it, without tears. I have to admit that although I know his teacher for next year and think she's simply grand, I have not had the best experiences with middle school; since my Addi has been there. Now don't get me wrong....there are some really wonderful teachers, parents and leaders there; but there are also some that are....well....NOT! So now do you see why my heart and mind are confused this time of year.....maybe more so this year than any other since I've had children in school. I am happy that my Elliot is still 3, and I have a few years left to before I include her in the mix of melancholiness (is that a word?) as far as school and summer go. I'm going to end this post with the following statement...."Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift....that's why it's called the present"! I'm going to focus on the today and the now....or at least I'm going to try to, because before I can turn around I'll be sending them off to their first day of school again! :( :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Autism

Thanks to all of you.....and thanks to my daughter Addison, for putting together a wonderful story of her brother, over $2200 has been raised for Autism Speaks....and we are still receiving donations!

One person can make a difference! You are that one! Together....YOU ALL ROCK!