Saturday, December 8, 2012

When There's Love At Home

I get so many emails from parents that are contemplating having more children.They write with their concerns and questions, in the end wanting to know what my perspective is on the subject. Keep in mind that you may have a different perspective than I do. That's ok, as long as you remember that this is my perspective.

I guess I'll start by saying that none of our kids have been planned. A few months prior to getting pregnant I would always have a experience or some sort of nudge letting us know that we were about to have a baby. My husband and I never sat down and said "Ok, let's start trying for a baby!" It always felt prompted.

We have 3 kiddos ages 4, 3 and 1. We found out that our 4 and 3 year old had Autism when I was 1/2 way through my 3rd pregnancy. I can't begin to tell you how I felt at that moment. I layed in bed for what felt like forever but was the course of 3 days, and cried. I felt so guilty that I was pregnant. I knew the brunt of this would fall on me. With my husbands work and school schedule, I knew I would be the one at the meetings, involved in their therapies and handling their behaviors. I worried what if the baby I was carrying was Autistic too? What if he wasn't and here I was bringing him into this "Autistic Sibling" life? What if he grew up resenting me? What if?...What if?...What if? Those were the only questions that seemed to circulate round my mind. I was severely depressed at this time, I was cursed with mentally unstable in-laws from the underworld that we had just slapped with Restraining Orders and then the news of my two toddlers. My husband was doing his best to encourage me. He would frequently tell me that if anyone could do this, it was him and I. Because we had love at home. Still, it wasn't enough to get me out of bed.

That following weekend, I had quite the experience that snapped me out of the funk I was in. As my husband and I sat there with heavy hearts over the heart warming experience we had had, we knew a way would be provided for us that we could effectively take care of our family and the needs that would arise. I never understood how some would say that Autism tore their marriage apart. For my husband and I it did the very opposite. We were already close but it made us that much closer. We know our kids need both of us. So with that all said, how do we feel about having more kids???

For my husband and I, we have a good solid marriage. I'm also a stay at home mom, which works for us because we have no family to help or babysit. We do our date nights when our kiddos go to bed or are at school and even then we still have our 1 year old with us. This all works for us. At this point we understand our kids that have Autism, we know how to calm them, for the most part. I feel like I have my household under control. We have next to no debt, we know how to budge and I still feel like my sanity is in tact. So for us, we say YES to having more kids BUT only after you evaluate your own situation. Can you handle more? Is your sanity in tact? Do you have the time to spend with them? Is the relationship you're in solid?

Why I Think Having More Kids Benefits Kids On The Spectrum

First I should say that my son has moderate Autism and my Daughter has Severe. I have seen with my own kids that having more kids pushes my Spectrum kiddos out of their "Autism" bubble. For example, my daughter is perfectly content being on her own. Prefers it actually. Having a very mobile and social 1 year old doesn't allow for that. He's always in her face, accidentally sitting on her with his fat bum, sneaks her snacks, slobbers on her, you name it. Sometimes she'll yell and flap but it only lasts for a few seconds. Today I watched my 1 year old wobble over to my 4 year old (who is also on the Spectrum), grab his hand and start sucking/gnawing on his finger. My 4 year old started laughing. Not the typical response for a kid on the Spectrum, right? However, after months of this, he has gotten used to it.

If you keep your kiddos in a box you made for them, they aren't going to grow and develop their weaknesses into strengths. When we first brought our 1 year old home, my daughter screamed every time he cried (she's sensitive to noise). Now she brings him his bottle. Also not the typical response for a child on the Severe end of the Spectrum, right? She learned how to cope. Her and my 4 year old also enjoy wrestling! It's my belief that it's the best thing you can do for their Autism, is to have more children. It teaches them so many wonderful things. One of the biggest ones we have seen is how to cope when unpredictable situations arise.

So in a nutshell, this is my take on having more children. You can be expecting more children from There's Tulips In Holland! Sooner than you might think, too ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jazz Up Your PEC's Book!

My almost 3 year old daughter was just introduced to the PEC's program. She has taken it and ran with it! We have reached the point of making her a mini PEC's book that she can take out with her and use at pre school. I spent so many hours trying to find cute ideas for her book and didn't find any. I should mention that my daughter is VERY girly. I figured if she had to carry this book with her everywhere that I wanted it to be super cute. So this was what I resorted to!

The materials are simple. Walmart has sheets of duct tape, that's right, duct tape! Located in their craft section. It comes in different designs. I used 2 sheets (1 and a 1/2 really) of duct tape priced at $1.88 a sheet. Ribbon from Hobby lobby. The fat roll that my daughter got a hold of ;) was $2 dollars and the small roll was $1. I like to get my ribbon from hobby lobby because they always have 1/2 off and have a huge selection. The MINI 3 ring binder was bought on Amazon for $5. The velcro you can find in the sewing notions aisle at walmart. I also used matches to burn the ends of the ribbon to keep them from fraying.
It's pretty self explanatory. Put strips of velcro on the front of the binder so that your kiddo can stick their photo on the front. Glue down the fat ribbon inside the binder so it doesn't slip off when your kiddo is holding this.

Now for the inside pages I am going to go to a craft store and get cute card stock paper and laminate it. I just picked up a Hot and Cold Laminator from Costco for $20! So everyone watch out!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coupon Code for ID Safety Cuff!!

Ok guys are you ready for this?? The wonderful Katie from TheOwlandTheFirefly (she makes the ID safety cuffs listed in my previous blog post) she gave me a FREE SHIPPING code for you! So now you really have no reason not to get one ;) Coupon Code is: autismspuzzle It's my blog address. So head on over!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stylish Kid's ID Safety Cuff

Well guys, it's about that time when our kiddos head back to school so I wanted to share this little gem with you that I stumbled across. I have seen different variations of these but I must say, I like this one the best. She will custom make them for you to specify allergies, medication and or a Special Need. I tried one out with our son and I will definitely be getting one for our daughter when she starts school. Great for our wandering kiddos!
They are $10 with a $2 shipping fee in the US. Can we say "Freaking Awesome Deal!"?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chewlery Giveaway!!!

(please contact me at


Our first Giveaway! KidCompanions ( and There's Tulips In Holland are working together for a giveaway! YOU get to pick ONE chewlery of your choice it comes with a lanyard or shirt clip. They have different shapes and colors to fit your kiddo! It's made with medical grade thermoplastic polymers and it contains no lead, latex, BPA, pvc or phthalate which are all toxic obviously. It also serves as a fidget toy. Ours has a break away back which makes me feel comfortable about it's safety level.

My little munchkin has PICA Disorder so we tried this out. In the weeks she has had this, it has helped lessen the amount of things that she puts in her mouth. We have gotten so many compliments on it's cute design from her SLP, her OT and her ABA therapist. She LOVES it because it's a necklace and she's my little girly girl!

This Giveaway starts today and will close Tuesday the  31st at NOON! I will announce the winner Tuesday night! Just leave a comment below to enter and make sure to check back on Tuesday to see if you won!!!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Remembering Wesley: From a Bully

I began to sink down into my cold chair as the Autism Parents began to go around the room and simultaneously share how they had each been tormented in school by other students. Suddenly the memories of my school years began to play on in my mind.

I was back in 7th grade and reminded of Wesley. I could clearly see him push up his coke bottle glasses onto the bridge of his nose. The lenses were about 1/3 of an inch thick and seemed to drastically magnify the size of his eyes. I could hear his slurred speech as he sat there at the lunch table cursing and slamming his hand down repeatedly as he spit with each word yelling at the boys to stop picking on him. I could see myself release a slight chuckle.

In school I wasn't the one that was picked on. I was the girl that hung out with the kids that did the picking. Making myself unable to relate to these parents sharing their stories. At the end of the meeting I was left with my memories and the guilt that was weighing so heavily on my heart.

I have been away from blogging for a bit trying to collect my composure again after finally having my toddlers officially diagnosed here in Missouri. What I didn't expect in all of this was my son being diagnosed with moderate Autism versus a high functioning Autism and that in addition to a Severe Autism Diagnosis that my daughter would be diagnosed with mild Mental Retardation. It gives a whole new meaning to the word "retard" that we hear so commonly and casually thrown around amongst the ignorant with limited vocabulary skills. It puts a face on the word. It puts my daughters face on it. My sweet little 2 year old baby girl's face.

For some reason I have always had difficulty looking at my daughter without being reminded of Wesley. It breaks my heart to think of the ridicule and the bullying that awaits her in her future. My daughter starts school this year. So I went and bought her American Eagle clothes, the best shoes and the cutest hair flowers. Expensive Brand name clothes that we can barely afford amidst their therapies. Clothes that she will inevitably grow out of in 6 months all in the hopes that it could make the tiniest difference in her getting picked on by other kids.

I wish I could go back. Don't we all? Don't we all wish that we could go back and change something in our lives? This poor boy that didn't stand a chance amongst our cruel words, our lack of compassion and maturity. I wish I could go back and do things differently. I wish I could go back and apologize, to give him a hug and become his friend. Even after that, it still wouldn't be enough. Not enough to make up for never having said anything. Not enough for laughing. It will be the guilt that I will be reminded of each and every time my daughter gets picked on for being different.

She has me to be her best friend, to be her advocate, to be her mother and to protect her the best that I can. After that, all I can do is pray that Heavenly Father will be there with her to watch over her the rest of the way.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Finding the Balance: Making Time For Your Non Spectrum Kids

Nothing makes me cringe more than when  someone tells me "Sometimes I forget you have 3 kids." I am always left thinking "How could you possibly forget? I have a baby attached to me constantly." On top of that it hurts my heart that anyone could forget our sweet little Baby. It is so important for our families to learn how to Master this: Not forgetting that you have other children and making sure that others do not forget them as well.

It "can be" <--- if you let it, easy to get caught up with Autism and aaalll of the many therapists in and out of your home every week. When we found out that our 2 toddlers had Autism I was 6 months pregnant with our 3rd kiddo. AT FIRST, I was mortified that I was pregnant. NOT because I didn't want our little sweetheart but because I felt so guilty about bringing him into the whole "Autistic Siblings" situation. In all of my lack of knowledge on the subject, I was convinced that my son would grow up resenting me. So shortly after getting the news of Autism, my husband and I sat down and from that point set STRICT guidelines. Guidelines that we hold extended family members to as well.

How Our Family Balances Autism, Marriage Relationship and Our Non Spectrum Kids
1) Each one of our kids gets alone time with us (Daddy and Mom) EVERY DAY, not once a week but EVERY DAY. There are times in the day that my son will come up to me while I am holding our baby and ask me for something and I look at him and tell him KINDLY "Not right now Buddy. Mommy is holding [Baby]. Right now it's [Baby's] time with Mommy." My kids are COMPLETELY ok with this BECAUSE they know that later they are going to get my undivided attention as well so there's no jealousy. Sometimes I will pick a kid to go on an errand with me alone or I will take one with me for ice cream. They know that they will always get time with both of us alone.

2) Our kids have had nap time and bed time (it's never too late for you to start this) since they were 4-6 months old. So at that time my husband and I take our baby and go sit on the deck with him or we play on the living room floor. My husband and I get to talk and spend time with each other as well. We then put our baby down and that time is my husband and I's time together to snuggle, watch a movie, talk or play a game.

3) Do not let others forget you have other kids. Wherever I go I am wearing our son in his Moby Wrap so people see him. Right now we talk about Autism because we are meeting so many new people since we just moved here but normally in our home or when we are with friends we do not talk about Autism. We don't want our other children growing up thinking their childhood was all about the siblings with Autism.  If all you talk about is Autism and the kids that you have on the Spectrum then of course people are going to forget you have other kids. That's why I have a designated place for talking about Autism, my blog.

4) When I introduce our family to NEW people I say "I have THREE kids and my 2 oldest are on the Autism Spectrum."

5) I do not (or I guess I should say "will not" since my little guy is still just a baby) let others tell my Non Autistic children things like "You behave for your mom, ok? Because she has a lot to deal with your siblings."

6) Last but also important, I wont be asking my other children for help. It's not their job to help me with their siblings or act like mini adults. It's their job to be a kid and enjoy their childhood.

The reason people forget our baby is because he is AMAZING =) He is so mellow, ALWAYS happy and easy going. I walk into the room and his face lights up with a HUGE smile. His smiles that are often meant for me are honestly what gets me through some of my toughest days.

 We love you so much Little Man!...

Friday, June 1, 2012

This is an excellent video on the early signs of Autism done by the Director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute (an affiliate of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore). Well known for their Autism research smile emoticon She shows babies who are developing typically and those who have Autism. Family Doctors and Pediatricians receive ZERO training in Medical School on Autism making it almost impossible for them to catch it early on. They'll often tell you "They look fine!" or the most common "Just wait and see" or my personal favorite "Autism is over diagnosed" (says the man who had no training in Medical school on ASD wink emoticon ) 'Waiting and seeing' is the absolute WORST thing you can do because Behavioral Therapies have the strongest impact on a childs brain before the age of 5. These Doctors don't know this because it's not their field. If you have questions about your child or your family has questions then I highly encourage you to watch this video and share it with those family members or friends that don't understand. (9 minutes) 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Gifts!

It's the last day of school! My little guy goes to Pre School at a fabulous Early Learning Center and I wanted to do something cute to show my appreciation to his Teacher, the Teacher Aids, his Speech Therapist, his Occupational Therapist and his Bus Driver and Bus Aid who are always so happy to see him every day! So this is what I came up with! I was told by my Teacher friends that they get tired of Mugs and Lotion so I went the Soap Route ;) Some Smelly Good Soap, Candy and Grape Pop.
oh what a great
[insert here]
You Is!!!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

I WOULD Change My Child

Let's be honest... (for 5 minutes)

At 4 am one would think that I would be trying to enjoy every second of sleep I could get my hands on. Of course I am absolutely tired but I find these hours to be the most peaceful in my house. I'm not tripping over rows of toys that my son has so meticulously lined up through out our house, I'm not rushing over to quickly throw a pillow under my kids head before they bang it on our tile floor out of frustration. I'm not de escalating a tantrum or having to rush to my daughter to take away what's left of the receipt she just scarfed down, I'm not pulling peanut butter sandwiches out of the DVD player. It's my time regardless how tired I am to reflect, to update my blog, to spend time with my husband, take an un interrupted shower that's longer than 3 minutes, to read my scriptures or to do Autism research.

I haven't been able to keep my thoughts from how much our lives have changed over these past 6 months since we got the diagnosis for our 2 oldest who happen to be 11 months apart in age by the way! (FYI: Breastfeeding is NOT a contraceptive no matter what your OB tells you ;) I was so adamant about only allowing myself that 1 week to grieve and then moving forward from there. I thought that if I grieved a minute more I would be doing my children a terrible injustice. I thought that I had to say all the right things like the phrase you frequently hear from parents in the ASD Community "I wouldn't change a thing about my child." I seem to choke on those words every time I am put in a position to force them out of my mouth because another person is telling me how sorry they are that my son and daughter have Autism.

You honestly wouldn't change your child if you could?

Well I a freakishly fast second too. I love my children with all my heart but there are a few things I hate. I hate that my daughter will only let me hold her for a few seconds before she pulls away from me. That when she looks at me for the 2 seconds she can muster-she looks through me versus at me. I hate not knowing if I will ever hear her sweet little voice say "I love you mom." I hate worrying about who will look after her if something happens to my husband and I. I hate that she is inconsolable. That even as her mother I cannot calm her with my voice or my touch.

In the mornings when I get her from her bed she is usually pretty tired. So she rests her head on my shoulder and wraps her little arms around my neck as I carry her down to breakfast. That walk from her bedroom to the dining room is the shortest minute in my entire day. It's the only time she shows me affection in a single day. This is my daughter and this is a little piece of her Autism. Only another parent in my position would understand the ice cold sting Autism leaves on your heart at the end of most days.

I hate that my son screams out in agony each time he gets a hair cut and that it ends with both of us in tears. We have to schedule our appointment for when the salon closes so that people don't stare and children don't cry out of fear of my sons reaction. I hate that we have to restrain him while he screams, bites me, cries, throws up, and as his last resort as he starts to feel he's losing the fight-he looks at me with his swollen eyes and tear stained cheeks and desperately pleads with me to make them stop while all I can do is repeatedly whisper in his ear as I gently restrain his little body in my arms "I'm so sorry buddy, I'm so sorry." I hate that I inevitably worry about how other children are going to treat him (and react) because of his extremely poor social skills once he starts grade school. Kids are so mean today and parents tend to be just as bad in some cases. Tell me what decent mother wouldn't want to take this from her child?

We parents spend most days lying to ourselves telling ourselves the same 7 little words..."I wouldn't change a thing about _______" because in reality we can't bear to entertain the thought and the agonizing pain that would surely follow if we were to admit the secret our hearts possess...that we feel we've been robbed of our child and all of the hopes and dreams that immediately flooded our hearts when we held in our arms and gazed upon for the first time that tiny little newborn.

So you might be wondering how I could possibly put a positive spin on this post. Well here it is...these little babies of mine have made me a better person and I adore them. As simple as that. If there had been some sort of pre natal test that would have unveiled that my children would have Autism and I was given "the choice" (I recently read a disturbing article on this matter) there's no question or hesitation for my husband or myself. I love these little sweeties and I would choose them every time over having no children at all. They've taught me patience, how to love unconditionally, they've helped me to appreciate things that would otherwise be considered small to another parent. We don't worry about the tedious things that others our age (and sometimes a little bit older) tend to think about. Sincerely, this little speed bump has only made the connection between my husband and I that much stronger. When it comes down to it, our family unit of 5 is really all that matters to us.

(Above is our new little addition =)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Autism After 16

A very resourceful website for those that have children a little bit older on the Spectrum.

Autism After 16

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How to Bring Sexy Back In Your Marriage!

Whoo hoo! I know you all were sitting on the edge of your seats barely able to contain your excitement over this post!!! Or something like that!

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up with our kids and always taking care of everyones needs and then the important things get a back seat. A marriage needs nourishment. Embarrassing, but I'll share the things we do and then just hide behind anonymity

1) Most important, that's why it's #1, GIVE YOUR KIDS A BED TIME!!!! My kids have had a bed time since 6 months of age when I started doing a bed time routine with them. I know people that let their toddlers stay up to like 12 at night. Not here in this house. After 7:30 pm it's Mommy and Daddy time =) Seriously though, this is really important and it's never too late to start =) Even though our son doesn't sleep in a crib anymore, we still do the whole bed time routine with him at 7:30. He has a night light in his room and yes, of course he gets out of bed as soon as we shut the door. He plays with his dinosaurs until he's tired and then he crawls into bed. I have yet to find him asleep on the floor of his room =)

2) Schedule Date Night: I'm sure most of you are probably asking yourself what the heck that is ;) You don't have to have money or even a sitter to do date night! I plan ahead for my husbands days off. Once we put our kids to bed I pull out a yummy snack that I made earlier that day or we'll pop a bag of popcorn and pull out some ice cream, grab a big blanket, cuddle up and watch a movie together. We honestly never get tired of doing a movie because we get to cuddle. Sometimes we will play a game.

3) Going Out to Eat As a Family: Is it possible? Yes, it is.

A) You just have to pick somewhere noisy. Pick somewhere that no one will notice your son eating packet after packet of fry sauce, or your daughter throwing her fries on the floor once she's done eating. My husband and I have this awesome burger place (JCW's) that we go to that is always noisy and no one notices our kids. Or go somewhere where they have outside seating.

B) OR CALL AHEAD. Sometimes I enjoy going to Golden Chinese place so what I do is I call ahead and speak to a manger. I tell them we are coming in with two Autistic kiddos and would like to be put somewhere semi remote away from everyone else. I bring their sippy cups, wipes, bibs, crayons, books and a few toys in case they finish eating before we do and that does it!

C) OR pick up food and do a picnic outside! We do that a lot in the summer time. We pick a park that is away from traffic, has no water near by and nothing my daughter can jump off of and we eat outside. Usually I just make sandwiches and cut up watermelon, grab capri suns and a bag of chips and that's what we take for our picnic.

4) I wouldn't generally talk about something like this but it's kind of a big deal and remember, anonymity ;) SCHEDULE "SNUGGLE" TIME. It's so easy to get lost in all the things we do for our kids and the time we spend on them. You would think that being 27 and having 3 kids I would be more mature than to laugh each time my husband and I sit down and pull out the Calendar to schedule in our "snuggle" time but no. No, I'm not =) If it happens before the scheduled time, GREAT. If not then you have a set date and time! I know it sounds funny but it's important to schedule that in once a week or once every two weeks...ladies don't let your man die!, at the very LEAST once a month. Actually write it on the calendar (and disguise label it like "ice cream for mom and dad" it could save you from a potentially embarrassing moment if company comes and sees your calendar =) and treat it as an un moveable commitment which means you can't say you're tired or have a headache! 1) It keeps you close to each other 2) Reminds you both how much you love one another and keeps that connection strong 3) It can very well be a stress reliever. If you have Teenagers with Autism-plan for that. Make sure they are in bed/door is closed, have a lock on your bedroom get it =)

5) Go on a drive together. My kids love to go on drives with the windows rolled down and we even take our chiweenie. It also gives my husband and I time to talk AND gets us all out of the house which is always nice.

6) There's no reason you can't stick to a healthy diet. After my kids go to bed my husband watches the baby for a bit while I prepare my meals and snacks for the next day. This way I can quickly grab healthy stuff that I put together the night before. I always have raw veggies and fresh fruits available for my grabbing instead of grabbing chips or a donut. I try to not bring those things into my home because they are so (yummy ;) easy to grab instead of something healthy. You eat healthy, you feel good =)

7) There's no reason you can't look cute while chasing your screaming kids around the house all day =) You don't need 2 hours to get ready. Look, here's a link for 7 no heat cute hair styles:
7 Cute No Heat Hair Styles
and below is the link that I use. I do this hair style on days my husband works and he's not home to watch the kids while I get ready.
Ashlie's Favorite, Cute, Easy, No Heat, Do-right-out-of the-shower-do! Thank you Pinterest! =)

8) Do you need a tan and don't want to get skin cancer or spend money? Well here's the solution! Malibu Hemp Self Tanning Lotion (@ Walmart) Ta Dah!! Insta Tan! I use this and love it. And no, it doesn't turn you Orange.

9) Victoria's Secret has AMAZING body lotion for $9 dollars a bottle. I always feel great when I smell good =) With your great smell, your tan and cute hair throw on a little lip gloss and mascara and you go rock those Yoga Pants girls! =)

10) Exercise. It's such a great thing. For me it's the ultimate stress reliever. When my husband is off, he will watch the kids for me for two hours while I go run my brains out. I do anywhere between 5 and 8 miles. But that's my enjoyment. For you it doesn't have to be running. Go for a walk around the block and get some fresh air =)

11) Take a few hours off. Is that possible? Yes. Yes it is. We sat down and on our calendar we EACH picked one day out of EVERY week where we get to leave the house (or hide in the bedroom) for 4 hours while the other stays home and holds the fort down =) This is a TREMENDOUS relief and something I look forward to every week because I KNOW I'm going to get that peaceful break. I use it to take a nap, or dye my hair and do my toenails. I'll make a project for the kids or whither away on Pinterest =) It doesn't matter, it's MY 4 hours.

When it comes down to it, if you feel cute and refreshed, you will feel better and happier.

For Those of You That Are LDS:

A few things to add to this list:

1) Always try to get a quick scripture in during the morning. I have the books with daily scriptures that I find quick and convenient. It can really make a long day better =)

2) Schedule in a Temple Day for you AND your husband once a month. Find someone from church or a member of your family. I have found that when people know your situation they are more than willing to help especially if it's only one day out of the month. This is probably the most important thing on this entire list =) It serves as a great reminder of the wonderful promises you made to each other when you married. Mark it on your Calendar and treat it like a commitment.

3) Take some time to read the Ensign Magazine with your husband. This is usually how we start off our date night. My husband and I will sit and read an article from it or we'll read a chapter from an LDS marriage/family book. We use to teach a marriage class at church so we have plenty of books on the subject with great stories from Church Leaders =)

To Everyone: I promise it's not impossible to do all of these things. It sounds like a lot but it's really not once you get into the habit.