Saturday, October 29, 2011

for the love of art

So I picked up the painting (originally posted about here) this week and when I got it home I realized I hadn't established a place for it. So, I ended up starting on a gallery wall in our dining room that I've been debating over for months and gave up on since we're moving to Oregon. I figure this way I use some of the pieces of art I've been collecting instead of it sitting in closets. As for the empty frame in the middle, I'm going to DIY something in black and white abstract I think this week. I'm excited! The yellow and green abstract on the right is one of my own works as well. It's an original! LOL! I am definitely no artist but I am loving painting. It is so relaxing and really gets my creative juices flowing. I was supposed to take a second acrylic painting course in September but the class was cancelled. Hopefully I can pick up on some more courses in Eugene. I absolutely love the significance and meaning behind the Large Horse, Small Rider painting! Love it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

halloween 2010

halloween 2010

This year Ryan's costume may or may not be based on G's favorite Dora episode. Just wait and see!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The above is Gavin's therapy schedule. Not very typical for a 2 year old, eh? What amazes me is how resiliant he is. Our schedule changes about every 2 months it seems and every time it does I get stressed and crazy. I have to stop myself from saying things that I know I'll regret and from being someone who's demanding and overzealous about their child's well-being. For example Gavin's speech therapist took a new job and we were assigned a new therapist. She was on maternity leave for 6 weeks and so we had an interim therapist and the only time available for G was 8am. For those who know me, I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON! I remember a co-worker once telling a new employee that you don't talk to Stacy until after 11am. So true! I'm the get to work and get busy type, chit chat is so overrated! Then at 11am I'm ready to gabber on. So I told her that time just wouldn't work for us and so she asked another family to switch times so we could have the 9am slot. Horrible I know. It worked out because that child gets up at like 6am and G gets up at 8am so they were already up. Since then we added in our therapy playgroup to help G work on and develop social skills to prepare him for preschool. It necessitates that we drive to Chico for it so that adds another hour of driving to our day. That threw a huge wrench in our schedule and I had to adjust again. I had to cave in and actually request the 8am slot for speech therapy to make it all work. Its crazy at time how much sacrificing motherhood requires, at times more than others, but its also amazing because it all brings us closer to becoming who we can and who the Lord wants us to be. We can get so caught up in our own expectations for life and needs, but having children and those with more needs than others allows the opportunity to give daily service and sacrifice.

I'm finally working out the chinks and its funny because every time I worry we won't be able to make the schedule work due to naps or otherwise and EVERY TIME it changes, it works out and fits perfectly it seems with our life at the time. And through all of it that little dude meets the challenges and changes in his routine. What an amazing kiddo! Right now he's struggling with playgroup and wanting to go, but his moments and length of time crying or screaming are lessening and shortening in length. I am the one having to tolerate some pain for much needed gains and I know this will make all the difference for G. I may just have to get a datebook to keep up with his schedule though! Don't forget to add in all of this his naps, eating which is a challenge too, park outings, working on homework and exercises from all of his therapy sessions, and just being a plain old toddler because he is a toddler ya know!

Friday, October 14, 2011

red flags...autism

What have you been learning about autism? Share with me!

Did you know there are "absolute indicators" or what are termed "red flags" that indicate a child should to be evaluated for autism? A year ago I remember seeing TV commercials by discussing the Red Flags. I am positive that seeing these commercials helped me to investigate further and then push G's pediatrician for a referral. I thought I'd share them with you today. It is a scary thing, but once I started reading I found out that even though we don't know the cause of autism and there are a multitude of different treatment methods to help with the behavioral and medical symptoms, the one thing we do know is that Early Intervention reduces the lifetime affects and helps children to thrive and be more successful when they begin school. The brain is still in a pliable state up until age 3 I believe and so new neuro pathways can be developed and hurdles overcome easier at that early age. There is NO BENEFIT in waiting it out! ABSOLUTELY NONE! Do not let fear keep you from asking the questions and getting the evaluation. Family and friends need to be willing to look out for children too and help parents to see concerns if they are warranted. Another reason for not waiting is that the federal and state governments provide funding for services for children under 3 who show signs of developmental delays. These services are what Gavin has been receiving for almost 9 months now. They can be for infants/toddlers under age 3 who have speech delay, physical gross motor delays, food/eating problems, hearing/vision problems. Any developmental delays, not just autism. What a resource! Too many children miss out on these services and once they are 3, they do not qualify for them. Yes, there are services after 3, but not as intense or easily accessible.

Here are the "Red Flags":

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

source: click here For more specific signs/symptoms of autism, visit and go here.

Post Edit: FYI As a parent you can self-refer your child to receive an evaluation for developmental delays/services. All you have to do is call your Regional Center. For Northern California its Far Northern Regional Center. You have to be the advocate for your child because too many doctors are still promoting a Wait-and-See Approach which is robbing children of time and resources! If you insist with your pediatrician most likely they will refer.

comfort foods!

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

What are your favorite comfort foods? Hands down mine would be mac n cheese, chicken pot pie, shephard's pie, and I think I've added tamale pie to the list. Did I forget any serious contenders?

I have been making lots of the recipes I actually pin on Pinterest. Amazing right? I try and only pin things I actually think I will make, use, or ideas for outfits I actually would do. Sometimes I get carried away, but I'm trying to be practical with it. So far I'm doing pretty good, especially with my food board, which you can find here.

So, this week I made Gnocchi Mac & Cheese. It was so rich and creamy and good! I may try making this with traditional elbow macaroni instead of the gnocchi and see if it turns out as well. I used some gourmet cheeses for the first time ever in my cooking so that was exciting too-- gruyere and fontina. Seriously worth trying! The only unfortunate thing is that you can't eat as much as you want because its so rich. I served it with roasted asparagus (drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt) and a sub-par salad to help balance out the richness of the Mac & Cheese. Definitely making this one again, but must wait until my arteries de-clog. Yum!

I'm already craving the Tamale Pie again. Its THAT good!

*For the Gnocchi Mac & Cheese recipe go here or access all my FOOD pins on pinterst, here! photo taken from website as well. I'm too concerned about eating my food as quickly as possible to get a photo first. hehe! Super easy to make, I bought the gnocchi from Trader Joe's.

On a side note: are you obsessed with Pinterest. I have to limit my time on there and like I said earlier be realistic. What are your favorite categories for pins? Have you actually used any or referenced them yet? How long do you think the craze will last? What was the name of the social website pre-Facebook? Haha I have already forgotten the name of it. I think I still have a profile/page on there.

Ooh another sidenote: I actually think my belly is slimming down even with all this eating! My trick ditching the scale. No seriously, I have come to an agreement with myself to limit the portion size in order to enjoy yummy ne foods w and I've been walking religiously 3 mornings a week and started doing yoga 2x's a week. Loving it too! Exercise is feeding my body and soul, even if its not the intense kind. I'm going with the counsel of prophets on this one, consistent and steady, not short bursts of insanity that I know I won't maintain. Now if I could just quit buying bags of halloween candy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

large horse, small riders

Large Horse, Small Riders Brian Kershisnik Oil on canvas, 1996

I came across this painting a while ago. It is described as depicting "information that is contrary to everyday experience--An immense horse with no reins ridden by four people suggesting that there is a higher force directing the family to their destination, with a faith like that of the pioneers (click here for source).

As soon as I read the description I fell in love with the painting. I bought it and its been rolled up in the tube waiting to be framed for many months now. When I bought it I felt it would be a great piece of art to have as a reminder of that higher force that we always want to have directing our family to our destination.

Little did I know those many months ago, that this painting would become even more significant in our lives as the realization that we have no reins to control the challenges of life or the bumps in the road has become ever more apparent. But more importantly I never imagined the power, the peace, the trust, the happiness and the strength that could come even as we wade through affliction. That faith is essential to help us move forward to whatever it is the Lord has in store for us. It is the Lord who is in control and the only thing I can control is my faith and willingness to give up my agency to follow Him! I am finding more and more peace and strength the more I give of myself to follow the Lord more strictly and more willingly throughout my daily living. I feel like I am doing so much more to live for the Lord instead of myself and I know that it brings peace and happiness! I have no doubt that it is through strong faith and hope in the Savior that we find the strength to endure to the end and to experience happiness and peace now and in the hereafter. This must have been how the pioneers endured the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering and challenges along their journeys and I will endure those same challenges and sufferings because of Him who loves us all!

I'm going to get the print framed this week to remind me more of that faith I want to keep alive!

FYI - If you are interested in this painting, a print of it on canvas can be ordered through the online store (here's the link). It says its on backorder, but it said that when I ordered as well and I received it a a short while later. I think they print them as ordered.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"looks" can be deceiving

There is a saying in the autism community, "Once you've met one child with autism, you've met ONE child with autism." It's so true. There are general characteristics and some will have similarities in their behaviors and challenges, but there is such wide spectrum of presentations in these individuals. It varies which types of behaviors and limitations they have and to what degree they have them. Its frustrating sometimes because people will meet G and then find out he has autism and then make comments like, "He doesn't look like he has autism", "but he's so cute!", or "oh I'm sure he will just grow out of it". Since when was there a "look" to autism? NEVER! The challenging thing for our society is that we 1. the majority of the population doesn't understand what autism is; 2. that we need to get past judging people by their "looks"; and 3. we don't have any credentials to be diagnosing these kids ourselves. I'd love to believe a total stranger when they tell me my son doesn't have autism, I mean I actually had the thought cross my mind for a second about canceling his appointment to be evaluated in order to avoid the diagnosis because he doesn't "look" like he has a disorder. Unfortunately I love my son too much to put my own personal weaknesses and fears ahead of his well-being.

I digress.... the existence of a "look" baffles me. I already find myself becoming numb to the comments because I don't have time or any desire to engage in a counterattack. I'm sure they are just trying to make me feel better. Bless their hearts. Funny and humbling thing happened though. Two weeks ago G started going to a playgroup for children with developmental delays. I'm pretty sure that all the boys, but one have been diagnosed with autism. Even within those 5 boys they have such varying delays and challenges, as well as amazing strengths! We had two days of orientation where Gavin went in and was with the leaders of the playgroup and got a feel for how it would be. It went great! Then the first day with the other kids came. We walked in and G went right on in, no problems, what a relief!

I, however, had an unexpected reaction. I looked around at the other boys, was overwhelmed with their autistic like characteristics, arms flapping and odd social mannerisms and I started to freak out. Then I met the mothers and immediately the thought came to my mind, "Wait a minute, I don't belong here. I don't "look" like these other moms." I continued to have thoughts like we are in such different stages of our lives, they don't have any similar interests that I have, they don't dress like me, they don't have the same level of education that I do or professional career like my husband does. It was all clearly vain and prideful. Don't hate me for these thoughts, I'm being brutally honest. Here I was preaching that we have to get away from this preconceived "look" about autism and I myself was do much worse by judging others and placing myself and G above others because I had more material wealth, more education, a child that maybe didn't "look" like he had autism when some may. It is shameful really! I just didn't feel like I could fit in there. Honestly when I reflect back on that moment, I think it had more to do with accepting that nothing I could do or obtain could influence this point in my life. I couldn't stop G from having autism. I couldn't buy our way out of this or educate myself enough to prevent this. I think it all had to do with accepting this life we've been handed, stepping out of the denial stage of grief and entering a world where more families than just our own are working through the challenges of autism as well. It was, in fact, our first experience with other autistic children around. It was as if my subconscious was doing anything it could to change the reality we were destined for. Shoot I even knew from reading that autism wasn't restricted to socioeconomic status, age, gender, ethnicity, education, etc. And yet, in that moment my ego wasn't willing to accept that I am the mother of a child with autism.

This coming to acceptance, its a strange experience.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I just came across this talk by Elder Richard G. Scott, an apostle of the Lord. I remember when he gave this address (or at least studying many years ago) and I remember telling my sister about it a few years ago when she was going through a tough time. It speaks to me so differently now and I find so much more strength and meaning in it. I may have to read it daily for a while.... It's a gift from God!

I especially loved the following excerpt:

"Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.

This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience.

To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will."

Ok, feeling better! I think its time for Fall "Must-Do" #2 Apple Cider! Cuz its raining outside! We might even throw in some spontaneous puddle jumping too when G gets up from his nap. I have a feeling we will become professionals at it once we live in Eugene! Is it an olympic sport? Should be!

playing the part

Warning: Pity Party may ensue...

I need your help....
How do you do it?

How do you find joy and feel happy for others who have typically developing children when yours is not. How do you express excitement and happiness for those who are having babies when you are not? When everyone's lives seem to be on track with their "plan" and yours is not? I've been battling this for a while and been quite successful, well as successful as I could be by just playing the part. I would express excitement and utter the words, all the while my heart aches. On my good days I can for small moments be excited for them. I seem to forget myself and I realize that their lives aren't free of challenge either and this is their moment for things to go right for them.

But today I can't do it. I can't seem to find the happiness. What about me? What about "my plan"? I've had to relinquish it to the Lord's plan and I guess today I'm having a hard time being patient. I can't sit around and wait for that typical child, for a cure for autism, or for my body to finally produce a baby that can even survive past being an itty bitty embryo. How do I do it? How did you do it? I know I'm not alone in this, challenge after challenge time of my life. I guess all I can do is keep praying for more strength, doing more to deepen my relationship with the Savior, make my prayers more sincere and more frequent and do as was told by an apostle of the Lord, Elder Hales, this weekend to "wait upon the Lord". I came across this article today. I appreciated her faith and it reminded me of all the Lord has been teaching me lately. She says, 'the Lord asks us to “wait patiently” on Him not because He has abandoned us, but because He loves us and wants us to draw closer to Him.'

Maybe once I strengthen my faith and hope that all things really will work out for our good, then I can find joy in others successes despite what seems like a life of disappointment and challenge for myself.

Hum... In the meantime either avoid me or tell me how crappy your life is and avoid informing me of any good news! Ok, maybe that's a little extreme!