Friday, February 27, 2015

the true beauty of pictures

As soon as I became a mother I discovered a profound and deep respect for photography. The time was fantastically whizzing by and I desperately wanted to remember each face, each stage, each intoxicating milestone and moment. When my first born son Greyson was 6-months old I felt so guilty because I barely had any pictures of him- and although I swore I would never forget that face or moment or day- he was growing so fast that memories were quickly being replaced with new ones. I was sick of feeling guilty but doing nothing about it. I did a little bit of homework and finally invested in a camera that would help me document life.

I started with a camera similar to this Canon Rebel and this $125 50mm lens. I went with Canon versus a Nikon because the lenses are less expensive. I also bought a Dummies Guide for my particular model (forget about getting anything useful from the instruction manual that comes with the camera.)

Around the time Greyson was almost two it became harder and harder to capture his personality with a click of the shutter. Like eleventy-million times harder than any other two year old- which is already hard. I often ended up with a shot of the back of his head or a blurry swirl. He wouldn't make eye contact with me and it was often impossible to get his attention. And the few times he did- I no longer recognized the boy looking back at me.

"Does this look like Greyson to you?" I asked my husband Michael, showing him a picture of a boy I didn't recognize with a haunting empty look in his eyes. "Yes, it looks like him...I guess." I wanted Michael to put to rest my growing unease. "Doesn't it look like something is wrong with him though? Like he's no longer totally there?" 

"Yes, a little" he replied. And the more pictures I took the greater that canyon between Greyson and I grew. It scared me.

Greyson! Greyson! Greyson! Look at mommy. Over here! Look at me. Eyes on me Grey! Nothing worked. More blurry back of his head swirls.

I hungrily read all I could about photography every night after Greyson went to bed. During daylight hours I would practice on him. I desperately needed the image I saw on screen to line up with the image my heart's eyes were able to catch. I realized I needed to learn how to shoot in manual mode and I learned how to quickly create a snap of the shutter to see his striking blue eyes that I was starting to forget.

Since then Greyson has been diagnosed with autism and now I understand why he looked so far away inside his own head at times. Photography has become my passion and I want to share some tips that have helped me capture both of my beautiful sons. I know it can be ESPECIALLY hard to capture children with autism, but these tips work when photographing all children.

1. Unlearn everything you think you like about pictures.
Gone are my dreams of picture perfect family picture portraits. Where everyone is sitting perfectly, looking the right way and no one is screaming and kicking. These are 95% of all canvas in people's home. It 95% of the holiday cards we receive. It's what people like. I wanted that shot. I ached and cried over that shot. And the more I held on-- the more it hurt. I realized I wanted what I thought that shot represented- a perfect and easy family and life.

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After year...

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After year we tried for that perfect shot.

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Which often left us all crying. Until I finally gave up. I had to let it go.

I used to ache to have that picture perfect family portrait but I don't any longer. That really isn't us and I no longer need a representation of something we are not. I learned that in order to be happy, I needed to learn to love my real life--my messy, chaotic imperfect and beautiful real life. And with that time and acceptance came an unwavering love for real life photography.

Here are some tips to help you get beautiful pictures of your children, whether they have Super Powers or not.

1. Photograph your child doing something they love. Their face shows genuine emotion when they are happy. Bath time. Playing. Running around outside. Playing with bubbles. Laughing. These images line my walls and my mind and my heart. These are the regular every day things I will ache for most when they are all over and gone.

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Bath time is for magic- not just for getting clean.

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Lunch time in Daddy's shoes.

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We are loud and messy and we don't ever sit still. We are a real and imperfect family- and I love that our pictures tell that story. Our truth.

Cameras aren't only for special occasions. Keep your camera handy and charged and ready to go on the counter or in your purse. You can't tell kids- "Hold on. Keep that pose- I'll be right back with my camera" because the moment will be gone. Yes, it's heavy. Yes, sometimes it gets in the way. But more importantly- yes, you will also get some of your very favorite pictures ever.

2. Shoot in wide open (and if you need- fenced in!) spaces and let your child roam. Let them guide the photo shoot. When you constrict them to specific areas and poses their face will express their discontent- most likely not the face you want to commemorate. Now this is exhausting business because their energy knows no boundaries. Wear tennis shoes, be prepared to run, jump, and get dirty and act ridiculous in order to get that perfect shot. When you have more than one child give them all something to focus on and give an area to stay within so they all still fit in the same frame.

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3. Use a helper. This can be extremely important especially if you have a wanderer, more than one toddler or you are trying for more of a family portrait look. For me a helper is a requirement when taking pictures of other children with autism. The helper can jump, sing, blow bubbles and distract. If you want the shot to be posed they can set the child down over and over again while you focus on getting a specific shot. Make sure they stand behind you and get on the same eye line as the lens .Use bubbles, songs, noisemakers or an ipad to try and get the child's attention. I tell the parents- LOOK AT ME THE ENTIRE TIME. I don't care if Bobby is stabbing Susie in the leg with a pencil. Do not turn to yell at him because the second you do- everyone else will finally be looking at the camera. Also- do not yell at your children at the photo shoot- no matter how non-compliant they are being because then they will cry and become red-eyed grump dogs for the rest of the shoot. Wait until you get into the car to tell them they are no longer getting a puppy for Christmas because of their photo shoot behavior.

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4. Use secret weapons. If you are the photographer- find out specifics about the child. Their favorite show, characters or food. Ask mom or dad if they ok with being touched.  Is there anything specific that makes them laugh? (Fart noises are my favorite). Is there a small toy they can hold to give them comfort? Or can you use something to keep their attention- like the shot above of my son Greyson and his FAVORITE- Disney Cars. Use your secret weapon wisely. Put their favorite show on an iPad above your camera lens. Repeat words from their favorite show or movie. Singing the theme song to Yo Gabba Gabba used to work for my oldest every single time I wanted eye contact. Now I say, Do you want gum? (Or chocolate?) As soon as their eye gaze meets my camera I must be ready to snap. I also make good on my bribes- "First more pictures, then chocolate!" Their key favorite phrases and snacks change every so often and what worked last time may not work this time. Keep trying new things. Be willing to take a million bad pictures. TAKING PICTURES IS FREE - so snap away.

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Swings are a GREAT place to take photos and one of my best secret weapons. They make my boys happy and that comes across in the pictures. If you have children that hate taking pictures- then just let them focus on playing while you take the pictures.

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5. Be flexible and have a willingness to change your expectations of what makes a beautiful photograph. Let the beauty of the setting and your subject be your guide. Instead of asking the child to move- use your legs and take shots until the camera shows you an image you like. Look for beautiful background colors. Try different angles. Lay on the ground and shoot up (as I did for the ferris wheel shot below). Climb on a bench and shoot down. Shoot when the sun is setting with the subject blocking the sun. Shoot against a plain brick wall. Have fun experimenting. This is MY version of playing.

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Beautiful pictures aren't only about perfect poses and eye contact. They are about real, imperfect gorgeous life. Real moments you may want to remember forever. The everyday experiences of parenthood that are dripping with beauty. Sometimes the only thing standing between you and happiness is your expectations. Go grab your camera and ready, set, click.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


There's deep beauty and simplicity about being a baby. We don't yet know words but we do know feelings. Hungry. Cold. Hot. We just feel and cry or feel and shiver or feel and move. No words inside our head to explain, create, think, debate, worry.

Then we get older. But just a little older. Enough to discover the intoxication of independence. "I do it myself" was my favorite phrase at two years of age my Mom likes to tell people. I wanted to do it all- at 2 and 3 and 4 and 5. I taught myself so young that the easiest, best and quickest way to do something was to do it yourself.

And the older we get the more we try, and sometimes struggle to figure out who we are. And the thing is- who we are is constantly changing according to the words we use to label ourselves. Yet we still try to pin ourselves down with simple nouns and labels.

I am 25 and have recently moved to Los Angeles. For a boy. I am a California girl, but still a Missouri girl inside. I care about work. It defines me. It's hard to be so responsible for the whole world because I was just a college student five minutes ago. But it's also intoxicating to be living my actual happily ever after. This is my REAL life. I know it.

Now I am single. Again. And 30. Which is normal in Los Angeles but wrong mostly everywhere else. I can't even imagine being married, but I know I am "supposed" to be. I don't know what is wrong with me. I pour myself into figuring myself out. I was a pharmaceutical salesperson. A runner. A friend, daughter and sister. I didn't know who I was.  For some reason I found it very confusing then because I didn't know many nouns to use to describe me but single.

Now I am a wife. I don't know what a wife is supposed to feel like but I know what it looks like. I think I'm supposed to decorate the house and go to the grocery store and clean and stuff. And I'm not really good at that stuff so I feel a little lost. Goodbye Chrissy Pratt- now I am someone new. My name isn't even the same. I don't want to be someone new.

Now I am a mom. I thought it would feel like smart and calm and maternal, but it feels like overwhelmed and scary and so so (SO) tired. When will I figure this out? Will I ever feel the right way a mom is supposed to feel? How will I go back to work? I don't know how to be career girl and mom girl. Can those even exist together?

When Greyson was a year we packed up our home in Los Angeles and moved to the Central Valley of California and this working girl traded in her high heels for flip flops. Again redefining myself. Throwing all my nouns out the window and starting over. Trying not to scrunch up my nose when calling myself a "stay at home mom." I thought it sounded so uncool. I'm a COOL stay at home mom, I decided and this was my happily ever after. I finally figured out who I was. No more noun changes.

What a joke- right? Life has changed a thousand times since then and so have my nouns.

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And I've rediscovered myself over and over again. I realized I've always been me and I've never really been lost. The only thing I've really discovered in the process of discovering who I am is realizing that my nouns are changing constantly. The things we love often change. The things that matter change. The way we spend our time changes. The places we live changes. Even our cells are constantly turning over and changing. We hunger for nouns to define us, but we as humans we are not easily pinned down by nouns. And if you are like me- you can drive yourself crazy trying. (Don't be like me).

I'm trying to go back to my baby roots. Less labels, introspection and black and white thinking and more feeling. There is one noun now that in my absolute favorite. One I will never ever let go of. One that always rides shot gun in the process of discovery- MOM. Not just a noun, but also a verb.

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He's so happy that sometimes he floats

Do you ever have moments- moments where a smell or a song or your bright red cheeks in the mirror shock you for a second. Yes, you think. This is me. I feel like ME right now. I forgot how good this felt. I forgot how this felt at all. Today I didn't feel a thing like me. It's actually been so long since I've had that feeling of recognizing me. There's been so much change lately that I didn't feel like I knew who I was. Today I was stuck in that black hole. I couldn't control it. I'm embarrassed to admit what set me off. Yesterday I got my hair done. And it turned out zebra stripey. And to fix it I had to go back and get more highlights and my hair is a lot lighter than I'm used to and I'm trying to get used to it. And every time I looked in the mirror I felt like I didn't even know who I was. Everything overwhelmed me. My life overwhelmed me. I blow dried my hair and sobbed. And friend- it felt like this awful feeling was my new forever. Like -I don't know if I can make it to bedtime so I really don't know how I am going to make it another 40 years doing this exact same life. And most of the day has been spent in this dark spot.

And I made myself write to sort this cluttery mind out. And as I start to reorganize my mind I feel myself climbing out of that black hole. The light hurts my eyes. I'm stretching my limbs out. I'm giving myself permission to simply feel. No labels required. Everything always changes, and that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

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We go to school ten minutes earlier than we used to so we can park and relax and take our time. He gets in the front seat and we watch the world whiz by. It's one of my favorite parts of the day. (MINUS THE GETTING UP EARLY PART).

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Jack the dog comes too.

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He happily walks into his classroom. He can not speak but he can certainly communicate and that tells me a lot.

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And his Teacher knows the way to my heart- information. We now have a communication journal to share information back and forth. Isn't this the best idea EVER!?

He's come so far and is doing so so good. See- sometimes change is the greatest thing ever.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Five Things About Autism I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Most of my grown up life already didn't look anything like I expected it to. And then along came autism and really flipped our world upside down. I heard so many different perspectives on autism from different professionals and parents: This is going to be so hard on your marriage. You are the only person who will advocate for your child. The world is full of judgement- people stare and comment on your parenting skills. Over and over I heard these exact same statements, so I accepted them as truth.

I was scared and depressed about how bleak the rest of our life clearly was going to be. I was frightened my sons would never know happiness. Scared my marriage would crumble from the stress. Scared of everything really. 

But now that our own life has unfolded, I realize that many of these truths do not have to apply to us, and the ones that do- that is not where we put our focus. Life is hard, yes-  but it is also too good and too short to miss out on all the blessings it holds. Here are five good things that people don't tell you about raising a child with autism.

You will realize just how good people can be. Our life is a journey and we have met so many wonderful people along the way. Caring, kind, patient people with extra love to give. Those who have been affected by autism and those who haven't but are willing to learn more. I've met so many teachers with so much passion they inspire me to want to change the world. Behavior Therapists who have been hit and kicked and screamed at again and again- and they still show up for work the next day with a smile on their face. They've taught us skills that we carry out at home that in turn have made my sons lives so much easier and happier. They rejoice over milestones and advocate for services right along side us.

We've met so many kind people that want to help. 

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Greyson, Parker and Frank

Even our garbage man is now a personal friend — he would text me before he got to our street because he knows how much my boys love the trash truck. People are good.

If people do stare when my son is having a meltdown- I don't pay any attention. I am more concerned with helping my son in those moments. I don't focus on the people who just don't get it. They are not worth any sacrifice of our precious happy.

Failure doesn't mean not doing it right- it means not even trying. I can't tell you how many times I've sacrificed awesome in the quest for perfect. And then feeling like I failed because something didn't go exactly as planned. I berate myself for the tiniest mistakes and the smallest of flaws. Why did you say that? Why didn't you do that? One day it hit me—what kind of message is this sending my sons? They are not perfect, yet I love them exactly for who they are. I love them even more for their human-ness. They get up every day and do so much out of their comfort zone. They try and try and keep trying- even when they aren't able to get it right. That isn't failure- that is INSPIRING and amazing and incredible. They have taught me that perfection is over-rated and failure isn't a lack of perfection- it's a lack of trying. I now try to offer myself the same grace that I extend to my boys. I want the world to love and accept my sons, and to do that, I must practice by loving and accepting myself — exactly the way I am. Now whenever I'm in unfamiliar territory and I don't want to do something I think- You can do this. If Greyson and Parker can move through this uncomfortable feeling- than so can you.

Everyone is going through something. I try my hardest not to compare the 'somethings,' because it's a terrible waste of energy with no good outcome. What's that? Oh, my life is harder? Okay, I win  or uh- lose then actually. Comparison is a game with no winner. Here's the deal- life isn't balanced or fair, and the sooner you accept that- the sooner you can move forward and seek happiness. Hard circumstance in life can open you up and make you softer to the world and to people suffering. Autism has grown my heart ten million times bigger. Now, when someone else is going through something hard in life, I try to reach out to him or her, and not be afraid to mention the word, whether it's death or cancer, divorce or autism. I've found an empathy for mankind that never before existed to this degree. We are all in this human thing together. There are so many ways we can inspire, share and connect, regardless of circumstances. We must pave the paths for those that walk with us and after us. If you focus too much on what isn't, you miss all the what is — and oftentimes, what amazing.

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Milestones feel like your own personal holiday. Like fireworks and Christmas and York Peppermint Patties and Disney Land and puppies and a million other good things rolled into one. They have the ability to make your whole day, week, month and sometimes year. YES- YEAR. I still SMILE when I think of the first time my son Greyson pooped on the potty or was first able to make a C sound and say "car". I realized early on that our family's milestones don't look like others, but that doesn't mean they aren't amazing. Sometimes I want to call them ten-milestones, because they arrive so infrequently. But because of that, every inch forward is celebrated in this house.  In fact, I might go so far as to say milestones are more amazing because they had to be fought for, earned and may have even taken forever.

Life doesn't have to be perfect to be amazing. This unexpected life also holds so much beauty. There is no parallel universe where everything is good and perfect and easy. When you visit that land of fiction in your imagination, it blocks you from being able to live and accept today. This is how your story goes, you have two choices, fight it or embrace it. I've done both, and fighting it takes too much energy. I'm going to screw up, I'm going to try things that don't work. I'm going to do 99 things to find the one thing that just might possibly be the home run. That's the path with autism, winding and weaving exactly how it is meant to be. My sons teach me to slow down. They help me notice so much beauty in the world. 

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They teach me the importance of hard work, taking breaks and never ever giving up. They make me believe that life can be amazing. Sometimes I still can't believe that God really gave them to me...I am so lucky.

When I meet new parents just starting out on their journey with autism, I tell them the good stuff. Because it exists. And I'm sure everyone else has already repeatedly told them the downsides, heartaches and difficulties. I just want to remind you that your life can still be amazing too. In life, happiness isn't a guarantee—but each one of us deserves to find it. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

paint the town

Less words, more pictures tonight. 

I've been fully immersed in life. Getting up early like a real grown up so we aren't totally scattered and chaotic in the morning as Greyson completes his first week at his new school. 

Grey's first week was amazing. I keep pinching myself. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I think this is it, and it's gooooood. Sometimes the first day is the hard, but usually it's the day AFTER the day that's the hardest. Like day one they are thinking- man, this place sucks. I can't wait to go home. And then you go back the second day and they FREAK OUT. Thinking- NOOO!!!! I already came here yesterday. I did this. I don't want to be here. But we didn't even have to get over that hump. Every day- he troops up into his classroom and fits right in.

Man, this kid is only five and he reminds me how life is done.

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He teaches me what is real.

You guys, I can't stop painting. The first room we did was our bedroom. And it's huge. And by the time we were done taping it off- I hated it. I wanted to keep it beige. And then we painted around the trim. And by the time that was done I SWORE we would never ever paint again. And it felt like it took DAYS to finish. Which it actually kind of did because I would work on it at night after the boys fell asleep. And it was awful. Awful awful.

And then we finished. And angels started to sing. And I think a bird even landed on my shoulder. And you could hear an actual harp. And the next day I woke up and had this weird feeling- like a craving. I felt like painting. I love that I don't think when I paint- I just paint. I get lost in not thinking and only painting. That's a HUGE blessing for this chronic over-thinker. While painting, the time passes so fast. I still hate taping and preparing the room- but not nearly as much. I just can't stop painting. And so painting and painting and painting we have done.

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This is my favorite paint color ever. Marina Isle by Behr. It reminds me exactly of the color of the life guard stands in Hermosa Beach- our home before we moved to the Central Valley of California.

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Our old home had so much natural light. Now I have to chase it and sometimes I forget. Today I am grateful because I remembered.

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Moroccan Sky and Pebble Gray. Gray is my favorite color, and second is rainbow. Does that count?

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The end. Happily ever after.

I like painting because it's like life. A small dose of color can turn something completely around. 

And I love painting because it's nothing like life. For the most part, I know what to expect when I paint. And there's a beginning and a middle and an end. And I can see the progress I am making and that is so motivating. And that happiness lasts each time I feel at ease in the room that I helped create.

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This afternoon Parker brought me my flip flop. And he bent down and put it on my foot. And then he ran and grabbed its match and put it down in front of me and said, "on". I was blown away. Of course we went right outside and chased the light together.

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Man, this kid. I love him so much that sometimes I miss him while he's still around. I know- it doesn't make sense. Or maybe it does. 

Okay- off to bed. Early to rise. Another day is ours to open and paint however we want. 


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

my little boat

My eyes pop open, wide as saucers.

It's black as ink out. I hear the comforting crunch of our down cover as I shift my position. I grab my phone and squint from the glow brighter than a spotlight on a stage. With one eye open I note the time: 5am. On the button. I debate getting up now. I use the restroom and nestle back in, tucking my now cold feet into the warm covers.

I take three deep breaths. I check the clock. 5:06. I flip on my side and scrunch my pillow up just right under my head. I flip back the opposite way and close my eyes. I check the clock. 5:14. And again, 5:26. I think good thoughts without words. Breathing. Ocean. White noise. Peace. Easy.

Check again. 5:42. I think of what I will do in order after waking up. Coffee. First coffee- it will get easier after that. I feel wide awake. I should get up now. Coffee, then shower. Then get the rest of the family up. 5:57. And then BAM.


The alarm goes off at 6:23 just like I set. I scientifically calculated the last second I had to wake up and I refuse to lose even a second of sleep. I'm confused for an instant. Not fully understanding that I fell back asleep. I remember what today is.

Greyson's first day of kindergarten. If our life was a TV show, the Rocky theme song would be playing. I wake up on adrenaline, hopeful, nervous. Excited. Exhausted. I get ready in a blur, pack his lunch, snack and back pack. I painfully repeatedly jostle him from sleeping and get him dressed. He is so mad at me for it all. We are not morning people. He wants to stay in bed. Me too.

Michael, Parker and I walk Grey into his classroom.

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I know he can do this. He always does. I feel at ease and nervous, all at the same time. Mostly at ease though. I've preparing all week for this (and all my life too).

I give his sweet Teacher this little guide to Greyson- and it makes me feel better.

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Things he loves, dislikes, language and strengths. Feel free to make one too.

I give Grey a warning: In two minutes Mom and Dad are leaving and you are going to stay here at school. I will come back to get you in a few hours. And he held onto me tightly. After a pause, I slowly peel his arms off one by one. I take on a tone dripping with false confidence. It's time for me to go- you are going to do amazing today. I'm proud of you. And I ripped off the band aid and walked out.

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I let him sail. (thank you for this picture, Heather!)

I went home and two of my girlfriends came over bearing chocolate cookies- and coffee. And suddenly after an hour this awful feeling hit me- Grey is at kindergarten. And then this wonderful feeling hits me- and I totally forgot about it until right this second. God love chocolate, laughing and girlfriends. And that was the last I thought of it and suddenly it was already time to pick him up.

He did amazing. Like you have to say it like Oprah- Greyson Kelly did AMAAAAZING... Yes, that good.

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He was really ready to come home.

Typically developing children learn language, play and social skills from the World around them. They pick up on things naturally. Children on the autism spectrum do not learn easily from their environment. They have the potential to "learn how to learn" but it takes a very structured environment where conditions are optimized for acquiring the same skills typical children learn naturally.

Children in autism classrooms are taught in a very different way versus typical classrooms. It's based on repetition and frequent reward and is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is using environmental set ups and consequences to shape or teach any skill or appropriate behavior. Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward or positive reinforcement, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Same for us typical folks- right? If we get paid, if we are told, GREAT JOB!, if we are rewarded for an action, we are more likely to repeat that action.

I made a box of reinforcers to send with Grey to school tomorrow.

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I got to be all Type A which makes me giddy. Many teachers in the autism classroom request reinforcers brought in by parents because no one knows your child- and what makes them tick better than you! It's up to me to make sure they are highly engaging. And it's up to the teacher to request new items when they run out or no longer have power. 

Some of Grey's things in his box: anything with wheels, things that spin or light up, chocolate, marshmallows, bubbles, Swedish fish, sensory things (hard, bumpy, soft, squeezy), gum, red suckers and Pop chips.

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As I was putting his box together I suddenly hear something... Silence. And I turn and see this.

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He works so hard... I'll let him stay safe in the harbor tonight.

Monday, February 9, 2015

letting go

Thirty minutes of pushing and his red and wet little wrinkled body was placed into my arms. He was the most magical of wands that turned me into a Mom. I couldn't believe the whole wide world could fit inside of 7lbs.

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And now he is five. 

SNAP. Just like that. And I don't know how people do it- give their child to the world. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. First, when I went back to work from the time he was 4 months old until he was a year. Then when he was three and he started preschool. And now tears drop onto my keyboard as I write, on the eve of his first day of kindergarten. It goes so fast that we are left with whip lash, mommas. But we let go. And we pray we have done enough to help them make the right choices. And survive. And even create their own flavor of happy. We pray the people around them not only treat them kindly- but celebrate their gifts as we do. 

And I'm not good at it at all. Taking my most prized gift and sharing it. I don't even like to share my nachos.

His short life flashes before my eyes. His blue eyes. The moments he looks into my eyes and I'm certain clocks everywhere stop ticking.
I'm so lucky.
I'm so sad.
I'm so blessed.

I will miss the greatest little adventure God has given me. Every day I will say goodbye and wait patiently for our hello. (And maybe workout shop a bit in between.)

I squash the additional fears that I can't deny special needs brings to my mind. Will others be kind to him? Will he get hurt? The preschool we took him out of left him with two bite marks and a black eye. Will he regress? Will the teachers know how to work it so he pays attention and learns? Or will they give up and just check the boxes? Will he be okay- because he can't tell me in words if he isn't. Will he learn what he needs to to survive when I die? There are no typical report cards by which he is measured. There is no science and math and history. They are trying to teach him a million ways to simply understand and exist in this world.

I take my foot and smash them all deep into the trash can of "shitty thoughts that benefit no one." Because they don't. They don't help Grey or me. In fact- they have they ability to hold him back and to suffocate me. 

Today is over, and we soaked up every last drop. 

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We had a cherished visit with Frank.

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I hugged him for me and for all of you that tell me you wish you could. 

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And he got to be a little boy. 

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Sometimes when I get a massage I ruin it by thinking "Man, this feels so good. I needed this. I wonder how much time has gone by. I bet it's going to be over soon. I'm going to be so sad when it's over. I wonder how much time I have left now?" I don't want to do that with Moming and with life. I will stop thinking about how fast it's going by and I will just relax and enjoy.

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I look to Grey to show me how it's done. Getting dirty and being cool with it. Letting go. Trying things that feel impossible. Trying my best every damn day. Showing up and letting God control the rest. So okay, God. As you know his umbilical chord was never cut- it's just stretched. 
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Here he is- my gift. You know what you are doing. Please take extra special care of him while I send him out into the world.

So much love it hurts sometimes,