Faith in Practice

I was blessed with the opportunity to model faith for my children today; and to teach them how to put their faith into practice as well.

We had to go to LegoFan’s Anxiety Disorder Group this afternoon. I had very little money in my account and needed gasoline in order to make it to the group. I left a little early and put $5 in the tank, and this should have brought up my available mileage up to about 35 miles. Knowing I didn’t have much more money and that it was only about 10 miles to the doctor’s, I set out.

However, I didn’t notice that my available miles never changed. When I got back in the car to return home, my available miles read 8. I’ll be honest that my initial reaction was one of a little panic because I thought I somehow didn’t get the gasoline I paid for. But I took some deep breaths – learned that from Anxiety Disorder Group – and started to pray. There were more miles between me and home than there were in my tank, with no gas stations in between.

LegoFan started to get very worried and was counting down the miles for me from the backseat – isn’t he helpful? Diva began to ask what would happen if we ran out of gas? Did I mention that it was cold and raining? I calmly told them how we would handle it if the car ran out of gas, and then I suggested that everyone pray.

I told them that Jesus could get us home. That we needed to have faith. I began to remember how long the oil lasted for the Israelites. I began to repeat to myself that I had faith and that I knew that Jesus would bring us home.

At each major milestone, we gave thanks. We made it around the Beltway – Praise God! We made it to the next stop light – Praise God! We made it to the final stop light before home, at which intersection there was a gas station – Praise God! The light was red, so I pulled out my phone and checked the balance on my account. I had $6.99 left. I was able to pull into the gas station and put $6 in the tank. We had made it.

But when I pulled out of the gas station, the available miles still read zero. I began to play with the buttons and eventually the available miles came around again, and it was 68 miles, more miles than should have been added when I put the $6 in the tank…

God is good – All the time! All the time – God is good!

Today was a great lesson in faith; and in modeling that faith for my children. Not only do I thank God for making it to the gas station, but I thank God for the opportunity (and ability!) to show my children where to turn in such situations. Thank you, Jesus!

Jesus

Answer Me This #1

Starting to get a hang of this link-up thing! I’ll get to more of my own posts soon, I promise!

This is week one of Kendra’s Answer Me This Link-Up – Yay!

Answer Me This

 

In this Link-Up, Kendra asks a few questions, and we answer them – simple as that! So, here goes:

1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass?

I am a night owl, so getting up for an early Mass is just not in the cards at this house! Our current Mass time is 11 am, and I think that’s perfect for us.

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

The logical answer would be cold, because you can always put something else on. You can’t always take something else off… However, I hate being cold. Really, really, hate being cold. So I guess I’m going to have to defy logic and say I’d rather be too hot.

3. How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I have one of each biologically, and I am the oldest. My sister followed me, and my brother brings up the rear. We are very different, but I love them both dearly. I also have two brothers and one sister by marriage. And I’m still the oldest. The next in order of age would be my step-brother; however, he dies a few years back. My other brother and sister are twins, and they were born the year I graduated from high school. Ok, now I feel old! Next!

4. If you were faced with a bogart, what would it turn into?

Ya know, I’m really not sure on this one. I think it could take one of several forms. A big hairy spider might be one… Or maybe Big Brother?

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Definitely a thumbs down for me. I don’t see how Barbie gives our girls any sense of what it means to be a woman. I do see how unrealistic she is; and how her image gives our girls unrealistic expectations. Diva and I both love the American Girl dolls. Even better are the Saint Dolls from Behold Publications (Ecce Homo Press), I think. She has the St. Therese doll.

St. Therese Doll

 

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you tell them?

I would say that love is a verb. It is an action, not a feeling. This is something I wish I had known several years ago; it would have saved me a lot of heartache.

We need to make the decision to love people every day, in both word and deed.

So that wraps it up for Week One of Answer Me This. Head on over to Catholic All Year to read answers from Kendra and her readers!

7 Quick Takes #2

— 1 —

Confession. Reconciliation. Penance. Good things happen there. Especially when you ask God to help you make a good, honest confession. Something enters your mind that you hadn’t considered mentioning. Apparently God had something to tell me.

God nudged me this afternoon; and, believe it or not, this post is part of it.

Crucifix

— 2 —

Psalm 41: 10-14 ~ (10) Even the friend who had my trust, who shared my table, has scorned me. (11) But you, Lord, have mercy and raise me up that I may repay them as they deserve. (12) By this I know you are pleased with me, that my enemy no longer jeers at me. (13) For my integrity you have supported me and let me stand in your presence forever. (14) Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, from all eternity and forever. Amen. Amen.

Someone whom I trusted hurt me. A lot. This someone still jeers at me. A lot.

When I first read this, I looked at verse 11 and thought it sounded a lot like revenge. However, perhaps it means something a little different. Perhaps it is more about my attitude and outlook. When the Lord has mercy on me and raises me up, that in itself is the repayment this person deserves, in that I am not controlled by that person’s hurts and jeers.

I think there is a secular saying about this: Living well is the best revenge. I don’t wish revenge on this person; however, I do wish to live well. And it is by God’s grace and mercy, as well as my integrity, that I shall.

Decoupage Cross

— 3 —

Legofan saw his pediatrician this week, who was pleased with how well he is doing. He warned me to expect growth of approximately four inches over the next year. Ummm… can we do that all in the summer time so that the length of his pants doesn’t matter??? He’s already coming close to looking me in the eye. How bad does a 40-something year old woman look in these?

High Heel Boot from JustFab.com

— 4 —

One of the things I’ve been doing for LegoFan is giving him Plexus Slim and ProBio5

I actually signed up with the company so I could get the products at wholesale. The ProBio5 is a probiotic, which many doctors suggest for kids on the spectrum. The Slim was actually designed for diabetics, but has improved the lives of many by helping them get off various medications.*

*(Standard disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I cannot diagnose, prescribe, or treat anything. If you are interested in these products, not only will I make a commission, but I would suggest you talk to your doctor before using them. I am only sharing our experiences with them.)

LegoFan has shown some incredible improvements after using these two. In general, he has become more compliant and less argumentative. He has allowed himself to step out of his comfort zone and actually talk to people. And his art has improved! He used to rush through art and barely follow the directions. Now he takes his time and actually puts details into his creations. I love these positive changes we are seeing!

Bowling

— 5 —

Diva has been amazing me with her creativity and sewing ability. She watched a video about how to sew one of the Mario characters out of felt. This video came with a template and she set out to make it. Ever since then, she has been designing her own patterns! She has made Captain Toad, Waccas (your guess is as good as mine!), Benny the 80s Spacesuit Guy and a Micromanager from the LEGO Movie, and the Unknown (don’t ask me which one) from Pokemon. Most recently, she has designed a princess doll, but she’s not finished with this yet, so I don’t have any pictures. This girl is amazing!

LEGO Movie Benny
Sew - Captain Toad
Sew - Micromanager
Sew - Waccas

— 6 —

For me, I am loving that spring is finally here! Despite allergies, I am enjoying having the door open in the house, and the windows down as we drive. Flowers and trees are starting to bloom, and even parts of the city are starting to look pretty.

Flower Up Close

Rose

— 7 —

April is the month for Autism. Given that LegoFan is on the spectrum, and I run four different businesses, I decided to team up with some other vendors to do a fundraiser for an amazing group called Pathfinders for Autism.

LegoFan has benefited directly from their services, and we just love the ladies associated with Pathfinders! To that end, I am donating a percentage of my profits from all of my businesses to Pathfinders this month! So, if you are in the market for…

Hair Jewelry from Lilla Rose

Hair Jewelry from Lilla Rose

Personalized Jewelry from Origami Owl

Personalized Jewelry from Origami Owl

Health & Wellness products from Plexus

Health & Wellness products from Plexus

Essential Oils from Young Living

Essential Oils from Young Living

… please click on the photos and they will take you to my sites. You can order directly from there, and then come back and post your order number in the comments (I can delete order numbers so they don’t stay on the blog). That way I can track things and make my donations accordingly.

* Just in case I wasn’t clear, the links will take you to my websites, where I will make a commission off each sale. In this case, your purchases will not only help me keep my kids home, but they will also help a worthwhile organization, Pathfinders for Autism. Thank you for helping us!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Get-To-Know Me Post

Kendra from Catholic All Year “tagged” her readers to answer several questions, so here goes…

1. Where do you live? And why do you live there?

I live in Maryland. I guess you could say I live here because of my parents. We were living in Connecticut, when my father retired from the Navy. He got another job that ended up transferring us to Maryland in 1982. I’ve been here ever since. I would actually like to move out of Maryland, but I am legally bound to stay for a while. As much as I would like to move, I do love all the history that is here; especially the Catholic history. We are also relatively close to both the mountains and the ocean; and we have some incredible farm lands. Despite its problems, Maryland is a beautiful state.

Fall GlorySunset on the Water

2. What are you currently watching and/or reading?

I am currently watching the NCAA March Madness Tournament – my brackets are busted, but I’d be happy with either UCONN or Florida winning. The kids and I have started watching the Dr. Who tv series and are through the first three seasons. As for reading, we are reading through the book of Leviticus as well as Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

3. What kind of Catholic are you: cradle, or convert? (Or considering?)

I am a cradle Catholic. However, I don’t think I really had an appreciation for the faith until I started to teach my children. And this deepened even further when I went through my divorce.

4. Can you point to one moment or experience that made you a practicing Catholic? (Or want to be?)

In college, I was known as “the girl who went to church,” which was great, but I would party every weekend and wasn’t really living it. However, when I started teaching my children, we listened to Jeff Cavins’ Bible Timeline Adventure - I learned so much about the Catholic faith that I had either forgotten or never knew. It was at that time I decided to make a more conscious effort to raise my children to live out their faith, not just go to church.

5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Let’s see: a pair of tennis shoes, a pair of flat suede boots, and a pair of heeled boots that are falling apart. And there’s my Christmas Shoes.  Remember this song?

This has always been Diva’s favorite Christmas song. So a couple years ago, she went out and bought me a pair of glittery gold, sequined shoes so she could be like the boy in the song. The shoes didn’t fit and we went back to get a larger size. But they didn’t have a larger one. So we looked around together. She saw these rain/snow boots and had me try them on. We actually tried on two different pairs, but we got the pair that she (and I) liked the best…

Christmas Boots

I guess that means I have four pairs of shoes/boots.

6. Are you a good dancer?

Wow, I’m not sure about this one. If I was still in my 20s I’d answer a firm “Yes!” However, I haven’t danced for about 14 years. I’ve taken Swing dance lessons and I’d like to learn other kinds of dancing; but right now I have no dance partner. Alas, the answer to this question will have to wait.

7. Who usually drives, you or your husband?

Well, since I am a single mom, I have no choice. I’m the one and only driver in this family. If I was married, I would prefer that he do the driving and I do the passengering.

8. What’s your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Christmas is my favorite! First, we keep Christ in Christmas. We love the music and the lights of the season. We love the giving. We love trees, train gardens, and Christmas villages.

We have participated in Holy Heroes Advent Adventure, done Jesse Trees, baked cookies for everyone we can think of, bought presents for under the Giving Tree, and more. It’s such a wondrous and wonderful time of year.

Jesse Tree

9. Which is correct? Left or right?

Toilet-Paper-Over-Under

The left. Definitely. I will change it if you put it the other way…

10. Do you have any scars?

I assume we are talking about visible scars here… And I have a few. I have one really big one from my two c-sections and subsequent hysterectomy. I have another one on the bottom of my foot from when I was a kid and went fishing. Barefoot. I slipped on a rock and sliced my foot. Then there was the time I fell off my bike and had the kickstand go into my calf. Sorry, no photos, next question…

11. What’s the most famous thing you’ve ever done?

Since Kendra broke the rules altered the number of things, I’m going to go rogue and list two here. First, when I was in high school, our marching unit was selected as Maryland’s sole representative to the Inaugural Parade of Ronald Reagan in 1985. It was too cold that year and the parade was cancelled. President Reagan arranged for all the parade participants to come to the arena in Landover, MD; and we all got to hear him speak. My one regret is that I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have.

GHS Silks

And my other claim to fame is being an extra on the show Homicide: Life on the Street. This show was filmed in Baltimore and I was blessed to be an extra on one episode where a priest or two were murdered. I got to be a mourner at the funeral. In fact, I had to tell the person in charge that a Catholic would genuflect before entering the pew. He told me I should add that then, but it ended up on the cutting room floor. I was in Season 6, and I think the episode was called Something Sacred.

Thanks, Kendra, for including all of us in your award! It was fun!

7 Quick Takes: My First Post

— 1 —

I’ve been seeing these posts linked to Jen’s Conversion Diary for a while now, and one of my goals for 2014 was to start participating in more of these link-ups. Heck, my main goal was to give myself the proverbial kick-in-the-behind to start posting on a regular basis. So here we begin…

— 2 —

The kids made it through most of the Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics. It was great to see them discover country names that they’d never heard of before. They compared flags and outfits. Ok, really only Diva made comments on the outfits. LegoFan could care less. I am looking forward to watching the events with them over the next several days.

— 3 —

Today, we ended our school day early in order to attend one of the opening showings of The LEGO Movie. I’m not a movie reviewer and I probably don’t pay attention to some of the details I probably should, but I have to say that – for me – this movie was worth attending. Some of it was, of course, predictable. But I must say that I like the theme of working together as a team. Even now, I can still hear the theme song in my head: “Everything is Awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team.” But I think the best part of it was spending time having fun with my children and seeing them enjoying themselves.

— 4 —

Another goal for myself this year was to improve my health. To that end, I decided to start taking Plexus Slim and Bio Cleanse in an effort to get healthier and lose weight. Tomorrow will be 30 days since I began and I get to weigh myself and take my measurements. But I have to say that I have already seen some great results in how I feel!

— 5 —

This week starts a busy season for us. LegoFan begins a group for children with Anxiety Disorder. It’s an experimental group, and if successful, the results will be used for training others in how to treat Anxiety Disorder. It could prove to be a very positive experience for both him and I.

— 6 —

Diva will also be starting a group this week. She is really looking forward to this, and has been for quite some time. Her group is for siblings of those on the Autism Spectrum. She will get to meet with some other girls who also have brothers on the Spectrum, and it will be led my two women who also have brothers on the Spectrum. I am so happy that she finally has the opportunity to learn some strategies for dealing with all that ASD has brought into our lives, and that she will get to be with other girls who are also experiencing similar things.

— 7 —

Wow, for my first Quick Takes post, it sure took a long time to write! But I must confess that Downton Abbey was on in the background, and I was a bit distracted. However, I look forward to participating again, perhaps with less distraction.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

* Links to Plexus will take you to my business page, where I hope to make a little money to help keep my babies home with me. It’s one of the ways, I, as a single mom, can earn a living so I can continue to homeschool them. I thank you for your support.

Valentine Bottles

Valentine Bottles

I made this sweet Valentine’s gift last year for a friend who really likes M&Ms. I have seen a few versions of this type around Pinterest, but I thought I’d share my take on it so you can make your own for this Valentine’s Day. It’s coming up soon!

Materials:

  • Four or Six pack of bottles – just make sure the mouth is wide enough for what you want to put inside the bottles.
  • Decorative craft paper – any style that your recipient will like. I used four different patterns, but you can use as many or as few as you would like. *Note: I used a cardstock thickness. If I were to do this again, I would use a thinner paper so that it’s easier to adhere to the bottles.
  • Adhesive – I used a clear, double-sided adhesive. I didn’t worry too much about it because once the bottles were filled, you couldn’t see anything anyway.
  • Something to fill the bottles – candy, snacks, notes, sky’s the limit – well actually you are limited by the width of the mouth of the bottle…
  • Miscellaneous supplies: scoring mat and bone folder, die cut machine and dies, rubber stamps and ink, punches, any other decorative items you may like.

For this project you do need to go shopping a little bit early so you can get the bottles you need and drink the contents – that’s the yummy part for you! Once the bottles are empty, you will need to wash and dry them thoroughly. You will also need to remove the labels. If there is a label around the neck, try to get one of them to come off in one piece and save it to make a template. Don’t forget to save the cardboard container they came in, you’ll need it to hold all the bottles when you’re done.

The first step is to cover the cardboard holder. I placed mine sideways on the paper I selected and used it to measure the sides. I chose to cut four panels and adhere them, but you could just cut one long piece and wrap it in place, adhering as you go.

Lay the box down and measure the sides.

Lay the box down and measure the sides.

One side covered, on to the second side.

One side covered, on to the second side.

I even covered the bottom with a solid color.

I even covered the bottom with a solid color.

Now, I didn’t measure as well as I had thought – surprise, surprise! So I had a few gaps. I decided to add a folded strip to each corner to account for that, and fix some of the edges.

Gasp in my measuring.

Gasp in my measuring.

Here's one of the corners I made - creased down the center to equally cover both sides.

Here’s one of the corners I made – creased down the center to equally cover both sides.

Here's a view from the other side.

Here’s a view from the other side.

Now the edges look much better!

Now the edges look much better!

For the handle, I measured the height and cut a strip of paper to go around it on both sides. Next, I folded it around the sides to get creases. That way I could figure out where the hole in the handle should go. Then I just traced the hole onto my paper, cut it out, and adhered it to the handle part of the  box.

Tracing on the paper for the handle.

Tracing on the paper for the handle.

All cut out!

All cut out!

Adhered to the handle.

Adhered to the handle.

Another view of the finished handle.

Another view of the finished handle.

Now it’s time to pretty up the bottles! I apologize, in advance, for the blurriness of the next two photos, but I wanted to show you what I originally used. I could not find a link to this particular stack, but I found this paper (all the papers I used on this project actually came from the same stack) in a stack by DCWV. I love their stacks! It may actually be an addiction now… Anywhoo, I chose this paper because of the lines and thought they would look nice around the center of the bottle. I cut off the pink outsides, and left the cream-colored inside. Then I cut it into four strips long enough to go around the center of the bottles.

Original sheet of paper.

Original sheet of paper.

Now cut into four strips - one for each bottle.

Now cut into four strips – one for each bottle.

One by one, I took each strip and wrapped it around each bottle. Here is where a thinner style paper definitely would have come in handy. It took several attempts with different types of adhesive to get the thicker paper to stay put. But my perseverance paid off and they really looked good.

Strip wrapped around the center of the bottle.

Strip wrapped around the center of the bottle.

Now this next step may be a little tricky. I was fortunate to have the top label of the bottle come off very easily and in one piece. Because of this, I was able to trace it and make four identical wraps. Where this gets tricky is if yours doesn’t come off in one piece and your bottle is wider at the bottom than it is at the top. If you have to create something from scratch, keep in mind the the curve at the top will be shorter than the curve at the bottom in order to get it to wrap smoothly. I hope that makes sense. I apologize, but I don’t have a picture of the original template to show you what I mean.

 

View of the neck wrap.

View of the neck wrap.

Another view of the neck wrap.

Another view of the neck wrap.

Since the bottle cap had the soda’s logo on it, I decided to cover that up too. I took a circle punch that was about the same size as the cap and punched out a piece of black paper. Then I took a smaller punch and cut another circle out of matching pink paper and adhered them to the top. If you don’t have a punch that’s the right size, you can always turn the cap over and trace it.

Cap topped.

Cap topped.

Here are a few views of the finished bottles:

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Finished Bottles

Now, I thought the bottles looked a little plain. So I took my die cut machine and a label die from Papertrey Ink and cut out four small labels, one for the front of each bottle. Then I stamped a saying on each one and adhered them to the fronts of the bottles.

Bottles with labels.

Bottles with labels.

Now comes the really fun (and delicious) part! Fill each bottle with your treat of choice. I was lucky enough to fill the bottles and have some M&Ms left over. Who am I to waste?

All filled and decked out!

All filled and decked out!

Now they are all ready to give to your sweetheart, your kids, or your best friend! While this one was created for Valentine’s Day, you could make it for any holiday or ‘just because’ – just change up the paper to match the occasion!

Have you ever made something like these? I would love to see your version!

 * This post is linked to: Homemaker’s Challenge and Growing Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed

Blessed

For a few years now, I’ve been reading people’s “One Word” posts. I even wanted to select a word for myself. But last year, I had three words I liked and I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. So I did what any sensible person would do…

I just gave up on the idea.

Ok, not so sensible. But this year, as soon as I remembered the “One Word” idea, my word was there for me. There was no hemming and hawing. No deciding. It was just there.

BLESSED

Apparently I’ve been having too many pity parties over the last few months. Or maybe I just need to be reminded that, despite my current circumstances, I truly am blessed.

With this being 2014, I thought I’d kick off this year of the BLESSED with 14 blessings I can count in my life right now:

  1. My God ~ My Faith ~ My Salvation – This wonderful God blessed me with the gift of His Son; and, thus, the gift of salvation. This Son, Jesus, died for me, so that I might live. This photo is of my Origami Owl locket. In it is a plate that is stamped ‘Blessed,’ the word ‘Love,” and a cross – all to remind me of the love my God has for me!  Blessed Locket, Origami Owl
  2. LegoFan – I’m listing him first, not because he’s loved more than his sister, but because he was born first. LegoFan has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, as well as a host of other things. He has taught me some much-needed patience. He has shown me true joy. I am blessed to know him and to be his Mama.  LegoFan Ornament
  3. Diva – Obviously, she was born second. She is developing into a beautiful young lady. She has brought femininity back into my life. She has humbled me. I am blessed to know her and to be her Mama.  Diva Ornament
  4. My Mother – I don’t have a photo she’d be happy with me posting, so this will just be text. My mother is one of the few family members who truly supports me in my endeavors to continue homeschooling the children, despite being a single parent. She has supported my decision in word and deed. I am so blessed to have her in my life and to know that she supports us.
  5. A Place to Live – We are not currently living in a place I would choose to live. But, my children have a safe place to be, play, and learn. We have a place that is warm and shelters us from the elements. We have something soft under our heads when we sleep at night. We are blessed to have somewhere to be each day. A Place To Live
  6. A Car to Drive – Earlier in 2013, my car was a mess. It had dents, a crack in the windshield, a hole in the floor from the driver’s heel, and had parts falling off of it. The worst thing? Two windows wouldn’t stay up and there was no heat. Then the brakes went out… It was time to send it to the auto graveyard. So I looked for used cars. I set my budget and was determined to stick to it. I made a list of cars available at a few different dealers in the area and we set out to look. We had struck out at most of the dealers and there were only two left. We drove onto the lot and were a little disappointed in this little lot with some broken down cars and a trailer for an office. They didn’t have the car I came there to see. But being the good salesman he was, the employee told me he had a few cars come in the night before that had not yet been advertised. He showed me one, but it wasn’t what we needed. Then he showed me another one. It would not have been my first choice, or even my 10th probably, but I gave it a chance. It was $500 less than my budget, that was a good start. He gave me the VIN and told me I could go run a CARFAX on it. I got on my computer and researched the make and model only to discover that it was one of the better made cars out there. I ran the CARFAX to discover that this car had no accidents or any other problems reported in its history. It seemed like this car was supposed to be for me. After I bought it I realized that I had asked God for something safe and reliable; and He delivered. But not only that, like Solomon asking for the right thing in Wisdom and getting more than he asked for; I, too, got more than I asked for. I got some features I’d only dreamed about having! I am very blessed to have been directed to this car; and it has grown on me too! A Car To Drive
  7. Food to Eat – Food has been something of a struggle for us. LegoFan has battled food allergies all of his life, and each time he’s tested, we find something new. This past year, we ended up going gluten-free, and change is not always easy. But we have found things to like, and new ways to prepare some of our favorite foods. It’s a journey. But we have food, and we are able to prepare and enjoy good things to eat. We are blessed to have our daily bread! Gluten-Free French Toast
  8. Clothes to Wear – I am definitely not a fashionista, and I’ve had a love-hate relationship with clothing over the years! So right now, my wardrobe consists of jeans and t-shirts. It’s not where I want to be, as I’d like to feel a bit more feminine most of the time. But I have something to wear. My children have things to wear. My mother sometimes picks things up for them too. And then there’s the time when I found jeans for LegoFan for $2.67 and blouses for Diva at $2 – what blessings! Then Cammie over at A Woman’s Place posted about her thrifty find called thredup. I went over there and found a treasure-trove of dresses for Diva at great prices (if you go over there via my link, you will get $10 off your first order with them, and so will I). We are truly blessed to have such clothing to wear. "New" Dresses
  9. Homeschooling – I love this blessing! To be able to be such an integral part of my children’s education is amazing. I get to see the light bulb go on when they figure out something new. I got to be the one to not only teach them how to read, but also the one to show them the joys of a good book. I was privileged to be there with Diva as she struggled through long division and came out victorious. I am able to encourage LegoFan as he tries to find ways to communicate his knowledge, even if they are a bit unconventional. It’s a road we travel together; one in which we learn and grow together as well. I am blessed with the freedom and ability to be my children’s teacher. Science Experiment
  10. The Internet – I know, this can be a blessing and a curse. It is both to me sometimes. But coming from the perspective of blessings, I have been reunited with friends from college, high school, and even elementary school through facebook. I have had the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals through twitter and facebook. I have the chance to write, explore my thoughts, and share parts of my life via this blog. I have found deals to save money on things we need, as well as ways to earn a little money. I have ‘met’ several wonderful ladies through blogs and homeschool groups. I am blessed by what I have chosen to use on the internet, and what it has to offer.
  11. My Plexus business – I recently decided to join Plexus to help improve my health and to help me earn a living to take care of my babies. This company is dedicated to natural ways to get your body in tip-top shape. Their most notable product is Plexus Slim and I just started taking it. I guess I will have to post before and after photos along this journey.  I am blessed to be in business for myself with a company that helps to improve others’ health.plexus_slim
  12. My Origami Owl Business – This was the first business I really joined. I fell in love with the concept of Living Lockets – I loved being able to design and re-design my own jewelry, and that it told my story! And it’s just plain fun – fun to wear and fun to present! I am blessed to be in a business that is fun and prides itself on being a “Force for Good.” Locket - Heart-Shaped
  13. My Lilla Rose Business – I just love my Lilla Rose business. I ended up joining Lilla Rose at roughly the same time as Origami Owl – and it wasn’t planned that way! Lilla Rose has the most beautiful hair accessories – I call it Hair Jewelry! But it’s not just that they’re beautiful, they actually hold my hair! All of it. All day. And NO headaches! But I got something else when I joined Lilla Rose: I got a Lilla Rose family! We have a group on facebook that is so supportive and encouraging, that it’s impossible not to succeed. I am very blessed to be a part of this company, to be able to wear these lovely products in my hair, and to be a part of the Lilla Rose family. Lilla Rose Flexi Clip
  14. God’s Majesty – God sends reminders of His blessings constantly. Sometimes it just takes me longer to see them. But they’re always there. God is the Master Artist and there is just so much beauty in His world. God’s Majesty fills me with awe. I am blessed to live in a world with so many beautiful sights, that He provides them for my (and your) enjoyment!

Fall GlorySunset on the WaterFlower Up Close

As this year continues forward, I know there will be difficult times. I know there will be days that I have a hard time remembering to be grateful. This post will serve as a reminder ~ and permanent record ~ that I have a lot for which to be grateful.

I am truly blessed!

What is your word for this year? If you’ve written a post about it, feel free to share a link in the comments.

* Disclaimer: Most of the links in this post are for my businesses, one is an affiliate link. All are ways to help me help my family. I am a single parent trying to keep my babies home and take care of them in the way I feel God wants me to. If you click on the links and make a purchase, you will be helping us, and I will be grateful.

This Is Autism

I first read about Suzanne Wright’s op-ed when I read John Elder Robison’s resignation from Autism Speaks. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, and I applaud Mr. Robison’s strength of character.

Her words included: “despair” ~ “fear” ~ “depleted”

I read that my exhaustion is going to make me ill and become broken, leaving my child with no one to care for him.

That may be the way that Suzanne Wright feels about people with autism, but it’s not how I feel about my son. I feel Blessed!

Locket - Autism

And I’m a single mother. And I have a son on the Autism Spectrum.

LegoFan BDay

I may be tired at the end of each day, but I am far from ill and broken. I do not live in despair. I am not depleted.

Driving Range

But there was a time when I lived in fear… It was when I was reading all books written by so-called experts. Like Cammie over at A Woman’s Place, I now focus on my own experiences and that of actual mothers & adults who live with autism day-in and day-out. They paint a much more realistic picture. This is where I read about things like:

“Hope” ~ “Love” ~ “Delight” ~ “Laughter” ~ “Intelligence” ~ “Break Throughs” ~ “Accomplishments” ~ “Amazing”

Cheer

When LegoFan was first diagnosed, I was told there was a possibility he would never leave home and probably never hold a job. I no longer believe that; however, even if it’s true I’d be happy to have him.

Comforting

LegoFan is truly delightful! Our house is never dull. In fact it is the complete opposite! It is full of life, smiles, laughter, and activity.

Bowling

Cammie mentions a cure in her post and it’s something I’ve thought about before. In fact, I told a friend, shortly after LegoFan’s diagnosis, that if someone appeared on my doorstep with a magic pill that would “cure” his autism, I didn’t think I’d take it. The caveat to this is that if it would truly improve his quality of life, I might consider it. But at what cost? LegoFan’s contributions to our family are not something I’d like to live without. He is amazingly smart; he remembers things I forget, and he has an incredible way if making a room brighter just by entering it. His heart is huge; and his love is immeasurable.

Allergy - LegoFan

Ok, let me be real for you here. It’s not easy. It is challenging. I have my difficult days. In addition to being a single mom, I home school my children. So I am with LegoFan all day, every day. I am the only one who coordinates his meds and his appointments. I’m the only one who drives him to doctors and groups. So, yes, I am tired. But would I say I’m exhausted to the point of being ill or broken? Most certainly not.

Curiosity

Would I trade my LegoFan for anything? Hmmm…

Back To School 2013

What do you think?

Davidson Family Fundraiser

If you have not already heard, the Davidson family of Little Flowers Family Press lost everything recently in a devastating fire.  You can learn more about the details at the following links (the first is from Rita Davidson herself):

Little Flowers Family Press Blog

News Coverage

Local Story

Here is a facebook page that has been set up for their family – please ‘like’ it: Facebook Page

Three of the four Davidson boys are autistic, as is LegoFan. I know how difficult change is for children on the spectrum. This complete change in their way of life must be wreaking havoc in their young lives in ways many of us cannot understand.

I would like to help the Davidson family, but I am not in a financial position to do so. Last night I had an idea to use my direct sales businesses to help. While I admit it may not be much, I would like to donate 20% of my sales from Lilla Rose and Origami Owl so I have set up a party in each of them. If you are interested in helping in this way, please click on the links and follow the directions below. Most importantly, this family needs your prayers. Please join me in praying for them.

Origami Owl

Locket - AutismLocket - Forever FamilyLocket - FootprintsLocket - Grandma

 

To order Origami Owl Jewelry, please go to my website here. When your order is complete, proceed to check out. On that screen, there will be a section called “Party Information” where there will be a dropdown menu. Please select Little Flowers Family Press as your party then complete your order. What you order will be shipped shortly after payment.

Lilla Rose

FOTM Aug 2013 Tidepool Treasures 4Lilla Rose Accessories CollageLilla Rose Badge Clip CollageLilla Rose Collage

 

To order Lilla Rose Hair Accessories, please go to my website here and place your order. This is a party-specific link so your order will automatically be calculated toward the Davidsons’ total. Any order you place through this link will not ship until I close out the party (which I was planning to keep open until the end of September). However, if you would like your order to ship prior to that I have a way to do it, Please just leave me a comment and I will contact you.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section and I will answer them for you.  Also, please share this with anyone you think might want to help. Thank you, in advance, for helping this family and offering them a little hope.

for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Our Gluten Free Journey – Prologue

Today marks the end of a full month on a gluten free diet. We see the allergist tomorrow to find out where we go next. But it has been a very interesting month!

Why did we go gluten free? LegoFan was diagnosed with several food allergies and asthma in his early years, some life-threatening. So I guess it makes sense to go back to the prologue instead jumping right in to Chapter One.

Allergy - LegoFan

When LegoFan was a baby, he was nursed exclusively until he couldn’t get enough nourishment. I had to start adding cereal at a very early age. He, whether nursing or eating cereal, would develop these horrible rashes on his face and nothing would make them go away. The pediatrician suspected allergies but told us we couldn’t test him until he was a year old.

At one year, he was finally tested. We were blessed to get in to see one of the top allergy specialists in the country at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She was so thorough and asked the right questions. We left with the diagnosis that LegoFan was allergic to eggs, the deadly peanut, and garlic. Garlic was the one that shocked me. Don’t get me wrong, I was horrified over the other two and worried what his life would be like. But it was the garlic that seemed just weird; random. I mean LegoFan has some Italian blood in him; how can he be allergic to garlic? But it was the allergist asking the right questions regarding flare ups that led to her even testing for garlic.

Allergy - Eggs

That was the beginning of our journey with food and the challenges it has had for my son.

At age two, he was given a monitored food challenge to see what effects, if any, the egg would have on him. He “passed” and was cleared to eat foods with eggs in them. I have a great photo (before digital cameras) of him eating his first chocolate chip cookie and ending up with chocolate on his face! He loved it!

He would eventually be cleared of his garlic allergy, but new foods began to give him problems. He could eat red apples, apple sauce, and drink apple juice, but green and yellow apples made him break out in hives. He could eat green pears, but brown pears also gave him hives. Although he can now have brown pears, he still cannot have yellow and green apples.

Allergy - Apples

As he got older, he also developed allergies to grasses, trees, flowers, dogs, cats, horses, mice, and dust. His peanut numbers kept going up, and he started to develop allergies to all the other tree nuts. As you can imagine, grocery shopping has changed for us multiple times and can take forever!

Allergy to TreesAllergy to Grass

Well, we recently moved and saw a new allergist for the first time in ten years. He ran a complete set of tests – 56 skin pricks on his back! He was miserable by #10! He was reacting to almost everything. In the five columns of pricks, one of them had hives so big that they merged into one large hive. It was all I could do to keep him from scratching!

Allergy Skin TestAllergy skin Test - 1Allergy Skin Test - 2Allergy Skin Test - 3

He ended up testing positive to so many things with this test; and then he had to undergo the blood work! Between the two, we had several new things; so many that he would have very little to eat if we eliminated everything. He had been having some strange reactions lately, so we decided to do some sort of elimination diet. LegoFan tested positive to allergies to wheat, barley, rye, and oats. So we decided on a gluten free diet for a month…

This post is linked up with Our Simple Farm, Homemaker’s Challenge, Whole New Mom, Home Sanctuary, and Allergy Free Alaska – go check out what everyone else has this week!