Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Island

I love the idea of the Island of Misfit Toys in the Rudolph show each year.  It clearly reminds me of my own family and how my kids fit in, or don't, to society.  Not just my kids, but my family in general.  But just as the toys felt left out, so do families like mine.  My family is blessed with many of the colors God intended skin color to be - not like most families. My kids are so unique in their disabilities not because of rare disorders, but due to the conglomerate of issues that arise from prenatal exposures.  I mean how many people have a child that is highly gifted with attachment issues, has sensory issues, is a happy defiant so can't get an ODD diagnosis and went into precocious puberty?  I've never met one no matter how many people I have reached out to.  All of my kids are quirky in their own way with their abilities very wide ranging.

The idea of being an island is the best way I can explain the way it feels to parent children like this.  I can put out bridges to other islands, bridges to connections with hopefully other islands that have similar issues.  Some days it feels there are only a few secure bridges as the torrent life bombards my island with all the fury it can let loose.  Other days it's a tropical dream of many bridges but a nice place to retreat to for time alone.

Christmas Island is a special place I hold in my mind.  Christmas Island is the place I let myself go to once a year when the holidays roll around.  I allow myself to think of how the holidays should be, the Normal Rockwell version.  I don't try to replicate a Norman Rockwell Christmas scene because I know it would be a dismal failure (I tried numerous times in the early years) leaving all of us feeling empty.  Instead we fill our days with our typical structure with little extras thrown in here and there to keep the stability in life for my kids, but my mind is going wild with all the things we would do but for their disabilities.  Surprisingly it's not sad for me to think of things this way though.  When I see something the children do that is anywhere close to what is in my imagination, it almost takes my breath away.  It shows their growth and it shows me a bit of a dream.  I've always like the saying Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but by how many times are breath is taken away.  That's what those moments are.

God has given me a lot to deal with raising these children, but somewhere in His infinite wisdom He has given me the ability to see the beauty in these moments.  I have been told frequently God does not give us things we cannot handle, but somewhere in my heart I know He gives me these moments so I can handle the ones He challenges me with.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


What an amazing project and group of people.  A4cwsn - Apps for Children with Special Needs  - is changing lives of children and families around the world.  The latest endeavor has Gary James traveling all over the USA delivering iPads to families with special needs children.  The Facebook page for A4cwsn is one of the most supportive pages I've ever had a chance of being a part of.

Tonight on the Facebook page for A4cwsn a parent donated a refurbished iPad for another family.  Gary James asked those that did not have an iPad to reach out to others at least 3 states away, get to know one another, and nominate someone for an iPad.  The response was overwhelming.  People could not wait to talk to one another and nominate people they had just "met" without thought for themselves.

Tonight was an incredibly uplifting and inspiring.  It allowed me to see the good in people again.  It rekindled my hope in the human spirit.  It may sound silly, but as a parent of special needs children there are many days I go to bed at night feeling the world is against our endeavors.  Tonight I am thinking of the wonderful people I have met at A4cwsn and Gary James' efforts to make lives better just because.  He is not getting any kickbacks or monetary benefit for it.  He is giving of himself because that is what he is called to do.  If we all took a little time each day to give of ourselves like I saw tonight and to keep the same giving spirits in our heart the Gary James has every day, the world would be a better place.

I was telling my children about the wonderful things happening at A4cwsn and how unselfishly Gary James gives.  I mentioned we would be sending a Christmas card with $1 in it to help support A4cwsn.  The children asked if they could each make a card and send in some of the money they have saved.  So tomorrow as part of our homeschooling day, the children will be making cards from their hearts.  I asked them what if they don't ever get an iPad from A4cwsn.  They responded by staring at me with total disbelief and all said, "So!!!!"  I was informed people are being helped and that's all that matters.

Please go to to find out more about A4cwsn and apply for an iPad.  Look them up on Facebook too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wild Ride

It's been a long, wild ride this past year that has let us see and experience the good, the bad and the ugly.  Too bad we had more bad and ugly than good.  As the name of the blog states Joy in the Little Things, that is what I will focus on as we've lived the negative and we are ready to move on.

To start off the positives, my dad won his five year battle with cancer.  He is in remission and going strong.  We also had a wonderful new addition to the extended family this year with the birth of my grand-nephew.

The next year will be filled with change for us.  I am eagerly looking forward to what the future holds, but sad at the same time.  The move across the nation is one I am eagerly awaiting.  The thought of traveling for awhile is exciting for all of us, especially when the goal is finding our new home.  The move will seem strange as it looks like only five children will be going with us instead of six.  it is hard to believe my oldest will be 18 and moving on with his life.

Homeschooling has taken yet another turn this year.  My oldest returned to high school last year and this year my 16 y.o. son followed suit.  We found a small charter high school and he is trying very hard.  His grades are not the best, but he is learning life skills that I was concerned he would never learn.  For someone with a social anxiety disorder and Aspergers, a high school settings is beyond intimidating.  He has given oral reports, is making friends, and is riding public transit.  I would love for him to have great grades, but the fact he is succeeding at life is making me just as happy as if he had straight A's.

The youngest four are still being homeschooled.  We attempted an online gifted program for my 10 y.o. daughter, but after becoming emotionally overwhelmed by skipping two grades and the realization of graduating early we decided homeschooling was much better and went back to her usual course of study.

Three of the kids are now in 4H and loving it.  I'm seeing a new level of confidence from both the girls that I have not seen before.  There have been requests for taking animals to the fair, but with our move eminent I'm not sure if they will be able to this year.  If not they will look forward to it next year once we are settled and hopefully have land to have their animals on.

The other new addition to the family was my early Christmas present of a sweet puppy.  We had to put our long time companion, Lacey, down in the spring after she developed a bacterial infection and was too old to fight it off no matter how hard we tried.  So a few weeks ago we brought home a 10 week old Queensland Heeler pup we have called Spirit - rightfully named as she came home with her spirit already damaged from abuse/neglect we think she endured, but has found a new way of approaching life and become quite the outgoing little thing we'd hoped we would start to see.  She sleeps on our youngest at night and gives him the sensory input he needs so that he's not sensory seeking in his sleep by tensing his muscles or pushing on things (usually me).

Now that we are back on track and we are beginning a new journey, I'm hoping to be writing on a regular basis.  This will be an exciting time for us and to share the changes as they happen will be rewarding.