Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rounding Out Autism Awareness Month

Last week I went to a two-day autism conference. It was mainly filled with therapists and teachers, and about three parents (two being me and my friend, Laurie). It was a great conference. Dr. Barry Prizant, Ph.D. was the speaker. He has spent around 40 years studying and working with children who have autism. He and his team have come up with the SCERTS Model, which is an educational approach for children on the autism spectrum. The thing I liked best about this approach was it is child and family centered and relationship based. Isn't that what we all want...to be affirmed, accepted, and loved?

Dr. Prizant showed many video segments. I have to admit I got teary-eyed more than a couple of times. It was amazing to watch where some of the children started and to hear where they are now! He shared stories of children that were now accomplished artists, musicians, inventors, and even a few that are speakers that go all over the world to share what it is like to have autism. That is how we are learning more about what autism is like...because those that are getting older are able to tell us. Just amazing!

I won't go into too much more, but I did want to share two of my favorite quotes from the seminar:

Definition of autism:
"Autism means that someone is really smart in some things but needs a lot of help in other things." Mrs. Frizell's 2nd Grade class (1997)

Now, I don't know Mrs. Frizell, but I thought this was an excellent way to explain autism to a young child.

"Have high expectations for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but with appropriate, and when necessary, high levels of support." Ros Blackburn (adult with autism and speaker)

I totally agree with her. I expect a lot from Evan. He is capable of so much! I also want others to expect a lot from him. However, he will require support in some areas to reach his fullest potential. It is up to us (those in the community not living with autism) to give that support.

I did get some new ideas from the seminar on some things I am going to try with Evan, and I'm really excited about that! I'll let you know later if Evan is as excited about those ideas! Ha! :)

As April comes to an end, thank you for allowing me to share more about our story with you. Thank you for taking time to read more about autism (even if it was just through my ramblings). Most of all, thank you for praying for my sweet boy. I ask that you continue to remember us, as we are going through meetings with the school district to determine Evan's educational experience. Talk about a huge responsibility! Evan has been in his present school since he was two, and this will be a huge transition for all of us. Having your child go to Kindergarten is an exciting time for any family, but when you throw autism in the mix, there is a whole new set of worries and anxiety that comes for a parent. I know in the end, he will be okay, it's just getting to that point. If you know someone who has autism or a parent of a child with autism, give them a great big hug. I'm sure they would appreciate it!

Love and hugs,
Leigh Ann

My Sweet Evan
Not Defined by Autism

One last thing...I saw this interview with Jenny McCarthy (her son, also named Evan, has autism) some time ago. Then, my knowledgeable blog friends, Lauryn and Traci, posted this on their blogs. I thought that was a great idea because Jenny has a platform a lot of us moms wish we had. She is our voice in a lot of ways. You can watch it here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

For the Best Card Maker I Know, Kelly!

I know A LOT of you out there read Kelly's Korner, written by my sweet, beautiful friend, who I lived with in college. If you don't read it, you should. You'll be hooked immediately. Kelly recently did a post on how much she loves mail, and I got really tickled at a comment from our friend, Kandi, who mentioned how much Kelly loved making cards when we were in our dorm at OBU! Kelly has always been great at making someone feel special that way. She made cards all the time, and we didn't even have scrapbooking materials back then. Her cards were usually out of construction paper with magazine clippings and colorful markers! They were always funny and cute. She even made cards for my boyfriend at the time (and now my husband). I happened to ask Derek tonight if he thought we still had some of them, and guess what, we DID! So, this is for Kelly. A card she made back in 1992. I especially love the front of the card because it is soooo Kelly. I love you, Kelly! Enjoy...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Doodle Diva

When I was looking to have a personalized canvas painted for Ella Grace's room, I met the Doodle Diva aka Stacey. Not only is she talented, she is one of the sweetest people and has the cutest little girl! I loved our consultations. She always made them fun and I loved hearing her ideas. She can do ANYTHING, but she loves whimsy. I'm a little on the conservative side, so she scaled back a lot for me. I loved all the things she painted for the nursery.

She took the stripe and floral inspiration from Ella's bedding, and added the butterflies. I don't know if you can see it from the picture, but the body of the butterfly is a button and the wings are made from ribbon. I love how she added the finials at the top with lots of ribbon. Very girlie.

She painted dots and stripes on this clothes pole. I love this pole. I use it all the time.

Some of my friends from the church we used to go to gave me this adorable step stool. Stacey painted this, too. I felt so bad because when they gave it to me, it had "Emma" painted on it. I wasn't going to say anything, but I guess someone else did. They had Stacey repaint it. I think this may be one of my favorite things she got for her room. What a sweet gift.

I haven't talked to Stacey in a while. This week was terribly busy and I knew I wouldn't have any time to shop for a baby gift for an upcoming shower. I called her on Monday and she had something ready by Wednesday. I told her the colors of the nursery and she came up with the giraffe print and zebra print idea. I totally could not visualize it and it sounded a lot more trendy than what I have in Ella Grace's room, but I trusted her. I really liked how it turned out. I thought it was so cute.

So, if you need any personalized artwork, call Stacey. She is great to work with, affordable, and very creative. She also just finished a project for Extreme Homemaker! She said the beginning of the show where they knock on the door and surprise the family is true. I always thought there was some acting involved there, but she said she had to be real careful when she sent the art so not to give away the surprise. They rescheduled it three times! I can't wait to see the episode.

There is Some Tagging Going On

I have been tagged by Lauryn and Traci, two girls on my list of favorite people I've never met! I love to be tagged. It is so much fun! It is a walk down memory lane!!!

Lauryn tagged me to list seven random things about myself. I have done this one before, so if you want to see my riveting list, you can go here. If you haven't ever done this one before, do it. It is a lot of fun, and I'd love to see your list.

Traci tagged me to tell what I was up to 10 years ago.

What I was doing 10 years ago:

  • Working as a Sales Manager for Cingular Wireless.
  • Taking a leave of absence from work.
  • Moving to Alabama for a year for Derek to go to flight school.
  • Laying out and doing aerobics everyday.
  • Going to Panama City Beach every weekend.
This was us 10 years ago and our attire most of the time. It was like a year long vacation!

Five things on my to do list for today:
  • Pick up gluten free spaghetti noodles, chicken and waffles at Wild Oats.
  • Pick up wrapping supplies for a baby gift.
  • Go to a baby shower.
  • Run by the toy store for new therapy toys and a baby bottle for Ella's baby. Play with the kids this afternoon.
  • Go to church tonight.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  • Make sure Evan had all the therapies I have ever wanted him to receive but that are too expensive.
  • Like Traci, I would build a school for special needs children. I would make sure all children that needed to attend got in and weren't subject to "criteria" they must meet. "Special needs schools" that will not accept a special needs child because they are not verbal enough drives me CRAZY. Isn't that what they are supposed to be? A special needs school? Craziness!!! Believe me, they are out there!
  • I would produce some sort of autism infomercial so people would be better aware of what autism is and what it is like to live with autism, as well as show treatment options and new therapies and family support networks.
  • Give to our church.
  • I would put a swimming pool in our backyard and I would get Derek his dream car of a sporty BMW.
Three of my bad habits:
  • Worrying
  • Not taking my contacts out at night
  • Forgetting to wear my seatbelt (I know)

Five places I have lived:

  • North Little Rock, AR
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Bryant, AR
  • Enterprise, AL
  • Maumelle, AR

Five jobs I have had:

  • Secretary at Insurance Company
  • Business Office at Ouachita Baptist University
  • Administrative Assistant at Cingular
  • Human Resources at Cingular
  • Sales Manager at Cingular
Three people I'd Like to Know More About

Megan H.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

18 Months Already

I can't believe my baby is 18 months old! Ella Grace turned 18 months old yesterday. Seriously, where does time go? Ella Grace has been such a blessing to me in so many ways. We really weren't expecting her, and we were overjoyed to discover she was on her way. I was only five months pregnant when Derek was deployed to Iraq for 15 months and I was also in the throws of heartache about Evan's autism and how to help him. I know that God gave Ella Grace to me at that time in my life to help me. In the midst of all the chaos of that time, I had something to look forward to, something wonderful, a little life moving inside of me, a constant reminder that I wasn't in control, a constant companion when I was feeling lonely. What a gift HE gave me! That is why her middle name is Grace. She was the perfect gift at the perfect time, and she has given me unspeakable joy. I am so thankful and so blessed!

I love to hear her call my name. I love to watch her play with Evan. Oh, how she loves her brother! I love how she gets so excited when she hears the garage open in the evenings and exclaims, "Daddy," as she walks as fast as she can to the door. I love how she gives unexpected kisses and pats sweetly on me. I love that she is a girly girl. I love that she is the perfect mix of sweet and sassy and can pout on command. I adore that she loves her baby dolls. I love that she says "no" to anything you ask her. I love to hear her try to sing her "ABC's." I could go on and on. I just love my baby girl.

I love her BIG brown eyes.

I love her soft curls.

I love her smile.

We did go for Ella Grace's first trip to Gymboree play Monday. She had a ball! She loved everything about it, especially the parachute and bubbles at the end. We will definitely be going back!

I love you my sweet, sweet Ella Grace.

Monday, April 21, 2008

All Out for Autism

Saturday, we all went to the first annual "All Out for Autism" walk. There were a lot of people participating. I got to walk along with two of the best friends I have met since we have been treating autism, Laurie and Leslie. Evan walked almost the entire way, pushing Ella Grace in her stroller. The rest of the time, he rode on Derek's shoulders. At the end of the walk, we enjoyed refreshments, Evan played on the playground, and we visited with friends. The weather was unbelievable, just gorgeous! Thank you all who have prayed for my Evan this April during Autism Awareness Month. Here are some pictures from the day.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ella Grace Leaves Her Mark

Ella Grace loves my makeup brushes and lip gloss tubes. She pretends all the time to put makeup on herself. It is very cute. She has figured out how to open the lip gloss, too. It's okay as long as you are right there with her, but this is what happens when you leave Ella Grace, lip gloss, and Daddy alone together...

This is what happens when she comes to show Mommy her pretty lipstick. She leaves her mark on this...

Lip gloss + white dining room chair = not a good combo

When things like this happen, it never really bothers me. I always (well, almost always) find instances like this hilarious. When you have small kids, it's just easier to go with the flow! Derek and I laughed so hard! Ella Grace just kept saying, "Uh oh." I went to get something to clean it, and when I came back she had a tissue trying to get it off herself. Bless her heart! I think she was more worried about it than we were. We just thought it was so funny! I guess I WILL be recovering these chairs in a more child friendly color after all!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dinner with Friends

We had a great time tonight eating dinner with friends at a Japanese steakhouse. All of the guys are friends of Derek's through his work, and I have become friends with their wives. It's always a great time when we get together. We laugh A LOT! I told them I would give them a shout out on my blog. Here they are...

From left to right: Jenn, Derek, Me, Tonya, Collin, Chad, Trisha. Derek, Collin and Chad were all in Iraq at the same time. I have to mention that during that time, if there was anyone that helped me get through 15 months of deployment besides my mom, it was Tonya. She is such a sweet girl and the cutest little thing you will ever see! She was there for me so much. Anytime I was down, I could call her and she always understood and helped me get through it. I honestly don't know what I would have done without her during that time. She was and is such a good friend to me. I keep telling her she needs to do a blog because she has two of the cutest children and the funniest stories. Maybe I'll convince her! :)

This is Kevin. He took the group shot, so I had to get one of him. They are laughing so hard because Wongky, the chef, was throwing chicken in the air for Derek to catch it with his mouth. Derek missed, but Tonya and I caught our pieces. Talent I tell you! Oh, and that place was crawling with prom people. They looked so cute in their dresses and tuxedos. It took me back, and it seems like it was yesterday! Styles have changed though...no puffy sleeves as big as your head were found anywhere.

This is Wongky. He was hilarious.

As we passed over the river on the way home, we saw the beautiful moon overlooking the bridge. It was so bright!

Tomorrow we are going to the All Out for Autism Walk. I'm really looking forward to it! I feel like it's a big day for autism awareness and for us. I'll post pictures later. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What to do, What to do...

Thanks for everyone's help on my dining room drapes issue. I think I have finally decided and I'm going with a solid chocolate brown color. My friend, Jill, mentioned she thought I should also recover the dining room chairs in a coordinating fabric. I think that is a great idea! However, I think I am going to recover a chair for my living room first and then recover the dining room chairs.

I still need your help. My dining room and great room flow together. I'm getting a red couch and I'm thinking about recovering this chair to match it. I'm getting a little more daring these days, and I'm thinking about stepping out and going a little different than my traditional style. Do you think this chair and ottoman would look good with this fabric? Keep in mind I have children, hence the juice stain on the ottoman, which is the main reason it needs recovering.

The couch is the color of the redder circle on the right and the drapes are the same chocolate color as the background. What do you think? I'm terrible at visualizing how something will turn out by a little swatch! Please vote in the poll on the right. I know there are a lot of you out there that have great decorating sense. Thank you for your help!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Evan's Room (But No Sleeping in it Lately)

We are going through some sleep disturbance at the Horton household. This has been an ongoing issue for several months now. Evan sometimes gets up at 3:00 a.m. and just doesn't want to go back to sleep. He is wide-eyed and bushy tailed. He seems like he just has had enough sleep and no matter how I try, he just wants to play. Well, after one night of playing musical beds (I ended up in Evan's bed and Evan ended up in our bed with Derek), I noticed the moonlight completely came through the blinds in his room and it was pretty light in there. Could this be the underlying culprit? So, the next day I buy drapes thinking that will help. It definitely made the room darker, but for the last two nights, he has been up at 3:00 a.m. again. Then, he wants to take a nap at about 6:00 a.m. when it is time to get up and dress for school. I don't need to tell you how well that goes over when I have to wake him. However, by the time we get to school, he is awake and pretty much over it. Thank goodness. Even though the drapes haven't really helped Evan sleep more, I still like the way the drapes look.

Autism Awareness side note: Children with autism often have trouble sleeping. This has not always been an issue for us, but I'm sure this is connected to Evan's autism. He also receives methyl B12 shots for treatment of his autism, and I'm sure this contributes to a little extra pep in his step as well! :)

Anyway, I thought I would share pictures of Evan's room. I've included a picture of the new look with the drapes. Since his Daddy is a pilot, we thought an aviation themed room was only appropriate!

I love this canvas that is above his bed. My friend, Andrea, painted it for me.

This is as crafty as I get. I painted this canvas blue and then glued on this "E" I ordered from Pottery Barn Kids. I'd love to be crafty, but it's just not in me.

I did actually paint this table and chairs (after I spilled an entire can of oil based blue paint on the kitchen tile of the house we had just sold...yes, I did...and we some how miraculously got it up...typical Leigh Ann-ness). It's not the best paint job in the world, but it works. Evan spends a lot of time at this table. When teachers and therapists come to the house, they work with Evan here. He likes to look at books, watches DVDs, and plays a lot here. Definitely one of the best things we've bought for him.

Now the drapes are installed. I really like how they added to the room when I compare the window in the pictures above.

Pottery Barn has a great tool on their website for tips on how to measure for drapes, rugs, etc. I found that very helpful when choosing the length of these drapes. I wasn't sure if it was okay for them not to hang to the floor, but PB says below the window sill is perfectly fine. I figure they should know, so I guess we're good! :) Project Dining Room Drapes starts this week.

I would love to see pictures of your kids' rooms. I'll try to post some of Ella Grace's later. Please pray for sleep tonight. Mommy's tired!!!

Much love,
Leigh Ann

Monday, April 14, 2008

What a Difference

After the ordering of portraits, Derek had a photoshop program on my computer that afternoon! Ha! He knows I love photography, and he thought I would like to play around with it. Well, I'm learning, and it is so much fun. First, I did this...


Retouch with softer lines and brighter colors

Then, we took this picture of Evan's mug and made these...

He's pretty cute here, but then...

Derek turned Evan and added contrast and saturation and then...

We made it black and white and cropped his face. I've paid LOTS of money in the past for a shot like this. Had I known it was so easy.....urgh! It took two minutes literally.

I'm going to keep working on developing my "skills." I'm going to add a link to my blog soon to link to my photography. I'm learning a lot from Pioneer Woman, too. She does some amazing work!

Okay, I'm done boring you now! : ) Good night!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Today, Derek and I went to pick out the portraits we had taken of Evan and Ella Grace. I think I should have prepared him somewhat. He had no idea what portraits cost, and they ARE expensive. After he got over the initial shock and saw these...

...he was okay. She took a ton of pictures and it was hard to decide, but in the end we made the best choices I think. The individual shots will be portraits for my dining room hung together, and the other picture of them smooching will be on a table somewhere. We also got collages of each of them...one with Ella's signature pout and one with Evan's signature tennis shoes. I'll post pictures after I get them framed and hung. I scanned this from my receipt, so they are not the best quality but still shows what they will look like. There is nothing I love more than portraits of my children! That's why I need to learn to take them myself. Ordering again soon might just give Derek a heart attack!

Thank you, Derek!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oh No, They Sound Just Like Me!

Oh no. I've just realized my children are starting to sound just like me!

I am a Southern girl through and through. I have lived in the South all my life. My parents both grew up on farms and some of my best childhood memories are playing on my grandparents' farm in the summers. I think every child should be able to have that experience...walking through cotton fields, riding a four-wheeler down to the bayou, eating a Southern fried meal prepared by Minnie (my grandmother and the best cook I know by far), getting stuck in a cotton trailer and having your sister tease and laugh at you endlessly on the other side because you can't figure out a way to get out of the doggon thing. I loved it, and I'm so thankful for those memories!

Even though I didn't grow up on a farm and in the suburbs, I was still reared by a Southern Bell (Derek laughed hysterically at me the first time I said we were "going to town"). My mom taught us the values you would expect from a girl brought up in the South. She taught us to love Jesus and took us to church (with perfectly curled hair and puffy dresses that were often made by her). She taught us to always write thank you notes. She taught us to always be kind and never make fun of anyone else. She taught us to always wear pantyhose with a dress and sit ladylike. She taught us how to make sweet tea. All the things you would expect that are Southern...well, that's me, including perfectly drawn out words.

Not too long ago, I put a video on my blog of Ella Grace counting to ten and me excitedly praising her at the end. My sweet blog friend, Megan, commented on how she loved our "country accents." It never occurred to me when I posted that entry how we sounded. I'm just so used to it. I listened to it again, and thought "Oh my goodness. Ella Grace IS country. And, I am, too!" I do vividly remember going to Disney World with my BFF in junior high school and the attendant on Space Mountain imitating the way I said, "Eight," when he asked me how many were in our party, and I do remember at one point in college wanting a dialect coach, but I haven't thought much about it since. Then, last week, Derek and I were standing around the kitchen, just talking and the conversation turns to something about people sounding Southern, and he says, "I know someone else who is going to talk "Southern." "Who," I asked surprised. He points to Ella Grace. I said, "You think?" He said, "Oh my gosh. Yes! She already sounds that way!"

Isn't it funny that it has never really registered to me that my children talk that way. I guess it's because they sound JUST like me! Most one syllable words have two! My initial thought was, "How do I stop it?" I even asked my mom and she simply told me I could not. I was quick to point out to my mom that it was her fault because my sisters and I sound just like her and NOW my children sound like her, too! We both laughed about it.

You know what though? I wouldn't want them to sound any other way. It's actually pretty cute to hear those little "country" voices!

Funny timing...as I finished this post, I heard a Southern "Momma," calling me to get her from her nap. I love it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Wagon

Derek bought Evan and Ella Grace a new wagon. It is a double rider, so they can both ride at the same time. I have no idea what is wrong with Derek and me. We thought it would be a great idea to put it together tonight and take them for a ride. Well, it was thundering and lightning. You would think we would have known it would not be a good idea to show them the wagon and then not be able to actually take them for a ride in the rain! We weren't thinking! We took them just down the street before it actually started raining. As we pulled them back into the garage, Evan started crying. He did get out of the wagon protesting, and when we asked Ella if she was ready to get out, she simply stated, "No." So, what does a good Daddy do? He pulls the cars out of the garage and lets the kids play with their new wagon there! They had a ball.

I went for a walk, and this is what I saw as I pulled out of the driveway...

This is the track where I run/walk. I can assure you I was the ONLY geek there with a camera.

Our community center is really nice and I have loved this walking track that is right above the basketball court. Derek has given me an IPod and that has really helped put a pep in my step. I have downloaded a lot of songs, mainly contemporary Christian. However, I have put some other songs on there that I like, too. The other night I guess I was feeling a little tenderhearted because this song came on and I started bawling right there on the track, especially when he says "I pray for her even more than me." Oh my goodness! I thought it was a one time thing. Then, tonight I cried at this song. The part about the children coming out of Sunday School with smiles on their faces ALWAYS makes me cry no matter how many times I hear it. I'm such a nerd! I don't think anyone saw me or heard me. Crying on top of trying to breathe while running is not a good combo for me. I think next time I will have to wait and listen to these songs at home. So, if you need a good cry, listen to these. They might help. :)

Much love,
Leigh Ann

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Autism Moms

I can't explain the bond I feel with other moms I have met and those I have never met who have a child with autism. I guess it is the plain fact that we know what each other is going through, how difficult treating autism is, and how desperate you feel to recover your child. No one else can totally understand autism unless you live it 24/7.

When you are the mom of a child with autism, you gain all sorts of other "hats." You become a part-time speech, occupational and physical therapist, a part-time lab technician, a part-time nurse, a dietitian, a nutritionist, a researcher, a chauffeur, and night owl. Although, these may be "hats" you gained that you never really wanted to wear, you take them on to get your child better. Now, I sure wish I would have paid more attention in Biology in high school and college!!! :) My biochemistry is not the best, and there is a lot of that to understand when trying to heal autism.

If there is one positive thing from this new role, I have made friends that have truly been a blessing to me as we have traveled this journey to heal Evan from autism. I thank God for these "sisters" that have come along this path. I learn from them, lean on them, confide in them, cry with them, and sometimes even laugh with them. Last week, I was blessed to find Traci through another blogger I met, Lauryn. Lauryn told me I might be interested in reading Traci's blog, and oh how I thank her for sending me there (you can find both of their links on my blog roll). Traci has a fantastic blog including lots of autism resources! I have been blessed by it already! Today, she has posted a video of her son, Riley. Although every child with autism is different and treatments may be different, we are all the same in that we desperately love our children, are going through the same painful journey, and we still have hope! You can watch their beautiful video here.

Just FYI, did you know in 1983 the recommended vaccination schedule was 10 vaccines and today it is 36? With the increase in vaccinations, there has also been an increase in autism and other neurological disorders. Plus, some parents of children with autism can definitely say their child was "different" after receiving a certain vaccination. Please know, I am by no means advocating anyone avoid vaccinations all together, I'm just suggesting that we all educate ourselves beforehand. You can find more information about vaccinations at Generation Rescue.

Thank you for praying for Evan and all of the other children out there with autism. We need your prayers more than you know. And, I thank you for taking the time to read more about autism.

Much love,
Leigh Ann

Dog Ears

I'm so excited because Ella's hair is now long enough for dog ears. I had to totally distract her so she would let me do it, and I had to be really fast. She looks so cute! If any of you moms out there have any tips on getting little girls to let you fix their hair, I'd love to hear it. We have had a hard time just keeping in bows! She takes them out instantly. She has already tried to take down her dog ears, too. Here she is with her new do...

Oh, and there is the bangs issue. Do you cut them or let them grow? We are in that bad stage where they are so long they are always in her eyes (because she won't leave in the bows), but I've heard bangs are so hard to grow out later on. I'm thinking I'm letting them grow. What do you think?

I also wanted to post Evan's school picture we got back last week. He is not smiling his beautiful smile, but he still looks so handsome! For some reason, I really love the pictures of my children where they have a "natural" expression. I just love that! I think I've mentioned before that I love photography. I constantly have a camera in my children's faces. I think Evan is so bored with it now. Plus, a few days before this was taken, I had taken him for his professional portrait session. So, I'm sure he was like "Not again!" It's hard to believe his next school picture will be taken at "big school." Oh, I'm sick just thinking about it!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I Love That...

I love that Ella Grace wants to wear jewelry. I also love that she insists on wearing her Winter shoes with a new Spring outfit or wants to wear her Sunday shoes with her pajamas.

I love that Evan thinks eating Mexican food is the biggest treat. He can mow down a kid's taco plate in minutes!

I love that even though my parents are divorced, they are friends.

I love that Ella Grace says, "Hi, Momma," anytime she sees me. It doesn't matter if I've just stepped out of the room for 30 seconds. It is so sweet!

I love that Evan wants to fall asleep in our bed every night, and I love watching Derek carry him sleeping to his own bed.

I love that Derek makes me laugh. We laughed so hard in the car today about something so silly I'm embarrassed to tell you (something about mullets and bar-b-q). He can make me laugh like no one else.

I love that Ella Grace follows Evan around saying, "Mere" (Come here).

These are just a few things that happened today and I thought to myself, "I love that." What do you love?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Weigh In - Week 14

I have been so bad the last several weeks. March was full of family birthdays and then Easter rolled around. I never really counted points or wrote down all of the food I ate. I missed a couple of meetings due to Derek's work schedule. Needless to say, things weren't going like they should have regarding my healthy eating. I am very shocked that tonight I am still holding at 25 lbs. lost. I did start back pretty strict this week, and I'm really going to try to hit it hard for the next few months. I still can't bear the thought of getting in a swimsuit. I want so badly to take Evan and Ella Grace to the pool this summer without scaring anybody! However, I did just eat some pizza. We always have a treat after weigh in nights. Derek LOVES Thursday nights because we always eat something really tasty and it's usually take-out. I think he starves the rest of the time. That's how he rolls though. He'd rather starve than eat a low-fat meal! He always asks, "Is this a WW meal," or "Is this organic?" Sometimes I story and say no even if it is. He never knows the difference! Is your husband a picky eater? Will he eat low-fat meals?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is Autism Awareness Month

You will probably be hearing a lot about autism this month, as April is autism awareness month. Autism is very personal to me. My precious, sweet son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. As a mom, I feel a responsibility to be part of spreading awareness about autism whenever I can.

If you don't know what autism is, here ya' go. Autism is a neurobiological disorder. Today, it effects 1 in 150 children/individuals and is four times more common in boys than girls. Autism effects one's communication, social skills, and self-help skills. All children that are diagnosed with autism are different, which makes treatment somewhat difficult and frustrating, as what works for one child to improve may not work for another. Autism is now at epidemic proportions. If you don't know someone personally, whether in your family, at your church, or a friend, I fear that you will soon with such staggering numbers. There is no "cure" for autism, but children are being recovered and improved with intensive therapy intervention and biomedical treatments.

For my family, Evan was diagnosed at age three, although we suspected he might have autism around 12-15 months. The first clues for us was that he didn't look at us when we called his name and he really didn't have any words. We initially thought he had a hearing problem, and when his hearing checked normal, we entered this frightening world of autism. I had no i
dea at the time what autism was really. To be honest, we received his diagnosis and was told to get him in speech therapy, but that was pretty much it. We were on our own. You are handed no manual for this diagnosis. Everything we have done to treat Evan's autism has been through our own diligence and research. It was such a frightening time. We felt so lost. We immediately got Evan into speech therapy and then into a therapeutic preschool. Occupational therapy and physical therapy were also implemented. I can not stress the importance enough of early intervention for a child diagnosed with autism. It can make all the difference in their life and their future.

Evan has made extremely wonderful progress. His language is still delayed, but he is tal
king, which for any mom with a child with autism will tell you, it is a HUGE thing. He is very smart and has a cute little sense of humor. We feel he is ready for Kindergarten this fall, as he has a lot of Kindergarten skills already, knowing his alphabet, counting (even in Spanish), knowing colors, shapes, everything you would expect a child in Kindergarten to do. Evan also is extremely bright when it comes to the computer. He can maneuver around different windows, load up the computer, and get on the internet to his computer games all by himself. It amazes us all the time! I am anxious and excited about this transition to Kindergarten for him. I look forward to seeing what this new adventure will hold for him and us. I actually think he will do better than me! :)

With all this said, I wanted to post the warning signs for autism. This is from the Autism Speaks website. I think there may be someone out there that reads this and is wondering about their own child and doesn't know what to do next and this might help...

"Watch for the
Red Flags of Autism
(The following red flags may indicate a child is at risk for atypical development, and is in need of an immediate evaluation.)
In clinical terms, there are a few “absolute indicators,” often referred to as “red flags,” that indicate that a child should be evaluated. For a parent, these are the “red flags” that your child should be scre
ened to ensure that he/she is on the right developmental path. If your baby shows any of these signs, please ask your pediatrician or family practitioner for an immediate evaluation:

  • 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"

My advice to anyone who thinks their child might be on the spectrum of autism would be "don't wait" and get them evaluated now! It will make all the difference. You can get a ton of good information from www.autismspeaks.org. I am pretty much an open book on this subject. I'm not an expert by any means, but if anyone wants to contact me privately, you can e-mail me at leighahorton@sbcglobal.net.

In closing, I wanted to ask you to join me in praying for a cure for autism. Autism Awareness Month is a perfect time to start. You can download a "Turning the Tide" prayer calendar here or if you could just remem
ber these precious children and their families in your regular prayer time, I would so appreciate it. If you want to pray specifically, here are names of Evan and some of his friends: Evan, Alex, Collin, Daniel, Bradley, Caleb, Tyler, Jonathan, JC, and Rachel.

It is so important for the awareness of autism to be widespread. I hope there is soon a cure, but in the meantime, my hope is that all of the young children and parents of those children that come behind us, don't feel the lost feeling we felt, that there will be more resources for them and some sort of guide on how to get help for their child. I do believe this can and will get better.

This journey has been a difficult one. My heart has been broken, but by the grace of God, He is carrying us through. I know in my heart that God had led us to Evan's wonderful school and the angels on earth as I call them (all his therapists) that work with him so diligently every day. God has also provided physicians that listen to us and are willing to help get Evan better and a network of friends that are going through the same thing we are. Evan is making progress! We are learning every day.

If you read this and take time to pray for my precious son and our family and all the other families out there affected by autism, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart!

Much love!

Evan, age 6