Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gotta Love Disney

It has been one busy week!

I am still training for my 5K. It has been a lot of fun (and a lot of hard work), but I still have a ways to go to be ready for the actual race (it's really a graduation day, not a race). We are running about two miles now, and two more weeks we should be able to run three (or that's what they say...ha). Before we go run, the clinic leader usually has a speaker come talk to us about fitness or athletic clothing or nutrition, etc. One speaker we had is a personal trainer and was going to be holding a five week fitness boot camp and was giving those of us participating in the running clinic a 50% discount. Well, I couldn't pass up that offer, so I have also been working out with him Monday thru Thursday and on Saturday. This has only been the first week and I have been really sore, but I am enjoying it. He is even teaching us about nutrition and taking us on a grocery store field trip this afternoon. I am on a mission to get ready for summer. I want to say I am just trying to get healthy, but I would be telling a story if I didn't admit my main goal is to be able to wear a tank top and not frighten away anyone while I'm in a bathing suit. Plus, I have my super fun cruise coming up with my girlfriends in July and that is A LOT of motivation. Y'all, I'm on a MISSION! :)

In addition to our normal weekly routine of school, therapy, play dates, and Gymboree, we also took Ella Grace on Friday to Disney on Ice. She talked about it all week and was so excited. When we got there, she didn't know what to think at first, but then was so excited to see all her favorites.

Waiting for the show to begin.

Waving to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

The Little of EG's recent favorites. She loves the movie.

Watching her expressions was the funnest part for Derek and me.

I looked down at one point, and saw Derek and Ella holding hands. How sweet!

Ella Grace's FAVORITES, and of course she always talks about Minnie's dress and shoes.

Watching intently. Sweet little hands.

All the kids went nuts when Tinker Bell came out. She is Ella's first love, too.

I can't wait to take them to Disney World one day. Derek and I went on our honeymoon, so it has an extra special place in our hearts. It would be really neat to take the kiddos back there with us.

Friday night I met up with my girlfriends for a little girls' night out. So fun!

Abby, Michelle and Toni

Abby and Michelle

Me and Kim

The Abby's and the Michelle's are my partners in crime for the cruise. :)

The backyard is progressing (slowly). The weather has really been hard on our schedule with all the rain we have been getting, and it looks like more rain next week. Sooo, I guess it will look like this for a little longer.

Oh, and if you guessed a swimming pool or basketball court, you were both right. We have talked about getting a pool for the longest time. Since we are THE biggest homebodies ever, we decided to go ahead with it. Evan is beside himself. He loves to go outside and checkout the hole. Ha! This pool will be so fun for our entire family, but he was the main family member in mind when we decided to build it. It will be so good for him! While they are pouring the concrete for the pool, the big kid in our family is having a little square poured for himself and a hoop. :)

The hole for our "cement pond." Ha!

Have a GREAT week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Autism Walk

Yesterday was the Second Annual "All Out for Autism Walk" here in Arkansas. There were a lot more people there this year than last year, even though it looked like it could pour down rain any minute. Luckily, the major rain held off. It sprinkled a little, but it didn't keep us from doing the two mile walk with some really great friends we have made through the autism community. It was an amazing day. Here are some pictures from our fun time.

I have been so worried all year long about what I was going to do to keep Evan busy this summer. My prayers have been answered! He has been invited to participate in a program with a well-respected organization in our town to go to a class for four weeks where they will be training teachers to use a learning technique that works very well for Evan. I am SO excited about it because he will get the benefits from the class...two teachers working with him for four hours a day for four weeks...and more teachers will become trained in this teaching method. It will be great!

As if that wasn't wonderful enough, two moms that I adore have founded a camp for our kids for this summer. It is called A-Camp (An Awesome Camp for Kids with Autism). He will get to go have fun at "camp" on the weeks he is not in class! I am SO excited for him!

His mornings will be full, but we will get to come home in the afternoons to play. We are doing some improvements in our backyard for lots of summer fun and they should start this week. I'm so excited about this, too. More on all that later, but for now, it is something we are doing mainly for Evan. So far, there is just an orange stripe painted on our grass. Can you guess what this is going to be?

Hope you all have had a blessed day!

Friday, April 17, 2009


We have been out to eat the passed few Friday nights and it appears prom season is in full swing. We see all the cute little prom goers out all dressed up.

I LOVED prom! I got to go to three all together...Derek's Senior prom and both my Junior and Senior proms. Of course, my date all three times was Derek! I love looking back on those pictures. So fun! I'm not sure if I loved the anticipation of the prom and talking with friends about dresses and who was going with who or the actual prom itself. I think getting ready for it may have been just as fun.

From those three years, it seems the trend was shiny, sequined, and the bigger and puffier the sleeve the better! I thought it might be fun to add some pictures here of my proms and invite you to do the same. So, dig out those old pictures and let us all see the fashionista you were! I wanted to do some cool linky widget, but I couldn't figure it out, so be sure and leave a comment if you do your own stroll down prom memory lane!

Some of these pictures are not very focused at all. Remember the Kodak disc camera? Well, that is what made all these fine pictures. Ha!

This was Derek and my first prom. I was 16 and he had just turned 18. His mom and dad let him take me in their Cadillac! Ha! Goodness, we were just babies!

I loved this and silver. Somehow we found a bow tie that matched almost perfectly for Derek. You know that was a big deal back then...the cumber bun and tie were the same color as the girl's dress. Oh, and gotta love that frizzed up side ponytail. I remember my friend, Tina, and I must have teased that sucker for at least 30 minutes. Ha!

Here we are my Junior year. As you can see, my mother thought is was very important to get a picture of us leaving (again). There's the Caddy again, too. Ha!

It seemed this year emerald green was a really popular color. There were A LOT of girls in emerald green, but I loved this dress, too. Remember those skirts around the waists? I sure wish I had that waist again! It still amazes me that I put a spiral perm in this head of hair of mine. OH MY!

My favorite prom was definitely my Senior prom. I loved everything about it.

This picture cracks me up! You can tell by my expression that my mom was taking a picture from EVERY angle. I'm sure I'll be the same way when Ev and EG go to the prom. Everyone then was wearing long, straight, sequined gowns. My favorite part of this dress was the back with the beading hanging down. Now, when I look at it, it seems a bit much, especially with those GIGANTIC ruffled sleeves. But, at the time, I LOVED it! Oh, and EVERYBODY wore their hair in french twists! I remember this day so well. It had rained and rained. Our yard was COMPLETELY flooded. My dad had to go out to the car in his hunting waders and let Derek ride on his back piggyback style to get me. Then my dad carried him back to the car and had to come back in to carry me to the car. Muddy flood water and a white prom dress DO NOT mix. Thank goodness he didn't drop me! Ha!

This was my best friend, Tina, and me. I wanted to give you the full effect of those sleeves. They are bigger than Tina's head! She was sportin' those sleeves, too. Hee hee!

I would love to see your prom pics. Be sure and let me know if you play along!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


My Three Easter Bunnies

We had such a wonderful Easter...even though it rained.

Saturday we spent the afternoon at my sister's house with both sides of the family eating barbecue and having a Wii tennis tournament. My sister had an official bracket made and everything. It was so much fun! I was on my mom's team first (she was NOT the best player...ha) and then I was teamed up with my dad. He and I made it to the finals but lost out to these cuties in the end...

Derek & my nephew, Stone

When we got home, the kids dyed Easter eggs. Ella Grace LOVED it! She cried when we were finished, so I peeled stickers off a couple eggs for her to dye one more time. :)

Sunday we went to church in a downpour. It was a good service though and our church was still packed. The message was all about grace. Oh, how thankful I am for God's grace. I think I require a little extra!!! :)

Here are some pictures of my Easter bunnies before we left for church. I had taken about 30 pictures before I realized Ella Grace had been back in the candy and had chocolate on her mouth! Ha!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sweet Ella Grace

We were waiting at the clinic for Evan's therapy session to start. I caught Ella checking herself out in the mirror!

It's hard for me to believe Ella Grace is quickly approaching 2 1/2 (on the 21st). I have been full of thankfulness this week (even more so than normal) that I get to stay home with her every day. When I had Evan, Derek and I went out on this huge leap of faith. I quit my job to stay home with my baby. It was so scary and definitely an adjustment period, but I am SO glad we did it. With Evan I felt so robbed of my time with him because as soon as we thought he might have autism (age two), we put him in a therapeutic pre-school. This was the best thing for him at the time, but I was so sad! I spent most days just watching the clock until it was time to go pick him up from school.

It has been a thrill for me to be with Ella Grace every single day. We definitely have a full schedule. We go for weekly Gymboree classes and a weekly play group, and in between there is shopping, lunch dates, house work, and taking Evan to school and therapy. We are in the car A LOT and she is such a little trooper! We have so much fun and I'm so glad to experience the world with her.

I adore that Ella Grace loves baby dolls so much. They all have names and this one she appropriately named, "Baby Ella Grace." She sat down on this trampoline and said, "Take my picture."

Here are just a few things my soon-to-be 2 1/2-year-old girl is saying these days:

These two are my absolute favorites and melt my heart..."Momma, I love you SO much ever!" It's usually followed with, "I love you all the time, Momma."

She LOVES to have her toenails painted. We painted them last week and she hasn't stopped talking about them or showing them to anyone who will look at them. Ha! She says, "Look at my fingernails (sometimes she says toenails but most of the time fingernail). They are soooo pink."

"Lil' ladies don't talk about poots." Ack! I am really trying to enforce being a lady. For some reason, she just thinks this is SO funny! Oh, dear!

"I wear panties." "No more diapers!" Yes, she is officially potty trained. :)

She crosses her legs and shakes her foot and says, "I sit like a lady." I really am training her up to be a little Southern lady. Ha!

"Momma, I hilarus (hilarious)!" Yes, she is!

"I funny!"

"I silly boy (we're still working on that...ha)!"

"I so proud!"

When listening to praise music in the car this morning, she was singing "Hu-lay-lu-wah" for hallelujah. I just wanted to cry it was so sweet!

Yesterday she told Evan, after he was all dressed in some new shorts and shirt, "You look cute, Evan." Ha!

"Momma, you are so sweet." I promise to do not coach this or when she strokes my hair and says, "Momma precious."

There are so many more, but these are definitely my favorites! Does it get any better than this? I sure don't think so!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Retail Therapy

We went back to the Capitol yesterday to testify in front of the House committee. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass. There were a lot of committee members absent, and evidently not voting due to being absent is the same as a "no" vote. We were only two votes shy with the committee members present. There is a chance the Senator sponsoring the bill will bring it up again before the legislative session adjourns. We'll see what happens. There was an article about the meeting in a couple of Arkansas news papers today. If you are interested, you can read it here. You might even see a familiar face (By the way, I do NOT like that picture. I was intently listening to the folks that came to speak against the bill.).

After all that, Derek took Ella Grace and me to the mall. Nothing does a girl good like shopping. I think I have mentioned before I am in total love with the children's clothes at Gymboree. They have a new line out for girls and I LOVE it because it is all paisley. I remember paisley being popular when I was in junior high school and I loved it then. I'm so glad it's back. I just HAD to get this for Ella Grace...

When it is time to redeem Gymbucks, I will go back and get these matching sandals...
As I was checking out, this shirt caught my eye (they have a new Super Hero line for boys). This t-shirt is SO Evan and I HAD to get it. Afterall, this is what he is to me...

Also, do you know about this bean bag chair? It is called the Fatboy. I don't really like the name, but it is one amazing bean bag chair. My parents got it for Evan for his birthday, and he and EG just LOVE it. You can put it in all different kinds of positions for different seating options or just lay on it flat. LOOOOOVE it!
He has the Junior in red, but they also have them for "big" kids! :)

Last, but not least, I am SUPER excited because some of my best friends in the world and I are going on a cruise in July. There is only one of us left that hasn't gotten married yet ,and she is taking the plunge in November, so we decided to celebrate big with a plunge of our own in a pool on a big ship! I am SO excited and thankful for a husband that is excited for me, too. I'm trying not to think too much about leaving Ev and EG though!

I'm so behind on my blog reading. I have missed you guys! I am hoping to get to do some reading tonight and see what you all have been up to! Hugs!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The "A" Word

I snapped this of Derek and Ella Grace after the committee meeting at the Capitol on Tuesday while we were on our way to the car. They were walking in front of me and I could not pass up the opportunity. I thought it was SO sweet.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. I have been thinking a lot this week how autism is a word I really don't like but it is in my daily vocabulary.

I know I have written about this subject SO much. If you would like to read Evan's story, you can go here. Autism is not our lives but it is a part of it. Every year I find we are doing SO much better with managing autism, especially emotionally on my part. No one expects something like autism to happen to "their" child. I know I never expected it. I think all parents who get any type of diagnosis of any special need for their child go through a whole grieving process. The life you dreamed of and the life you dreamed for your child is not to be. It all changes in one moment. It doesn't mean the dream is not as wonderful and's just different than what you thought it was going to be. Believe me, I have been in the throes of despair (I still can go there some days), but for the most part, I am filled with hope for the future. We are so blessed, and I don't take for granted that we truly have it much easier for the most part than a lot families. Every day things like going to the movies or the grocery store can be torment for kids. with autism. There are so many that would not have been able to enjoy the trip to the water park we took over Spring Break because the entire experience would be just too overwhelming. Evan is able to do SO much. I am thankful for so many things, but the simple things like being able to have fun, play, laugh, run and jump are things I am thankful for daily. Being in the special needs world definitely has put a lot of things in perspective for me. There is ALWAYS something in which to be thankful for!

Our State Capitol

Isn't it amazing to look back and see how your life has unfolded and that it has been God's plan all along? It's amazing and bizarre to me that I have come from the depression of an autism diagnosis to being able to share so freely even on this blog about Evan's story and our journey. I would not have been able to do this even two years ago. Plus, I would have NEVER ever thought I would have been at the state Capitol talking about this very issue. It has taken a LONG time to get to this point, but by the grace of God we have made it this far, Evan is doing well, and I am now hoping that our story can some how help....even it if is just a little encouragement.

Derek and Ella Grace in the rotunda of the Capitol this week.
EG was SO incredibly good during the session. She sat so quietly for an hour! Such a trooper.

Tuesday I went to the Capitol to testify. I only got teary once (a little better than last time). The committee voted to pass Senate Bill 913, and it is on its way to the Senate floor. This bill is an insurance reform bill that will require insurance companies to cover autism spectrum disorder treatments. I'm not going to go into it now, but it would shock you to know how some children with autism can't get the help they need because it is not covered under insurance. To be a parent that can't help their child has to be the worst feeling in the world. I am praying this bill will pass through the House and our Governor will approve it as well. This will give so many children struggling with autism the best chance in life. Since it passed this committee, I'll be out there again this Friday, doing the same little speech. I am NOT a speaker! (In fact, the only thing I remember from my college speech class is the leg wrestling matches we had. Now, wasn't that good use of my parents' money? Ha!) I just go in there as a mom telling my son's story from the heart. I told Derek that I can't believe the one thing that scares me more than anything (public speaking) that I have now done three times! Ha!

I just thank you all from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me. Several of you tell me you pray for me and/or Evan every single day, and I can't tell you what that means to me. I remember when I started my blog I had decided not to write about autism. I wanted this blog to be an outlet for me and a place where I wasn't thinking about it. Well, last April during Autism Awareness Month, I decided to go ahead and share about Evan's autism. I am so glad I did! You guys have been so encouraging to me and blessed my heart. You all have been a rock for me, and I have felt your prayers every time I have gotten ready to do this little speech. Thank you!

If you think about it today, would please say a prayer for all the children out there with an autism spectrum disorder and also those who struggle with any type of special need and also their parents? Thank you!

They were handing this flyer out at the Capitol. The statistics on the front are SO scary...1 in 93 boys in Arkansas are diagnosed with autism!!! SO scary. I was surprised to see a familiar little face on the flyer. Do you recognize the little mug third down on the far right? :)