Monday, December 9, 2013

Take 5 minutes to read this. It's important.

Do you know who your child is talking to online? Chances are, even if you keep a close eye you don’t. It’s very easy to brush it off, to tell yourself that you don't have any reason to worry, your child is ‘good’ and your kid ‘would never talk to a stranger’. Or maybe it’s simple to believe they are just making ‘friends’ from out of town, or possibly out of state. You may believe that your child is ‘too innocent’ or possibly ‘too smart’ to be involved in anything dark or dangerous. You keep a good home, you give all the love and attention they need, they get good grades, they visit their grandparents and still go to Girl Scouts.

None of this matters.

The sad truth is, many children fall prey to very charming, very innocent seeming, very persistent predators. These hunters no longer need to snatch kids off the street, they can lure them in from the comfort of their living room sofa. They win them over with compliments, or a shoulder to lean on. They make promises of a luxurious life that maybe a parent can’t provide. They convince them they want to take care of them and love them like nobody has. Even if a young girl – or boy- has a wonderful home life with love all around them, some may find this very enticing.

“Jenny” comes from a stable household. She plays sports and studies hard. Her best friend has recently gotten herself a boyfriend and Jenny is finding herself alone in much of her spare time. She surfs online. One day she gets a friend request from “Rob” who saw her picture and thought she was pretty cute. She thinks he’s a good looking guy, and chatting is innocent enough, right? It doesn’t take long before Rob hones in on Jenny’s loneliness and picks up on her weaknesses. She doesn’t feel quite pretty enough, so she hasn’t had a boyfriend yet. Rob sees to it that he fills the void, showering her with compliments and telling her everything she hoped a boy would one day say to her. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, he would love to have a girl like her.

One day Jenny has a fight with her dad and Rob is there for her to cry to. He suggests she come visit him, take some time away from her family, her strict school schedule. She has a little bit of birthday money saved but it isn’t enough for the bus ticket. Rob makes all of the financial arrangements, and before anyone realizes she’s gone she is hundreds of miles from home.

She meets up with Rob and he is everything she’d hoped. He’s handsome, he’s sweet, he will take care of her. They head to a hotel for their first night together and although still charming, he is putting pressure on her. Pressure to be ‘his girl’. When she resists, he becomes angry and she says she wants to go home. But you see, she has no money, she is dependent on Rob now and Rob wants the money back that he spent for her bus ticket to get her there.

Rob has an idea for her to make some quick cash. She starts to cry and says she wants to call home, her parents would send her a ticket, but you see Rob can’t allow that because then he will be in trouble. If she doesn’t do as he says there will be consequences to her and possibly to her family. He reminds her that he knows a lot about her, like where her little sister goes to school.

Just like that, Jenny is trapped. Jenny now belongs to Rob. Jenny is 13.

According to the statistics of human trafficking in the US is staggering :
“There are 100,000- 300,000 underage girls being sold for sex in America today. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 yrs old. 1 out of 3 teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of running away from home. Minor victims are sold on average 10-15 times EVERY DAY, 6 days a week. 55% of internet child porn comes from the US. 1 out of 5 pornographic images are of a child.”


These are not bad kids. These are not ‘loose’, ‘wild’, or ‘screwed up’ girls and boys. These are confused, scared children who are victims.

Please not only pay attention, but WARN YOUR CHILDREN. So many people feel this can’t happen to them, or they believe this is something that happens in another part of the world. This is happening HERE to OUR KIDS.

Sit with your child. Go to and search American trafficking and watch. Be disgusted. Be sad. Be outraged. Be terrified.

For confidential help and information 24/7, call the US National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-3737-888 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Eulogy - Blogger Idol

Allyson grew up in the 70’s/80’s as a barefoot, mop-topped, street-wise kid in a neighborhood where doors were never locked and you played outside until the streetlights came on. She suffered her first of three broken left arms at the age of 3 and had a long standing relationship with the local E.R., including a facial plastic surgeon from a significant dog bite and a horrified pediatric staff due to one of the worst cases of poison ivy they had ever seen.

As a teen she rebelled in a big way ultimately leaving home at 17, having her daughter Abby at 18, then marrying her baby’s father who was her high school sweetheart. Still breaking the rules and having a good time, she found herself pregnant again at 21 and this time, the baby was sick.

Allyson never saw herself as a stereotype and fought tooth and nail to fight it. She was able to plow head on into the role of a mother, and learn the ropes of caring for a child with special needs. She later found herself blogging about this journey and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with the masses.

Having these words read about her was her worst fear..leaving her son to live his life without her. She often worried, who would care for him as a mother would? Who will kiss him? Who will make sure he has his favorite things? Who will love him as much as her? If she were here today, these are the things she would be asking us.

If she were here today, these are the things she would be telling us; she had a good life. She was grateful for many things, including a man who has loved her since 1989 putting up with all of her crap, taking care of her when she was sick and just listening when she was sad. She had wonderful kids, and she hopes they remember every day how very much she loved them.

She was so thankful she was able to work, play, and love so hard for the years she had with us.  She would tell us to take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and please smile when you think of her. She leaves us with her legacy of being a kick-ass Slombie maker, an advocate for those in need, and a voice for a child who does not have one. Her house could have been cleaner, her bank account fatter, her vehicle newer, her pants a size smaller, but her heart could not have been bigger and her family could not have been more loved by her.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Guest Post #5 by Heather of Wearing Some1 Else's Shoes

Summer Guest Post #5 by Heather of Wearing Some1 Else's Shoes
"Sometimes you just want to cry." my 13 year old Mikayla said this to me this morning when I was doing my morning chores. I can't imagine how she must feel. Hormones are surfacing for her. Plus Mikayla was diagnosed with the last year with bipolar and mild Asperger’s. Being a teenage girl is hard enough especially with body changes and your period starting and now she has to understand her moods aren't the cause, but her bipolar and her awkwardness is her Asperger’s. We don't use the word normal in this house since no one on this planet is. But most of all since my beautiful child is struggling to find normal I will not put a bar up for her to not be able to reach it. I couldn't reach normalcy if I wanted, after all I am a mother of three kids. 13, 3, 7 months. Mikayla, My 13 year old is the brightest star in my sky. That is what I tell her and that is the truth. She lights my world up. After she was diagnosed it was as if someone turned a light switch on and I wasn't in the dark anymore I now understood why she was the way she was as a child. She wouldn't talk to anyone without me going up to them and making them her friend.

She had no imaginative play. She would not try to learn how to do things like ride a bike or roller-skate. She just learned how to ride a bike last year. She smiles at awkward moments and laughs inappropriately. She doesn't understand jokes. She has hygiene issues. She would have outbursts that were extreme over something so small. I never really focused on all of these things till I had my middle child. They are very much different as children are but this is different.
My middle child, Emerald, has an extremely active imagination which makes me giggle when she is playing. Emerald is 3 and is fearless. Whereas Mikayla is afraid of everything and has to be forced to try new things. I am not comparing children only giving a reference so you can see how I started to notice a difference in her. I knew throughout her childhood that there was something going but could never put my finger on it. Until last year in October when she told me she had a plan to kill herself, this was after she had a screaming fit for hours. I immediately took this serious and called hospitals to get her accessed. I had to wait a few days and then she was accessed and put in inpatient. I did not like that hospital but I had no choice since other hospitals were full to capacity.

She was then evaluated and had testing to confirm their diagnosis of Bipolar and then she was put on medication. For a while it was good and things were back to the way they were before. (She has a counselor who comes to the house twice a week and does intensive therapy with her to make sure she doesn’t have suicidal tendencies, self-harm or homicidal thoughts).( I know I probably scared you with homicidal thoughts, but she was planning my death last year and had been extremely aggressive with me on a number of occasions.) Then June during counseling she  tells her counselor and myself that she attempted suicide and trying choking herself. I was terrified. It was during the day when I was home doing my chores. We took that seriously and she was put into inpatient again. This time to a better hospital and they upped her medication, re-evaluated her and diagnosed her with Bipolar again plus mild Asperger’s. They helped her out so much in the two weeks she was there plus they did two weeks of outpatient to teach her skills like how to stop negative thoughts. I loved how much she was learning and how excited she was about it. It has been a hard time for her and our family but it is getting easier. And we have a great team working with us.

I am very happy that we found the light in the dark tunnel so that we could communicate better and understand her more. I am so grateful for her. She is a great artist and a loving child. It makes me sad that she is having a day where she wants to cry. But I know that is her bipolar and sometimes she just feels that way. After talking with her she feels better.

Heather has a Blog and a Facebook Page

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Guest Post #4 by Becky of Mixed Up Mommy

Summer Guest Post by Becky of Mixed Up Mommy

I hadn't felt that sensation of jealousy and anger in several months, but last week, as we were waiting for swim class to start, the two little girls in Connor's class walked up to each other in excitement. The parents were joyfully greeting each other. They hadn't seen each other in a couple weeks due to the Fourth of July holiday and illness. But the real source of excitement was that girl #2 was now walking. Girl #1 had been walking for a couple months. Connor's age (16 months) lies somewhere in between the two. He is not walking and probably won't be for months. 


Connor was born with a genetic disorder (occurrence is 1 in 6,000 live births) called tuberous sclerosis complex. Never heard of it? Neither had we. It is characterized by the growth of benign tumors on the organs. The brain, kidneys, heart, eyes, and lungs are the most commonly affected. Two gene mutations have been identified so far as causes of TSC, chromosomes 9 and 16. Connor has a mutation on 16 and is considered to have TSC2. About 2/3 of cases are spontaneous mutations, meaning it wasn't passed down from a parent.


TSC presents very differently from person to person. Some people are fortunate enough to be so mildly affected that they don't know they have it, while others need full-time care. Difficult-to-control seizures are extremely common. Because of the brain tubers, risks  of learning disabilities, mental retardation and autism are very high. The reality is that he is too young for us to know exactly how he is going to be affected. We just have to wait and see.


Connor's seizures started hours after birth. It took five weeks in the NICU to get enough control to send him home, though he would need to return three months later for brain surgery. The tuber causing the majority of seizures was removed from his right frontal lobe, his progress sped up and we had a month of seizure-free life. Then came the infantile spasms. More panic. More meds. Finally control. Then came the return of complex-partial seizures. The seizure road has been full of ups and downs, but I'm still hopeful control is in the future.



Connor is developmentally delayed and receives physical, speech, music and aquatic therapy. But the last couple of months have been amazing. He actually rolled from stomach to back on time, but he refused to go the other way, fighting tummy time at all costs -- I guess he just really wanted to wear one of those cool cranial remolding helmets for a few months. Suddenly, several weeks ago he finally discovered that getting on his stomach opened the door to mobility. Since then his range of movement has exploded, and while he doesn't move in the way a typical 16-month-old does, he's still managed to create a path of destruction in the living room. He really looks like he's on the verge of crawling, too.



So I had my moment in swim class. But that's okay. My baby boy is crushing it every day with a smile on his face. Today I had to pull him out of the fireplace. And I liked it.

Rebecca Gaunt is a mom, a Blogger and a Freelance Writer
She is the Chair of the TS Alliance of Atlanta/North Georgia

You can find her on her Facebook page Mixed Up Mommy or her blog



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Guest Post #3 by Kelly of DeBie Hive

Guest post by Kelly of the fabulous DeBie Hive Facebook page and blog
I am honored to be writing today for Allyson, one of the people I am grateful to have "met" through this strange and beautiful online blogoverse.

When I was trying to decide what to write about for her, I knew almost immediately what it would be. Since she shares so much of her life journey with us, about what it is like raising a child like Logan, I thought I would share a piece of my journey in parenting as well.

I have four children, two of which have ADHD. Though it's a condition more often associated in many people's minds with boys, the girls are the ones in my family that struggle with it, which makes sense considering the fact that I most likely have it even though I have never been formally diagnosed.

My oldest daughter has the hyperactive version of ADHD, which basically means that her internal motor runs a bit faster than the rest of us. She rarely sits still for any length of time, and never has. When she was a toddler, she never actually sat anywhere. She perched herself on chairs in strange positions at times, but I wouldn't call much of what she ever did sitting.

She was a difficult toddler, often struggling with the ability to control her impulses. I'm thankful that she is a naturally cautious person because without that tendency, she probably would have hurt herself a lot more than she did. For years she was a walking bruise as it is.

When she started school, she learned very quickly that if she didn't control herself that she would be picked on, even by friends. Her teachers weren't sure quite what to do with her because her activity demands were closer to the boys in the class than any of the girls. She did good controlling it almost all the time, except for the rare occasions when she would jump up on her desk like a frog without warning or kick her legs out like a donkey in the middle of a lesson.

She worked so hard to control her impulses during the school day that the hours after she got out of school became horrendous at times. She lashed out, usually at me, often violently. She yelled, she screamed. It was literally as though the cork was removed and all the pent up bubbles had to come out at once. This went on for years, but I tolerated it because I knew I had to. She had (and she still has) the ability to control herself at school just means that I may have to deal with the Tasmanian Devil for a while after the day ends.

I learned a long time ago that she can't do homework right after school. She needs to unwind first, and for her that means she needs to run until her lungs burn. In a cruel twist of irony, she is the one with severe asthma. Hyperactivity + asthma = some very interesting days in our lives.

I also learned that when she gets that glazed look in her eye, she just needs to run. I know she won't listen right then because she can't. So I let her go. Fortunately, as she has aged, her symptoms have lessened. Either that, or she just does a better and better job of controlling it.

My younger daughter has the other version of ADHD, the inattentive type. This is the same version of it that I have. I'm sure looking back that I've always had it, I was just able to rely on my intelligence to mask it.  She did the same for many years until she couldn't anymore.

Starting in Kindergarten, she fell further and further behind in reading. An obviously highly intelligent child, we were all a little frustrated that she struggled so much with something like that. She was put on literacy plans. We tried reading with her at home all the time, but she fought us tooth and nail. Her stubbornness made it almost impossible to make any real progress.

After a while, it became obvious that she was glancing at the first letter of each word, then just guessing what the word was. It wasn't until about six months ago that I realized what was actually happening. Instead of reading along with her, I stopped watching the page and started watching her face. Her eyes darted everywhere, never actually looking at the words for more than a fraction of a second at a time.

As soon as I saw that, I knew. She wasn't even reading. She WAS guessing. And she was doing it because her brain wouldn't let her even look at the page long enough to read the words. I kicked myself heartily for not figuring it out sooner.

Once I saw it, I had my husband, her teachers and her doctors all watch for it. Everyone was in agreement. She had inattentive type ADHD, and any behavioral therapy to try and reduce it wouldn't help. She'd already been pulled out for small reading groups, away from the classroom setting for years. We'd already reduced every possible distraction at home, and for naught. She needed medication.

It was a decision I came to reluctantly, particularly after having already parented a child with ADHD unmedicated for years, but it was one that I knew I had to make. To reassure me, her doctor reminded me that we could just do a trial run and see how it went. If the medication didn't work, then it wasn't ADHD. If it worked, it would help her.

The first day she took it, she sat down and read.

There was no avoiding the summer school that she was inevitably being sent to this year, but she has become  a passionate reader now. She's just about at grade level, which is remarkable considering how far behind she was. As a parent, I beat myself up a bit for not figuring it all out sooner, but I know that we are doing what we need to do for her now.

I've been roundly criticized by many people for not medicating one of my children, for medicating the other. I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. I don't honestly care what anyone else says. I do what I need to for the children I am responsible for, and I don't expect anyone else to really understand what our situation is. They aren't in my house, they aren't the mother of these girls.

I've been told that they are "just kids" and that they will outgrow it. Then I take a look in the mirror and I know that even if they get better at controlling it, they are never going to outgrow it.

I've been told everything would be better if we just eliminated x,y, or z from our diets or if we just took this supplement or that. What those people don't understand is that we have done a lot of diet elimination already, we've supplemented, we've exhausted all of that.

I look at my girls and I know that they are amazing. They are smart and funny and quirky and talented. They have already overcome so much in their short lives, and they are thriving.  ADHD isn't a curse. Quite the opposite. If you look at it the right way, it's an opportunity. I've had to parent my girls more because of it. I've had to interact with them more. I've had to learn more about them. They've had to learn more about themselves, and there is no possible way that's a bad thing.

You'll have to forgive us, all three of us girls in this house, if we need a few moments to refocus from time to time. It'll be worth the wait. I promise.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The wall

Last night we all piled into our 'camping out' room- my bedroom, the bedroom with the air conditioning. Me, Seth, Logan on his mattress on the floor and 3 dogs. The conversations are hushed, the light dim. The mood is so playful and relaxed as Logan and I joke with each other until I look down and he's asleep. I turn off the lights and sigh..I love this this moment, all is perfect in my world.

We wake this morning and as usual I go downstairs with dogs and get my coffee. I hear the door open and then footsteps to the bathroom. The shower runs. A few moments later he comes downstairs in full work attire, ready for his Thursday workday. I am looking forward to the elevator ride so I can show him the "Hello Logan" sign I secretly stuck in the empty phone box.

Just as we are set to leave, we hit a wall. A big, giant, cannot go around concrete wall. I have hit this wall before and I still bear scars from banging my head against it. This does no good. There is no way over it, through it or around it, you just have to endure the pain of hitting it, back off, and wait.

There is no explanation really. Its confusing and beyond frustrating. It was a small argument over something dumb, but it sent him stomping to the bathroom, the only room that locks- and *click* it was all over, he was barricaded in and done dealing with me. (That lock is coming off TODAY).

I hate these moments. I really, really do. We have missed important things because of this concrete wall. We've been late to parties, missed appointments, rushed to things we had plenty of time to get to...I glance at the clock and know if I wait too much longer, I will miss a spot in the limited parking lot at work. I have to make a choice. I have to give him a choice.

"Logan, we need to go. You need to come out of there so we can go. I know you're pissed off at me, we can talk about it on the ride to work."

So I leave him. I grab my stuff and go out to our shop to tell Seth "He's all yours". He looks confused because he had just been inside and all was well. I don't even have the patience to explain it all and he understands. He too has scars from the wall...
That frigging wall that separates us from our child. That horrible wall that prevents us from knowing what he really feels in those moments. I know he gets frustrated, I know he gets angry. He can't be happy and cooperative all the time. He is entitled to have those moments of being pissed off and having some time alone. It's just that damn wall...I hate it.
I drive to work in silence next to an empty seat that should have my co-worker in it. I realize my secret phone sign will go unseen. I wonder what he's doing or feeling. I worry that maybe I should have waited for him. I hate that wall for locking me out of his world. I am frustrated with this this moment, all is empty and confusing in my world. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Post #2 - Shannon of Mommy Has Issues

Guest post by Shannon of Mommy Has Issues
I slip quietly into my 6 year old daughter’s room and avoid turning on the light. Before I wake her up for school, I peer through the darkness to stare at her peaceful sleeping form. Her eyes are closed and she has one hand resting gently on the side of her face. She’s kicked off all of the covers and is lying on her stomach with her knees tucked up underneath her body. She’s so still, so quiet, so lovely.

I bend down and place my hand on her back, whispering close to her ear “Oli. Oli. It’s time to wake up now.”

Slowly her eyes begin to flutter open. She puts her hand over her face and moans softly.

“I know honey. It’s time to get up.”

I sit her up in bed and lift her up and over the baby gate that keeps her from falling off the bed at night. She rests her head on my shoulder as I carry her down the stairs. Her body relaxes against mine as I talk quietly into her ear and ask her about her dreams.

“Did you sleep well baby girl? Did you have nice, happy dreams? You did, didn’t you?! You had nice, happy dreams and you woke up with smiles and are going to have a great day today. Today is going to be a fantastic day. Aren’t you excited?!”

I set her down at the bottom of the stairs and hold her hand as she walks into the living room. I guide her around the furniture and push random toys, which are lying in her path, away. When we reach her favorite maroon colored chair in the living room, I ask her to reach out her other hand.

“Here’s your chair Oli. Here it is. Now turn around and sit down while I go make your breakfast.”

She turns around slowly, scoots back, and curls up in the chair. I continue talking to her, telling her about the day, and asking her questions.

But Oli doesn’t talk back to me.

She doesn’t answer my questions or tell me about her dreams. She doesn’t complain about being tired or say that she doesn’t want to go to school. She never says that she doesn’t like her outfit or the way I’ve done her hair. She doesn’t wake up in the morning and run down the stairs, demanding breakfast or fighting with her siblings. She never wanders into my room to wake me up first, even though she’s six.

Oli doesn’t say anything. Oli doesn’t walk or run around on her own.

Because she’s nonverbal.

Because she’s autistic.

Because she’s globally developmentally delayed and has seizures.

Because she is also totally blind.

Oli was born without eyes.

Severe bilateral microphthalmia. That’s what her eye condition is called.

Blind. No eyes. Severe bilateral microphthalmia. Those words ran through my head a million times in the first few months…no that’s a lie, the first few YEARS after she was born. My baby girl was blind.

I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea anything was wrong with her before she was born. I had no idea until an emotionless doctor walked into my hospital room on her second day of life, while I was sitting on a bed with crisp white sheets, all alone, and announced that he didn’t think she had eyes and was going to be blind for the rest of her life.  

What? What did he just say? Blind. No. No! That couldn’t be right! I didn’t sign up for this! No one told me that this was a possibility when I decided to have children. I was supposed to have healthy children! My life was supposed to be filled with roses and rainbows and beautiful sunsets. Blind? How could she be blind? I had never even met a blind person! What the hell was I supposed to do now?

No one could tell me. No one really knew. We went to LOTS of doctors and specialists and sat through TONS of evaluations and examinations. We were told that she would NEVER do this and that she MIGHT do that. I cried, I pleaded, I screamed at God. I prayed that things were different. I wished that it had been me that had been born blind and not her. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t understand why. Why did this happen? I dreamed in fantasy lands where my life made sense and I recognized myself in the mirror again. I pressured myself into exhaustion worrying about what she would be able to do. I lied to my friends at work and bragged about things that she wasn’t even doing yet.

“How’s Oli? Oh she’s great! She’s 18 months and learning to walk. That’s exceptional for a blind child! She’s doing so well! She’s right on track!” This is what I told everyone. This is what I WANTED for her. The truth? She wasn’t walking at all. Not even close. Unless you count me carrying her around with her feet brushing the floor and me moving her legs back and forth. Is that walking? No? I don’t think so either.

I used to think that her slower progress was somehow a reflection on me as a mother. I thought that if she didn’t do all of the “normal” childhood things and hit those milestones in a timely fashion that I had somehow failed her.

Turns out? I was wrong. What she is able or not able to do has nothing to do with my abilities as her mother. She will do what she will do regardless of how much time I spend worrying about it. Regardless of how much time I spend crying over it. Regardless of how much time I waste wishing it was different.

I also never told anyone how broken my heart was. I never said that once the sun went down and my family went to sleep, I sat out in my living room for hours crying and sobbing until I had no more tears. I never told anyone how much I hated it. I thought that if I said “This is really hard” you would hear “I don’t love my daughter.” You never heard that at all. You heard “This is really hard”. It was all in my head. I was wrong about that too.

Eventually, ahem…5 years later…I learned that I had to accept her for who she is. I had to come to terms with the fact that this was HER life, HER struggle. It was who she was. No matter how much it felt like this had happened to ME in the beginning, it hadn’t. It had happened to Oli. My only job was to love her and support her in any way that I could.

I stopped listening to doctors and therapists who told me that she would NEVER do ______.  They don’t really know. How could they know for sure? Oli is the only one who gets to decide what she will or won’t do. Only her. No one else. The absolute best doctor we ever went to was an oculoplastic surgeon at UCLA that when we asked him if she would ever have light perception said this, “Based on the MRI evidence that she is missing her optic chiasm, the possibility is unlikely. If it truly is missing, she will not see anything at all. However, I am only a doctor and the MRI is only a machine. We get it wrong sometimes. Oli will have to be the one to answer that question with any absolute positivity.”

I know right?! The BEST answer. And you know what? He was right. He was right in regards to all aspects of her life. You never know what a child will or won’t do until they show you what they are capable of.
 As parents…all we have to do is keep believing in them.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Guest Post #1 Beth Navarro of Mother-naked

Guest post by Beth Navarro of Mother-naked. She is a mom, an author and a hula-hoop champion! Check out all of her awesome sites all linked at the bottom of the post. 
I don’t know what I thought parenting would be like. I don't remember that pre-baby brain of mine. I do know I could not have  possibly imagined all that has happened these last six years since becoming a mom. No amount of parenting books will prepare you. Not really.  And every parent you know will tell you some version of: “It’s hard. It’s amazing. There is no love like it.” Which is true, but until you experience it, they are just words. So I had no idea what to expect, but I did find a life preserver, writing about it.
A big reason why I write my raw and sometimes silly blog, Mother-naked, is because sometimes I have to see it in writing to believe that the shit that happened, happened. Yes, Beth, you really did worry for a good week that your six-year-old, Love Monster, would become a stripper because she dug poles so much and loved to be naked. And I made peace with it dammit. If I had to pay twenty bucks for a lap dance to spend quality time with my girl, I’d do it.
You have to laugh at your worries. And being a parent is naturally ridiculous. The shit you have to do. The shit you say. You can’t make it up. Running out of material is impossible. It’s REDICULOUS. Here you are barely hanging on to what you’ve figured out life is to be so far and you’re expected to raise this new human who looks up to you like you know everything. It’s a crazy situation. You go from rule enforcer to chef to butt wiper to their pet pony in a matter of minutes. You better know how to roll with that.
I stuck with writing  the more comedic side for a while until last year. I decided to follow my gut and write whatever felt true. If it came out serious, well damn, my readers would deal. I wrote about going through a silent internal war thinking I’m a bad mom and found I was not the only one. Though my next blogs on the docket are about how Love Monster huffs her teddy bear so hard it rivals an addict and their Scotch Guard static cling spray and how I’ve realized I’m  letting myself get bullied by my three-year-old, Smirker, for candy. Anything goes on my blog.
My other life preserver is all the amazing mom and dad bloggers out there. Being a parent really is like being in a club. The common ground is comforting. “Holy shit, your kid got kicked out of preschool once??? Mine too!” That rush of maybe-I’m-not-totally-fucking-this-up is addictive.
One of the first times I purused The Crumb Diaries on facebook, I was looking at a picture of Logan. I wish I could remember which one, not that it would matter, because all have the quality Love Monster noticed.
 “I love his smile,” Love Monster said looking over my shoulder.
That is what she saw. No differences. Just love and happiness.
Well that just made my sarcastic, sometimes-cynical self all warm and fuzzy. Though this didn’t surprise me concerning her. She’s always been so open. She herself is in a special ed class. She has ADHD and some sensory issues, but she is doing well. She just finished her first year of Kindergarten after a very rough start. I’ll never forget looking at her one day with worry in my eyes: Is she going to be okay? Will she catch up? Will she make friends? The look she gave me was startling. It said volumes, “Mama, It’s all good. I’m going to do it all. At my own pace. I’m doing just fine. You’re doing just fine.” I learn a lot from my girls. That is what parenting is. Learning. All of us. Learning.
What have I learned from Logan? To not judge. I thought I did this already, but I don’t think I really did. I look for his smile in everyone now.
What have I learned from Ally? To write and share with complete honesty. She feels like a soul sister. Thanks for the inspiration, Honeynugget. You are the real deal.
I must also add my girls and Logan would have a seriously good time playing ponies. The girl’s collection is getting out of control. And I’ve seen all 60 episodes of My Little Pony. More then once. Oy.
I will press on trying to figure out this Rubik’s cube parenting puzzle I’ve been given. Maybe one day all the colors will align. Or maybe I’ll realize that the mixed-up colors are just as beautiful.
Beth Navarro writes a blog, Mother-naked and is a children’s book author. Check out her facebook page and website!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Our date night

We went and saw Straight No Chaser last night (most fun I've had watching a show in a while). Logan is as big a music fan as he is a pony fan, but he can be particular. He prefers Ozzy or Metallica, and I wasn't really sure how he'd like this group.

We got to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, parked and walked up toward the venue. The beach strip was rockin', wall to wall people, live music, lights flashing, video games blaring, alarms from winning pinball, men shouting about testing your pitching speed. Cotton candy here, corndogs there, the sights and smells overwhelming.

I look over at Logan and he's just taking it all in, grinning away.

We enter the Ballroom and I get carded, which he finds hysterical. I'm always catching myself wanting to jump in and answer questions for him, but when the lady asked him for his hands to X and directs him to the stairs, he doesn't need me. We get up to the box seats. He is overlooking the sea of people, still not sure what we are were there for. The last time we were there we saw Hollywood Undead, and this would be very, very different.

We sit for about 15 minutes before the lights dim. Spot lights come on, the 10 member group appears on stage. They start to sing. I look at Logan and he is expressionless, just watching. There are no instruments, and he seems perplexed. He glances at me like "this is it?" He goes back to watching.

Around song 3 I notice a tapping foot. Song 4 a broad smile. The group is FUNNY, which I didn't expect. I had really only heard a few of their songs, mostly Christmas stuff. I didn't expect them to be so engaging and entertaining- which really won Logan over. He was on the edge of his seat, anticipating what might happen next. It was really late for him, he'd been up since 5 am, so he was starting to fade during intermission- but as soon as those lights dimmed again he was totally wrapped up in the show. He kept whacking me on the knee saying something I couldn't hear over the music and crowd. I think he wanted me to pay attention- I was!!

They announced their last song, performed, then left the stage. Logan starts to push his chair back to stand up. I knew they would probably do one encore, but he didn't. When they walked back out, his face stretched into the widest smile I've seen in a while. After they were finally really finished, he turned to me and said "Bogan sing it dose duys". He wanted to get on stage and sing with them!

He was still thrilled the whole ride home and mentioned more than once that it was "fun Al!" He didn't go to bed until after midnight.

I had no reason to worry about him liking the show, I don't know why it even crossed my mind. Logan is just happy to be. Happy to be out and about and doing typical stuff. He was happy to be in the midst of that crazy summer crush at the beach. He was happy to be munching on appetizers, sipping a non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri. He was happy to be out at midnight.

So simple, but so important to him.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Paper Clouds Apparel for Windrush Farm

One of the first pages I recall reading and loving on Facebook is Paper Clouds Apparel. I checked out their website and thought 'wow...I would love my kid to be part of something like that'. Since that time, Logan has been asked to be part of their fundraising efforts by being invited to be a guest artist for June.  I will come back to them after I explain the drawings and the charity we are working so hard for.

Some of you may know the story of his horse drawing. Logan, having developmental delays, was never comfortable or confident in his drawing or writing abilities. He refused for years. One day while cleaning his room a few years ago, I found a drawing of a horse under his pillow and my heart soared. I fell deeply in love with this picture. So in love, in fact, I had it tattooed onto my arm, then added more of his artwork.

Paper Clouds chose the horse, and the skull & crossbones to put onto shirts they create, and they give 50% of proceeds to our choice of charity- which is Windrush Farm. Windrush is an incredible therapeutic riding center that expands and enriches the personal, emotional and physical abilities of all those they serve by partnering with their horses and the environment. Logan has been riding at Windrush for many, many years and it has helped develop his love for horses, as well as confidence, balance, language and responsibility. If you have never heard of therapy horseback riding, you need to check out their site.

We were also asked if we would like a co-artist to join us for this campaign- and that awesome artist is Connor aka "Bug" at Rockin Autism Mom. He submitted some art too and you can see his on his mom's blog. ( I love the owl and I am soooo glad we are teamed up with them!) 

Okay- back to Paper Clouds. This company works with a different special needs school or organization every 2 weeks. ALL artwork used by Paper Clouds Apparel is created by individuals with special needs, like Logan and Connor. Paper Clouds takes that art and transfers it onto Earth friendly, super soft, bamboo shirts. (I have one, they are suuuuuuper soft). Paper Clouds Apparel hires individuals with special needs to package up all of their goods. 50% of the profits of these sales goes to the organization that created the art, or the artists choice of approved charity/organization. 

When you purchase a shirt from Paper Clouds Apparel on June 10th, you will: 1) Help raise funds that will help students with special needs continue to enjoy horseback riding. 2) Make jobs for individuals with special needs at the Paper Clouds Apparel facility 3) have a kickass super soft shirt that you will love- with Logan or Connor's artwork on it! This is a win/win!! 

**Bonus info**

2 more things! The first, when you get your shirt, send us a picture of you or your kids wearing it! The photos will go into a "Paper Clouds Apparel" folder on the crumb diaries page and the photo with the most "likes" will receive a gift from Logan and I. 

Second, every purchase will get you an entry into a raffle. If you buy one shirt, you are entered once. If you buy two shirts, your name goes in twice, and so on. We will select a winner in a random drawing and send them a special gift. Maybe a Slombie!

Don't worry- I will be sharing the heck out of this campaign once they go on sale. You will have all of the info you need, I will make sure! Thank you guys!! Love, Ally

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's here

I don't know that I was what you would consider a 'girly-girl', but I definitely looked forward to attending my junior prom. I wanted to get dressed up, and to see my friends dressed up. I was eager to see who might win Prom King and Queen, and who was going where afterwards. I was the oldest grandchild and my grandfather started his tradition of buying the granddaughters their prom gowns the year I attended my prom.

I remember buying that red dress, borrowing the shoes, and doing my own hair. I think my dress cost $99 and that was the only expense I had. I don't really recall much else about the whole thing. I don't know what I ate, I don't know who danced with whom, I don't know who sat at my table. But I remember the spark in the air of the whole night. It was glittery, sparkly, magical and everything I'd hoped it would be.

When I had a daughter, the prom eventually crossed my mind. I had as much fun watching Abby attend prom as I had at my own. Dresses were more expensive and girls no longer did their own hair, but the feel was the same. In our town all of the kids meet at our library, slip in the back door and the crowd gathers in front at the bottom of the staircase. Couple by couple they are announced and come down those stairs for everyone to oooh and aaaaah at the gorgeous girls in their dresses and the handsome guys in their tuxes.

Abby attended again the following year and it was just as much fun for me. I love the whole idea of it, seeing these kids who are typically in jeans and ponytails all glamorous for the night. I can see the magic in their eyes and the excitement in their smiles.

When Logan became a freshman it dawned on me..he is in highschool..there will be a prom. At that time I pushed it out of my head. Why worry, its so far away. Sophomore year I realized we'd become a year closer to this and I started to wonder about it. Would he go? Who would he go with? Why worry..its a year away.

This year, his junior year. Prom year. Here we go. No more pushing it out of my mind, time to figure stuff out. Okay, I will....I promised myself. But I didn't. I procrastinated, and went back and forth with the idea. We made a couple of tentative plans and they fell through. I stressed over it, I beat myself up over it. He couldn't miss this night, this milestone, this tradition. I was asking him if he wanted to go, and he would just shrug. He could go with buddies, but part of the fun is having the girl in the pretty dress by your side, and I wanted the whole shebang for him. I wanted him to have the full experience, considering this might be the only prom he attends.

After multiple conversations with Abby about what to do, she called me and simply said "Kevin bought me a flight home. Pick out a dress that Logan likes, I am taking him to prom." A weight lifted off of my shoulders as I said that out loud.

Logan. Is. Going. To. Prom.

I know it seems like a small, insignificant thing to some people. Some people don't care about the prom either way. But for me, it means everything. It symbolizes so much. It was the first time I looked at my date, who would later be my husband and the father to my children, and felt love for him. It was the first time I got to feel like a princess, and the first time I got to help my daughter to feel like a princess. It is a rite of passage, a small town tradition, a coming of age type of thing that is special to us.

I don't care if he owns the dance floor. I don't care if he doesn't understand what a Prom King is. I don't care if he spills his drink down the front of his rented tux. My kid. Is going to PROM.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The mother I've become

I've been a mom for lots of years. Almost 21 now. I've been a "special needs mom" for over 17. These are different kinds of moms, but the same in lots of ways.

I never in a million years thought I would be a mom of a kid who needed extra help. You don't plan for that in your head. You don't look at your toddler, who is doing everything right on target and perfect in your eyes, then rub your pregnant belly and think "yea, this next one will be completely different and need extra help for the rest of his life". You think things will go just like they did the first time. You will have a nice easy birth, go home and start writing milestones in the baby book. You will have play dates and dress the kid up cute and take it to the park and have coffee with moms while you all smile dreamily at your perfect little rugrats, while sharing the cute things they say and how high they can count.

Sesame Street will help you out, teaching your kid to count to 10 in Spanish, and Barney will teach it how to share. You think of all the stuff your kid is going to do, and wonder if he'd like baseball or soccer or maybe a skateboard. You look at the kids his age and wonder which ones his friends might be, or which girl may eventually be his first crush. Who will he sit with on the bus or at lunch? Will he be a good student? Or will he be a rebel? Maybe class president giving a speech in front of his class in the auditorium while you beam with pride in the front row.

You think of all the things that will happen...and then they don't. The milestones don't come, the playdates become less, the moms don't understand. You are a different kind of mother, thrust into a parallel universe and instead of football practice you are at physical therapy. Instead of speeches, you attend speech therapy..but you still beam proudly.

As a mother, I have goals for my children. The first time around Abby was hitting milestones left and right, mastering every goal set in front of her. She learned quickly, spoke early and well. She was a sweetheart, always chattering away happily, carefree and loving.

Logan was not. He was missing milestones left and right, struggling to master the basics. He didn't speak. At all. He became frustrated and hard to handle. He would scratch or bite or flail when angry, and you would never know what would set him off, because he couldn't communicate what he needed or what he was feeling.

I didn't know how to be this kind of mother. My kids were going to be right on target. They were going to be sweet, smart, well behaved and I would show how good I was at this mothering gig. I couldn't understand what went wrong, or how to fix it. I was no longer anchored, I was floating out into space with nothing to hold onto, and unable to catch my breath.

This was an odd time for me in my life, having one child who was so close to perfect and another who was struggling and so hard to help. I was very young, and had no idea what I was in for. I had no way of knowing how long of a journey I had just started, or how difficult it would be. I had no clue I would spend days on end at doctors appointments and my child would endure endless tests, pokes and prods.

I also had no idea how hard I would fall for this kid. My hard to handle, impossible to tame, difficult to help son. My wordless, biting, scratching, flailing kid, who I couldn't get to know because I couldn't communicate with him.

I am a different mother than I would have been, but as hard as its been, I love the mother that I am and the child that I have helped Logan become. It was worth every single frigging second. Every sleepless night, every long afternoon in therapy, every mile traveled to specialists office. Even though my child was not anything that I expected him to be, the day he was born I gave my life over to him and buckled down for the long haul. He owns my heart, and I would do anything I can to help him. He has become an amazing, inspiring young man and although he may not be the class president or football captain- I could not possibly be any more proud of him than I am.

I am so lucky to be his mom. I reflect each Mother's Day and look back on how far we've come. We're a damn good team.

Happy Mother's Day no matter what kind of mother you are. It's not always easy, we're not always perfect, but every day is a new day, a chance to try again. You can't predict or control the path you will travel with your child, but you can hold his hand while he jumps the hurdles, and cheer for him every time, no matter how small.