Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Little More...

One last Autism page for the month of April... this week at the MDC Challenge blog the challenge is to scrapbook a cause near and dear to your heart. Being Autism Awareness month, I knew for sure I would be scrapping another page about Autism, but I also got all kinds of ideas for other pages, so they'll be on my task list! I would love to do a page honoring my aunt, whom we lost last year to breast cancer, and of course a page honoring my brother whom we lost due to an incorrectly diagnosed heart attack. I don't want to do depressing pages, though, so it may be better to wait a bit on those. I think it's important to scrapbook the bad things along with the good things in your life, because that's the only way someone looking back will get a real picture of your life. But, I don't want all of those pages to be morbid or angry - I think it's more important to tell the story.

Scrapbooking about Josh is the perfect example. When my kids were born I was heavy into scrapbooking and made pages on EVERY little event :) But then, since Josh has regressive Autism, the pages were kind of invalidated. After all, he lost the first words he spoke, he lost his ability to eat with fork and spoon, he lost, he lost, he lost. So for a long time I just stopped scrapbooking about Josh. I still took lots of pictures, but I was just grieving so much and I didn't know how to put what was happening in to words. Now that I am (mostly) past the grieving stage I think it's really important to just give a picture of what our lives are like. Hopefully, one day he will be able to look back at these pages and see just how far he has come! Even in this past year he has progressed leaps and bounds. I would guesstimate that he has jumped from cognitive abilities around those of a 17-24 month old up to about the 3 year old phase now.

Yikes - I'm going on and on again! Let me just show you the page:

This was a very easy page to do because the Bo Bunny background paper actually has a lot of character all by itself, so I just added matted photos and journaling strips along with my title, which I created with Quickutz lettering and a 7 printed off my computer. I used Sally's sketch from this week's sketch challenge at Splitcoast Stampers. The page is just about Josh's accomplishments at this point - here is the journaling:

-You can say short sentences, mostly for things you want. You've started doing a lot of echoing, and you like to use the word 'No!' Still no conversational speech, though.
-You've started changing the language selectors on your videos, so now you spell all your favorite words not only in English, but in Spanish and French as well. You like me to write the words down, and when I can't recognize them (because they are not in English) you spell them out for me!
-Still not potty trained, but you seem to understand what's supposed to happen and you clean up after yourself. It's just getting you to recognize when you need to go and getting you to stop what you're doing.
-You're ALL boy and you're a happy boy. You find beauty in unusual things. You love to be tickled, take baths and showers, and play in the dirt. You put yourself to bed if we don't do it on time. You still do a lot of stimming, toe walking, and jumping. We're working on that!
-You're a really awesome little guy!

OK, thanks for hanging and sorry about going on and on (and on!) I hope you all enjoy or are at least interested in learning about Joshie - he's such a great kid!! (I'm not biased at all... he really is great!)

Make sure you come back and visit - today starts the BIG BLOG ROLL at the MDC Challenge blog - lots of prizes and fun to be had!!! Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Little Big Girl...

This week's challenge at the MDC Challenge Blog is a sketch challenge using either sketch 15 or 16 from Julie Bonner's 52 Weeks 52 Sketches - love her stuff!! I iused sketch 15, here:

And here is my page:

My layout was created using the new Alissa patterned paper, chipbaord, and brads we got in at the store from Bo Bunny. My title was created using the mini Blossom and Revolution Blossom fonts from QuicKutz. The pink flowers are also from QuicKutz.

I love this picture of my little daughter, who just turned 8 this year. Look at her trying to be a big girl and help with the dishes, standing on tippy toes with her too-big blue jeans. She LOVES to help out and thinks she's a grown up now! Of course she also thinks she deserves all the benefits associated with adulthood, so we're already butting heads... she's gonna be a heck of a teenager :)

That's it for today - hope you all enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Silly Seal page...

Hi - I have just a few quick projects to share today - life has been a little crazier than normal lately! Last weekend we had to drive all the way up to Virginia to take care of some legal issues - three days in the car, one day of rest, one morning of court.... aaggh! Then when we got back I had to work four 11 hour shifts to make up the time, so it's really been crazy!

I did want to share a story from our trip. Those of you who have known me any length of time know that my little boy has Autism. I want to talk about that this month because April is Autism Awareness month. In years past I have always hosted a crop to raise funds to benefit Autism research and I'm a little sad that I won't be able to pull one together this year, at least not in the month of April. However, I do want to talk a little about our life and what it is like and the challenges we face.

You see so much about Autism in the news these days, but I think most people still don't get it. When you hear the figures - 1 in 150 children will be diagnosed with Autism this year - what does that mean? That means that more children will be diagnosed with Autism this year than they will be with AIDS, cancer, and juvenile diabetes COMBINED. I'll say it again - COMBINED. Yet, as a disorder it receives less than 5% off the research funding that those same diseases receive. Let's face it, with a child being diagnosed with Autism in this country every 20 minutes, if your life is not already significantly impacted by knowing someone with Autism, it soon will be. There is no known cure, and the treatments that do are help are so expensive that even Jenny McCarthy has to write extra books and take on extra work to pay for it. Where does that leave the rest of us? I have been meeting with some mom's in our school and we are going to try to form an organization to get some services brought to our area - I'll share more on that as it develops. The bottom line is, in order for our kids to get the services they need, we have to basically create centers for it! OK, OK, off my soapbox, I promise!

So on to the trip. Joshie actually did very well during the driving part - we worry about how he will handle 18 hours in the car. During the day he typically requires a lot of sensory stimulation and expression - it's called 'stimming'. It causes him to jump a lot, walk on his toes, and make repetative and odd hand gestures (he looks like a miniature air traffic controller!) So confinement is not his friend. But he did great - he watched some videos on a portable DVD and played his favorite video games. We accidentally passed our exit and missed our original planned stop, and since exits in South Carolina are far apart it took us a while to find a hotel, so it was about 1am before we got settled in.

So here is another wonder of Autism - sometimes, quite frequently actually, children with Autism have difficulty with SLEEP. This means they may have trouble falling asleep and be awake until 11 or 12 or in bad cases even 1 or 2 in the morning. Or, it may mean that they sleep for an hour and then wake up, ready to go. Naturally, this can be exhausting for the family. After all, if your kid is only getting two hours of sleep a night, then that's all you're getting. Children with Autism can not be left unattended. And it's made more difficult because of the duration. We all remember what it's like to have a newborn with a sleep schedule that doesn't match our own. We suffer through it for 5-10 months and then hopefully they start to learn to go to bed timely and sleep through. Imagine 7 years of newborn sleeplessness! It's tough, really tough sometimes. I'm lucky, actually, because normally this isn't a big problem for Josh. It happened a lot when he was younger, maybe 3-4 times a week, and as he's gotten older the episodes have decreased to about 2-3x per month. I've always kept a bedtime schedule, so luckily Josh always goes down OK - he just sometimes wakes up at 3 or 4 in the morning and that's it - he's done with sleep.

So I'm sure you guessed by now, that morning after we drove ALL day and couldn't get settled into our hotel until 1am, Josh woke up ready to go at 4!! Aaaggh! We had to barricade the door with the suitcases and the hotel table. We received an unfortunate room placement of being right on the ground level in front of the pool, so he kept whipping the drapes open so he could look into the pool. Good thing there aren't many people wandering around at that time! We tried to at least lay down, so I gave him a little bath to relax him and in return he got all the toilet paper wet and made lines of little wet clumps of it across the sink He kept running back and forth in the room squeeling with happiness and jumping on us to try to get tickled. He just would not be quieted! We finally just got up and left with only a few hours of sleep under our belt because we couldn't take it anymore! Trust me, it's a good thing this kid is so darn cute!

So we were worried about what to do on the way home - we were turning around to go home again only 2 days later, so we were already pretty tired. We weren't sure we'd be ABLE to drive if that happened again. We were happily surprised, then, when we got into our hotel room, ate dinner, gave Josh a shower, and he just climbed into bed. Look at this beautiful boy - I mean, who sleeps like this? An angel, that's who. Thank goodness bad nights are followed up by sweet times like this! Happily, we all got some sleep and the next day of travel went much better!

OK, so were you looking for a little actual paper crafting here?? lol - I did have Easter off and so of course I made it a point to get a little scrapping done. These are very simple projects - thankfully there is such a thing as "clean and simple" style, since that's all I have time for lately! I have SO many ideas floating around, it's very frustrating not having the time to execute them. Anyway, the first project is an ATC card - we're having an ATC challenge with prizes this week over at the challenge blog, so make sure you give it a go!

These are supposed to be Easter or spring themed ATC's. Mine uses my favorite new paper line that we got in - sei's Bridgeport. I LOVE the colors in the line, and it's got some beautiful floral patterns mixed with classic patterns. Also a lot of fun detail - lined/textured cardstock, embossed designs, and foiled patters - really pretty. I made the card base in the sei purple textured cardstock, then did a base with the green texture. At the top you see a small bit of one of the floral patterns, and they are separated with a little fence post Martha Stewart border punch that I just picked up in Virginia. The stamped calendar is from Imaginisce - it has a little birthday cupcake in the corner, so I covered that with a designer brad. The date I circled with my Copic glitter markers was the first day of spring this year. Very quick and easy and a fun celebration of spring!

Our scrapbooking challenge over at the challenge blog was to get inspiration from a magazine ad. I still had all the pictures sitting on my desk from the last page I did (it's a post or two back I think...) so I wanted to make a companion page (I'm a double page scrapper.)

I pulled my Basic Grey Marrakech paper pack out and tried to pick some patterns and colors that complimented the previous page. You can check out the ad I used on the challenge blog, but as you can see it was based on a series of blocks. I added the horizontal line to compliment a similar line on the opposite page. I had already journaled about the event, so I added an additional subtitle block and accented the page with chipboard embellishments. I also stuck a little Quickutz shell on for fun and to add to the water theme. It was a fun page to do because the pictures remind me of the seal show, which was really funny, and which my kids really enjoyed.

So that's pretty much it for now - I'm going to try very hard this month to increase my posting and give you some more little glimpses of life with Autism, so I hope you'll check in for that. Also, a new BIG announcement - at the end of the month the MDC designers are all doing a blog roll - it will be a 10 day event packed full of fun and heartwarming activities, so I hope to see everyone participating! Have a happy day and work some papercrafting into it!