Saturday, January 29, 2011

When I Grow Up...I Wanna Be.....

....Just like Linz.



It doesn't matter if....
- we had dinner at Taco Bell....
- we went to the bookstore and bought her a new book
- spent the evening at home and had a cozy fire in the fireplace
- went to Magic Kingdom and saw Robin Hood (for the umpteenth time
- found a new restaurant that serves Mt. Dew
- finally got to see "Seuss Landing" at Universal Studios
- got her hair cut in a new style
- went on the Metro into DC
- bought cute, new socks
- she got a new high score playing "Shark Attack" on her iPad

or if it was just a sunny (snowy works too) day....

She inevitably says, "Wow, now THIS was the BEST day EVER!"

Honestly I can't think of a better way to live life.....and when I grow up I want to be just like her.

Blessings,
Michelle

Friday, January 28, 2011

Whooo Loves Ya, Baby?

So I'm kind of addicted to making these hand sanitizer boxes...not gonna lie!  I thought I'd post this little guy before I log off for the day.  I will also confess that I did indeed stand in Bath and Body Works picking through the hand sanitizers trying to decide which ones would best coordinate with my card stock.  :-)  (Laugh amongst yourselves here...)

I love my owl punch and I think he's just perfect on this project.

Enjoy!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

With Love.....

I've been playing around in the stamp room and I wanted to try a technique I've seen a few times recently.  This one was really cool to see it come together piece by piece.

I punched the scallop circle flowers and the yellow centers and adhered them to the black card stock.  Then I put the whole thing in my Square Lattice Embossing Folder and ran it through the Big Shot....and voila!
I sponged the black and white striped grossgrain ribbon to match and added a little bling (because everything looks better with a little bling!).



I'm just enjoying trying new ideas and techniques and I have lots of new items on my "Wish List" to order during Sale A Bration!

Happy Stamping!
Michelle

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The "Hedge-itizer"

Love, love, LOVE Snow Days when I have time to stamp and create!  It's SO addictive!

Here's one of the projects I made today.  It's a cool, little hand sanitizer gift "thingy". (technical term)

I was trying to create with items I had on hand and I'm kind of proud of how it turned out.  :-)  I was happy when I realized I could "sponge dye" my vanilla ribbon with Pacific Point ink so that the ribbon had a little extra "umph" (again...a technical term).

Hope you like it!


A Moment of Clarity....

You know those times when something happens and you actually can feel God smiling?

Today I had one of those moments.



Since the snow hadn't started yet I decided to take the kids out of the house before it got too nasty out there.
We went to Michael's so I could get a couple of things.  When we arrived, Linz went off on her own to check out her favorite departments and Zach was hanging out with me as I wandered up and down the aisles.
As we were walking down the yarn aisle the music they were playing changed and the song "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys came on.  Then I hear Zach say (to no one in particular) "Oh!  My favorite song!".  Ok.....my son.....who doesn't talk.....said.......WHAT?
After blinking a few times I said, "Zach, do you like this song?"  He said, "Yes!"  (Ok...WOW!)
Then I figured I'd push my luck and I said, "Do you know the  name of this song?" and he said, "The Muppets".

I swear I could have almost done a back handspring!!!!  (ok....about 20 years ago and 100 lbs. lighter....but STILL!)

Thank you Lord for giving Zach (and me) that amazing moment of clarity today.  I could feel you smiling down on us and it felt SO GOOD!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just breathe....

It's been a bit of a bumpy ride....

I'm mostly writing this entry so I can look back and remind myself that I CAN do it.....that I am stronger than I think I am.

We knew before Christmas that Mike would have to travel the first three weeks of January.  He would be going somewhere that he could drive to and he would be able to come home on the weekends.  It was nice the first week he was gone to have Britt still here finishing up her Winter Break from college. 

Now I know that most of those who know how things work with our kids and the past history with travel etc. it's no surprise that this extended "change in routine" would stir things up a bit (to say the least).  One of the common "issues" with autism can be insomnia.  It used to be when the kids were younger that when Mike traveled Zach wouldn't sleep.....plain and simple.....didn't matter how long he was gone......Nope....   I was a zombie.  I couldn't sleep if Zach didn't for fear that he would get up and wander.  So many nights he'd sing and talk all night long.  Now he would go to school the next day and you'd never guess that he hadn't slept.  Me.....well, I'd go to work and be ready to fall asleep!

Anyway....so for the first of the three weeks Mike traveled this month the kids missed him (so did I!!) but for the most part Zach slept and Linz just kept on her regular schedule.  Then.....when Mike left for the 3rd week, Zach started saying, "Dad's at work"...."Dad's coming home"...."Dad's all done".  Now that might seem like such an "Aw! How sweet" thing to most of you but if you listen to it over and over and over and over and over....... you might start  to see (and hear) that it's Zach's way of trying to make sense of things and mostly of him saying, "Ok, seriously Mom.....enough already!"  He doesn't say much most of the time and we have to try to figure out what it is that he's really trying to get across to us with the words he chooses to use.  For instance he loves McDonald's M&M McFlurries.  If we are out running errands and he says, "you have ice cream at home" he's trying to tell me that he want's me to stop at McD's to get a treat for him and he's pretty sure I'm going to tell him that we have ice cream at home and he can have some when we get there.  Clear as mud??  Well....trust me....it can be confusing (and just a little frustrating).

Another thing that he does is he talks about "Fred" (his bear) to me when he's trying to get thoughts across to me. "Fred's in the car"..... (x 1,423 times)  Most of the time he does it to joke around with me but he says the same things over and over and .....well you get the idea.

The three weeks seemed to drag by.   I missed Mike SOOOO much.  He's more than just my husband.  He's ....my ally....my "normal conversation"....my sounding board....and my best friend.  The last week Zach got more and more agitated and by Friday he was watching the clock.  His teacher even emailed me to tell me that he'd been watching it at school too and she knew he was waiting for his Dad to come home.  Boy was she ever right. 

Friday came and Mike came through the front door and Zach went bounding down the steps to hug him.  He said, "Hi Daddy!!!" with a huge smile on his face.  (Linz loved on him too....  <3  )  I remember thinking, "Whew!  We made it.  Now he'll settle back in and it's all good".  Well apparently we're still readjusting.....I think he's still worried that Mike's going to leave on travel again or things are going to be different this week....I'm not sure.  He's just really having tons of echlalia and I would be lying if I said it doesn't get to me.  (Honesty Alert)  I'm no saint....just human....   It's hard to listen to the same things over and over again and wanting SO badly to be able to have a "real" conversation with my son.  It seems like such a simple thing.  I just want to know what he's thinking....Is happy?  How does he like school?  What did he do at school?  Were there kids who were mean to him?  Does he like the new shoes we bought him?  I just wish I knew.....

So for those of you who say, "Oh, I don't know how you do it!"  I guess you can tell that I don't always "do it" well.  Some days I hang on by a thread.  I KNOW there are so many people out there in the world with problems that are a thousand fold worse than anything I can possibly imagine.  I'm not having a pity party.....just trying to make sense of it all in my own head.

I write this just to remind myself when I look back and read it later that I can do it even when I think I can't.  I'm tired...and that's ok.  I just need to remember to breathe.

Blessings,
Michelle

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Stuff From My Stampin' Cave...

Happy Sunday!

I've been working on a few things down in the "Stampn' Cave" this weekend and I thought I'd share a couple of them with you.  I went to our Stampin' Up! Team Meeting yesterday and got LOTS of inspiration and now have SO many ideas in my head to try out.

I'm also working on my upcoming Stamp Camp schedule.  I can't wait to share some of the new designs and ideas with my family and stampin' friends!

Here's the card I designed for our Team Card Swap this month.  The theme was "Birthdays"....


Next is the fun "Stationary Set" I created for our holiday gift exchange.  I had a lot of fun putting it together.  I used the "Blueberry Crisp DSP" (Designer Series Paper).  I love it because it's double sided.  Also included were a covered notepad, monogrammed bookmark, post it note holder and coordinating pen.

And finally....here's a cute box I created.  It's one that we learned a few months ago and I'm  just now getting around to trying it out.  I love the DSP, coordinating cardstock and ribbon.  It's perfect to hold a small gift or even a gift card.  It has a platform inside that gives it more dimension and also has coordinating cardstock covering it.  I LOVE the pearl accents!  I'm so glad SU! is into "bling" as much as I am!



So that's about it from here.....    Don't forget that "Sale A Bration" starts on Tuesday!!  If you don't know what it is.....call or email me to find out.  Trust me....you won't want to miss it!  You can also check it out on my website.  Just click HERE 

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead,
Michelle

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"My Funny Valentine" Stamp Camp



It may be cold outside but we'll be heating things up here at the "My Funny Valentine" Stamp Camp.  Come join me and make 4 cards and 1 "surprise" project and just have some fun!  The cost for the class is $15.00 and that includes everything you'll need to go home with 5 completed projects.

I will be having a drawing for anyone who places an order of $50.00 or more to receive the Hostess benefits PLUS you will get a FREE "Sale a bration" stamp set to boot!  You can check out the Sale a bration Catalog and the New Occasions Mini Catalog on my Stampin' Up! Website.  Just click HERE to see all the great new products and ideas.

I don't know about YOU...but I LOVE FREE STUFF!

Email or call today to reserve your spot! 

Hope to stamp with you soon....
Michelle

Monday, January 17, 2011

Still the one.....

** Sappy Alert **  (You've been warned!)

During our26 years together Mike has had to travel quite a bit.  It hasn't gotten any easier....  This month he's traveling three out of four weeks and I have to say it has been tough.  It's not that I can't handle things at home...it's not that I'm gloomy and sad.....  it's just that we really just miss being together.  No one makes me laugh like he does....no one makes me step back and think like he does.....no one snores like he does!! *ugh*....but no one fills my heart like he does.

I heard this song on the radio and it reminded me of us.  I am posting it here mostly to remind myself when I'm picking up dirty socks...laying awake because of the snoring.....or grumbling because he's late waiting patiently for him to get home....that he is truly my best friend....my love....and my heart.

Love you baby....


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Love is patient...Love is kind....

I read this today on the "Autism Speaks" Blog and it blessed my heart.  I'm sharing it in the hopes that I pass the blessing on to someone else who may need it today.

This was written by the grandmother of an autistic child....

I sit watching Jeremy always so busy with his repetitive activities while my mind races with thoughts.  Oh God, where is the place for an Autistic child in this world?  I am at the end of my rope, I don’t know what else to do.  I try to be positive and encouraging.   I am always helping and seeking ways to make him better.  I am so anxious I can’t sleep well at night for thinking about all our dreams for him that won’t come true, what he will not be able to do and ways to change these potential outcomes of his life. As I sadly ponder these thoughts, in my heart I hear these words:


The place for Jeremy is in your heart; it’s in mine.  Each of my creations has a unique place in my world, a purpose to be found.  Help him find his!  Trust me, I will guide you.  He was not sent to you to fulfill your worldly dreams.  He has come to be a special part of your life.
He has a sweet spirit that lives inside of him, one that can be overshadowed by fear but nurtured by love.  Learn to recognize it, see it, savor it and watch Jeremy become what I created him to be.  You are loving him the way he was created to be loved, continue.


How can I even use trust and Autism in the same sentence?  How can I acknowledge you, God, in Jeremy’s Autism for when I do I’m angry with you for letting it happen!  What do I need to know? What good can I do here?  If I am loving him they way he was created to be loved, then, Dear God, what can I do differently?

Then I remembered in my thoughts a Bible verse I heard a lot in church as I grew up.  “Love is patient, love is kind…love always hopes, always trusts, always protects and always perseveres.” I hear words again in my heart: 



To care for Jeremy, to make a safe place for him, and to provide what you can is one of the most life-giving, life-receiving things you can do.  For this is love in action.  Now, let my love nourish you as your love nourishes Jeremy.

After I hear these words I remember something else from the Bible…. “Be not anxious for anything but in prayer and thanksgiving make your requests known to God and the peace of God will guard your heart . . .”

While these thoughts are in my mind, I have been watching Jeremy line up his trucks.  As if on cue, he looks up at me and gives me one of those rare, beautiful smiles.  I think from my heart  Thank You!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Since it's been SO cold and yucky outside I've been enjoying staying home in the evening by the fire where it's warm and I've created a few new goodies that I thought I'd share.  I LOVE the baby cocoons and can't wait to use some of the ones I have in a few of my upcoming photo shoots. 

I've been contemplating opening an "Etsy" store but I just haven't been able to convince myself to do it.  Anyway....I thought I'd share these here on my blog in case anyone is interested.  :-)

Enjoy!

"Bella Buttercup" Sweater & Hat Set - Size Newborn - $24.00

"Pea Green Posies" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn - $20.00

"Pea Green Posies" Baby Cocoon & Hat = Size Newborn - Price $20.00

"Penelope Pink" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn - Price $20.00

"Penelope Pink" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn - Price $20.00

"A Wee Bit Wild" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn   -  Price $20.00
"A Wee Bit Wild" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn - Price $20.00

"Bella Blue" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn - Price $20.00

"Bella Blue" Baby Cocoon & Hat - Size Newborn - Price $20.00

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You Oughta Be In Pictures!


Suitable For Framing Photography 
is pleased to announce
our first ever

"Making Memories Photo Shoot"

We are making a day of it!  So if you would like family portraits, senior portraits, engagement photos, baby pictures or just to capture some family smiles, come have fun with us and we'll capture those memorable moments for you to cherish for a lifetime.

Email or call today to get a time slot for your personalized photo session.  
We will email you with the location.  

We are offering two different days and locations.

Manassas Photo Shoot -  Saturday, Feb. 5th, 2011

Fredericksburg Photo Shoot -  Saturday, Feb. 19th, 2011

Photo Sessions are $45.00 and will last for about an hour and a half.  
You can include as many people as you'd like...
Pets are welcome!  :-)
You will receive your beautifully edited proofs on CD. 

For more information, email us at:
shellsuit@verizon.net
or call 571-217-8414
 

Autism....The "Fad"


I'm sure watching the news, listening to it on the drive to and from work and/or reading it in the newspaper has benefited me in more ways than I can imagine.  Today, however, it just ticked me off (to put it nicely).

One thing that I can't stand though is hearing about things that, like autism, seem to be cyclical.  April =Autism Awareness Month=BIG field day for news people.  They seem to report (more often than not around that time) about the latest and greatest "miracle cure" for or "breakthrough found for the cause" of autism during that miraculous month.

Now wouldn't you think I'd be THRILLED beyond words if any of those reports were the slightest bit true?  I mean come on!  But alas it's just never true and I tend to take it with a grain of salt.

But....listening to today's news infuriated me.  If you haven't heard about it yet....you will.  Fraudulent studies about the link between Autism and Immunizations.....

I, like most people, find the recent rise in the instances of children diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) astounding and it takes my breath away each time I hear the odds get slimmer and slimmer.  1 in every 110 births results in a child being somewhere on the autism spectrum.  (And it's 1 in every 70 boys!!)  I don't know about you but after living with autism as an extended member of our family of five for the past 20 years it simply makes my heart hurt when I hear those odds.  Shoot!  I guess I had better odds at having an autistic child than winning that $335 Mega Million the other night!!!

I've spent MANY hours in the wee hours laying in my bed trying to fall asleep while wondering what I did to make this happen.  I mean come on.....I'm the mom!  Moms are supposed to be the all knowing....in charge...smart ones right??   I carried each of them within me, close to my heart, for nine months keeping them protected, talking to them and anxiously waiting to see their sweet faces.  I did what I was told to do by my doctors (ok...truth be told I didn't drink milk because I hate it.... There....now everyone knows the truth on that score)  I didn't drink alcohol....have never smoked....never done drugs....  So what did I do?
No matter how many times I asked the question Mike (and MY parents) said, "You didn't do ANYTHING wrong".  Well....20 years later I still lay awake and wonder so I guess that's just the way it goes.  P.S.  Moms worry too.

Then there have been YEARS....yes, YEARS of reports and debates about a link between immunizations and autism.  That's where the media comes in today and is actually what started the rant in my head all day today.

I am sickened by the doctors and lawyers who, because of their LOVE OF MONEY, decided to alter results of research that was supposed to "help".  Is there a link?  I don't know. I will, however, tell you my opinion and that's the best that I can do.

I had 3 perfectly normal pregnancies.....3 gorgeous (if you don't believe me I have the pictures to prove it!) babies....and I, like all new moms, did my "required" duty and had them all immunized.  With Brittany...the week before her first birthday she had her 12 month round of shots and that included the MMR.  The following day my mom and I were in Fredericksburg shopping and Brittany fell asleep and awakened in a full blown seizure that seemed to go on forever.  She stopped breathing!  It was horrific.  In the months prior she had started jabbering and saying words like "Mama", "Duck", "Clock", "Moon" etc.  After that seizure it was like a hard drive that had been wiped clean.  She had NO language at all.  She didn't talk again until the age of 3.  We were SO blessed!!!  (I will tell you that she hasn't STOPPED talking since.  :-)

I had no clue what had happened and so when Lindsay came along 2 years later I had her immunized too....right on schedule.  That's a mom's duty, right?  Although she never had the seizures, she changed after the age of 1 and at the age of 2 was diagnosed with autism.

I remember thinking when I found out that I was pregnant with Zach "Ok.  There is no way God would give us TWO children with autism.....I mean come on! What are the odds??"  Bad question because now, years later, I know just what the odds were.  Zach was gorgeous, giggly, snuggly, sweet and I could have just eaten him with a spoon.  But alas after the required shots and at the age of 2 he was also diagnosed with autism.  Ok....so here's the DISCLAIMER.....  Ready??  I am NOT suggesting that any parents who may read this not have their kids immunized.  I can only tell you that IF I were pregnant today (and hadn't jumped off a bridge at the thought of starting over at the age of 46)  I would have to think long and hard about the choice I personally would make about having my new baby immunized.  Don't throw stones....just try to understand the history here....

I remember going to the pediatrician with Zach when he was ready for his 1 year shots and asking them about the safety issues etc. and they assured me it was completely safe.  Only later did I find out about all the horrid things that were actually included in them.  Mercury and Formaldehyde were just two of the top items that turned my stomach.  I later found out that parents whose children had had adverse reactions to the shots could, and did report the "batch number" back to the pediatricians' offices.  Do you know what happens when the doctors return those batches back to the pharmaceutical companies?  It is apparently "too expensive" to destroy them so they companies repackage them and distribute them to other pediatrician's offices.  Kinda makes you sick, doesn't it???  You've been taught to trust the medical professionals, right?  Me too.  Not anymore though.

So.....I can't tell you have any clue what the cause for autism is......I can't tell you that there's a cure on the horizon for autism.......but I can tell you that no matter what the skeptics say (including a close family member who shall remain nameless...but she IS my mother-in-law)  I have loved my children with my entire being....I have held them......read to them.....kissed them....taught them and I treasure them with everything within me.  Being told that I'm the reason they are the way they are....  well there are no words for that. (ok, so she called me a bad mother) Well I'll take that as a compliment because my children have touched so many people's lives and I can't imagine being any prouder of them.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God holds them quite proudly in the palm of His hand and He is incredibly proud to be their Heavenly Father.  We dedicated all three of our kids to Him and we know that He is in control.

Autism is NOT A FAD.   Whatever the cause......Wherever that ugly beast came from.....   It needs to be stopped and destroyed.....never having to be a diagnosis uttered by another doctor or medical professional to unsuspecting, loving parents EVER AGAIN.

Please pray for the REAL warriors who are out there....tirelessly searching and fighting for a cure for our children. 

Blessings to you and yours,
Michelle

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Zach...an iPad....and a little "Joy"

I can't begin to tell you how much Zach loves the new iPad!  There are so many amazing apps that are completely FREE and so great for kids with autism.   I'm telling you....if I win that Mega Millions Jackpot for $330 million tonight there will be LOTS of autistic kids getting and iPad!  :-)

Zach taught himself to play the piano when he was in elementary school.  He started with a simple rendition pretty awesome rendition of The Star Spangled Banner!  Whew!   It's amazing to hear him sit down and play things he's heard like theme songs from video games...jingles from the radio, etc.  He just picks it out and plays it by ear.

I downloaded an app called "Virtuoso" for the iPad and he loves it.  Here's a little snipit of what he was playing this afternoon.  I guess he's still in the holiday spirit.  At the end I can tell he's mimicking the bells that he's heard in a popular version we've listened to.  So cool!

Enjoy!


Monday, January 3, 2011

When I grow up I wanna be......?

Confession Time...

I think I have "Life ADD"....  Ever heard of it?  Me neither but I'm self diagnosing here.



I have waaaay too many things that I love to do.  Photography, Stamping, Scrapbooking, Travel Planning, etc. etc. etc.  Oh, add to that the fact that I'm making notes for a book of 'Lindsay-isms"....

Um, I think that's it. (yeah sure)

So how does one go about chosing?  Do you have to choose? I dunno.  I kind of dread the whole "New Year's Resolution" thing because how many people actually follow through??  Just curious.  See!  I could make a list of those "have to dos" too!  Lose weight...yep (and DUH!)....Get organized....yep.....Plan a budget....yep.....Read more....yep......Build my Stampin' Up! business...You BETCHA

Ugh! 

I guess tonight I am trying to find just ONE thing that I want to focus on and see how it goes.  Which one?  Do I write them all on scraps of paper and put them in a hat and draw one?  Do I put them on a board and throw a dart and see which one I hit?  Hmmm....

How about praying?  Aha!   Now that's the first good idea in the whole bunch.  I wonder sometimes just how frustrated  God gets with me when He is patiently sitting there waiting for me to wake up and remember  that it is He who grounds me....He who holds me ever so patiently in the palm of His hand and He who knows every hair on my head.  He is the one who knows what's best for me.  I know that the scripture says, "Ask and you shall receive...." but first you have to know what to ask for.  Right?

The one that keeps nagging at me....tapping me on the shoulder....creeping into my dreams and won't quite leave me alone is the book.  Seriously?  Why in the world would I think I could write a book????  Me???  Geez Louise.  I bake cakes....I do crafts....I'm not exactly a writer!  Seriously!

 If I really DO write all the "Lindsay-isms" down like everyone tells me to....what then?  Why in the world would anyone read it?  Would it be a blessing to other parents of special kids like me?  Would it give hope to moms like me who wonder why God chose them with the most precious gifts ever?  What if no one reads it?  How do you find someone to publish a book that people may not care about?  Where do I start?  

I know this is just a ramble to all of my faithful blog readers clear my head since I'm the only one who will read this but that's ok.  I needed to see it written down and have something concrete to hold myself accountable for.

So I'm going to figure it out....Alex, I'll take Prayer for $500 please.  I'm sure He's (ahem...that would be God and NOT Alex) gonna give me just the "Anti ADD" remedy I need mixed with just the right people in my path to show me just how to get to where He wants me to be.  Wish me luck....and any extra prayers are greatly appreciated.

Blessings,
Michelle