Some days feel so paralyzing, wanting to walk out our door for fun but knowing and not knowing what will happen. Owen didn’t sleep all night but once he came to me he fell back asleep quickly. I thought about taking him someplace today but I didn’t want to be yelled at for going the wrong way or not seeing the windows. And it could have been the opposite as well. Some days feel very overwhelming, wanting things to go smoothly so I choose to avoid situations that might cause meltdowns. We had a good day, a very busy day but he remained calm for most of it with only a few moments of him questioning when he was going to see his teacher and friends again. He keeps telling me he will see them again in August but he doesn’t truly understand that concept. I wish I knew for sure at which school he would be attending for summer session. I like to prepare him and show him where he’ll be going and what he will be doing but I won’t know until one day this week. I keep telling him he will be going to summer school though. He knows what it is and has gone every year but last year. Everything feels so different from before. His words are both brilliant and bewildering at the same time. He comes up with stories and imagery that I’m still amazed at. Then add in all the languages and it brings a smile to my face. “Hickory dickory donkey in Russian”, he said to Siri, laughing hysterically as she said it. I honestly didn’t realize how many words he is teaching me by saying phrases over and over again until I heard someone speaking in Chinese and I was like they said “I want”. From there I had no clue what they wanted but I was still amazed. He started telling me a sleepy story before bed. It was about “penguins playing with pandas in the snow with snowmen in the sun but not in snow”, he said. I was quickly jotting everything down as he was saying it, hoping we could talk more about it tomorrow. I kept him up a little later tonight, hoping maybe it would let him sleep all night. We made the cookies he told me earlier that I didn’t need. “No cookies today”, he said, being the voice of reason but cookies won out. The diet starts after these are gone. He helped me make our lunch of egg salad as well. I’m trying to get him more involved in our meals so that he understands the process, plus he loves cooking shows and cracking eggs. We got ready for bed and he told me “no sleeping today”. The fake snoring was interrupted by him telling me “the past tense of yawn is yawnt” spelling out the letters. I’m not sure when he learned about past tense and how he came up with “yawnt” but hey he’s spelling. The fake snoring quickly turned into real cooing and he was out. Praying for another night of peaceful sleep for my sweet baby O. Our life isn’t always easy to explain but the love sure is. He’s my heart and he keeps giving joy to my soul. Be bold, be beautiful, be you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The quiet time, the me time starts when Owen falls asleep. I stay up way too late but it’s the only time I have to sit and reflect on the rollercoaster of emotions we both go through daily. I don’t know which one of us is learning to cope more through our emotions. All in all, we had a relatively calm day. Maybe I didn’t try to rock the boat or maybe I breathed a little harder. Either way, we made it. The day started early but it started after that glorious third night in a row of sleep. Almost feels like so long ago but it was only this morning I was celebrating the fact that it was three nights in a row and he slept until after five. He even went to the potty on his own before he came looking for me. I think it was mostly because the door wasn’t positioned correctly but either way he went. Each day I rejoice in the victories. I try to let them win the day instead of the sadness I feel when his screams echo through my soul and feel like they are nipping on my toes. He sat in his “campO” shirt, what he calls his camo shirt, with his bunny slippers on, and he asked for the video “going on a bear hunK”. I love when he adds letters to words or changes them ever so slightly. They keep me smiling and guessing sometimes. He started recognizing “air conditionNU” units on buildings. I’m not sure why but now he yells out every time he sees one. Maybe air conditioner repair is the next learning experience for us. He was being so sweet this morning. He kept walking up to me and kissing my forehead and cheek as I do with him. The language train was in full motion. He came to me wanting “how to start windows in ice and snow in Arabic” and “how to say I want yellow house and check for trains in Russian”. I’m fascinated by his fascination with languages. I’m trying to find a translator that does more languages for him and is easy for us to use. We had several cooking projects today to fulfill the request to bake. We made a crustless ham and broccoli quiche. He helped me mix all the ingredients in and when we added the ham he said, “throw it in the trash”. He likes turkey better. I knew he would love the eggs and cheese but was not sure how he would like the broccoli. I knew once the ham was cooked he would like it. After it was done I was feeding him bites to see what he thought. He was liking all of it, eating it without questions. I’m trying to find ways to get him to eat more vegetables but then I gave him a bite and put the plate in front of him. He looked at the plate and thought he was eating a frog. He made himself gag and ran away from the table screaming “no more eat frog today”. I thought broccoli look like trees but I guess frogs it is. The bread bowl we made went over a little easier. Thanks to Owen watching Curious George he wanted to vacuum the living room numerous times. I swear he’s going to make me an expert cleaner yet even though I’m still staring at numerous veggie straws, shrimp, and snacks from our day. Another cup of coffee and maybe I’ll have the energy to sweep it up. He once again fell asleep late, talking about not going to school, and I wanted to cry out along with him. Maybe this can be night four. Maybe someday I’ll stop counting the days. The joy comes from seeing his smile, his laughter will fill my heart with happiness, and his words will shine bright in my memories for years to comes. Push forward, go after your dreams, and know that you are a blessing to our world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen slept all night round two. I’m praying for the third night in a row. I can’t even imagine it but I’m truly praying for it. When he woke he had two things on his mind checking for trains and going bowling. And I can tell you today didn’t go according to his plan. I look back over the day and it was fine but sadness and meltdowns were hard for Owen. He still had a good day and I saw progress but the emotions attached to those moments were hard. He came to find me when it was almost six in the morning. He wanted his tablet right away but I convinced him to go potty first. Then he realized he needed to find his bunny slippers and he talked to me about his boots and the fact that they weren’t brown shoes. I gave him choices of what he would like for breakfast and he selected waffles. He sat eating his waffles, singing Humpty Dumpty in Thai. I’m still amazed at how many languages he actually knows. We got ready to start our adventures. We first stopped at our beloved coffee shop and he wanted a coffee with me. I got him a frozen chocolate milk and I had a frozen coffee. He went to see his grandma for a little bit before our bowling adventure. When I picked him up he had very specific instructions on where he wanted me to drive. I needed to drive “straight by the yellow house to check for trains”. I do not know which yellow house he meant and I couldn’t go straight. I want to scream and cry and meltdown on the floor with him. It’s hard, it’s truly hard. There are no words I can say to him to convince him I have no clue where the yellow house is and why I can’t go straight and why I’m not checking for trains. This could have been instruction his bus driver said or maybe a video he watched and it could have even been from years ago. He forgets nothing. By the time we got to bowling, he was in complete meltdown mode. The thousands of thoughts run through my head of what I could have done to make this better. I calmed him down before I even attempted to take him inside but my emotions were there too. He did well with bowling once we got inside but there were still moments where I thought he was going to throw himself on the ground. Even though he was having a rough time he was also sad when bowling was over. We came home but it wasn’t the easiest of trips. And I had to get gas. I waited for more screams but they were minimal. I sit on pins and needles waiting for his actions and reactions to the world and then I wait for the reactions and actions of the world. I always pray that Owen doesn’t have a meltdown when we are out. When we got home he started talking about his days ahead. He asked for church and then his teacher, wanting to ride the bus to her on Monday. I breathed. I tried every way I could think of to distract him so I put M&Ms on a plate to count colors with him. He started grabbing them off the plate before I could even finish the instructions. He ate three but somehow he only ate the shell off them, rubbing them all over his face as he was doing it. I guess he likes sweets now or at least to taste them. He cried himself to sleep, screaming about checking for trains and going straight. So many wonderful moments from our day and so many clouds of rain sitting over our parade. I pray as the next few days turn into the next few weeks and months that he finds a peace until he can see his teacher again in August. I already know he got our next Saturday planned again. Follow your heart, believe in miracles, and grow with the opportunities of tomorrow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen slept all night, in his bed, and I always wake up with a start when this happens. To say we had a busy day yesterday was an understatement. He was so full of life and energy. I keep thinking back to all those incredible moments that lead to my sweet baby O sleeping all night. I woke up around three the first time and he was still in bed. That wasn’t too uncommon but when I woke up the second or third time, I’m not sure which, he was still asleep. I reached all around me, making sure I didn’t miss him. And then I finally started calming down. He didn’t fall asleep until well after ten last night so it doesn’t surprise me that he slept late. Today was his last day of third grade. A sip of coffee and I walk away to digest that. I practically cried when he got off the bus. The bus drivers, the aides, his teacher, her aide, the cafeteria staff, his therapist, and everyone else that smiles at my boy are all part of his extended family, his comfort, his joy, his world. And they're mine too. Knowing every day that I put Owen on the morning bus and then see his smiling face when he walks off that afternoon bus I know they each have his best interest at heart and are helping him grow. He’ll be back with his same teacher again in August but now we have to keep the progress going through these summer months. One of the biggest changes for him in the last few weeks is his interest in clothes and what he is wearing. He’s been asking for blue boots and brown shoes. This is coming from the child that struggled with having more than one pair of shoes and we had to keep switching back and forth between velcro and shoelaces because the meltdowns became huge. I got him some blue rain boots in a larger size, thinking hey let’s try this. He liked his bunny slippers so maybe he will like these. I put them out for him to see. He couldn’t contain his excitement. He immediately took his shoes off and wanted me to help him put them on. He clomped around in them doing a little jump. Twenty minutes went by before he even tried to take them off. As soon as he took them off he wanted them right back on. This went on all night. He sat on the couch singing Humpty Dumpty in Thai with his boots on. He can take them off easily but he needs help still pulling them up. After his bath, he ran to his room and he wanted to put on his bunny slippers and his boots so he could go to bed with them on. I told him they had to stay next to his bed. I keep imagining somehow having to create a bed nook in a shoe closet for his new fascination with taking his shoes to bed. Luckily I convinced him to leave them off. He fell asleep pretty quickly. I might have to find the requested “brown shoes brown pants red shirt orange socks” soon. Luckily I have found the orange fuzzy socks. Growing Owen is what we do, all of us together play a role in our world, and the growth of our future and our kids. I’m thankful for the people that help share their smiles with my son. Inspiration and motivation come from everywhere. Be inspired to change your world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
From the early rays of sunlight until the late minutes of the night, which seemed to click off slowly, my sweet baby O was excited for his day. It seemed like he woke up smiling. After trying different styles of socks for him over the years I think I’ve finally found some he likes. Maybe I should say loves. Fuzzy socks are the way to go. It literally seems like he has more pep in his steps when he wears them. Off to the bus stop we went and I know to leave a few minutes early. It’s only a half-block away but it’s a hop, skip, and a jump for us. The adventure starts when we walk out our door. He’s still not always aware of his surroundings and will walk backwards down the steps. I remind him over and over again and he even says my words before I do “be careful be careful” but he still doesn’t make the connection. It’s one of the many reasons he’s in physical therapy to help with body awareness. As we were walking he stops every few feet looking at his shoes and then makes a clomp clomp with his feet back and forth. He walks a little further and tells me “stop signs make noise” cutting in front of me to circle around to the stop sign. We keep walking. He stops again and again, looking at his feet, to the sky, and his feet again. We get to the bus stop and it’s mornings like this that make my heart soar. He started talking about the clouds and he showed me how he was going to “jump up into the clouds with the monkeys and then go swing in the trees”. He had pointed up into the clouds and then he jumped off the ground showing me and my heart leapt with him. What incredible progress I thought. The imagery he was using by saying these words and actions was incredible. The thought process was perfect. It reminded me of when I would sit on our lawn with my momma and we would find shapes in the clouds. He then started talking to me about the monkey eating bananas and he words were in Russian. He wanted me to ask Siri more phrases and within another moment his bus was there. He was so happy to see that bus and practically ran up the stairs. I cried when I got home. This was my baby’s beautiful story. He told me a story like he had read it right off the pages of a book he wrote. His story, his words, his adventures into the sky and trees with his friends the monkeys. When I picked him up from school for therapy his teacher said he had a good day. I’m trying not to think about tomorrow being his last day of school. Summer school will start but it’s only a short amount of time. All three of his therapists said he had a great day. When we first started going I explained to one of them that his memory was long. When his session was over she said she couldn’t believe how many little details he remembers from previous sessions. I chuckled a little thinking, yup that’s my boy, he doesn’t forget a thing. Tonight the joy continued. I took him to McDonald’s for a “happy meal with french fries apple juice and a cheeseburger” even though he said he didn’t want it he ate all of it and wanted more. He said, “ten more please” after eating a six piece. We ended our night with as much joy as our day started. He once again wanted to paint with bananas like Curious George did and ran around the house opening bananas and talking to himself and the bananas in the mirror. I got the request “painting pot of blue paint” and then the red one. He dipped them in paint and rolled those bananas around on the plate I had him use as the canvas. I couldn’t decide what one would use for banana art paintings. We got his bath done after being covered from head to toe in paint and bananas and we got ready for bed where he promptly put on his bunny slippers. The joy filled my heart from morning to night. There is one journey in this life. Explore your world, be thankful for the clouds that float in the sky, and let your imagination guide you to follow your possible dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
How do I put into words the emotions I feel when Owen uses the words that I longed to hear. Every single word Owen speaks is a gift. A hard fought gift in the making. It has taken years for him to come this far. I know why I think he talks when the doctors told me most likely he wouldn’t talk but I can’t say for sure. I remember when the picture started becoming clearer and his eyes brighter. I remember him pulling letters out of a box one after another telling me what they were when three short days before he couldn’t. I remember the last day I gave him milk and dreaming and praying that it was going to make a difference. Today I sat waiting with him for his “therapy” and I asked him how to say, “I want a banana please in French”. This wasn’t a phrase he has been learning but he knows how to say, “I want chocolate milk please” in numerous languages. I wanted him to understand he could switch out the words and come up with more sentences. Without hesitation, he immediately said, “I want a banana please” and it was in French. I asked him for Russian, German, and Italian. He did Russian and German, saying no to Italian. We had learned the word banana earlier in the day for French, Russian, and German as he waited for the bus. I wanted to see if he already knew it in Italian. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t but he sure knows how to change out the words. The progress for his day didn’t stop there. When we came home I told him we were not going to see the windows, we had to come straight home, and he couldn’t yell at me. I told him that we have to work together and that he could see it next time. And that he can’t see them every time. He told me, “I have to wait my turn”. I’m not sure if that was directed at me or him but either way, we got home and he didn’t yell at me. I completely understand there are days he needs to see them to center himself but he also has to understand that we can’t always see them. Life happens, plans change, and time doesn’t always allow for it to happen. But today he handled it beautifully. We came inside and he took off his shoes. Generally, when he takes off his socks he steps on them, trying to remove them. He also screams and squeals as he’s doing it. We’ve been working on this for years. But today he sat down on the ground, without me even asking him to take his socks off, and used both hands to remove them. Hallelujah, I thought. The funny thing he had already taken his shirt off, which he never does because he wanted to “wear blue one and take a bath”. I asked him if he wanted to eat dinner first. He wanted “shrimp and that will be fifteen minutes then eat then bath”. I got his shrimp and he said, “it taste good”. He was very calm the rest of the night. He fell asleep in my arms and I was thankful for his growth today. The laughter he shares and the smile he gives my soul is the breath of fresh air I need. Never give up. There are miracles around us every day. Find your joy, share your heart, and watch your world grow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The tears can’t even fall. Every time I think they are going to somehow I keep them from rolling down my cheeks. Owen slept better last night than he had in a while. Or maybe I was so exhausted I didn’t hear him as many times, even though I woke up more times than I can count. He still came to me around four but slept another hour until it was school time. I’ve been preparing him for today. I think I probably prepared him enough or as much as I could but I didn’t prepare me. He had his eye exam today. I asked him what was going to happen today and he said, “read what’s on the cards”. Then he told me, “doctor looks at chart”. He’s had several exams over the years but not recently. All I kept thinking was how thankful I was that the doctor had worked with a child that had autism before. In and out of rooms we went, numerous people, lights, machines, eyes dilated, and finally the word “glasses”. All and all Owen handled it well while he was there and I managed to keep it together. Everyone was extremely kind and helpful but it’s still very overwhelming for him. And for me. I quickly decided on a pair of glasses for him when we were done. I wanted him to help me decide but it was all too much. He’ll get them soon and then the process of trying to get him used to them begins. I had gotten him a pair of sunglasses, trying to get him used to them but he didn’t want anything to do with them. One day at a time I remind myself, sips of coffee to still avoid the tears. The car ride home is where all his emotions were thrown out into one big cacophony of sound. He was already in sensory overload and then we had to “cross the river”. I’m not sure when this became a thing but now it’s a big thing. “I’m not going to cross the river today”, he yelled. And yelled some more. I drove on. There isn’t much choice for us to avoid crossing the water. We got over the first hurdle and kept heading home. I turned to go towards our house and this is when the earth started shaking for Owen. He yelled, “straight” at the top of his lungs. He didn’t approve of the way I was driving. He yelled again. I could feel his anger and meltdown building. I just wanted to get home. I needed to be home. The closer we got the more he screamed. I was trying to distract him, I was trying to distract me. I pulled in front of our house and he lost it. The windows. He wanted to see the windows. I knew if I didn’t drive to show him the windows the night would be even harder. I drove off and I could feel the pressure lifting from Owen without even looking at him. We went by his beloved windows and then I was able to drive home without him screaming again. We got inside our house and I held him. He sat in my arms until he could find his center. Me, hours later I’m still trying. I keep going back to the fact that I can’t imagine if this doctor and her staff didn’t understand autism. When we were sitting in the waiting room a little girl came in with her mother. Owen kept talking about her being a little girl and calling her different names of kids he knew. She didn’t know how to react. I kept talking to Owen and answering his questions about the little girl. Our life is not always easy to explain but the love sure is. Nighttime is upon us and I pray for a calm night. Tomorrow is a brand new day. I learn, I grow, and I pray. Today is one moment in time. Focus on your joy and now that you can make the world a better place. Smiles to all and donut daze!
It feels so good for Owen to be asking about bowling again. I don’t want to think about the last year and the heartache it caused us not to go. I want to move forward and see the excitement wash over him again as he learns to play through watching videos and our Saturday adventures. He told me more than once he was going bowling on Saturday. And at the same time my heart is rejoicing my heart is breaking. Four more days of school until summer break. Sure, he might be going to summer school but it’s different. He will be happy to go but the rules and routine are different and as soon as he gets adjusted to that it will be over. Then it will be a month before he goes back to school. I’m trying not to think about it but it’s hard not to. He is making huge progress and this break makes me sad. Insert coffee sips here and move forward. Exhaustion is what I’m trying to avoid. I went to bed early last night if you call after ten early but I woke up numerous times hearing Owen stirring. He slept in his bed until after four though and once he came to find me he slept over another hour. His laughter, his pure joyous laughter kept me going today. The potty train is a constant battle with us. He’s potty trained but he also does not like to go potty when he is doing anything else. Plus the sensory kid in him takes over. Yesterday he wanted to bake but I wasn’t up to it. So today we made a chocolate chip cookie bar. He’s watched enough cooking shows that he knows what we have to do. He got a little upset with me that I didn’t choose a recipe that needed the “let’s mix the cake mixer” but instead we used a whisk. I want him to use more of the hand motions so I try to do recipes that he can help me stir more than recipes we use the mixer. Maybe we’ll make bread this weekend. He wants to stick his fingers in the dough as we are making it so I think if we can make bread he’ll be able to help me knead it and roll it. He played his Cajon drum for me tonight. He has incredible rhythm even if he doesn’t understand it yet. I’m trying to teach him to listen to the sounds to be able to play. He plays with one hand or the other really well but as he’s sitting on it I take his hands and show him how to slap it with one hand and then the other. He’s getting good at it. I love watching him play his instruments. The harmonica is probably the easiest for him to play without any effort at all he can get amazing notes out. Once he learns that he completely controls the sounds I know it won’t be long until he is playing songs by ear. After his bath he ran to find his bunny slippers, once again wanting to wear them to bed. I convinced him otherwise but maybe I should have let him because between that, bowling, and when he was going to get to cross the river in the bus again was the biggest discussion that helped take him a while for him to fall asleep. Tomorrow he goes for an eye exam. I’ve been preparing him for it and I’m hoping it goes well. I keep thinking about his laughter. He’s the impact I needed to find me, my breath of fresh air in my own chaos, and my dream come true. Dream big, go after your dreams, and know that you can make a difference. Smiles to all and donut daze!
When you wake up at four in the morning so you can figure out how to work on your bowling game you might be hooked. I heard Owen talking in his room about how to get a strike. He said, “come on ball”, hearing the words from a video he has watched countless times. He kept going, “we need a strike straight straight”. My words followed, “we need more power”. And with that, I heard him rounding the corner. He was in my face in seconds. “Big hug”, he said as he crawled in next to me. I hugged him and told him to lay down it was still nighttime. I think that lasted two point two seconds. “Wanna go to the bathroom let’s try”, he said, running quickly to the bathroom. He told me he was going to turn the lights on and I told him let’s not. It was barely five at this point. From there, our day took off. He wanted to discuss Russian, Italian, and Thai. Plus a language that I don’t even know what it was. One to research for sure. He wanted to watch videos about how to fix a motherboard or maybe it was to install one. I’m not sure and the video he watched was in Japanese, I believe. I asked him what they did and he said, “fix the computer”. Okay, maybe fixing computers is next on our list. He told me why flamingos were pink because of their “food”, he said. He kept asking when we were going to church and at that point, we still had more than three hours. He ate his breakfast, he asked if we could bake but we didn’t have enough time before church. We started a meal in the crockpot but this is not as exciting I guess as getting to scream at the mixer for making noise that he turns on high. We got ready for church. I asked him to wear his black sneakers knowing that he would once again say “blue pair”. His black pair is exactly the same besides the color and he got the blue pair a couple of weeks sooner. I wanted him to have a few pairs to choose from. He said no to the black pair so I told him to choose between sandals that he hadn’t worn yet or his red shoes that he’s worn twice. I look over and he is trying to put his sandals on. Score, I thought. He would have gotten it on too if it hadn’t been for the velcro strap too tight. The progress is quite outstanding. I helped him finish getting dressed and we put his sandals on. As we were leaving I told him to wear his hat to show them at church. And he actually did. That is years in the making. All of those moments are big huge rewards to my heart. On the way to church, he told me it was “May 23rd 2021”. I smiled even bigger. The day always holds a special place in my heart. It was my Grammy’s birthday. And she would have loved Owen. He walked into church looking so big to me. We cooked together earlier in the day but he came to me and said, “let's bake”. I’m thinking it was a plot to get out of bedtime but maybe he really wanted to. I told him we would tomorrow. He started asking for school tomorrow and to see his beloved teacher and with that another day is done. Believe in the hope, know that you are stronger than you think you are, and tomorrow is a brand new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I didn’t know how today would go and I certainly knew I would overthink it but boy, oh boy, was it a great day for my boy. It started off slow, albeit was early, I still couldn’t get going and everything I did seemed to keep me in loops. But Owen was all smiles this morning. He knew what we were going to do. I was trying to prepare him since I wasn’t quite sure how he would handle it. He might have reminded me of it and asked me about it fifty thousand times but I could see how excited he was. Today was bowling day, bowling day, bowling day. It was also going to grandma’s day. And “coffee shop let’s go to the coffee shop” day. All our Saturday activities back in the blink of an eye like they had never been gone. I picked him up from grandma’s house and off we went to the coffee shop. It felt good to walk back through those doors. I started taking Owen to the coffee shop because he loved making drinks on his restaurant app. I always try to give him real-world examples of things he loves on his tablet. When we left there we went bowling. Pulling out into the road was taking a bit too long for him. He kept yelling, “you have to wait your turn”. He often tells me how to drive. When we got to the bowling alley he couldn’t contain his excitement. He wanted out of that car and he wanted out quickly. When we walked through those doors the excitement from him was incredible. It was almost like he was shaking. He wanted to go right to the lane. I went to the counter and it was like we had never stopped going. It was a nice feeling. I’ve always loved bowling but was never that great at it. But I would carry socks in my purse in case someone would randomly ask me to go bowling and I had heels on. I got Owen’s ball out of his bag and the dude was ready to play. It took a couple of times for him to get the hang of putting his fingers in the holes but here we were bowling again. I have him hold the ball with me and we throw it together. It won’t be long and he will be making those balls sail on his own. We got a spare and Owen said, “that’s very awesome”. There were several “treEmendous” and “treErifics” yelled out too as the game wore on. That pretty much describes our day, tremendous and terrific. Live and love, learn and be brave, grow and share. Tomorrow is your day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I'm Lynn Browder. Owen's Mommy. The best moments in time are when I get to see the smile on his face and that giggle come from his heart.