These Boys of Mine blog

How One Boy On the Autism Spectrum Has Helped Change the Lives of Others with Speech Disorders

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As a mother of a son that is on the autism spectrum, I hold a special place in my heart for organizations that help children and families effected by autism and other special needs disorders. That why when recently, an organization called the Orange Effect Foundation was brought to my attention by Gail Hoffer-Loibl of Maybe I’ll Shower Today, and founder of Blogging for Better, I was very intrigued. The Orange Effect Foundation was created by Joe and Pam Pulizzi, whose young son Joshua was diagnosed with moderate ASD and was also nonverbal in his young life, as a way to combat those children that cannot afford or receive speech services that they need early on in life in order to learn the skills they need to possibly speak one day.

My own son Liam, had difficulty speaking early on in his life. He received speech therapy from the time he was a year and a half. With each passing month, my husband and I rejoiced as Liam began to speak new word after new word. Of course, this was not without struggles and fallbacks. Liam fought hard between meltdowns and worked everyday to complete his speech therapy. He had amazing speech therapists that helped Liam achieve these milestones. We also worked aggressively with him at home, by modeling proper use of words and reading him books to help him learn new words.

I’m happy to say that today, at 6 years old, Liam is carrying on full conversations and often brings up things we wouldn’t have thought about. His unique mind allows him to visualize the world in a different way, and with the help of all the speech therapy he has received, he is able to verbalize those ideas to his outside world. He is now reading at a grade level ahead, he is teaching his younger brother new concepts and ideas, and carrying on conversations with him is one of my most favorite things because there was a time I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen.

I can truly relate to the struggle that Joshua and his family went through in his younger years because my son and family also walked this path. It is a battle that only those that have walked through can really understand.

Imagining the inability for my child to receive the speech services he needed to learn the skills he would need to talk to his outside world, is very scary as a parent. That’s why the Orange Effect Foundation is so necessary and needed. It provides “children with speech disorders the ability to receive the therapy and technology they need” (Orange Effect Foundation).

If you can, please spread the word about this amazing organization and even better, donate to it to help provide much needed services to children with speech disorders, like Joshua and Liam once had, and other like them struggle with right now.

These Boys of Mine blog

What You Should Be Doing With Those Bras in the Back of Your Underwear Drawer

We all have them.

Some are big, some are small, some feeds babies, some are used to sell sexy lingerie, and some have been removed because of the presence of cancer.

Breasts. Boobs. Tits. Fun bags. Whatever you call them…they are one of the most defining parts of human womanhood. They are important in so many ways. We do self exams in the shower, have yearly mammograms, and worry about how they change over the years.

But, what if you had to worry about finding bras to support them?

What if you had to find alternatives to the comfort and hygiene a good bra can bring to your body?

Well, for thousands of homeless women across the US, and all around the world that is not just a thought but a real life reality.

No woman or girl should ever have to worry about having a clean bra to put on. They shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in their own skin or lack the necessary support to walk with confidence.

That’s where organizations like I Support The Girls come in. Here is their mission, “I Support the Girls collects and distributes donations of new and gently used bras, and individually sealed tampons and maxi pads to women and girls nationally and internationally. Whether they be homeless, refugees, in transitional housing, or fleeing domestic violence, women and girls should never have to compromise on dignity.” (Via ISTG website)

Founder Dana Marlowe recognized a need for homeless, displaced and low income women to have free access to feminine products, bras and underwear.

The organization has affiliates all over the world. Check out the site to see where the closest affiliate is to your location and ask them what you can do to help.

My closest chapter is in Syracuse, NY. When I asked them what they may need via their FB page they told me, “I would say at this time bras are always needed but product is most important. Pads, tampons and feminine cleansing cloths are crucial.”

Donations to the Syracuse Chapter can also be sent to:

I Support the Girls
5415 Amalfi Drive
Clay, NY 13041

You can also check out a feature that was done on the Syracuse affiliate by Syracuse Woman Magazine for more information.

Reach out. Donate. Host a drive. Do something for all of the women who deserve dignity just like the rest of us.

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These Boys of Mine blog

The Hidden Scars of Miscarriage

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I’ve experienced a pain that no mother every wants to endure – an awful nightmare that came to life not just once, but twice in my journey to motherhood. I’m not sure why I was chosen to become a mother to two angels, or why my children were never allowed to know life outside of my womb. Even now, nearly three years later, I think about that question at least once per day. I question the existence of a God that would allow me to go through such pain and not allow a baby to meet his mother and father.

Some say it is time for me to move on with my life and focus on the two beautiful children I do have here on Earth. While I’ll always be eternally grateful for them, I still question and wonder about my other two babies and why they both were given to me then ripped away. That burden is mine to carry until I take my last breath. I wear it around like a giant scar on my chest, similar to an open heart surgical patient, with a massive scar in the center of my chest. As if someone reached into my chest, tore out a piece of my heart, sewed me back up and then came back six months later and did it again. What’s left is a heart that’ll never be the same. It’s been broken, tattered, and bruised too many times for it to ever go back to the way it once was.

This unbelievable burden is not something I would have chosen, then again, who the hell would? Nobody sets out on the path of trying to conceive in hopes of miscarrying. I never thought it’d happen to me. Yet, it did. It wasn’t until that moment when the ultrasound tech told me there was no heartbeat, though there had been just five weeks prior, that I realized how very often it does occur to mothers hoping to have babies –one in four. One in four women that want nothing in the world more than to hold a baby of their own, to rock her to sleep at night and sniff her precious head, or to hear his first cry in that cold hospital room. One in four lives changed in an instant. Hopes and dreams smashed all to hell with a simple sentence like, “There’s no heartbeat” or by simply going to the bathroom and wiping a streak of blood from herself. Just like that, a mother’s life is forever changed. Her soul is instantly tainted for the rest of time and she never knew her heart could break into that many pieces.

Some scars are carried like a badge of honor – police officers that get shot saving lives in the line of duty, though unfortunate they are remembered as heroes or a sister that gave her brother a much needed kidney bears the mark of a heroine that saved her little brother’s life. These aren’t the kind of scars we carry. We have fragmented hearts, stretch marks from babies we’ll never hold, and C-section incisions that will heal with time but nothing to show for them. Most of the world will never see our scars and while most days we are grateful for that it is also insanely tragic. The tragedy is in the fact that unless we speak of our lost babies, the world will never know they were here. That fact alone if perhaps the saddest part of losing a baby – to know that they were indeed here but the only part of them that remains is our memories of them in our hearts and the hearts of a select few others that loved them too.

Although there’s no way of undoing the damage that has been done to my heart or to stop wondering about what could have been, I will hold the spirits of my unborn babies deep inside of it for the rest of my life. There they will be at the center of my thoughts, hopes and prayers each day until I’m no longer a part of this Earth. There they will be safe, loved, and never forgotten.

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Originally posted on the Grit & Grace Project

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These Boys of Mine blog

So God Made a Cat

In all of his creations, God had made the worthy, the loyal, the loving, and the hopeful. As God looked down upon the Earth, He decided it was time to mix things up a little bit. He wanted to create a being unlike any other. One that would make his beloved humans question their sanity yet look upon with total joy.

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So God made a cat.

God wanted a being that would be the counterpart of the loving dog He had created for the people of His Earth – where they were loyal, these creatures would be independent. Where dogs were loving to all, these creatures would choose their companions, and where dogs were made to be man’s best friend, this creature would be the apple of a woman’s eye.

So God made a cat.

He wanted someone that would thrive in the darkest of night – with wide eyes that could see more than most in the dark, a true slayer of all mice, and would jump on his owner’s head as he was in his deepest slumber.

So God made a cat.

God wanted a creature that humans would worship, from the ancients Egyptians to the modern day housewife. They would all bow down to her beauty, her gracefulness, and her pink little nose.

So God made a cat.

He wanted someone that could bring a little mischief to the world – a cup tipper, a counter climber or a string chaser that humans would make YouTube videos of their antics and bring smiles to millions of faces.

So God made a cat.

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God decided to give her eyes as big as saucers in all different shades, things called whiskers to help them sense danger and navigate their world, and claws to catch prey and dig at their owner’s new carpet.

So God made a cat.

He knew he needed an animal that could be destructive, vicious and brave, yet could turn even the coldest heart into mush with a rub upon his leg.

So God made a cat.

God wanted a being that was soft to the touch as if made of the fluffiest clouds in Heaven, with young that looked like tiny puff balls and made the sweetest of noises.

So God made a cat.

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God wanted a creature with a face that was not only striking, but also somewhat scary if perceived the wrong way.

So God made a cat.

He knew he needed someone that could sense incoming natural disasters in time to warn their owners and even pick up on their person’s mood and offer a warm friend to cuddle up with for comfort.

So God made a cat.

God gave her a voice that had many different sounds –  one for distress, one to beg for food, and one to warn a pesky toddler that she was about to strike.

So God made a cat.

God gave her the ability to emit a noise he titled “purring,” that would mean she was at peace in her bed, on a windowsill, or curled up on her owner’s lap.

So God made a cat.

He wanted a creature that was a walking contradiction. Somewhat selfish, demanding and indifferent, yet also giving, loving, and kind.

So God made a cat.

God most of all wanted a true companion – someone that could walk through life with men and women for up to 30 years if they were lucky. Someone that would make them laugh with their antics, soften their hearts with their faces, and love them when they were in need of a friend.

So God made a cat.
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For Tabby Jane, Izzy, Penny, Franklin, Panama, Ruff, Boots, Sparky, Nike, Pippy, Luna and Mosley – you are all in my heart and soul forever, my beloved feline friends. ❤

These Boys of Mine blog

I Hope My Kids Find Their Neighborhood Kid Tribe

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We stayed outside until the street lights came on, even later than that some nights. We played capture the flag, road our bikes to the store, and talked about kids at school that we didn’t like. We rode the same bus to and from school. We built forts in the woods behind my house and played Barbies in my basement. We had sleepovers and often ate meals at each others’ houses. It was an open door policy at both of our homes. Your parents knew that when you were with me, you were OK and mine appreciated you being a steady friend for me.

We were the kids of that second street past the high school on the left.

The neighborhood kids.

We met for the first time in my backyard when I was seven and you were five, and since then we’ve had a kinship that has spanned just over 20 years. Our bond was created over summers spent berry picking, dreaming about boys, and camping out in my backyard.

A kind of friendship that stems growing up two houses apart.

We played with the boy across the street, my older sister, and the kids around the corner, too. Endless fall nights playing flashlight tag, riding bikes on the trails next to all of our houses, and swimming in the only pool on the street.

We grew up together. We were all so close in age—each graduating a year or two behind another. We were all early to mid-80s-born babies, cementing the fact that all of our parents had been busy around the same time.

I look back on those days with fondness. Though many of us have lost touch or moved away, the memories of a childhood surrounded by friends on the same street will always remain.

Now that I’m a mom, I want what I had for my own kids. I want them to have friends they can simply walk up the road and knock on the door of and say, “Do you want to come out and play?”

I want them to have friends on the school bus on the first day of school—a familiar face of the kid across the street that will make them feel comfortable on that first journey to school.

I want them to have a place to go if they accidentally get locked out of the house when they are older and get off the bus before I get home—neighbors that I can trust to call me at work and remind him where the spare key is hidden.

I want them to form friendships that will follow them throughout their school years, maybe even ending up in the same class as some of the others.

I want them to know the kinship that exists between kids that grow up on the same street—like how that one neighbor will never buy whatever product the school has them trying to sell for the next fundraiser, so it’s best to skip that house all together. Or which one has the best Halloween candy.

I want them to know the best trees to climb in a two-mile radius and the best place to spot the neighborhood tomcat—all fun things shared between local kids.

I want this for them.

I want them to have what I had. I want them to find a best friend up the street or around the corner. I want them to grow up with neighborhood kids because it can be one of the best parts of their childhood should they be lucky enough to experience it.

This was originally published on Her View From Home

 

These Boys of Mine blog

Welcome to Motherhood, Where Friendships Go to Die

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When you become a parent so much of your life changes. Anyone that has children understands what a monumental impact becoming a parent has on your everyday life. It is all consuming from the very first time you hold your new baby. It’s hard to explain it to people that don’t have children or any concept of what it is like to have a tiny, living, breathing soul that is totally reliant on you to keep it alive. Like driving a car for the first time or losing your virginity, it’s one of those strange things in life that you just can’t grasp until you are in the thick of it.

Although motherhood changed me in so many ways, some amazing and some not, I think that the biggest impact it has had is on the friendships I had prior to becoming a mother.

I wasn’t prepared for the total isolation that can accompany the early days as a new parent. After everyone has seen the baby, they don’t stop by as much as they used to before his arrival. It turns out people don’t really love babies as much as the world tells us they do. There’s no offers to help, calls to check in, or free food left on your front porch while you are finally sleeping with your newborn in the recliner in the early morning hours.

Motherhood isn’t like the movies.

As it turns out most of your friends will forget about you. They will come visit you at the hospital to get their token new picture holding your baby and call themselves the child’s aunt or uncle on social media, but that’ll be the last time they’ll make any real effort to get to know your kid. The friends you had before you had your baby, the ones without kids, they will leave you in the dust.

Now, I don’t want to discredit the friends that have already walked the path of parenthood or the select few that actually care enough to stick it out with you through the early years of raising children. Those that have been there will certainly become your new best friends, as you now have the biggest thing in common that two adults can share a bond over. You may even get lucky and meet some new friends after you have your baby.

Everyone who has children has walked this path. There are countless articles that express the loneliness and loss of self that parenthood brings, but also ones that articulate the common theme of people that used to love us before we became parents only to forget that after we are.

Friendships are built on similar interests, fun times and a belief that two people can rely on each other through all of life’s hard stuff. Friendship is meeting another human in the most random of places whether it’s in the school yard, in the college dorm or at your new job, looking at them and saying, “I want that one!” It’s really quite funny how we meet a stranger and within a short amount of time they become like family to us. How crazy is that?

The funny thing about friendship though, is that unlike marriage, if one of you decides not to put the time in then it will die. Marriage doesn’t allow you the courtesy of walking away without some sort of repercussions. While, friendship doesn’t have any legally or spiritually binding obligations. If one friend wants out, they can just dip out the backdoor whenever they feel like it.

Of course the real recourse in doing this is a friendship that is like a house after a hurricane has come through. It’s an empty shell. There are walls still standing, pictures floating around in 3 feet of water and memories of a time that has come and gone. It happens slowly sometimes and fast other times. They end because of distance, differences in stages in life and disagreements over silly things.

The hardest pill to swallow is that parenthood is often to blame for the death of many friendships in people of childbearing age. It is probably the top reason why people lose touch, don’t make time and have their priorities shifted so dramatically and instantly to the point that personal relationships take a backseat because between caring for your kids, your spouse and yourself you just don’t have the time to meet up for coffee every week.

After the hurricane of early parenthood has passed and the flood waters have receded, you are left with something that needs to be torn down or rebuilt piece by piece. You really need to decide if it’s even worth rebuilding or if it’s time to just build something new where the old one once stood.

These Boys of Mine blog

Please Don’t Let Me Forget the Wispiness

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I’ve never been a baby person.
Not when my adorable little brother came home when I was eight-years-old. Not when my sweet baby niece was born when I was 19—and not even either time I became a mama to the world’s two most precious boys.
I think babies are a lot of work and I know with certainty I’m not alone in this thinking. I wished away most of my firstborn’s first two years of life just because it was so darn hard—the colic, the crying, the postpartum. I wished it away. I wanted him to be five-years-old instantly. And today, he is.
Time has a way of sneaking up on you. Tomorrow, next week, or two years from now always seems to be so far away. Our elders always tell us how quickly it all goes by, which always reminds me of that Kenny Chesney song, “Don’t Blink”—we don’t think about it at the time. We’re so caught up in the chaos of our everyday lives as mothers to young babies that we have no way of seeing it until after the fact.
Then just like that—it’s gone.
Maybe it’s because he’s my last that I’ve started to take notice. Or maybe I’m more of a baby person than I thought. But all I know is not a day has gone by in the last year that I haven’t stopped to soak in the wispiness of my second son’s ash blonde hair or the way he greets me with a smile every morning when I lift him from his crib.
And that other one? The one who made me a mama in the first place? I’ve learned to take long moments for him, too. The half-smirk I get when he rounds the corner of the school bus aisle and he tells me about his day as we walk hand in hand up our driveway after school. The way he has started calling me “mama” instead of “mommy” both melts and breaks my heart because I know that before too much longer, he’ll simply call me “mom” and I’ll miss being called by either of the former for the rest of my life.
While most days I go to bed tired and I still wish some of these days away, I am grateful to be conscientious enough to know that they won’t last much longer.
So for now all I can do is ask God to grant me the patience each day to remember.
To remember the way one laces his fingers through his afghan blanket as he sits with me in the recliner.
To remember the way the other one has mastered the art of the perfect pout face that makes me hope he thinks to thank his mom in his Academy Award speech someday.
To remember the way one was the actual embodiment of the cover of “Love You Forever” just the other day.
To remember the way the other one still lets me kiss his forehead before I turn out his bedroom light each night, though it probably won’t be much longer until he’ll think that’s uncool.
To remember the way they both still ask me for a refill of their juice, even though their daddy is standing right next to the refrigerator.
To remember the wispiness of the locket of dark brown hair that resides in a baby book upstairs and also the ash blonde lockets that still sit atop the head of my last baby.
All I can ask of God is to please, don’t ever let me forget the wispiness.

This was originally published on Her View From Home