Search This Blog

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pom pom pick up

It is important to me that we work on skills at home. Even though both of my boys have been in different therapies they only get so many visits. Now especially that it is summer time and Gatlin is out of school I really want to make sure we do some good activities at home.

This simple activity is fun for them and works on OT fine motor skills. I picked up the pom poms and plastic tongs at the Dollar Tree store. The container I'm storing them in is just a reused Ovaltine container.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 23

Autism Awareness Day 23 - Weighted blankets. Weighted blankets, lap pads, and even toys can be great for children with Autism. It gives them that extra sensory input they need and can even be calming for them. The only problem is that they can also be fairly expensive.

So if you know someone with Autism and you happen to have some sewing skills I would like to share with you this tutorial I found on making weighted blankets. If you're feeling ambitious I'm sure this would make for a much appreciated gift.

Autism Awareness Day 22

Autism Awareness Day 22 - The spectrum. One thing people need to understand is that Autism or Autism Spectrum disorder is not the same for everyone. People diagnosed with Autism can be at any range of the spectrum, meaning that may fall in the range of being very close to neurotypical, or maybe they are severely autistic, or they could be any where in between. Though Autism has certain characteristics this does not mean that everyone with Autism has all of the same characteristics.

Autism is individual, and though two people on the spectrum may have some similarities they are by no means exactly alike. Both of my boys are on the spectrum and yes there are a lot of similarities but there are also a ton of differences. It's not the same for everyone and it's not something that you can see just by looking at a person. The spectrum is so varied that you may know or have met people that are on the spectrum but you wouldn't have known and they may not even know because they were never diagnosed.

So please don't assume that if you know one person with Autism you know them all. That is just not true.

Autism Awareness Day 21

Autism Awareness Day 21 - Early Intervention. One of the key signs of Autism is a lack of verbal communication. If your child is not meeting their milestones where verbal communication is concerned you should probably check in to it. If you child meets their milestones and then later suddenly stops talking then again this may be cause for alarm. Now I'm not saying this automatically means your child has Autism but I am saying that you should find out why they are not meeting their milestones.

One great place to find out more about this is through Help Me Grow. They can help you find out if you child is on track developmentally and then provide further assistance if they are not. We have been working with Help Me Grow for a little over a year now and they've been wonderful with Draiman. They came out to our home to assess his development and then from there scheduled more visits and therapy to help us work on goals with him.

They are a great resource so please check them out. For more information visit there website at

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 20

Autism Awareness Day 20 - Do not fear an Autism diagnosis. I have heard of family with children that are most likely on the spectrum but the family refuses to have their child tested. Believe me when I say that I understand it can be hard to admit that your child may not be typical but you don't have to be afraid of the diagnosis. When Gatlin was diagnosed I went through a whole range of emotions, I wasn't sure what to do. I wasn't sure how I was going to cope let alone be able to help with all of the daunting therapies that he was going to need.

It was beyond overwhelming and then at some point I just realized that it didn't have to be traumatic. Gatlin was still my child, still my baby that loved so much for who he was and the diagnosis didn't change that. He was who he was regardless of what you labeled it, he was still Gatlin. What the diagnosis did do was point us in the right direction of learning to understand him better and to get the help and support we needed. His diagnosis wasn't a tragedy, it was a way of getting us on to the path we needed to travel for better understanding, learning, and growing.

By the time we got Draiman's diagnosis it was no big deal, we understood our boys so much better now. We had been able to learn about Autism and better understand why our boys did some of the things they did. We had learned how to better communicate with them which led to less and less tantrums. We were learning new ways to teach our children things that we weren't able to before. We were also learning how to meet their sensory needs and life was just changing, but for the better.

So if you have a child that you or your family thinks may be on the spectrum then I urge you to follow through on getting them tested. I know it can be scary but it's a necessary step. The worst case scenario is that your child will in fact be diagnosed with Autism, but if you ask me that's not really a worst case scenario. I think it would be much worse to not have them tested because of your own fears and deny them and your family the opportunity to finally understand your child better. To also deny your child any helpful resources that may be available to them with a diagnosis of Autism. So please put your fears aside and do what needs to be done for your child's sake.

Autism Awareness Day 19

Autism Awareness Day 19 - Putting aside our adult agendas. Yes I'm still behind on these posts but it's important to me so I will continue on. Hopefully you all aren't sick of them and hopefully some of you are actually benefiting from my posts. So now lets get back to the topic of putting aside our adult agendas.

As an adult you have a lot of responsibilities, expectations, plans, etc but when you have a child with special needs you will find that sometimes it all goes out the window. Some days run smoothly and I get things accomplished that I had planned to but other days just don't work that way. Before the diagnosis of Autism I thought I must be some kind of awful parent who just couldn't get her children to do what they should. A parent who was incapable of getting things done that should be done. I was so frustrated, I was trying so hard to get my boys to do the things they "should" and to manage my household and my photography business the way I "should" but nothing was working right. Why were other Moms and other photographer Mom's able to get things done and I wasn't? Why was I failing so miserably??

Then I finally started realizing that Gatlin just wasn't a typical child, then came his diagnosis and soon after the realization that Draiman wasn't a typical child either. My boys have Autism, therefore they have special needs which means that the things that work for other parents don't always work for us. I finally started to see that things were just going to be different for us and that different is ok. It's perfectly ok that my children haven't met their milestones in the same timeline as someone else's child. It's perfectly ok that our household, our lives, are not the same as some other families. It is perfectly ok that I that I focus more on what my children need and less on what I thought I "should" be doing.

One of my favorite movies that we've watched dealing with Autism is called The Horse Boy. There were so many ways in which I could relate to this family, so many things they learned that we also learned along the way. The journey was crazy and amazing at the same time. My favorite parts of the movie are when Rowan's Dad talks about needing to put our adult agendas aside and do what's best for our children and when he says his prayer for his son and everyone affected by Autism. It was a powerful movie and he makes some powerful points. Sometimes we really do need to put our adult agendas aside, and I believe this goes for special needs parents as well as typical parents.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 18

Autism Awareness Day 18 - Have you heard of AMA? For this post I want to talk about a great place called Awakening Minds Arts & Athletics. Now I must start off by saying that I've only been there once and we haven't taken any classes there yet but we hope to at some point. What I do know is that they offer some great classes for special needs and several of the parents in the Autism group I'm in love it there. I also know that they sell some sensory toys, weighted lap pads, and pressure vests which is great for any family with a child that has Autism. Some time in the near future they will also be selling some of my hand made soaps too.

The great thing about AMA is that it provides a place for children to be creative do some sensory play. Art is a great thing for all children and I'm happy to know that there is a place that helps children with special needs to find the artist within. I also really love that they sell some of the sensory toys which are something you don't find in just any store. I bought two of the chewy necklaces for my boys and they have been great to have around.

So if you haven't check them out yet then head on over to their page. Your child or a child you know may benefit from their services. For more information please contact them directly as I'm only telling you the very little that I know. I just hope to spread the word about them.

And on a side note if any of you would like to sponsor some art classes there for Gatty then please feel free to do so. LOL

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 17

Autism Awareness Day 17 - Teaching your child and/or providing therapy at home need not be drilling, boring, or uninspired. Today I taught Gatlin how to create art on ceramic tiles with alcohol inks. This was fun for both him and I, but it also counts towards speech therapy and occupational therapy as well as just learning colors. The occupational therapy comes into play when he was helping me unscrew the caps from the inks, touching the inks and blending solution with his hands (sensory), holding the small ink bottles to place the drops and/or draw lines with them, and also when he put the caps back on. Through out all of this he was using his hands and working on fine motor skills. 

Speech therapy was really occurring throughout the entire process as I talked to him about what we were doing and he responded when he could. He was listening to me, following directions or simple commands, and responding appropriately. He named the colors as we used them which helped further teach him about colors and he told me when he was done with each color and when he was done with the entire piece itself. So you see it was a fun experience for both of us but were still working on the skills he needs. Keep it simple, keep it fun, engage your child in their interests and they will learn. Best of all it will be a bonding experience as well.
And here they are ..... Gatlin originals .... the first of many more to come. :) Please note that even though I assisted him these are very much his works of art. I did very little to contribute to these masterpieces.

Autism Awareness Day 16

Autism Awareness Day 16 - Love your child for who they are, Autism and all. I had planned to write something different today but then I came across this shared post from Rebecca's page. What Marcus says here really speaks to me so I feel it needs to be shared yet again.
As a child I was diagnosed as having attachment disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, multiple personality disorder, and many other wonderful diagnosis; almost to many to count. The short version? I am autistic. I didn't get the love I deserved, that every single child deserves. I didn't get to keep my family, not a single family that adopted me was able to keep me. I had no stability and I was miserable a lot. That is why I try so hard to help others on the spectrum. I don't want anyone to ever have the life I had as a child.

I don't work essentially for free, and remain on disability because I love free money. I don't give away everything I create, and ask nothing for myself because I am against making a profit. I do it because to me, the biggest profit and reward will be knowing that I have done my part to make sure that no one else has the life I had. I fight because I am scared that if I don't I am consigning some other innocent to the life I was trapped in.

I was nonverbal until around age 6. I hated to be touched. I couldn't eat if anyone touched my food (which meant I was hungry a lot), and I had frequent meltdowns. It took years of the kind of help you only get on an inpatient basis, and a great deal of luck for me to become who I am today.

Please, stop posting how bad life is for your kids. The simple fact that they have someone posting anything because of them tells me that at least they still have love. Please, stop posting all the negatives associated with your child ASD symptoms. From first hand experience I can tell you how crushing it will be for them when they realize how you see them.

I have always been the smartest person in the room. It doesn't usually matter what room I am, in as that never seems to stop being the case. In school I was always the first with their hand up, because I knew the answers. I was out of my chair bouncing because the teacher didn't want to call on me over and over. My parents were given the option of special education classes or gifted classes and to this day I don't understand why they chose the special education classes.

Just because your child doesn't seem to understand you, I would not suggest making the assumption that they don't. There is every chance that your autistic child is as brilliant as I am, and just has trouble speaking up.

Your child needs you. Maybe they don't show you love the way you think they should. Maybe they can't speak and socialize like you wish they could. Maybe, they are a burden on you financially, emotionally, and mentally right now. They didn't ask to be the way they were born, any more than you asked for them to be that way.

Please, be the parents that I didn't have, at least not for very long. Please stop finding things to blame, things to champion, and demonizing what makes your child different.

Love them completely with all your heart. If you hate that they are autistic and you wish you could cure them, change them are you really loving them for who they are?

My friend John Poer posted something on an article I wrote:

"Even though I have never MET Marcus, I have known him for a very long time. He's a very good person, who, given how he was treated growing up, has no reason to BE a good person. I am amazed that he has gotten this far against the odds.

He has already helped a lot of people, and continues to try every day, to give something he never received himself.

Go Marcus."

That made me cry. I am not a good person, a loving person by accident. It was a choice that I made because I had seen enough pain and suffering. I was once told by one of the counselors at a placement called Spectrum Care Academy that as a victim of childhood abuse I was going to hurt others. Victims become abusers unless they choose to be something different. I refuse to ever become the monsters that have been in my life.

Be the example. Show your child how to love, by loving them fully and completely; autism is just a part of who they are and it can be a wonderful part. Stop feeding into the blame, the mistrust, and the hate and maybe your child can learn to love others through your example more than they ever would by treatments, therapies, and interventions.

How do I manage to be as loving, trusting, giving, and yes naïve as I am if it isn't they way I am by default? That is easy. I simply do the opposite of what I have known my entire life.

Why do I keep trying to help, to serve when almost every part of my heart and mind scream that I have done enough, hurt myself enough, sacrificed enough and no one could ask any more of me? I remind myself constantly that when it was me, when I was the child; I screamed in every way I could for someone to be who I am now for me. I remind myself that there are kids, teens, and adults out there right now that need me to be who I am, and I will be damned if I let them down.

There is only one of me though. I can only do so much. Hence my reason for writing this, my reason for existing. Please, I am begging you to learn acceptance, tolerance and love and to never give up hope.

Thank you for your time,
Marcus Shane Morris

At the time I am writing this: I have a beautiful wife, two amazing little autistic boys, my own home, and all the love I ever begged, prayed, and pleaded for. It is possible for your kids as well.

Autism Awareness Day 15

Autism Awareness Day 15 - P.L.A.Y. Project. Twice a month we have P.L.A.Y. Project home visits for both of our boys. They each have a separate appointment where we work with their therapist Heather to learn to engage them and open circles of communication through play. This has been amazing for us! In a lot of ways it's such a simple technique but something that a lot of us parents just miss out on. We have learned better ways to follow our boys lead and play with them to get them to engage with us and try to communicate with us. I highly recommend P.L.A.Y. Project for any parent of a child with Autism. Find out more by clicking on the link below.

Autism Awareness Day 14

Autism Awareness Day 14 - More than meets the eye. (Yes I'm behind again, such is life LOL) For this post I would just like you all to watch this video. I've seen it before but it was worth watching again. There is much more to the child with Autism than what most people choose to see.

This amazing girl proves autism is not what most doctors think!
She will amaze you WOW....must share this!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 13

Autism Awareness Day 13 - Dr. Solomon's magic trick. Before Draiman was officially diagnosed with Autism he had begun hitting a lot. When I say a lot I mean it too, it was constant. He couldn't communicate verbally and he would get really frustrated so he would hit people. He would hit his brother, he would hit us, he would hit anyone that he became frustrated with or didn't want to listen to. It was becoming a big problem and we were having one heck of a time to get him to stop.

Then the day we took him to Dr. Solomon for diagnosis we learned an awesome trick. Dr. Solomon told us that the very next time he hit us we needed to take hold of his hands and not let go. He said that we should look Draiman in the face and tell him that we understood his frustration but that he was not allowed to hit. We needed to explain to him in simple terms that it was not ok to hit and that he must find another way to express his anger. Dr. Solomon said to hold his hands still the entire time we said that and then to look away from him and count to 30 while still holding his hands still. He said that once we were done counting to 30 we should look him in the face again and tell him that we loved him but that it was not ok to hit. Then after that we could let go of his hands. Dr. Solomon explained that the 30 plus seconds of holding his hands would be like torture or severe punishment so he would not want to suffer those consequences again and that we needed to also acknowledge his frustration even if we weren't sure he understood it. Then of course it was important for him to know that we loved him too.

Well that same night when we got home Draiman was angry and hit me. I did exactly what Dr. Solomon said to do. Draiman struggled fiercely and you could tell he hated it. He did not like having his hands held still like that for anything. I wasn't sure how well it was going to work but would you believe that was the end of hitting. It took one time and he pretty much completely stopped hitting. Now he will now again hit his brother when they get to fighting but it's rare and nothing like what it was before that day.

Autism Awareness Day 12

Autism Awareness Day 12 - Social skills or lack there of. A lot of children with Autism lack social skills. They do not easily pick up on social cues and they are not good at interpreting emotions and facial expressions. Both Gatlin and Draiman tended to ignore people around them in the past and still even now at times. So we try hard to work on getting them to say "Hi" and Bye" or other things like that.

At school when I pick Gatlin up I tell him to say "bye" and "see you later" to his teachers. I also say it to him when I leave or prompt him to say it when someone leaves our home. He's getting really good at saying the words but he doesn't always know to say them on his own without being prompted. Well yesterday we went to Best Buy and as we started to leave the store after checking out Gatlin suddenly yelled "Bye, see you!" It was the cutest thing and I was so proud of him for using his words and using them appropriately. We had not prompted him to say anything at that moment. He just amazes me every day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 10 & 11

Autism Awareness Days 10 & 11 - Rest for the weary. I wanted to post something new each day this month but alas I have started to fall behind. The truth of the matter is that I am a very busy person and lately I'm feeling exhausted.

Life for the Autism Mom or Dad can be very busy, hectic, challenging, overwhelming, stressful, fulfilling, wonderful, joyous, and so on and so on. Life for any parent can be crazy and sometimes we just need to recognize they we may be pushing ourselves too hard. In order for us to be our best for our children we also need to rest and take care of ourselves.

So don't forget to schedule some extra rest when you need it. It's important to recharge your own batteries. So important that I honestly feel that it can be subject for two days instead of just one. (Seriously I'm not cheating here! ) And on that note I really need to put myself to bed. My babies will be up early and they deserve a well rested Mommy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 9

Autism Awareness Day 9 - Sleep, sleep, please go to sleep. I was going to post something last night but I was too tired to mess with it so I tried to get some extra sleep. I'm tired a lot to be honest and a lot of it has to do with my boys and their sleep issues. A lot of children with Autism tend to have sleep issues. For our family it's anything from difficulty falling asleep, restlessness, leg cramps, trouble staying asleep, to waking up several times a night. Now add in the fact that I have two boys that have those same troubles and you'll soon understand why I'm tired a lot.

Both Gatlin and Draiman have issues falling asleep easily on their own. This is one reason it is important to have a consistent bed time routine to help cue their bodies into sleep time. We do give our boys melatonin, though I hope to stop using it. That helps Gatty a lot which is good so that he can sleep for school the next day but Draiman fights it like crazy so at times it's almost pointless giving it to him. Then once we get them to sleep it's a matter of keeping them asleep. They both can tend to wake up several times a night. Poor Gatlin at times wakes up with severe leg cramps which then makes it difficult to calm him down and get him back to sleep. Other times my boys will wake up at around 3 am ready to go like it's time to wake up for the day.

This can be a crazy cycle for me. I tend to stay up for a while after the boys go to sleep so that I can work on things I need to get done. Then when I'm ready to finally go to sleep about half the time Draiman has already woken up or will soon. Sometimes I spend my night back and forth dealing with one child only to get him to sleep and have the other one wake up on me. Or there are those nights that one wakes up and is so loud that they wake the other one up and no one will go back to sleep for hours at least. A lot of times I wake up with a child or two sleeping with me. Just this week I woke up with both of them laying across me.

The sleeplessness can be frustrating but it's just the way it is. Some days are good and they both will sleep through the night but unfortunately that doesn't tend to happen as often. So we just do the best we can each night and hope for the best. If a night is particularly rough then there will more than likely be naps later. Although naps for Gatty can sometimes cause more bed time issues. But like I said we do the best we can, but you'll have to forgive me if I'm not the most sympathetic to others who complain about newborns not sleeping. Most newborns will eventually learn to sleep through the night just fine. We on the other hand have been wishing for uninterrupted sleep for over 4 years now and I don't see it getting better right away. It's ok though because I love my boys regardless of any sleep I lose.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 8

Autism Awareness Day 8 - Sensory Seekers. My boys are what some refer to as sensory seekers. What that means is that they crave sensory input or stimulation. They need activities like jumping, bouncing, and rough and tumble play. Ever since my boys were very small they would always try to lift things that seemed way too heavy for them. That's because their muscles needed that input. This is why Draiman loves to jump pretty much all the time and why he also enjoys walking on his tip toes. Gatlin also loves to bounce, jump, and run around a lot.

Without these kinds of activities it is very hard for my boys to settle down and focus. They need these activities on a regular basis and when they don't get enough of it then you see them get crazy hyper or overly agitated. Not to mention that they are nearly impossible to get to go to sleep if they haven't used up enough energy.

This is why in our home we have a fairly large preschool trampoline, an exercise ball for bouncing, a crash pad for jumping and wrestling, weighted balls for playing with, and several other balls as well. We spend quite a bit of time rough housing through out the day too. My boys love to be slammed down on the crash pad or smashed against the back of the couch. We have to watch out for Draiman too because he enjoys head butting, what hurts us feels good to him. Though he has gotten much better about that.

Now it may sound odd but these things are actually good for them. They need this kind of sensory input and like I said it does help them focus better. It also provides a good way for us to engage them, to actually pay attention to us rather than just being in their own world. Through P.L.A.Y project therapy we use the rough and tumble play to get the boys to communicate with us too. Draiman rarely says anything but if I'm smashing him in the chair behind me and then stop and say "Ready, Set ..." you better believe he will yell "GO" just so I'll continue to smash him some more.

Its kind of funny how their needs sort of force us to play with them but the truth is I really enjoy playing with them. We could all stand to play with our kids more. Find those games that your child enjoys and make them a fun, learning, bonding experience.

Autism Awareness Day 7

Autism Awareness Day 7 (sorry it's late) - Talk to your children, even if they don't answer you. One thing I have always done is talk to my children. I've done it since they were babies and I will always do it. Obviously when they were babies I knew they couldn't answer me but then later of course I found out that it would still be difficult for them.

Even though they can't always answer me I feel it is important that I talk to them and try to carry on a conversation so to speak. I know they hear me, sometimes I can tell they are listening though with Autism they don't always make direct eye contact or show signs of paying attention. Either way I know it's good for them and this is how they are going to learn to converse with others. Now that Gatlin talks more he will talk to me, though sometimes he just repeats what I say to him. Like I said though it's still important to talk to him so that he will learn from me.

One thing I've noticed is that when I go to the store with my boys, even when they were babies I always felt like people stared at me because I was talking to them. I always talk to them about whatever and now with Gatty I tell him what we are buying and try to get him to name some of the items. I know that this will help him learn new words and to identify different items. The thing is, I don't really see many other parents talking to their kids. It seems like a lot of them are just in a zone trying to get their groceries or whatever. Now maybe they don't want to look like a fool talking to a child who can't or doesn't answer but I'm not concerned about what others think when they are looking at us. My concern is teaching my children things throughout everyday life.

So don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with your non-verbal child. I'm sure that one day you'll realize how much they really were listening.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 6

Autism Awareness Day 6 - Therapy alone is not enough. One thing that Dr. Soloman told us when our boys were diagnosed was that we needed to record our therapy sessions. He said that we shouldn't rely on therapists, that we needed to learn how to do the therapy ourselves at home. Dr. Soloman said that we as parents were the key to helping our children meet their milestones and that a few hours a week with a therapist was never going to be enough. So we took his advise and recorded the first several sessions so that we could replay them and learn how to provide therapy at home.

At this point in time we no longer record therapy sessions but at the beginning it was very helpful. We still observe therapy sessions and partner with the boys therapists to keep up with what skills we need to work on. We've done our best to incorporate the things they do in therapy into our everyday lives. We are constantly working on skills at home but we've made it more a part of life rather than endless therapy sessions. The key to teaching our boys is through fun and play. They learn so much more when they enjoy it and I think that is really true for just about anyone.

We've taken a lot of the advice given to us from therapists and put it into play (literally play time) at home. We've also found some of our own methods that work too. I don't feel that we are the best at this but I will say that the therapists have always told us that they can tell we're working on things at home. So if you ask me that must mean we're doing something right. All I know is that our boys have come a long way since the beginning of this journey.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 5

Autism Awareness Day 5- Consistency is key. When you have a child with Autism you soon learn that being consistent and maintaining schedules can be very helpful. My thoughts on this are that if your senses can be easily overwhelmed, the world around you can seem chaotic and overstimulating, and you have difficultly clearly communicating with others then schedules and routines probably help you to feel more comfortable and secure. I think for my boys it is nice for them to know what's expected and what's coming next so they feel safe and in balance.

It is for this reason that we have a pretty set bedtime routine and schedule. We try to keep therapy appointments on the same days and times. We use the "clean up" song to signal the boys that it's time to put toys away. (songs in general are good but I'll talk about that on another post) I usually do not take my boys to the doctor if their regular doctor is not scheduled in that day. We like to keep the same therapists and the one time that we did have to switch therapists for a bit we tried to get Gatlin used to the new one before his regular one went on maternity leave. Doing these things helps to keep it familiar and comfortable for our boys. They are less likely to be overwhelmed and frustrated if we stick to the routine.

Now I'm not saying that you should never change things up because let's face it, life is full of change. What I am saying is that you should keep things on schedule when you can and when you can't it's best to talk about it, show pictures, or do whatever you can to clue a child with Autism in on what changes are to come. For example one time we missed physical therapy for the week so then when we took Gatlin in for Speech he became very agitated because it wasn't the right therapist. He was expecting to see Miss Megan and not Miss Jessica. This actually just happened with Draiman also since he's no longer in OT.

I have noticed that the more Gatlin understands what I'm telling him the easier he handles changes. On the other hand with Draiman it is just too overwhelming because he just doesn't understand what's going on. So we do our best to keep it consistent and when we can't we do our best to explain what is going on. We do incorporate change also because that's important to learn to deal with but we keep that in smaller doses since the boys have enough challenges on a daily basis any way.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 4

Autism Awareness Day 4 - You have more in common with a person who has Autism than you realize.  It seems that the initial reaction to someone with Autism is that they are different, odd, or strange but the truth is that we all have more in common than you may realize. Have you ever tried describing something to another person but you just couldn't think of the words you needed to express what you wanted to say? Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation and then suddenly used the wrong word than what you meant to use? Have you ever had difficulty pronouncing certain words? Have you ever tried to explain or show someone something and they just did not seem to understand what you were trying to tell them? Well if you've experienced any of these things than you can understand what a person with Autism deals with when they try to communicate verbally. These are the types of challenges they face regularly because communication tends to be more difficult for them.

Have you ever heard a sound that made you uncomfortable or just plain hurt your ears, maybe something like nails on chalkboard? Have you ever walked into a very loud, crowded room where there was so much noise and things going on that it just felt a bit overwhelming? Have you ever been frustrated when trying to talk on the phone while others are talking loudly around you or making noises that disrupt your concentration and make it hard for you to focus on your phone conversation? Well if you've experienced any of these than you can understand how a child with Autism feels when their senses are overloaded. For example my boys have heightened senses so these things would bother them much quicker than it would me but I can still understand what it must be like for them.

The point I'm trying to make here is that even though things are different for the person with Autism, we can all understand them at least to a certain degree. Once we start seeing the similarities in one another it is much easier to be considerate of each other because we're really not all that different after all. Finding common ground is definitely a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Autism Awareness Day 3

Autism Awareness Day 3 - Never mistake a lack of verbal communication for a lack of intelligence. Just because a person can not or has difficulty speaking does not mean they are not intelligent. In my opinion people with Autism are kind of like someone who is blind. What I mean by that is that a blind person tends to use their other senses to help them navigate since they can't rely on their vision in the same way that children with Autism find other ways to communicate their needs and wants since they can't rely on verbal communication. A blind person would tend to hear things that an average person wouldn't even notice and it seems that my children also catch on to things that would completely escape my attention.

This is why it is important to show a child with Autism the same respect as you would show anyone else. Do not talk about them in any sort of negative manner in front of them. They can hear you and even though they may not understand every word you say they do understand a lot of what goes on around them, much more than you may realize. For example one time when I was talking to John, Gatlin got very upset about something I said. It took me a bit to figure it out at first, but once I did I realized how much he really listens to what we are saying. You see I was telling John that I need to go to the store to buy something for a recipe I was making. Right after I said that Gatlin got very upset and started telling me "NO" and "ALL DONE!" Finally I figured it out, even though I wasn't talking to him or even looking at him, he had heard me say the word "buy." He was upset because he mistakenly thought I said the word "bye" and he did not want to leave the house. He did not want to go "bye bye."

Now in this example he had my meaning incorrect but the point is that he was listening and paying attention to what I was saying. This is just one example I can think of but there have been many times that he's caught on to what we were talking about. A lot of times he gets it right too, he knows exactly what's going on or about to happen. So never under estimate a person with Autism. They are just as smart as you or I, maybe even smarter from what I've seen.

Autism Awareness Day 2

Autism Awareness Day 2 - Communication can be very difficult for children with Autism. For us this lack of verbal communication was one of the things that tipped us off that our boys had Autism. At 3 yrs old when Gatlin was diagnosed he was only saying "No" very rarely and Draiman at almost 18 mos had not attempted to say anything. We had plenty of "tantrums" but no real communication, that is until we (the parents) learned one very important lesson. That lesson was that behaviors are not merely behaviors but rather a form of communication. It's easy to assume that the child with Autism is merely acting out or being a brat but that is not always the case. Now I'm not saying that they don't misbehave because let's face it, everyone does, even adults. What I am saying is that when working with a child with Autism (in my opinion even neuro-typical children) you should always make sure that their behaviors are not in actuality a form of communication.

Once I began trying to decode Gatlin and Draiman's behaviors I started seeing that my kiddos had been trying to tell me all kinds of things the whole time but I just had not been "listening." I was failing to understand their messages. When Gatlin would smack himself in the head he wasn't trying to injure himself for no reason, he was trying to tell me that his head hurt. When the boys would scream and fight me when trying to get them dressed it wasn't because they were brats, it was because I was putting scratchy jeans on them that caused them sensory issues and irritated their skin. Draiman's random crying wasn't actually so random, he had noticed that I was wearing different clothes and putting shoes on which meant his Mommy was leaving him. Gatlin's screaming and crying because I turned on the blender wasn't just him being ridiculous, it was because the noise was so loud it hurt his ears.

Suddenly I realized that they had being trying to tell me so many things but I just didn't get it. At first I felt awful, like a bad Mom. How could I have missed this? Why didn't I see it before? Later I realized that I had just as much to learn as my boys did and that it was going to be a wonderful journey together. I was finally beginning to understand them and the "tantrums" were subsiding because we were finally getting the message.

Autism Awareness Month

It's Autism Awareness Month!!!! That means that for this entire month you all will get to read my thoughts, opinions, experiences, lessons in Autism that I have gotten through my personal experiences with my super awesome boys. Some of you will agree with me and some of you won't. That's fine, I'm ok with it. So let me kick off this month by saying that I am THANKFUL for autism. What??? Yep you read that right, I am thankful for autism. It is true that autism has brought a lot of challenge into my life but it has also brought its blessings. Through autism I strongly believe that I have learned to become a better parent and a better person. It has taught me to be much more understanding and accepting of everyone around me. It has shown me that there are much more important things than keeping pace with everyone else. I've learned to enjoy the simple things and appreciate life much more. I am amazed and inspired by the way my boys see the world and how they work through their personal challenges. I accept autism as a part of them and I do not see it as a tragedy what so ever. I truly feel I was meant to be their Mom and live and love this life with autism. I feel blessed and I embrace it with all it's challenges and triumphs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Color Cards

     Lately we've been working a lot with Gatlin on colors. He's getting pretty good at it but he still needs some help. So I decided to make him some flash cards and games. I did a quick search to see if there was anything I could print online for free but I didn't really see what I was looking for. In the end I decided to make these cards for him.
     Pictured is a full sheet that I laminated to use as a game board. I'm going to color code some milk jug caps and have him match the colors with the board. Then I printed out two more sets which I will use for flash cards and also as a memory matching game. I think these are going to be really good for him. He was already very excited when we played the memory game the first time.
     If you would like to use my flash cards with your own children you may go ahead and download the free pdf file. These did take me some time to make so please do not post them for sale or anywhere else on the web. I am offering you them for free because it would have been nice if I had been able to find them for free also. I didn't want to have to buy cards because my boys are very rough on things so they will need replaced quite often. So here you go, my gift to you. Just click the link below. I would love to see some comments about how you choose to use these cards. ;)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 27 & 28

     I really like learning how to paint a specific subject, but I'm also finding that I enjoy just painting what I feel even better. It's nice to just put brush to canvas (or paper) and express those emotions I'm feeling inside. That's what last nights paintings were about, a simple expression of my feeling at that time.

Day 27 - Serene - acrylic on paper

This painting is much prettier in person. You know it was late and I was tired when I photographed this. Anyway it's an image of beautiful serene waters.

Day 28 - Arctic - acrylic on paper

Cool and calm, nothing more.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Birthday Break and Paintings 25 & 26

     Well I really wanted to keep on top of my painting but I also wanted to do something special for Gatlin's birthday so I ended up taking the weekend off from painting. That way I could spend more time getting ready for Gatlin's small birthday party and make his special cake. So at this point I'm still behind one painting but that's ok because my little guy had a fun evening.
     Pretty much every birthday party that Gatlin has had before always ended up with him being very upset. I could never understand why he would always be so grouchy and crying. He wouldn't want to open presents, blow out candles, or do much of anything for that matter. This never made sense to me until we were on the road to getting his Autism diagnosis and I finally started to understand  my baby better.
     When we started the process for Gatlin's diagnosis it was February of last year and he had recently turned 3 years old. I had always known that my boy was sensitive and that he saw the world a little bit differently but I was only just beginning to understand it all at this point in time. During one of our visits with a specialist I started telling her about how Gatlin always hates his birthday parties and how the last one had been a little stranger than before. You see Gatty has always collected and carried special toys with him at all times since he was really little, and at that point it was some Handy Manny tools. He kept his tools with him at all times and he was all about Handy Manny. So in an effort to try to do something special for him I had my friend Sarah decorate a cake with Manny and the tools on it. I thought Gatlin would love it.
     What I did not anticipate was that Gatlin would not understand that the tools were just cake and not his toy tools. He immediately became very upset as we started cutting the cake and he kept trying to take the tools. It was my Aunt Dona that first commented that he seemed to think they were real. In order to calm him down we just gave him pieces of cake with the tools on it and he carried them around for a while until he dropped one and the cake fell apart. He then looked at it puzzled and then started to smear the frosting all over the floor.I felt like the worst Mom in the world! Here I had tried to do something special for him and instead I just upset and confused him. I felt like a complete failure, so much so that even writing this now brings tears to my eyes.
      As I told this story to that doctor she explained to me that birthday parties may not be a good idea for Gatlin. She said that although I had the best intentions I had basically put his tools, his prized toys, up on this pedestal that he couldn't get to and then it fell apart on him. She also said that all of the commotion of extra people and the expectations put on him to open presents and blow candles was probably just too overwhelming for him. She continued to say that probably the best party for him would be just us with plain and simple white cake. I was finally starting to get it when she explained that a lot of times birthday parties are really for the parents and not as much for the kids. I understood now that I needed to do what was best for him and not what I thought was the perfect party.
     Fast forward to this past weekend. A whole year has past and Gatlin has grown and changed so much. He's doing great in therapies and preschool. He's even beginning to interact more with other children in his class. We knew that he had come a long way and that more than likely this year a birthday party would be much easier on him but I did not want a repeat of last year at all. So with that we decided to do things a bit differently. This year we only invited a select few very close relatives, the ones who come to our house regularly. We told everyone ahead of time that it would be a relaxed event and that we would be following Gatlin's lead to make sure he was comfortable and happy. If he did not want to open presents or blow out candles then we simply would not do it.
     Now me being me, I still wanted to make a special cake for him. You know sometimes we as parents just can't let things go. I really didn't want him to have a plain white cake and I was confident that he understood things much better now so that he wouldn't be confused with his cake. I mean now I can tell him if something is to be eaten or not and we've even looked at cakes in the bakery section at the store too. So I decided to go ahead and make him a special Buzz Lightyear cake but I reminded myself the whole way that if he didn't like it that was my problem and not his.
     I am pleased to say that his birthday party went over very well! He was in a good mood, when we asked him if he wanted to open presents he was excited to do it. He did very well sitting at the table when it was time to blow out candles too. My brother sat with him while I was taking pictures and tried to explain to Gatlin how to blow out his candles. After a few tries I noticed Gatlin start to put his head down so I immediately sensed that he was headed for frustration and told my brother to just blow them out for him. That was that and Gatlin was happy again. He even helped me cut his piece of cake. I was just beyond proud of him. He amazes me every day and I love him so very much.

Here is a picture of Gatlin's birthday cake.

At the end of the weekend I finally got some time to work on my paintings. This first one is Fireworks, a 5x7 on acrylic paper. I supposed I made this because I feeling such excitement over birthday party gone right for once.

This next painting I call Perfect Puzzle, it's another 5x7 acrylic on paper. This one is inspired by my boys. You know a puzzle piece is the symbol for Autism and I honestly have mixed feelings about that and anything else that holds any negative connotation towards Autism. I know very well that Autism can make things more difficult but it is also very much a part of who my boys are. It makes them see the world in a different and amazing way. My boys have taught me so much and made me a much better person. Learning to understand their perspective has humbled me and made me more understanding of everyone around me. I thank God for them everyday and I do not feel the least bit upset about having children with Autism. If my boys are a puzzle then they are a perfect puzzle to me and I love them just the way they are.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Days 22, 23, and 24

Well I've been keeping up with the challenge but I guess I've gotten behind posting them here. Sorry. :(

Day 22 - Crazy Apple - 5x7 acrylic on paper

Most of the time while I was painting this apple I swore it didn't even look like an apple to me.

Day 23 - Birthday - 5x7 acrylic on paper

This awesome one is a tribute to my sweet Gatlin. He just turned 4 yesterday so I painted this to honor him.

Day 24 - Color Play - acrylic on paper

This one was merely an attempt to use up the left over paint on my pallet but I really am pleased with it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 20 - Journey ..... and day 21 too

Day 20 - Journey - 8x10 acrylic on paper

     I had a great idea in my mind of what I wanted to achieve with this painting but alas I did not achieve it. Oh well... I did try. I may have to come back to this idea again later.

     On brighter note, thanks to fellow painters I learned that some of them were creating a second painting simply to use up leftover paint on their palette. I decided to go ahead and do this myself so now I have day 21 done also! It's a simple painting but I kind of like it.

Day 21 - Tropic - 5x7 acrylic on paper

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 19 - Sapphire Sky

Day 19 - Sapphire Sky - 5x7 acrylic on paper

     This painting was inspired by an image taken by Jessica Paxon Photography. She posted it on her facebook page and I asked her permission to do a painting from it. This is what I came up with. It is clearly not the same as her image but I think you can tell particularly in the sky where I drew inspiration from her image. I think it's a happy little painting.

     Once again please don't judge the quality of this photograph. I rarely get to do these paintings before 10 or 11pm and by the time I'm done I am exhausted. I just snap the pic so I can post in online and then the next day I use that same pic to post here. They are not the best pics clearly but you get the idea. Right now my main concern is keeping up with the challenge and learning to paint better as I go. Later I plan to take quality photos of each of my paintings so I can keep them for a record of what I've done.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 18 - Different

Day 18 - Different - 5x7 acrylic on paper

I decided to try something different last night and I'm really glad I did. This was just something that I thought up and it came together more as I painted it. Every time I walk away and then come back to it I feel like I like it that much more.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Paint Bag

      It took me a while to even get this image because Gatlin kept moving every time I tried to take it. Finally I won though! Here he's playing with one of those paint bags that I had mentioned in a previous post.
All I did was pour some acrylic craft paint into a quart size Ziploc freezer bag and seal it. Then I taped the top of it shut with clear packing tape to prevent the boys from opening it. Now with my kiddos I still don't intend to leave them unsupervised with it because I know they'll just rip the bag open if I don't watch them.
      I orginally saw this idea on pinterest, here is the LINK. I really liked it because it is sensory play and also along falls in line with occupational therapy. These simple little bags allow the kids to "paint" without making a mess and experience the feel of the paint (sensory) without having to actually touch it. They can also practice drawing lines and shapes in the paint. Its really kind of fun.
      I think I will make some more paint bags in different colors so that we can work on colors also. I encourage you to try this idea with your little ones. I'm sure they will like it and its a great step towards finger painting if you have children like mine that are weary of new textures.

Day 17 - Dark

     Ok I just want you all to know that I did complete a painting for day 17. It's an 8x10 acrylic on canvas panel that is fan art of Batman. I really love this one and I was excited to post it today but after looking into to copyright and trademark laws I'm just not sure if I may have made a mistake in painting it. I simply wanted to paint an image to show my love for the Batman movies but my choice to reference a movie poster image may have crossed the line.
     I have absolutely no intention of violating any laws and definitely not earning any profits from doing such. I just wanted a cool piece to hang on the wall to show our love for the movies. So just know that I did paint and then I was happy with the result. Also know that I do have respect for copyright and trademark laws.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 16 - Captain

Day 16 - Captain - 8x10 acrylic on canvas panel

     My husband is a huge fan of Marvel Comics and over the years he has gotten me more into them too. We love watching the movies together and I've really taken an interest in them more and more. One of my favorite characters is Captain America, I think it's partly because I like the character and partly because he's played by Chris Evans. Chris Evans is awesome!! Oh yes he's definitely on my list!
     Well anyway I decided to paint this image because I thought both my husband and I would really like it. I mean I wanted to do something cool for him and it sure doesn't hurt that I like Captain America too. So this one is for sure going to be hung on our wall somewhere in this house.
     On a side note I want to comment that after doing all the other paintings on paper it was kind of strange doing this one on canvas panel. In the past I had used canvas panel mostly but this time it felt like it was really soaking up my paints. It seemed like I have to paint several more coats than what I was doing with the paper. Whatever it was it made this one take a bit longer. It was probably a difference in surface as well as size since this one is a bit bigger. In any case this painting took about two hours to complete. All in all I'm happy with it and that's all that matters.

Note: I have decided to remove this image in case I may have accidentally violated any copyright or trademark laws. That was never my intent but after researching more about the laws I can't be sure if my paintings are safe or not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 15 - Pancakes!

Day 15 - Pancakes! - 6x6 acrylic on paper

I see now that there are some spots I need to touch up on this but eh that's what happens when you wait till just before bedtime to paint. Haha at least I did paint.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 14 - Ripple

Here is Day 14 - Ripple - 5x7 acrylic on paper

     I was worried about painting this one but in the end I think it's pretty good overall. Well I would say more but I've got lots of stuff I want to get done today. I have to take Gatlin to preschool soon and then I need to get some cleaning and crochet done among various other things. I hope you all enjoy your day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chalk board fun

The boys each got their own dry erase/chalk board easels for Christmas. As you can see here they are actually coloring together. As much as these two fight they do also play together very well at times.
I'm really glad that they got easels for Christmas. My sister got one for Gatlin and we got one for Draiman. Half the time the use just one together but hey at least they have the option of coloring seperately. Their occupational and physical therapists said that writing on a verticle surface would be good for strengthening their wrist muscles so let's hope these help them.

Day 13 - South Beach

      I just want to say that I am absolutely amazed with this one. I really wanted it to come out well but I was concerned that it might be difficult for me. When I first started it wasn't going how I wanted at all. I was starting to get a bit frustrated when I decided that I just needed to relax and go with the flow.
    From that point on all I thought about were the awesome waves at South Beach. When I live in Miami, Florida we went to South Beach quite often and I just love it there. I started reminiscing about the waves and how it made me feel when we spent time there. Then suddenly the painting started to just flow more naturally and before I knew it I had these awesome waves. So here you have it.

Day 13 - South Beach - 5x7 acrylic on paper

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 11 & 12

     Well I got a little behind on my painting thanks to my brother. He decided to rope me into a late night cake decorating session. We were up late working on a cake together which was quite a bit of fun but it did take me away from my painting. I would say it was worth it though to hang out with my brother and goof around while working on a cake.
      So last night I decided to get back on track by doing two simple paintings. I wanted to keep it very simple and not worry about a reference photo. The plan was to just have fun with it and see what I came up with. It was quite fun actually and here are the results.

Day 11- Tropical Heat - 6x6 acrylic on paper

Day 12 - Ridiculous (because these flowers are just ridiculous) - 6x6 acrylic on paper

     On another note I want to take a minute to talk about white balance. As most of you know I am a photographer also but please do not judge these photos as being my quality work. You see this is a challenge for me to make all of these paintings so at this point in time I just want to get images of them posted quickly and I did not worry about being technically correct with them. With that said notice how the background white paper of each painting is a different color? Well that is because I did not take the time to correct my white balance, which also means that the colors of each painting are off and not exactly what you would see in person. These images were all taken with my camera set on auto white balance, I did not do a custom white balance or correct these in photoshop. If I wanted to display quality photos of these paintings I would make sure that the white paper looked like the white it actually is and that it looked the same in each photo. That would ensure that my colors of paint would also be correct. So I just wanted to mention this to give you a very quick lesson in importance of proper white balance.

     Ok I'm done! Have a good one.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 10 - Twister

Day 10 - Twister - acrylic on paper

     My Mom and I always found tornadoes fascinating. In fact one of her favorite movies was Twister with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Blue was also her favorite color so I'm pretty sure that if she were here to see this she would love it. I'm so glad that this one came out as well as it did.
     I had been wanting to paint this image for a while now but I was really nervous about it because I didn't want to mess it all up. A lot of times I want to paint an image a certain way but I just can't figure out how to get the paint to do what I want it to. Well yesterday I found out about some videos posted by a fellow artist and facebook friend Klaire Russell and I decided to watch them. Wow was I amazed with her painting and the ease with which she does it. After watching all the videos I started thinking that maybe I was stressing too much and I just really needed to relax and enjoy it more.
    When it came time to start this painting I thought about Klaire and I decided to just relax and go with the flow. I wanted to enjoy the image I was creating rather than worry about whether not is was technically sound or realistic looking. As you can see this is what I came up with and I'm very happy about it.

A huge thanks to Klaire Russel for sharing her videos. Please click here to check out videos-

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 9 - Sunset

Day 9 - Sunset - acrylic on paper

This painting is the first one that I've done without using a reference image. I just went with a vision I had in my head and this is how it came out. Overall I'm pretty happy with this one and again I feel like I've learned a little bit more. I really hope to see some huge improvement by the end of the month.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 8 - Storm

Day 8 - Storm - acrylic on paper

     This painting went over much better than the last one. It's not as good as I'd hoped but I'm still diggin it. Of course I kind of like storms so why wouldn't I? I am also pleased to say that I already have my day 9 painting done as well. I just finished it so I will photograph and post it later. Now if only I could stay ahead of the game, that would be pretty good.

     Now I think I'm going to go pour some paint into a ziplock freezer bag, tape it shut with packing tape, and then let the boys "paint" with it. I saw this idea on pinterest and have been wanting to try it for a while now. I think now is the time to give it a whirl. We'll start with that and then maybe we can move to finger paints later. I have a whole board on pinterest devoted to things I'd like to try with the boys, so I better get busy with it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 7 - Northern Lights - acrylic on paper

     First off I seriously considered not posting this one. I just am not happy with it but I decided that this whole experience is about personal growth and the truth is that I did learn something from it. Besides that it still probably better than day one. LOL So here it is.

     I was excited last night to get started painting, the boys had fallen asleep fairly easily and I thought I could possibly get my painting done early and catch up on some much needed sleep. Yeah right, what was I thinking? Just as I was about ready to get out my paints Gatlin woke up crying. He was having one of his leg/foot cramp nights and it was really bothering. So after a while of massage and pain reliever I finally got him back to sleep but at this point it was now about 11pm or just past.
     I was pretty tired already and had other things to do yet before heading to bed so I considered not evening painting at all. Then I decided that I would go ahead and do but not be too hard on myself about it. (Again who am I kidding?) So I got started, worked on it for a while and had my sky pretty awesome looking but I still hadn't put in the northern lights. As I start to add them I realize my paint (the sky) is drying and I'm getting even more tired. It's almost midnight now and I just can't get this blend right and my awesome sky is looking rather un-awesome to say the least. So I kept trying and trying to get those lights just right when finally I decided enough was enough. It was just getting too late and each stroke seemed to be making things worse and not better. It was time to call it quits.
     So even though I am less than happy with this I am still glad that I did it. I continued on my path of growth and I learned that I really need to keep my paint from drying up on me. Every day is a new day and a new chance to start again. Just because I don't like what I painted today doesn't mean I won't paint something fabulous tomorrow. That's the beauty of a new day, it's always a fresh start.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 6 - Impact

Here is day 6 - impact - acrylic on paper

I hope you all are enjoying my paintings as much as I am. I can tell it's getting easier for me and it's only been 6 days! Ok well I'd love to write some more but it's time to get ready for preschool and P.L.A.Y. project.

If you would like to learn more about P.L.A.Y. Project than please check out this link here. We are loving P.L.A.Y. and if you have a child with Autism I highly recommend you check it out. It has helped us engage so much more with our boys. It's amazing!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 5 - Comet

Sorry I'm a bit late with this one. Last night Gatlin and Draiman decided to take shifts and keep me awake until almost 4am. Since they wouldn't go to sleep I did not get my painting done last night but here it is now.

Day 5 - Comet - acrylic on paper

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 4 - Molten Sun

Here is day 4 - Molten Sun- 6x6 acrylic on paper.

     This challenge had bee a lot of fun so far. I am very excited about it and I can't wait to have all these paintings to display later. Well that is provided that I keep them all. If I could keep this pace up for the entire year imagine how much I would accomplish. For now let's just hope I make it through this month.
     Now that it's time to get back into the swing of things after the holidays it's about to get much busier around here. Monday already I have to get ready for two P.L.A.Y. Project home visits and then we have appointments every day of the week except for Friday. Gatlin also is back on schedule for preschool and on top of that I have some custom crochet orders I need to get done.
     Let's hope I can find my motivation to get through it all. LOL Today I am feeling very exhausted as I did not get to bed until after midnight and then for some odd reasons the boys took shifts and were awake from 4am on. Needless to say I had a heck of a time getting myself awake this morning. Ahhh it's the story of my life. :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 3 - Ocean Moon

Here is day 3 - Ocean moon. It's another 6x6 acrylic on paper. I think I'm really getting into these space images.

So far I can tell it's getting easier for me. I'm still not where I want to be with my skills but I know this challenge is really going to help a lot. I can't wait to see all of the images I end up with by the end of this month. I'm also thinking I need to get some finger paints for the boys so they can make some paintings too.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 2 - Mars

Here is my painting for Day 2. It's a blocked out 6x6 acrylic on paper. Please disregard the rough edges, I plan to mat these images later so I wasn't worried about the edges being clean.

Even as early as day 2 I could already tell a huge difference in my ease of painting. It had been so long since I'd picked up a brush that my first painting was a bit of a struggle for me. Then once I started this once I could tell that my color blending had gotten much better and easier already. I sure I am glad I decided to take this challenge. I can't wait to see what I accomplish by the end of the month.

New chair

My photographer friend Sarah dropped off a chair this morning for me to use as a prop. Immediately the boys took to it and have been sitting in it since it got here.  :) Of course I should mention that this chair spins so it's even more fun to play with than our other furniture.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

30 in 30

     Would you believe that I would be crazy enough to agree to a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge? Well believe it because I did! Yep I decided that's it is now or never. I wanted to work more on my art this year so this challenge will be perfect to get me started. The rules are simple, you just have to complete one painting a day in January (we get one free day off) and they can be small paintings too.
     It's been about six years since I've really painted much of anything consistently. I mean don't get me wrong, I've done a few simple paintings here and there but it's been quite a while since I've dedicated any real time to it. This challenge is scary to me but it will be great to get me started again and for that I am excited. I can't wait to see how much I learn and grow by the end of this month.
     So here is the first of my 30 paintings. I did this one late last night after the boys were asleep. It is a black hole. I thought it would be simple but give me a chance to work on my color blending skills. Although it looks super simple it was a little bit challenging  for me. I struggled getting it to look just the way I wanted. In the end I'm not fairly happy with it. It's not exactly what I wanted but hey it's a start.

This is a 6x6 acrylic on paper.The purple color is much nicer in person. This is just a cell phone pic but you get the idea. :)


Here is a better pic of this painting and it shows my crazy rough edges too! Much more color here too than what my camera phone captured.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I'm back!!!

     Well it's been a long time since I've posted anything on this blog and I apologize for that. Life got busier and more interesting to say the least. We had a lot of adjustments to make but it has been a great journey. I'm hoping to get back into blogging this new year, as well as lot of other things.
     Before I start any new posts let me give you a brief recap of things since I last blogged. This blog is aptly titled BrothersBad because it's really all about my boys and life with them. At the same time my boys are the reason I took such a hiatus from blogging. In February of 2012 Gatlin was diagnosed with Autism and with that we as a family had a lot to learn. Shortly thereafter we started noticing the huge similarities between Gatlin and Draiman. Then in August Draiman was also diagnosed with Autism. Since that time Gatlin has started preschool, Draiman has started early intervention home visits, and we have lots of therapy appointments as well. On a regular basis there are appointments for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. We spend a lot of time working on sign language at home as well as other things and we also have a P.L.A.Y. Project consultant that comes to our home to teach us the P.L.A.Y. method of engaging our boys.
     So as I'm sure you can tell it's been a busy time for us but it has been wonderful as well. Our boys have progressed so much this past year but more importantly they have taught us even more. We are blessed and honored to have them in our lives. For us Autism has not been a tragedy but rather a wonderful learning experience. We have learned new ways to understand and connect with our boys all while they have taught us so many valuable lessons. I am thankful for them everyday and proud to be their Mama.